Lillian Wilson

Why We Eat (Too Much) by Andrew Jenkinson

Unconventional and incisive, 'Why We Eat (Too Much)' disrupts dieting norms, exploring metabolism and weight from a unique angle.

Why We Eat (Too Much)

The book has gotten 4.22 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

Obesity, a widespread concern in today’s world, has sparked countless conversations about weight management and diet effectiveness. Given that a substantial portion of the global population grapples with weight-related issues – around 1 billion people worldwide are obese – finding viable and lasting solutions has become crucial. The pursuit of healthier weights often involves trying different diets, which typically lead to short-term successes followed by setbacks.

Amid this ever-evolving landscape, Dr. Andrew Jenkinson’s book ‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’ stands out as a departure from conventional dietary advice, providing a fresh viewpoint on the intricate connection between our appetites, metabolism, and weight. In this review, we delve into the book’s insights, exploring its unique perspective and evaluating its potential impact on the ongoing dialogue.

Author’s background

Dr. Andrew Jenkinson is an accomplished surgeon focusing on advanced laparoscopic procedures, also known as minimally invasive surgery.

Dr. Andrew Jenkinson (r)

He plays a vital role within a skilled group of professionals dedicated to pioneering advancements in gastrointestinal surgery at University College Hospital, located in the central London area of Bloomsbury.

What is the book about?

In the book ‘Why We Eat (Too Much),’ Dr. Andrew Jenkinson dives deep into how our appetite and metabolism work. He uses real-life stories from his patients and the latest science to clear up misunderstandings about our bodies and show why typical diets do not work. By dispelling common misconceptions about the human body and shedding light on the ineffectiveness of traditional dieting, the book delves into every facet of nutrition.

Dr. Jenkinson differentiates between good and bad fats, explains how genetics affect weight, and what happens to our bodies after we try diets. He looks at many different areas like agriculture, pharmaceuticals, anthropology, and medicine to uncover why we struggle with unhealthy eating and obesity.

In this book, you will find:

1. Reasons why following conventional advice from doctors and nutrition experts can make losing weight really hard.

2. How certain dietary recommendations can actually hinder weight loss progress.

3. Tips for losing weight and staying healthy, whether you want to lose a little or a lot.

4. Insights into the physical and mental struggles that many obese people go through, often feeling stuck no matter how hard they try.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • How Our Body Works to Control Weight
  • 1. Metabology for Beginners How Our Weight is Controlled
  • 2. The Sacred Cow How Genetics, Epigenetics and Food Control Our Weight Set-Point
  • 3. Dieting and the Biggest Losers Why Our Matchalicm Can Change Dramatically
  • 4. Why We Eat How Our Appetite (and Satiety) Works
  • 5. The Glutton Understanding the Fatness Hormone
  • 6. The Last Resort How Weight-Loss Surgery Works
  • How Our Environment Determines Our Weight
  • 7. The Master Chef Why Cooking Matters
  • 8. The Heart of the Matter How Poor Nutritional Science Led to Bad Eating Habits
  • 9. The Omega Code Is Obesity a Deficiency Disease?
  • 10. The Sugar Roller Coaster Glucose, Insulin and Our Weight Set-Point
  • 11. The French Paradox Saturated Fat, Nutritional Advice and Food Culture
  • 12. The Miracle Diet Book Why You Should Stop Dieting
  • 13. The Fat of the Land Life Events, Hormones, Geography and Your Weight
  • The Secret to Lasting Weight Loss
  • 14. Prepare to Do It Yourself Preparing Your Home and Mind
  • 15. Eat More, Rest More Lowering Insulin and Cortisol
  • 16. Your Personal Blue Zone Improving Cell and Muscle Metabolism
  • Epilogue: Why Do We Eat Too Much?
  • Appendix 1: The Cholesterol Debate
  • Appendix 2: Glycaemic Load and Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio of
  • Common Foods
  • References
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index

Key takeaways from ‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’

1Calorie restriction does not promote a sustainable weight loss

The energy derived from food powers bodily functions like heat production, movement, and cognitive processes. These activities, in turn, consume energy. If you consume more calories than you can use, the excess energy finds its way into fat cells for storage. While this suggests simple weight loss by burning more than eating, it’s more intricate. Research shows that severe calorie restriction leads to slowed metabolism. Ancel Keys’ study exposed how semi-starvation caused participants’ metabolic rates to plummet by 50%, triggering the body’s energy-saving mode. Diets often stall due to this survival mechanism, causing weight regain once normal eating resumes. Caloric reduction, counterintuitively, hinders weight loss as the body safeguards against perceived scarcity.

