Are We What We Eat?

So, I went on a diet recently. I don’t do that lightly. In fact, I don’t think I ever admitted to doing it before. But, as the Barenaked Ladies song goes, “I’m gaining pounds / at the precipice of too late…”. I’ve felt like I needed to do something for a while, and I’d done some reading about the science around healthy eating, and never really come away with anything that felt like reality to me.

Oddly enough, I got a nudge in the right direction by Paul Thurrott on his “Windows Weekly" podcast over on the TWiT network. He happened to mention that one of his new year’s resolutions was to lose weight. And he said it with the confidence of a practiced gunslinger facing down a kid with a spud gun.

What was his secret? He mentioned a book called “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by a science writer named Gary Taubes. Since I’m addicted to the Kindle and eBooks now, and it was available there, I picked it up.


The book absolutely fascinated me for Taubes’ ability to tell the health establishment to go flip itself like a pancake. The food pyramid is wrong. The calories in/calories out method of maintaining weight is wrong. A lot of the advice we’re given about how to control cholesterol is wrong. I left the book trying to decide if it could be correct.

Thing is, this is actually the second book Taubes has written on the subject. His initial 500+ page treatise, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” was a book aimed squarely at the establishment, to challenge them with detailed science. “Why We Get Fat…” is the populist version. So it seemed like the science was really there, and it rang true to me, despite there being a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about what Taubes’ point is. (It mostly has to do with carbs and insulin.)

Not having much to lose (or maybe too much to lose) I decided to give the science a try.

One of the appendixes in the book is the handout Duke University gives people that are embarking on their low starch / low sugar diet. So I’m following that plan now. In the first two weeks, I dropped 10 pounds (at least half of which is probably related to water retention). I’m just into the third week, so I’ll try to occasionally update about how things are going.

Definitely take a look at the book if you’re interested in the science of nutrition. It’s an interesting, challenging read. And let me know if you have any favorite ways of losing weight.

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