Home Blog Healthy Food Options? Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government

Healthy Food Options? Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government

Written on August 18, 2011 at 9:30 pm, by Eric Cressey

Today’s post is a guest blog from current Cressey Performance intern, Tyler Simmons.  I had a super busy week, so when Tyler brought up this topic at CP the other day, I jumped at the opportunity to get him to write about it.  You won’t be disappointed.


Many people don’t know this, but before 1979, there were no public health guidelines for what foods our citizens should eat. So where would we be now without a food pyramid?

In the 1950s, a researcher named Ancel Keys developed a theory that certain dietary fats were a major cause of heart disease. Although the support for this theory was weak, it would eventually become the basis of nutritional recommendations for the entire country. This eventually morphed in to the theory that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease, and for the public it was easy to make the jump that these also cause weight gain and obesity.

So the US government decided to step in for the benefit of the uneducated masses and save us from imminent death and obesity.

The result?  Since 1979, when the McGovern Committee made the first “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” we’ve been encouraged to eat less animal fat, less cholesterol, and more grains. And, we were pretty successful at it; Americans adopted our new food guidelines and embraced a low-fat way of eating for the last 30 years. Here’s a chart of how are diets have changed over the last 100 years:

Source: Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):950-62.

We did a pretty good job. We’ve eaten less fat, less beef, less pork, and less dairy (fear the butter!) At the same time, we’ve eaten more chicken, more shortening, and drastically more soy oil (healthy fat right?).

Let’s check out this next graph to see what incredible health benefits we’ve gained as a result of this magnificent advice and our stellar compliance:

Source: 2010 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee

Who can tell me when it the obesity rate really starts to rise? Oh wow, 1980…but that’s when we got all the good advice to eat less animal fat, more grains, and more vegetable oil.

So what can we take away from this? A couple of things:

1. Eating more soy oil was a bad idea.

2. “Healthy whole grains” may not be so healthy after all.

3. Maybe the animal fat and red meat wasn’t actually the problem after all.

Numbers two and three here could span several articles in their own right. But for now, let’s just look at one, the soy oil.

You’ve probably heard about the “heart-healthy” fats called polyunsaturated fatty acids a.k.a. PUFAs. These include soy oil, canola oil, corn oil, and peanut oil. The high intake of omega-6 PUFAs is one of the most dramatic shifts in the American diet since 1909 with an especially large jump after 1970.

I think that the evidence shows that eating soy oil is about as smart as playing in traffic.

The graphs above suggest that PUFA’s aren’t particularly good for us and that we’ve been tricked in to becoming obese. What we’re looking at is epidemiological data, which can only show associations. We can see that eating at the same time we started eating way more PUFAs, we saw a striking increase in obesity. This is just association; it doesn’t show cause and effect.

So let’s look at a couple pieces of more direct evidence for why we should avoid PUFAs in our diet if we want to get jacked, stay lean, and rock a six-pack into old age.

Studies on rodent and humans demonstrate that the more omega-6 PUFA you eat, the more fat you gain.

In a rodent study, three groups of rats ate diets with identical amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, differing only in the type of fat they were eating. One group had beef tallow (low omega-6), the second had olive oil (moderate omega-6), and the third had safflower oil (tons of omega-6). Compared to the beef tallow group, the olive oil rats gained 7.5% in total body weight, and the safflower oil grouped gained 12.3% total body weight. The more omega-6, the fatter they got.

In another study, 782 men were split in to two groups that ate isocaloric diets (they ate the same amount of calories) for 5 years. The only difference between the two groups was that one ate animal fats and the other ate vegetable oils (very high in omega-6). Compared to the animal fat group, the vegetable oil group had consistent increases in body fat and body weight. By the end of the study the vegetable oil group weighed 5% more on average.

I have found that when working with athletes and people who just want to look better, modifying omega-6 intake is a critical factor in fat loss.

Keep in mind that fat gain is mult-faceted in its causes. I’m not suggesting that omega-6 is the sole reason for fat gain, just that it is a significant factor. There are a variety of reasons to eat less omega-6 fats beyond the fat gaining characteristics, so limit the vegetable/seed oils and don’t be scared of animal fats.

And be skeptical of any advice you get from the government.

Tyler Simmons is completing his degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Nutrition at Humboldt State University. He designs individualized nutrition programs for athletes and people working to look, feel, and perform better. He can be reached at simmons.tyler@gmail.com or at www.evolutionaryhealthsystems.blogspot.com.

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46 Responses to “Healthy Food Options? Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government”

  1. MF Santos Says:

    Hi Tyler,

    Did your research render any findings on the ratio between the omega fatty acids and if gaining fat mass had a correlation to the proportions of one to the other? Thanks for the post!

