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Is Sugar Killing Us? (wsj.com)
189 points by lxm on Dec 12, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 268 comments

Third year nutrition undergrad. Simple sugar consumption as a high percentage of carbohydrates/calories has the effect of chronic inflammation via oxidative stress, which is a factor of diabetes and other chronic disease.

This article briefly discusses inflammation and has mostly sound nutritional advice: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-you-eat-c...

This lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig has been very popular on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM . Unsure of its veracity since I watched this quite a few years ago.

Many other factors should be considered as many have mentioned like micronutrient intake/absorption, physical activity, gut biome, and genetic predisposition.

As a layman who got into nutrition for weight training purposes I want to ask you: why have I seen an uptick in the use of "inflammation" more broadly in nutrition from an year or so ago?

You may be well aware of the whole broscience that runs in fitness forums and it's very hard sometimes to find good and scientifically accurate sources and until now I've been lumping most of those "inflammation" articles together with the "toxins" ones, mostly a very broad umbrella term that had no real meaning.

But reading your comment and seeing this article from Harvard made me reconsider it so, again, what is this thing about "inflammation" regarding diet? It really just feels like an umbrella term...

You can almost think of, "inflammation" as a synonym for, "detrimental reaction". The inflammation is going to be a wholly different thing, depending on what you're talking about. But it usually causes response in the body that then becomes a different, chronic problem.

Example: too much sugar -> inflammation of arteries (because reasons) -> buildup of cholesterol -> heart attack.

It's not the sugar that cause the heart attack, it's the inflammation from the sugar and the body's response to it. This may seem like a small detail, but remember the theory was that it was the buildup of dietary cholesterol that caused clogged arteries. That was an easy narrative to follow, since, "(because reasons)" wasn't something you can market easily. Fat-free food usually doesn't have cholesterol either so it's good for you, if you're worried about having a heart attack!

This is the same falisty of thinking that merely eating fat makes you fat.

Excessive sugar causing Type 2 Diabetes is much less a theory than the above (insulin resistance)

Anyways, different inflammation is the pain I feel in my wrists typing this, or the pain my ankle from an accident last year. That inflammation is Not Good, and could lead to other Bad Things, like perhaps cancer (so I'm told by an MD)

So it is a very broad term, but it does def. have meaning.

Inflammation = immune response, and isn't always detrimental (immune response to a foreign body, or healing from trauma are good responses) but can be a bad thing (arthritis from antibody complexes, or artery inflammation as we are focusing on for this discussion).

Otherwise the parent's comment is pretty on point.

Inflammation = immune response, and isn't always detrimental

Yeah, you're right. I would say that one theory is that chronic inflammation can lead to Bad Things, but this is just areas of research at the moment and it's as diverse as types of inflammation.

There is a complex relationship between your diet, your gut microbiota (which pre-process your diet for you), and your immune system (which is sensitive to both gross and fine (signaling molecule) changes in the gut). The scope of this relationship was only recently realized, much of it due to new molecular biology techniques. For example there's the recent article about a boost in neuroinflammation observed from the presence of gut microbiota implicated in Parkison's progression in a mouse model, http://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(16)31590-2.pdf ). Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease are two well-known categories of disorders, but more generally your gut is the most permeable interface of your body, so the immune system is very buffed up and sensitive to all kinds of signals there, affecting the background state of the entire system. That has the potential to cause harmful unnecessary inflammation in other parts of the body.

So do you still eat birthday cake?

I'm celiac, so my body has some crazy responses to food. I get withdrawal symptoms from a couple of foods and have cut them out because of it. Sugar was the most recent. When I stop eating it I get a sinus headache, I get the shakes (like drinking too much caffeine), and if it's bad, I throw up. What blew my mind in giving up sugar was that I lost 5 lbs. I'm was lean at 155 lbs and 6'1, I dropped below 150 now. It really opened my eyes to how much sugar is converted to fat.

I gave up gluten (withdrawal symptoms), high fructose foods (digestive issues, celiacs wrecks your small intestine lining), caffeine (withdrawal symptoms), sodium nitrites (withdrawal symptoms, but I don't know much about this one, it's in bacon and deli meats as a preservative / cure), and now sugar (withdrawal symptoms). I feel so good. My nose used to be stuffy all the time, I used to have awful digestion, cutting out these foods totally changed my life.

I'm honestly really grateful that I'm celiac, I think it magnifies all the shittiness that these foods bring. It got me to realize all the garbage I was sustaining myself on. I'm now incredibly healthy despite being 'sick'. One of the stranger realizations was that I now only drink water, and that I used to live mostly off of soda.

All these industries have huge interests in selling people addicting food (caffeine, sugar) and maintaining their market positions. They put out so much misinformation on what is healthy.

"caffeine (withdrawal symptoms),"

Do you mean that the caffeine itself doesn't bother you (above its expected effect), but that the withdrawal is pretty rough?

I'm curious, because I also have celiac, and I've also ended up dropping caffeine because it was getting to be too much of a pain to manage it whenever I had to do without for some reason (travel mostly). I've noticed I have no grace with it; if I drink a 20oz Coke Zero right now, which is actually pretty low in caffeine (or, at most depending on your standards, "medium"), in 36 hours I will have a withdrawal headache.

But I can't tell if this is "celiac", or just generally how people respond to caffeine. Most people don't pay attention that much.

(As long as we're comparing notes: I've also noticed that alcohol has little appeal to me, because it mostly just makes me tired and gives me vague muscle pain before I'm "buzzed". In fact I can't say I've ever been "pleasantly buzzed" the way some people seem to describe.)

(Also, before someone comes along and complains about "anecdotes" being used, I do try to keep up with the celiac science, but generally speaking what we're talking about here is way beyond the current science frontier. Science may be the slow-and-steady that wins the race, but in the meantime, we can't wait for science to figure out the perfect way to live with it and/or cure it in 30-50 years... we have it now.)

Caffeine is known to have withdrawal symptoms. Those headaches, for me in the face and forehead, seem to be a common symptom.

As I went through my 20s I experimented with abandoning coffee a few times. I had developed the habit in college and I wanted to ensure that I was continuing to drink coffee for the benefits and not simply because I was addicted to it. This meant that I did handful of experiments with not drinking coffee for 2-3 months. The first week or two would be rough. Headaches starting 24-30 hours after I stopped and persisting for about a week. After that I would just settle into what felt like a normal life, but a lot more groggy.

The main difference between my life with coffee and my life without seemed to just be how grumpy I was before noon. I still had insomnia, I still got tired after lunch. Those things seemed unconnected to the coffee.

Maybe I need to go off coffee for a long time to really see the benefits, e.g. give it 3-6 months for my body to recover and stabilize. I'm not sure, but at this point I have what I consider to be a healthy consumption level and I get the benefits of increased alertness and focus in the mornings. I'm focusing on other elements of my life to address any health concerns.

I had horrible heacahes from ~16-19 years old... I never made the connection until a professor in college mentioned 'caffeine withdrawal headache', and it totally clicked. And I switched to decaf for the next 15 years. Totally paranoid about waitresses filling my coffee cup up with the wrong pot.

However, a couple of years ago, I noticed that I can actually drink caffeine without getting any withdrawal problems at all, making me think it was all in my head...

The first month without caffeine was absolute misery for me. After that it improved. I normally would come home from work and do work on personal projects. For that month I just couldn't, it was horribly depressing. If it had kept up for 6 months I would probably be drinking caffeine again.

I'm in this boat. I recently got advised to drop caffeine for heartburn/reflux reasons. It took me a bit to realize that I was repeatedly going through withdrawal because I would still have a can of something every other day as a 'reward' or whatever lie I would tell myself. I had to go cold turkey. No coffee, not even decaf tea.

Boy do I miss soda something fierce.

I used love soda as well. I realized that the best way to avoid cravings is to reduce my refined sugar intake as much as possible.

After about a month my cravings completely disappeared and now when I taste soda its way too sweet and I just don't feel like drinking it anymore.

It's actually awesome to hear of someone with the same symptoms (also, I'm terribly sorry, it blows).

