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New “Eat More Fat” Infographic: Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat” in a Nutshell

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There are some awesome infographics about nutrition coming out now. Check out this one from Massive Health.  It does a really good job of summarizing Gary Taubes’ theories as explained in his opus, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and later in his simplified Why We Get Fat.

Gary Taubes is a friend. He introduced me to his publishing agent, who became my publishing agent. He spoke to a packed house at svhi.com, the non-profit I run. And in all honesty, Good Calories, Bad Calories is one of the best nutrition and science books I’ve ever read, not just for the content, but for the way he never wasted even one sentence. It takes a master to pack as much information into 500 pages as Gary did, without making it into a boring list of references. If you still believe the calorie myth, read that book. You will walk away knowing what the science said vs what the media said, and you will be angry.

Why We Get Fat focuses on insulin’s role in obesity, discussing the damaging effects of excess carb intake. It also addresses fructose, the obesity-promoting sugar found in fruit, agave nectar, and a number of other supposedly “healthy” foods.

For most people, getting fat comes down to more than just insulin. Some of my other favorite theories are leptin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, and xenoestrogen exposure from environmental toxins and mold toxins. There are also pieces to the puzzle we have yet to discover; that’s why the Bulletproof Diet methodology is to keep evaluating new research in order to update the infographics as new research becomes available.

Stephan Guyenet offers a rebuttal to Gary Taubes’ book  in a thoughtful aritcle about the food reward hypothesis of obesity. Why We Get Fat doesn’t touch on the reward aspect of food and how it relates to fatness. In a nutshell, the food reward hypothesis suggests that constantly eating foods which lead to massive dopamine release (sugar is a prominent example) can cause people to overeat and gain weight. Artificially enhanced flavors may play a role too.  Stephen also posted an excellent article about the carbohydrate hypothesis.

Here’s Why We Get Fat in a nutshell. If you’re interested you should read the book too – there’s a lot more to it. There are a lot of reasons why people get fat. The book doesn’t cover the whole picture, but it covers a prominent part, and it dispels the oversimplified and nonsensical “calories in, calories out” hypothesis.

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By Dave Asprey

  • What do you think of Stephan Guyenet’s criticism of Taubes’ work?

    • I think it’s superb.

    • Jean Bush

      I had read about it some time ago; thanks for the refresher, I’m reading the article now.

  • Eddie

    HRV on my favorite bodybuilding website and some sweet special forces study refrerences.

  • Kaylee

    Hey Dave,
    I agree with the concept of IF and like to do it from time to time. My question is can I substitute the Bulletproof Coffee for 100% cacao chocolate in the morning? Or will the chewing and what not of the chocolate ruin the effect of fasting…

    • Dave Asprey

      Kaylee, an interesting question. I think the protein in chocolate will get you; you could do pure cocoa butter though.

    • no, you can’t.

  • Hi Dave,

    Just wanted to say Thanks for sharing our infographic!

    We also released our first experimental app The Eatery (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-eatery/id468299990?mt=8) recently, which you may find useful. It’s available for free on the App Store.

    The Eatery gives you the big picture breakdown of your eating habits and the best places to start making changes.

    It was named one of the Top 10 Health apps on the App Store in 2011.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on The Eatery, so if you’d like to share, do drop us a note!

    Warmest regards,
    Cassandra and the Massive Health team

    • Dave Asprey

      Thank you for making it. I’ll have to check out the app, seems very cool.

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  • J-Bird

    I love your blog and appreciate all that you have to/and do offer. It’s been proven in many a metabolic ward study that regardless of carb intake calories are always the defining factor in weight loss in these studies. Anthony Colpo has refuted Taubes and Eades and the whole calories don’t count with endless citations. Even Martin Berkhan says that a calorie deficit is necessary to lose fat.

  • J-Bird

    Also, protein raises insulin just as much and in some cases more than carbs do.

    • lowcarbconvert

      No, it definitely does not. Only in some instances where protein is eaten in excess.