  2. A Says:

    I think the huge surge in obesity could be contributed to portion control.

  3. Chuck Rogers Says:

    I agree with not trusting the government food advice. I should say my wife does not trust their advice, not since we were married nearly 50 years ago.
    She always searches out and studies the science behind each “new” recommendation and usually finds serious flaws in them but somehow they propagate as fact.
    Butter is always on the table and never margarine because the studies (using good science practices) supports that decision.

  4. Gordon Wayne Watts Says:

    Since America is FAR unhealthier than other countries who consume a more vegan diet -heck NO I don’t trust our government’s failures in education here.

    As you know, I’m a die-hard vegan (conservative political slant, notwithstanding).


    And, as you recall, I just turned in my Show & Go results –although not as good as I would have liked, I am glad you complimented me on my good gains in powerlifting — that means a lot coming from an expert like you.

    And, I accomplished my gains in strength with the low-cancer vegan diet, of which I am a chief advocate.

  5. 'Flash' Gordon Wayne Watts Says:

    As you recall, Eric, I just turned in my Show & Go results –although not as good as I would have liked, I am glad you complimented me on my good gains in powerlifting — that means a lot coming from an expert like you. And, I accomplished my gains in strength with the low-cancer VEGAN DIET, of which I am a chief advocate.

    MAIN POINT: Since America is FAR unhealthier than other countries who consume a more vegan diet -heck NO I don’t trust our government’s failures in education here.

    So, I’m a die-hard vegan (conservative political slant, notwithstanding), whose results support a vegan diet as ‘OK’ for powerlifters.


  6. Chris P Says:

    While I agree with your conclusions, gotta watch out with those correlation=causation ideas! Just as the medical community can correlate increased fat consumption with increased obesity/weight gain (ignoring the fact that the higher fat intake comes along with tons of added sugar, tons of grains, and lack of exercise), we don’t want to make those same mistakes!

  7. Michelle Says:

    What amazes me is that in most US states, the only people, by law, who can dispense diet recommendations are RDs. Registered Dietitians are sanctioned, trained, and controlled directly by the US Government. The US produces 16% of the worlds wheat. It dominates corn production including corn used to produce HFCS, and also soy. Is it any wonder that RDs are taught to tout the benefits of wheat, corn, and soy?? Lightbulbs anyone?
    RD ciriculum is comprised in large part by the study of the flawed food pyramid and how to double recipes to cook for large crowds. And yet people who have Master’s degrees in Nutrition and study the biological effects of food on the human body have almost zero credibilty and no government backing. Does anyone else see a flaw here?

  8. Shane Says:

    Very thoughtful article. Maybe you could do a follow up article on points 2 and 3 you mentioned. Very hard to read those graphs. Make them bigger?

  9. Aaron T Says:

    What do you suggest as a healthy ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s? What correlations do omega-9s show?

    Great Article!

  10. P Self Says:

    Hi Tyler,

    Interesting post. I’m sure you’ve read this but for those who haven’t a good book to read for more information on this is “Good Calories Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes.

  11. Miserere Says:

    “Numbers two and three here could span several articles in their own right. But for now, let’s just look at one, the soy oil.”

    Tyler, I hope those articles regarding #1 and #2 are forthcoming. If they’re going to be at the level of this one, I want to read more from you.

    Sorry, Eric! 🙂

  12. CSOleson Says:

    Is it necessarily that we are increasing the omega 6, or could it be that we don’t balance it with omega 3’s? Because the diets of most Americans currently is lacking in a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids and super high in Omega 6 fatty acids. So is it possible that we only have to balance the intake?

  13. Charlie Says:

    Wow, what a great article.
    I have just forwarded this to all of my clients. My clients who have the most success follow similar nutrition guidelines that this article reccommends.
    Now lets hope the rest will follow.

    I live in Canada so here’s a big ” BOO ” to canada’s food guide

  14. danny Says:

    Great article, Tyler. Concise, informative, and immediately applicable. Thanks for the knowledge.

  15. Lora Says:

    I am a RD and a sports dietitian and am hardly “controlled” by the government. We do have a mind of our own and are qualified to distribute medical nutrition therapy since we do a clinical internship in a hospital and pass national boards similar to other health professionals. That is why the state licensing is in place- same type of laws that protect physical therapists, psychologists, medical doctors, etc. They too pass boards and must be licensed to practice. We have specialty certifications for diabetes, sports nutrition, gerontology, oncology, etc to further our knowledge and practice similar to personal trainers. Many RDs are highly involved in integrative and functional medicine, holistic nutrition, etc. and have successful private practices and the vast majority do NOT agree with the simplistic food pyramids of the past. RDs are highly involved in cutting edge research such as sustainable food systems, nutritional genomics, supplementation research, obesity prevention, bariatrics, cancer prevention, etc.. and agree a plant based, whole foods diet is the way to go. We do not receive spiffs from Monsanto.