For me, I was drinking a ton of soda, like 4+ of those Mexican coca-colas a day. If I would sleep in I would 'miss' the dose and feel like garbage. I loved that stuff. I think the first time I cut it out was just to see if I could and I got very sick. Going back or forth a few more times I noticed that it was withdrawal. For me it's a sinus headache and pseudo-ephedrine (sudafed) really helps (wish I knew that a few years earlier).

I know other people have withdrawal symptoms, but I've never seen any reported as severe as what I get. Maybe people just aren't aware, idk. I started paying a lot of attention after I gave up gluten, to what I was eating and how it affected me. Maybe it's that increased awareness or maybe my body responds differently.

I don't drink at all, same thing about no appeal. That might just be because it's a bit of work to find drinks that are gluten free, and not high fructose (ciders / HFCS syrups) and I'm lazy. I also prefer programming and mental challenges, I really feel a night getting drunk is a bit of a waste. Hanging with the gf, programming, or gaming is more fulfilling to me. It's been long enough that I couldn't even tell you any effects, just that I'm a light weight.

I would happily induce these symptoms if anyone wants to study them. I'm so curious about the science behind it. I'm curious if I built up the reliance on it and if it will go away in time. In 10 years can I eat chocolate again? Drink tea? My diet is really strict now, pretty much meat, rice, and water. I eat chipotle bowls with chips (gotta avoid most the ingredients due to cross contamination though). I haven't seen much science on withdrawal either, though I haven't looked too hard.

There is some science that gluten can be treated as an opiate by certain individuals [1]. That link is for people with asymptomatic celiac disease, you also hear it come up in association with Autism [2].

1. https://jhpn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41043-015-0...

2. http://www.autism-help.org/intervention-casein-gluten-free.h...

>What blew my mind in giving up sugar was that I lost 5 lbs. I'm was lean at 155 lbs and 6'1, I dropped below 150 now. It really opened my eyes to how much sugar is converted to fat.

Pretty much all water weight.

I don't know enough to dispute this, but I'm curious what makes you so certain?

Its super common for people to dump a bunch of water weight after cutting inflammatory foods from their diet. Inflammation is, in part, water retention in that area.

Good to know. There wasn't a serious visible change, so that would make sense.

What's interesting is that most of the population of this planet does not even realize that glucose is not the only source of energy and that we can be powered entirely by beta-hydroxybutyrate (which comes from fats); our carbohydrate requirement is zero because our body can synthesize all the glucose it needs.

Here is a pretty good and scientific talk about what is happening (warning > 1 hour long): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Edit: just noticed this y/t has already been cited in another comment - evermore reason to pay attention to it :)

There are costs to gluconeogenesis (glucose via protein catabolism), kidney issues to name one (deamination producing ammonia). The body does not synthesize glucose from fatty acids (beta-oxidation occurs producing aceytl-coA in the mitochondria, thus producing energy, but aceytl-CoA cannot be converted upwards in the pathway to glucose). A small amount of glucose can/does get created from glycerol.

Nutrition recommendations up to this point still recommend high ratio of carbs (45-65% of kcals) because they are the most direct metabolic pathway. Also incredibly important for gut health is fiber, which is a complex carbohydrate (and prebiotic). The concern of carbs is non-complex ones as a high percentage of intake.

They have found that the brain runs on ketones (for a long time it was thought that it required glucose specifically) but long term research is non-existent. So yes, the body can live off of "no carbs", but stating that our carbohydrate requirement is zero is just false according to the literature and nutritional history of the majority of humans.

I'm always skeptical when I hear "Nutrition recommendations" because it implies some sort of authority. Nutrition recommendations from who? The USDA?

It's worth reading the history of the food pyramid. Here's a quote from wikipedia:

"The first chart suggested to the USDA by nutritional experts in 1992 featured fruits and vegetables as the biggest group, not breads. This chart was overturned at the hand of special interests in the grain, meat, and dairy industries, all of which are heavily subsidized by the USDA.[10] If Americans followed the chart suggested, they would buy much less meat, milk, and bread. On the other hand, if they ate as the revised chart suggested, it "could lead to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes," as original composer of the food Pyramid, Louise Light warned. "

I know from a personal standpoint, once I removed refined carbohydrates from my diet I dropped 25 pounds in two months (without bothering to excersize.) So the idea that somehow the diet that made me fat is somehow the "good" diet because the USDA says so strikes me as being silly.

Skepticism is important for any advice. MyPlate/USDA dietary guidelines are updated often, based on all the research and debunking that has happened before and since 1992. As I mentioned in another comment, it's a good place to start for most people. There is going to be some influences affecting their recommendations but most people can benefit from the overall approach.

A diet with high carbs should be mostly complex carbs. There is no minimum refined carb recommendation. The only recommendation is to limit added sugars to <10% of daily kcals. That recommendation may be reduced further in later revisions.

I think we both agree that complex carbs are better than refined ones, and there are foods that are somewhat heavy in carbohydrates that are still good for you (kale, for instance).

I'm super skeptical that 45-65% of diet being carbohydrates is healthy though. Unlike proteins and fats carbohydrates don't have much nutritional value other than being useful for creating glucose. Since your body can synthesize glucose anyway, you don't really need that much. In terms of fiber, you can get that from vegetables. I don't necessarily think you have to cut out carbs completely and go on ketosis, but of all the major macronutrients carbs are the least useful, so it seems odd that they should be the vast majority of the diet, especially when we've known for at least a hundred years that carbohydrates are fattening. (I'm amused when people act like ketogenic diets are "new" -- historically high fat/low carb diets were common. And historically we didn't have an obesity problem.)

A large percentage of our dietary need is strictly for energy (via glucose). Carbohydrates are most efficient over fats or protein to fulfill this need, among other needs like fiber intake. Complex ones work best, not only for sustained energy but other benefits as well.

Yes we have needs for micronutrients, which are acquired from all of the macros. If your diet is truly varied, balanced, and adequate (in all three macro categories) on a regular basis you will likely not be significantly deficient in micros.

Ok but, the only reason you would care about getting energy super efficiently/quickly is if you're an athlete. Also while glucose is certainly easier to burn, I've seen evidence that ketones are actually a better source of energy. Since we have an obesity epidemic, and the vast majority of (fat) people are on the diet you're proposing, I would suggest that energy efficiency is not exactly a high priority for most people. If we know that carbohydrates will cause weight gain (not just in humans, but in animals too -- there's a reason why they feed cattle grain and not grass), and we know that the biggest health problem we have right now is obesity, suggesting that people should eat a lot of carbohydrates seems like terrible advice.

And if you're going to suggest that the solution there is to decrease caloric intake, I also think that's bad advice. We know, from type 1 diabetes, that your body doesn't store fat if insulin isn't present. Certain foods have a much stronger insulin response than others, and not surprisingly carbohydrates have a much stronger insulin response than fats. IE, the notion that all calories are equal is not supportable by the scientific evidence. So if the culprit is insulin response, it would make much more sense to adjust what you eat and when you eat it, instead of measuring a number (calories) that isn't that useful anyway.

I disagree that the vast majority of people are following the dietary guidelines (they aren't just AMDRs) I base my assertions from. However, unless you/I present evidence for either case, it's a non-starter.

You're ignoring the complexities of insulin/components of a healthy diet/physical activity regarding carbohydrates. Technically, you could just eat only protein and survive. Doesn't mean this is the best advice and without many complications.

Of course carbs have higher insulin response as insulin regulates blood sugar uptake. Fats dont produce sugar, therefore insulin is unrelated. And many, many things cause weight gain, including fat intake for some.

Current guidelines allow for up to 35% of total kcals to be fats, with minimal/no risks. This encourages plenty of consumption of fats for energy. Perhaps if we continue our extremely sedentary ways then this will be raised higher in the future.

Obese people are obese because they eat--A LOT. I had a relative like that. The amount of food put away was epic.

I used to eat one (small) meal a day and I got fat. And then I switched my diet and I got not fat. I don't know why people make this stuff so personal, body chemistry is complicated and it's not that weird that certain foods are better than others.

