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Was there ever really a “sugar conspiracy”? (sciencemag.org)
115 points by RcouF1uZ4gsC on Feb 20, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 217 comments



Perhaps there was no sugar conspiracy. In that case, an entire industry (along with government nutrition teams) went along with an incorrect theory for so long that it accounted for millions of chronic illnesses and trillions of dollars spent in the wrong direction.

So there was no conspiracy. It seems - in either case - to be one of the greatest misapplications of science in history. At least the “flat earth” theory didn’t pump people full of expensive “alternative foods” while making generations progressively sicker.

Even if there was no conspiracy, I think consumers ought to be furious that they were “fed” 50 years of bad info. We will spend generations trying to undo the habits and ingrained “wisdom” that have developed around fat and sugar. Meanwhile the food industry is allowed to put in as much sugar as they like. You can’t give a child a cigarette, but you can hand them 17 teaspoons of sugar for lunch in the form of a single Coca Cola.

I feel like we within HN live in an echo chamber with respect to nutrition. The reality is that I worked at Chick fil A for 5 years and probably served 5,000 milkshakes for breakfast.

Who cares if there was a conspiracy in the 60’s. We need way more cultural attention on this issue for today.


I always find it interesting that it's never enough for any given person or group (be it corporation, Government agency, etc.) to be simply wrong, they also have to be evil in some capacity in order for people to get interested in retelling the story.

IMHO, no, there was no sugar "conspiracy" merely the financial motives at play where companies wanted to continue producing foods they knew were unhealthy, addictive and extremely profitable. Wanting to be profitable doesn't make a company intrinsically evil, that's what companies are for.

There is plenty to say about many industries where it's clear they didn't know certain things about their products because they didn't want to know those things, but retroactively trying to hold them responsible is ridiculous. Instead, focus on companies pulling that exact same stunt right now when it's useful.


> Wanting to be profitable doesn't make a company intrinsically evil, that's what companies are for.

I think it's evil to want profits at the explicit, direct cost millions of people suffering and dying (not to mention the societal drag of hundreds of billions in healthcare costs).

I personally don't believe that companies should be viewed as entirely amoral agents. I do understand that the vast majority of the time, profit incentives outweigh any moral considerations. But not 100% of the time.

Of course, public policy / laws / regulations are powerful tools that should be used as wisely as possible to help some of these issues. But I don't think we should view law as the only barrier that prevents companies from doing evil things -- the law will always be incomplete and limited in power. Human social factors, culture, and morality play a big role, I think, even in broadly affecting company behavior. Still working out my thoughts on this.


> I think it's evil to want profits at the explicit, direct cost millions of people suffering and dying (not to mention the societal drag of hundreds of billions in healthcare costs).

Of course it is, I'm not arguing that. I'm arguing it's illogical to expect an entity that is inherently amoral to act morally. One could make a solid argument that the corporation as a concept is in fact designed to abstract away decisions that carry heavy moral weight into smaller decisions made by people who, while moral themselves, do not connect their morality to their every day decisions about maximizing profits for the good of themselves and their coworkers.

> I personally don't believe that companies should be viewed as entirely amoral agents. I do understand that the vast majority of the time, profit incentives outweigh any moral considerations. But not 100% of the time.

Companies are not inherently immoral, no, not the way I believe corporations are. It's an issue of scale. Once you have sufficient distance between the leadership and the boots-on-the-ground workforce, it's much easier for them to make decisions that directly endanger said workforce without feeling as though they're doing anything wrong, with the added benefit of that same power structure abstracting their actions away to such a degree where they aren't held personally accountable when things go wrong and people die.

Were any of the executives of the Exxon company ever made to personally deal with their oil spills? I doubt it. If they were made to go out there in the freezing cold and clean penguins instead of paying some amount of money that was basically a heavy albeit necessary expense for them, I think you'd find them remembering that experience a lot better.

> Of course, public policy / laws / regulations are powerful tools that should be used as wisely as possible to help some of these issues. But I don't think we should view law as the only barrier that prevents companies from doing evil things -- the law will always be incomplete and limited in power. Human social factors, culture, and morality play a big role, I think, even in broadly affecting company behavior. Still working out my thoughts on this.

Again you're using the word "evil" which I believe is inherently a misnomer. Far more accurate I think is "stupid." If you have for example a small business owner who works in his shop every day and mandates that his workers wear eye protection, he doesn't so much need OSHA because he's also in that shop, and so enforces safety code for his safety, and that he has a direct and personal relationship with his fellow workers, and so wants to ensure their safety as well. In a corporation, you'll find you end up with a particular shop manager who doesn't value safety very much and encourages his workers to "bend the rules" on safety because it allows them to work faster. His higher ups don't necessarily see that, they just see this particular shop has now increased output by 8%, and so they ask their other shops "why are you not increasing output as well?" and those managers in turn feel that pressure and may lax their own standards as well.

"Evil" assigns ill will intent to actions which are not inherently about ill will, and make the people who make them into monsters or some kind of other-human type thing that is harder for people to identify. Making these people out to just be regular people making rational, but flawed, decisions is something people don't like to do because then they have to confront the reality that they are absolutely capable of performing actions that result in people losing eyes, oil tankers wrecking in Alaska, cruise ships capsizing, etc. and people don't like that.


>Wanting to be profitable doesn't make a company intrinsically evil, that's what companies are for.

But they increased profits by intentionally misleading people and getting them hooked on unhealthy food. They helped themselves by hurting others. In plain English, we'd call that evil.

Let's admit that legal, profit seeking behavior, can sometimes be evil.

Furthermore, there's nothing ridiculous with going after bad actors in the past. I agree the main focus should be on companies doing harm in the present. But holding past actions to account sends the message that you can't get away with harming customers forever. It's a deterrent.


> Let's admit that legal, profit seeking behavior, can sometimes be evil.

Obviously. That's why we have Government regulations and various protection agencies, and why I get headaches when free market types whine about having to meet them and how we're "constraining" businesses by making them do things like not store toxic product in break rooms, allow workers enough rest to function whilst operating 20 ton machinery, etc.

> Furthermore, there's nothing ridiculous with going after bad actors in the past. I agree the main focus should be on companies doing harm in the present. But holding past actions to account sends the message that you can't get away with harming customers forever. It's a deterrent.

In it's current state, I'd argue those deterrents barely qualify as such. Fines, especially in the tech sector are a bad joke. They're so low that the companies could just add them as a budget line item and still be massively profitable.


>Let's admit that legal, profit seeking behavior, can sometimes be evil.

So, how does the HN crowd apply this statement to tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, AT&T, Comcast, etc?


I personally think that some of the actions that they take are evil. A few examples:

Facebook - the emotional manipulation experiment that they ran with non-consenting users was evil. Technically speaking, users agreed to it via the fine print regarding internal testing, and to me, that makes it even more evil. Internal testing typically means A/B testing, and it is not unreasonable to think that internal testing does not include intentional emotional manipulation.

TelCos - their (United States) relentless push, subterfuge and lobbying to continue to rule the laid lines with an iron fist in spite of the government subsidies to help provide fast connectivity to most Americans. Not only did the telcos not upgrade the lines like they were supposed to, but US customers still pay taxes and fees that should go towards these upgrades that most users don't see. Some quick searching shows that the average download speed last year was below 25 Mb/s. I admit that this is actually an adequate speed for every day use in a cable household that only does light browsing. However the plan was to deliver much faster symmetric speeds. The net neutrality decision is just insult to injury (though that's an FCC decision).


I don’t know if it’s a need, or just an awareness of history which leads people to search for malice when misinformation and tons of money converge.


I would guess that in 50 years people will look at current tech trends in the same way. “They had to have known the apps and content were being created to induce maximal stress and addictive behavior!”


probably served 5,000 milkshakes for breakfast

Sidebar: there's a really interesting talk by Clayton Christensen about why people purchased milkshakes for breakfast: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/clay-christensens-milkshake-marke...

And it has everything to do with convenience and little to do with nutrition.


> Perhaps there was no sugar conspiracy. In that case, an entire industry (along with government nutrition teams) went along with an incorrect theory

The term for that is Stand Alone Complex: http://www.ghostintheshellphilosophy.info/#stand-alone-compl...



Do you have a source for that Coca Cola claim? Just curious.


I'm not op but the claim is pretty well known. Just count the grams of sugar in any coke bottle.


This article lists coca cola (and pepsi) having 9 teaspoosn of sugar per 330ml (a can's worth), so 17 per bottle seems sound: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jun/12/how-mu...


Try finding just a can of coke these days in the states, it’s hard. Everyone wants to sell a half a liter or more.


In addition to every grocery store I'm familiar with, there are three convenience stores in walking distance of me right now, and they all sell 12 oz. cans of soda.


