Why “Clean Eating” is a Myth

Your favorite foods are poisoning you.

Even foods that you thought were safe are actually destroying your health, making you fat, and shortening your life.

That’s what you’ve been taught to believe.

You can enjoy some junk food, like my Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, without compromising your body composition, health, or longevity.

You can enjoy some junk food, like my Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, without compromising your body composition, health, or longevity.

If there’s one mistaken idea that’s become more embedded in the fitness and health industry than any other, it’s that certain foods are bad for you.

This myth is so entrenched that it’s promoted by everyone from gym rats to doctors to public health authorities.

Most diet books are based on the idea that “bad” foods will keep you from losing weight or slow your progress.

There’s no doubt that what you eat can have a massive impact on your health, performance, and body composition. However, there’s no evidence you can’t achieve all of these things while still enjoying any food you like.

Clean Eating Doesn’t Exist






These are the words people use to describe foods they believe you should eat. On the other hand, these are the words for foods you should not eat:





“Double-plus un-good.” (1984)1

The biggest problem with the idea of “clean eating” is that “clean” has no objective definition. Everyone believes different foods are “unclean.”

Vegetarians: Animal meat.

Vegans: All animal products.

Bodybuilders: Milk, fruit, and white bread.

Paleo: Grains, legumes, dairy, refined oils, added salt, sugar, alcohol, and some vegetables.

USDA/United States Government: Saturated fat, cholesterol, red meat, eggs, trans-fats.

Low-carb: Sugar and other carbs.

Hippies: Artificial sweeteners, processed foods, cooked foods, packaged foods, BPA.

It’s safe to say that for every food, there’s someone saying it’s dangerous.

There’s no way to define clean eating, which means there’s no way to measure or quantify what effect this concept might have on your health. There’s also no way to objectively compare a “clean diet” to other diets.

Throughout this article, I’ll use examples from all of these categories and let you decide which group I’m referring to.

The one thing these ideas have in common is that there are “bad” foods that should be avoided or limited, and “good” foods that you can eat. This broad definition can be further classified into two forms.

The Two Kinds of Clean Eating

1. There are good and bad foods, and you should never eat any of the bad foods.

2. There are good and bad foods, and you should only eat a small number of the bad foods to limit the damage.

In this article, you’ll learn why both of these ideas are irrational, unscientific, and unhealthy.

We’ll start by looking at the three potential ways a food could decrease your health, lifespan, or body composition. Then we’ll see if any foods actually meet these criteria for being “unhealthy.”

Why There are No Good or Bad Foods

There are three ways a food could negatively affect your health, longevity, or body composition.

1. Contributing to a caloric excess which leads to negative health problems from being overweight.2

2. Causing nutrient deficiencies by diluting the nutrient density of your diet.3

3. Directly interfering with your body’s functions, causing specific diseases, increasing fat gain, or accelerating aging.

Let’s see if any foods meet these criteria.

Excess Calories Can be Bad for You — From Any Food

There is no evidence that any food will cause more fat gain than the excess calories it provides. There is also no evidence that eating a certain food will help you lose fat.

Fat loss is ultimately about calories in versus calories out.

Any food that has calories can technically be bad for you — if consumed in excess.

This includes chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and even vegetables. The reason many people consider these “clean foods” is because they tend to be harder to overeat than things like cookies or ice cream.

For this reason, some people refer to things like sweets, baked goods, soda, and other junk food as “fattening.”

This is an inaccurate and myopic viewpoint. It assumes that you will over-eat these foods — regardless of the rest of your diet.

If your diet has enough satiating power to keep you satisfied and happy, then there’s nothing wrong with also consuming some less-filling indulgences. This idea also assumes that people can’t moderate their food intake, which they can.

For some people, eating enough to gain or maintain their weight can be a struggle.4-6 In these cases, higher calorie/more palatable foods can be extremely useful for meeting their calorie needs — not to mention being more enjoyable. Yet you don’t find people saying ice cream and cookies are life-saving for an anorexic, or muscle building for someone who’s trying to get bigger.

People look at these foods in isolation and assume they’re unhealthy regardless of the context.

Remember these two points:

  1. The potential to over-consume a food does not mean that you will
  2. Some people need to eat more — and higher calorie, more palatable, and less filling foods can be an advantage — even a necessity. 

However, you’re also concerned with your long-term health. You want to make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to perform optimally, and you don’t want to deprive your body of essential nutrients.

No Food Causes Nutrient Deficiencies

The second way a food could potentially be “unhealthy” is by displacing more nutrient dense foods — by providing “empty calories.”

You’ve probably seen articles about how most people are deficient in certain nutrients, and how you simply can’t afford to eat any “empty calories.” You’ve heard that all of your food has to come from nutrient-dense sources, and even then you should take some supplements.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a formal definition of what “nutritious” means.7 Researchers and diet authors have tried repeatedly to come up with a system that ranks foods based on points or some other means — unsuccessfully. The problem is that each system uses arbitrary and unscientific means to grade different foods.8

The USDA is still heavily biased against anything high in saturated fat and favors everything high in whole grains.8-11 Other ranking systems like the ANDI score place a greater emphasis on antioxidant levels, despite the fact that there’s still little evidence a food’s antioxidant or flavanol levels are a good representation of its overall healthiness.12,13

Classifying foods as healthy or unhealthy based on a score is a pointless and unscientific endeavor. In this case, common sense should prevail.

It’s true that some foods are far more nutrient dense than others. Cake icing doesn’t have the same nutrient content as an apple. As long as the majority of your calories come from whole nutrient dense foods, there’s no evidence you can’t meet your micronutrient needs while still consuming some “empty calories.”14-17

Research has shown that most people would have to eat roughly 20% of their total calories from refined sugar before it became impossible to meet their micronutrient needs.3,18,19

People who eat tons of sugar are generally malnourished.20,21 However, most people who are serious about their health aren’t eating anywhere close to 20% of their daily calories from sugar.

The CDC also estimates that around 90% of Americans are consuming adequate micronutrients.22

There is some data that indicates nutrient deficiencies may be more common among people who are dieting.23 This makes sense, since they’re consuming fewer total calories. However, it’s rare for someone to need to completely eliminate any junk food even when they’re restricting their calorie intake.

Some studies have also shown that vitamin D and magnesium deficiency may be more common than once believed.24-30 However, this data is based on people eating an average American diet. It’s likely less relevant to health nuts, like you, who are probably already eating lots of nutrient dense foods and getting adequate sun exposure.

Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream may not be the most nutrient dense food, but it can still have some benefits.

Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream may not be the most nutrient dense food, but it can still have some benefits.

People often make the mistake of assuming certain foods are completely devoid of nutrition. This is rarely the case. Take ice cream, for example. There are multiple studies showing the potential health benefits of dairy.31Just because cream is frozen and mixed with sugar doesn’t mean these benefits suddenly disappear. There might be less total benefit, but it’s still there.

White flour is another example. People assume that because it’s been processed, it must be completely nutrient void. Flour isn’t exactly nutrient dense, but there are still some micronutrients present, especially if it’s been fortified.32 It’s also worth noting that studies have generally failed to find any major heath benefit of whole wheat flour over white flour.33

Ironically, studies have shown that people who strictly avoid certain foods or food groups like bodybuilders, athletes, and people with eating disorders are often deficient in micronutrients.34-40 As usual, balance and moderation are the most scientifically supported solutions.

Despite what you’ve been told, you probably aren’t deficient in most nutrients. You can still indulge in moderate amounts of “unclean” foods and meet all of your essential nutrition.

While many people accept this, they still believe that certain foods are still “bad.” They’re wrong.

No Food Directly Damages Your Health

The third myth is that “unhealthy” foods directly damage your health. People tell you that you will suffer less damage from eating less of these foods — but they’re still bad for you in any amount.

However, because these foods only damage your body a little, you’re told it’s still normal and healthy to eat them. Here’s the issue: You’re not happy with normal.

You’re more obsessed with your health and fitness than other people. “Normal” now means being overweight or obese, and you don’t want a “normal” physique. Eating “less junk” means “zero junk” in your mind. If a food is bad — it’s bad — and you don’t want it in your body in any amount.

This is the most ridiculous and harmful misconception of “clean eating,” largely because it’s promoted by doctors and other health officials who people trust more than most.

In this context, “unhealthy” foods do their damage in different ways:

Interfering with your body’s functions.

Increasing your risk of certain diseases

Making you gain fat.

Making you age faster.

… and other bad stuff.

The idea is that regardless of a food’s nutrient density or calorie content, it is still bad for you. Every group has a different idea of what this means.

Vegans believe meat is toxic and gives you cancer.

Dr. Robert Lustig and others claim that fructose is “a poison” and causes obesity and liver damage.

The USDA still tells people that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, and that whole grains should form the base of your diet.41,42

Paleo advocates claim that grains, gluten, beans, processed oils, and dairy give people cancer and pretty much every other known disease.

Mycotoxins are lurking in everything you eat, secretly making you fat and damaging your health.

“Processed” foods and artificial ingredients are dangerous.

GMO’s cause cancer and give you tumors.

Pretty much everyone claims all trans-fats are bad for you in any amount.

All of these claims are either untrue or out of context. Any food can be damaging in large enough amounts. The real question is whether or not these foods damage your health in the amounts they are normally consumed, in the context of a mixed diet.

The scientifically valid answer to this question is “no.”

Despite flawed correlational research,43,44 there is no evidence that meat, red or not, causes cancer or heart disease or death. In contrast, there is controlled evidence showing red meat consumption can improve health markers as much as other meat sources.45,46

Research has never found red meat, or most other foods, to damage your health. Image

Research has never found red meat, or most other foods, to damage your health.

Fructose is not toxic and it doesn’t cause obesity or liver damage unless it is consumed in massive amounts and in caloric excess. There is no evidence it’s harmful in smaller amounts or that it encourages over-eating compared to sucrose.47-50

Consuming moderate amounts of sugar does not decrease insulin sensitivity or impair your ability to process glucose, as long as you maintain your weight and don’t over-eat.51-53

There is still no good evidence that moderate amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease,54,55 but many of these studies also have significant limitations.56,57 Recent evidence indicates even the correlations between saturated fat and cholesterol intake and heart disease are weak or nonexistent.58-63

Any food may contribute to heart disease if it leads to obesity or overweight, but there’s little evidence that consuming those calories from cholesterol-rich foods or saturated fat is worse than getting them elsewhere for most people.64-66

There is little evidence that omega-6 oils contribute to inflammation or heart disease.56,67

Gluten is not harmful to otherwise healthy people,68 and there is still no evidence that grains, dairy, or legumes damage your health. There is also good evidence to the contrary.31,69,70

There is no evidence that processed or artificial foods are necessarily less healthy than natural foods. There is also no clear definition of what constitutes a “processed” food, and there are many “processed” foods that have proven health benefits, like whey protein.31,71,72

There is no evidence that the levels of mycotoxins in the diets of developed countries have a significant impact on your health.73-76

There is no evidence GMO’s are harmful to humans.77,78

There is some evidence that synthetic trans-fats may be harmful, but the research is still inconclusive.79-85 There’s little evidence that consuming a small amount of trans-fat is going to damage your health, especially since they’ve been removed from most foods. There is also evidence that some naturally occurring trans-fats like vaccenic acid may have health benefits.79,86

There are specific medical reasons for avoiding certain foods. And by “medical reason,” I don’t mean some naturopath, acupuncturist, homeopath, or voodoo priest reading chicken entrails said a certain food is bad for you. I mean a real doctor diagnosed you with a specific illness, and based their dietary recommendations on sound scientific evidence.

Here are a few examples.

People with phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame.87

People with celiac disease need to avoid gluten.88

People with a severe peanut allergy need to avoid peanuts.89

People with familial hypercholesterolemia may need to eat less cholesterol.90

People with insulin resistance may benefit from a lower carbohydrate intake.91

Outside of very specific medical conditions like these, there is virtually no evidence that any single food can directly damage your health.

There is also no evidence that certain foods will accelerate fat loss at the same calorie intake, or that other foods will slow down or prevent fat loss. You could eat 43% of your calories from table sugar and still lose just as much fat as someone who only consumed 4% of their calories from sugar.92

By creating a caloric deficit, Layne Norton loses fat while enjoying ice cream bars.

By creating a caloric deficit, Layne Norton loses fat while enjoying ice cream bars.

Elite athletes sometimes consume up to 20% of their calories from pure sugar, and stay at around 6-10% body fat year round.5,6

This is not a comprehensive list, but when you look at the evidence, virtually every food that’s ever been labeled as “dangerous” or “toxic” turns out to be fine in moderation, and sometimes even in large amounts.

