October 21, 2008 at 7:53 am
The title of this book is so over-the-top that I decided I had to read it when I was offered a copy to review. Toxic Fat: When Good Fat Turns Bad sounds like the title of a B-grade horror movie and the cover is loud enough that I could hold it up in the street and stop traffic. The book is written by Barry Sears, who is probably most famous for creating The Zone Diet.
In the book, Sears says the recent rise in obesity is due to three things: increased consumption of cheap carbohydrates (like chips and cookies) which increase insulin resistance, increased use of cheap vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, and decreased consumption of omega-3 acids typically found in fish oil. He says this leads to an increased level of arachidonic acid (a fatty acid and the “toxic fat” mentioned in the title) which causes inflammation of organs which in turn increases the risk of cancer, type-2 Diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders and other nasty stuff you don’t want to have in your medical file. The book goes into far more detail about the processes, but that’s the essential underlying thesis. (There, I just saved you $24.99.)
Let me break down the good and bad things about this book, starting with the good since I’m a positive person.
- Dr. Sears relays a lot of information about how being fat does not necessarily mean you’re in bad health, an idea which seems to be catching on in the mainstream media and will hopefully help in the fight against fat discrimination.
- He also explains why being a bit fat can actually protect you from having too much AA in your bloodstream.
- He explains in a bit more detail why some people are naturally fatter than others, due to the efficiency of their “fat traps” i.e. their bodies efficiency at converting stored energy in fat cells into a substance called ATP which is the immediate source of energy for your body’s cells.
- I learned that in 2011, when the first of the baby boomers are eligible for Medicare, we’re going to be pretty screwed because there will be a lot of sick people who expect the government to pay their medical bills.
- The book promotes what seems to be a fairly sane diet which contains a balance of protein, carbs, and fats.
- That diet just happens to be The Zone Diet, also created by Dr. Barry Sears, and coincidentally enough, the solution to all your toxic fat problems.
- And if you didn’t already know that Dr. Sears wrote The Zone Diet, as well as about a dozen other books related to The Zone Diet, he’ll be happy to tell you all throughout the book.
- He’ll also keep using phrases like “Toxic Fat Syndrome” and “Perfect Nutritional Storm” over and over again, like a politician drilling talking points into your brain with a diamond point drill.
- Some of the technical information involving molecular processes in the body isn’t that easy to understand. Granted, it’s complex information, but a couple more diagrams or illustrations would have been helpful.
- The book is somewhat repetitious and could have been 100 pages shorter, the same as most diet books. While Dr. Sears is a capable writer, his prose is not extraordinary and I had to force myself to continue reading at points.
- Also, like most diet books, it fails to give a holistic view of why people gain weight and why it’s hard to lose it. On page 86 he says “Losing weight is incredibly easy as long as you are never hungry.” I have to vehemently disagree with that statement. There are plenty of times I have overeaten because I’ve been sad, because I’ve been happy, or just because someone placed a box of bagels 12 feet away from me. Obesity is due to medical, psychological, and environmental factors, and no single book I’ve read on obesity covers all three of those topics.
- It’s hard to take a book seriously where the author heads to the frozen prairies of Saskatchewan to corner the world’s borage seed market.
Overall, you’re not missing much if you don’t read this book, but if you do you might learn some things about molecules in your body that you never knew existed.
Some good quotes from the book
- p.55 – “Disease is defined as any condition that disrupts normal body function. By this definition, obesity per se is not a disease any more than being tall is.”
- p. 98 – “Three things in life are visceral because they are based on belief systems: religion, politics, and nutrition.”
- p. 239 – “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food” by Hippocrates.
Disclosure: The link to “fish oil” in this post is a sponsored link.