Death By Food Pyramid vs The Calorie Myth

I just finished reading two books on nutrition. One was excellent and the other not so much.

Death By Food Pyramid

Death by Food Pyramid : How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health
Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health by Denise Minger was outstanding. It has an excellent section on the history of the food pyramid and how what we collectively believe about good nutrition is flawed. The book also has a chapter on how to read nutritional research, but the part that I enjoyed the most was the section devoted to the research of Weston A. Price. Price is an early pioneer in nutritional research and wrote the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

I have been in the Weston A. Price nutritional camp since late 2009. To me, it makes more sense than Paleo. We can learn a lot from traditional cultures. Death By Food Pyramid agrees.

I don’t want to give away the entire book, but I do want to share some ideas the author presented in the Meat chapter.

  1. Eat the whole animal. Nose to tail. Organ meats. Bone broths. Marrow. Traditional cultures knew this (WAPF), now science can see the different distribution of amino acids and how eating the entire animal balances those ratios. Most people today just load up on muscle meats and discard the rest of the animal. This presents a problem we can have too much methionine and not enough glycine.
  2. How we cook meat is important. Low and slow is the way to go. High heat and charring can be problematic. For the past few years, I cook the majority of my meat in slow cookers or liquid. Good to know I’m on the right path.
  3. Iron overload. If you eat too much red meat, you could get elevated iron levels. One of her solutions is the same as mine. Donate blood. I’ve donated 22 pints of blood since December 2010. Easy win for not only your health but the health of the person receiving your blood.

Death By Food Pyramid does nutritional history more concisely than Good Calories, Bad Calories, and presents the ideas of Weston A. Price better than Deep Nutrition.

The Calorie Myth

The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better
The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better by Jonathan Bailor

If a book says calories don’t count and then proceeds to tell you how to eat in a way that reduces your appetite so you consume fewer calories and you lose weight, did the calories count? I would say yes. The Calorie Myth uses good foods (SANE) versus bad foods (INSANE) narrative to tell the reader how to eat. If I could basically summarize the entire book, I’d say eat a lot of protein. Protein is known to reduce appetite and help with fat loss. No myths. No mysteries.

This is yet another nutritional book that states fructose is bad, but with little evidence to back up the claim. It has been 4 years since Alan Aragon discredited Dr. Lustig’s anti-fructose hysterics. Are we just supposed to assume fructose is evil like we used to assume saturated fat was “artery-clogging”?

He also goes into how we need glycerol-3-phosphate to store body fat and we mostly get that from carbs. Isn’t this what Gary Taubes got wrong in Good Calories, Bad Calories? Listen to Carbsane on Episode 39 of Evil Sugar Radio explain this point (jump to 28:20, show no longer online). The implication that restricting carbs somehow gives one a free pass on storing calories as fat is the myth.

Bailor also repeats the most nauseating health advice ever, which is to drink lots of water to boost your metabolism. I don’t think so. Drink a lot of water and your body temperature drops. Matt Stone has been on the topic of this for a few years. When I stopped drinking so much water, my body temperature increased and my sleep quality improved.

Unlike Death By Food Pyramid, there is no mention of nutrient-dense foods such as offal, bone broths, and fermented foods. But foods such as low-fat dairy, skinless chicken, and egg whites are listed. Uggh. From a calculator standpoint, he may be right, but I’m more persuaded by Denise Minger’s approach to nutrition and whole food.

I will say one part of the book that was spot on was his approach to exercise. Bailor is a proponent of High-Intensity Training. He gets it. John Little, the co-author of Body By Science, even provided a nice plug at the beginning. My advice is if you want to learn more about HIT, read John’s book.

The Winner Is…

Hands down Death By Food Pyramid beats The Calorie Myth.

UPDATE: The blog No Gimmicks Nutrition has an entire section exposing the incorrect ideas from Jonathan Bailor.


