Gary Taubes; Why We Get Fat — And Excuses Not To Exercise

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I just finished reading Gary Taubes latest bookWhy We Get Fat And What To Do About It.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I have the same criticism of Mr. Taubes that I have had in the past; he gives people excuses and justifications NOT to exercise.  I do not deny nor refute the studies he cites, but he seems to want to give every obese person every possible out to avoid exercise and in turn,  improve their overall health and wellness.  Exercise may or may not influence weight loss, but it does influence overall health, wellness and fitness.  The myriad of pages he spends to justify indolence and laziness is really a disservice to those who need to take control of their obesity issues and live a better quality of life.  Below is a posting I did in the past, I repost it here because reading his book did not change my mind, it just reaffirmed my opinion. I respect Mr. Taubes and would enjoy a meeting and debating him on the the topic of exercise.  I understand that he is an established and respected writer and, for the time being, a more successful author than I am, but that doesn’t change my views that for all the good he is doing brining to light the truth about proper nutrition, he is not helping anyone with his dissuasion of the importance of exercise.

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Cover of Good Calories, Bad Calories

I was on Jimmy Moore’s Facebook page and blog where I learned of science writer and author of the books; Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat: and what to do about it, among other books, was recently on the Dr. Oz show.  Since I work when the show airs, I watched the online version of the show.

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The show was interesting and  I thought Gary held his own and made his points in the allotted time.  I am sure it was edited for broadcast to fit the time frame, so I am willing to bet that we missed quite a bit.  I did find Dr. Oz to be closed minded and really out of his league when discussing low carbohydrate eating.  I will post more bout this at a later time when I have a chance to view the episode again.

What concerned me was the on-line exclusive discussion concerning exercise.  Gary Taubes is correct; you do not need to incorporate exercise to lose weight.  I will not dispute this fact.  If an obese person follows a low carbohydrate eating plan — that person will lose weight.  No and, if or buts about it.

However, is that really the best way to accomplish the goal?

More importantly, should weight loss be the sole goal?

Tthe answer to both questions is a resounding no!

In my book, in columns that I have written and interviews I have given; I am fond of saying that weight loss is a side effect of fitness.  Not because fitness is the way to lose weight, but because the goal is not weight loss — the actual goal is physical fitness.

I can’t tell you how many times I am asked about lose skin from losing over one hundred pounds or how can one maintain their weight loss and the big one;  I thought once I lost weight I would feel better, but I don’t.

The answer to all of the above is exercise.  The problem is the general view of what exactly is exercise.

Exercise must contain both progressive resistance and endurance exercise.  People must stop thinking aerobic or cardiovascular exercise.  Those terms limit the scope of thought, the type of exercise and of course, the results.

Gary Taubes made the comment that exercising will actually cause a person to eat more by “Working up an appetite.”

To those of us who exercise regularly and follow a low carb eating plan, we can attest that we may have an increase in hunger.  However, since low carb eating doesn’t concern itself with overall quantity of food, this is not a big deal.  That mindset should only apply to those that follow calorie restricted diets.

The other factor is that when one follows an exercise program that incorporates both progressive resistance training and endurance exercises, that person will actually crave the foods that will promote muscle repair, proteins, that will actually assist in  fat loss.

My concern about Mr. Taubes so adamantly opposing exercise is that it will just give the lazy an excuse not to exercise.  Without exercise, one limits their overall enjoyment of life.

As I have said before;  weight loss and fitness are not about living longer; they are about living better.


Chiropractor, Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book; Fat Then Fit Now;  A life beyond wight loss.

He is available to speak at no charge to any school or any youth group. He will make himself available to any talk radio, internet podcasting or television outlet. He has appeared on Public Television WVIA’s State of Pennsylvania and Call the Doctor; Entercom’s Outlook on Northeast PA with Shadoe Steele, Citadel Broadcasting’s Sunday Magazine with Brian Hughes, Lisa Davis’ Your Health Radio; Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast; Hank Garner’s Podcast.


Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the book; Fat Then Fit Now;  A life beyond wight loss.

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12 thoughts on “Gary Taubes; Why We Get Fat — And Excuses Not To Exercise

  1. I have heard Gary say that exercise is healthy and good for you. Many times. He has said that he recommends it. He just says that it isn’t all that effective for weight loss, specifically.

    I have never heard him “adamantly opposing exercise.” Ever.

    I agree with you about exercise, it’s an important part of a healthy life.

  2. Hi Kelly,
    He was pretty forceful in the Dr. Oz interview. But what does concern me the most is that he spends so much time arguing against exercise. I do not deny his accuracy when it comes to the fact that one can lose weight without it. But what concerns me so much is that it may give some just the excuse they need not to exercise.
    He may very well support exercise, but he does expend a lot of energy not only saying it isn’t necessary.
    Thank you for taking the time to comment,

    • I think his argument that we don’t need exercise to lose weight is valid, in that there has been an obsession with exercise ever since the low fat, low calorie diet has been popular, and it has been touted as a way to lose weight. It DOESN’T make one lose weight, but it does have a lot of other benefits. Gary Taubes himself said that HE exercises because it makes him feel good. I lost 60 pounds with low carb eating (still eat this way, it has been a lifestyle change) and I didn’t exercise a lick. Now, that’s not to say I am not more active…I am, and I enjoy the benefits of lifting weights. However, with all the B.S. people have been fed over the years it’s very freeing to know the truth finally…you don’t have to kill yourself like they do on “Biggest Loser” to drop pounds. And let’s face it, even exercise doesn’t get rid of loose skin everywhere on someone who has been extremely obese, but it does help one tone up a bit.

  3. It’s a shame when Taubes goes on these shows. They keep bringing up this very minor part of his book then steer the TV segment into. Taubes says, “exercise doesn’t work”. (you’re riding that wave in this blog post ) But they don’t care to talk about generations of indigenous peoples that were very healthy, they never ran marathons, or chronically worked out a gyms. They didn’t have the deceases of civilization brought on by processed food in their diets. Once the flour and sugar was introduced they suffered like we do.

    So how do other animals maintain optimal weight/health without running 60 minutes a day or lifting weights on their backs? If you watch them they might walk a lot looking for food but they only sprint for a few seconds. Fight or flight. It’s something nobody thinks about.

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