Any food could be “healthy” or “unhealthy” in different situations. This is something people forget when they talk about “clean eating,” and it’s something we’re going to address right now.

How to Know Whether a Food is Bad or Good for You

Whether or not a food is “healthy” or “unhealthy” depends on who is eating it, and how much they eat.

A healthy highly trained endurance athlete or bodybuilder exercising several hours per day is going to have very different needs and tolerances than a sedentary diabetic overweight office worker.

The athletes can be far more relaxed about their diet. They can eat more total calories, more calorie dense foods, and assuming they’re meeting their micro- and macronutrient needs, more “empty calories.”

The office worker needs to eat fewer total calories, and should probably focus on far more filling, low-calorie foods, less palatable foods to avoid over-eating. They may also need to focus on more nutrient-dense foods since they’re eating fewer calories.

Personal preference also matters. Some people have a hard time eating in moderation, and it may be smart to remove some foods that they normally binge on, at least for a while.

A food that is “healthy” for one person might be inappropriate for another in a given context.

Should you eat it, and how much can you have?

It depends…

  • Are you exercising or sedentary? 
  • How much are you exercising? 
  • What kind of exercise are you doing?
  • What are your goals?
  • Are you trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or improve your performance?
  • Do you like a certain food or not?
  • How many total calories are you eating?
  • Do you have any specific medical conditions that warrant avoiding a certain food?
  • Are you currently meeting your micro- and macronutrient targets?
  • Are you hungry or do you feel satisfied throughout the day?
  • What food(s) are you worried about?
  • What do you think will happen if you eat it/them?
  • Are you in a caloric deficit or caloric surplus?

All of these factors matter when deciding if a food is “healthy” or “unhealthy” for a given individual. In virtually all cases, there’s room in your diet for a little junk.

“Clean Eating is a Scam”

- JC Deen

It’s a scam that’s promoted by athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors, government officials, schools, diet book authors, and pretty much everyone else who eats.

“Clean eating” has no objective definition and no scientific support.

It’s also an eating disorder.

Avoiding specific foods or food groups without a rational reason is one of the  defining characteristics of orthorexia nervosa, and is common in people with binge eating disorder and anorexia.93-95 It’s no surprise this is a common disorder in athletes, dietitians, and other health conscious people.96-103

People who hinder themselves with rigid dietary rules also have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight.104-106

  • Food doesn’t make people gain fat — people over-eating food makes them overweight.
  • Eating some of your calories from less nutrient dense sources is not going to give you a nutrient deficiency.
  • There is no evidence that any food directly damages your health in moderate amounts in every situation. 

You’re careful about your diet, which you should be. However, there’s no reason you need to avoid any specific food to achieve optimal health, a lean body composition, and maximum longevity.

Balance and moderation are what’s important, and the definition of both of these terms depends on who’s eating the food and how much they’re eating.

If you’re tired of being told that the only way to be healthy or lean is to demonize or avoid certain foods, please share this article on Facebook.


Disclosures: None

Here are a few of the nice things people have said about this article:

“That article on clean eating is absolutely amazing. It’s the best non-peer review article on nutrition I have ever read from anyone. It’s absolutely outstanding.”

- Layne Norton, B.S., Ph.D., IFPA & NGA Professional Bodybuilder, Bodybuilding Coach

“Armi is really good at distilling complex, confusing information into points that can be easily understood and put into action – while not compromising a scientific basis. His discussion of “clean eating” is no exception.”

- Alan Aragon, B.S., M.S.

Author’s note:

This article was originally published on Impruvism.com, which is now EvidenceMag.com. Within the first 12 hours of being published, this article got over 225,000 visits and 13,000 likes on Facebook. Before being moved to this site, it had reached 35,000 likes on Facebook and 848 shares on Twitter. Thank you for sharing it with your friends, I appreciate it. – Armi

Why Clean Eating is a Myth


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    • Mal says

      This is a bullshit article. I’m sorry you wasted your time writing and editing this. People are literally dying from dirty food and here you are suggesting that they continue in their venture to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other horrible diseases. Congratulations!

        • Rachel says

          “No evidence” studies are payed off by the favorites,etc they are assessing… Do some research, people. It’s all there. Don’t be lazy and call the educated “crazy.”

      • The truth says

        He’s spot on.

        Is it not true that any food is dangerous if consumed in large quantities? Have we not heard of people dying from drinking too much water? Yes we have. So, we should not drink water, cause it may kill you.

        Have you gone through all articles listed below, read through and concluded they are all nonsense?

        As far as i can tell, his arguments are both resonable and valid. While some might be over exaggerated.

        Good article!

        • Diggs says

          As you say, Truth, “As far as I can tell, his arguments are both resonable and valid. While some might be over exaggerated. ”

          As far as you can tell. You can’t. And most of it is over-exaggerated! It’s okay to eat anything you want as long as you don’t over-indulge, is just reckless in the extreme. This is a load of bunk. He can cite all the references he wants but, just because you believe like others doesn’t make you any less crazy.

          While, I myself, don’t tend to believe everything I am told and, like to do my own research, which led me to this article, this is just idiocy. There is nothing wrong with “eating clean”, meaning eating healthy. Processed foods and sugar can and WILL have a negative impact on the body. Period.So, take it with a grain of salt. Unless, of course, that’s bad for you, too.

      • Vic says

        He might think that this is a smart article, but I don’t think so. He is focused to much on the “negatives” to be just objective to the whole thing! And it seams like he didn’t get the real point of clean eating! ’cause he always tells us that there is no food what makes us sick,but it acctually is not the food, it’s all the shit we put in the food what makes us sick. I eat clean. I have pizza and burgers, I have ice cream and cake and so on. I just make it all by myself and yes sometimes I go to a restaurant and have something fancy there. Clean eating is not a myth, he just didn’t get the point!
        And where the hell is a the problem with cutting back refined sugar? It’s sooo easy to do this and it’s good to do it.
        Also clean eating is NOT a crazy diet! Your body gets finally everthing he needs. You do not cut back on carbs,protein or fat, you simply choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods. Guess he is just so against the whole thing, becaus he can’t cook or he is to lazy to do it. This is in my eyes the only “negative” side effekt, cooking real food takes more time than stepping in to Macc’s, but it will tast a million times better!!!
        by the way I’m from germany and clean eating is not a big thing over here. I did it with out knowing it. I started about 5 years ago and I never heard about clean eating doing this time. So you can call it what you want, I like to call it a healthy lifestyle.