Certain foods can be better than others, but the basic tenet "eat less than you need to power yourself" seems like it should be a consistent formula for anyone who adheres to the first law of thermodynamics.

I (and presumably many others) have used it with notable success, so when I see a data point that suggests it's not a valid approach, I immediately question the validity of that data point.

"the body can synthesize glucose" is a horribly misleading statement. The body can create glucose only by destroying protein and the amount it can create is limited by the buildup of toxic waste the process leaves behind. It's absolutely not the same thing as the body synthesizing vitamin A from carotene. You will be much better off eating carbohydrates, and 45% may be still too little.

I've read a book[1] -- by an actual doctor -- saying the exact opposite. If you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, our ancestors would have had many times when food accessibility was scarce and they would have needed to maintain their strength through a long fast. An animal that burned muscle/protein over fat is an animal that wouldn't have survived long, that would be a terrible evolutionary disadvantage. The design of our body isn't stupid -- we store fat for a reason, so that we can burn it in times when food is scarce. Burning fat for energy is both normal and totally healthy.

From a personal standpoint, I barely eat any carbs and I've lost zero strength despite dropping 25 pounds. Apparently the diet that has made me thinner and increased my energy and mental clarity is the "dangerous" one, and the diet that has made everyone obese is "healthy" and "balanced".

[1] The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung

Fats do not become glucose (with the exception of the glycerol from triglycerides...a minute amount of the total kcals from one trig) but they do become energy. The majority of energy is in fatty acids which have no pathway to glucose.

For example, it is believed that when we sleep our energy comes from fats. We are not doing anything exerting, so the process of (fat catabolism -> energy) >= energy needs. The brain needs glucose however, so it gets it from glycogen catabolism or protein catabolism (gluconeogenesis).

Edit: For some reason I cannot reply to the comment below. The recommendation is 45-65% based upon individual need. I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread that the brain can use ketone bodies.

I disagree that glucose = obesity as you seem to see it. Many, many things (nutrition, PA, stress, hormone issues, etc) are related to obesity.

A lot of what you emphasize is related to the lack of physical activity that the population no longer gets. If we truly want to solve obesity, it takes adjustments to diet and consistent purposeful physical activity. There's a lot that can be done with nutrition, but continuing our highly sedentary ways will always have consequences for health that nutrition alone will not completely solve.

I think it's important to separate health and obesity when considering exercise. A large body of evidence shows us that exercise makes you healthy. A smaller body of evidence shows that exercise helps prevent obesity. But there is virtually no evidence that shows exercise has a large part to play in curing obesity.

Ketone bodies can be used by the brain. It prefers glucose, but you don't absolutely need it.

Lets say for a second you're right and you need glucose, though. 65% is a really high number, and we basically know exactly what it leads to (obesity).

Stop spreading misinformation. 65% is well within historical norms. People commonly ate that much or more, oils and meat used to be expensive.

I'm only giving advice that I've personally tried myself, and have seen it work. I actually have a coherent theory for why people get fat, you just have... anger

I'm not comfortable with the word "designed." There is evolutionary adaptation, there is no design.

Would you have lost the same 25lbs. if you had just eaten less? In other words, does it really matter that you cut out carbs only? Are you chowing down on bacon and steaks?

So you're saying HN comments are not a good source of my daily nutritional information?

:) Like everything else in life, nutrition as a science is incredibly more complicated than we want to believe or describe. A seriously good place to start is MyPlate (their nutrition AND physical activity recommendations).

I've switched to a low carb / high protein / high fat diet and it's great. I'm eating lots of food and losing weight along the way. Each Saturday is cheat day and I eat anything I want.

Breaking the sugar / carbs dependency was really difficult for the first weeks but now I'm "fat adapted" as they call it.

I've been doing this diet for a year or so and broken it a few times for weeks at a time. Getting back was super easy and I didn't gain much weight. In 2016 I've lost more than 20 kilos, or about 6 belt notches. I even had to buy a new smaller belt.

If you want to know more about this look for the Atkins diet, 4 hour body diet, keto diet, etc. Those are all variations on the same idea of reducing or eliminating carbs from your diet.

I didnt' watch the video yet. But do you need to be "in ketosis" to benefit from this energy source?

How difficult is it to incorporate this in your diet? And is it expensive?

I did Keto for a month in September. It requires a good deal of self-control to stick to it (you'll quickly realize that only about 1% of the grocery store is food you can eat on Keto - resisting that temptation constantly is a trial) but it's not particularly expensive. You do have to be "in ketosis" to get the full benefits of Keto, but I've also found that just sticking to a low carb diet (under 100 carbs p/d) is a good start to ease into it. For Keto you will need to stay under 50...some people stay under 20.

I lost about 15 lbs during the process and my diet mostly consisted of salads with lots of chicken + cheese + high fat dressing. I was a vegan before I switched to Keto so eating my veggies was not difficult, but some of my friends struggled to keep a "healthy" diet during the process.

The most difficulty you will have doing Keto is your own self-control. Finding recipes & food to buy is easy.

Keto was the only diet I could lose weight with. One thing a lot of other diet plans ignore is satiety. If you are hungry or crave food, it is basically an addiction. You will not stop till satieted. Sugars and starches spike glucose levels and thus trigger insulin responses which puts one back in a hungry state.

> I didnt' watch the video yet. But do you need to be "in ketosis" to benefit from this energy source?

Your body will handle that naturally. If it doesn't have enough of resource A, it'll try resource B, then C, ... It happens automatically.

Yes we evolve from a common ancestor with the monkey, which used to eat mainly fruit, hence sugar.

Fruit tends to be healthy because the sugar (fructose) is wrapped in protein and fiber. In other words, it's very very distilled. That's the reason why eating an orange is a lot healthier than drinking orange juice. But we do know that fructose is VERY bad for you (high fructose corn syrup is much worse than sucrose alone).

I don't think there exists any evidence that high fructose corn syrup is much worse than sucrose. They are pretty close to the same thing.

HFCS is 45-58% glucose, and 42-55% fructose, and sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. There is one more bond in sugar, but enzymes in your gut break that bond apart very quickly.

Well, I'm not exactly saying your should eat a bunch of sucrose either, so I might have overstepped by saying it's MUCH worse. But I do think the evidence points to fructose not being good for you, and it's certainly not better than other sugars.

Why are you lying like that? Are you trying to hurt people?

Huh? I'm a liar for saying "sugar is bad and certain sugars are worse"?

So what is the evidence for fructose being bad for us?

Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver (whereas glucose is useful in the rest of the body) so in terms of generating energy it's not particularly useful, but your liver has to deal with it. If your liver gets more fructose than it can use, it turns it into fat which is stored on the liver, leading to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance (same thing with alcohol).

You've stated all of that as fact, when there's some debate about some of it.


Page 209 onwards.

It's worth reading those few pages, but here are some snippets.

> Products sweetened with HFCS are not necessarily significantly higher in fructose than foods sweetened with sucrose as HFCS has a similar composition to sucrose, which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

> The body absorbs free fructose and glucose, or the same sugars derived from sucrose and HFCS, in exactly the same way. Therefore it appears unlikely that fructose, as consumed as a component of most HFCS or other glucose-fructose syrups, causes metabolic abnormalities or promotes weight gain more than other sugars consumed in an isocaloric diet (Klurfeld et al., 2013).

Especially this:

> A3.10 Therefore on balance, it is considered that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that fructose intake, at levels consumed in the normal UK diet, leads to adverse health outcomes independent of any effects related to its presence as a component of total and free sugars.

Well look, with something as complicated as metabolism you're likely to find evidence that goes both ways, but I don't think any sane doctor would object to "eat less sugar", whether that be fructose or glucose or whatever. From what I've read, I think fructose is worse for you, but I'm not going to claim that with 100% certainly. I will claim you'll be better off not eating sugar regardless.

I didn't ask you to repeat yourself, I asked for evidence confirming what you said.

If your argument is that "eating sugar is good for you", I encourage you to eat all the sugar you like. It'll be a fun science experiment. Let us know how it turns out.

