Don’t believe everything you read in the papers [Nutrition & dodgy science]

23 Jul

Chances are, if you passed by a newspaper stand over the last couple of days or perused the news on TV or online, you may have seen headlines like this:

‘Cut down on meat to lose weight’

‘Meat causes weight gain’

‘Sorry Dr Atkins, eating less meat is the way to lose weight…’ (classic Daily Fail…)

And there is CrossFit London promoting a Paleo/Zone diet rich in meat and saying that it will improve your body composition…

Are we wrong?

Probably not.

Dr John Briffa has posted a fairly detailed rebuttal of this research on his blog this morning which I highly suggest you go and read. In short, the study has a number of holes, some more glaring than others. From Dr Briffa:

You are at liberty, of course, to make of this study what you will. I’ll tell you what I make of it though: it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Actually, worse than that, it appears to be wholly misleading.

His post is worth reading on two counts:

  1. It provides a credible view on the science used (misused?) for this research
  2. It encourages a useful form of critical thinking and analysis which can (should?) be used to evaluate all research with

Nonsense study being used to claim that meat causes weight gain Dr John Briffa

5 thoughts on “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers [Nutrition & dodgy science]

  1. Some of the leanest peoople I know are bodybuilders who eat nothing but chicken breast, fish and oats most days!

  2. People really overcomplicate this…

    If you take in more calories than you expend, you will put on weight and vice versa. You can either take in fewer calories (through controlling your diet), expend more (through being more physically active), or a combination of both.

    You don’t need a PhD in dietetics to achieve almost every goal an average person – the kind who holds these articles so dear – will have. It doesn’t matter if you have a steak for dinner or a slab of butter; provided that overall you have enough protein, carbs etc for your body to function it makes no difference whatsoever if the calories are the same.

    People who read the papers for these kinds of headlines are after quick fixes to their problems. They want to be told that they can eat as many of one food type as they want or that it will only take five minutes a day or some such nonsense because they don’t want to hear the truth – that they have to permanentely change their lives (with respect to both diet and how active they are).

    If most overweight people kept a food log they would be surprised at how many calories they consume. You have to run about two miles to burn off a can of coke and a mars bar. Having said that, the type of person who would run two miles is probably the type of person that can afford to be more lenient with their calorific intake as they are probably more physically active in other areas of their life (taking the stairs instead of the lift etc).

    It’s sad that there is so much misinformation out there with charlatans making money talking about spot fat reduction or hooking people up to TENS machines that will give them a six pack while they sit on their asses watching tv.

  3. there isnt that much wrong with this report. it simply points out that stuffing extra meat into your diet will not guarantee anything. The Atkins diet was always a poorish diet as it failed to teach good eating habits.

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