A big fat book

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I used to be fat. The heaviest I ever weighed according to a scale was 265, but that was after a couple of weeks on a diet. It caused some issues for me, pre-diabetes/insulin resistance for one.

Anyway, to get skinny and stay skinny, you’ve got to get a little obsessed. After a momentary increase last summer and food restriction this past fall, I weigh about 202, and I’m going to take it to 189 or a bit less.

That’s a long way of getting to the point that I like to read books about nutrition and diet. My body is my favorite science experiment, and I’ll add and remove ingredients to see what they’ll do to my metabolism.

I recently read two books along these lines: The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss and Why We Get Fat And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. Though Ferriss offers interesting ideas in his book, I’m sticking with Taubes for this column.

I’m a big proponent of Taubes’ analysis of scientific studies conducted over the last couple of hundred years, and I’m a low-carb believer (although not such a believer that I feed my son Hunter according to Taubes’ theories). We did a cover story about his prior work, Good Calories, Bad Calories in 2008, www.newsreview.com/reno/content?oid=626330.

There’s not a lot new in the book, but it’s plain after thinking about it for a while that Taubes has figured out simpler ways to say complex things. The biggest one I’ve learned thus far: People don’t get fat because they eat too much; people eat too much because they’re getting fat. The very mechanism of putting on fat deprives muscle tissue of nutrition, which sends a chemical to the brain (below conscious thought) telling it to eat more.

I’m glad the debate is moving in this direction. Few people are fat because they choose to be fat or because they lack willpower or morals. But one reason they stay fat is because hundreds of diet book authors are pleased to lie to them.