Add yours

  1. I thought Death by Food Pyramid was a great read, too… glad to know some experts agree! πŸ™‚

  2. MAS — any recommendations for cooking liver low and slow? I love liver but must admit to being no cook — I have never found any alternative to flash frying it. I have tried combining with mince for a meatloaf but that is not really low and slow. Kidney works fine in stews but not liver I find.

  3. @SimonM – I still cook liver and kidney in a pan over a medium heat. I doubt it is a problem since the meat doesn’t really char up like muscle meat.

    Some people put raw liver in a blender and make a smoothie out of it.

    Haven’t tried it myself.

  4. @MAS: “Haven’t tried it myself” — oh, after you, I insist!

  5. @SimonM – Actually, when I cut up my liver, I always eat a few pieces raw. Raw beef liver is a rare source of animal Vitamin C that destroyed in cooking.

  6. Since I have both books, I know which one I am going to read. MAS, thanks for the review!

  7. @SimonM. Give pates a go.

  8. @All – I want to call your attention to an excellent debate about the G3P portion of this post on Twitter.

    The takeaway quote regarding Bailor’s mention of G3P in Calorie Myth comes from CarbSane.

    This was part of SSoS and Bailor tweaked it a bit for the new book. Intellectual dishonesty πŸ™

    SSoS = Smarter Science of Slim (Bailor’s earlier work)

    This point is important to me, because I fell for Taubes G3P and even preached it to others for about 2 years. Only when someone called me out in an email while I was on vacation did I realize Taubes was wrong. I didn’t have my “trusty” copy of GCBC to defend my position, so I went online for that support. That is when I not only discovered the G3P section of GCBC was wrong, but that Taubes likely knew it was wrong when the book was published in 2007.

  9. Hey! Thanks for the shout out! Will be blogging on this in more depth probably tomorrow. Don’t know if you saw today’s post though which has links to my posts on SSoS. There’s also the Dec. 2010 podcast where Taubes admits he was wrong but claimed this stuff wasn’t in the textbooks circa GCBC.

    Here’s the applicable section in the 2004 4th Ed. of Lehninger (a later version is what Gerard was going on about on Twitter)

    One might forgive someone else of not being informed or doing a thorough search, glyceroneogenesis wasn’t in many texts and still isn’t it would appear. However not only has Taubes interviewed Richard W. Hanson, he had him review parts of GCBC prior to publication. From all I’ve read from Hanson, I cannot believe Taubes’ representation of his editing in his emails to me, where Taubes claimed Hanson “made sure he was right” or something like that. Perhaps Hanson made Taubes put that Glyceroneogenesis and the TAG/FA Cycle reference in the book hoping someone would pick up on it? Taubes counts on scientists to not want to rock the boat so he gets away with the impression of agreement/approval of what he wrote.

    I’m flabbergasted to find there are some still clinging to this outdated and demonstrably incorrect part of Taubes hypotheses.

  10. @Evelyn – Gerard was clearly upset. I invited him to post a comment here, but he hasn’t yet.

    I see you have the new post up. Thanks for the link.

    I enjoyed watching you and Gerard go back and forth yesterday. Felt like grabbing a bag of popcorn. Oh nooz carbz!! πŸ™‚

  11. Hey MAS … I am going to blog with a comparison of the very similar G3P stories in SSoS and CM. It’s really sucky his publisher didn’t like the original title, because it’s basically the same book (haven’t looked at the exercise part) retitled with some minor wording changes here and there. While SSoS does not appear to be available for sale anymore, it’s just kinda cheezy.

    I can’t help but play with Pinzone’s name in my head πŸ™‚ Can’t really figure out what he’s saying.

  12. @Evelyn – I am looking forward to your next post. One of the point I see Gerard trying to make is that there is a large difference in G3P from carbs and Glyceroneogenesis. The implication is that there is a measurable caloric “free lunch” when you cut out the carbs. I don’t know if that difference exists or if it does – how much it works out to be.

    I do give props to Bailor for the exercise chapter. Many of our shared friends in the fitness community that get nutrition will have issues with it, but they tend to be blind to survivorship bias. That is another topic though.

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