Today I was presented with a study that showed there is NO evidence that eating breakfast results in better results on tests, makes you fat or not fat, makes you healthier, live longer or not. The author of this study looked at all the studies on this subject and after a meta analysis of all the results showed that all the previous studies were flawed and relied on bad information, were inconsistent or referenced other articles which had no information.
I’ve known for years that it seemed incredibly unlikely that eating breakfast by itself represented some “magic” health thing.
Everyday we have thousands of stories from “experts” in nutrition who tell us what to eat to gain weight, to lose weight, to be healthy etc and it’s all BULL CRAP.
We are aware that most of the information we get of this type comes from completely unqualified people who eat 50 bananas a day for instance or suggest eating no proteins or no fats or no carbohydrates or to cleanse the body by eating only this for a week. These sham diets are obviously based on nothing more than a marketing gimmick. In my opinion any diet which prescribes a “limited” menu that cuts out whole sections of food from your diet is dangerous.
Dieting is dangerous and that’s a fact
It is dangerous because I believe your body needs as many different nutrients as it needs every day. Whatever that amount (which in general we don’t know) it is likely is greater than zero. So, by using those diets you are specifically denying your body those nutrient which it needs which means it is likely some damage or repair or function your body would normally do it won’t be able to do. In some cases your body can rob Peter to pay Paul and can manufacture some nutrient from other materials in the body. Whatever cost that is to the body is unknown but it is not likely to be zero. Something else bad will happen.
I’ve always felt this way and now a study below proves beyond a doubt diets are incredibly dangerous things to undertake without serious supplementation.
Information on food and nutrients and their impact on the body is incredibly lacking.
I have pointed out numerous times on these blogs that the amount of reliable information on food and supplements is paltry. We don’t know hardly anything about what your body needs or doesn’t need. Anybody with any “title”, “academic credential” or otherwise that tells you things they “know” about that you should do or not do is full of it. There is almost no real science on this subject. I am sorry if this upsets a lot of people but the fact is that a lot of people who have lived longer than 10 years know that every year there is some new “fad” which contradicted the “proven” fads of the past.
The most recent controversy is around “salt.” Is Salt bad or good. Undoubtedly too much is bad beyond some level which is much higher than the recommended amount the US government recommends(1500mg). If you have heart disease you should seriously consider salt intake reduction but if you don’t then there is no evidence in any study that reducing your salt intake will improve anything in your life. In fact salt consumption below 3000mg is associated with higher overall death rates for normal people. I am NOT a person who puts a lot of salt on food so I am not a big salt person but there is no evidence salt is bad and restricting it to 1500mg for normal people is typical useless advice by our nutritionist experts and could even be bad advice.
The science of nutrition is incredibly tricky. When studying a drug there is at least some control conditions around taking the drug that prevail. When looking at nutrition studies there are so many variables and factors to consider it is almost impossible to account for them with the paltry number of participants there are in these studies. Rarely do they try to account for them as it is difficult and expensive. The studies are poorly controlled and frequently self-reported data is a big part of the results which is practically scientifically valueless. The evidence of how true this is is in the 2 studies I mention below which show that our knowledge of this subject is embarrassingly weak after so many years of pontification by “scientists” and “nutritionists.”
People seem amazingly susceptible to accepting advice from nutritionists or frankly from anybody who claims to know something about this subject or has had a personal experience they can tell you about.
We had no idea how bad our understanding of sugar metabolism is
Let me relate 2 simple examples of how little we know about this subject. A study in Israel of diabetics went to the elaborate task of collecting everything they could about a few hundred people over a 2 week period. They collected stool samples (Uck) they collected blood samples and they had people watched and tracked for every little thing they ate or drank. What they found was that the glycemic tables that were assumed to be “good” were in fact way off. What they found is that many different people responded differently to foods in terms of the effect on blood sugar levels. Some things some people ate caused much higher glycemic impact than the tables suggested on some people and some people they even operated opposite on some people.
