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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' 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2010 Gary Taubes (P)2010 Random House

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The answer is a low-carb diet

The first half of the book is about what doesn't make us fat. If you're interested in scientific studies, it's useful information. If not, it's like plowing through a textbook. Finally, the second half gets to the point, which is sugars and carbohydrates make us fat. It's a little more than that like the fruits that are grown today are much sweeter and less nutritious. Even when we try to eat healthily by consuming more fruits and vegetables, we may be consuming more sugar. Then we're perplexed why we're getting fat yet still feeling hungry.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Penny
  • ALDARA PARK, South Africa
  • 02-04-11

It came in the nick of time

This book came in the nick of time for me. In order to fix my cholesterol I was put on the wrong diet, and started gaining weight, increasing my risk of heart disease. Hopefully I can now control it correctly.

One irritating problem with this book: the narrator replaces "causal" with "casual" and "causality" with "casualty". It would be amusing if it wasn't so obviously wrong. -1 star for these repeated errors. Apart from that I think this book is great.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Georgina
  • Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico
  • 02-16-11

Changed my life

As soon as I finished I bought an Adkins's diet book and began avoiding carbohydrates.
It worked wonderfully, I have lost around 10 pounds and the most amazing thing, I am eating more and feeling a lot better. So buy, and read the book. It is a miracle.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Worth the read, but flawed

Any additional comments?


Gary Taubes' “Why We Get Fat” (WWGF) is an engaging summary of the science related to human weight gain. Taubes cites numerous research articles, case studies, and social/cultural situations to support the hypothesis that obesity is a result of our bodies inability to effectively digest select carbohydrates. The more complex the carbohydrate (bread, rice, potatoes,...) the higher the probability an individual will gain weight. This carbohydrate digestive processing program is also idiosyncratic, effecting some while not others.

WWGF reads like a doctoral dissertation attempting to support the argument that excess carbohydrates are responsible for excess human weight gain and corresponding health problems. Taubes espouses that diets high in protein and fat with restricted intake of complex carbohydrates not only results in weight loss, but are the healthier for the body. WWGF also reports that although exercising is beneficial to the human body, it relationship to weight lose is inconclusive at best. At this moment many readers may be saying “What the What”? According to Taubes you have been brain washed by the dieting industry and he has the research to prove it.

The strength of WWGF is Taubes debunking many long established weight lose myths. For example, the myth that weight lose occurs when calories consumed are exceeded by calories expended (called the first law of thermodynamics). For Taubes, the solution to society's obesity problem is not reducing time sitting on couch, but the replacing complex carbohydrates with copious amounts fat/proteins. Does this make sense? To Taubes the research is clear and Americans have been mislead into thinking dieting is an excess calorie problem.

There are two major drawbacks to the WWGF. Taubes arguments and theories are not independently verified. He does not conduct the hard scientific experiment to justify his claims. As a reader you keep waiting for him to discuss that well controlled study that will allow you to start eating steak for three meals per day. That study never materializes. A second weakness is WWGF does not provide any guidance on the types of carbohydrates you should focus on relative to weight lose. His best advice is to replace high insulin producing carbs with green leafy carbs. WOW and Thank you!

WWGH is a great book for readers interested in a more than passing interest in weight lose. The book is very well written, flows, and the information is easily digestible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good premise, weak arguments

Where does Why We Get Fat rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

As far as audiobooks are concerned, it's good. I liked the performance. It wasn't stale and boring, even when getting into some scientific concepts

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Exactly what I expected

What about Mike Chamberlain’s performance did you like?

He kept what at times was a dense topic light enough to follow

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Disappointment at the way some of the arguments were made. It's definitely written to draw out people's sensationalism

Any additional comments?

He gives you the general premise of the book at the beginning and then spends a good bit of it using weak arguments to discredit people who may detract from the premise he's trying to express.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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More truth about weight loss than in any diet book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I have fought the battle for most of my life. At 50 yrs. old I am now 80 pounds thinner than I have been for most of my life. I have read every diet book and belonged to every diet program. Gary Taubes Nails it! I am one of the less than 5% who maintain my weight lost and have done so for over 5 years. There are many other good weight lose books. But this one covers them all without endorsing or laying out any one diet. With that said each person is different, but I do believe if you want to loose it for good most of us could do very well by simply giving up 3 foods....Wheat, Potatoes, Rice. Hard to do but turns out quite possible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephanie
  • BERKELEY, CA, United States
  • 07-09-12

Scientific. Interesting.

I found this an interesting read despite the heaviness of scientific data presented. Lots of good information to ponder. But be warned, it's big on meat as seemingly a cure to the issue of obesity. Gary appears to be a proponent of the Atkins diet and similar ways of eating.

