In case you missed it, Gary Taubes had a great piece in the New York Times on Sunday (Aug. 30) that challenges yet again the wisdom of telling people to “eat less, exercise more” to lose weight.
If you’re not familiar with his name, Taubes is one of the preeminent voices in dietary science and author of several books, including the one that quite frankly changed my life, “Why We Get Fat.”
In Sunday’s piece, Taubes challenges the wisdom of ignoring the issue of hunger while dieting and then trying to sustain that loss for, well, the rest of one’s life. For too many, eating the high-carb/low fat diet that has been the mainstay advice for decades is just not a sustainable move because it leaves them hungry. We were not meant to go through life hungry.
Instead, Taubes reminds that so much of the evidence shows that it is the high dosages of carbohydrates (particularly sugar) that cause weight gain and curbing those also cuts that hungry feeling people get while dieting.
Personally, I know this to be true. I listened to “the experts” and our federal government when they said that high-carb/low fat was the healthy way to eat. If that’s what “they” said I should eat, I would do it. And I did for years.
The one thing it did was leave me hungry, giving me what I tell people is sort of a shaky feeling inside. Still, I continued to eat this way, because that was supposed to be the right way. Despite the fact every year I was gaining weight, which wasn’t for lack of exercise, either. I worked out at least an hour a day six, sometimes seven days a week. It wasn’t unusual for me on some days to spend two hours in the gym. Doing what I was supposed to do did nothing good for me.
And then my doctor suggested I read “Why We Get Fat.” Through thorough research, Taubes explains why the conventional wisdom to follow a high carb/low fat diet just doesn’t work.
We can see how it doesn’t work: right now some two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. That high carb/low fat diet only seems to work for one-third of our population. What sort of success is that?
Anyway, I read “Why We Get Fat” like I was possessed. (One guy on the L asked me if I was studying for a tough exam after watching me read and re-read passages, then highlight them in yellow.) Taubes shows how the dietary advice we’ve been given was based on shaky, and sometimes totally wrong, science. I was flabbergasted by what I learned. And then I decided the eating plan in the book would be the one I’d follow.
I cut out dairy, restricted my fruit intake, eliminated bread and pasta. I ate protein (including red meat), full fat (no more low-fat crap for me!) and a ton of veggies and salads. I ate until I was full, then stopped. This is an important point that people forget to emphasize when talking about low-carb/high fat diets. BTW, that’s one of the first points the late Dr. Robert Atkins made in touting his much-maligned diet. (I will admit that yesterday at a party I abandoned my regular eating style; this morning, I am back on it.)
And a wonderful thing happened. That shaky feeling left. Lost some weight but more importantly my blood sugar (I am a type 2 diabetic) stabilized.
Taubes is so right; expecting people to go through life hungry is an unrealistic proposition. If you struggle with your weight and have done what Conventional Wisdom has been recommending, I strongly suggest you read “Why We Get Fat.” It could change your life like it did mine and countless others.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gannett Photo Network