Archive | Food

In Defense of Low Fat – Denise Minger vs. Dr. Fung

The “magic” theory, à la Minger

Is low fat a great idea? Do you have a few hours to spare? Then check out the new & massively long blog post by the always-entertaining, controversy-seeking and brilliant Denise Minger:

In Defense of Low Fat: A Call for Some Evolution of Thought (Part 1)

The post is a longer and more developed version of her 2014 AHS talk Lessons from the Vegans (worth watching, and it will only take you 30 minutes).

The general idea is that while low carb seems to work great for metabolic problems – like obesity and diabetes type 2 – so too can very low-fat plant-based diets sometimes work fine. Why is that? In Minger’s words it’s because of extreme low-fat “magic”, which presumably is another kind of magic than low-carb magic.

Interesting, but not necessarily true.

Dr. Fung’s reply

Enter Dr. Fung, with a much shorter but still interesting post on the controversy:

Dr. Fung: Thoughts on the Kempner Rice Diet [and the Minger post]

In Dr. Fung’s view the extreme low-fat diets (like the <10% fat rice diet) sometimes work well because you really eat the same amount of carbs but avoid everything else (almost no protein and no fat). This is because all reward from eating disappears, due to the extremely monotonous diet – people only eat when they are truly hungry. The rest of the time they are, in effect, fasting.

My comments and criticism

While I tend to agree with Dr. Fung about most things – and his comments here make a lot of sense – there are also interesting points in Minger’s long post. For example, that the “macronutrient swampland” of Western junk food – high carb, high fat – tend to be where we find massive food reward (think chocolate, ice cream or donuts), leading to overeating. It’s clear that whole-food plant-based diets avoid this problem.

I also have some criticism of Minger’s post. For example she spends tons of time attacking the idea that Ancel Keys started the low-fat movement. This feels very misleading. While it’s certainly true that he did not invent low fat, like Minger says, he was still the dominant figure transforming low fat – earlier a theory that not many people cared about – into officially accepted dogma. Quite a feat.

It’s like Dr. Robert Atkins and low carb. Dr. Atkins took a concept that had already been talked about and tested for over a hundred years – low-carb diets for weight loss – and made it famous and known by everyone. That’s why decades later the word Atkins is still synonymous with low carb. While Dr. Atkins did not invent low carb – not even close – he still had an important role to play. Nobody would seriously argue otherwise.

To summarise I find Minger’s post interesting and – as always – entertaining in her unique way. But I can’t help feel that she’s sometimes seeking controversy more than enlightenment. And there’s no magic in that.

Continue Reading →


The Acid-Alkaline Myth

If you eat meat, will your blood become acidic, leading to osteoporosis and cancer? This is what some people still believe.

However, as humans have been eating meat since about forever, it would be pretty weird if our bodies couldn’t handle it without breaking down!

The big Paleo star Chris Kresser gave a talk on the science behind the Acid-Alkaline theories at the recent Paleo f(x) conference. I did a brief video interview with him about it and you can see all of it above.

10 interviews from Paleo f(x)2.8 out of 5 stars5 star0%4 star20%3 star60%2 star0%1 star20%5 ratings536:43

If you want to watch all the ten on-site interviews we did – with people like Mark Sisson – you can check them out right away at the membership site (free trial one month).

10 interviews from Paleo f(x)

In addition to these we did two longer and higher-quality sit-down interviews at the conference. These are coming up as soon as they are edited – there is a lot more work involved with them.


You can also check out the full video of Kresser’s Paleo f(x) talk on our membership site (free trial available).

Kresser-Pfx154.0 out of 5 stars5 star40%4 star40%3 star0%2 star20%1 star0%5 ratings550:17

Can Giving Up Grains Cause Cancer?

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell

Could giving up grains cause heart disease and cancer? This is what Colin Campbell claims in his new book The Low-Carb Fraud:

MailOnline: Are low-carb diets BAD for you? Nutrition expert claims giving up grains can lead to heart disease and cancer

Biochemist T Colin Campbell is the author behind the well-known vegan book The China Study and according to him, we should eat a low-fat vegan diet to keep us healthy.

There is a lack of evidence to support Campbell’s ideas. The book The China Study rests on an observational study – uncertain statistics – that doesn’t prove anything. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that the statistical data in the book were cherry-picked to fit the author’s preconceptions. Statistics that pointed strongly in the other direction were not included.

A new review of all relevant similar studies shows that Asians who eat more red meat on the contrary are healthier. They suffer less heart disease and less cancer. Not quite what Campbell managed to cherry pick from his one China study.

There may be good ethical reasons to be a vegan – it’s open for discussion. But those who fear animal foods for health reasons are afraid for no good reason. Continue Reading →


Asian Meat Eaters Are Healthier!

Red meat

Whooops! Asians eating more red meat get LESS cancer and heart disease, according to a new analysis of eight prospective studies.

Sorry T Colin Campbell and every vegan citing from his “China Study” book. Game over?


More about meat and your health

Why are Asian Rice Eaters Thin?


Dr McDougall in Shocking Vegan Interview


Let me start by saying this: Being a vegan is fine. I find the ethical arguments compelling and I’m impressed by people who manage to avoid animal products for ethical reasons. Also, I believe that most vegan food (supplemented by vitamin B12) is healthier than a standard Western diet.

That said, I was shocked when listening to a new interview with low-fat vegan advocate Dr John McDougall. A couple of days ago he was on Jimmy Moore’s podcast and, really, you have to hear it to believe it:

The LLVLC Show (Episode 686): Dr. John McDougall Pushes Starchy Diets For All

Here’s the problem: Continue Reading →


Can Vegetarian Diets Cause Mental Disorders?

Can vegetarian diets cause mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety? Some people believe so. And a new observational study shows that vegetarians do indeed have an elevated risk of such problems. Whether that’s really cause and effect is, as usual, impossible to know.

What do you think?