The Secret Life of Fat - Book Review

- POSTED ON: Oct 05, 2017

The Secret Life of Fat, the Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What it Means for Youby Sylvia Tara, PhD (2017)

This book brings cutting-edge research together with historical perspectives to reveal fat's true identity: an endocrine organ that is critical to our health.

The Secret Life of Fat is not a diet book.  It’s a book about how fat works, about understanding body fat - specifically, its role, why it is so difficult to fight, and how it works differently for different people.

Beginning with the question “Why is it easier for some people to stay thin than others?”  Biochemist, Sylvia Tara, investigates the biology of fat and its vital purposes in the body, from reproduction to immunity. Then she examines the genetic, dietary, and other types of influences on body fat. 

She states:

“Fat enhances our brain size, strengthens our bones and immune system, helps wound healing, and can even prolong our lives.”

“Through its most powerful messenger, leptin, fat can influence our appetites. 

It can cause our muscles to reduce their energy usage. 

It can alter our sympathetic nervous system, and control the flow of hormones such as thyroid, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. 

Most profoundly, it can influence our thoughts and elicit stronger responses to food, lower our inhibition to eating, and cause us to misjudge how much we’ve eaten. 

Fat, it turns out, is capable of mind control !”

Once we swallow food we each process it differently.  Science has shown us that food affects our hormones, and hormones affect our fat.  Insulin, leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, and other hormones influence our weight.”

Biology explains why it’s so hard to keep off the weight once you’ve lost it: People who are at a particular weight because of dieting, metabolize food differently than people who are at that same weight naturally. “Somehow, the remaining body fat of the reduced-obese,” Tara writes, manages “to survive on fewer calories than before, as though it had found another means to thrive.”

After discussing the scientific nature of fat, Tara describes her own weight struggles, and recommends persistence as the main tool for dieters, combined with any diet that is “customized for you biologically, psychologically, and socially”.

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