The 7-11 across the street doesn't. The Safeway or the QFC doesn't where I live in Bellevue unless you want to buy a case.

I live in Bellevue now, the same was true in Westwood LA, the only place you could actually get single cans was the vending machines on UCLA campus.


Anecdotal but pretty much every grocery store I've been to sells them and also those smaller cans that are 1/2 to 2/3s the size of a regular one.


As singles? The stores around me sell them in multiples (by the case or pack), you can't just walk into safeway and buy a can of coke (normal or smaller size).


a 20oz coke bottle has 65g of sugar / 4.2 = 15.4 teaspoons


If they marked teaspoons instead of grams on the nutrition labels, I wonder how many people would be swayed away by that approach. That's a mind-boggling number.


The industry maliciously amplifies our innate tendency to find a "one-fits-all" solution. The bogeyman used to be fat, now it's sugar. Soon, people will realize that getting 90% of your caloric intake from protein powders is bad, the industry will get ahold of the new trend, and they'll start going back to "healthy carbs" or something stupid like that, and people will forget the meat rush of the 2010s and move onto something else that's equally retarded.

Nutrition isn't a solved problem and it won't be for many decades. There's one piece of advice that holds for a long time, and that's to eat a diverse diet and exercise within reasonable extends. Interpretations vary, but giving up on fruit or grain and starch is obviously not part of it.


> The industry maliciously amplifies our innate tendency to find a "one-fits-all" solution. The bogeyman used to be fat, now it's sugar.

That isn't a fad though, that is progress.

> Soon, people will realize that getting 90% of your caloric intake from protein powders is bad

This is obviously already true. You would get protein poisoning very quickly long before you hit your TDEE.

> the industry will get ahold of the new trend, and they'll start going back to "healthy carbs" or something stupid like that

No they won't. "Healthy carbs" will be a part of moderate diets for a long time, but sugars or white flour won't come back as your main caloric source through any reputable study. Mark my words.

There will always be fads, but let's not pretend that blaming fats decades ago was the same as blaming sugars now. Also notice that it's explicitly sugars, not carbs. Breakthroughs always lead to regular people overcompensating when swinging over, so you get things like your mentioned "meat rush", and people eating bearnaise sauce and pork belly with their bacon wrapped broccoli or whatever.

But let's not portray the underlying studies that led to this swing as merely fads. It's progress, and while it's not solved, it's a lot better than just 10 years ago.

Edit: I was reminded of this article "The Relativity of Wrong" [1] by Isaac Asimov. TL;DR: An analogy is the flat earth. We went from thinking the earth was flat into thinking it was round, which isn't correct either since it's an oblate spheroid. But we can all agree that "round" is a lot "more correct" than flat.

[1] http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm


I largely agree with you.. sugar has been shown extensively as being downright bad for insulin levels, microbiome, hormone levels in general, and lots of other issues.

White flour (in moderation, and always mixed with fat or protein) can be beneficial though as it’s low in lectins (which damage the gut lining and organs like the kidneys and the brain [1]). One (!) slice of white bread is easier on the body than one slice of full corn bread, if you manage to keep your blood sugar level.

[1]: http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html


That's a very good point, and you're right. My comment about white flour wasn't intended to suggest replacement with an alternative flour, but to indicate that its effect on blood sugar is almost the same as sugar. Mix it with oil to make a tortilla and its glycemic index lowers to half.

I don't live by it because it's delicious, but I would instead say don't eat bread, there's fiber to be had in vegetables.


'One (!) slice of white bread is easier on the body than one slice of full corn bread...'.

A. By what metrics are you measuring 'easier on the body'.

B. What corn bread and what white bread?

I'm somewhat skeptical of this as a generic claim, though since it will very much depend on the recipe used (for both kinds of bread), it's certainly probable in many cases.


> Soon, people will realize that getting 90% of your caloric intake from protein powders is bad

This is obviously already true. You would get protein poisoning very quickly long before you hit your TDEE.

First off, do you need a study for that? I'd hate to sound insensitive, but perhaps common sense is a new Darwinism? There's a slew of shortcuts that will cut our lives short.

And for the record I eat a huge amount of protein everyday. At least 1 to 1.2 g / kg of bodyweight. I'm not at risk of protein poisoning (per another commenter) since I consume a large amount of water, fiber as well, and the sources are lean meats rather than powders. Although I admit a weakness in the knees for Quest flavored protein chips. All that said, I'll need a lot more than that to kill me.

Going back, what's common sense is to eat natural foods rather than avoid them. Processed stuff is the real danger, including meal replacement with powders. If people don't even have time to eat due to their jobs, I'd argue they've got a potentially worse lifestyle threat to their health.


You replied to me, but your questions and comments seem directed at GP? And actually your protein intake is closer to the low end. You could safely and probably beneficially go up to 1.3-1.6g/kg [1] [2]. It's as important to muscle gain as it is to fat loss. Athletes actually require less since they're better at utilizing intake.

You don't seem to be disagreeing with anything I wrote, but just a comment on your last paragraph:

> Going back, what's common sense is to eat natural foods rather than avoid them. Processed stuff is the real danger, including meal replacement with powders.

I think avoiding something "processed" is a terribly blunt tool, which will likely end up not serving you. What does processed even mean? I usually buy pre-washed potatoes because I'm lazy, those are processed. As is my cheese, as is my chili sauce, my peeled nuts, and most if not all my spices.

I don't think we're there yet with Soylent and similar meal replacements, but I don't doubt that we in the future will have meal replacements with much better macros, better taste and fun texture, as well as lab grown meats and meat substitutes that taste better.

Processed doesn't mean inherently bad, and there's nothing definitive saying that processed through photosynthesis is better than on a molecular level processed through a series of tubes in the other kind of plant. The only thing making "processed" foods bad are businesses cutting corners on cost with the only goal of delivering something palatable, not something healthy. That isn't a process problem, but a market problem.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26797090

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425


Processed food has a common parlance. I mean, you could try to expand the definition to include 'pre-washed' vegetables, but that would be a waste of a definition. Processed food in day-to-day parlance means 'highly processed', in the extreme being things that have been reconstituted and then items like preservatives and salt added like potato chips, protein powders with lots of ingredients, and so forth - in contrast to foods like vegetables or meats (or potatoes) that weren't pulverized and re-mixed into new foods with new chemicals. The most striking example of terrible, processed foods are cereals [ not the scientific word, the common parlance word ] : take corn or wheat, mash it to shreds, add huge amount of corn syrup and pretty colors, you have a food which you re-define (remember definitions have context) as 'cereal'.

Apologies for replying to the wrong parent, though!


That's fair, and I'm not usually one to try to dilute a words meaning, but if processed indeed means to redefine a natural food item in the way you describe, what's to say you can't do that in a way that keeps it as healthy (or even more healthy) while making it either more approachable in ease of cooking or just tastier.

The issue with processing in your example is mainly the corn syrup and coloring (if not using natural coloring like carotene etc), as well as to a lesser extent shredding of the corn or wheat which leads to a higher glycemic index.

But as we've made cheese puffs out of corn and varying degrees of terrible chemicals, we now have chips made from quinoa, beans, lentils etc, which I'm not saying are great, but better.

If I could have a snickers with 0 calories and no carcinogens, or pringles made out of broccoli, you can bet your ass I would pop that package without stopping.

So again, even with our agreed definition of processed, it might in 95% of cases right now mean "bad food", but it doesn't have to.


So again, even with our agreed definition of processed, it might in 95% of cases right now mean "bad food", but it doesn't have to.

Fine, it doesn't have to. And if we have the technology to send someone's car into space, we can surely create something processed and perfect in terms of glycemic index, macronutrient balance, and so forth. But as a general rule, almost all that stuff has flaws. For example, even the organic quinoa chips (and puffs which I'm very guilty of inhaling a bagfull of) has a lot more sodium than you really need.

That and I'd argue, in the case of certain concentrated items like whey protein chips, it's kind of unclear what side effects we might discover one day (as we did with refined sugars and obesity and diabetes and such). That said, I'm risking it.

Lest I be accused of hypocrisy for occasionally eating the healthy processed stuff you describe, I'd argue that for the general (ignorant, at least in the US) public, 'avoid processed' is a good rule of thumb.


> First off, do you need a study for that? I'd hate to sound insensitive, but perhaps common sense is a new Darwinism?

But there are many things involved here, for instance, if you don't eat any fat or protein, you will die, however, if you don't eat any carbohydrates, then you won't die, is this common sense to not stop eating carbohydrates or are we onto something?

Also protein poisoning happens if you don't eat fat, not if you eat too much protein.


It is not so much progress, as fixing of bad science and bad interpretation of science. The overcorrections and pendulum are not necessities, they are result of bad science and its reporting.