What happened when you tried to eat more sugar?

I'm also simply tired of the excuses fat people make "Muh HFCS did this." Yeah, that and drinking 4 2 liters a day.

I don't think it's the distilled part that is important. I doubt the quantity is as important as the other nutriments you get that makes your body functions well enough so that you can benefit from all the sugar.

Recently diagnosed diabetic here. Yes, I'm fat, but no excessively so. When I tell people I'm diabetic they're confused as I don't look the type.

What I can say is that I can see the effects of cortisol (stress) on my fasting glucose levels. When my ex does something that causes strife, my glucose levels will be 20-30 pts higher for the next few days.

In general, I ate fairly decently, and didn't consume mass amounts of sugar.

It's my belief, that our diabeetus epidemic is related to more than just our diets. Perhaps our modern living environment is too stressful and makes certain segments of the population susceptible to metabolic disease?

Maybe there is a relationship between sugar consumption and our ability to cope with stress? I found, that when I stopped eating sugar, it wasn't exactly a big revelation, but merely a subtle change (mentally), that made me somehow less anxious and when I had irrational anxiety "attacks", I was able to suppress them better.

I don't have any better way to explain this psychological stuff, but for me there was a change for sure. A subtle one, but it made a big impact on my life long term.

The reason I stopped eating sugar was that I saw a pattern in my moods depending on what I ate. I initially thought that it my eating habits were dictated by life circumstances and that life circumstance were dictating my mood, but two things stood out, which left me to try going without sugar.

First I wanted to loose weight, so I went on a protein only diet during a very stressful time and it made me feel pretty good. Second, I was feeling even better, when I was fasting. Third, I had my worst "breakdown", when I was training for a marathon (I ran many, so it wasn't marathon stress) and ingested a lot of sugar.

I'm very much of the opinion that sugar should be considered a psychotropic substance in line with Caffeine and other addictive drugs. When I crash from sugar, it feels very much like any other addictive substance - I feel my mind craving another hit.

[edit] I love caffeine btw, so I'm not saying this is inherently bad -- just something we often forget.

In the interests of anecdata, I went ketogenic for about 18 months. One of my reasons for doing this that my sister described in glowing terms how eating this way had all sort of positive mental health efforts (more muted emotional responses, mental clarity, lack of anxiety).

I had no effect of that sort. I can only assume that this is one of those 'some people respond well to this, others not so much'.

"Muted emotional responses" .. this describes very well how I experience it actually.

This isn't surprising given everything we're starting to discover about the connection between gut bacteria and mental health[1], and that sugar has been shown to promote the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria[2].



Interesting thought. Another option is that it's more of a link between substance dependence and anxiety. In the same way that alcohol, weed and other drugs create a feedback loop of 'feel bad' -> 'easy, instant solution' (to which absence of the solution can become the 'feel bad' itself, creating a loop), I suppose it could be the same for food/sugar.

Because it is related to more than diet. There is a ton of literature on all of the different factors that induce insulin resistance (assuming you are talking about type 2). Diet, lack of exercise, genes, pollution, stress, chronic inflammation, the list goes on.

And there isn't a type to look like. The idea that only obese people have type 2 is ignorant at best.

Consider yourself lucky you have type 2, you can control it very easily if you choose to do so. I would gladly swap my son't type 1 for type 2 any day of the week.

Stress definitely matters, but honestly you're probably just not eating right (not your fault, most diet advice is rubbish). Type-2 diabetes is mostly about insulin resistance, and you can become insulin resistant without necessarily being fat just by eating things that provoke a strong insulin response. All foods have an insulin response, but generally speaking, from high to low: sugar, refined carbohydrates, unrefined carbohydrates, protein, fat. If you limit things that have a high insulin response you'll probably improve!

Have you gotten tested for sleep apnea?

I'm interested, what is the relevance of sleep apnea in this context?

The exact nature of the relationship hasn't been figured out, but there is definitely some nexus of chronic stress, sleep disruption, and metabolic syndrome/prediabetes. Sleep apnea is fairly common but often goes undiagnosed. People aren't routinely screened for it, and even when they are screened, the questionnaires are heavily biased toward people who present with drowsiness as their primary symptom.

If you're type 2 diabetes you can cure yourself with an 8 week change in diet, clinically proven, http://www.ncl.ac.uk/magres/research/diabetes/reversal.htm be careful Googling this as well, there is a TON of junk sites using the same keywords now.

I firmly believe that sugar not only makes us fat, but also has an effect on the psychological state of certain people (e.g. people with anxiety problems).

In my own experience, cutting out sugar (from anything else but fruit) and wheat from my diet has made a big difference.

I'll double down on this anec-data of cutting out sugar helping with anxiety and depression.

Toss in the emerging idea that inflammation has a relationship with depression and the knowledge that sugar causes inflammation and it sort of makes sense. Obviously, the previous sentence should probably be backed up with a few legitimate studies.

That said it worked for me, and undoing it doesn't work for me for the above reasons. Add in regular exercise and things changed pretty seriously.

I've been told my whole life that wheat (or whole-grained and fibrous foods in general) is healthy -- can you elaborate some more?

Well, in the US, the USDA promoted grains as the base of the food pyramid[1]. But this turned out to be at the behest of grain industries.

Whole grains are much better for you than white or processed breads, but they should still only be a small part of your diet, not the base.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_USDA_nutrition_guid...

I agree, and the focus should be a on a varied diet. So multiple complex carb sources (potatoes, whole grains, beans, etc).

Fiber seems quite healthy. Something like broccoli is good for you. I don't think there's any serious disagreement with that.

By playing enough games with legal serving size, which has no relationship with observed consumption, you can end up with a standard serving of broccoli having twice the fiber as a standard serving of wheat as found in bread, for example.

Generally speaking it was very unusual for your ancestors to eat grains as the primary component of their diet before the very recent advent of agriculture. Grains are highly effective at fattening up large mammal livestock, such as cows, pigs, and humans. If a farmer would feed it to a pig to fatten it up, its probably a poor dietary choice for the average overweight American.

Wheat is extremely healthy ... economically ... if you're a wheat farmer or perhaps in health care. For everyone else, unlimited grain consumption turns out about the same for humans as hogs, at least WRT bod fat percentages.

Not a huge fan of grains, but in moderation they are perfectly fine. They are used to fatten up livestock but I highly doubt those livestock are being fed an appropriate distribution of macros (carbs, pro, fats) to maintain their health. Seems more like they are fed primarily grains in the weeks before slaughter.

I've been reading a book called "Grain of Truth." The author defends wheat and blames its industrial processing on its ill effects on the human digestive system. The removal of bran, germ and other vitamins in the process leave the starchy leftovers that are what nutritionists seem to demonize.

Personally I still probably wouldn't eat breads or wheat often, I'll consider it a treat every now and then.

Article is paywalled, but anecdotally, last year I inched past that magic A1C reading where the doctor tells you you are Type 2 Diabetic. I switched to a low-carb/high-fat diet ( https://reddit.com/r/keto ) and fairly rapidly lost 30 pounds while eating things like avocados, eggs, cheese, butter, coconut oil and bacon.

Several months of this diet and my A1C has dipped back to almost-normal, not even "pre-diabetic" levels. For me at least, carbs are definitely a killer.

While keto seems promising in the short term, there isn't much data to validate whether it would be best for "most people". There is a definite concern long term with organ failure associated with ketoacidosis.

Whereas, the "standard" USDA diet has created an obesity epidemic. That is also a definite concern. I would take the diet with insufficient evidence over the diet that has years of evidence in provably not working.

There are plenty of healthy diets recommended by leading nutritionists and doctors that aren't the food pyramid. And bringing this up as a straw-man doesn't seem to further the discussion.

There are lots of very healthy diets with much more long term data behind them like the Mediterranean diet.

The food pyramid is literally taught to every child in the united states, and, uh, we're kind of a fat nation. I think it's totally fair to call it out, it's not a straw-man, the government is literally forcing bad advice on people that's making them fat.

The food pyramid has been out of date since 2011

The people that followed its advice are still around, and you'll have to forgive me if I'm not going to trust newer USDA guidelines after what a spectacular (and politically motivated) fuck up that was.