2The Western diet is a culprit of high obesity rates

The contemporary Western diet, vastly different from our ancestral one, fuels obesity. Processed foods dominate, displacing natural fats and whole foods. This disrupts our metabolic safeguards against obesity, as illustrated by the surge in sugar consumption and the use of omega-6-rich vegetable oils. Industry-influenced dietary shifts in the 1970s, prioritising low-fat over high-sugar, inadvertently contributed to today’s obesity epidemic by affecting hormones and blood sugar levels, overriding our body’s innate defences against excessive weight gain.

3Big human brains came at the expense of other organs getting less energy

Evolution involves intricate energy trade-offs among various species, including humans, stemming from shared mitochondrial energy conversion. Despite constrained cell counts and energy limitations, species creatively distribute energy resources. For Homo sapiens, our energy-intensive brain, consuming 25% of our calories, prompted allocation shifts. While energy budgets generally align with size, our large brain’s evolution necessitated reallocating energy, evident in the alignment with large primates’ energy distribution. Notably, shortened gastrointestinal tracts emerged as a trade-off, conserving energy. This adaptation, coupled with our capacity to cook food, facilitated efficient energy use, channelling resources from digestion to support the brain. This intricate balance between evolution, energy allocation, and adaptations defines humanity’s unique trajectory.

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews


  • The author’s profession as a bariatric surgeon lends a high level of credibility.

  • Dispels stigma around weight by clarifying what is and isn’t within an individual’s conscious control, promoting a healthier perspective on weight management.

  • A lot of readers reported that the book boosted their motivation to make dietary adjustments, demonstrating its potential to influence healthier eating habits.


  • The book’s treatment of certain topics lacks depth and comprehensive analysis, such as the value of BMI, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment’s context, and various whole grain products.

  • The book’s seemingly biased approach toward advocating meat and dairy consumption without addressing associated health risks, plant oil diversity, and various sources of omega-3, raises questions about balanced nutritional advice and thorough research.

Best quotes from ‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’

“…however, ALL my patients (without exception) reported to me that within a few months of finishing the diet they had regained ‘all their weight and much more’.”
“Night-shift work ➞ lower leptin ➞ higher insulin (leptin resistance) + higher cortisol ➞ HIGHER WEIGHT SET-POINT.”
“Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”

Final takeaway

‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’ takes an interesting look at how our appetite, metabolism, and weight are all connected. Written by Dr. Andrew Jenkinson, a bariatric surgeon experienced in weight-related surgeries, the book challenges common diet advice and talks about how our modern food choices impact us. The book empowers readers by validating their experiences and breaking down weight stigma while presenting a comprehensive understanding of weight management.

‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’ is recommended for individuals who want to break free from diet culture, understand the science behind weight control, and explore holistic approaches to health and well-being.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.

Healthypedia FAQ

Unlike typical diet books, this book doesn't promote strict regimens or short-term fixes. It offers a comprehensive understanding of weight regulation by examining the interplay of appetite, metabolism, and environment. It avoids unrealistic promises and instead focuses on empowering readers with knowledge.

Dr. Jenkinson is a highly experienced bariatric surgeon with expertise in advanced laparoscopic procedures. His medical background and professional knowledge lend credibility to the insights he shares in the book.

This book is recommended for individuals seeking a fresh perspective on weight management and a departure from traditional diet culture. It appeals to those who want to understand the science behind appetite, metabolism, and weight control while exploring holistic approaches to overall health and well-being.

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