I've personally stopped getting into arguments about nutrition online, because it is time consuming and frustrating.
But I know that a lot of people do get into these arguments often, so I've decided to write an article to give people some "weapons" to win these arguments easily.By far the best way to win an argument about nutrition is to have a link to a good scientific study. Nutrition is science, after all, although it often tends to resemble religion or politics.
If you ever find yourself in an argument with someone who has outdated views on nutrition, then feel free to use the answers and studies listed below.
Make sure to bookmark this page if you tend to get in these types of arguments often!
Answer: The low-fat diet has been put to the test in several huge randomized controlled trials. It does not cause any weight loss over a period of 7.5 years and it has literally no effect on heart disease or cancer.
The low-fat diet is a huge failure. All the major studies show that it doesn't work.
- Howard BV, et al. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006.
- Howard BV, et al. Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006.
- Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial: Risk Factor Changes and Mortality Results. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1982.
Answer: The harmful effects of sugar go way beyond empty calories. When consumed in excess, it can lead to severe harmful effects on metabolism and cause insulin resistance, fatty liver disease and various other metabolic disorders.
The studies show that in the long run, a high consumption of sugar is strongly associated with the risk of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
- Stanhope KL, et al. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009.
- Stanhope KL, et al. Current Opinion in Lipidology, 2013.
- Ludwig DS, et al. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 2001.
- Schulze MB, et al. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004.
- Bostick RM, et al. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Cancer Causes & Control, 1994.
- Fung TT, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009.
Answer: The cholesterol in eggs does not raise the "bad" cholesterol in the blood. It raises HDL (the "good") cholesterol and eggs actually improve the blood lipid profile.
The studies show that egg consumption is not associated with heart disease. Whole eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
- Rong Y, et al. British Medical Journal, 2013.
- Fernandez ML. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 2006.
- Blesso CN, et al. Metabolism, 2013.
Answer: It is often claimed that a high protein intake can cause harm to the kidneys, but this is false. Even though it is important for people with pre-existing kidney disease to reduce protein, the same is not true for people with healthy kidneys.
The studies show that a high protein intake has no detrimental effects of kidney function in healthy people, not even in bodybuilders that eat massive amounts of protein.
- Manninen AH. High-Protein Weight Loss Diets and Purported Adverse Effects: Where is the Evidence? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2004.
- Martin WM, et al. Dietary protein intake and renal function. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2005.
Answer: This is a myth. Saturated fat raises HDL (the "good") cholesterol and changes the LDL from small, dense to Large LDL, which is benign and doesn't increase the risk of heart disease.
This has been intensively studied in the past few decades and the studies consistently show that saturated fat is not in any way related to the risk of heart disease.
- Siri-Tarino PW, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
- Mente A, et al. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009.
- Dreon DM, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998.
Answer: This is simply not true. Since the year 2002, low-carb diets have been studied extensively and over 20 randomized controlled trials have been conducted.
They consistently lead to much better health outcomes than the typical low-fat diet. They cause more weight loss and improve all major risk factors for disease, including triglycerides, HDL and blood sugar levels.
- Westman EC, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007.
- Hession M, et al. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity Reviews, 2008.
- Santos F, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Obesity Reviews, 2012.
Answer: It is true that consumption of processed meat is associated with an increased risk of many disease, but the same is not true for unprocessed red meat.
Unprocessed red meat is harmless, although it may form harmful compounds if it is overcooked. The answer is not to avoid red meat, but to make sure not to burn it.
The association between unprocessed red meat and cancer is highly exaggerated, large review studies show that the effect is very weak in men and nonexistent in women.
- Micha R, et al. Circulation, 2010.
- Rohrmann S, et al. BMC Medicine, 2013.
- Alexander DD, et al. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2011.
- Alexander DD, et al. Obesity Reviews, 2011.
Answer: Although it is true that protein can cause calcium loss from the bones in the short term, this effect does not persist in the long term.
In fact, the studies consistently show that protein actually improves bone health in the long run, NOT the other way around. Therefore, the terrible advice to keep protein low is likely to increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Kerstetter JE, et al. Current Opinion in Lipidology, 2011.
- Bonjour JP. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2005.
- Munger RG, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999.
Answer: Even though sodium restriction can lower blood pressure, it does not appear to reduce the risk of heart disease or death.
Some studies even show that if you restrict sodium too much, that it can increase some risk factors for disease.
There is no science behind the 1500-2300 mg per day recommendation and people that are healthy can eat "normal" amounts of sodium without any harm.
- Taylor RS, et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2011.
- Jurgens G, et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2003.
- Garg R, et al. Low-salt diet increases insulin resistance in healthy subjects. Metabolism, 2011.
Answer: There are two types of polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3 and Omega-6. It is true that Omega-3s reduce the risk of heart disease, but the same is not true for the Omega-6s.
Even though the Omega-6s (soybean oil, corn oil, etc.) can lower cholesterol, the studies show that they actually increase the risk of heart disease.
Therefore, the horrible advice to increase polyunsaturated fat, without regards to the type, is probably contributing to heart disease instead of preventing it.
- Ramsden CE, et al. British Medical Journal, 2013.
- Lands WE, et al. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2005.
- Ramsden CE, et al. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010.
Answer: There is no evidence that people benefit from choosing low-fat instead of full-fat dairy products. Plus low-fat dairy is usually high in sugar, which makes this misguided advice seriously questionable.
Full-fat dairy (especially from grass-fed cows) contains many important nutrients like Vitamin K2 and butyrate, which are very scarce in the diet.
High fat dairy products are actually associated with a lower risk of obesity. In countries where cows are largely grass-fed, people who eat the most high fat dairy products have a drastically reduced risk of heart disease.
- Kratz M, et al. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. European Journal of Nutrition, 2013.
- Bonthius M, et al. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
- Smit, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
Answer: This is completely false, different calorie sources go through different metabolic pathways in the body and have varying effects on hunger, hormones and the brain.
Also, let's not forget that health is about way more than just weight. Certain calorie sources (added sugar, vegetable oils) can cause harmful effects on metabolism that have nothing to do with their caloric value.
- Feinman RD, et al."A calorie is a calorie" violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutrition Journal, 2004.
- Johnston CS, et al. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2002.
- Veldhorst MA, et al. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010.
Answer: It is a myth that it is best to eat many, small meals instead of several bigger meals. The studies show that it doesn't have any effect on health or body weight.
- Bellisle F, et al. British Journal of Nutrition, 1997.
- Cameron JD, et al. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010.
Answer: Even though fat has more calories per gram than carbs and protein, it is not any more fattening. Eating foods that are naturally high in fat tends to reduce the appetite.
The studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) lead to much more weight loss than diets that are low in fat.
- Brehm BJ, et al. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.
- Yancy WS, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004.
- Westman EC, et al. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2008.