Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mainstream news needs to stop publicising crap like "bulletproof coffee"

Shoutouts to Mike Howard for
this more honest version of
the book cover.

And by "crap" what I mean is "blatant, pro-eating disorder scams based on nonsense".

So... yesterday one of the mainstream news websites posted an article on "bulletproof coffee", and in the ensuing facebook discussion I had a woman explain to me how she uses it as part of an "intermittent fasting" plan for weightloss, and it's great because it means she can last until 2pm without eating. Also it "keeps you in fat burning mode while you are fasting".

No.

There are so many problems with this.

#1 is the idea she's picked up somewhere (and has decided to spread to others) that not eating until 2pm is an in some way admirable or beneficial habit to develop. It isn't. You've got shit to do and your body requires fuel to do it with.

#2 since you're actually getting approx 400 - 600 calories out of that ridiculous butter & mct oil infused concoction you've been duped into believing is good for you... you're not actually fasting anyway. You're getting a similar amount of total energy. You're just not getting from a "meal" in the conventional sense.

#3 intermittent fasting has been shown to not be inherently beneficial anyway, other than that it may offer some individuals a strategic advantage in setting a schedule that allows them to meet but not exceed their energy requirements.
As we discussed in a post last week, what is strategically advantageous for one person might not be so convenient for another.

So... since the best case scenario for ANY diet or other "system" is that it works as a method to achieve suitable total intake without overeating... why wouldn't you just do that by scheduling regular meals and snacks of foods you enjoy, to an amount that meets but does not exceed your total energy requirements? What seems so outlandish and unlikely about that?

Whenever these sort of approaches are discussed, the common element in the conversation is the suggestion that it is a good way to manage avoiding a meal for a longer portion of the day. Or that it is a healthier option than conventional, officially recommended dietary habits involving... you know... actual meals of actual foods. This is very problematic.

We live in an information age, and the age of social media at that. Information that is actually correct, that has been scientifically tested and verified as correct to the best of our collective understanding, is often drowned out or lost in the mix of unqualified opinion, urban myth, or just blatant lies and misinformation. We unfortunately have not yet reached a stage where the public as a community recognise their responsibility to not further the spread of bad information that is not only scientifically false, but that may be to the detriment of anyone who acts upon it.

The sort of people I described above aren't to blame, even though they are spreading bad information to the effect of "to lose weight, avoid eating meals" which is highly problematic.  They aren't to blame, and if anything they are the victims. The blame lies primarily with the blatant scam artists like Dave Asprey and Vani Hari, and disingenuous charlatans like Pete Evans and Christine Cronau who make a living writing these books and going on speaking tours promoting a disordered view on food, health and nutrition through fear mongering, peer pressure and pseudo-science.

However just as bad are the mainstream news agencies; the TV, print and internet media who run stories on these frauds that actually loan them the appearance of credibility, rather than exposing them as the snake oil merchants that they are.