Fat Chance: A Review of the Controversial Book by Robert Lustig, M

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This is a guest post from my client Christine.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight? Contrary to popular opinion, the problem may not be a mere lack of self control. In his controversial new book, Fat Chance, Dr. Lustig argues that there are far more complex forces at work.

A Quick Summary of Dr. Lustig’s Argument that Sugar is the Cause of Our Obesity

Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. He specializes in treating childhood obesity and studying the effects of sugar on the central nervous system, metabolism, and disease.

His argument runs as follows:

  • As a society, our sugar intake has increased exponentially over the last few decades as a result of economic and political shifts.
  • “Sugar” means anything with sucrose, glucose, or fructose, including honey, maple syrup and cane sugar.
  • A calorie is not a calorie, especially when it comes to sugar.
  • Aside from whole fruit, which is processed slowly due to its high fiber content (just don’t eat too much), sugar wrecks havoc on hormones like insulin and leptin.
  • When our hormones are out of whack, our body thinks it’s starving, and our biochemistry causes us to eat more, move less, and store more fat.
  • Over time, this pattern can lead to metabolic syndrome, which is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, and fatty liver disease.
  • Sugar, therefore, is not a benign source of empty calories. It’s literally killing us.

My Impression of Fat Chance and How It’s Affecting Me Personally

Fat Chance was a fascinating and disturbing read. It wasn’t always easy to follow Dr. Lustig’s arguments– it’s pretty heavy on the science and I had to read several sections twice–but once I connected the dots I became overwhelmingly convinced that sugar is the cause of the obesity epidemic.

Even though it was hard to follow at times, I appreciate how the book is so science-based. I’ve read other books that tell you to avoid certain foods because they’re “inflammatory” or whatever, but they expect you to trust them and never go into an in-depth explanation of why these foods are “bad.” Not so with Fat Chance. After reading this book, you’ll understand exactly how your body metabolizes sugar and why it’s so detrimental to your health.

I was particularly shocked to read about the way sugar affects our hormones and reinforces our food cravings. I’ve always struggled with massive sugar cravings and all-out sugar binges, even over the past few months as I’ve been “sugar-free” while working with a personal trainer.

I beat myself up each time I give in, because it’s clearly a lack of willpower, right? Dr. Lustig would argue that the problem is actually a lot bigger. Sugar is truly an addictive substance, and that’s why I find it so hard to leave behind. I’m still thinking through the implications of this and what it might mean for my diet long-term.

Dr. Lustig vs. Personal Trainer–Not Much Contradiction Actually

Dr. Lustig and Andrea don’t agree on a few points. For example, Dr. Lustig actually recommends eating whole grains, which are not included in the Paleo diet. However, Dr. Lustig’s research does reinforce Andrea’s advice to avoid sugar and eat lots of fiber.

Also, Dr. Lustig considers exercise one of the key “antidotes” to the obesity epidemic. Exercise helps regulate insulin and cortisol levels, which shifts the way fat is stored and burned. Seriously, if you’re wondering whether to hire Andrea or another personal trainer, get this book. You’ll realize that our bodies were made to move and be fit!

The Quick Way to Get More Information

I first heard of Dr. Lustig’s work a few years ago when I watched in Sugar: The Bitter Truth. If you have limited time to devote to this issue, at least watch the YouTube video. However, I definitely recommend the book as it covers the topic much more detail. It also gives helpful tips for counteracting the harmful biochemical loop we’re all stuck in and provides a rather realistic “real” versus “processed” food shopping list.

Either way, I hope you do read this book. Your body will thank you for it!