We're a fat nation because people eat at restaurants too much where the portions are too large. Also, they have no self control.

How many obese people follow the guidelines?

I don't think you are right. The long term impact of ketogenic diets have been study, especially in kids that have been on them for 10+ years to control seizures. (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&e...)

"Most people" don't have issues with seizures. The children studied were receiving medical nutrition therapy from experts, thus having several blood markers checked constantly and having precise diets formulated and adjusted to their individual and changing needs. Ketoacidosis may be a low likelihood, but there is definite concern. The article linked also mentions "However, side effects, such as slowed growth, kidney stones, and fractures, should be monitored closely." If we just start telling everyone to go keto, there is a high probability for harm (both known and unknown) in some percentage of the population.

Ketoacidosis and ketosis are two different things.

Ketoacidosis is a definite concern with ketosis. Perhaps "common effect" was a bit overstated :/

It's only common for diabetics or people with impaired kidneys. It's perfectly safe otherwise. Ten minutes of research would show that.

yea that's just not true.

Click on "web" and then click on the link to avoid the paywall.

143 points by prostoalex 12 hours ago | flag | hide | past | _web_ | 128 comments | favorite | save to pocket

It sounds like you're already doing the right thing (congrats!), but if you're interested in the subject "The Obesity Code" by Jason Fung is an incredibly good book. It delves into why/how of type 2 diabetes and how it can be cured/managed.

You are basically guarranteeed to get a false negative A1C on keto.

Do you have some sort of reference for this? I'd like to learn some more about the impact of ketogenic diets on A1c.

almost eliminating one of three macro nutrients probably led you to consume far fewer calories. the reduction is calories is what causes weight loss, this is not a magic effect of consuming less sugar.

your body will not lose weight without a reduction in caloric intake, that you successfully lost weight is proof that your new diet was a caloric deficit.

i'm glad you had such success, i just wanted to point out to other readers that there's nothing magic about low carb diets.

Calorie cutting is generally useless. Here's a link explaining: http://www.drfranklipman.com/q-dr-jason-fung-book-obesity-co...

I'd read the whole thing, but the first couple paragraphs set the scene:

Obesity is often considered a problem of excessive calories. This caloric obsession has been indoctrinated into all of us since we were children. Too many calories in, too few calories out, or some combination is what we believe leads to weight gain and obesity. If it were indeed true that excess calories leads to weight gain, then the solution is simple: Reduce calories eaten. This has formed the standard dietary advice of the last 50 years. And it has failed spectacularly. Obesity rates have skyrocketed upward despite continual exhortations to cut calories. So, the proof is in the pudding. This advice does not work.

The other major strategy has been to increase exercise. Total calorie expenditure is not simply exercise, but includes basal metabolism. However, basal metabolism is not under conscious control, so it is assumed to be stable. In fact, the basal metabolic rate may increase or decrease up to 40% depending upon many factors, but one major one is caloric intake. But here once again, this advice has failed us.

Exercise comprises a very small proportion of our daily calorie expenditure. Let us assume basal metabolism of 2,000 calories per day. Walking for 45 minutes might burn 100–150 calories. If you’ve ever watched the calorie counter on your treadmill, you’ve probably already noticed how few calories are actually burned. This means that 95% of caloric expenditure is not related to exercise.

> And it has failed spectacularly. Obesity rates have skyrocketed upward despite continual exhortations to cut calories. So, the proof is in the pudding.

Continual exhortations does not mean calories have been cut. The fact that it's still said so often and loudly indicates that either it's not effective, or people aren't doing it.

> us assume basal metabolism of 2,000 calories per day. > Walking for 45 minutes might burn 100–150 calories. > If you’ve ever watched the calorie counter on your treadmill, >you’ve probably already noticed how few calories are actually burned > This means that 95% of caloric expenditure is not related to exercise.

So exercising doesn't account for that much calorie burn compared to your basal metabolism. 5% is not a small number, though (when you're not high over your daily needs to begin with), and this doesn't address any effect that even minimal regular exercise might have on your basal metabolism.

I haven't read the whole thing - but based on the glaring holes in these couple of paragraphs, I find that there's not a strong case for doing so.

It also doesn't account for the people who do successfully lose weight by following this basic advice. I'm -50lbs from where I started two years ago and am about 10lbs above where current doctrine says is "healthy" for me. What did I change?

I eat larger breakfasts, a light (but not necessarily healthy) afternoon snack, no lunch and small dinner for a net of significantly less food. (I still tend to snack on unhealthy things after 10pm some nights). I started walking (1.5 miles in hill country x 3-5 days. Less often lately).

That's it. I still eat like crap. I still drink mostly heavily-creamed coffee, diet soda, and sweet tea.

Perhaps you can see how I'm skeptical when I the opening paragraphs discount the two most significant but minor changes I made -- being told it doesn't work when it clearly has does not inspire confidence in the accuracy of the rest of the text.

(In a similar way that being told to cut calories an add exercise doesn't inspire confidence in the people who have done so with no luck.)

But "for me" is the important bit. Everyone is different. Perhaps that relatively light walking kicks my basal metabolism into overdrive - I really don't know. What I do know is that I made a couple of seemingly simply changes plus the behavioral change of not eating a) when bored and b) every time I felt slightly hungry, and it worked really well.

There's a lot of crap pseudoscience in this space and there is still a lot that we don't know - which means it's not going to get better anytime soon.

So it took you 24 months to lose 50 pounds (and congrats, no small feat), whereas Ive lost 25 pounds in 2 months with much less effort. Sample size of 2, sure, but my approach sure does seem to be an order of a magnitude more effective. Why would I want to do your diet when it requires more work for less results?

I'm happy to discuss further in one year - because immediate results aren't the same as results that last and a lot of non pseudo-science research has shown that weight lost that rapidly (3-4 lbs a week) doesn't tend to stay off.

And in any case, I'm glad you found something that works for you. I found something that works for me, with much less effort and longer-lasting effect than the various extremes I've tried in the past.

Calorie cutting is definitely part of it, but it is not the whole picture. I've done calorie-restrictive diets that were more carb-based (low-fat) in the past and saw very minor weight loss in comparison. I think this works differently in overall healthy people versus someone like me who is predisposed/skewed towards type 2 diabetes - where the insulin response is all screwed up.

There's a little magic -- by keeping your body in a state of ketosis, you end up with a lot less in the way of blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to cravings.

Increase fats?

No biggie, you'll get satiated too fast to overconsume.

Increase proteins?

You satiate even faster.

Increase sugar?

You will eat a lot more and your leptin signal gets all sorts of messed up.

That's not true, some people can eat a lot of cheese.


Things are not as simple as "don't eat sugar"

I think it's very true that in most scenarios it's entirely too easy to eat too much sugar in the foods we consume.

I think most people with a nutritional chemistry background would agree, as well, most general medicine practitioners that eating less sugar is a proper direction for much of the population.

That's not the point you made though. You specifically said that it's hard to overconsume fat and protein.

It really isn't. When we look at what obese people eat they aren't just eating too much sugar. They're eating too much of everything, including fat.

Cutting out the sugar would help (especially because it's often a pointless addition with a painless substitution eg soda to non-sugar soda), but it would not be enough.

> Cutting out the sugar would help (especially because it's often a pointless addition with a painless substitution eg soda to non-sugar soda), but it would not be enough.

This may not be as useful a replacement as we've always been lead to believe. There's recent research that suggests that the body is tricked into behaving as if the sugar substitutes are actually sugar[0], especially when considering abdominal obesity.


[0] "Chronic Low-Calorie Sweetener Use and Risk of Abdominal Obesity among Older Adults: A Cohort Study" - http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal....

There's a flaw in your logic.

True; obese people aren't just eating too much sugar, but also fat (and protein), but the problem is still the sugar.

The sugar makes you hungry, making you able to eat more fat (which is highly calorie dense). If you cut the sugar (and other high GI/II carbs), you will eat a lot less of the rest.