Could you elaborate on "bad science" and what could be done differently?

Diet/nutrition studies are inherently difficult because they're almost by necessity self-reported, expensive, takes a lot of time to see effects, and for best effect would need continuous supervision over subjects, which is infeasible over those time spans.

It's easy to throw your hands in the air and just say it's bad science because it's not perfect (welcome to science), but it's not constructive and it was the thing I argued against in my original post.

So yes, it is better, therefor it is progress.


> Diet/nutrition studies are inherently difficult because they're almost by necessity self-reported, expensive, takes a lot of time to see effects, and for best effect would need continuous supervision over subjects, which is infeasible over those time spans.

That would be good science.

The bad science is to look at bunch of conflicted studies on difficult complicated system and then claim "here is the culprit follow my absolute advice". Bad science is projecting confidence when you have no scientific reason to be confident, because it is good for your career and status. Bad interpretation of science is believing the most confident yapping person around, instead of believing scientists that talk in probabilities and are cautious. Which, is my understanding of what happened here.


Isomaltulose is a component of the drink Soylent. It is a disaccharide that was specifically chosen for its health properties. Table sugar is also a disaccharide


1) Are you arguing that Soylent picked it solely on health properties and not for its relative health properties when choosing a sweetening agent (necessary evil for some foods)?

2) Is disaccharide a relevant classifier? Water is a hydrogen calcogenide, as is hydrosulfuric acid. That doesn't mean they're comparable as a food item.

It was likely chosen as a substitute for sucrose (table sugar) for being comparatively good (less bad):

> It is particularly suitable as a non-cariogenic sucrose replacement and is favorable in products for diabetics and prediabetic dispositions. [1]

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12387299


Fats and proteins, like all food, is slowly killing you, in the same way that life is killing you via aging.

Thus, the fats and proteins are likewise, in the best of circumstances, only "less bad" than sugar.

And there's such a wide variety of fatty acids and aminos that it is quite hard to generalize. Isomaltulose is probably far better than most fatty acids. And excess protein converts to sugar, too.


> Fats and proteins, like all food, is slowly killing you, in the same way that life is killing you via aging.

That's a terrible comparison. Gas is the fuel for your car, which will at some point break down to a point where you will trash it. By no definition is the gas destroying that car in the way that gas mixed with sawdust will.

> Thus, the fats and proteins are likewise, in the best of circumstances, only "less bad" than sugar.

You will die in a week without food. Some food will keep you alive longer than others. Fats and protein will do that better than sugar and protein, on aggregate. We can discuss more narrow categories within those, but it's moving goal posts from what I responded to.


IIRC wasn’t there a recent study which showed Isomaltulose and some similar disaccharides have negative effects on the gut flora? I think it was in the context of C. Diff infections, but I could be wrong.


> Interpretations vary, but giving up on fruit or grain and starch is obviously not part of it.

For typical genetics, this is true. However, I've yet to find any sources that show prevention and/or reversal of Type 2 that holds over 5+ years that includes a significant (>20g) of net daily carbs from fruit, grain and/or starches. I'm not alone, but in a definite minority of people who control their Type 2 through only diet and exercise, not even metformin, but all of our diets, while varied, have one characteristic in common: we restrict net carbs to various degrees, many at 20-50g net daily.

If you know how Type 2 diabetics like myself can keep our condition reversed while adding grains, starches and fruits in greater quantities, then please shoot a pointer my way. My plants intake these days is limited to very low carb green leafy vegetables like Romaine hearts.


As I've been trying to reconcile both the behavior of my own body and all the data that has been coming at us over the past couple of decades, one of the things that I've wondered is whether a crap, sugar-filled diet can do permanent damage that can never be undone, making the body especially prone to take carbs and behave badly with them.

My idea here is that perhaps some of the issue here is that people like you (and to a non-clinical extent, me) who may have had a very bad diet in the past kick our bodies into this "mode", for lack of a better word, we find we have to watch our carbs relatively closely. Or perhaps for some people, their genetics simply start them there. Meanwhile, people who never got to that point are saying "It's no big deal, I eat a lot more carbs a day and never get fat." It may still be the case that when you get down to it, the sugar and the white bread aren't doing them any favors, but they never overwhelmed their body's ability to deal with it.

I think one of the perils of medical studies is that it's really easy to run a study like "How Important Is It To Eat Beets 5 Times A Day" and get back a statistical result that it's a 3% detriment or something, without noticing that the 3% detriment is that two people had a horrible reaction and everybody else had no reaction. As an individual, the 3% isn't really interesting, because that number doesn't correspond to the result that anybody had; the question is, are you in the set of people who had an extreme reaction or not? I wish I had time to study this question concretely; how many studies are presenting their results using Gaussian-based statistics when the underlying data is fundamentally bi-modal ("it worked really well for a few people and didn't do anything to most"), thus causing potentially useful treatments to get statistically fuzzed out of existence?


> My idea here is that perhaps some of the issue here is that people like you (and to a non-clinical extent, me) who may have had a very bad diet in the past kick our bodies into this "mode", for lack of a better word, we find we have to watch our carbs relatively closely. Or perhaps for some people, their genetics simply start them there.

For me there is a strong genetic component. Practically every member of my extended family on one side of my parents is either pre-Type 2, or is full-blown Type 2. Did not know this growing up, and dutifully ate a diet laden with starches, which came to bite me in the ass in a big way as an adult. The rest of the immediate and extended family is now aware, and knows that I'm living proof that if they catch the same subtype, it can be prevented and (if too late) reversed without resorting to medication, and hopefully I stop it dead in its tracks with my generation, and it never gets even a toehold in future generations of my family.

> As an individual, the 3% isn't really interesting,...

This is why open source and open data is so critical to scientific research moving forward. My hope is either JupyterLab or some project like it with massive collaboration and scaling becomes the standard way to present scientific findings in the future, and all raw data and software tooling used becomes accessible by anyone. Then we could definitively answer questions like yours.


That's because people expect the food industry to solve the same nutrition problems they put you into.

Nutrition is solved if you take veggies, fish, meat, etc. Whole foods, not ultraprocessed. And make exercise. But that doesn't give them money and does not attach you to ultraprocessed foods like a drug (yes, simple sugars found in ultraprocessed foods keep you attached at them like a drug. It has been proved to affect your mood.). Nutrition is hard nowadays because we have a supermarket full of bad nutrition value. We wouldn't be that fat without ultraprocessed food or fast food chains.

Also, it's your choice if you just eat eggs or take protein shakes because you want to look like Arnold. You want fast and unrealistic results without working hard. That's not a balanced diet and I'm sure it will take a toll on your body.

I've gone from 82kg (20% fat) to 75-76kg (17,88% fat) in 6 months, taking it easy, without doing exercise, just lowering my daily intake of calories and mostly avoiding ultraprocessed foods. I enjoy weekends by having great meals at restaurants or at home. Of course I also take a chocolate bar or another other sweet ultraprocessed food, because drugs (sugar) are hard to keep away.

Now I exercise an hour twice a week and I expect to keep loosing fat and gaining muscle, I don't want to hurry, I'm trying to create a lifestyle not something I'll keep doing intermittenly. I don't take any suplement as I want to make progress by my own effort and in a natural and healthy way as if my daily life was more physical.


>Also, it's your choice if you just eat eggs or take protein shakes because you want to look like Arnold. You want fast and unrealistic results without working hard.

It seems you're implying high protein intake is bad for you - any evidence supporting this? More protein (up to .72g protein/lb of body weight) does increase lean mass gain in individuals resistance training. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28698222

It's a bit silly imo to say people putting in the work and eating sufficient protein want "fast and unrealistic" results.


The objective of that study is only checking "if dietary protein supplementation augments resistance exercise training (RET)-induced gains in muscle mass and strength." nothing else.

Taking protein shakes could affect negatively other parts of your body. And nobody talks about the quality of that protein. Why do we want real food? Let's all eat Soylent.

I believe high protein intake is as bad as high fat intake, high calories intake, and high everything else. Just stop wanting unreal bodies that are only achieved by supplementation.


>I believe high protein intake is as bad as high fat intake, high calories intake, and high everything else.

What constitutes high protein intake, and at what point is it detrimental? Should our macro breakdown be 33%/33%/33%?

How does increased calorie expenditure play into this? The study I referenced says I should eat 130g protein (520 cal) for best gains. My TDEE (on days I don't run) is 2500, putting me at roughly 20% protein. If I do run I've got an extra ~500 cals, how should those calories be allotted?


"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" is still the best and most succinct advice I have heard.


More generally I think it's a tendancy for many people to only support binary decision making. This is why many democracies end up with two party systems and everything is just good or bad. So when it comes to food: fat bad, sugar bad, fibre good, etc. Of course, when you actually observe a healthy population such as that of France or Italy, they break all of these stupidly simple rules.

