Sugar Free: Alec Baldwin Interviews Dr Robert Lustig

Here’s a great interview by a slimmed-down Alec Baldwin (now sugar-and-pasta-free). His guest is none other than dr Robert Lustig, who seems to be everywhere at the moment.

If you lack time for listening to the half hour show you can find the transcript here.

More about the free updates that people get.

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Yet Another Example of the “Dangers” of an LCHF Diet 33
Boring TV Shows Might Increase the Risk of Obesity 15
A Calorie Is Not a Calorie – Not Even Close 36
The Dreamfields Pasta Fraud 261
Sugar vs Fat on BBC: Which is Worse? 125
Weight Watchers’ New Sweet Campaign 37
The Sad Truth Behind The Biggest Loser 36
All Diets are Equally Good … Or Are They? 78
Do You Want to Watch the Excellent Obesity Documentary FED UP? 41
Happy Ketones 42
What Happens If You Eat 5,800 Calories Daily on an LCHF Diet? 179
New Study: A Low-Carb Diet and Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Diabetics! 45
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72 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Not only that, but he actually RECOMMENDED eating whole grains. Why can't he make the connection between the whole grains and the insulin response he targets with sugar? He has done great work, but in practice, he is a joke.
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  2. Moreporkplease
    As a conventional doctor with a large lab to fund, Lustig isn't going to ever be low-carb. Our heroes like Westman, Volek, Phinney & Vernon have spent decades in basically exile with little or no funding. Lustig got to keep his lab going. At least his message is 2/3s on target. We can't let perfection be the enemy of the good here.
    Read more →
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All Comments

  1. Jason
    Wade,

    I agree, the conclusion is tenuous. However, I think you will find that there are MANY more papers supporting similar conclusions, which adds weight to the results, I think--especially upon consideration of how such papers go "against the grain" of current accepted theory. Each time someone publishes a study like this, they are, to some extent, taking a risk with their career.

    You should peruse http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/ where over 1,000 studies are listed that (at least tenuously!) support LCHF as a healthier diet than LFHC.

    For your interests, you might examine especially:
    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/High%20Carboh...
    Which lists 15 studies showing a (again, at least tenuous!) link between high carbohydrate diets and cancer

    And:
    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/Cholesterol%2...
    35 studies showing various levels of cholesterol, cholesterol intake, and their effects on cancer. Generally speaking, these 35 studies show as your cholesterol intake increases, the chances of dying by cancer decrease.

    Again, even tenuous data becomes substantial if there is enough of it. At least, that's my theory!

    Oh, by the way, you should also consider look at my favorite post on his blog:

    http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/2012/05/response-to-everyo...

    The graphs on that post above are awesome. IF you believe the data, they totally turn the current theory on its head...

    Cheers,

    -Jason

  2. Wade Henderson
    Jason, #51,

    I look at everything I can. First and foremost, I try never to find everything that backs up everything I've come to "think" is true.
    It is very dangerous to keep reading what everyone else is offering to back up what they believe.
    That is part of the reason I come to this site. See what the HCLF side is saying.

    Every study is interesting and suspect.
    I mean, look at the guy who gave you those graphs. From healthydietandscience.
    That guy wrote a book he is trying to sell. He begins and ends trying to select studies that he suggests prove his point or theme.

    That you see the graph and say "awesome" is troubling. Do you know how the data was collected or what it means, nation to nation?

    Contrast the longevity between New Zealand and Nigeria. New Zealand with longer lifespan and higher cholesterol. I wonder why? could there be differences in those nations and cause of death?

    http://www.who.int/nmh/countries/en/

    Please try to avoid saying "awesome" when you instantly take in such graphs.

    Be suspect of everything you read, especially if it comes from people who have a agenda or who have passed the point of being ready to change their mind.
    The human habit of accepting everything that backs up what you believe is very dangerous.
    I see this constantly from both the LCHF and LFHC crowds.

    I doubt both sides. Especially those who have written books or who make their living from one point of view.
    Look at the guy who owns the site you give so many links to.
    His site says the following,

    My book “Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Prevent Heart Disease: Evidence From 101 Scientific Papers”

    Do you really thing he might include some contrasting information?

  3. Brown is good??? God made the wheat brown so it's good for us to eat??? There is your proof that having a title as a doctor doesn't mean shit. This guy is off his rocker. Compare a 2 slices of brown bread to a candy bar, not much difference. Is he really that ignorant??? I don't care how much he eats of the brown stuff, it's proven to be a sugar, which he is totally against. You can't have your cake and eat it too Mr Lustig.
  4. Wade Henderson
    Tough crowd. Perhaps Lustig didn't intend for his message to satisfy those insisting on religious purity.
  5. Jason
    Wade,

    Sorry, I have to -somewhat- disagree with you. Scientific progress is made when you make assumptions. I assume that I'm correct and then look for reasons to doubt. This has been how scientific progress has been made since Newton's Principia where he lays out the argument to do so.

