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Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It | [Gary Taubes]

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

Building upon this critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Taubes now revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change—in this exciting new book. Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat makes Taubes’s crucial argument newly accessible to a wider audience.
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Publisher's Summary

An eye-opening, myth-shattering examination of what makes us fat, from acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes.

In his New York Times best seller, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes argued that our diet’s overemphasis on certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—has led directly to the obesity epidemic we face today. The result of thorough research, keen insight, and unassailable common sense, Good Calories, Bad Calories immediately stirred controversy and acclaim among academics, journalists, and writers alike. Michael Pollan heralded it as “a vitally important book, destined to change the way we think about food.”

Building upon this critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Taubes now revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change—in this exciting new book. Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat makes Taubes’s crucial argument newly accessible to a wider audience.

Taubes reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century, none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat, and the good science that has been ignored, especially regarding insulin’s regulation of our fat tissue. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid?

Packed with essential information and concluding with an easy-to-follow diet, Why We Get Fat is an invaluable key in our understanding of an international epidemic and a guide to what each of us can do about it.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2010 Gary Taubes (P)2010 Random House

What Members Say

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  •  
    John United States 12-28-11
    John United States 12-28-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrible, boring, worthless drivel... Atkins diet"
    What disappointed you about Why We Get Fat?

    Nothing but meaningless inaccurately placed research to support a pretense that is inaccurate.


    What was most disappointing about Gary Taubes’s story?

    It offered me nothing of value, nothing real. Any common sense would tell you his research is inaccurate and his conclusions drawn from the research of others totally misses the mark. This seemed, to me, to be nothing but a re-boot of the Atkins diet revolution.


    How could the performance have been better?

    not be published.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    not for me... sorry.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Dayton, OH, United States 01-10-11
    Laura Dayton, OH, United States 01-10-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love the book, but where is the appendix?"

    This is a great book, and I really enjoyed it, but he keeps referring to an appendix and some charts or attachments.... which are nowhere to be found. Am I missing something? Where are these files?

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S Baschi - TR, Italy 01-11-11
    S Baschi - TR, Italy 01-11-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Missing the Appendices"

    As ever, Gary Taubes makes a compelling case. This is a very interesting read. The narrator does a very good job of keeping complex material clear. I was very disappointed though that the appendices are missing as well as the photos, which could perhaps be available as a download.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich White Bear Lake, MN, United States 01-11-11
    Rich White Bear Lake, MN, United States 01-11-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Missing PDF"

    Good info but the PDF file with charts and appendix is missing. These are referred to throughout the book but sadly missing.

    5 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    phoenixtoohot Phoenix, AZ USA 11-19-13
    phoenixtoohot Phoenix, AZ USA 11-19-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Just call it Low Card Redux"
    What disappointed you about Why We Get Fat?

    Nothing new ... the author advocates a low carb diet. Painful to listen to 20 hours of tedious narration for what has been covered many times and in much more compact form. This entire book could be summarized on a 3x5 card and has already been documented in many other books plus a wealth of info on the internet.


    Has Why We Get Fat turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I will do more due diligence to make sure that a new title is not just another re-hashed topic.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Huge disappointment and mild anger at the author in duping so many people by writing two tedious books on a well worn subject, but masking them in a misleading title.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Freeland, PA, United States 05-23-13
    Lisa Freeland, PA, United States 05-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Why We Get Fat"

    I just could not get into this book. I thought it was repeatative and pretty much common sense that we have heard our whole lives. I never finished it. Definitely would not recommend. Eat healthy and exercise. Best advice and you dont have to read the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meesha Melbourne, Australia 03-07-13
    Meesha Melbourne, Australia 03-07-13
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    "Too technical and intense"
    What did you like best about Why We Get Fat? What did you like least?

    Did not LIKE this book. It's too technical and the narration is not engaging and interesting. There was no aha moments. The story dives deep into history and science and it becomes too difficult to follow along. I'm sure there is some great info there however I think I'm more confused now than before. Basically you get fat if you eat wheat and sugar. And it explains why poor people are fatter than the rest of society! A bit disappointing!


    Has Why We Get Fat turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Maybe?


    What didn’t you like about Mike Chamberlain’s performance?

    Too boring but the content was boring too


    Was Why We Get Fat worth the listening time?

    No


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Lewis San Francisco, CA USA 03-07-13
    Brian Lewis San Francisco, CA USA 03-07-13 Member Since 2009

    Brian L.

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    "Too much fluff."
    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The reader plainly does not follow the argument and is unsure which words to emphasize. Even worse, he substitutes the word "casual" for the word "causal" every single time. Otherwise, he's fine.


    Any additional comments?

