Adam Ruins Weight Loss

Jul 16 2017

Buckle up as Adam goes on a dieting roller coaster ride to illustrate how low-fat diets can actually make you fatter, why counting calories is a waste of time and why you shouldn’t necessarily trust extreme reality shows that promote sustained weight loss. Here are his sources.


"The point is, fats are one of our oldest, most basic nutrients."

Jean-Pierre Montmayeur and Johannes le Coutre. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture and Post-Ingestive Effects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2010.

"And when President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955, it galvanized the nation."

Ian Leslie. "The Sugar Conspiracy." The Guardian, 7 Apr 2016.

"This is Ancel Keys, a scientist so popular, he made the cover of TIME magazine."

Time Magazine, 13 Jan 1961.

"Keys was certain that fat was the cause of heart disease, but only after cherry picking data to the get result he wanted."

Nina Teicholz. "What If Fat Isn't So Bad?" Men's Health, 13 Dec 2007.

"Actually, sugar is the likely culprit. When you eat more sugar than your liver can normally process, it's stored as fat"

"How Sugar Converts to Fat." Health Minute, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio, 16 Jul 2014.

"Keys denounced Yudkin in public and made fun of his research"

Gary Taubes. "Is Sugar Toxic?" The New York Times Magazine, 13 Apr 2011.

"In the 60s, these candy-coated capitalists started straight up paying scientists to play down the dangers of sugar and shift the blame to fat."

Anahad O'Connor. "How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat." The New York Times, 12 Sep 2016.

"When John Yudkin spoke out against sugar in 1972, the industry publicly mocked him, calling his research "science fiction."

Julia Llewellyn Smith. "John Yudkin: The Man Who Tried to Warn Us About Sugar." The Telegraph, 17 Feb 2014.

"The sad truth is, Yudkin was right. We now know that sugar is linked to both heart disease and weight gain, and it's been found to be more addictive than cocaine."

Serge H. Ahmed, Karine Guillem, and Youna Vandaele. "Sugar Addiction: Pushing the Drug-Sugar Analogy to the Limit." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 16.4 (2013).

"And the sugar industry's relentless lobbying didn't end there. Big Sweets spent years packing health panels with sugar-friendly scientists."

Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens. "Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies." Mother Jones, Nov 2012.

"This led to a full blown craze for low fat foods starting in the '80s. Low fat foods eventually became a 32 billion dollar industry..."

Melanie Warner and Julie Bosman. "Another Fad Hits the Wall." The New York Times, 11 Feb 2006.

"Wrong. Low-fat food tastes awful, so food companies typically add a little something to make it palatable: piles and piles of sugar."

PK Nguyen, S Lin, and P Heidenreich. "A Systematic Comparison of Sugar Content in Low-Fat vs. Regular Versions of Food." Nutrition & Diabetes, 25 Jan 2016.

"Yep! They quite literally did. And in fact, any single number would be wrong because there's a massive variation in Calories burned by..."

Marion Nestle. "Why Does the FDA Recommend 2000 Calories Per Day?" The Atlantic, 4 Aug 2011.

"And basically a guess. Calorie counts on labels are often calculated based on the ingredients of old products, even if the size of the item has changed."

Philip J. Hilts. "On Food Labels, Calorie Miscounts." The New York Times, 27 Apr 2015

"Not to mention, the FDA legally allows Calorie labels to be off by twenty percent."

Tamara Duker Freuman. "When Nutrition Labels Lie." U.S. News & World Report, 21 Aug 2012.

"And restaurants are the worst. One report found that menu item listings are often off by hundreds of Calories!"

Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley. "We've Been Counting Calories All Wrong." Motherboard, 31 Jan 2016

"While they might be accurate when counting steps, fitness trackers have been found to overestimate the Calories burned in a workout by up to 40%."

MB Nelson, LA Kaminsky, DC Dickin, and AH Montoye. "Validity of Consumer-Based Physical Activity Monitors for Specific Activity Types." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 25 Mar 2016.

"'[A]re not intended to be scientific or medical devices.' Fitness trackers are basically for entertainment purposes only. Not for solid data."

Kalyeena Makortoff. "Study Claims Fitbit Trackers Are 'Highly Inaccurate.'" CNBC, 23 May 2016.

"Actually, you can. Contestants on weight loss shows like the Biggest Loser have reported being told to gain extra weight before going on camera so their transformation is more 'dramatic.'"

"'Biggest Loser' Contestant Claims The Show Actually Told Her Gain Weight," Inside Edition. CBS News, 23 May 2016.

"Even worse, several contestants have claimed the show pressured them to dehydrate themselves to shave off extra pounds."

"'Biggest Loser' Contestant: Show 'Hurts' People," Early Show. CBS News, 18 Jun 2010.

"While I can't speak to how they produce these shows, I can say that of the 14 Biggest Loser contestants we studied 6 years after the competition, 80% regained most of the weight they lost."

Erin Fothergill, Juen Guo, Lilian Howard, Jennifer C. Kerns, Nicolas D. Knuth, Robert Brychta, Kong Y. Chen, Monica C. Skarulis, Mary Walter, Peter J. Walter, and Kevin D. Hall. "Persistant Metabolic Adaptation Six Years After 'The Biggest Loser' Competition." Obesity, 2 May 2016.

"I read that one UCLA study found that 50 million Americans classified as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ are actually perfectly healthy."

AJ Tomiyama, JM Hunger, J Nguyen-Cuu, and C Wells. “Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005–2012.” International Journal of Obesity, 4 Feb 2016.

For More on This Topic

Gary Taubes’ book The Case Against Sugar draws on years of research and reporting on sugar’s impact on our health, and what the industry has done to obfuscate it.

Marion Nestle’s Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics is a comprehensive history of nutrition research and how calories came to be so prominent in the way we think about dieting.

Gina Kolata’s New York Times feature on Dr. Kevin Hall’s research delves into the lives of “The Biggest Loser” contestants he studied.