This study showed that people react differently to foods and nutrients. (WOW! Who knew that?) It also showed that for something as simple as sugar availability which for items such as tomatoes or fruit could produce radically different effects for different people and nothing like what the glycemic tables suggested.
We had no idea how diets affect the body in spite of studying the subject for decades
Another study done on the people who graduated from the tv show “The Biggest Loser” found that within a year of the show nearly everyone had recovered all the weight they lost and in many cases actually weighed more than when they came to the show. The study looked carefully at these people tracking them very closely and discovered an amazing thing. After the weight loss on the show their bodies had predictably “slowed down” their metabolism. That part wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise is that the metabolism stayed unbelievably low after that. A year later the largest loser who had lost 150 lbs of fat needed only 800 calories a day to sustain a 200lb body.
This is astonishing. The participants simply couldn’t keep their weight off when their bodies were operating at such a low metabolism. They practically had to give up food entirely for the rest of their lives. I weigh 174 and need approx 1600 calories to maintain my weight. If I could only eat 800 calories or even less, maybe 600 calories a day I would never be able to do it. They literally gave themselves a disease by dieting. Their bodies went into a hyper-protective mode which made them able to gain weight easily and surprisingly even after regaining huge amounts of weight their metabolism DID NOT return to the normal higher level. They seem to have possibly a permanent change in their metabolism which will curse them for the rest of their lives possibly. This was in spite of the fact that many of the participants continued to exercise.
In this article by a renowned nutritionist he questioned a dieter who claimed it was harder after weight loss to keep the weight off. In his reply you see that as late as June 2014 and later nutritionists didn’t know such a fundamental fact about weight loss as how it affected metabolism so severely. How could we have studied weight loss, obesity for decades and so intensely and be so profoundly stupid about basic things. This is true even of the “accredited” nutritionists.
The signs were there but they didn’t see it. In this LA study they hinted at the results.
Diets are bad, really bad
I’ve said it from the beginning 30 years ago and more when I saw statistics that said 98% of people regain weight after a diet I realized I was NOT in the 2% who could keep the weight off. I determined the only way I could keep a sustainable weight for me was to change my diet permanently. I had to mentally be prepared to live however I ate for the rest of my life. If that meant some changes were hard I had to mentally accept that this was simply the way it was and I had to accept and be happy with the diet I could afford. This is not easy but it is the critical mental step to success.
Diets are bad in other ways. It has been shown you have a much higher death rate when losing weight. Again this is not surprising. You are depriving your body of key nutrients during a diet. There is extreme stress. The most prominent proximate cause of death from dieting is heart stress and heart attack as described in numerous studies but there are other damages even more dangerous.
All kinds of things can get worse or go wrong. One friend of mine used to climb to 200lbs and then diet to 150 lbs and then binge and before long be back at 200 and then down. After a while he did stabilize at the 160s level but the toll of those diets had done damage to his sugar balance system. He had become diabetic type 2 even though he was skinny and hardly had a gram of fat on his body. He had damaged his body with these diets.
When some person tells you to stop eating this group of foods or to eat only this group of foods be aware you are likely going to cause damage to your body. Not only that whatever this diet does for you in the end if you have not adjusted your way of living you will return to the weight you had before. You can’t continue eating only one food or excluding a group of foods forever. So, when you return you will be back where you started except for the damage you did to your body in the process of losing and gaining the weight.
There really is only one logical answer to this, one way forward to lose weight. It is simple but it is hard to accept
Logically then the only answer is simple. You must incrementally make changes to your diet and convince yourself however you can that these changes are permanent and stick to it. It might take 20 years to lose 40 lbs. So what? That’s way better than whipsawing your body.
- You must incrementally SLOWLY make changes. Lose 20 pounds over a year not a month or even over several years. Take it slow. Be patient.
- At each change become confident you can live with it for the rest of your life. You must be happy and confident that whatever change you make is absolutely acceptable and you can eat this way the rest of your life.
