On Dr. Lustig


Telling people to simply lose weight, he tells me, “is physiologically impossible and it’s clinically dangerous. It’s a goal that’s not achievable.”

When people tell me it’s impossible to do something that I’ve just done I tend not to believe them.

I’ve not weighed myself at all but I’ve certainly lost three notches on the belt in the past 6 months. The doctor told me I had high blood pressure and I should lose weight. So, no sugar in coffee, the bottle of soda by the desk replaced with a bottle of soda water and a little more exercise (and it was only a little more).

Et voila.

Oh, and perhaps an apple to beat that afternoon slump rather than a choccie bar.

There could be all sorts of reasons why Lustig is correct but I’m sorry, personal experience just doesn’t lead me to believing that he can possibly be correct.


19 thoughts on “On Dr. Lustig”

  1. I hate to agree with any of these diet people, but there is the inescapable fact that I lost more than two stone simply by my fridge breaking down and thus avoiding the chocolate and cakes I’m rather fond of. I wasn’t even eating much of it, but cutting it out, the weight fell off. Pretty much everythign else that used to go in the fridge- all the meat and fatty stuff- just went in the freezer.

    I was under a lot of stress at the time too, so it may have been that. But I do think it was the chocolate and cakes.

  2. Allow me to translate: ‘Oh, these poor fat people, it’s all the fault of Big Food, how can anyone expect them to have some personal responsibility, now give me my cheque please..’

  3. Julia,

    To be fair (I hate doing this), if sugar really does make us fat, it’s worth knowing. It shouldn’t be a justification for regulation of anything, but it is worth knowing about. If it does.

  4. @ Ian B
    Of course excess sugar *helps* to make us fat – so would regularly eating piles of pasta but marathon runners are *encouraged* to eat piles of pasta the evening before the race. Does anyone *not* know that eating sugar will make you fatter?
    The article has got its history, economics and hence physiology wrong (as one expects from Zoe Williams). The food industry started putting high-fructose corn syrup into fizzy drinks not because it was cheaper than sucrose but because it was sweeter so you got less calories for the same amount of sweetness, making Coca-Cola etc *less* fattening. After a time mass-production lowered the cost of high-fructose corn syrup so the smaller quantity used more than offset the higher cost per kilogramme.
    As Tim says, it comes back to calories in minus calories out and lack of exercise or simply lack of self-control.

  5. @ dearieme

    I reckon the way to keep weight off is to adapt a life style you are comfortable with, and where you continuously lose (small amounts of) weight.

    On the basis that:

    a) habit (routine) is easier than continued change (I’m going on yet another diet), and

    b) there will always be lots of occasions where temporarily the net will be up rather than down, and therefore you need the rest of the time to be a small net down to compensate.

    Hence, for example, after Xmas, there is no “new diet” for January, you simply go back to your normal every day routine.

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica

    dearieme is, sadly, correct. I went from 85kg to 65kg in six months. I’m back up to 80 or so now because the diet was just so indescribably boring. I found it very hard to find something that would simultaneously a) allow me to lose weight b) be healthy c) not drive me up the wall. By comparison, quitting drinking was easy (although not easy-easy).

  7. Three stories in a row.

    People who have gotten into positions of influence who know nothing. People who are uneducated, mentally deficient, power crazed cretins.

    How did it happen? Because we give up 53% of what we earn to even more power crazed cretins who can’t think what to do with it, so piss it up against the wall just for fun.

    A Government adviser who thinks that beans are not a vegetable and that if you eat a rasher of bacon it suddenly appears as a lump of fat around your waist.

    A body of people who will have to repeal the Clean Air Act and give us all cancer to save the planet.

    And a moron who thinks that nobody has a brain except him, whereas in fact his brain would best be served as a plug for leaks in public sewers.

    God rot them all.

  8. So far as I know, it’s been known in nutrition science for about the past 60 years that *all* calorie-reduction diets work, for about 6 months, then the effect levels off, and the weight gradually goes back up to where it was over about the next 5 years. The only way to *keep* it off is to keep ramping up the strictness of the diet/exercise regime until you get behaviour verging on the sort seen in anorexia.

    It’s also fairly well-known that yo-yo dieting – taking weight off then putting it back on repeatedly – is bad for the health. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that dieting is not exactly good for the health anyway, unless you’ve got some sort of specific metabolic disease in which the normal weight-control systems are broken. People put on a little weight naturally as they get older, and this is both normal and perfectly healthy. (Look up the “obesity paradox” for the mortality statistics.)

    However, there’s not much in it, risk-wise, so what the heck. Whatever makes people happy.