It seems to be that the most important factor of all is simply total calorific input. No, not input minus output, just input. If you consume fewer calories you will live longer and be at lower risk for many diseases. Of course, that does not mean "calories bad", though.


> This is why many democracies end up with two party systems

Are two party systems really worldwide phenomenom enough to claim it is people issue? I thought it is consequence of American constitution or appears in counties with constitutions based on American one.


It's a global phenomenon wherever people use first-past-the-post voting methods, it's pretty inevitable from there according to Duverger's law

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law


I'm not sure and if there is an underlying problem it is certainly exacerbated by the first past the post voting system that is used in the US and UK. But in any case I certainly see the principle in politics all over the world, in particular pigeonholing every person into "right" or "left", for example.


Yes! a while back I had a consolation with a NHS specialist renal dietician and asked about lo salt versions of food /condiments.

They sniffed and said the low salt movement has been very well marketed but what they don't tell you is the "shit" they put in to food to replace the salt - which is actually worse than salt - same with these low fat spreads


>They sniffed and said the low salt movement has been very well marketed but what they don't tell you is the "shit" they put in to food to replace the salt - which is actually worse than salt - same with these low fat spreads

I'm eternally annoyed by statements like these:

Low salt diet is bad because it is replaced by things worse than salt.

Low sugar diet is bad because artificial sweeteners are worse.

Low fat diet is bad because replacing them with carbs is worse.

Gluten free diets are bad because the substitutes are full of artificial, weight gaining stuff.

Butter alternatives/margarine are bad because their replaced by unhealthy low fat spreads (e.g. full of partially hydrogenated oils until recently).

All of these statements are wrong. You can always get any of these without the harmful substitutes. People who want to eat healthy can do any of the above diets without the worse alternatives. I myself went on a low sodium diet once, and I did not buy stuff with junk in them to substitute. Not even KCl.

You can get healthy butter alternatives.

These arguments usually show a giant leap in the logical process. These are false dichotomies. Yet way too many people I know believe these arguments. My guess is: Most of them are accepting of the arguments because it is convenience - not because the claims are true. It gives them a license to continue on unhealthy diets.


Yes but if a professional who deals with renal patients says it as mine did ? I am going to take their advice over Jamie Oliver et al?

I actually reduced salt by using other spices


You might be interested in this article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-time-to-end-t...

"The zealous drive by politicians to limit our salt intake has little basis in science"


I'm having trouble seeing your point. Your earlier comment said:

>They sniffed and said the low salt movement has been very well marketed but what they don't tell you is the "shit" they put in to food to replace the salt - which is actually worse than salt

This sounds like he/she is against salt alternatives. And then you go and say:

>I actually reduced salt by using other spices

Which is what a number of salt alternatives do. So are low salt alternatives good or bad?


er no it was chemicals they add to lo salt foods to replace nacl - not using more pepper and other spices which is standard advice for chronic renal failure patients


I have no idea what the usual advice is to chronic renal failure patients.

I do know there are easy to find salt alternatives out there that do not have chemicals and do replace salt with other spices. (Some are low salt, and not no salt). As in, you can find them in your grocery store.

And most people who are on a low salt diet are not renal failure patients. They are people with hypertension.

So er yes a number of salt alternatives out there are just fine. And er yes a number of them are pretty bad for you. And statements like "salt alternative products are bad for you because they replace salt with chemicals" are inaccurate.


Low fat "light" products generally add sugar or various combinations of binders, in order to mimic the original consistency and taste. They are universally all crap, when compared to the originals.


that's too bad. I really like Mrs Dash


Nutrition isn't a solved problem

This is very true, and a fact that we have trouble digesting, pardon the pun. This jumping around between completely contradictory nutritional prescriptions is nuts. Then a moderate minded person comes in and hedges their bets with an impossibke compromise (reduce both fat and carbs).

Meanwhile disproven myths like nutricional cholesterol still affect people's eating habits.

It just does not seem possible to doctors, health nuts and everyone else that we just dont know much about nutrition. It seems like we should and that our best theories should be reasonably certain, but they just aren't.


>The industry maliciously amplifies our innate tendency to find a "one-fits-all" solution. The bogeyman used to be fat, now it's sugar.

I would argue nutrition is a solved problem but certainly I will acknowledge that is controversial.

What is not controversial though is that Type 2 diabeties, which used to be called adult onset diabetes, wasn’t diagnosed in children 30 years ago and now over 1 million have it, and 100% of those cases are preventable through diet (many cases even reversible through diet and exercise).


Nutrition isn't a solved problem and it won't be for many decades.

"Problem" can refer to something you need to think to solve or to something you also need to do something to solve. General effects of different diets in health is known because before gobalization, every country had its own.

The real problem is how to deal with food production for billions, with different cultures and with huge companies using their money to manipulate science.


I think we already know that "low-carb and high-protein" doesn't work. You also need high (or moderate) fat. Low-fat protein is also highly insulogenic. High insulogenic foods = insulin resistance which leads to obesity, metabolic syndrom, diabetes, and likely Alzheimer, heart disease, and so on.

The higher the amount of fat taken with protein, the less insulogenic the food is. Also, it seems Vitamin K2 exists almost exclusively in saturated fat, and Vitamin K2 is what protects you from atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and heart attacks, too. There are many other vitamins and minerals stored in fat, too, possibly because fat is the body's "reserves" which means more just than "high-density calories".

After all, the body needs vitamins and minerals, too, to survive. And if it can't get them while not eating, then it makes sense that they should be stored somewhere (they are stored in the liver, too, but the liver is more of a short/medium term storage).

However, you also have to keep in mind that fat stores toxins, and in our high-pollution modern world, it may not be a good idea to eat too much fat, or at least you should be watch out where you're getting your food from.


"Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much" is the timeless advice of Michael Pollan: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t....

It's my go-to essay on dietary science, and still holds up extremely well ten years after it first came out.


> "The industry maliciously amplifies our innate tendency to find a "one-fits-all" solution. The bogeyman "

No no no no. the industry reacted to government intervention (bad intervention, as usual). the industry didnt want to change what it was selling, they said the food would taste bad if we removed the fats. but the government always gets what it wants.

and bogeyman policy is how things work. hey look, a boogeyman, fund my "research". then you can write books, hold paid talks/conferences, get hugely paid government positions, etc.


Ancel Keys study which started the low fat craze was absolutely bad science. The way John Yudkin’s career was subverted is certainly evidence of conspiracy.

The article doesn’t make a good job of refuting those claims, especially considering quotes like this one:

> the sugar industry convened a panel of heart disease consultants, including a National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientist, which debated a possible “anti-Yudkin” effort because “although British scientists are critical of him and his flimsy data, he does have the interest of the press.”


I think the point of the article is a little more nuanced. The claim doesn't seem to be about the accuracy of any particular study, rather that both sides were 1) funded by industry and 2) lacking evidence to really support any intervention at the time.

It's making the case that scientists were working on incomplete information, and that while industry pressure informed what research was done and publicized, there also simply wasn't at the time enough evidence for anybody to have known the effects of sugar were so problematic.

So the article is really considering intent, and the idea is that the outcome was a result of understandable ignorance rather than malice and coverup. I find that plausible, at least initially. The nature of science is that consensus evolves over time, and while industry funding may have skewed what research was done and publicized, thus allowing incorrect assumptions to live longer than ideal, it is possible that people were all still acting in good faith along the way.


While I appreciate the article, it seems analogous to asking, was there ever really a "drug dealing conspiracy"? When you have an industry worth hundreds of billions, individuals will "collaborate" and "market" their interests in the most "effective" way possible.

If you doubt that a conspiracy exists, watch Fed Up narrated by Katie Couric. If Michelle Obama, as the First Lady to the President of the United States, can't reform the food industry without serious pressure on her, causing her to modify her stance, then yes there is a real sinister force promoting cheap, profitable food that happens to be carbohydrate-based.


Articles like these are there to simply confuse the reader.

Have a read of "The case against Sugar" by Gary Taubes.

That will surely fill in the missing blanks for ya!


>Articles like these are there to simply confuse the reader.

What makes you say that? Why do you think Gary Taubes is a better source than the authors of this article? I haven't a strong opinion on the subject but if you think the article is purposefully misleading I would be very interested to know why and how.


Honest/naïve question: Regardless of how good or bad sugar is, is it possible that cars and televisions have both separately contributed more harm than sugar over the past century?

Both encourage sedentary habits and in the case of television, the advertising within is insidious. I personally believe that cars and TV are the two most misused inventions from last century, but so rarely see them mentioned when health, food and diet is mentioned.


