Now Taubes is at it again, marketing 'Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It'. Because he chose to put it like that, I kind of lost my appetite for the book right there: I simply don't get fat the way GT thinks it should happen.
Still, I was curious enough to find out his answer to the question posed in the title. No surprises there, the culprit is carbs, with a little help from the usual suspect insulin. While it is true that carbs can end up as bodyfat, carbs alone are not likely to make anyone fat, if you make sure the carbs come from raw fresh whole foods like fruits and vegs.
For example last year when during a 4-month experiment I ate over 80% of my calories from carbs, I got the most underweight in my whole adult life: I lost 10 kg from 69 to 59 kg. After that I switched to the Perfect Health Diet diet, which recommends 20% of total calories from carbs. Well, I quickly gained back all the lost weight and some extra by eating 65% fat. So GT is right in saying that even marathon runners can gain weight, but he is wrong in assuming that the gaining process would simply consist of the conversion of dietary carbs into bodyfat. At least I seem to have gained more muscle than fat - which would not have been possible without resistance training.
One would think that the new book would be easier to get into, being advertised as 'reader-friendly' and all, but the fact is I don't find GT's thinking easy to follow. The simpler style actually enhances his trademark brainfarts, most infamous of those being the ones involving laws of thermodynamics and calories in/out. Better leave it at that.
The basic argument of Taubes has always been the same: for decades, we have been told big fat lies by authorities, based on bad science. Although I do mostly agree with that, it does not automatically follow that the research presented by GT is that much better, nor is it faultless by any means. Taubes would like to play this good science/bad science game with us, but everyone of us more or less cherrypicks the data that supports what we know to be 'true' - it's not lying, it's human nature.
Without going into details, I suspect he has made the error of trying to apply linear science on non-linear systems. I'm not sure Taubes has yet quite grasped what Art De Vany wrote on Evolutionary Fitness years before:
"All humans are self-organized dynamic systems. Systems that live in the critical region between order and chaos display power law behavior... randomization is an essential element..."At the end of the day, Taubes is not able to deliver many interesting or new ideas. I'm afraid he has never been the most inspiring or creative writer out there either. And what's worse, he does not seem to care whether people are couch potatoes or marathon runners. GT is almost as devastating as TV!
Taubes seems to enjoy staying forever the ultimate opposite of popular fitness motivators like Jack LaLanne (who died Sunday at 96, R.I.P.) or Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man. Instead of attacking carbs, both of these healthy athletes have stressed the importance of eating natural, whole and high-quality foods.
So without further adieu, this is time I officially quit being a Taubes-head. I cannot recommend this book to anyone, with the possible exception being the poor old calorie-counter in the video below, the professor who did the Twinkie Diet Experiment.
In my experience, quitting Taubesianism cold turkey is easier said than done. That's why I've provided the following three easy steps for other victims, who would wish to follow in my footsteps:
- Realize you're addicted to Taubes. Stop studying his books like they were the Old and New Testament. Just read something completely different for a while, like 'Perfect Health Diet' by Jaminet and Jaminet.
- Avoid following his new blog, which is also very boring. Subscribe to his archrival My Carb Sane-Asylum instead. I'm not saying she has all the answers, but it's refreshing to expose your mind to controversial views, and she's fun to read.
- Don't take my word for it. For a second opinion, read this excellent review of WWGF by Yoni Freedhoff. Breath deep, relax, and feel Taubesianism leave your body (LOL).
Good riddance bodyfat, sedentary lifestyle and GT!