He was pretty convincing, though. And this is coming from a 20+ year vegetarian. Afterwards, I read In Defense of Food, which gives another perspective entirely, however, and I found great benefit in having read them both---as I felt I got a well-rounded view of today's science and perspectives on diet. In the end, my leanings are more toward that of Pollan's (In Defense of Food), but this is a very good and worthy read for that sense of well-roundedness.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Pamela
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-29-12

It's worth listening to it and then taking action

Here is a compelling argument for eliminating sugars and processed starches from our diet. The correlation between eating sugars/starches, the development of insulin resistance, obesity, and subsequent heart disease, is frightening. This book does go into the biochemistry of glucose and fructose metabolism, but it really isn't necessary to understand each step of that process. Focus on the end result, and be very, very afraid.

The real shock is in the author's explanation of the disconnect between the scientific research and the established medical advice that we are given every day. "Calories in, calories out" has been the mantra for as long as I can remember, and it is still being touted in the recent HBO series "The Weight of the Nation" (May 2012). I had read the author's essay on this series in Newsweek and decided to listen to his book. I was simply amazed... and when I cut out sugars/grains (just to see what would happen) I lost eight pounds in four weeks.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Extremely informative

Would you listen to Why We Get Fat again? Why?

Yes. There is a lot of information that I didn't know or understand before.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The connection of eating carbohydrates to insulin production and appetite elevation was illuminating.

What does Mike Chamberlain bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He made the arguments much more compelling. The more senses involved in learning the better the lesson is learned.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The discussion of how eating carbohydrates elevates hunger was very important. So much of the book described my battles with hunger and weight control. I liked the fact the book did not advocate for one particular diet plan over another. It was left up to you as to how you would use the information to plan your diet.

Any additional comments?

I chose to listen to this book because of the high rating your website gave it. I'm so glad I did. Using the knowledge I learned from the book I am now losing weight and feeling wonderful. I've feared for years that I might be heading toward diabetes. Now I'm hopeful I can avoid that. In that respect this may be a life changing book for me. All this good news because I joined an audio book club. Keep up the good work!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary G
  • Locust Grove, VA, United States
  • 01-16-12

excellent book that debunks myth about weight

Where does Why We Get Fat rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Excellent, clear audiobook ... narrator has a nice clear voice

Any additional comments?

everyone who wants to love weight should read this one!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • The Spaniel
  • 03-26-16

Scientific but just missed the practical

I liked the science, the author clearly knows his stuff and I do believe him. I was left slightly wondering - how. I guess I just start experimenting and reducing carbs to see what impact it has on my overall weight!

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  • davejt
  • 10-09-15

potentially life changing

This book presents the science behind what I already believed about carbohydrates and why we get fat and ill. I think people are starting to take note more, but change is going to be slow. A must read/listen for anyone wanting to understand how to get healthy and lose fat.

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  • Tom Gurden
  • 09-28-15

Everyone should read and understand the information in this book

As the title says, the layman's guide, read it, share it, read it again, and again!

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  • dot_stockport
  • 09-08-15

interesting if biased

ok. this is an important book which has ruffled feathers. it describes some interesting evidence about fat accumulation. however it comes across as rather soap boxy, leaving me dubious of Taubes' objectivity.


the basic premise is that it's carbs that are to blame. Thats not wholly unreasonable, but Taubes focuses on biology to a degree that simply wouldn't make sense to most obese people I've ever met. we don't just eat because we're hungry we eat because we've learned to eat. A second omission is that protein if eaten in excess can, I believe, metabolize into sugar. This seems quite an important point if we'd are being directed to eat as much meat as we like, but to stay away from sugar.

The narration is ok. is a dry book read dry. I was disappointed however, that noone thought to correct the repeated mispronounciation of "causal" as "casual" given the focus of the argument.

I'm glad to have heard it. It poses questions. I'd be worried for someone who thought it answered them all.

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  • Justine Conroy
  • 08-03-15

Excellent book

I have read many books on the reasons to eliminate carbohydrates from our diet but none have been as clear and informative as this. Would highly recommend.

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  • Lee Calladine
  • 07-30-15

Excellent content and narration

Very easy to pick up and accessible to those with minimal nutrition education. Taubes at his best again.

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  • Srjane
  • 05-11-15

Life changing

Really interesting science behind this book's subject which makes sense. I would have liked access to appendices mentioned. It's true you don't feel hungry which is a bit weird. This book should not be confused with the Atkins diet although there are similarities. This goes further and sets out some useful safety strategies.

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  • Darylg
  • 05-09-15

Frighteningly eye opening.

Excellently researched and narrated book. Some of the points were repetitive, but I think that's necessary when trying to convey such complex biological processes to laypeople.
For anyone interested in the topic of how the human body stores and manages fat, this is a must read.

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  • K. Young
  • 05-07-15

Best book on its subject

This is an excellent book and possibly the best book on this subject. It's a bit technical at times but will satisfy the doubters on the complete authenticity of the low carb lifestyle. Strongly recommended

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  • gar
  • 05-01-15

Narrated by a Nerdy Chris Hansen

Found the narrator's voice annoying. This book was recommended to me as a book to give to someone to introduce them to this sort of thing but It's not dumbed down so it's unsuitable.