Refined sugar and processed fatsare bad, naturally occuring fats like coconut oil have been lumped together with other fats as bad due to bad science


If you're in the US or Europe, you don't have access to fresh coconuts. The oil you buy comes from far away (do you even know from where?), was processed under God knows what conditions, likely melted and resolidified several times as it changed hands in transit, only to sit in a store for who knows how long and what corners they cut. And this is healthier than eating locally-produced oils that your body is more genetically disposed to eating -- how exactly?

Edit: don't want to rag on you too much, but modern healthy eating trends are saturated with all kinds of insanity.


Coconuts are commonly available in Asian markets in the USA. Heck, half the fruits and veggies in grocery stores in fall/winter have South American labels.


> If you're in the US or Europe, you don't have access to fresh coconuts.

What does fresh mean in this context? I can buy them whole from the supermarket…


You can get cold pressed coconut oil which isn't processed as much at all, also:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42608071


Where is the evidence that “processing” or “refining” makes anything worse? In what way is 300 calories of table sugar worse for you than 300 calories of watermelon?


Why do you focus exclusively on calories?

You could even ask why 300 calories of tar should be worse for you than 300 calories of apples.

The reason is the many other effects stuff has, besides their nutritional stats.


300 calories of glucose is going to be far healthier than 300 calories of fructose, because of how they are metabolized by the body.


You mean obviously the other way round. It's the typical US/UK propaganda. Frucose doesn't go directly into blood as glucose (the basic energy form) and galactose (-> milk).

Wikipedia: "The European Food Safety Authority stated that fructose is preferable over sucrose and glucose in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages because of its lower effect on postprandial blood sugar levels". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructose

"Fructose is often recommended for diabetics because it does not trigger the production of insulin by pancreatic β cells, probably because β cells have low levels of GLUT5, although the net effect for both diabetics and non-diabetics is debated. Fructose has a low glycemic index of 19 ± 2, compared with 100 for glucose and 68 ± 5 for sucrose. Fructose is also 73% sweeter than sucrose at room temperature, so diabetics can use less of it. Studies show that fructose consumed before a meal may even lessen the glycemic response of the meal. Fructose-sweetened food and beverage products cause less of a rise in blood glucose levels than do those manufactured with sucrose or glucose."


Glucose is harmless and can be metabolised by any cell in your body, while Fructose can only be metabolised by your liver and produced a bunch of undesirable metabolic end products in the process. It also blocks leptin, the antagonist of insulin and therefore messes with your metabolic regulation, while glucose does none of that. If you feed rats large amounts of glucose they will get a very big liver but stay otherwise healthy, if you feed them fructose they will develop diabetes... This is all very well known.


Glucose being harmless is the understatement of the year. In the end fructose and every other carb is split up to glucose. And glucose (the simple monosaccharide sugar) is one of the most powerful medicines and drugs, stronger, cheaper and better than cocaine, and responsible for many severe illnesses:

  * Retinal damage to the eye
  * Arterial blockage
  * Oxidative stress
  * Increased inflammation
  * Endothelial dysfunction
  * Reduced coronary blood flow
  * Increased cancer risk
Let me just point to http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2011/1/glucose-the-sil... or https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/10-ways...

This is all very well known and ignored by the US sugar industry which rather blames other factors. If you feed americans large amounts of glucose (they do), they will get obese and die early. You cannot argue with the numbers, because it's mostly only affecting americans who do consume sugar levels above the health risk. Blaming fructose and the liver alone is dangerous. It's the end product, glucose, and the fat reserves, not the carb. metabolism.


Fructose is metabolized almost entirly by the liver which might make it better for blood sugar levels but it’s signifacantly worse on the liver.


Sure, but it's not like you have to choose one or the other. You can have the beneficial short term effects while avoiding the long term effects by using moderation (which is key in any diet).


For starters, because you can much more quickly and easily eat "300 calories of table sugar" (e.g. by drinking sodas or some sweet) than 300 calories of watermelon.

Second, because 300 calories of watermelon will come with all kinds of vitamins (including C and A), and lots of water.


And fiber. That's the important component of fruit that will buffer the sugar.


Yep, in general yes, though watermelon doesn't have much fiber IIRC.


How about the fact that you have to eat a kilogram of watermelon to get 300cal but less than tenth of that with sugar?


So why is a kilogram of watermelon better than 75 grams of sugar?


Because one will leave you wanting more while the other one will leave you full, so you don't get (or at least get less) fat.


water and fiber are great for you


The body has a much harder time digesting sugar (and other nutriments too) without fiber, the refining process removes the fiber from the plants that contain sugar.


I think you mean easier. Being hard (taking a lot of time) to digest is good.




Coconut oil is not a naturally occurring fat, unless you're eating it as part of a coconut. It's just as bad for you as other saturated fats (unfortunately, because it's super tasty): https://nutritionfacts.org/video/coconut-oil-and-the-boost-i...


Saturated fats are not bad for you. Listen to the science, not biased websites.


Actually, extracted coconut oil is as bad as butter. But whole coconut is good. Probably because of all the fiber it has.


> extracted coconut oil is as bad as butter

So, it's great as there's no evidence that butter is bad.


I wonder... how common was heart disease before saturated fats were demonized, and ultra-processed plant oils were pushed as the "healthier" alternative? What about after?


The problem with that claim is that you have to go back decades, where general quality of life was different, life expectancy was lower and the causes of death were different - or harder to assess. as this chart shows, average life expectancy has gone up from 50 to 75 in the past 50 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#/media/File:Li..., while this page (http://www.fauxpress.com/kimball/med/heart/h2/coronaryd.htm) indicates most heart disease only starts to show up after the age of 50.

So yeah, a bit hard to assess combined with higher life expectancy. Not impossible though, I'm sure there's good research out there.


Yeah, this could make it slightly difficult. Good thing I asked the question, though, because this answers it in a way, unlike the other unhelpful commentor.


Good, step one: make an observation. For the remaining steps, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVnuFY20st0 :P


This does nothing to answer my question, which was sincere. I'm really just looking for statistics, but don't know where to start looking.


The case against saturated fats is far from conclusive. Let alone coconut oil, with is mostly MCT's (medium chain triglycerides) as opposed to the more common LCT's (long chain triglycerides).


There is a new study out from The Journal of the American Medical Association that backs up the notion that people who want to lose weight need to cut the sugar from their diet.

>people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/well/eat/counting-calorie...

Interestingly, this held true on two separate diets.

One diet accomplished the above while also reducing other carbs and another that did the above while reducing fats.


The song "sugar conspiracy theory" is one of my favorites on the arcade game "pump it up" because it taught me that I can eat pretty much anything I want if I play that game for a couple hours a day. I get a 75 calorie last year rainbow twist after I play that song. I've lost 40lbs in 3 months.

My point is, a sedentary lifestyle is the cause of most of our health problems and beyond that, various nutrition science will have a much larger effect. I'm on the zone diet, but I eat lots of nuts and fruit.


We, humans, are susceptible to group delusions, probably because we are such social animals and have a strong "run with the heard" reflex. We see this in many mammals and other animals (e.g., birds, fish, ...).

This was either a conspiracy, or a group delusion -- or even both. Either way, we now know the truth about sugar. We now get to fix things. It won't be easy.


Want a simple nutrition tip? Just eat the food that you can recognise at simple sight, the ingredients it's made from. And lower meat consumption to 30% of your diet. Avoid ultraprocessed food and eat what you'll burn.


Why would eating processed food be bad? What does it matter if the ingredients are recognizable.


I said ultraprocessed, not processed. It's not the same a can of chickpeas than a 'chocolate' bar.

What I said about the ingredients It's just an easy tip to differentiate ultraprocessed foods from just processed or healthy ones. Another 'rule' could be avoiding food with more than 4-5 ingredients.


It seems to increase the risk of cancer by 10%, even if the exact mechanism or cause, is still unknown.

http://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k322


Everything causes cancer. The reason is that the vast majority of cancer risk studies are done with insufficient control methodologies, have weak effect magnitudes, but are affected by positive finding publication bias and are published anyway.

And then they get cherry picked by diet fad promoters to support their crackpot theories and sell books.

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-we-eat-causes-ca...


The statements "sugar is bad", "fat is bad", "fat is good" are all equally simplistic and misleading. Fruits are high in naturally-occurring sugars and they are among the healthiest things you can eat.

Turns out that nutrition is a pretty complicated science, and there existing various political and special interests influencing the science doesn't help. It's 2018 and I don't think there's even remotely a scientific consensus on what food is healthy or not, but classic common sense and listening to your body's reactions to food can go pretty far for an individual.

Nutrition is something we need to figure out as public health is declining, and I'm saddened to say the problem goes beyond the US based on what I've seen traveling. Psychology needs to get involved as well. Why do people make such bad eating decisions? I'm in Thailand and I see tons of tourists eating hamburgers instead of the tastier and healthier traditional cuisine... sigh.