        • Samantha says

          I don’t think he was attacking clean eating as in “trying to limit the consumption of chemical additives/pesticides/herbicides” etc. I think he meant “clean eating” as people describe it when they say “DON’T eat grains they’re unclean” (so you couldn’t make a loaf of bread at home because grains are unclean.

          By the way I agree that it’s a great idea to make most of your food yourself :)

        • Elle says

          You lost me at “fancy.” You are a troglodyte. By all means, continue eating the way you do. No one is policing your diet–quite the contrary.

          • PH says

            Seeing that Vic is in Germany, it’s likely that English is not his/her first language, so perhaps you should be a bit less biotchy about the spelling.

        • says

          Americans and people in general are very lazy. I would agree with you on clean eating. I cook almost everything I eat from scratch. Based on his writing voice he seems young but can cite references well. This a drawn out way of saying know what is in your food, eat what you like and if you are in good health according to your MD then keep going. Well rounded diet including cake and beer with exercise is the way to live. He is very general and this should not be seen as a resource but a concept of eating. I love to eat well as an athlete and know what foods make me good and what are filler although I do cycle very well if I eat marshmallow before the session. I am an endurance athlete so this would make sense.

      • Aaron De Cinque says

        The sickness is coming from people abusing dirty foods This article states that everything in moderation has no effect on your health. It’s simple! Stress is the number 1 factor in cancer and sickness!

      • Lisa says

        1-METHYLCYCLOPROPENE – Not food
        ASTAXANTHIN – Not food

        The list goes on and on…. This is what is making food DIRTY. It’s not about fat and sugary fruits; Our food is dirty because of the unnecessary ingredients, processing and packaging. And that crap WILL kill you.

        • Foodsci says

          Astaxanthin is found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, crustaceans-several things I eat.

        • Rt says

          What about dihydrogen monoxide? Is that good for you? Or (2R,3S,4R,5R)-2,3,4,5,6-Pentahydroxyhexanal? Also known as water and glucose? Everything you eat and everything at all is made of chemicals! Saying chemicals are bad for you is irrational. This article was good. He makes sense. Anyone who says differently doesn’t do science. They are getting their egos and biases get in the way of trying to develop an appreciable understanding of the facts.

    • Paraxu says

      Corellation, not causation!



      The holy trifecta of denying any positive effects of anything, i.e. how to stay a neckbeard for the rest of your life.

      Even if the author was 100% correct I would hate this article (and the author for writing it) because it’s something hipster vermin can quote to “prove” that discipline is inferior to a complete absence of analysis, willpower or direction.

      I can’t wait until a month goes by and everyone is sharing this article all over facebook while saying something about bacon.

  1. Amanda says

    I was nodding in agreement until the part where you grouped NDs in with voodoo chicken entrail readers. It’s a shame because you make some really good points.

    • says

      Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. That statement was harsh, but most naturopathic doctors spread a lot of pseudoscientific nonsense.

      Glad you liked the article as a whole.

      - Armi

      • Melissa says

        That comment about Naturopaths was not necessary for you to get your point across in this article and was rather unprofessional. For me, your credibility took a bit of a nose dive at that point. Not all Naturopaths completely reject conventional medical practices. In my opinion, for you to paint them/their methods as more or less equivalent to some “voodoo priest reading chicken entrails”, is a sort of fear mongering all its own… which is often what the “pseudoscience” is accused of doing.

        • says

          Melissa, you’re right that not all naturopaths or Alt Med doctors completely reject modern medicine. Many of them do, and either way that doesn’t excuse using pseudoscientific herbal cleanses/acupuncture/homeopathy and other nonsense in conjunction with practices that actually work.

          Maybe we can agree to disagree on this point. Thank for you sharing your thoughts.

          • Fabrice says

            Yeah, I agree with the comment you made. I know a “naturopath” in my town that had one of my friends eat no sugar whatsoever (if that is even possible?), no dairy, no gluten, no saturated fat, in an attempt to “cleanse” her body. It is no surprise that she came out of this “cleanse” actually feeling less healthy than when she started it. I am sure she “cleansed” herself of vital nutrients, if anything. Also, this dietary prescription came from a well trusted person with a PhD. It’s just really scary how either A.) ignorant some “well educated” people are or, B.) fraudulent some people are, in the sense that they are not misinformed and rather, very educated, yet, give poor dietary advice in full know of its uselessness/harm. Armi, thank you for this article, as this will be the place I forward them to whenever I get bombarded with questions about diet myths. As someone once told me: “You would make much more use of your time and efforts by not answering everyone’s questions directly, but rather, direct them to and give them the proper resources to find the information for themselves.”
            Hopefully you keep putting out useful information like this.
            Please, have yourself a wonderful day.


          • Mark Rose says

            This may not generalize to all Alt Med providers, but the majority of the ones I’ve met have been as rigid, dogmatic and categorical in their rejection of conventional medicine as they believe the Con Med establishment has been of them.

          • Sarah says

            Acupuncture is nonsense? I get we’re disscussing in relation to people, but tell that to my cat who was paralyzed until actupuncture helped him walk again after heavy anti inflammatories failed. Maybe a silly anecdote to some but animals don’t have the same psychosomatic potential for healing in such a situation as people. The only reason I tried it was because the best surgery could offer was less than a 30% chance of mobility plus lightening my bank account by $4000. I’ve seen acupuncture work in animals where surgeries fail in relation to paralysis. Even my allopathic vet agreed acupuncture was worth a try when I wasnt willing to put the poor animal through a surgery with such a chancey outcome & referred me to a holistic/naturopathic vet. That’s the only comment you made that I take issue with. Dismissing something out of hand that sounds like nonsense to you or has no basis in modern science is arrogant & narrow minded IMO. Even if it is a psychosomatic way of healing for some people & a last ditch effort for pain relief or whatever, that doesn’t make it nonsense. Maybe it shouldn’t be used while conventional medicine is overlooked but saying its complete nonsense is dismissing the people who’ve found help with such methods, not to mention the power of the nervous system & our skin & touch & pressure points, etc. Good naturopathic docs find a middle ground to help their patients who hold certain beliefs dear.

          • Diggs says

            You said, “that doesn’t excuse using pseudoscientific herbal cleanses/acupuncture/homeopathy and other nonsense in conjunction with practices that actually work.”

            Nonsense? Really? Many of these eastern practices have been around for thousands of years. Just because you think they’re nonsense doesn’t make them so. I think a few thousand years of results trump your opinions. And, while there are those out there that just spout off ideologies that are bunk and, other people fall for, doesn’t make the rest invalid.

