Two Reasons Why We Get Fat

I’m re-reading the excellent Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes and will be sharing lots of my notes and highlights.

So let’s get right to the good stuff. While there will be outliers and complications, the truth is that most of us get fat for two simple reasons:

  • when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue
  • our insulin levels are determined by the carbohydrates we eat

The more detailed explanation from Why We Get Fat (emphasis mine):

First, when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when these levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel.

Second, our insulin levels are effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat–not entirely, but for all intents and purposes. The more carbohydrates we eat, and the easier they are to digest and the sweeter they are, the more insulin we will ultimately secrete, meaning that the level of it in our bloodstream is greater and so is the fat we retain in our fat cells.

Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat,” is how George Cahill, a former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently described this to me.

So there you have it. Control your insulin levels and you can control your fat. Hopefully the book will cover how to control insulin levels in more detail (I bet it does).

If you haven’t read Why We Get Fat, do so now, I can’t recommend it highly enough.


I’m happy to report I finally get to try BankSimple, now just called Simple. I signed up for an invite back in March of 2010 and received one about two weeks ago (I believe they started the invite process near the end of 2011). Technically, Simple is not a bank — Simple partners with banks and becomes the friendly layer of customer service in between (we hope). While there is a distinction, for me as an end user it doesn’t really matter much.

Simple has yet to roll out all planned features, but I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far. I transferred a small amount of money to my account to give Simple a try. The transfer time was in line with what I’m used to with other banks. A few days later I received my Visa debit card in the mail. The packaging was nice — definitely had a human touch — and it reminded me a bit of FieldNotes brand packaging.

Simple debit card mailing

So far I’ve only used my card for a few small transactions around town and everything has gone smoothly. I’m primarily using the iPhone App to manage my account, and of course you can do it all on Simple’s website too.

Speaking of websites, I use Mint to manage my money. Unfortunately, Simple is not yet integrated with Mint. I added the account, but Mint says it’s in BETA and currently being worked on. That’s unfortunate, but I’m hopeful it won’t be long until it’s available.

As for the features still to come, there will be an Android app but that’s not out yet. Same for joint accounts and mobile check deposit.

If all continues to go well — and mobile check deposit works as expected — I just might make this my primary bank. At the very least, I expect Simple to replace the other ‘online’ banks I use.

Americans Drink More Soda Than Anyone Else

I’m sure America’s 30% obesity rate is just a coincidence.

A map of soda consumption in 80 countries

Fit to Fat to Fit

Great article at CNN on a fitness trainer who gained 70 pounds and lost it in one year.

The part that really jumped out at me was how fast someone can go from the pinnacle of fitness to about my (current) size:

He gave up the gym and started consuming junk food, fast food and soda. In just six months, he went from 193 pounds with a 34-inch waist to 265 pounds with a 48-inch waist.

Of course he wrote a book too.