First of all, thank you for all you sweet words and well wishes about Zephyr. It really means a lot to me to hear everyone’s caring words.
Yesterday I was reading the new People magazine and I stumbled across a short blurb about the book, Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes. Give me a review of a nutrition book and I am automatically intrigued, so of course, I read it. My thoughts? I was horrified. As an RD in training, everything noted in the review was just horrendous. Let me give you the review before I toss my opinions out there:
Why We get fat
Blame carbs- not butter or TV- says science writer Gary Taubes in a well-researched, if debatable, take on obesity.
Eat As Much As You Like, Really.
“Protein and fat don’t make us fat- only carbohydrates do,” writes Taubes. “So there is no reason to curtail them in any way.”
Cut Bread, Pasta, Sugar, and Fruit
“What makes fruit worrisome… is that it contains fructose [which] is uniquely fattening as carbohydrates go.” Instead, he prescribes filling up on proteins, fats, and a minimum of three cups of salad greens and non-starchy vegetables each day.”
Hit the Gym For Health Or Fun- Not Weight Loss
“There are indeed excellent reasons to exercise,” he writes. “But little evidence exists to support the belief that the number of calories we expend has any effect on how fat we are.”
Prepare To Defend Your Diet
Even 40 years after Dr. Atkins, a pro-bacon regimen is controversial. “If you accept my arguments… you may be going against your doctor’s advice.”
So there you have it. This is the final word on nutrition, obviously. Not! For starters, any diet touting carbohydrates as “evil” immediately hits a nerve for me. The science behind it is this:
When we eat carbohydrates, that is, whole grain, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, they are converted in to glycogen in our body. Glycogen is our number one energy store and our body prefers to use it before it metabolizes proteins and fats. In fact, you do get more energy from breaking down a gram of fat than a gram of carbohydrate or fat, however, problem with relying on breaking down fat to produce glucose is that the process is relatively slow and energy intensive. Metabolizing fat can be a useful long term source of energy but it is too slow and inefficient to support immediate demands for energy to fuel ongoing athletic activity.
Any person who exercises will attest to the fact that a carbohydrate rich diet is highly effective in providing pre-exercise energy. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whole grains are our best choice as far as energy and are far more nutritionally superior than white bread or other similar carbohydrate sources.
However, the part of the article that upset me the most is the statement that Taubes makes about exercise. 3500 calories=1 pound. This is a scientific fact and isn’t even worth debate. That is to say, you eat 3500 calories more than you burn and you will gain a pound, and if you burn 3500 more calories than you eat, you will lose a pound. With this in mind, how can anyone argue that there is little evidence to support the fact that “the number of calories we expend has any effect on how fat we are”?
If you burn 500 calories per day, in addition to your basic metabolic rate, (ignoring the element of diet) you will lose a pound in a week. I am assuming that Taubes defines being “fat” in terms of weight, so how can he possibly argue that this is valid?
And finally, how can any person, from a scientific standpoint, argue against the nutritional benefits of fruit? Fruit contains a huge amount of the vitamins we need in our diet and cutting them out is completely unnecessary and counter productive. Not to mention that fruit contains a great deal of fiber, which helps in digestion and the sensation of fullness.
So if we listen to Gary Taubes, we should cut fruit and carbohydrates out of our diet and really not even bother exercising if we want to lose weight. Thank goodness we aren’t allowed to exercise, because without carbohydrates we wont have the energy to anyway.
Please keep in mind that all my opinions are solely based on the short snippet I read in People and I have not read the entire book.
What do you think? Is Gary Taubes’s “diet” sensible or healthy? Is this the kind of diet that you RDs out there would stand behind?