Sure, the problem in calorie intake is the combination, but eating just fat and protein is fine, while eating only carbs and protein is definitely not.

> The sugar makes you hungry, making you able to eat more fat (which is highly calorie dense). If you cut the sugar (and other high GI/II carbs), you will eat a lot less of the rest.

Do you have any credible research on this? I'd be interested to read it.

Sure, do you mind if I just link-dump? Otherwise let me know:



Low carb AND low fat https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139783/

This paper is often quoted when talking about eating regularly vs rarely (IF), in which the subjects were given meals with 70/15/15 of carbs/protein/fat, in which regular eaters consumed less: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10578205

This is a paper on a similar trial with 60/14/26 and 49/25/26 macro comp instead, with opposite results (meaning you were full longer when eating less carbs): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034047/

Except for the people who get fat without eating almost any sugar and just eat plain old starches. Not everyone enjoys sweet things.

People are idiosyncratic, and not only that, dynamic. For many things we'll always find exceptions. What matters is understanding solutions that (a) work for many people and (b) work for each individually. Those solutions aren't necessarily the same.

Sure, but if you read my entire post I accounted for this. You could just s/sugar/carbs/ in my post if you'd like.

P(harm your own nutrition | consumed sugar) > P(harm your own nutrition | consumed fats/proteins)

Wholly unhelpful meme. What's his daily macro comp?

Things are really that easy. Sure there are many potential solutions, but that one definitely works.

To be fair, cheese usually contains sugar.

Very little. Even most lactose-intolerant people can eat a little bit of cheese. Aged cheese contains only trace amounts because all of the lactose has been processed by bacteria at that point.

Processed cheese like that block of cheese in the meme contains quite a bit of sugar it's added to make it "taste better".

They also don't age it properly, they usually only age it for 18 months or less to realize the return on investment sooner.

thats a give for mass produced cheese and other things like wine, they add "flavoring" instead of aging it properly...

Low fat cheese is also quite bad if you want to avoid sugar / carbs since adding / leaving in the carbs is pretty much the only way to produce a low fat cheese while keeping the same texture (you can increase the proteins but it will make it very stringy and or hard).

some of the storebought stuff would only be aged weeks.

I get the same effect from eating "something with cheese on top" that I do from eating sugary stuff (makes me want to eat more, makes me feel less full). I always assumed it was the lactose...

lactose itself IS a sugar. That is what the -ose suffix is.

Cheese contains morphine, so that's cheating.

I've really cut down on sugar from august to november. I didn't really notice anything except loosing a lot of weight (mind that I already was under weight, but I should probably build some muscle anyway)

So in comes December. And there is candy and chocolate everywhere. In just a single week our house filled up with it and here I am, stuffing my face full of sugar.

I think the struggle just goes on, right?

Just keep on going without sugar after December. See the December candy as a treat for being off sugar for a while. :)

I didn't eat - stuff with added - sugar for about a year a few years back. Was pretty nazi on it, didn't just cut down a little bit. I read all the labels and didn't even buy bread with added sugar or syrup etc. Lost 30 kgs. Never felt so good.

Sugar is poison, really should eat it. The best thing is that everything start tasting much better after cutting off sugar. It's amazing. Salt taste more, vegetables taste more. And if you're having a bad urge to eat something sweet, just drink water.

After being off sugar for only two weeks I had a melon. It. Was. Amazing.

I cut sugar for 40 days in April and lost weight, too (having normal weight). After a while, I was back to old habits. Thought about trying the same thing in mid-November. Worked alright. Then came December and while I'm eating a cookie here and there, it's way less than previous years.

I think the struggle just goes on, right?

To some extend: Yes. But something flipped in my head this time. The struggle is less serious. Heck, I even prefer an orange over the cookie now.

I think you hit the nail here.

For the last half a decade I've tried most things in both nutrition and training. While I'm back to a moderate regiment now, both diet and training, not abstaining from anything I think the key takeaway is not of one diet to rule them all, but merely what insights each brings.

From doing LCHF I realized how hunger is altered by carbs.

From doing IF I realized how hunger is altered by ghrelin, and how it's very much trainable (in the span of about two weeks). Also how "real" hunger feels versus "fake" hunger, and that the feeling of hunger is completely harmless and can really sharpen your focus.

How neither is particularily easy on your social life.

Etc, etc. Even if I'm back to a "regular" diet now, I have a much better understanding of the things I eat, and can make more informed decisions, both on content, portion size, and meal times.

Everyone should try everything (if time permits). Never be afraid of exploring outside your comfort zone.

Ditto. I have been trying to stop eating sugar since I was a teenager. Tried many times. But this time (over summer) it was like a switch was flipped. Went from eating a couple of chocolate bars every week, plus assorted biscuits (cookies) to nothing.

The struggle goes on if you keep getting little triggers which wake up the green-eyed monster that always wants more sugar. If you avoid slightly sugary things it will help avoiding very sugary things.

Finally, a confession: some people on this forum really DO have more days in a month than other folks!

How did you make that switch flip? I'm struggling to find it for years.

I don't know exactly. I guess it's a series of realizations.

a) Sometimes, we see candy as some kind of reward or treat. Most children are given chocolate etc. as a reward. So, to a certain extend, it is seen as something special. Most chocolates are marketed as special, as a reward, as well. But to be honest, chocolate is cheap and there is an endless supply.

The realization for me is: There is no shortage. There is no scarcity. There is no need to eat it. I can buy candy whenever I want. There's really nothing special about it. In fact, most chocolate is quite nasty anyways, cheaply produced garbage, especially in the US ;)

b) It's an addiction and the desire fades, if you don't eat sugar for a while. I'm an all-or-nothing guy. If I eat a bit of chocolate once, I might as well eat it every day.

I must cut it entirely and fight cravings by other means. Someone suggested drinking a glass of water. This works. I ate some sugar-free gum once in a while to fight cravings.

For some people, this won't work and they need to allow themselves a cheat day once per week or something like that.

c) Eating sugar is a habit and breaking it gives you more awareness of your behavior, which I find desirable in general.

d) I like to see myself as a person who eats healthy.

e) I like to see myself as a person who is able to resist sugar, especially because everybody finds it totally normal to eat tons of sugar and doesn't see the problem. This plays to my ego ;)

f) After a few days, it's less about avoiding sugar, but to not break the chain of abstinence. Think Seinfeld-calendar.

I changed my diet a few years ago and also removed sugar. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But I do love chocolate and still like to indulge.

Try the premium chocolate bars that are 80%-90% cocoa. The whole bar might be 10g of sugar, but the cocoa is so rich there’s no way you could even eat more than 1-2 tabs in one sitting. Compare that to a Snickers or whatever, which is 40-50g of sugar for the whole bar.

Not just in the home; it's especially bad in social environments like the office where there is this unspoken expectation that you should indulge in the treats that coworkers bring in.

Cutting out sugar causes anxiety, headache, and depression for me. Sugar is by far my most reliable therapist. Yes, I'm very very fat and have diabeetus. In a life characterized by struggle, this has been the one that challenges me most. Privately I feel very strongly that I am an addict, though I don't know if my condition matches the clinical definition.

Have you ever checked out Reddit's https://Reddit.com/r/keto keto subreddit? The keto-flu is a known & expected phase that matches the "anxiety and headache" thing. If you quit sugar "cold turkey" about 4 days in your body essentially switches from a carbs-for-fuel system to a fats-for-fuel one. It feel pretty wretched for a day. Afterwards you feel great, virtually never hungry, & weight melts off.

Can confirm that. The very first time I attempted a keto like diet (was actually a PSMF if I recall correctly), I felt so shitty and lightheaded in the first couple days that I bailed and tore into a small pack of cookies.

It gets a lot easier though. After going in and out of keto a couple more times, it completely stops being an issue.

Tried it, but fell off the wagon. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

Have you tried doing some sports instead? Cycling, swimming or even a long walk in the park are decreasing at least my depression and anxiety and while doing sports at moderate levels, with good hydration, I don't feel the need for sugars anymore. I'm also fat, in love with chocolate products, cakes and sweets don't survive the day uneaten in my home, no diabetes so far. I don't recommend running because of it puts to much strain on the knees.