> Fruits are high in naturally-occurring sugars and they are among the healthiest things you can eat.

Can you be precise about what you mean by this, or at least qualify this statement? Modern fruit obviously pushes the definition of "natural" to it's absolute limits, but more importantly, it's at least deeply unintuitive that something that consists mostly of fructose, a little fiber, trace metals, the rare vitamin, and next to no protein or fat could be considered healthy.


Yet another poster on HN, just echoing the platitudes of keto/paleo...

> Modern fruit obviously pushes the definition of "natural" to it's absolute limits

Modern fruit is not much different nutritionally from wild fruit[1]. Sure, some ancient fruit like bananas were pretty inedible, but that is a far cry from what keto/paleo dogma suggests. As an anecdote, I am living in Borneo right now, and we can go out into the jungles of some of the most untouched land in the world and find the sweetest fruits we have ever tasted.

> it's at least deeply unintuitive that something that consists mostly of fructose, a little fiber, trace metals, the rare vitamin

I think by "deeply unintuitive" you mean "when compared to my beliefs". Fruit is some of the most nutritionally dense and healthy foods you can eat (I don't think I need to source this, but will if you refuse to yourself). HIGH in fibre, vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, enzymes etc.

> and next to no protein or fat could be considered healthy.

And here again you reveal your beliefs/dogma. The MACROnutrient content of a food tells you nothing about how healthy it is.

1. https://deniseminger.com/2011/05/31/wild-and-ancient-fruit/


Do not put words into my mouth. I said nothing about keto/paleo. (If you are curious about my thoughts about those diets, KozmoNau7 elsewhere in this thread has said most of the relevant information)

Fruit, the reproductive organ of a plant, is commonly available in markets without seeds. But again, this truth is tangential to the important claims about what is actually in specific foods.

Provide your sources. Before my original post, I bing searched for "apple nutrients," "orange nutrients," and "banana nutrients." I choose these three fruits because they are the most commonly available where I live. Yes, I certainly accept that foods in ecosystems foreign to mine have different nutrient profiles than the fruits I'm familiar with, and if you're in a region where there grows a fruit with a nutrient profile similar to, for example, spinach, then you have access to some healthy fruit! However, I assume most people in the "Was there ever really a “sugar conspiracy”?" thread are Americans or interested in American dietary habits.

If you're literally saying the specific nutrient content of a food tells you nothing about how well the food contributes to maintaining vital processes, then we have a breakdown in language. If it clears things up at all, I'm using Wikipedia definition of "nutrient."


> Do not put words into my mouth. I said nothing about keto/paleo.

My apologies. Although your points are very much in line with those lifestyles and the beliefs of their proponents, that of course doesn't mean you subscribe to them.

> Before my original post, I bing searched for "apple nutrients," "orange nutrients," and "banana nutrients."

I'm not sure how to address this paragraph. Did you learn that those fruits are low in nutrients? Or are you saying that fruits that are more local to you are not nutritious? I'm not sure where exactly you live or how local we are talking so I can't comment, but those three fruits you mentioned are certainly nutritious regardless of whether they have seeds or are local.

> If you're literally saying the specific nutrient content of a food tells you nothing about how well the food contributes to maintaining vital processes, then we have a breakdown in language. If it clears things up at all, I'm using Wikipedia definition of "nutrient."

If you read what I said, it was "MACROnutrient" (protein/fat/carb). You cannot tell how nutritious a food is by the MACROnutrient content alone, you have to at least look at the MICROnutients (vitamins + minerals). This is why when a diet suggests that an entire MACROnutrient is "bad", it is totally misunderstanding nutrition.


monkeys eat 70%+ fruit and then a mix of bugs, worms, and seeds for proteins to make up the rest. Do you want gorilla strength or not? :)


> but classic common sense

Common sense is kind of a myth though right? You have no clue what is and isn't good for you: that's the point of people demonizing fat one minute and sugar the next, because you can't just do this on "gut feel".


Fruits are artificially high in naturally-occurring sugars. Fruits we have today are all fruits of artificial selection of the most sweet.

Fruits arent that good because of this.


Fruits are good. Fruit juice is bad.

Why?

The fibre content in fruits make consumption self regulated.

With juices however, refinement concentrates the sugars and removes fibre.

Example: You'd need to eat bags of coca leaves to feel high. A few pinches of cocaine?

It's difficult to eat half a stick of sugar cane. But trivial to eat 50 sticks worth of refined sugar.

Basically, overdose due to concentration by refinement is the killer.


> Fruits are artificially high in naturally-occurring sugars. Fruits we have today are all fruits of artificial selection of the most sweet.

Source? Here is some information to the contrary:

https://deniseminger.com/2011/05/31/wild-and-ancient-fruit/


No they select for fruits with the longest shelf life for economic reasons


There will never be a universal answer to the question of what foods are good and what foods are bad because a universal answer would be a stateless solution to a stateful problem. And that problem is: who are you? What do you do? How much do you move your body? What are your goals? What are your genetics predisposed to? How much do you sleep? What are your causes of stress?

At one point in my life, a very well respected nutritionist recommended to me that I eat at least 3 candy bars per day. The reason: I was a D1 swimmer in college, and I couldn't keep my weight on with 4 hours of training per day, and I was having trouble keeping up with the 7000 calorie/day diet she had prescribed for me. Sugars filled that gap. And yes, that would have been unhealthy advice to almost any other American, but for me at the state I was in, it was the healthiest thing for me.

Not everybody is a swimmer. But that doesn't matter because there is no "average" human. We're all different in some way or another, and no diet is universal. Maybe we can hone in on basic dietary recommendations, but the idea that we can find universally good or universally bad things is going to be impossible.


>At one point in my life, a very well respected nutritionist recommended to me that I eat at least 3 candy bars per day.

I received equally bizarre advice from my doctor based upon some blood test results. I was explicitly directed to eat more red meat. At the time I wasn't eating much in the way of meat at all (though I wasn't a vegetarian). He recommended that as opposed to only supplementation, and preferably alongside supplementation.


Your doctor was right. Meat is the healthiest stuff you can eat. Throw some liver in there as well and you are covered.


While it is tricky with fats, sugar is never good for you (unless some genetic disease where you die if you don’t consume sugar?).

Fruits are to various degrees beneficial but not in unlimited amounts. Fruits also don’t have a lot of sugar, see the watermelon comment in the other thread.

The problem with sugar is how easy it is in our diets to consume ridiculous amounts of it and how nobody understands that even a little of table sugar is already a ridiculous amount.

P.S. even bigger problem is that people don't understand that all the flours and starches are for all intents and purposes sugar, so it doesn't matter that you only have one teaspoon of sugar with your coffee if you consume it in large quantities in other forms.


>all the flours and starches are for all intents and purposes sugar

Only if you look at the most refined and treated flours. Overly refined and bleached flour is obviously not great nutritionally, as with all processed foods.

Even just unbleached wheat flour is significantly better, and whole grain types are much better, plenty of fiber and vitamins/minerals.

I hope you're not claiming a good wholegrain mixed-grain sourdough bread is the same as eating white sugar.


> I hope you're not claiming a good wholegrain mixed-grain sourdough bread is the same as eating white sugar.

no, it's the same as eating 33% of that weight in white sugar, but of course ymmv

https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/view/sourdough-whole-grain-...


First of all, you're looking at a mass-produced ("artisinal" is marketing wank) low-fiber generic bread, with a rather low percentage of whole-grain flour.

Not to mention that what the US allows under the umbrella of "whole grain" is problematic.

Secondly, you're completely ignoring the fiber, vitamins and minerals you get from the bread, compared to eating straight refined pure white sugar.

No food is nutrionally perfect, but good whole-grain bread can certainly be an essential part of a balanced and healthy diet.

This war against all carbs is insane. Sure, you should absolutely avoid refined carbs and straight sugar. But that does not make keto/paleo a healthy diet.


> you're completely ignoring the fiber

how come? 33% is net carbs, which is carbs minus fiber.

i'm not advocating for paleo or keto here. just saying that people overeat simple sugars and often don't know the source.

i also don't agree keto/paleo is unhealthy. gotta provide sources for claims like that.


Bread provides additional quality nutrition, compared to straight sugar. That's my point. Not every foodstuff needs to be nutritionally complete and macro nutrient balanced.

The keto diet is widely acknowledged to be a bad choice. Here's just one summary: https://www.thedailymeal.com/healthy-eating/keto-ranked-wors...

Keto diets are useful as medical tools, but they absolutely should not be used generally by otherwise healthy people.