      • mhikl

        Exactly, lowcarbconvert. We need very moderate protein if we are not exercising, tearing, working muscle. If we are working hard, exercising hard, body building hard, then we will be needing more protein to build and repair muscle. What is not used for building & repairing can be used for energy, aka converted to sugar burning with heavy releasing of uric acid. It is the glory of fat that our bodies need for energy unless we introduce carbs which will take priority until burned or converted to fat and then burned or stored.
        The tricky part is the protein. One can eliminate all carbs but if the protein is too high, much more than is needed to build new and repair torn/damaged muscle, then the rest is turned to sugar, an arduous tax on the body, and weight loss can be stymied, plateaued or even weight gained. Older and or mobile limited persons will not have the speedy metabolism youth and active people have, and either that brick of ice cream or the twenty ounce steak will slow weight loss.
        It’s the little details that J-Bird and others get mixed up.

      • Jean Bush

        Read the whole link then write and tell him he’s wrong. I’m sure you have the studies and science to back up your statement.

        • lowcarbconvert

          Speaking from experience and study. Even high protein ingestion on occasion while eating a LCHF regime will increase insulin sensitivity. If you haven’t keto adapted there may be a different scenario.

      • Totally wrong

        • Kimberly Rousseau DC

          Please post your argument.

    • zach jonez

      No, this is BLATANTLY FALSE.

      • Jean Bush

        Let’s look at the effect of insulin on food intake. To keep it as realistic as possible, let’s compare satiety and subsequent food intake among foods that raise insulin to varying degrees. If calories and protein are kept the same, high-carbohydrate meals cause equal or greater satiety than high-fat meals, and equal or less subsequent food intake, despite a much larger insulin response (4, 5, 6, 7). Due to the insulin-stimulating effect of protein, low-carbohydrate high-protein meals can sometimes stimulate insulin to an equal or greater degree than high-carbohydrate meals, yet even in these cases higher insulin release is associated with increased satiety (8). Experiments in which investigators feed volunteers protein foods that stimulate insulin to different degrees show that the amount of satiety is positively correlated with the degree of insulin release (9), which is not consistent with the idea that insulin stimulates food intake. In the long term, low-carbohydrate diets suppress appetite in many overweight/obese people, however this is unlikely to be related to insulin.

        By Stephan Guyenet

      • Kimberly Rousseau DC

        Would you be kind enough to post your rationale?

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  • mikemarkham

    The protein comment is blatantly untrue.

    • Kimberly Rousseau DC

      Please elaborate.

  • Jon

    The reason why obesity and metabolism researchers don’t typically
    subscribe to this idea is that it is contradicted by a large body of
    evidence from multiple fields. I understand that people like ideas that
    “challenge conventional wisdom”, but the fact is that obesity is a
    complex state and it will not be shoehorned into simplistic hypotheses.

    • lowcarbconvert

      “Large body of evidence” = paradigm.

    • Arthur

      ”the fact is that obesity is a complex state and it will not be shoehorned into simplistic hypotheses.” you mean like calories in / calories out? That’s an awful simplistic hypothesis, don’t you think?

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  • Hordac

    Over the past couple of months I have read many articles and the two most recent books by Gary Taub. I like to think that I was a big believer but then someone always comes out with a newer study showing higher levels of of a protein diet increase your risk of cancer significantly – can you view the link below to discuss/explain


    • Dr. Dru


      A. The diet included carbs. Thing is – diet studies are shaky because how do you isolate variables and figure things out when all 3 macronutrients are used Fat, Protein, Carbs. What we do know is that when you eliminate carbs you lose weight the most succesfully – period.

      B. Think about this. As an zoologist knows – when you come across a predators kill in the wild they all look the same – a disemboweled carcass. Apex predators head straight for the fatty, nutrient dense organ meats such as liver, stomach, pancreas. And leave the rest for the buzzards.

      Why then are human mammals bothering with all the meat animals DON’T eat. Easy – culture. Organ meats, and offal are considered “peasant food” and muscles in some bizarre twist of fate – are now considered delicacies. We’ve got it all backwards now because of something as simple as perception. But ask anybody with a grandmother from the old world and their dishes always include Liver, or Tripe, or any manner of delicious hearty healthier meats.