Thank you for the advice. I do exercise and have always detested all forms of it, sadly. So now I just do the shortest amount at a high intensity.

I have had a mixed relationship with fitness. Something that works for me is audiobooks and walking. The book keeps things interesting and makes it easy to lose track of time. There isn't much activation energy required either, you just grab the headphones and go. It gets really fun when you find a great book.

I found this talk by Dr. Robert H. Lustig very interesting: "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM It has been previously discussed on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1006980

I quit sugar for two weeks and the runny nose and sinus headache I'd had my whole life went away. It wasn't hard. Everybody should try it.

Oh man, can you please shed more lights on this as I've exactly same problem, sinusitis and running nose (mostly because I'm allergic to cold and histamine is wreaking havoc). I'm trying all the possible way to control it, exercising regularly, taking lemon+honey everyday morning etc. But only an anti-histamine (xyzal or zyrtec) is working for me.

It's interesting that to know if it has anything to do with Sugar, as I take moderate amount of sugar.

Did you completely cut off sugar/variance of sugars? what about fruits?

No added sugar (or stevia or aspartame either). In the months after I quit I had a cookie or a chocolate croissant here and there and always woke up with a sinus headache the next day. I can eat berries and most fruit with no problems, but not bananas. I still have sinus trouble, a kind of a raw feeling in my nose most of the time, but without sugar in my diet I don't have constant mucus, congestion, and chronic sinus infections. I also take Allegra (fexofenadine) daily and use the Neilmed sinus irrigation when the raw sinus feeling is bad.

The other thing is my appetite decreased enormously and I lost about 25 pounds without trying. I actually decided to gain a little weight because I got too thin.

Thanks a lot, will try that, its going to be hard, as sugar is prevalent in almost everything we eat.

Naw, it's easy. Just eat real food or read the label.

The only bummer is Thai and Indian is so sweet it might as well be dessert.

Try also a neti-pot. It's not a cure-all, but it helps. I used to get bronchitis almost annually, and haven't now for a few years after keeping my nasal passages cleansed with one.

Could be coincidence and/or confirmation bias, but it's a low cost, low risk, thing to try.

(Be aware that you want to use a clean water source. And, I'm not a doctor.)

Alcohol, especially beer is a real exacerbator for me. Try a temporary elimination diet like whole30.com. You'll be able to establish a baseline of how you feel with everything cut out then selectively add foods back in and see which ones negatively affect you.

If mast cell stabilizers and antihistamines both help you, try the Autoimmune Paleo diet for 2 weeks. Your symptoms could be due to immune dysfunction and if so will lessen significantly. Also steroid nasal sprays exist.

Have you tried flonase?

not this specific, but tried other, it helps for sometime and back to square one again.

"Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00985E3UG/) by Michael Moss is highly recommended if you want to learn about the prevalence of sugar in processed food.

Thanks for the recommendation. I really enjoyed "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health" by Gary Taubes on this subject as well. Great historical overview of nutritional science and not afraid of getting into a lot of details. Taubes, with others, went on to start the Nutrition Science Initiative (http://nusi.org) with the aim of pursuing more conclusive evidence in understanding human nutrition.

I would recommend this website as cheatsheets: http://ss.fitness/#nutrition

>>Why Does This Food Pyramid Work?


"in June 2011 the USDA replaced MyPyramid with a new and simpler icon, MyPlate"

I listened to this as an audiobook. It has some good points, but the author assumes that all sugar, salt and fat are the same.

Why does the holy war not also fight against flour? Against corn? Should it not distinguish between "vegetable" oil, olive oil, butter, and coconut oil?

Pro tip - don't take your health advice from news articles. Also, if the title is hyperbolic, pay extra non-attention to it.

Is news killing us?

Also, betteridge's law of headlines.

> Experts warn that sugar may have an outsize role in causing obesity and diabetes

I thought that was pretty well-known? Is there something new later in the article? (I don't have access)

See http://thatsugarfilm.com

Was pretty good

Also Fed Up.

To paraphrase, if an external force was making our kids sick, addicted and more likely to die, we'd be bombing them into oblivion.

But as this force is the food industry's vision of profit at all costs, we just watch them get progressively sicker with each generation.

Recommend 'Pure, White and Deadly' by John Yudkin https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009CTYTCA

The sugar industry conspired to discredit and bury him and his research, they succeeded and passed the blame to saturated fats instead! Fortunately he was rediscovered ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/diet/10634081... )

This is not directly related to this article but I wonder if anybody has the same problem: Any kind of sugar gives me joint ache, headache and sometimes even fever. Even sugar from fruit not just added sugar. No blood tests have shown anything unusual and doctors don't seem to know this problem either.

Is anybody else experiencing this? It makes life quite difficult because it's really hard to avoid sugar totally.

The opposite view: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/sugar-issues.shtml . Ray Peat's argument is that polyunsaturated fats are the real culprit, and if you look at most sugar laden foods these days, it's difficult to find any that don't also contain a decent amount of PUFA.

> I eat plenty of sugar, and I'm in decent shape:

You can't tell the damage of a poor diet (or other maladies), simply by looking at videos.

You're also fairly young. A poor diet wrecks your health in a cumulative way.

I'm not saying your diet is poor (I have little data about your diet), I'm just saying it's up in the air with knowing that you eat, "plenty of sugar", and you IG yourself doing calisthenics. Would you agree?

I'm not actually that young, I'm 33. (I also haven't been training very long, about 2 years now) I agree though, I am a sample size of one. There are forums of people who follow Ray Peat's ideas, and some do consume large amounts of sugar, and do really well.

  I'm not actually that young, I'm 33.
That is young. Health effects (for many things) show up much later, past 50 or even 60. Until then most bodies can compensate for quite a lot of stuff that has gone wrong earlier.

If you take cancer rates by age as an indicator you can see age 33 barely registers: https://canceraustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/statistic...

Or diabetes: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/age/fig1.gif

That's true, though surely there are already signs in your 30's of later health problems (Obesity, etc)

Obesity is a sign for everything related to (and around) obesity. There is plenty of other things that have no connection with obesity, like drugs, alcohol, or too much sun exposure. Aging brings everything to the surface. Obesity is just one specific area with a cluster of diseases.

But think about when people succumb to problems because of poor diet choices: it's not 33. It's more like 65, for heart disease or 45 for Type 2 Diabetes.

Not that you CAN'T see differences, in some instances. I look at former classmates from college and they look horrible when I compare myself (and they know it) - but it's mostly from abuse of alchohol, which I think we can all agree will age you.

> There are forums of people who follow Ray Peat's ideas, and some do consume large amounts of sugar, and do really well.

How are their teeth?

I haven't heard any reports of people getting teeth issues, assuming they actually look after them. The community there is quite skeptical, and very much for experimenting on themselves, having blood tests taken, etc.

Here's another article that explains the alternative view point on this: http://digestiblekitchen.com/2013/10/confused-about-sugar-on...

Note that I'm not recommending processed foods either. I actually think it's much harder to eat lots of sugar, if you are only consuming it in non-processed foods.

But then is it sugar itself that is the problem?

I know sugar affects my teeth so I brush them after I eat a sugary meal. But a carby meal is just as bad.

> How are their teeth?


>There are forums of people who follow Ray Peat's ideas

Sorry, but this sounds like a personality cult. How about following the state of the art dietary advice?

Sure, consensus scientific advice can change over time, and be conflicting at times. But it will always be better than following some individual's opinions.

How about considering different viewpoints? Main stream advice should always be questioned. Also, different diets work for different types of people, and there are 10000 other factors. You can't simply isolate one variable, complex systems don't care about your linear ideas.

A an upcoming documentary an alternative theories related to this: http://perceivethinkact.com/

Also checkout the forums yourself, and then decide if these people are unreasonable:


That is assuming you are not suffering from a bias towards authoritarian sources. ;)

>How about considering different viewpoints?

There's already consideration for different viewpoints inside the scientific consensus -- that's how it's formed. Yes, it's not perfect but better than its absense.

