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Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat (Unabridged) by Gary Taubes - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, Nutrition, Reference, Videos

December 18, 2011

Video Article

Join investigative journalist Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories, as he addresses CrossFit HQ Seminar Staff at the Trainer Summit held in October in San Diego. In the full version of the presentation, Taubes shares his research on fat accumulation and the risk of disease.

In Part 1, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman introduces Taubes and shares how the journalist’s research dovetails with CrossFit’s passion for fitness. Taubes says he appreciates the support nutrition-minded CrossFitters have given his publications, and he explains how he chose his career path.

“I’m interested in trying to get the medical-research establishment to change the way they think about the foremost medical issues of our day, which is obesity,” he says.

According to Taubes, the current energy-expenditure hypothesis says that obesity results from caloric imbalance due to an overly prosperous “toxic environment.” He provides examples of how this hypothesis falls short of explaining obesity prevalence in malnourished populations with high activity levels.

In Part 2, Taubes continues reviewing the obesity literature and its contradictions, including the paradox of fat disposition. Despite conventional wisdom, Taubes says that eating less and exercising more don’t work to reverse or protect against obesity.

“We’ve been throwing money at the energy-expenditure hypothesis for a century. This is the best we can say about it: it’s probably wrong,” he says. “Practicing energy balance is impossible.”

In Part 3, Taubes provides an alterative hypothesis: “obesity is a disorder of fat accumulation.” He shares the research on this hypothesis and his conclusions.

Taubes explains that fat accumulation is regulated by insulin, which is the “fat-storage hormone.” To lose fat, you have to lower insulin levels. Because insulin is secreted in response to dietary carbohydrates, Taubes suggests restricting carbohydrates, especially high-glycemic, starchy carbs.

For the condensed version, please click here.

Part 1
25min 47sec

Part 2
25min 31sec

Part 3
30min 8sec

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10 Comments on “Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat (Unabridged)”


wrote …

awesome lecture. I love to hear him speak.

I hope the Q&A is going to be posted to.


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Mike Tighe wrote …

Wow.. Awesome lecture! I learned so much! He's a great speaker and is awesome at putting It in Lamen's Terms!


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wrote …

Thanks Gary. Excellent, informative, nuts and bolts of leaning out.


wrote …

This is also a good interview with Taubes:


wrote …

Post the Q&A please.


wrote …

Glad I watched the whole thing, great video.


wrote …

I would love to know Gary's perspective on insulin and purposeful weight gain for sports performance. In other words, can insulin be used in a positive manner, to gain muscle? As has been suggested with a post-workout carb/protein drink.


wrote …

Hey Benjamin,

Two main points:

1) My understanding is that insulin inhibits or shuts down HGH (Human Growth Hormone) activity, which is one of the predominant hormones in muscle growth (and fat burning) that is typically active after intense lifting &/or interval work. Point being, you may not achieve the TYPE of gains you want by strategically spiking insulin.
I was deliberately avoiding any sugar/starch of any kind immediately following workouts based on that understanding but no insulin is being produced during the post workout period, which brings me to the second point...

2) I just recently got a pretty good (stern) lecture from my lil (big) brother (Chiropractor, fitness junkie, Primal foodie, and nutrition/physiology straight A type). As he explained it the post workout carb/protein drink actually bypasses insulin altogether. It's called "Insulin Independent Glucose Uptake". Basically, your body's cells are so starved for glycogen that they consider it an "emergency" so they bypass the normal chain of command (hormones) and open up their receptors to allow the glucose to dock directly. He explained further that if you do not give your body any glycemic source at this time, it is likely that the protein that is consumed will be immediately subject to ketosis to feed your desperately starved cells. So the glucose or fructose or whatever provides the needed emergency refueling, freeing the protein to go to immediate work doing the muscle rebuilding.

Fact check on the above, anyone?


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