- Don’t feel incredibly deprived. If something is truly something you want work it into a system, once a month, once a year. For a long time I said I would go to McDonalds once a year or KFC as a treat. Eventually I didn’t even want this “treat.”
- Set realistic goals. Your metabolism and genetics may predispose you to a certain weight. You may find that only an act of god will get you below this weight. The fact is that if you work out a little and keep a steady weight that you will live longer than someone who loses weight or oscillates.
It’s very important that you do this gradually. The study above showed why. If you lose weight too fast your body will rebel and possibly permanently reduce its metabolic rate. It is important that you become accostomed to each change in your diet. Try it for weeks, months. See how it works. If it feels like you need to cheat then come up with a workable cheat. Incorporate that as part of your mental framework but you have to still make progress. The idea is to find how you can be happy and still eat less. That is key that it not seem like deprivation. That you don’t feel compelled to binge to recover but feel happy about your diet and that you will happily live the rest of your life eating just like this at every point.
You must see the bad consequences of gaining weight and eating what you do eat and convince yourself the negative consequences of that is worse than whatever you think the pleasure of something is. In my opinion the best way to do this is not to cut out things permanently or to complete exclusion but to make conscious choices of what you will eat and what you will only eat very occasionally. Don’t get all religious. Nobody is perfect and you don’t need to be. Figure out how to make yourself happy on less.
I am sick of nutritionists for other reasons
It is incredibly obvious to me that the studies in this area are weak. It is very rare to see a study that has much merit and surprisingly many of the “credentialed nutritionists” are NO Better than quacks. Anybody who has listened to nutritionists for more than 10 years is aware they have been changing their minds all the time about what to do or not do. More important as the 2 studies I showed above demonstrate their is amazing amounts we didn’t know even several MONTHS ago. Things as basic as WHY people regain weight after a diet. No, it’s not lack of willpower. I am frankly amazed if anyone can keep to a 800 calories diet who weights 200 lbs. That would be evidence of superhuman capability. These people are not laggards but simply responded as anyone would have to changes their body made that nutritionists didn’t know even 2 months ago after all the stuff they told you they knew.
We know that any specific recommendation from a nutritionist must be taken with a huge amount of skepticism because as the Israeli study showed everyone is different and everyone’s reaction is different. You have to work within your bodies own system and responses. You have to learn to distrust the information given and watch your own body to see how to factor advise against results for you.
Nutritionists have told us contradictory things all the time. Coffee was bad for you, then it is good. Fat is bad then a little fat is good. Anti-oxidants are cancer preventing until Vitamin A was proven to cause more cancer in some people.
Nutritionists seem to operate using science as a “guideline” but not a strict recipe. They argue from common sense. It makes sense a varied diet would be good for you until they come up with a theory that says carbs are bad. Fats seemed to make sense to be bad because they have higher energy per gram cutting fats would cut fat. Except it didn’t. Anti-oxidants would fight radicalized chemicals that could cause damage like cancer in the body until the anti-oxidants seemed to over-suppress oxidation and cause MORE cancer. In every case nutritionists didn’t use science and math and rigorous double blind studies but instead used common sense. However, we have learned in science through hard knocks that time after time again common sense turns out to be completely wrong. Nature is trickier than that.
Lack of good data, good studies pointed out by the two studies above
The studies above show that when someone sits down and does the math, looks at the raw data without “common sense” clouding their view they get to the real truth. However, what is stunning is how these are some of the most basic things we should have known and didn’t know. We know nothing about this whole subject so nutritionists stop trying to tell us you do.
The same lack of information about nutrition in general is true of supplements which is why I am desperate for people to start my dream of the bigdata study of food, supplements and health. If we could get just 1,000,000 people to religiously follow themselves and to track things very precisely it would be better study and more information than has been gathered in all the combined studies ever done in this subject. The goal is not that hard but lacking this bigData resource we can only use all these studies we see done on 10 or 100 people and try it individually and see what effect it has on you and hope you stumble on something good.