  2. Tom says

    This article is disingenuous at best and completely false in other parts. There is plenty of evidence that certain foods or additives may cause deleterious health issues (*I only qualify this as ‘may’ because new research is always being done, but current evidence more than suggests my assertion). Hell, a quick search on Google scholar will provide plenty of peer reviewed studies on food and health.

    The author flat out lies when this is written:, “Research has never found red meat, or most other foods, to damage your health.” It took me 7 seconds to pull up research from the Archives of Internal Medicine on red meat: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1134845

    I’ll also take some of his “hippie” food groups as an example:

    HFCS (i.e. processed foods): http://epsl.asu.edu/ceru/Articles/CERU-0406-224-OWI.pdf

    Aspartame research in normal dietary levels: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1392232/

    BPA: While the jury is still out on just how much BPA leaches into food and how dangerous it is, there is evidence that workplace exposure to BPA has negative health effects. http://www.oxfordjournals.org/news/dep381.pdf

    I hate articles like this because whatever valid points the author may have are completely lost in the hyperbole and falsehoods.

    • RA says

      Did you examine and scrutinize the methodology of those studies you posted? Were the results reliable? What were the shortcomings? You realize that there are hundreds of PEER-REVIEWED STUDIES that simply fall short on a number of matters and the conclusion isn’t adequately supported, right? Posting a study and it making a conclusion doesn’t mean that conclusion is sound. Your whole post is based on the premise that a study is always right. There are studies that counter the same things you’ve posted. The job of the reader is to understand and scrutinize the study to determine which is more reliable. In that case, the fact that red meat is damaging to health is based on faulty methodology. They’re typically making links, that is, people who are unhealthy are typically eating red meat (this is shown in the study you linked) as well as questionnaires, which can be incredibly inaccurate. The study you linked possesses a few methodological shortcomings and many red-meat related studies possess these as well.

      • The truth says

        True, some might even advocate that the majority of research done is faulty. One of the pointers as to reliability is as simple as; Have other researchers been able to reproduce the results of the studies.

        One should also remember the everlasting question of cause-and-effect. What is the cause and what is the effect. And i for one advocate that there is no single truth to the effects of eating any type of food, there is a number of factors that play a role in how diseases come forth. So no single food will in its own cause any disease.

        If a person gets shot and dies, The cause of death would most likely not be the bullet, the cause would be blood loss. So being shot doesn’t kill you, loosing too much blood does.

        Eating a hamburger every now and then doesn’t kill you. Nor does it lead to you dying of cancer before the age of 40. Eating too much hamburgers, might kill you. but then you don’t die as a result of eating hamburgers. but as a resault of obiesity or overconsumption of food, which you might as well get from eating too much carrots or fish. Or as i already stated, drinking too much water.

        I did a quick study this summer, I researched the effects of eating ice cream on accidents with motorcycles.

        Now my study showed that an increase in consumption of ice cream caused and increase in motorcycle accidents and fatalities. Yet eating ice cream doesn’t cause people to crash their motorcycles, unless they eat it while driving..

        It’s simply a matter of an increase in ice cream consumption because of the increase in temperature and overall good weather.

        And the increase in people driving around on motorcycles, due to the same factors, weather and temperature.

        They are unrelated events, but if you but the graphs together you will see a correlation between the two. But it doesn’t mean ice cream kills motorcylce drivers…

          • Elliot says

            I just did a biology degree so I know how much reading and time it takes to actually do a good job at scrutinizing a study and its methodology for validity and reliability. For this very reason I am in no position to make a judgment on whether clean eating is a meaningful concept or not to be honest. All I can go on, and probably all most readers can go on is the statements you make, assuming you have referenced correctly without any bias. But that sounds too good to be true if you ask me

            if you are going to explain why a study or a group of studies is invalidated by some common factor such as inadequate sample size, you need elaborate. You haven’t really done that at all in your article and that is the most important thing you could actually do right? Elaborate on why certain studies are invalidated and others more rigorous? Getting closer to the truth? because that what all the readers are actually looking for.

            I would suggest in your next article you actually explain why your conclusions are valid and the many others invalid.

    • The Tincat says

      Tom expresses some of my concerns here.

      The article misconstrues a lot of information and comes across as sensationalism. Sorry that’s just my feeling here.

      It’s frustrating for a health professional like myself (Personal trainer, Nutritionist in Australia with various diplomas) because my job is giving out solid information which is only made more difficult with smoke and mirrors style writing like this around.

      This really seems like the author misinterpreted a bunch of information to create topics of concern that don’t exist and then wrote about them… It is quite confusing, frustrating and nonsensical all at the same time.

      I’ve had a client bring this article to me for scrutiny and it’s frustrating to think of all the people who will read this and then endanger their health.

      • says

        I agree. Some foods do provide more harm than good and should be limited or avoided entirely. We should focus on whole foods; particularly greens and other vegetables that create an alkaline state in your body tissue. A highly acidic diet can cause your body to store fat and create chronic inflammation which leads to illness and disease.Dr Robert Young, an advocate of the ALKALINE MOVEMENT talks about this.

      • HH says

        I understand your frustrations, and I get that this can be a tough concept to grasp. This is certainly a newer school of thought for many people that challenges a lot of traditional views of health and nutrition. But before jumping to conclusions I would encourage you to read the article again and to understand what Armi is really trying to say. The main point to take home is “the biggest problem with the idea of “clean eating” is that “clean” has no objective definition. Everyone believes different foods are “unclean.” This creates a problem as viewing foods as “clean” and “unclean” can be a very dangerous way to look at food with dangerous side effects. I have friends and clients who shelter themselves because they are terrified of food. they have convinced themselves that “unclean” dangerous food exists and they will not go out anymore due to this fear.

        Armi is certainly not encouraging only eating donuts, ice cream and protein powder to meet daily macro-nutrient goals. In fact, he is saying the opposite! he encourages everyone to look for whole, nutrient dense foods to make up the majority of their diet. His whole point revolves around the fear of food. For someone who meets micro-nutrient/mineral daily goals and has room in their macros for more food, a higher calorie, not as nutrient dense (ice cream) snack should be ok! towards the end of the article he even provides a checklist of questions to ask when wondering if a person should indulge in certain foods.

