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#248: The Secret Life of Fat Podcast with Author Sylvia Tara, Ph.D.

Sarah and co-host Adrienne Martini are joined by Sylvia Tara, Ph.D., author of a fascinating new book called The Secret Life of Fat: The Science behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You and a mother runner who has struggled with her weight since she was a pre-teen. Find out how fat fights back (argh!) when you try to lose it. Dr. Tara encourages listeners to stop chasing siren songs when it comes to fat-loss, and she explains why a diet must work on numerous levels. She explains why intermittent fasting is successful for her, while acknowledging going 16 or 18 hours without sustenance is not for everyone. Talk turns to bacteria and microbiomes, and how it affects calories, fat, and weight management; Dr. Tara gives tips on “tilting” your microbiome in your fat-fighting favor. An intriguing show whether you struggle with your weight or not.

In the intro, SBS and Adrienne talk about the shows they’re watching on Netflix—including, ironically, Santa Clarita Diet.

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9 responses to “#248: The Secret Life of Fat Podcast with Author Sylvia Tara, Ph.D.

  1. loved this episode!!! Finally someone who understands. My hubby is one of those rare people who can easily eat 1-3 bowls of ice cream for a bedtime treat and not gain a pound…I gain 10pds looking at it!!! I felt so encouraged that I was not the only person that seems to have to do things differently than other people and try harder. Thank you for this episode!

  2. I agree with the other commenters. I found the focus of this podcast disturbing; it sounded like someone wrapping what is actually an eating disorder in scientific language. I actually listened to the Run Fast Eat Slow episode just before listening to this one and was struck by the contrast. As others have noted, Dr. Tara focuses on weight loss rather than health. Kopecky, on the other hand, speaks of healthful eating contributing to a healthy lifestyle.

  3. I listened to this last night while riding on my trainer. Ironically, right after listening to my other new fave podcast, the health nut & the hot mess (swim bike mom). I respect the science behind her work and have not read the book. However, I was so bothered by this entire episode once I got past the intro. The focus was on weight and not health. While everyone does need to find a way of eating that works the best for themselves, allowing that individual to perform athletically, function on a daily basis, maintain a healthy weight, maintain a healthy mind, etc., her existence sounds so incredibly isolating. I survived anorexia as a teenager and while I will always have body image issues, I have managed to overcome many of them and not only be a mother runner, but a mother triathlete, mother crossfitter, successful working mother, among many other achievements. As women we are constantly told that weight equates to success, beauty and even being a better athlete. I certainly hope that my daughter knows how amazing she is and what her little body can already do and grows to have a healthy relationship with food. One that allows her to enjoy it, to cook and to fuel her body for success. I try my best daily but cannot get past the fact that I felt like I was going backwards listening to this podcast. Is maintaining a specific weight – to the ounce as she referenced – the end goal? I am surprised that she was asked to be a guest given all the other types of guests that have been part of the podcasts. It seems very anti-mother runner and very much a step towards disordered eating. Her comments regarding scaling back exercise seemed at odds as another mother runner promotes ambitious goals – like running marathons and finishing half ironman triathlons. I would be curious to see a follow up with some commentary from Sarah and Adrienne.

  4. This podcast bothered me as well and I am really surprised you interviewed her as it seemed out of line with your philosophy. While I understand you don’t want to alienate or offend your guests, I’m surprised and disappointed you didn’t push back at least a little on her “science” regarding fasting and her eating routines, not even in a joking or some other gentle way. Coincidentally, I listened not long afterwards to The Runner’s World Show podcast titled, “Eating Disorders and Running” and recommend it as an antidote to Sylvia Tara.

  5. Dr. Tara may have finally acheived the weight she wants, but I’m sorry- this way of life sounds like a joyless existence. no thank you. I’ll live with a little extra jiggle.

  6. I too had a problem with this. As a “health at every size” advocate, I am not happy with the premise of needing to lose fat/weight in the first place. The guest involved dissed many types of diet and said they did not work, diets don’t work; but she herself is advocating her own diet! And to suggest not eating after 330pm is just grounds for creating disordered eating in a person who is predisposed to this. I think as runners, we should be eating heartily and well. I could not fuel an early morning run with my meagre 330 dinner! And I understand she said everyone needs to do what works for them, but still, I worry about her way of thinking.

  7. I agree wholeheartedly with everything Pamela posted above….As someone who has battled slightly disordered eating habits over the years and finally found peace, I found Dr. Tara’s methods way too extreme for my taste. Eating dinner at 3:00 and missing dinner with my family every night? No, thank you! I’d much rather have the bit of jiggle that likes to hang out on my 43-year old thighs than have my impressionable 11 and 13 year old daughters see me sit and sip water ever mealtime because my window to eat has passed! Her podcast was interesting to a point, and while she did say several times that her methods aren’t for everyone, I still found the take-home message to be very weight-focused rather than health-centered as the poster above wrote.

  8. This episode did not show up in my podcast feed and not showing up on the AMR feed for me on iTunes. Just wanted to give you a heads in case there is a glitch on your end and others ha e the same issue.

  9. At the risk of being that person who only comments when I disagree (I love most of your shows!) here goes: this show really irked me. Your guest is informed scientifically but never veered away from talking about weight instead of health. I feel grateful that I gave up “dieting” early in my 20’s and never looked back; I trust my body’s hunger and focus on how good, real food helps me perform. While the guest’s science might be irrefutable, the framing of the problem as “weight” and fat only perpetuates our culture’s obsession on how we look rather than how we ARE. Imagine how much good energy could be unleashed on the world if women spent a little less time trying to conform to a one-size-only ideal of body weight.

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