So, unless those different viewpoints follow the scientific method and are part of the scientific discussion, they are basically either kooks (like Willhelm Reich) or snake-oil salesmen (like, too many to mention).

>Main stream advice should always be questioned.

Usually mainstream advice on pragmatic issues is exactly what works and has been tried and true. (Not to be conflated with mainstream opinion -- on flakey matters, such as personal, political, aesthetic, moral etc subjects).

>Also, different diets work for different types of people, and there are 10000 other factors. You can't simply isolate one variable, complex systems don't care about your linear ideas.

All those are things that the scientific community knows already. So I don't see their relevance here.

Plus, while "different diets work for different types of people", they are not that different in the end, unless someone has a specific genetic condition. At best, some diets are easier, as a habit, for some people to follow than others (some can count calories, some can cut some specific food more easily, etc). But the ways they work (nutritionally) are the same, and the principles are the same. People are not unique snowflakes.

>That is assuming you are not suffering from a bias towards authoritarian sources. ;)

It's precisely the single person that's the "authoritarian source", and the scientific consensus, formed in a discussion, and under experimentation across the globe, that's the flexible and non-authoritarian source.

Considering only the viewpoints inside the scientific consensus is limited - anyone as you said that practises the scientific method, whether in a formal institution, or not, should be able to have their view point considered. We should also never forget that there are politics in science too, and what's accepted is not always what is correct.

Scientists are subject to the human condition, just like anyone else.

I agree there are many snakeoil salesman, or kooks around. But I don't agree that the mainstream has the most optimal advice. In my personal experience I have been much more successful, in all my pursuits (health, programming, movement) by not following main stream advice, but rather seeking the minority that makes sense to me. In the words of Mark Twain, "The majority is always wrong, and the minority is sometimes right". I think the secret is finding the minority that aren't kooks, or snakeoil salesman. They do exist. I have found a few of them. Take the Ray Peat example. He didn't even know he had forums of people discussing his ideas. He doesn't even actively promote himself, or his ideas at all. I respectfully disagree that main stream advice is the most pragmatic.

I don't think the scientific community embraces the holistic nature of the world enough, as we tend to be dominated by linear thinking. If what you said were true, then we wouldn't have fields like Systems Thinking. It's definitely a niche area in research.

I also disagree about your comments on different diets. I have personally seen people religiously follow different diets, and do very badly on some, and well on others. I also prefer not to make statements like "People are not unique snowflakes" since I don't think we know enough at this stage. We are only beginning to understand the role of organisms in our gut for example, on overall health. I think your arguments here are too simplistic, and do not give a complex system like a human body enough credit. You should know that any simple answers to complex questions tend to be wrong.

Scientific consensus tends to be attached to formal institutions, not so? Formal institutions are then an authoritarian source. It comes from a position of authority. What you're essentially saying is something Government decreed for example, is not authoritarian, became it was enacted by a group of people. Obviously not true. Private individuals are generally less authoritarian, but they no doubt can be too. In this case, I am not aware of Ray Peat at all expressing his opinions as fact, but rather as something to be considered and questioned, like anything else.

Shifting from one culprit to the next would merely further a witch hunt. I in no way want to suppress the search for evidence in this.

However, evidence is pretty high that we could cut sugar and have zero negative effects. The largest cut would be in what people are drinking nowdays. (It is truly baffling to see how much sugar the average person consumes from soda.)

Consider, unless you are drinking multiple glasses a day of coke, you are probably actually quite low in your weekly intake of sugar compared to the average.

Sugar is just an empty calorie, there's plenty of studies that also show that it has no real net negative effect. The problem is when your diet consists primarily of empty calories, then obviously you are going to have health problems, from lack of nutrients. If your diet is nutrient rich, a bit of extra sugar will not do anything bad.

Sorry, but you are the one that tripped the final wire for me:

What exactly is an "empty calorie"? What metric is it low on? It has calories. What is it empty of?

"Nutrients" (according to the parent). The hypothesis being that diabetes is caused by lack of nutrients. But this is clearly false because impoverished countries don't have disproportionately high amounts of diabetes. Not to mention that AFAIK the jury is out on sugar causing diabetes.

So, a "calorie" is just a measurement of energy produced when something is burned. Like, really, that's it.

Proteins have specific uses, and some of them can't be produced by your body, so that would be an example of a "non-empty" calorie. Same thing with lipids. Carbohydrates are, essentially, sugar. (Once they're broken down). Obviously you can use them for energy, and they're useful in that regard, but once you have "enough" carbohydrates to fuel whatever activity you're doing adding more just causes your body to convert them into fat. So, that's why they're considered "emtpy" -- they have no nutritional value other than being converted to glucose.

Your answer is informative, so I can't fault you for that, but I already know this. I asked because "empty calories" is (almost) always uttered in the same breath as either 1) no real information or 2) comparing to other carbohydrates.

I do however take issue with this:

> but once you have "enough" carbohydrates to fuel whatever activity you're doing adding more just causes your body to convert them into fat. So, that's why they're considered "emtpy"

That's true with any calorie. By that definition any calorie you're not using is empty.

Well sure, eating too much of any nutrient is not great. Think of it this way, if you just ate a bag of sugar everyday you'd have energy but be malnourished. Hence why theyre empty.

The same would be true with eating a bag of rice. Is rice empty calories?

I'll say it again: Talking about "empty calories" is in my experience always when masking a lack of real nutritional knowledge. Because when I hear it it's always comparing one sugar with another carb (eg flour), or sometimes even better comparing sugar with honey, as if that is any better.

If what you mean by "empty calories" is foods with only carbs and no proteins or fats, then I agree it could be a useful term. If you mean something else I'd like to know more about your reasoning.

I believe it is quite literally a contraction from the saying "empty of nutritional content." (If this helps.)

From Wikipedia: "A nutrient is a component in foods that an organism uses to survive and grow. "

I'd say the primary for survival is energy. Sugars (carbs) are very high on that. There are of course secondary nutrients like eg amino acids in protein that are very important.

What is in your opinion "nutritional content"?

My opinion ultimately doesn't matter on this. I was just speaking to the saying.

That said, it is trivial to find primary items for survival if we just discuss things you would die without. Consider, water has zero calories, but you would die without it.

But your interpretation of nutrients do color your interpretation of "empty calories". Unless proven otherwise, I'll stand by that it's a useless phrase distracting from the conversation of nutrition.

It is a shortening of "empty [of nutrient providing] calories." This is pretty straight forward. If you were to eat nothing but sugar every day, you would die. Same as if you drank water, which is "empty of caloric or nutritional" content.

Are they worthless? No. They do provide caloric value. But they do not provide any nutritional value. This isn't even really at debate, is it?

I don't think that diabetes is caused by a lack of nutrients.

You should always google the opposite view points too, and not just consider the main stream opinion on things.

There are forums of people that take the opposite viewpoint, and do very well too. It's best to be open minded. We don't have everything figured out yet.

There are forums of people that take the viewpoint that the world is a disc and that the media is run by shapeshifting lizards, too. That doesn't mean they deserve to be taken seriously.

You really skipped several steps between "people who think that excess sugar is bad for you" and "flat-earthers".

>"people who think that excess sugar is bad for you"

Parent is referring to people who think polyunsaturated fats are bad for you, though. And what I'm taking issue with is the argument that because there exist 'entire forums' of people who have accepted a claim, their views should be given credence.

And a calorie is just a proxy for energy stored. It will certainly correlate with energy related metrics. Just like kloc will correlate with code related metrics.

However, if you are in position to measure other items, I'd highly suggest it.

at least try to google "sugar calories".

I have to say not every girl have so many selfie-videos, so it was surprising to see so many from men.

really, narcissism sometimes is a sign of more significant issues.

There's a difference between 'selfies' and keeping a record of your training towards certain physical skills. I follow a number of people who I feel inspired by, on IG, that share similar videos, and I like to return the favour. If I can do this stuff, then anyone can, I'm not naturally inclined that way. So my goal is to inspire. Plus my skill level is still beginner basically, compared to what some other people can do. :)

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