        I actually view this as a much healthier way to view food for what it truly is, energy. I feel spreading foods of “clean” and “unclean” nature can do much more harm to an uneducated group. people should be educated on different nutrient densities of food and energy balances. Not ‘magical’ “clean” and “unclean” foods..

  3. says

    There’s something about fast food that makes me cough up phlegm after eating it (about 10-15 minutes after finishing the meal). My body didn’t always react like that. It started when I was about 26. So now I avoid fast foods – burgers, fries, etc. It may not be scientific but I don’t like how my body reacts like that.

      • Gord Forwell says

        My wife and I, and even our young son, 15 years ago, noticed within about 20 minutes upon returning home from MacDonalds, we were fighting for the washroom…lol. We don’t eat there anymore.

    • Bilt Chamberlain says

      since i was young i could eat any type of burger except Burger king’s i had the same sick to my stomach feeling every time after about 15 minutes of eating it.. It definitely is scientific ,, your body works on a science and what you put in it alters enhance or destroys the science

      • Daniel says

        Me as well. I had Burger King once or twice as a child, liked it, then again as a young teen, felt sick, and tried it once more at perhaps sixteen… once again felt sick and have never tried it again. I’m not sure why, exactly. I can eat other hamburgers (although I try not to), but for some reason BK just makes me feel sick to my stomach. Too much Trans Fat, perhaps, or other unadvertised preservative chemical.

  4. says

    Another great article Armi. I love the point of making decisions about what you eat based on context. The thing I love most about your articles is that even though they are heavily evidence-based, you show that we must also use common sense when it comes to our health. There is no single “best way” or “worst way”. These are a continuum in which the extremes are never necessary.

    Keep them coming man!

  5. says

    Excellent writing and thorough research with logic and more objectiveness. Thank you, Armi. Same thing goes for exercise. Almost everything is commercialize rather than improving human health and performance based on sound science and learning.

    For your next blog, could you integrate culture and history with your topic on diet and lifestyle? Different cultures may have different foods, but these are the food that helped these civilizations survive and even flourish for centuries.

    • Doc says

      I wouldn’t say the research is thorough, but what was researched is well done.
      There are a lot of false claims in this article.
      As a studying Doctor however, I rate this article high!! Very well done.
      There is a lot of research, and real life data, which ismore important, to substantiate the fact that a calorie is not a calorie, in that real food has an entirely different hormonal and overall physiological effect than pure isolated chemicals. Also, enriched foods do not come close to the overall power of a plant in it’s whole form.

      That said, the overall point of the article, was very good. Get rid of this GOOD and BAD food idea.
      Here are my general suggestions.

      NO RULES. It just reinforces negative habits.
      EAT WHOLE FOODS. Can’t stress this enough. Real food is where it’s at.
      LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Even if you ‘want’ cake, I wouldn’t deny that. With the same respect, learn to teach your body what other foods offer the same ‘sought after’ nutrient(s) it’s looking for in that cake. And by all means, stop when its not satisfying. Don’t just eat to eat.

      • Shannon says

        Not sure you body is craving NUTRIENTS when you want cake! More like a carbohydrate addiction, or sugar craving. What nutrients can you find in over processed/bleached white flour, sugar, shortening, etc. Only the eggs offer some nutrients. The point I am making is that if you WANT cake, it is a mental desire, not a nutritional one. Which is why people typically overeat these types of useless foods………..to satisfy a mental need, not a physical nutritional need.

      • Kerry says

        By talking about “real” food (as opposed to what, “fake” food?) you’re falling into the same trap as people talking about “clean” and “unclean” food, promoting an ill-defined distinction as if it’s an important rule.

        Do artificial ingredients make food less “real”? Simply by being “artificial”, as if there is some bad-magic taint that comes from something not being “natural”? No need to consider the particular artificial ingredients in question, just “natural = good, artificial = bad” will do?

        Does “processing”make food less “real”? Aren’t chopping, boiling, and baking “processes” just as much as anything that might happen in a factory? What about “processing” can possibly be bad, in general, without consider each particular process on its own merits?

  6. says

    Thanks for your time you spent creating this article.. I agree with approximately 1/4 & disagree with about 3/4 of your points.. or at least the way you make them.. As one of the busiest “One on One” trainers in the world; selling & servicing over 32,000 sessions at $100 per session in my private “Body Transformation center here in Chicago… I have learned alot about Cardio, Resistance Training, Nutrition, Mindset & Social Support strategies for Health & gaining muscle & losing fat for the average Jane & John Doe.. For those individuals to consider your point that even considering to take in 20% of calories in the form of sugar is absurd.. I guarantee for athletes like myself.. ( I am a Lifelong Drug free Pro Bodybuilder ) that need to stay around 8-10% BF year around & then bring BF levels down to 3-4% for short periods of time to compete that the quality of the calories is soo very important.. It seems to me that in an attempt to stir the pot, piss people off, to get your name & info out more.. Guys like you & Layne put out info (that most likely has some good take aways) that seems a little “Off” to me.. The main point that I hear from your article that I disagree with is that “as long as someone stays within their Macro’s; Meaning a certain # of Calories of Fat’s, Proteins & Carbs; they will hit their goals.. Meaning Quantity of Calories is More Important than Quality.. This notion is absurd in my opinion when it comes to “Jane & John Doe’s” trying to Exercise to lose Bellyfat & attempting to get Healthy & Energetic..

      • Julianna Leach says

        I agree too! Way off base, our body knows how to use “real food” than junk food so we can have a better overall health and trim body!

        • Red VonMunster says

          Prove it. Show some hard scientific data that clean eating is better than anything else? You won’t be able to.

          • Mick says

            You can listen to your body. If you felt like absolute shit every time you ate something, but the science said it was ok, would you keep doing it?

            There’s a big difference in how you feel between having a good organic stew and a burger from maccas. I love science, but you gotta make up your own mind at some point.

          • Rebecca says

            Actually, eating a diet full of junk food – even if it is within your kcal needs – does not benefit you at all. You will not obtain all of the vitamins and minerals that are needed to facilitate the various chemical reactions in the body.

    • Liam Neeson says


      You’ve obviously mistaken this for a d*ck measuring competition. I’m happy to hear that your 32000 sessions at $100 per session (by the way, the most irrelevant information I’ve ever read, but nonetheless a very interesting way to debate a logical scientific argument) has worked for you, and I’m glad that you learnt about cardio, Resistance Training, Nutrition, Mindset & Social Support strategies and everything else your business has taught you. However, it seems that you missed out on learning about tact, and humility.