  16. Tyler Simmons Says:

    Hi MF Santos,
    Research shows that the absolute amount of omega6/omega3 is important as well as the ratio of omega 6:omega 3.

    Too much omega 6 compared to omega 3 is a serious problem, but you can also get in to trouble if you start taking a really high amount of n-3 to balance out the n-6. This is due to the high-rate at which omega 3 and 6 PUFA’s undergo lipid peroxidation, a degenerative process that damages our blood vessels.

    Try to balance n-6:n-3 ratio by eating about 4:1 – 1:1 ratio and keeping the total amounts low.

    Hi A,
    As I said in the article, this is by no means the sole factor in obesity. What we need to look at, is how certain foods disrupt our bodies satiety mechanisms and make us want to keep eating.

    Chris P,
    I think you’re right on… follow the money.

    Thanks, I think some follow ups are in the works.

    Aaron T,
    A healthy ratio should be somewhere between 4:1 and 1:1 of n-6:n-3. Omega 9 fats make up the majority of the mono-unsaturates in things like olive oil. They’re great; to cover the good stuff about them would take another article.

    P Self,
    Good Calories, Bad Calories is a fantastic book. I read it twice when it came out and it was pretty influential for me initially. Incredible research although I don’t fully agree with Taubes’ conclusions.

    I think we may have that in the works.

    You’re right, balance is important and we don’t get enough omega-3. But check out the above, too much of both is also very problematic.

    Thanks for the comments, sounds like you’ve got a good system going.

    Thanks, let us know how you feel in a couple weeks.

  17. john Says:

    This is refreshing–it’s annoying to see many trainers/athletes/etc recommending “healthy” fats like peanut or almond butter.


    There are also more carnivorous countries that are healthier than the US. The fact is that vegans and carnivorous humans aren’t optimal–well, especially vegans; perhaps it’s possible to construct a perfectly healthy carnivorous diet.


    Yes, whole foods are important but why plant based? You’re still clinging on to empty food pyramid ideas. Personal experience might push you one way, but animal-heavy diets also work well for many. Any RD that doesn’t follow the food pyramid is rare, just like any doctor that doesn’t prescribe statins.

  18. Rick Cohen, M.D. Says:

    The key is too individualize and in order to do this we need to be able to know what our body needs. While signs such as increased lean mass, decreased body fat, improved energy and recovery are critical to gauge a nutritional program and diet, after working with hundreds of athletes, we know it is impossible without assessing key factors. At Bioletics, we perform finger-stick RBC essential fatty acid assessments to determine your current Omega 3 Index and omega 6-3 ratios so you can understand how your current program is affecting your health and monitor how changes improve these critical ratios.

  19. Jeffrey B Driban Says:

    Interesting article. Just to clarify though the USDA offered nutritional guidelines even before 1920. In fact, most of us grew up with the four food groups which was introduced around 1956. In grade school this was the system I was taught. Government influence on our diets is not a new thing.

    For a history on the topic check out Wikipedia’s article “History of USDA nutrition guides”. Also the US Government offers a brief history of USDA Food Groups.

  20. Mitch Says:

    Nice to see Cressey Performance has a robust staff of individuals who are concerned with healthy eating and the like.

    Brian St. Pierre for starters has an awesome blog. I’ve just checked out Tyler’s blog (looks good!) and will be digging in further.


  21. Jim Says:

    Good article. I have to agree with some of the others that I think more of it has to do with portion control. An article I read on the BBC website, cited a study that eating more than 60 grams of red meat a day over a period of 5 years will give you 5kg of fat that sits inside the muscle and therefore harder to remove.

    I am pretty much vegan, due to having my duodenum removed. I am 156lbs and fit. I have no choice really but to eat grains and starches, but I think the other thing here is exercise. We can rant all we want about eating red vs white meats, soy vs rice milk, but really, it all boils down to portion control and exercise. And this is what the government DOESN’T stress, as then it would upset their big interest groups.

  22. Amy Says:

    Amen Lora (in response to the government cotrolling RD’S)!

    I’m an RD, LD too and what if I said, “I’m a believer in Paleo?!?!”

