Why We Get Fat {Get Healthy & Fit, Week 3}

Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

  • Kick my sugar habit
  • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
  • Fit in my clothes
  • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

Why I’m Reducing Carbs

My decision to cut back on carbs as a permanent lifestyle change was made in large part as a result of reading “Why We Get Fat & What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes. I checked it out of the library this summer, and while I already knew much of the information contained therein, it was presented in such a way that my mind was kind of blown. Taubes put all the different puzzle pieces of my knowledge about nutrition and dieting into a complete picture that was, for me, paradigm shifting. 

For example, I already knew that:

  • Fat is good. So is protein.
  • Fat does not make you fat. 
  • Sugar is bad. Very bad.

What I did not know (or had never considered) was that:

  • Eating too much does not make you fat.
  • Eating too much of the wrong thing makes you fat. 
  • Eating too much sugar (even simple carbohydrates) makes you fat.
  • Too much sugar leads to all the diseases we associate with obesity (heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
  • The “calories in-calories out” dieting equation does. not. work. 

While reading the book, I found myself saying, “Yeah, yeah, I knew that already… but I had never thought of it in quite that way before!” 

And the Paradigm Shifts

How does the average person try to lose weight? By cutting calories, right?

Taubes says that is complete and total bunk. OK, those are my words, but that’s basically what he is saying in the book. Here’s the thing: the more you exercise, the more you want to eat. And the less you eat (in an attempt to reduce calories and lose weight), the less energy you have to expend in exercising. See the problem? The one cancels out the other. You cannot function properly while simultaneously attempting to reduce the calories you consume while increasing the calories you expend. The two cannot work independently. If you expend more energy, you need to take in more energy.

Taubes spends a great deal of time explaining this concept and proving its veracity from all different angles: sociological, physiological, historical, biological, and scientific. He analyzes all the data available on weight-loss studies and finds that over and over and over again, they repeat the same message: the amount of food eaten is not the issue; it’s the type of food eaten. 

He builds a very strong case that carbohydrates – especially simple carbohydrates like refined sugars and flours – are entirely responsible for excess weight gain in any person. In the words of an expert he quotes: “Carbohydrates drive insulin which drives fat.” Carbohydrates raise insulin levels, and the insulin signals fat storage. 

What Makes A Person Fat?

To sum up: Fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating too much doesn’t make you fat. Sugars (and simple carbs that turn into sugar) make you fat.

Let me repeat that again, because it’s too important to miss: Sugar makes you fat. Simple carbohydrates make you fat.

He goes a step further and sets out to prove rather convincingly that you can eat as much protein and fat as you want without consequence, as long as you limit (or potentially completely eliminate) simple carbs. He strongly advises (and I concur) that you do not want to starve yourself or go hungry in an effort to lose weight. If you’re hungry, you need to eat. But if you’re going to eat, make sure that it’s largely composed of protein and fat (and non-starchy vegetables).

Did I just feel your paradigm shift? Yeah, I know, that’s what happened to mine, too. I highly recommend you read Why We Get Fat & What to Do About It!  and get the full scoop, as well as all the scientific and historical data to back up these claims. Gary Taubes also wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories, which is on my to-read list.

Note: Taubes comes very close to recommending eliminating carbs completely, including fruits and starchy vegetables. I just don’t think that’s sustainable over the long haul, so I’m choosing to limit those foods to meal times in small portions. I also believe they have nutritional value that compensates for the carbohydrates. And I am very leery of any dietary movement that focuses too closely on one aspect or another of nutrition and health (like digestion, for example).

This Week’s Update

As for my progress this week… it’s not great. I had such a crazy week and while I did my best to make good choices while on the run and eating at other people’s mercy… I definitely consumed a lot more carbs and sugar than I had been recently. Consequently, the measurements didn’t budge too much. And I was too tired every night to exercise except maybe once or twice. I’m hoping to get back into my groove this week, since I should be back to a more “normal” routine (whatever that is!).

Here are my current stats that I will update every Monday:

Weight: 135.6 (UP half a pound!)

Waist (inches): 31 (same, with a little fluctuation up and down)

Butt: 40.5 (same)

Hips: 40.5 (down half an inch!)