  9. @ NiV
    Yo-yo diet – how about school food in the 1960s?: every term I lost at least half-a-stone, four or five times it was over one stone. [When I was at university I put on a stone over Christmas every year and had to burn it off in January, but that was through exercise].
    I hope that what you mean is that artificial unbalanced diets which are designed to make one to lose weight below one’s optimal weight and omit some key parts of a nutritious diet are bad for one’s health.
    Individuals have different optimal weights – I can remember from 50 years ago (he is unforgettable) a friend 2″ shorter than I who sweated down to 2stone 11lbs above my optimal weight, solid bone and muscle. I just could not keep up with his training regime when he should have fading due to low blood sugar (trying to meet the light-middleweight limit). The next two years, youngsters were finding *my* training regime demanding (but not nearly as much as I found his). When I was young Timmy’s age (and for a few years after that) I was making sure that I wasn’t too light before running a marathon.
    Artificial diets that invite people to reduce their weight below optimal are dangerous and usually unsuccessful in the long run, as you say, but the calorie-reduction diet that I adopted when I was 30-ish after putting on another stone above my comfort margin worked for nearly 30 years until I tore a hamstring and gave up running. So “all” is wrong – you *should* say “most” or “all artificial” or … I dunno but you probably *do* know what you should say.

  10. Tim, you have not done what Lustig is telling you impossible. The next paragraph notes most have been able to keep the weight off only 6 months. Long ago I read an article re smoking encouragingly advising that it was much easier to stop than permanently losing weight as over 90% of those dieting eventually gained it all back.

    You will need to change your life style permanently to permanently keep the weight off, or perhaps more interesting to you is keeping the fat off (becoming more dense w/ muscle). To aid your quest, I refer you to Time’s 6/23/14 issue with cover story “Eat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong,” by Bryan Walsh. The inside article is titled, “Don’t Blame Fat.”

    Animal fats, butter, bacon, whole milk, etc are all good. Sugar & carbs are bad.

    @Ian B – Sugar does make you fat. So does bread which the article says your body quickly turns into sugar, thence to fat. Further evidence is the Adkins diet does work to lose pounds (in America “stones” are privates) eating all the fat you can, but no (or very little, I’ve neither read nor followed it) sugar or carbs.

  11. @ tex
    Nearly 30 years is more than six months.
    Try reading the most recent post before you state something that it disproves.

  12. It’s all basic physics, really — your current body mass is the difference between the total mass of everything you’ve ever taken in and the total mass of everything you’ve ever emitted — to put it politely. So the only ways to lose mass are a) take in less — i.e. diet; b) emit more — i.e. exercise or c) both. The main problem, as others have pointed out, is that if one variable changes, the other will try to change to match it. Homeostatis is a right bastard sometimes.

  13. John77:

    I re-read it and then did it again. What did I miss? My read was Timmy not believing weight loss impossible because he had slimmed by 3 notches over the past 6 months. Was there an earlier writing of Tim’s where that was 30 year ago?


  14. I agree with Tim. There is no secret to losing weight. Eat less and/or exercise more.
    Note that ‘exercise’ does not have to mean ‘hours in the gym’. Walking rather than driving to the shops, gardening, getting off the bus one stop earlier all work very well. Indeed, these are likely to be better as they are much more likely to be long term, sustainable, changes.
    And see Tim’s changes. Not big, but maintainable.

  15. @ tex
    the most recent post on the thread when you wrote – just before 8.19 pm – said “the calorie-reduction diet that I adopted when I was 30-ish after putting on another stone above my comfort margin worked for nearly 30 years”
    Timmy *original* post said “I’ve not weighed myself at all but I’ve certainly lost three notches on the belt in the past 6 months.”

  16. @john77

    My original post receiving your reprimand was directed at Tim, not you. By context “impossible” really means “nearly impossible” or “very difficult” because they qualify it with “most” or, as in my ref article, “over 90%.”

    So, good luck for your 30yr success whether by happenstance, a health determination, supreme effort, or a pretty wife, but that does not change my note to Timmy which, as far as I know, rings true.

  17. tex

    Welcome to the club, you have received one of john77’s magisterial rebukes, complete with the usual mixture of being right about everything, imagining no one else has a valid opinion and personal anecdote. You should feel honoured.

  18. I’ve heard the phrase “bungalow legs” – a syndrome which afflicts only those who live on one level. Make sure you live in a house with stairs, and I find it helps to be absent minded, because I’m continually having to go back and get things which I’d gone to get then forgotten. I spend an enormous amount of time fetching things. I

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