  23. Justin Says:

    I agree with Chris P. Becareful with correlation=causation. To begin by showing us obesity rates taking off because this was the time the Food Pyramid came out and everyone followed those recommendations, is a big leap. Otherwise, the article isn’t too bad.

  24. ws Says:

    “Clinging to empty food pyramid ideas”

    What is wrong with plant-based? Are you seriously recommending that people not eat fruits and vegetables? I’m a big believer in a fruit/vegetable/meat diet, but suggesting that the obesity epidemic is due to gov’t recommendations based on these graphs is sporting some serious ecological fallacy and is poor science. If you’ve been in school, you know that science is a progression – hypotheses are developed and tested, and we figure out how stuff works seeing if our hypotheses are true or not. There are plenty of exercise scientists who have advocated long, slow, steady-state cardio for fat loss, but that doesn’t mean we don’t trust exercise science now. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  25. IPAP Says:

    Absolute nonsense. Animal foods promote disease, but thank you for misinforming all your readers via a student who is still in school studying exercise science with a “focus” in nutrition, ie a self-proclaimed expert.

    The number one question posed to a vegan is “Where do you get your protein?” Answer: I do not take protein powder or advise anyone to do it and I do not try to increase my intake of protein. We eat too much protein as is and the last thing we need to be doing is eating more. The protein myth debunked: We should not be eating more than 10% of our calories from protein so the problem is not how do we get more protein, but how do we stop being brainwashed into thinking we need that much. Protein intake above 10% of calories promotes cancer development, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease and many other illnesses including heart disease. Breast milk is only 5% protein and babies are not dropping like flies from protein deficiency at the most rapid period of growth in their lives. Protein causes an acidic rush on the body and we buffer that acidity with alkalinity via pulling calcium from our bones, so the more protein we eat, the weaker our bones become. Countries with the highest intake of animal protein also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. Animal protein is the worse as it also promotes cancer growth simultaneously (read The China Study).

    There is not a single documented case of protein deficiency EVER — when you see starving kids in Africa, it is not because they are protein deficient, but rather, because they are CALORIE deficient and are just plain not getting enough food, whether that is protein, carbs or fat. ALL foods contain protein – even grass has ample protein in it – protein is required for all cell formation so without protein, plants would not exist. Herbivores such as elephants, pandas and giraffes consume nothing but plants and those animals are plenty strong and get plenty protein from grass and leaves alone. I used to think I had to eat lean meat to get protein (chicken, which is subject of another brainwashing debacle for another time because chicken contains more cholesterol than beef) and drink milk to get calcium before I studied biochemistry and really went beyond standard nutritional hogwash information by becoming a research freak to learn this stuff. It is not publicized widely because the cattle and dairy farmers of America lobby Congress to promote a USDA food pyramid that tells us all to eat more meat and dairy products. The USDA says (arbitrarily) we need 30% of our calories from protein. The World Health Organization says we need 5 to 10%. Big discrepancy. It is a money scandal that is destroying our health. Humans are not omnivores – contrary to the money making best selling paleolithic diet book that tells us all cavemen ate meat, we are herbivores (cavemen only ate meat when no other food was available as the energy required to hunt meat on foot, not the factory modern way, was often more expensive than the usable energy from that kill – eating meat was a last resort so as to avoid famine, but our cavemen fuel of choice was plants). True carnivores have real canines (our canines are a misnomer as a real canine tooth (think Tiger, not human) will cut through the hair and flesh of an animal — so you just try to go up to a deer and take a bite out of its hide with your human canines — not a chance — our canines are meant for biting into round surfaces such as apples, not animal flesh) and true carnivores have a stomach acidity that is ten times that of human stomachs so that they can digest animal protein; and their intestines are 7 feet long so they can eliminate any undigested protein quickly before it rots versus our intestines are 21 feet long and any undigested animal protein putrefies and produces toxins we reabsorb.

    Dairy products are liquid meat and often worse, even skim milk products as these contain a higher percentage of animal protein since the fat is reduced. Dairy products contain a naturally occurring hormone called insulin-like growth factor. Its purpose is to take a baby calf and grow it into a 600 pound cow in 6 months, ie its job is to promote rapid cell growth. Adults are not rapidly growing babies, and what is one of the fastest growing cells in an adult’s body? A cancer cell. So dairy products are like fertilizer on cancer cells. Compared to 100 years ago, Americans consume more animal products than our grandparents (which we attribute to our growth and economic development, yet the more industrialized a country becomes, the sicker its population grows) and 1 in 4 people will develop cancer (in the younger generations that number will be 1 in 2). There are many factors that contribute to this, including the increase in number of man-made chemicals in our environment) but EVERYONE every single day has cancer cells circulating in their body (a cancer cell is merely a cell that did not form properly during cell replication) and our immune system ordinarily is able to identify these cells, destroy them, and they never become a problem. However, when we are inundated with toxins, our immune system cannot keep up with the housekeeping and these cells are able to multiply faster than we can clear them out. Then pour dairy (containing insulin-like growth factor) in our bodies and we have fertilizer for the cancer cells. Skim milk suddenly doesn’t look so hot — and ALL dairy has this hormone, even the “organic antibiotic, hormone-free” dairy as ALL living animals produce their own hormones naturally (even without the added hormones factories sometimes inject) just in order to be alive.

