Monday, July 05, 2010

Nutritionists Suck

I know I've said this before, but nutritionists suck.  Like their whole kick against cane sugar and corn syrup, as if there's something magical about the sugars in other plants that somehow make them superior to the sugars from sugar cane and corn.  And don't even get me started on their war against fastfood.  Because yeah, that stuff's not healthfood, but regular restaurants can pack in quite a lot more calories than McDonalds; yet don't get half the attention. 

And so I see this article titled 3 Low-Cal Summer Thirst Quenchers, and I'm somewhat interested as I'm trying to lose just a little more belly fat (though I'm already in great shape) and realized that I get quite a few unnecessary calories from juice and soda.  But of course, none of the three "thirst quenchers" appeal to me; one of which was just tea with lemon and mint in it, because yeah, I couldn't have figured that one out myself.

But the second one was simply ridiculous.  It was for "Low-Sugar Lemonade," which included unsweetened applesauce, maple syrup, and mint.  And I'm like, yuck, that sounds disgusting.  I'm not sure which of those three bothers me more, though it's probably the applesauce, because there's half a cup of the stuff in there, divided into four servings; so each cup contains an eighth of a cup of applesauce.  I like applesauce, but not in my drink.

And of course, the applesauce and syrup are there as sugar substitutes, for reasons that make no sense.  And mint?  Minty lemonade?  I don't think so.

How Low Can You Go

But worst of all, the fitness guru posting this stuff actually admits that this concoction has 80 calories per serving; yet acts like that's a good thing.  80 calories?  My god, Dr. Pepper has 100 calories per serving, and I've been assured that it comes from the Devil himself.  And the powdered Country Time Lemonade I drink on a regular basis has 60 calories per serving, and I generally water it down so as to cut down on my calorie intake and actually prefer it a little less sweet.  (I also water down my juice and soda, btw.)

So I'm supposed to be impressed with a "low sugar" lemonade that has twenty fewer calories that Dr. Pepper and twenty more calories than powdered lemonade?  So much so that I'm going to put applesauce and syrup in my drink?  I don't think so.

And seriously, what the hell is the matter with these people?  Because the reality is that soda really isn't that bad for you.  It's the quantity that's the problem; not the quality.  It's that people want to drink 64 ounce Big Gulps of the stuff.  But the thing is, that's not going away just because people start substituting syrup for cane sugar.  If someone wants 64 ounces of a drink, they're going to drink 64 ounces.  And whether it's soda, juice, or maple-mint lemonade; you're going to pack on the calories if you drink that much.

If your diet recipes count on the users having the restraint to only eat and drink individual serving sizes, then you can count on them to fail.  And that's the biggest problem with why people are fat.  It's not that they're drinking soda or eating McDonald's.  It's that they're eating and drinking servings that are five times bigger than they should.  And these stupid nutritionists with their rant against specific foods while highlighting other foods which are only marginally better (and sometimes worse) doesn't help at all. 

And so people imagine they're earning healthpoints every time they take this nitwit advice, rather than realizing that there really is no magic bullet and you simply have to eat less and exercise more.

It's the Quantity, Stupid

People shouldn't be warned away from 100 calories in Dr. Pepper.  They need to be warned about the 800 calories they're getting in a Super Big Gulp; which is only 160 calories more than they'd get from drinking the same quantity of this "Low Sugar Lemonade."  They need to be told that the recommended daily serving of 2% milk they're told to drink has 9 grams of saturated fat and 390 calories; and how 2% milk has more calories than Coke.  And they need to be told that a typical burger at a regular restaurant has more fat and calories than a Big Mac.

But nutritionists refuse to do that, because that's just not something they care about.  They prefer being food nazis.  They want to tell you to avoid certain types of food, not because they're worse for you, but because they personally don't like these foods.  And so they'll tell you that weird applesauce lemonade is "low calorie," even though it has more calories than powdered lemonade; not because it's true, but because it makes them feel better.

Oh, and the worst of these?  The Eat This Not This guy, who gives moronic advice, such as replacing your 20 ounce Minutemaid Lemonade with an absurdly small 8 ounce Knudsen Lemonade, even though the calorie savings is due solely to the smaller serving size and the Knudsen has 100 more calories if you drink 20 ounces of it (a fact he fails to mention at all).  And then there's his bizarro theory that foods with fewer ingredients are somehow better for you, or that natural ingredients are inherently superior to processed ones.  As if peanuts can't kill people, or fish are somehow comprised of one simple chemical we all understand.