      I also see that you’re a pro drug whatever bodybuilder who stays at 8-10% bodyfat and competes at 3-4%. Good to hear. I DON’T GIVE A FUCK. I’m sorry to say that nobody except you actually cares about that.

      There is no logic in your argument. If you bothered to actually step the fuck out of your tiny little box and learn something, you might get a little surprise. You might find that your old school hardcore clean eating bodybuilder methods are actually unsustainable for the average Jane and John Doe. No doubt you don’t actually agree with that. You probably guilt your clients into eating boiled chicken and broccoli, and for a “tasty change” you might offer them a low calorie sauce. Why don’t you actually study the whole picture before you make such an ignorant comment?

      Look at the end of the day, it’s only food and it’s for a clear goal of body composition and in some cases it’s for a bodybuilding competition. So I don’t really care if you push that angle as a short term solution. But based on your egotistical comments above, I truly doubt that you stop there. You probably act all superior and make your clients kiss your ass before you train them. You genuinely sound like a c*nt. There I said it.

      Stick with your bro ways, and I hope for your sake that your penis grows from sticking to such a hardcore diet. Meanwhile, I’ll be having a small piece of chocolate cake because my metabolic capacity can handle it, because I don’t always eat like a pig and because it does fit my fucking macros.

      You sir, have pissed me right the fuck off.

      Take your Godzilla sized ego elsewhere… and Chris, if you can’t tell – I 100% DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS IDIOT.

      • Batman says

        It’s funny how only the people who ~don’t~ understand the scientific method are unwilling to open their minds to new information. People want a neat and easy guideline for life and take past advice as gospel because they heard it over and over (so you know it must be true). If there’s any guideline to life – it’s understand science.

        Armi – wicked article. Keep doing your thing.

      • Kevin says

        I agree with you 100%. Although I don’t like chocolate cake, I do have a little addiction to ice cream. But since I don’t gorge on an entire tub it works for me, and lots of other people I know too. I am glad I learned all this useless info about Darin though, and even more so that I got to read your retort.

      • Mark Rose says

        Liam, I’m in awe of the most righteous smackdown in recent memory. Chocolate cake is great, but THIS was DELICIOUS!!

      • Grant says

        Well said Liam, Darin your a douchebag, you proved it, 32,000 sessions at $100 each, what do you want a medal or something?

        You carry 8-10% and drop down to 3-4%, ya you and your bro hood, 99.9% of people do dont that, dont want to do that, and even if they did couldnt sustaine that, because we actually have a life.

        Armi you hit the nail on the head man.

        Do you want me to tell you what the problem is?

        People want easy, they dont want to count any calories, they dont want to be accountable, everybody wants a quick fix, well guess what, there isnt one, and because people like Armi, JC, Alan, Lyle, etc say it, then they get shit on.

        All people want to hear is what they want to hear. if somebody says something they dont believe in then they get all worked up because somebody doesnt agree with them.

        6 meals, 2 meals, 3 meals, 1 meal, morning, night, evening, all salads, no salads, etc, etc. There are many ways to skin a cat, stop trying to lump everybody together.

        Grow up people, eat foods that grow/run, or swim, MOSTLY (just my opinion, not gospel) and then top yourself off with some SHIT that you enjoy, because you did a hard workout today and you deserve it.

        Anyway Armi, keep up the good work


    • Arnold Schwarzenegger says

      Darin, you sound like the typical Jersey Shore trainerboy who’s more concerned with the salary your clients are giving you than the advice and help you’re giving them.

      Like the guy above said, this sounds to me like you’re taking this as a schlong measuring contest because you feel challenged and that maybe your ways are incorrect. Instead of being open minded with things, you become defensive and state everything is flat out wrong BECAUSE you have 32,000 clients (sure ya do, Darin), despite the fact you have no factual claims or research to back it up while there’s a hundred references right here in front of your face telling you that you’re flat out full of shit.

    • Bone says


      Congratulations on training over 100 people per day, 6 days a week, every week of the year! If your secret sauce diet really is a magic pill I hope it can counteract your absurdly sleep deprived lifestyle.

    • Level Head says


      I COMPLETELY AGREE with you. Some people here sound seriously bi-polar.

      Quality of calories matters intensely. Counting calories regardless of where they come from is so 1970.

    • Tony says

      Darin, I would agree with you to a certain extent but I have found through trial and error that if I’m willing to consume 90% of my daily intake of food in being filled with nutrients, (Macronutrients and Micronutrients: fiber content, vitamins a, c, iron, potassium, and so on) and 10% of what I crave on that day, I never have to deal with a “cheat meal” and I feel as if mentally i’m not on a diet. With clean eating and strict dieting, I never wanted to go out to lunch or dinner with my family or anyone else without having to feel terrible the rest of the night that I have “cheated”. I also did not have an enjoyable social life at the time, even though I have a passion for bodybuilding, I needed to be 100% mentally and physically everyday.

      Don’t get me wrong, you do what you enjoy doing AND YES, quality of a calorie matters to a certain extent. But I ask you to research the lifestyle of “Flexible Dieting” and tell me that there is a “bad” food source. When I tell people I flexible diet, they say that your body is going to adapt to it, but as long as you’re in a deficit for fat loss or a surplus for muscle building (& fat gain), hitting your macronutrients AND getting an efficient amount of micronutrients into your body, I don’t see what is wrong with eating flexibly.

      Now to this article I can say that the only “bad” calorie is the “4th Macronutrient” known as Alcohol. Enjoy it in moderation though ;)

    • says

      I agree.

      And just because no one agrees doesn’t mean that clean eating doesn’t exist. That is faulty logic.

      Furthermore, all the crap you eat in your youth might not impact you now, but I guarantee you’ll regret it when you’re 45. The wisdom of this reality is lost on the young, but it is truth nonetheless.

    • Kathleen Flier says

      Darin, as a fellow Trainer who is also an over-eater, while I appreciate what this gentlemen is trying to say, I would have to agree with where you are coming from . A calorie most certainly is not just a calorie. And, more importantly, no attention was given to the people with eating issues, that while its nice to say, “if you want some cake, go ahead and have a slice” might work for some, for the person with an eating problem, that is like saying “if you really feel like a shot of heroin, go ahead and have one hit”. It doesn’t always work. Plus there is an addictive quality to some of these less nutrient dense foods. I wholeheartedly agree with your concept and try to work with my clients to think about what they eat and how they might be able to enjoy the “fun foods” within their lives. But, it is not simply a 1, 2, 3 program for many.

