At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard the calories in/calories out approach to weight loss and body composition. As the theory goes, provided you’re eating fewer calories than you burn in a given day (or working harder to burn more than you take in), you’ll stay trim. Gaining weight, therefore, is typically result of either eating too much (Taubes refers to this as “gluttony”) or moving too little (referred to as “sloth”).
In Why We Get Fat, author Gary Taubes argues for a different approach. What if gluttony and sloth aren’t the cause of why we get fat, but the result of getting fatter?
When a child grows, we don’t say that she’s growing because she’s eating so much during her growth spurt. We say that she’s eating more because she’s in a growth spurt. Hormones that encourage growth are the cause; eating more calories to sustain that growth is the consequence.
Taubes makes the case that getting fat works the same way. Fat accumulation has more to do with hormones (namely, insulin). At improper levels, these hormones create an environment that’s conducive to fat storage; our bodies essentially become experts at storing fat. This same fat storing environment leads to increased hunger and decreased activity. They’re the effect, not the cause, of getting fat.
I recently listened to the audiobook and found it pretty eye-opening. I thought I would share some of my main takeaways here, but I encourage you to get the book if you want a full deep dive!