    Fish is not a health food. People think fish is healthy because they contain Omega 3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory). Fish do not make this large amount of Omega 3 acids. Rather, fish eat a large amount of algae. ALGAE makes Omega 3, so therefore, the fish is ingesting huge quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids, stores this in its fat and hence why people are told fish are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, fish are also exposed to all the industrial toxins of the ocean – all the industrial wastes, the pharmaceutical residues, the mercury, dioxins, pesticides, you name it, that washes into the ocean – the fish also store these toxins along with the fatty acids in their fat. Then, because you are higher on the food chain than the fish, when you eat fish, you are getting an even more concentrated dose of these toxins. So saying that eating fish to get Omega 3 fatty acids is healthy is like saying eating a Snicker’s Bar to get protein (which we don’t need as much as we are told we do) – nonsense and a dirty dirty package. What’s the answer? This itself could be the subject of a chapter, so as a disclaimer I will quickly say we wouldn’t need to supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids if we were eating a plant based diet in the first place (you need 2-3 grams of Omega 3’s per day and all plant foods contain abundantly more than this) but if we insist on supplementing, then there are companies that grow algae in filtered water in stainless steel vats so the algae itself is not exposed to the toxins of the ocean and then they culture the Omega 3’s directly from the algae that way. So since the fish got it from the algae, you can too now. Let’s put fish oil to bed – its just a dirty dirty cocktail.

    There is more but entire books are written with this research and this is but a mere email. I have an answer to every single point that has been used to question plant based diets (as I wanted to know this information for my own health and I did my research thoroughly) so please ask away. People cannot know what they do not know and unfortunately, most of us never question the standard nutritional information we are brainwashed with (and I grew up thinking I knew how to eat right as a dancer – just eat lean meats and drink skim milk — until I learned the biochemistry and had an open mind that allowed me to at least examine the information). I am here to help anyone who has these same questions and desire to at least hear what the case for a plant based diet is — I am not a vegan for “esoteric” or ethical reasons, but rather, purely because as a doctor, I have researched it ad nauseum (evidenced by the fact that on a Friday night at midnight I am kept awake thinking about my patients’ health relating to food) and any and every question you might have, I have had and have solid facts and research to answer them with.

  26. Dave Says:

    Omega 3’s decreased i’n diet is a huge issue. But at the same time another real problem was brewing the introduction of high fructose corn syrup.. Peope must realize that HFCs converts to triglycerides after the liver is full of fructose, and the HFCs then must be converted to a triglyeride then of to the fat cell… Insant obesity.

  27. Rick Says:

    IPAP is obviously a vegan/vegetarian shill whose mission is to come here and post his opinions as fact. There is no evidence whatsoever that meat causes disease. I eat a high fat, low carb diet. I get 20-30 gms of carbs per day in the way of small portions of fruit and vegetables. I eat a healthy amount of eggs, bacon, steak, chicken (don’t know why the article vilified chicken), coconut milk and heavy creams and cheeses. I just had a blood panel done where the blood was run under an MRI. Everything came out excellent. My cholesterol was 305, but doctors 40 years ago would have been thrilled with that number. A nutritionist friend of mine pointed out all the markers that blew away my doctors theory that I was at risk for heart disease based on cholesterol alone. My insulin level was excellent, so were my triglycerides. There was no sign of inflammation and get this…my kidney function was fantastic. All this talk about too much protein is bunk. The only time it is bad for the kidneys is when there is a pre-existing condition of kidney disease.

    BTW, blood pressure is 110/84, BW 172, rest heart rate is 73. BP is a better gauge of heart disease than anything.

    You know nothing IPAP. Please take your misinformation elsewhere.

    And to the people who might be able to read Good Calories, Bad Calories, I recommend the movie “Fat Head”.

  28. Stevan Says:

    This is a great blog and theory backed up with creditable evidence. But the only problem with it is that its strongest support is association between when we started getting fatter and the government producing healthy food guidelines. Allow there is a correlation between the two there might possibly be some other trends or events taking place in the 1980’s that are also major causes for the increase in obesity. I am not saying I don’t believe that the government is terrible at deciding the proper foods to consume or that this argument is invalid, just that there might be more to the whole picture.