      Perhaps red meat may be bad for us. But the more sensible answer is that we had no business eating mammal muscles in the first place unless we’re starving. And with that being said – nutrient dense poultry, and Omega rich fish are too. So even if red meat were bad for us (which it probably isn’t we’re just eating the wrong parts these days) there’s always seafood and poultry.

      Lastly. Nutritionally speaking Greens =1, Fruits and Veg = 10, Nuts = 15, Animals = 45 and Insects = 50. Because insects go around and eat those greens, fruits, nuts and veg and carry those nutrients with them. Many cultures consider some insects a treat, and a valued source of protein. Why don’t we? Again – poor people food.

    • Dr. Dru

      Lastly, and I should have said this firstly as I looked at the study :

      The diets they fed the subjects were all high carb with between 45% and 56% of the calories from carbs and only 31-33.6% from fat meaning they were only testing what effect a little extra protein has on the Standard American low fat diet!

      In summary, the real headline should have been, “Official Low Fat Diet Guidelines Linked To Cancer”

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  • smoorega

    It’s interesting, but this diet works for me. I used to be insulin resistant, hypothyroid and always tired. I dropped 20lb in one month on this diet. The only reason I stopped was because I was losing weight so fast I lost a lot of energy. I now know that was because I needed to add back my potassium, magnesium, other essential vitamins as I lost the weight. Now I’m back on and feeling much more energetic. All of you haters can $uck it.

  • Jean Bush

    This is BS science; it doesn’t explain why Asians – who’s diet consists of several bowls of white rice through out the day, Italians who have pasta at nearly every meal, and our own past American history where everyone ate bread and potatoes but obesity was rare. Insulin is not the final answer. Some people gobble carbs and never gain, others avoid them and still get fat. There are metabolisms that are primed to expend energy and others that are primed to store it.

    • Bleupapillons

      not that i hold the truth or anything but if you had read the book you would have seen the explanation that just as there are genitics telling that certain race and certain family traits makes the reaction to calories/sugars(whatever) different then others, they made researches on mousses that where meant to get fat and would remain whatever was done diet or not. and other that were meant to be skinny. its like there are cows that are skinny for milks and others that are very fat and are eaten for the rich meat.
      the idea discribed in the book (and also videos) is that when you have a disturbance with the hormones/insulin your body goes into stashing or not stashing depending on what genetic predisposed your insulin tolerance to be. Now because the energies is driven toward creating fat, you are more hungry and more lazy to conserve what is left for your organs… people with higher insulin tolerance dont have that , so they feel the urge to stop eating, and they feel the urge to do sports to spend the extra calories. In conclusion, the more you eat food that increases your insulin, the more chances you will pass your natural limit and trigger your body to store the fat, witch will make you hungry and tired then someone that is still in ”ok” range…. this kind of remind me of the common fact that if you eat a donuts with coffee for breakfast you will get tired and hungrier than if you had some protein and fats in your breakfast for the same amount of calories.

  • Alberto Alvarez

    This is probably the stupidest infographic ever. Not only it doesn’t help anyone learn more about nutrition and how to it, it completely misleads them with the worst ideas and mindset possible. Shame on you guys. I guess money will always be first for you…

    • Bleupapillons

      You do need to know a bit about nutrition to use this information as a complementary information.

  • Sensationalist bullshit.

  • Tom

    The problem is that Gary Taubes opus isn’t in itself a solution. All he really says is that insulin is the link between carbs turning to fat. That’s about it. He seem to think insulin is the problem rather than the messenger. It’s a bit like telling a man who just fell down a hole that the problem is gravity rather than the hole- it just doesn’t add up.

  • Mackenzie

    Is the insulin-obesity hypothesis falling apart? Yes

  • Carbs being the cause of fat gain is junk science. People get fat due to poisoning their thyroids with PUFA and cruciferous vegetables, eating junk food and living sedentary lives.

  • Kimberly Rousseau DC

    The infographic image is blank/white. I tried saving it to see if it would save in its visible form, but no. I cannot see the image which is the topic of this post. FYI

    Also, and of course, thanks for all your wonderful work!

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