    Essentially, this book contains about thirty minutes of content. For most of it, the author purports to refute the notion that weight loss occurs when we take in less calories than we use (which he calls "calories in, calories out"). After about two and a half hours of pretending to refute the statement, he flat out admits that its true (which of course it is). He then backs up to the much more reasonable position that "calories in, calories out" is not the only factor or even the most salient factor in explaining long term weight changes, since hormones affect our disposition and behavior. That point is interesting and has sparked me to look into things. Unfortunately, he spends about thirty minutes on describing how hormones work, and then goes back into nonsense. This stuff is like nails on a chalkboard to me. For example, one point that drives me absolutely nuts is his suggestion that logicians deal with causality. I can't get those hours back.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie RENO, NV, United States 12-04-12
    Debbie RENO, NV, United States 12-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Ultimately disappointing"
    Would you try another book from Gary Taubes and/or Mike Chamberlain?

    Definitely from Mike Chamberlain - maybe from Gary Taubes


    Would you ever listen to anything by Gary Taubes again?

    Maybe


    Was Why We Get Fat worth the listening time?

    The explanation of how protein, fat and carbohydrates are utilized by the human body is the easiest to understand that I've come across. And the examination of why obesity rates corollate with poverty is interesting and thought provoking. But Gary's interpretation of facts or studies to create new 'facts' is questionable.

    Seriously? - the way for a 'fat' person to get lean without depravation is to only eat meat (any kind and as much as wanted) and leafy green veggies? I agree that exercise by itself will not cause someone to get lean and that controlling the intake of food is basically the only factor is controlling obesity; however to dismiss exercise as not beneficial is ridiculous.

    Frankly I disagree with Gary's assertion that being a glutton in regards to meat, a slouth in regards to exercise, avoiding forever most if not all carbs (including grains, fruits and non green veggies) is the way out of obesity. I'll take my chances on avoiding these 'truths' and will continue to work on a different healthy lifestyle than the one advocated in this book.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Martin Rockville, MD USA 09-29-12
    D. Martin Rockville, MD USA 09-29-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Best book on the subject, could be better written"

    This is one of those books with too many reviews already, but many of them seem to be from the perspective of dieters telling us how much this book has improved their lives. I can't tell you yet whether my life will be changed or not, though I'm definitely going to try to do what Taubes says (I definitely have some pounds to lose). His ideas--basically that it is refined carbohydrates that make people fat, more or less full stop--are not all that novel, as he would be the first to admit. Indeed, one of his main points is that this was the dominant and traditional theory of obesity through the early 20th century, and only relatively recent bad science has tried to convince us otherwise. But Taubes explains these ideas better than other recent works on the subject, and backs up his claims a lot better than most diet books.

    I do have to fault the book though for being something of an unhappy medium between a popular science book and a diet book. Apparently Taubes' previous work, Good Calories Bad Calories, which I haven't read, was more of the former, and this book was written for people without an inclination to sit through the whole long argument. Fair enough, but the problem I have is that Taubes spends roughly the first third of the book arguing against what he calls the calories-in-calories-out school of obesity. I guess he's probably used getting a lot of objections from hostile audiences, but I was ready to concede his point that the CiCo people have it wrong quite early on, and got pretty bored with the repetition. Then though, when he gets to explaining his own theory, he often moves very quickly through the most interesting parts, like how the LPL receptor works, the paradoxical effects of cortisol, or how the metabolism of fructose and glucose differ. And some of his explanations were kind of just so: why do men and women differ in where we put on fat? Because our distribution of these LPL receptors is different. I feel like there's a follow-up question here...

    Perhaps what makes Taubes's book most original, is just how much he's sticking it to the past fifty years of obesity researchers. Taubes really seems to believe that bad advice on weight loss, which has displaced traditional views, has led to a vicious cycle, and that sedentary living and cheap food are not the culprits we've been led to believe--it's not how much you eat and exercise, but what you eat that counts. If true, medical authorities deserve a lot of blame for the enormous amounts of needless suffering and premature deaths they've caused. This bad advice may literally have resulted in millions dying early and suffering various unnecessary complications. This may be right up there in the annals of the worst effects of bad science in history, along with things like "comparative racial studies." Taubes makes the case that the real cause of this bad science is a moralization of a technical question--the idea that fat people are fat because they're lazy and glutinous appeals to researchers on a deep level they're barely aware of. I might also suggest that it appeals to the reductionist tendencies in many researchers. I'd also like to draw the analogy to bad economists who believe long slumps are the price we pay for over exuberance in boom years, rather than technical failings of dynamic interconnected systems that we have the power to correct with the right understanding and intervention. Clearly, these arguments deserve much more attention.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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