Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Spot a Diet Guru in 12 Easy Steps

Think you've found the best "expert" for reputable nutrition and health information? You might want to double-check: if any of the following sound like your go-to source, run fast!

1. Alleges to understand nutritional science but rejects it--constantly referring to how they are SMASHING MAINSTREAM SCIENCE and DROPPING NUTRITIONAL TRUTHBOMBS!

2. Declares repeatedly that "calories don’t matter"!

3. Describes certain foods or nutrients as EVIL or THE DEVIL.

4. Frequently regurgitates pseudoscience from internet-born nutrition “experts,” health journalists, or people named Lustig, Taubes, Mercola, or Davis.

5. Personally follows a fad diet.

6. Can’t provide sound research when asked to back up a nutrition or health claim (and in most cases, they won't respond to you AT ALL when you question them!).

7. Shuns moderation in favor of extreme dietary restrictions (no sugar, no carbs, no wheat!) and extreme excesses (eat all the butter and meat you can get your hands on!).

8. Creates and follows arbitrary dietary rules like avoiding gluten when you don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

9. Frequently puts down conventional medical & actual nutrition experts and claims to have MUCH better insight and knowledge than they.

10. Refers to anecdotal evidence, n=1 experiments, testimonials, and “it works for me and my disciples!” more than scientific research.   

11. Claims that THE KEY to weight loss is all in tinkering with the hormones in your body, not simply eating less.

12. Conveniently has a book or product to sell you or else sells the dubious supplements that they HIGHLY recommend.

Have you ever come face-to-face with a diet guru? Scary, isn’t it?!


  1. I am bemused by an RD (a two year credential) tilting at somebody like Lustig (a neuroendocrinolgist and Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology) and Perlmutter (a board-certified neurologist and member of the College of American Nutrition). The fact that they are successful authors of popular books on nutrition doesn't prove that their theses lack foundation. Both you and Dr. Katz seem to think the smell test is probative. It is not. According to Wikipedia jury is still out on Lustig.

    Do you have a four year degree?

    Have you published a peer-reviewed paper?

    Do you derive income from website traffic?

    1. Hi Lewis,

      Thanks for your comment. I find it highly amusing how you seem to be incredulous that a RD with no monetary gains to be made here could possibly have any knowledge or insight into nutrition science and health, yet you submit blind allegiance to a handful of sensationalist docs clearly out to profit from their claims.

      Your gullibility is exactly what feeds the health and fitness industry’s mouth of hucksterism. Congrats on being another cog.

      You are correct—the mere position of being an author looking to sell some health books, and, in the best case, also actually help people, doesn’t negate one’s theses. I’ve never implied that. There are numerous medical professionals who write damn good, helpful, and properly researched books without resorting to sensationalistic, hanging-on-by-a-thread-of-truth claims —coincidentally, you mention Dr. Katz. He has written such books.

      According to Wikipedia the jury is out on Lustig? Better resource? Listen to numerous RDs, docs, obesity researchers, and a variety of health writers and make your own call. You’ll have to venture outside your bubble of “safe” diet informants, though, because you aren’t likely to hear reputable criticisms inside. Here, I’ll help you get started:


      Regarding your concerns about my education and qualifications: I don’t know what 2-year diploma mill outfit you think RDs are turned out from, but you are sadly misinformed. RDs have a four-year degree in nutrition science, followed by at least 1200 hours of supervised practice and a then must successfully pass a registration examination. Many RDs, such as myself, are further educated, however. I went to school for 2 additional years and earned a Master of Science in Public Health Nutrition from a prestigious medical & research university.

      I do not currently work in research, nor do I have a PhD. Authoring peer-reviewed research is not a requisite for RDs, just like it isn’t for most practicing medical doctors or dentists.

      Credentials aren’t much though, not for me or for Perlmutter or Lustig or anyone else, without integrity, common sense, and an overwhelming desire to do good and truly help people. I’m in this profession to do just that. I work hard to help people live healthier lives and at the same time, protect them from false or misleading claims, unproven treatments, or straight-up scams.

      I derive no income whatsoever from this website. I have no association with any food industry sector, product, promotional item, any one diet, book—nothing.

      Again, thanks for your comment.

      Remember, just like excess sugar, excess dietary fat CAN still make you fat. So stay safe. It’s a dangerous & deadly food world out there.

  2. Great read. It's refreshing to read about how food really works as opposed to how food fearists try to sell it.

    My best health improvements have come by sticking to a healthy diet and regular excercise.

    Thanks for doing your part in spreading some truth.