What is interesting is that people are willing to believe our lack of information about supplements and to disregard all information on supplements and yet they listen to “nutritionists” who spout common sense fads that have almost no scientific basis.
Over the years nutritionists have told us that protein was good for us. Then we were told protein was not needed. Fat was okay and essential part of diet, then it was pure evil. Then it became neutral. It was innocent carbohydrates that were bad. This is all crap. Your body needs all these nutrients. Cutting out any of them for a substantial time is going to kill you. When you don’t eat carbohydrates your body goes into a state called Ketosis. During this state your body burns fats and doesn’t effectively turn nutrients into fats. In effect by using carb deficiency you have programmed your body to reduce fat intake. So, now you are short two forms of nutrition.
It is unlikely that human body benefits from restricting a man-made label applied to foods. The body existed and functioned before we invented the labels fats, carbs or protein. It doesn’t know that these things are evil or not. It uses everything it is given. It can convert some things from one to another during times of stress. Our stupid terminology is unlikely to correspond to anything very useful in terms of understanding our true nutritional needs.
I research all the studies I can find and give them some initial weight and then give it a try. If I don’t see any benefit then I stop. I suggest we all do that with nutritionists or any advice from sources like this.
It is my theory the body needs many chemicals to function properly. We know it has 100,000 in use. We have identified a group of chemicals we call Vitamins which we know that you will die in a fairly short period of time if you don’t get those nutrients. However, these are about 20 or so compounds out of the 100,000 we know operate in the body. We don’t know what all these 99,000 other chemicals do or the proteins the DNA creates or the ncRNA that control the genetic program which measures and manipulates all these chemicals.
The ER (Endoplasmic reticulum) in our cells changes all the time. One day it is producing throusands of chemicals and 3 days later it is producing 3,000 different chemicals. It’s astonishing. In the process cells in our bodies completely and perfectly reuse the molecules in the ER. We have no idea what triggers changes in the ER or what purpose this is all about but whatever purpose it can’t be a complete waste of time because it takes a huge amount of energy to do this. The body wouldn’t waste this much energy willy-nilly. The fact it is so perfect about recycling the molecules suggests a very profoundly highly conserved and important process for the functioning of life and the cell. Yet we know nothing about this really. I’m just saying our state of knowledge of the human body is pathetic.
That’s not to say we don’t know anything but a lot of what we do think we know is probably wrong and if we were honestly to look at “good” understanding vs where we are today I would say a conservative estimate giving a lot of credit for what we think we know would be that we know about 0.00001% of what we should know to be intelligent.
We don’t know what the interactions are between all the things we eat and our bodies and the supplements. In some sense it is a crapshoot but we do know the body needs resources and it needs them consistently so the key to health and nutrition has to be to eat a variety of chemicals and nutritional elements in as much variety as possible to be sure your body gets everything it needs to repair and operate optimally.
Probabilistically speaking it is more likely that the body knows how to handle and deal with bad chemicals. Probabilistically speaking the chance that we can pick the selection of chemicals that aren’t good for us is remote. Ceetainly we can pick some that are clearly bad, for instance, arsenic. So, my theory says that it is better to consume a variety of nutrients than it is to worry about eating bad things.
Even bad things may have useful purposes in the body. So, I believe supplements are an intelligent way to provide your body with a consistent supply of varied chemicals. The important point is consistency. What supplements to take is hard to say because as the study above showed everyone reacts differently. For me, niacin has proven to be very good. For others, niacin may be overkill. I find Pycnogenol (Pine Bark) helps me with my immune system and general well being. Others may find it does nothing. We need more data. Nonetheless, I strongly believe supplements are helping me. I can see very tangibly in blood tests and repeatable results that they are helping me day to day. Whether they will extend my life or already have extended it I don’t know. By this time my father was already dead. One of my brothers had cancer. So far I’m doing good. Cross fingers.
End of Soap Box. Hope this helps.