> keto diet is widely acknowledged to be a bad choice

"Keto Is Ranked the Worst Diet by Health Experts"

are those the same "experts" that have been recommending people to reduce their fat intake for the last 4 decades, effectively increasing sugar consumption and being responbsible for literally millions of dead people around the world?

sorry if i won't take you seriously anymore.


These are the experts on the panel: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/experts

The overall consensus used to be that fat was bad, but science has advanced and our view on the subject is a lot more nuanced than "fat bad". Clinical dieticians and other experts have updated their recommendations accordingly. That's how science works, we continually improve our collective knowledge.

Going completely off the rails and jumping on fad diets instead is not a wise choice.

The current recommendation of a diet heavy in plants, low in saturated fat, moderate in carbs (complex carbs, ditch the simple ones) is perfectly sound, a good average diet for the average person.


> Going completely off the rails and jumping on fad diets instead is not a wise choice

it seems your opinion on how to tell which diet is fad is based not on research but on a quick google search. inform yourself on the topic, then we can argue.

> The current recommendation of a diet heavy in plants, low in saturated fat, moderate in carbs (complex carbs, ditch the simple ones) is perfectly sound, a good average diet for the average person

except none of what you said makes the keto diet bad. i can grant you that it's not recommended for average person mainly because it requires a lot of knowledge and discipline to be following properly, but the rest is bs.


Keto is definitely a fad diet, same as Atkins, paleo and a ton of others.

I'm deep in the crossfit world, and I definitely did look at keto and paleo, before an actual dietician talked some sense into me.

Ketosis is a medical condition that is potentially harmful and even deadly in some cases. You absolutely should not go into ketosis without qualified medical assistance.


> Ketosis is a medical condition that is potentially harmful and even deadly in some cases

it is not compatible with certain diseases or other medical conditions, but blanket statement like that is bullshit.


There is a very real risk of kidney damage, if not supervised by a medical professional.


source needed. proper hydration and not overeating protein means kidneys will be fine.


Keto and paleo are by definition "overeating protein".


If you’re going to make a blanket statement like this, would you also provide the definitions you’re working with? Ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis) is a metabolic cycle. Paleo is a diet which, while having no completely agreed upon definition that I’m aware of, often focuses on limiting grain-based sources of carbohydrates. If your definition of “overeating protein” is based on a ratio of macronutrients, that’s something that can be usefully discussed; similarly if you’re referring to some quantity of protein. As it is, you’ve stated something which really isn’t helpful in moving discussion forward.


I'm not going to argue with fanatics.


just as i said - inform yourself on the topic, come arguing later. you have no idea what you're talking about.

just to not leave you completely uninformed - general guideline for protein on keto is 1g per kilogram of bodyweight. i really want to see how will you argue that that is "overeating protein", especially considering that you're "deep in crossfit world".


You're welcome to stick with your pseudoscientific fad diets, it has no effect on my life.


of course you have nothing to say when factual data gets involved :) good luck


I would have something to say if you came with actual data. I've provided expert opinions that keto and Paleo are objectively bad. You've provided nothing but emotional arguments and pseudoscience.


> I would have something to say if you came with actual data.

the actual data is that protein consumption on keto is 1g per kilogram of bodyweight.

the question is why do you think that is "overeating protein", and if you don't - you're obviously thinking of a different number and the question becomes what it is and where did you get that number?

> expert opinions that keto and Paleo are objectively bad

expert opinion is by definition not objective, it's an opinion. you haven't even provided any evidence that keto is "bad". from everything you've said the only conclusion i can make is that you have no idea what keto is at all.


The only positive thing keto does (as a side effect) is cut down on simple sugars. Everything else is counterproductive at best.

You're putting your body in an emergency state and stressing your overall health. It can work short term, if you're conscious of the dangers (especially ketoacidosis), but it absolutely shouldn't be done on the long term, unless you have a very specific medical need (such as epilepsy).

And as always, short term diets are silly and can cause more harm than good. Long term lifestyle change is what is actually needed, not short term fad diets.


so still no comment on protein? unless we get to the bottom of this, everything you're saying about keto comes with a huge blinking neon sign "HAS NO IDEA WHAT KETO IS"?

> emergency state

nope. it's a state our bodies have evolved to survive in. there is no scientific evidence that ketosis is harmful.

> if you're conscious of the dangers (especially ketoacidosis)

ketoacidosis is impossible to achieve on keto diet unless you are trying VERY hard. seriously, inform yourself on the topic https://www.healthline.com/health/ketosis-vs-ketoacidosis

> absolutely shouldn't be done on the long term

you know that because?

> Long term lifestyle change is what is actually needed, not short term fad diets

totally agree. the difference is that i know that keto is a valid long term lifestyle and there is no evidence of it being harmful, while the benefits i observe every day.


This is a bullshit link if I ever saw one... I mean of course the Department of Agriculture will recommend a high carb diet, given that they are mostly concerned for an agricultural sector that produces corn and other grains en masse...


The Department of Agriculture reference is only in there for context, they didn't conduct the survey.

Your conspiracy theories are showing.


White bread is nutritionally poor


>White bread is nutritionally poor

Yes, absolutely. No one is arguing against that. But it's still less bad than straight sugar.

I live near an amazing bakery that does good sourdough bread with plenty of seeds, and I bake my own sourdough whole grain breads. The proximity of a good bakery and stores where I can buy good flour will seriously affect where I will even consider buying a house next time.


I buy meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and I have a nice diet without counting calories or other nutrients. I avoid ultra-processed foods, I may have a few of them on weekends.

I've had 2 blood analysis, one at the beginning of my new diet (and lifestyle) and the other one 6 months later. All perfect.

I just eat carbs for lunch and that's because I'm looking to lose weight. If I wouldn't want to lose weight I would just look at how reasonable are the quantities I eat. There's no need to be maniac at what you eat if what you eat is healthy and natural.

It seems like the food industry has made us forget how to eat properly, and that's normal because they influence us since we are kids (even babies).


"Lifestyle" is the key here. Diets are temporary, a lifestyle change is what most people need.


> Fruits are to various degrees beneficial but not in unlimited amounts.

You cannot eat too much fruit.

https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/02/23/can-you-eat-too-much-f...


you can, in form of fruit juice. many confuse the two.


I never mentioned juice. I was talking about fruit. Stop trying to equate the two.


ffs.. how on earth from me saying

> many confuse the two

you made the conclusion that i'm trying to equate the two?


sugar is never good for you

Sources? I mean, I always thought just like with most things out there, in moderation it's not harmfull. But you are saying any amount is not good? Also by that logic fruit is also bad because it does contain a certain amount ('not a lot') of sugar, no? tldr; I don't completely get the point you are making due to possibly incorrect definitions (what types of sugar?) and seemingly contradicting/overly generalizing statements.


> Sources?

https://www.google.de/search?q=sugar+insulin+resistance+pubm...

> in moderation it's not harmfull

define "in moderation".


please don't provide such lazy sources for your broad generalizations. I would challenge you to provide a study that used WHOLE fruit as the variable (not fruit juice or sugar alone) and showed it had a negative effect on insulin response.

In an effort to do as I say, here are some studies/articles showing the opposite:

1. http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/jou...

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3836143/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978819/

4. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/...


what is your point? fruits are infinitely better than sugar. fruits still contain sugar, which is why it is recommended not to drink too much fruit juice.

what specifically are you contesting about the claim that sugar causes insulin spikes?


It seems like you didn't read your own post.

> sugar is never good for you

Fruits contain sugar, fruits are very good for you. Does that answer "what is your point?" The OP of the thread said "Fruits are high in naturally-occurring sugars and they are among the healthiest things you can eat." That's what we are discussing.

> which is why it is recommended not to drink too much fruit juice.

Nobody is talking about fruit juice in this thread.


fruits are good because of things that sugar doesn't have.

and it seems you haven't read my comment past the first sentence, because i specifically wrote about fruits there.


> fruits are good because of things that sugar doesn't have.

> sugar is never good for you

You are contradicting yourself. Would you like to amend your original statement?

> and it seems you haven't read my comment past the first sentence, because i specifically wrote about fruits there.

I am not refuting the fact that our diets have too much sugar. I am only addressing the sweeping generalizing that "sugar is never good for you".


> Would you like to amend your original statement?

no. sugar is never good for you. fruits are good because of stuff that is not sugar. there is no contradiction.


Why did we evolve to enjoy the taste of sugar?


Same reason we evolved to have brain receptors for nicotine?

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinic_acetylcholine_recept...

I noticed my ears have a notch that appears to be specifically designed to fit the cord of my earbuds.


I noticed earbuds and their cords are both designed to fit the human ear.


We enjoy the taste of sweetness because it tends in nature to indicate that the thing we're eating contains a lot of energy, such as fruits and sweet vegetables. And we underestimate how finely attuned this sense is. Chew on wheat for a little bit and it will begin to taste sweet as the starch breaks down in your mouth and turns into sugar.