  29. Tyler Simmons Says:


    Thanks for the input, I wholeheartedly agree. “Good Calories, Bad Calories” was pretty influential for me early on, a fantastic book. Fat Head is also great.

    I think that IPAP has good intentions but has been misguided. Sometimes we get so caught up in a certain ideology we’re just not able to see the evidence for what it truly shows. I hope that IPAP takes the time to read the China study to see what the data actually shows, which is that animal foods are highly protective of all types of disease. I won’t rehash that here, because it has already been well covered extensively here:


    and here: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html


  30. FLASH! Gordon Watts Says:

    Doctor IPAP is getting a lot of flack, so I will try to offer some perspective…

    While I agree that too much protein can be hard on the kidneys and downright ACIDIC in its metabolism, nonetheless, I must PARTLY disagree with her/him in regard to the amount of protein we need.

    I personally find success in stuffing my face with as much FAT, CARBS, and yes, PROTEINS as I can handle (yum yum!), and at a rail-thin 5’10” with shoes, and only 120-lbs, I have not suffered any severe effects (like over acididy, obesity, etc.) –mind you, however, that I am quite physically active in the gym, and less active people would not need (and may be harmed by) that much protein.

    My 320-lb block pull off the 4″ blocks a few months ago was not too impressive, except when you consider that it’s kinda like a 320-lb deadlift from the GROUND by someone 5’6″ and 120-lbs, with the same reach… not great (especially for a guy!), but as I’ve been lifting less than a year, and am RAIL-THIN, not bad –which is emprical support for the vegan diet.

    Also, in that youtube vid, http://www.youtube.com/gordonwaynewatts#p/u/21/oseUEhVPSKE is a rack pull (more like a shrug) for 585-lbs, and I have since bettered that with 4 singles at 635-lbs, yes you read right (lots of weight for a skinny old vegan dude).

    Now, to the topic at hand, I will reply to John’s point above, and show beyond a shadow of doubt that the good doctor of vegan advocacy was/is mostly right:

    @ John — MOST countries are probably healthier than America –whether they’re vegan or not.

    However, I must respectfully dissent about your optimal [diet] claim – on four (4) fronts:

    1) Historical: See Genesis 1:29-31 — the verses move on after describing diet, and although the kjv uses the word ‘meat,’ it does not refer to flesh or animals being eaten — get a more current version to verify my claims the original diet was historically ONLY vegan.

    2) Scientific: See the linear regression of cancer and fertility on my research paper:

    or even:

    The 2 ‘cancer’ graphs ALONE scare me, but see all the science too — peer reviewed studies, not ‘Government Sez’ garbage.

    3) Practical: Vegan tasts better, less gross, etc… well, ok I admit that’s subjective, but just saying.

    4) Moral: Animals are people too.


    Flash sez…!

  31. Dr. P Says:

    Interesting discussion and perhaps valid points by all. IPAP, you are an angry author and obviously Vegan. It is interesting how you bust on the original submission by Mr. Simmons and attempt to devalidate him as a student and not an expert. No where on his submission did he claim to be an expert. You on the other hand decided not to identify that you were a chiropractor on television. You listed yourself as a nutritionist. Are you a board certified chiropractic nutritionist? Where and when did you receive Board Certification? Are you an expert on teeth? Are you sure that canines are merely to eat apples? Where is the evidence? Last time I ate venison the meat shred quite nicely from my canines.

    I have plenty of experience in this field but I am what I am… A Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist. You are a chiropractor who appears not to have board certification in nutrition. Your chastising of ECressey and Tyler Simmons was distasteful, especially when you do not appear to hold board certification. I salute your passion and some of your conclusions but this topic of conversation is like talking about religion or politics. The individual genetic and epigenetic factors always trump our concrete conclusions. Today’s facts are tomorrow’s history lesson.

    I would have had respect for your teaching if it didn’t have a condescending tone. Just my opinion


  32. Flash! Says:

    @ Tylor Simmons — THANK YOU for your link to Denise Minger’s ‘RawFoodSOS.com’ blog…

    I’m having too much fun! — and when Denise, obviously a very bright young woman, started pushing ‘bad science,’ I let loose on her!

    Her blog, http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/ which you linked above, automatically accepted my reply to her ‘Conclusion’ that: “If both whole-food vegan diets and non-Westernized omnivorous diets yield similar health benefits, this is a strong indication that the results achieved by McDougall, Esselstyn, Ornish, et al are not due to the avoidance of animal products but to the elimination of other health-harming items.”