    And so, most of the world assumed that low-fat was healthier, but they forgot to look for the contrary evidence.

    Now, I assume that Low Carb High Fat is better. There isn't a single "gold standard" study that shows differently (see our beloved blog's own page: http://www.dietdoctor.com/science).

    Of course, confirmation bias exists. But it is a necessary part of moving forward. It is the whole reason the scientific method involves publishing, after all...so that other people who don't believe you can check your work. So far, I believe that the evidence is weighted towards LCHF. My personal experience agrees.

    By the way, the website that has that book that you denigrate? It's still quoting real science papers, and they still all agree. He put over 900 studies up on his site before he published that book. I could point out that ALL people need incomes, scientists included, and are trying to please their funding sources so that they will continue to get funding.

    Of course he's got confirmation bias. His job is to present a thesis and provide corroborating evidence. Your job is to prove it wrong as a doubting observer. Showing that there are different causes of death in different countries does not do that--after all, one of the premises is that the "western diseases" could be caused by a low fat diet...so some people would die of cancer, others from heart disease, and still others from stroke. Other people can tolerate carbohydrates and would die of old age. So different countries have different causes of death...so what? How is that even relevant to this discussion? Show me how those connect to the diet, do the research yourself or point to specific research (not a raw data site where I will have to spend significant time to review the data), or you haven't even made a salient point.

  6. Wade Henderson
    Jason,

    First of all, can you give me a definition of LCHF.
    While you're at it, what is a "low- fat" diet that you talk about in studies?

    I often see it as "aimed" at 30% of calories from fat. Normally ending up above that after records of compliance are calculated. I'm not sure I've seen HC studies with the type of carbs counted in a precisely defined manner. Meaning oatmeal vs donuts and wonderbread.
    So is low-fat 29%-34% or is it the 10% folks like Ornish and Esselstyn talk about for reversing heart disease?

    But back to LCHF. How low is the LC, and how high is the HF? As percent of caloric intake.

    Having looked at the Low-Fat "Diet Doctor" type sites, I can assure you, they come up with a nearly equal number of studies "proving" to themselves, the exact opposite of what you prove to yourself.

    The entire process of both sides is a very interesting look into the human mind's belief systems.
    Of course, always additionally backed up by personal anecdotal experience as well.

    Personally, at a minimum, I'd think a true low-fat diet would have to be one aimed and completed wherein the average participant came in at or below 20% of calories from fat. I see very few that end up that way. On the HF side, I don't know what the appropriate figure would be as a valid criteria.
    Then the whole issue of what appropriate carbs are and in what amounts. I think that issue is where the whole low-fat advice went off a cliff. The Snackwell debacle.

    The entire scene is difficult to navigate for those of us who are not at specific risk. Meaning we don't have excess weight, or high BP, hight cholesterol, or problem blood sugars, and we just want to eat in the most healthy manner. We need calories and are trying to determine the best place to add or substract from our current eating style.

  7. Chris
    If its brown its good! I'll swap over to brown sugar, now I know...

    I don't dislike Lustig, I think he has done some fine work and for the most part seems to be heading in the right direction... but he loses some credibility, he doesn't appear to promote fat at all... or at least offer it as a harmless alternative to sugar, you still need to get your energy from somewhere.

    For Wade

    I don't think you can work these diets into your lifestyle by counting anything, for me it has just been a practice of knowing what is able to be eaten and what is not, it's pretty simple really... keep away from Potatoes, Rice, pasta, Bread and Sugar... don't be afraid of fat. If you take that into account, sub any of high carb foods with Cauliflower and Broccoli as most of these are "fillers" and with liberal amount of fat and protein I've found I don't need as much filler as I used to anyway, also by default you tend to keep away from processed foods with this diet, I still have a fair amount of cheese and a little processed meat(be sure to read the labels) for a snack straight after work.

    It is strange for perfectly healthy people to be looking at this solution, if your perfectly fit and healthy perhaps you are already eating fine for your physiology, if you are not overweight or do not have high BP but are tied and struggle to wake up in the morning then I would suggest trying to get off the insulin rollercoaster.