Sugar is ridiculously sweet. Anyone who's laid off sweets for a few weeks or months and goes back to eating a muffin or having a soda tends to find it offputtingly sweet. We've taken this evolutionary benefit and exploited it for pleasure, which is quite alright in moderation. But the natural pleasure we feel from the sweetness of fruit is set in overdrive with concentrated sweetness such as powder sugar.


Yep. After eating Jif peanut butter for my life, I switched to "natural" about 10 or so years ago. Eating a spoonful of Jif after that, and the absurd amount of sugar is immediately apparent.


> it will begin to taste sweet as the starch breaks down in your mouth and turns into sugar

are you sure about this? wheat doesn't have any fructose, and it's the fructose in sugar that gives it sweetness. glucose is taste-neutral.


Glucose is _not_ taste-neutral. Just less sweet than table sugar. Grab a bag of dextrose from AMZN and try it.


you're right, thanks


i don't think it is a right question. it's like asking why did we evolve to get high on morphine?

sure, there definitely are evolutionary benefits to being able to taste sugar and like it, as that will help you to spot nutrients, but this has little to do with the way we industrialized sugar production and consumption in last 200 years. rice, wheat and potatoes are not even sweet but in some countries those are primary sources of glucose.


Because you take sweet ultraprocessed food since your a baby. Then, children don't like veggies.


Plain vegetables are not palatable because they have very little nutritional value, like saw dust. If you were as rewarded for eating vegetables as you are for foods with actual nutritional value you would quickly be malnourished. If you ate a vegetable only meal you wouldn't even absorb the fat soluble vitamins from them because they don't have any fat.

In the wild where the immediate pressure is on getting enough calories and macronutrients while lack of micronutrients only cause problems in the long term, any human wasting energy collecting and digesting food that doesn't have calories and macronutrients (vegetables) would be quickly weeded out.

Look at the nutritional information of any vegetable for yourself. Fruits, nuts, legumes, grains, potatoes etc all come with the fiber, vitamins and minerals that misinformed people think can only come from vegetables while also being loaded with calories, protein and essential fatty acids all which are pretty much completely lacking in vegetables.


I haven't seen any study suggesting eating vegetables is cancerous but have seen a few from meat and processed meat (studies from the WHO). I'm not vegan, but meat is 30% of my diet. If vegetables are that bad in nutritional value, why can you survive being vegan and just taking vitamin B12 complements?

I think using palatability as a way of measuring nutritional quality is not going to help you in the context of a society raised on ultraprocessed foods, because sugar, salt and other chemicals give taste to food without giving it nutritional value.

If vegetables don't give you as many calories as meat and as you say: "...any human wasting energy collecting and digesting food that doesn't have calories and macronutrients (vegetables) would be quickly weeded out", why there are so many animals still alive after millions of years eating plants (some of them eating many kilograms every day)?


I think I didn't mention meat anywhere. I am actually vegan. There are a lot of plant foods that are relatively high in calories, vitamins, minerals, fat and protein which I mentioned: fruits, nuts, legumes, grains, potatoes, berries and so on. Vegetables (e.g. cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber etc) only have vitamins and minerals when you consider that as human you don't have the digestive system and time to digest tens of kilograms of food in a day.

Sugar contains a lot of energy so it's not fooling you when it's tasting great.

Can you say which specific animal is alive eating food without much caloric content (and which specific vegetable are they eating)?


No. Our sense of taste is far from good at measuring nutritional value.

It's simply good enough for humanity to survive without having to evolve a more accurate taste organ.


You need carbohydrates for energy. Glucose is the primary source of energy for almost every food consuming organism. Too much sugar is harmful, yes, but don't say things that aren't true.


> You need carbohydrates for energy

no you don't. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis

> Glucose is the primary source of energy for almost every food consuming organism

yeah, those carnivores consume so much carbohydrates!

> Too much sugar is harmful, yes, but don't say things that aren't true.

the problem is with public perception of what is "too much" - it has to be lowered significantly and people have to start counting starches as sugar.

but in any case, you could always argue that fruits are good or starchy vegetables are good in moderation, but none of it will ever apply to table sugar.


> no you don't. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis

That doesn't refute his argument.

> yeah, those carnivores consume so much carbohydrates!

Fresh raw meat actually has a good amount of carbs. The muscle glycogen (animal equivalent of plant starch) starts to turn into lactic acid after death, but it's there for a carnivore that immediately starts eating after the kill. Also carnivores have jacked up gluconeogenesis. Carbohydrates are vital for carnivores who need to use anaerobic energy system to catch prey. They might not be vital for coach potato ketoers.

People usually claim that Inuits somehow survive without carbs but that's not true at all. Inuits are eating 15-20% of their calories as carbs in the form of muscle glycogen: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/25/8/737/4733245


> That doesn't refute his argument

how come? gluconeogenesis is how body gets glucose from non-carbbohydrate sources. his argument was "You need carbohydrates for energy". you don't.

> muscle glycogen

fair enough. the comment about carnivores was not entirely correct.


> how come? gluconeogenesis is how body gets glucose from non-carbbohydrate sources. his argument was "You need carbohydrates for energy". you don't.

The body can create fat from carbs and protein via fatty acid synthesis. Does this mean fat in diet is unnecessary? Of course not. Similarly, there existing a pathway for creating carbohydrate from fat and protein doesn't by itself prove that carbohydrate is unnecessary.


> Does this mean fat in diet is unnecessary

goalpost has shifted? his wording was "body needs carbs for energy". no, body doesn't need carbs for energy.

besides, there definitely are essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce and cannot survive without, so you're wrong implying that body can survive without fats just like it can without carbs. there are no essential carbohydrates.


You don’t need to consume carbohydrates for energy. You can live off of fat and protein.


The Eskimos traditional diet is a good example of this. Their diet also includes organ meats, so they got all of their vitamins and minerals in good amounts.


https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/25/8/737/4733245

Carbohydrates accounted for 15 to 20% of their calories.


"Carbohydrate accounted for only 15 to 20% of their calories, largely in the form of glycogen from the meat they consumed."


When we say "sugar is bad" we refer to the 'simple sugars' found in ultraprocessed foods, not the slow absorption ones.


Fructose is unhealthy... but glucose is healthy. How they are metabolized is key. :)


Wrong, see above


You're wrong. If you want to know why:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

A brilliant lecture by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. He knows his stuff. :)


Ok, thanks. I do trust Lustig. Interesting then that the Europeans do have the opposite opinion. They are not influenced by the sugar lobby.


So there's no scientific consensus on what's healthy or not, but surely hamburgers are not healthy? Isn't that a contradiction? Hamburgers can be very healthy. Maybe that's why people make such eating decisions--there isn't enough good information and everyone thinks they have it figured out when they don't.


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Personally, I conjured up the following hypothesis and think it might be somewhat correct. Note that I am not a biologist/nutritionist (I'm an applied mathematician) so bear with me. What I claim is the following:

> The less some kind of food wants to be eaten, the healthier it is.

For example, fruit wants to be eaten (hence its sweet) to reproduce and spread it seeds. Verdict? Not so healthy. Offal, however, is significantly harder to acquire (you'd have to kill a beast, which is a group task). Verdict? Extremely healthy.

I'd love to have some comments on my theory from more knowledgeable people.


Getting the liver of polar bears is particularly tricky. And it will kill you. As will any number of hard-to-extract things. Turning a correlation from a series of facile observations into a rule rarely ends well.


>Getting the liver of polar bears is particularly tricky. And it will kill you.

Interesting. Consider my view partially changed. I did not know that the liver of polar bears is toxic to humans. I say this because I eat a lot of offal (liver, heart, stomach, etc.) and thought all offal was safe for human consumption, guess not.


The BSE crisis rather changed people's opinions on offal as well.


> Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

This is the simplest and most sound nutritional advice so far. Nothing complicated, has stood the test of time, maintainable when done reasonably, shown over and over again to be extremely healthy [1][2][3][4][5]

1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/plant-based...

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3565018/

3. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PII0140-673...

4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/halt-heart-disea...

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315380/


> The less some kind of food wants to be eaten, the healthier it is.

Usually plants that "don't want to be eaten" express this through actual toxicity. Mushrooms are the obvious example but there are plenty of plants with parts normally considered toxic and inedible.


Have you actually though about your own hypothesis beyond the seconds it took to write that post?

For example, you pick on fruit and not all of the vegetables that are even easier to grow like, grabbing at random, green beans?

I guess thanks for the "applied mathematician" disclaimer. Not sure why your job title matters here. I know this is hard to believe after dropping this wisdom bomb but I'm just an airplane engine mechanic out of Texas with 17 years experience! -- Just seems like a bizarre trope I only see on HN.




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