The carbs

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It’s been two weeks since I read Gary Taubes’ book.  It reminded me to be more judicious about my carb intake.  I’ve had 5 or 6 stubborn pounds hanging on for the last couple years that I’ve been having a tough time getting rid of.

I’ve lost those now.

Not only that, but I mentioned the idea to my in-laws a little over a week ago that it’s all about the carbs.  They admitted they had been overindulging on the carbs in their diet.  I told them it’s worth a try to cut back for a few days to see if it would help them.

It did.  Like me, they both had been holding onto some stubborn pounds.  They cut their carb intake and they both lost 4 – 6 pounds in the first week and report that they feel better.  My father-in-law had a blood test a few days ago and it showed some of the best cholesterol and triglyceride numbers he has shown for awhile, which gets to something else Taubes says in his book.  He contends that eating carbs in place of fat and protein increases bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol and messes up triglyceride counts.

If you are like us and have been stuck with a few extra pounds, I would encourage you to give Taubes’ book a read and also consider cutting your carb intake to about 70 grams a day for a few days to see what happens.

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“Why we get fat” by Gary Taubes

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In this post I said I would read Gary Taubes new book Why We Get Fat.  Here’s my book report.

Taubes presents a lot of (and some of it is convincing) evidence to support that we get fat because we consume too many carbohydrates and those carbohydrates raise our insulin hormone, which happens to control how much fat our bodies store.  The higher our insulin levels, the more we will eat and the more calories we will store.

His recommendation for weight control:

Eat fewer carbs and eat more protein and fats.

He doesn’t recommend an Atkins-style elimination of carbs.  But,  a moderation of around 70 – 80 grams of carbs each day.

To his credit, he doesn’t purport that this is new knowledge.  In fact, he goes to great lengths to say that this was well known by scientists before World War II, but somehow the scientific community in the west shifted to a paradigm of a more carbohydrate-based diet recommendation over past six or seven decades.

Taubes did make me rethink my own weight loss.

Based on my results, I recommend using the calories in/calories equation to balance your intake along with diet-based insulin control by consuming a balance of protein, fat and carbs.  I thought that’s what worked for me.

But Taube contends that my success resulted mainly from reduced carbohydrate consumption.  He may be right.

Thinking back to my diet trials and errors, I remember trying a calorie restricted Weight Watchers.  I reduced my calories, without changing my high carbohydrate consumption and I couldn’t maintain it.  The hunger pains were too great.  My body wanted more calories — which Taube would suggest came from my elevated insulin levels as a result of eating a carb-rich diet.  And, it would have stored those calories as fat.

When I reduced by calorie consumption and balanced my intake with more protein and fat, I also did reduce my carb intake, and the hunger pains weren’t there.

So, while I thought it was the calorie balance AND fat/protein/carb balance that enabled my success, I cannot argue with Taube’s contention that it was really just my carb reduction that led to my weight loss.

If that’s the case, all the better.  That’s fewer things to monitor.  Don’t worry so much about the calorie intake.  Just moderate the carb intake and limit breads, rice, potatoes, milks and sugars.

By all means, if you are interested in his rationale and evidence, read the book.   He also offers some good explanations for how hormones control the fat process in the body that’s worth reading.

If Taubes is right, that’s fewer things to know, but it does put a crimp on a lot of the good stuff.