The Secret Life Of Fat (Review)

During my early years, I was actually underweight and very skinny.  When I hit the mid-40s, that all changed.  The weight and size began to continually increase.  Fat soon became a major concern in my life. Like many heavier people, I tried many diet plans and exercise regimes but could find no solution to permanently lose weight. I eventually gave up on self-help weight loss books and diet plans.

While browsing through the health titles the other day, the orange dust cover of Sylvia Tara’s book caught my eye. The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You is not another diet book. It’s a summary of what science has found out about body fat. I decided to bring it home so I might gain some important information about the nature of fat and how it works.

The book promised to be credible because its author is a highly educated scientist.  Sylvia Tara Ph.D., has a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California at San Diego, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her own struggle with weight motivated the writing of this book.

First and foremost, Tara explains that fat is a bodily organ and will struggle for its own preservation. Fat cells have communication and receptor segments that keep themselves in control.  As an organ, fat influences the brain and participates in brain function, itself. As an endocrine organ, fat produces hormones, including leptin. These hormones link into the brain’s hypothalamus to signal hunger.  Another hormone category is cytokines. They are inflammatories used as the first line of defense when the fat “knows” there is too much of itself.

When fat reduces the levels of leptin, the brain signals hunger. During weight loss diets, the lower levels of leptin trigger overeating. Another hormone, adiponectin, is circulated by the fat and helps clear the blood of fats.  Overweight people who have high levels of this hormone can enjoy good health.  The author states that vigorous exercise helps increase levels of adiponectin.

During times of lowered food intake, or dieting, fat maintains itself by signaling lower bodily energy levels.  That means a dieter has to put out much more effort than usual in order to maintain a slimmer size. The only way to effectively keep off weight is to have a regular, hard exercise program. Vigorous exercise helps many people who have genetic predispositions to fat and weight problems.

The takeaway is that as we try to decrease bodily fat, the fat manipulates our metabolism to lower levels. This is how fat actively fights to maintain itself and why it comes back after the conclusion of dieting–the infamous rebound effect.

There is a wealth of scientific information presented in The Secret Life of Fat. It is mostly jargon-free and easy to understand. Knowing more about fat as an organ, can help inform readers in their own efforts to control weight.

{ The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You by Sylvia Tara, Ph.D.; 288 pages, published December 2016 by W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: 978-0-393-24483-0 }

The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this Internet meme: “Do not reward yourself with food. You’re not a dog.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, Health, Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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