    Riiight. — Here was my reply to her -and it bears repeating — a firm, but respectful dissent: AND is/was quite funny!

    Gordon Wayne Watts (22:13:12) : wrote:

    OK, you’ve made some salient points, Denise, but the fact is that there is a VERY strong positive correlation between a vegan diet and lower rates of both cancer and fertility problems.

    Note, if you would, the p-factor, in the graphs on MY research page, mirrors on 3 servers -in case the Internet highway has …uh,,… a ‘traffic jam!’:

    or even:

    The p-value on the top cancer graph (relating vegan vs animal food with cancer) is SCARY! — it is 0.0000001.

    Do you remember your basic statistics, Denise? That p-value answers the question: What are the chances the dots just randomly fell into this pattern like raindrops or whatever… The chances that the pattern is mere “correlation” but not causation is 1-in-10,000,000 –yes!! One in TEN Million!!

    NOT die by chance… now… moving right along… look at the tight pattern and the ‘R’ (relatedness) values of each of the graphs, OK?

    The translation of the various R-values means that while other factors in lifestyle may affect health, diet is a VERY strong influence.

    Case closed, discussion over: The scientific evidence is OVERWHELMING that a vegan diet is a chief factor in health -and the graphs put into “picture language” what the peer-reviewed scientific papers say in plain-English.

    Mind you, the key word is “peer-review” scientific studies –not tripe and urban legend force-fed by the US Government –with such nonsense is ‘Milk Does the body Good.’ — .. LOL… NOT.

    The science is in, and the food pyramid is out.


    Gordon Wayne Watts, editor-in-chief, The Register, scientific research blog
    http://www.GordonWayneWatts.com / http://www.GordonWatts.com

    BS, The Florida State University,Biological & Chemical Sciences
    double major with honours
    AS, United Electronics Institute, valedictorian, class of 1988

  33. ws Says:

    “There is no evidence whatsoever that meat causes disease.”

    I’m not sure how much research you’ve done, but there is certainly plenty of evidence that people who eat more red/processed meats are at higher risk for some cancers. Now, athletes are a unique population and may not have the same risks as other populations, but lets be clear that there is plenty of science to indicate that eating tons of meat may have some consequences. I eat plenty of meat, but my other risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer are pretty good, so I’m not too worried. Athlete and non-athlete populations maybe shouldn’t eat exactly the same diets, though.

    Bernstein AM, Sun Q, Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Willett WC. Major dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Circulation. 2010;122:876–83.

    Aune D, Ursin G, Veierod MB. Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2009;52:2277–87.

    Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Ascherio A, and Willett WC. Intake of fat, meat and fiber in relation to risk of colon cancer in men. Cancer Research, 1994, 54:2390-2397

  34. Rob Says:

    Interesting discussion. Have to agree with Dave. The U.S.A. rapidly introduced High Fructose Corn Syrup into many processed foods and soft drinks from 1975. From the graph above this coincides with the rise of overweight and obese individuals.

  35. Jacob Says:

    I’d say the take-home point of this was that PUFA is bad, mmmkay? I’ve read some interesting studies supporting this, so it’s not really far-fetched for me to believe in (notice I said believe, as this subject comes down to beliefs).

    Same with meat and dairy, it’s my *belief* that it is the chemically altered versions that causes problems, not the source of protein itself.

    And when talking about the current obesity epidemic, never forget a very life-altering product that was introduced during the 80’s.. The computer. The birth of a whole new level of inactivity.

    Interesting article, and a very interesting debate!

  36. Michael Richards Says:

    I am sorry, but can the vegans stop talking about the china study… it’s clearly a flawed study.

    When it comes to exercise or nutrition philosophy people are usually at one extreme or the other. Traditional Powerlifting vs. functional training, just the same Vegan or Animal based diets…

    I think we all know the true answer to an optimal diet is somewhere in the middle. Obviously avoiding all the processed man made junk and staying to more whole and natural foods. Lets say a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and other plant based foods but at the same time a healthy amount of grass fed beef or bison, fish that isn’t farm raised and that is caught in “cleaner” waters. Should we eat high protein? high carb? high fat? I think the bigger question is, what are the demands of your body? Are you leading a highly active lifestyle or are you sitting at a desk or infront of the TV day and night? If you are active is the majority of your activity coming from strength training? Long distance running? etc… These factors change what is optimal and what isn’t. I don’t think we can take a one size fits all approach to diet, there are to many variables to consider. You must simply take the basic things we know about a healthy diet and adapt them to fit the demands of each specific organism.

