The Unmitigated Truth about Food Research Studies

Have you read the studies about what food is good, bad, or generally indifferent for your body and your brain?  What is interesting with these studies is who pays for them, and bearing that in mind, you should be aware that these studies might not be telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…

Good morning/afternoon/evening, and Happy Tuesday to you!

            The last few weeks we touched base on information that should be useful to you about vegetarianism and veganism (and a piece on meat prep because of Memorial Day).  We are certain that you found the information fun, memorable, and interesting.

            Bearing that in mind, there is more information that should be considered, and while this is not really another rehash on vegetarianism, the fact is that the articles written about vegetarianism kind of brought this idea to the forefront.

            The idea is that meat, as a whole, is bad for you!

            Now, why would a butcher consider this argument? 

That is easy… so we can argue against the point!

The Initial Argument

            There is an article written a couple years ago that still comes up right at the top of search engines if the key phrase “why meat is bad for you” is entered.

            This article does include different research studies, and it also has these studies from different third-party research companies.  Overall, this means it is well researched, and we should be impressed, and we should all go towards veganism as a lifestyle (since the article also suggests that we should swear off eggs).

            Now, this is well researched, but we will come back to why that might not matter a little later on here; for now, let’s just dive into a couple of ideas that we have and we were able to pull from our own research here at Wayside.

            Coke.  I love Coca-Cola (Coke) as a soda.  However, this does not mean that I think it is healthy for me.  In fact, I know for a fact it is far from it, and as such I try to drink it very infrequently, saving it for a holiday or an infrequent night out.

            Now, those of you that have your favorite drinks are saying “of course Coke is not good for you.”

            What if I told you that there were dietitians that had promoted Coke as a valid product for weight loss and general health?

            Seriously, go and look up the link… we can wait…



            OK, you read through it and you are back?

            Let’s keep moving forward then.

            The reason that we bring this up is that this was the most recent high-profile example of food companies paying for the research to say what it was that they wanted it to say! 

            In fact, in this same article, Coke admitted to paying these experts millions of dollars to promote Coke as a healthy beverage, and only a few of them would admit to the payoff.

            Does this make you question your dietitian?  I know that I would question mine (if it was not me).

            However, Coke is far from the only company to have done this exact same thing:

            Hostess.  A professor at a university lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks by eating nothing but Twinkies, Doritos, and drinking water and sugary drinks.  I am not kidding, the story is there.  I am not saying that the research is entirely false – this could have happened.  Largely because, if you read the article the professor kept his calories to less than 1,800 calories per day. 

            Here is the thing, if you consider what is known as the Estimated Energy Requirement (EER) formula and do a little backwards math, you glean the following information:

·       His weight finished at 174 lbs – if he dropped 27 pounds, that means that he was 201

·       EER says the Base Metabolic Rate is 10x your bodyweight, or in this case 2,010 calories

·       Basic normal functions increase your BMR by 20%, bringing his demand up to just over 2,400 calories per day

·       Even without exercise, he now has a shortfall of 600 calories per day

What do we learn from this?

            He has a 25% calorie deficit without exercise.  This is dangerous, but of course it is going to cause weight loss!  Yes, he lost bodyfat and weight, but how much muscle mass did he lose from the lack of protein?  How much damage did he cause to his body from the excess consumption of refined sugar?

            We probably won’t know, as I looked around, and there does not seem to be any follow-up study on this issue.

            Really, no surprise, right?

            Book Title: The Obesity Paradox.  In this one the author clearly states that “thinner means sicker and heavier means healthier.  What is interesting is that, when you go and look at a webpage related to the book (not sponsored by the author) clearly indicates that he has accepted income from Coke for his viewpoints, stating that his relationship with the company should not matter.

            And more…  There are so many research studies out there that promote healthy food as unhealthy, or that promote unhealthy food as healthy.  There are many, many, many organizations that are involved in this.

            Basically, if a company is paying you for your research, especially in the amounts of money we are talking about here, it is in your best interest to find that the product that the consumer is buying from your paymaster is healthy, or the “next greatest thing”, or the silver bullet for health.

What does this have to do with meat?

            Thank you for asking… now we can do as we promised and go back to why a “well researched” argument should be taken with a grain of salt…

            It comes down to the fact that you can pay researchers to say what you want them to say.  If they do not say what they want, they simply will not report the findings.

            How do I know?  Simple... in addition to being a meat aficionado, having an undergrad in nutrition, and writing awesome articles like this one, I work as a data scientist.

            Basically, you can make statistics say whatever it is that you want them to say.

            That raises an important point that goes back in time…

Saturated fat is the enemy.  This is based on heart attacks increasing in frequency in the 1960’s.  Everyone began to blame cholesterol and saturated fat for the increase in heart attacks that were occurring in the United States.

Now, think hard on this, and look at more recent research (I won’t put it here, you should draw your own conclusions from a variety of sources) you will see that eating cholesterol and saturated fat was nothing new in the American diet.

What WAS new… the massive amounts of sugar that we had begun consuming after the end of World War II, just about 15-20 years earlier.

In fact, if you think about the paleo diet – I know people that are paleo that work out sporadically that have better resting heart rates, decreased triglycerides, and better lipid levels than those that eat a lot of sugar and work out like fanatics.

What makes sense here?  Think hard about it…

The companies that produced sugar paid for the studies to have them say sugar was perfectly fine while saturated fat (which we had eaten for eons) was the problem.

Looking at this now, the medical community has been torn about what is and is not true on this point.


            Meat is not, by default, bad for you.  Sure, processed meats are not as good for you as whole cuts of meat.  Eating way too much of it is probably not the best idea (just like anything else). 

            However, the scientific community is showing no clear evidence that meat is always bad for you – in fact, with the rise of paleo, carnivore, Keto, cross-fit, and other forms of natural eating, we are starting to see the opposite come to pass!

            Keep this in mind as you eat – be mindful of how you feel after you eat different foods and tell us what your thoughts are on this point.

            Until next time, eat well, live well, and be well!