And these are all lies.  Stupid, dangerous lies that con people into believing that they've finally found the secret to losing weight, which doesn't require them to eat less or exercise.  Because that's all this is about, and if I could quench my thirst with 8 ounces of lemonade, I'd do it.  But until then, I'll stick to twenty ounces of watered down Country Time and try to get in a little more exercise.  Not for myself, but for the ladies.


mahakal said...

All calories are not equal.

Two words: glycemic index.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Well, GI is a bit of a complicated subject. First off, these nutritionists I keep reading on Yahoo focus on calories and don't mention GI at all, so that's what I focused on.

Beyond that, calories are still more important than GI, as GI as a weightloss thing is focused more on people getting hungry again if their blood sugar spikes. But it's still better to eat fewer calories of a high GI food than more calories of a low GI food. But again, this isn't something these nutritionists mention, so I didn't either.

Secondly, glycemic index is still a bit of an unknown. While I definitely think it's a worthwhile concept, we still don't really know much about it. As the Wikipedia page mentions, it was formulated under experimental conditions (ie, empty stomach) and there are large variations between individuals and specific foods. Even the same fruit can have a different GI, depending upon its ripeness. We're far from having enough answers on this to actually tell people how to eat.

And finally, from the little research I found online, maple syrup doesn't have a significantly higher GI than cane sugar or corn syrup. A site I found puts maple syrup at a GI of 54, with the other two at 64 and 62, respectively. Wikipedia doesn't give specifics, but puts sugar in the same range as normal wheat bread. Meanwhile, potatoes, corn flakes, and white rice have a much higher GI. So I'm not sure how any of this impacts what I wrote.

Overall, I like GI as an idea that needs to be looked into further and DEFINITELY think there's something to the idea that eating certain types of food can make you hungrier (cookies, crackers, chips). But it's a mistake to automatically assume that these guidelines somehow fit into our preconceived ideas of what is healthy or not; or to imagine that it's somehow ok to eat large amounts of food, no matter what their GI is.

If someone can convince me that it's healthier for me to drink a soda than eat a baked potato, I'm willing to listen. But I'm not buying that right now. If you're trying to lose weight, the amount of calories you eat are still the most important thing.

ex DLB said...

But then, why waste time drinking any of that when I can be drinking beer?

mahakal said...

What is this nonsense about trying to lose weight? Dieting is a bad idea, it isn't healthy. Glycemic index is important because it tells you how fast the food converts to blood sugar, and how quickly therefore you will deplete your reserves and require more food. Calories are not bad, nor are calories a measure of weight, they are a unit of energy, and if you exercise you can and should eat more calories than if you sit around. But saying that nutritionists suck because you cherry pick for incompetent advice from Yahoo, well I don't know what more to say.

Doctor Biobrain said...

DLB - I'm naturally referring to the things we drink when we're restricted from drinking beer.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mahakal - I wrote a super long response to this, but decided to delete it. Once again, you're entire comment assumes I'm a fool. I really don't like that.

But to give a shorter version of what I wrote, I'm not referring to some get-skinny-quick diet scheme. I'm referring to changing the way people eat. I lost over fifty pounds by eating smaller sized portions (which are still quite large, but smaller than before), and now I'm looking to lose about ten more pounds by cutting out unnecessary calories from juice and soda. Not because I look bad (I actually look great), but because I want to look even better. I fail to see how I've said anything wrong.

A big part of the problem is that many people eat when they're not hungry and drink when they're not thirsty. They just enjoy the taste. Maybe you don't do that, but I definitely do. And so it doesn't matter what their GI level is or whether they have reserves of sugar in their system; they'll eat because they're in the habit of eating. That's a habit I've reduced, but still have to stop myself from doing. So you shouldn't extrapolate from yourself if you're not one of those people.

And yeah, I understand that I could eat all I want if I exercise more. Duh. Seriously, why do you assume I'm stupid?

As for cherrypicking from Yahoo, the person who gave the applesauce-syrup-mint lemonade recipe is the Editor-in-Chief of a popular fitness magazine. The "Eat This Not This" guy is a widely read author. These people get paid big bucks to tell people how to get fit and they're giving lousy advice. And I read just about every health and science article I can find and their focus remains on telling people to replace their soda with juice which has just as many calories, as well as other pointless changes that won't help people who eat too much.

And as I said, I completely understand what GI is about and think it's a great concept. But we still don't know much about it, and does nothing to help people who eat when they're not hungry. Cheese is a low GI food, but if I eat too much, I'll still get fat.

My problem wasn't just that I'd eat a whole row of Oreos at a time (though I've been known to do that), but that I'd eat three servings of dinner. Luckily, I'm a naturally athletic person so I could get away with it, but still, I lost a lot of weight by limiting my eating habits and fail to see how that's a problem.