  37. Gordon Says:

    @ ws who said: “” Now, athletes are a unique population and may not have the same risks as other populations,…””

    Yes, you are correct:

    Alan Argon, who is on my Facebook friends list, has rightly pointed out that while things like sugar (the example he used) are bad, a person who exercises vigorously can VERY STRONGLY mitigate the effects of a bad diet –probably (I’m guessing) since a body with a strong/fast metabolism can burn through the garbage junk and get rid of toxic wastes much better than that of a sedentary / lazy chap.

    TRANSLATION: Eat vegan if u dare, but exercise as well!@

  38. Tyler Simmons Says:

    Michael Richards,

    Great points. I think what some are failing to see here is that there is a lot we agree on; for example I don’t think anyone would disagree that we should not be eating industrial food products, processed foods, tons of sugar, and refined food products.

    I think getting stuck in the trap of shuffling macronutrients around is another major mistake, as what is clearly most important is the food QUALITY.

  39. Trish Says:

    I saw someone mentioned “portion control” but I have to say I disagree to an extent on that one. I’ve known obese people who do not eat much. I’ve seen very thin people who eat a lot. Portions were large in the old days just as well as now. Has anyone seen an example of a hearty 1950s breakfast? Eggs, toast, bacon, ham, butter, jam, organge juice etc. The rate of obesity was not so high in the 1950s. I think the extreme increase in obesity can be associated with increase in preservatives use, chemicals in foods that are just not natural, GMO use and the increase in use of corn oil, HFCS, and soy. Its quite a task to find anything that is really natural these days. The increase in chemical use that is not taken in orally might even have an effect…who knows for sure? There are so many people now that feel hungry ALL the time. Something has damaged their natural forgive the incorrect term…”hunger switch” and it’s in the on position all the time or much of the time. The government tells us (by allowing it) that butane(flammable), aluminum (causes alzheimer’s), parabens (cause cancer)are safe….there are just too many to mention but anyway people use these chemicals daily on and in their bodies. I agree with the article. We cannot trust our government to tell us the truth about what is healthy. Apparently they use a lot of deodorant. 😉

  40. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Good article. I agree with the correlation= caussation, but do we REALLY ever know correlation anway? I like “association” better.

    On the topic of protein, there is so much BAD info out there, it is insane.

    A shameless plug I know, but there will be a new text book completely dedicated to protein and resitance training out in late Feb 2012.

    It will be the state of the art for protein and hard training athletes, written by the top researchers and NOT paid for by any food company or anything crazy like that either. The goal was simply to cover all aspects of protein and training based on peer reviewed literature.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  41. Mike Says:


    Interesting ideas, but make sure you agree with the methods and stats with your cited research. Blaming the “government” is a weak argument, as all the university research and RDs and PhDs and MDs who actually DO the research often create the information the government uses to make recommendations.

    But a problem with the government, and apparently with plenty of people on this discussion, is that everyone’s looking for the ONE thing that ruined health: meat, fat, vegan, omegas, grains, commercial ag, etc. There are a TON of causes for one or two problems, a lot of which can be summed up into: eating more food, exercising less.

    Continue the discussions 🙂 Happy Friday all

  42. Ann Says:

    IPAP: My understanding, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, is that animal protein is the only COMPLETE protein, meaning it has a more complete amino acid profile than any other food. Even soybeans, which contain all of the amino acids, do not contain enough methionine.

    They, as well as others, claim that humans are omnivores, and always have been, which is evidenced by our teeth, of which we have flat molars for chewing grains and canines for chewing meats.

    In her book “Real Food What to Eat and Why” Nina Planck states “The simple truth is this: There are no traditional vegan societies. People everywhere search high and low for animal fat and protein because they are nutritionally indispensable.”


    “Even vegetarian societies prize either dairy or eggs”


    “Vegans risk deficiency of three critical nutrients: protein, vitamins, and fish oil.”

    and lastly

    “Protein needs are unforgiving: when the diet lacks amino acids, the body ransacks its own tissue to find them.”

    While I’m not disputing the fact that you may look and feel great, I truly believe that while portion control and exercise play a critical role in overall health, returning to a more traditional, non-processed diet could make a huge difference.

  43. Rsquest Says:

    Paleo. ’nuff said.

  44. Stuart Says:

    I think it was Alwyn Cosgrove who stated “You’re not eating enough vegetables”. I wonder how many sick people would get better following this single piece of advice.

  45. Michael Says:

    For more good info on this read any of Gary Taubes books.
    The history and bad science behind the Govt recommendations is shocking!

  46. Ivana Skunty Says:

    Safflower oil is very healthy

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