  8. Linda
    Ref #20, Ted H: Thanks for the link to the John Yudkin book, which is impossible to find anywhere - now I look forward to reading it!
  9. You guys can debate the details all you want about fruit, wheat and even sugar but a fact is a fact:

    The less carbohydrate you eat (no matter where it comes from), the less insulin is produced, the less fat you store. Taubes said it well...the less carbs one eats, the leaner they usually are...genetic freaks not included.

  10. While I think that folks are overreacting a bit to some of this interview I must say that I was really surprised to hear Dr. Lustig say that he has a bagel for breakfast, seriously, he might as well have a Drakes coffee cake for all the good the bagel does him. And processed food for lunch because he's busy? It's just not that hard to make something whole and bring it with you.
  11. Thank you Ted, I appreciate the Googledocs link. Reading the book now, it's a great addition to my library.
  12. Mike
    It is important to bear in mind with regards to wheat based some people CAN digest carbs better than others. Those of us who have gained weight so easily in the last 30yrs can't those who have not can digest it easier. I am low carb for life now on. But have a real problem with grains so keep that really low. Good grains are ok for some.
  13. Cat
    People are being very religious on these blogs, indeed. Carbohydrates are not made equal, and there are those who need carbohydrates, such as teens. Being defient in insulin makes your liver growth hormone resistant (i.e. no IGF-1) will be secreted in response. IGF-1 makes tissues grow. For example, osteocytes and chrondrocytes need IGF-1, insulin , T3, and growth hormone, amongst leptin, taurine, and other neuropeptides, to avoid being broken down. Yes, wheat is probably bad for most people, but we definately need veggies and the occasional tuber to stay healthy and strong.
  14. Thomas
    Dr. Lustig is very credible, although, I would like to see him continue his vagotomy research with a non surgical cyber Knife on elderly patients at high risk of losing limbs and eye sight. The return on quality and longevity of life would outweigh any possible risks in this group. Like a gastric bypass it would stop their diabetes, and get them a longer life, and cost the hospitals less money for surgical and intensive care.
    Reply: #65
  15. I think Dr Lustig is right to place his emphasis on PREVENTION rather than treatment.

    The priority should be to stop people getting on the obesity-metabolic syndrome disaster inflammatory cascade that leads from obesity to diabetes, cancer heart disease and dementia.
    Waiting until people need expensive and dramatic high tech treatments isn't sensible.
    We simply cannot afford £3 million devices in every hospital to deal with problems that would never arise if we limited access to those modern over-refined, ultra-processed foods that promote obesity.

  16. OPT
    Amen. The "expert" on nutrition eats half a bagel for breakfast and processed foods for lunch?? That sure gives me hope that this problem will be solved before game-over disaster strikes.
  17. Kristin
    It does sound from a few statements Dr Lustig made that he may agree at some level with the low carb theory. But I do think, like a few other comments on this post that he is a high profile researcher with a grant to protect. He is also on the board of the AHA. He is working to change the system from within and that requires a level of finesse. He has picked his battle and is going after it with great gusto. I'm glad for the folks on the fringe who are doing good work on low carb research and outreach but without folks like Lustig things won't have a prayer of changing at a high level.

    I say go get 'em, Doc!

    Reply: #68
  18. Zepp
    Or he is not dedicated to low carb, but to real food.. like paleo style.. thats good enough.

    If more peopel eats real food, then they mayby dont need to go lowcarb at all?

    I read a swedish study that said that our kids get about 25% of there daily energy from candy, sodas, icecream, cakes.. and on top of that they eat a lot of sugary cerals, potatos, pasta, rice and bread.

    If they get rid of those first 25% and moste sugar.. they could probably eat the rest.. if it comes from ordinary home cooking.

  19. jolita
    i am sugar free and i feel the best ever
  20. Peter Horan,MD
    I have been a low carb person. I met Dr Atkins at a medical meeting and what a nice MD.He was low keyed and tolerant of detractors.Dr Lustig is on the right tract. I would like to meet him.
  21. Marianna
    This lecture is not about you or me. It is about us and them, a bigger picture. Finally one researcher will have the tool, to hopefully winning the war against GREED of the food industry.
    None of the food ads mentioning the nourishment side of any food they are advertising. I salute Dr Lustig 's effort to fight for the common good. He went so far out, that he also studied law.
  22. Jerry Davis
    Thank you Dr. Lustig, I agree with all you have to say. I haven't heard you say to eliminate sugar altogether. Its like anything, if you are addicted to something it will at some point affect you negativly. Once you get hooked on something its hard to get unhooked.Stastistics have shown that in America where the per capita intake of sugar is among the highest in the world
    the people are also among the highest in obesity.
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