    • bill says

      Thank you for this comment. 100% agree, this article is rife with misinformation, or information that was not properly understood from certain research findings.

    • Avid Thinker says

      A few points…

      A. You have over 32,000 sessions and your one of the busiest trainers in the world. Which tells the average reader that you are far to busy to actually care for the people you train on a one-one basis and the $$ is more important since you threw it out there for us to know.

      B. At the end you of your statement you said “This notion is absurd in my opinion when it comes to “Jane & John Doe’s” trying to Exercise to lose Bellyfat & attempting to get Healthy & Energetic..”

      So you are the only person in the world that can actually spot reduce body fat by exercise targeting specifically the “belly” area? Or is this one of your advanced personal trainer sayings ? Sounds like something a PT from a chain gym would say !

      C. You can hit all your required micro vitamins by eating “quality” calories from green vegetables, fruit and even supplement it. You can still have room for a desired treat as long as it falls within your given limits. Which does not mean consuming 20% of your calories from just Sugar as you mentioned.

      D. O

      • Avid Thinker says

        D. Oh and If you think you have to stay at 6-8% body fat all year long to compete in all natural federations then you are either out of your mind or a liar. Please look up some all natural pro bodybuilders on google they have off seasons just like everyone else in order to build muscle and strength they go on a caloric surplus for periods of time then they slowly go into deficits months before shows !!

    • Denver says

      The message repeated in this article, to me, is this: Eat whatever you want, HFCS, transfats, artificial sweetners, fast food & whatever else you’ve been told to avoid, just do it in moderation. That’s a license for people to keep doing what they’re doing, just “moderately”. This is dangerous advice. I recommend lifestyle changes, changes in priorities & phiolosophies first: clean eating, proper, moderate, progressive exercise that is not forced or harmful & sound sleep, time to relax & play, socialization, etc. Then once you’ve reached or are approaching your goals, whether it be functional fitness, weight loss/gain, controlling/lessening disease symptoms or even reversing/curing illness, then add in your favorite crap foods once a month or every 2 weeks. But not once a day, which to some people is “moderate”.

      Also, can we agree there’s a huge difference, for one example, between CAFO beef full of a wide array of drugs from unhappy/unhealthy cows vs happy, healthy free range grass fed ones? The majority of studies on meat/fish are using commercial low quality samples, thus it doesn’t neccesarily accurately apply to someone like me or “my peoples” who eat & live clean like I do.

      Your article reeks of relativism posing as common sense logic.

      And btw, fwiw, yes, there’s tons of scientific & anecdotal proof that processed foods vs foods in their whole form, contain less nutrients & cause health problems when consumed en mass over time.

    • Chris says

      Wow Darin,

      I guess your response is NOT surprising as you are EXACTLY one of the quoted contributing professionals this article criticises for creating this FEAR in people to perpetuate your own income.

      I am pleased at least that you wrap up your article with “IN MY OPINION” as your closing statement about an article that references FACTS and STUDIES.

      Your opinion is worthless, especially when the example you give goes against the main principle stated in this article over and over again – COMMON SENSE. Each example you give as to where the authors argument falls down can be addressed with the “Use Common Sense” Argument. Heroin use…. seriously, common sense. 20% of dietary calories from pure sugar, yes that example was given in the article, but it was also clearly stated that no one WOULD do this, it is just possible, common sense would keep anyone from doing that.

      This article is just trying to get people to see that it is not food itself that is evil, but the misuse of food (or anything for that matter, say, maybe Heroin?) that has bad results. If you are extremely active (which I am guessing a huge portion of your client base is NOT) then massive amounts of calories are required to support that activity. To the extent that yes, you may even have to eat some sugary foods to get there. If you are extremely sedentary, then you are going to have to concentrate more on foods that will meet your nutritional needs BEFORE turning to sugars etc. COMMON SENSE.

      Good Luck in your search for some…..

  7. says

    Well played Armi.

    I can already hear people go: “Well, I know for a fact certain foods make you fat or unhealthy, because when I eat X, Y or Z my tummy hurts and I gain weight. Therefore, you are wrong.”

    Also, the last sentence should probably be: “If you’re tired of being told that the only way to be healthy or lean is to demonize or avoid certain foods, please avoid Facebook at all costs.”

    Keep up the excellent work :)

    • Cristinal says

      I agree same here when I eat certain foods as for example fast foods I feel bloated and gain water weight very easily. The only thing I do agree is that is true we can have a treat and will not mess up our process depending how much we ate.

  8. Jessica says

    To Darin, the trainer from Chicago. I live in the loop and I’ve never heard of you. I don’t see why you stating how much you earn or how many clients you have is relevant? And I still don’t see your point as you didn’t provide a valid argument except for pointing the finger. So what exactly is your point? You don’t agree? Well do you not agree because you don’t want your 32,000 clients to stop paying you? Or because you really took the time to chew on the words and understand this point of view? You wrote a novel about how “important” you are, yet left out your own scientific research and background of education.

    It seems that the people like you are the ones who are causing people to have disordered eating and those who don’t understand how to make food choices on their own without feeling ridiculed.

    May I suggest you take some time to educate yourself properly. Anyone can be a salesman, but it takes a person with real integrity to stand up and admit that maybe they’re not 100% right or that they haven’t been doing things properly.

    Just some food for thought.

    I myself have a background in Biology and Kinesiology and SOME nutrition. So just because I know a little about nutrition, does that mean I’m going to tell people what to eat or what NOT to eat? That is out of my scope of practice and out of many “trainers” scope of practice. So throughout the years I’ve listened to colleagues, friends, and “gurus” tell us all that clean eating is the best way and the only way to successfully be healthy and have a decent physique. So now as I’m taking a step back and really looking into the science and going back to my roots from my college studies, I am learning a lot. I’m also learning that it’s extremely hard to break away from those old thoughts and beliefs about clean eating and that I shouldn’t ever have a Dorito or 5. But as I’m working on this I’m realizing that every day I get one step closer to actually increasing my athletic performance as well as gaining back my sanity.

    Thank you, Armi for this well laid out article.

  9. Yang says

    Unfortunately, unlike how this article suggests that there are no ‘bad’ foods. There are.

    Foods with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. While the WHO and F&B Authorities claim that the infinitesimal amounts used do not have any lasting bad effect on the human physiology; it has been proven that these chemicals is large quantities are bad for health. And because every person’s dietary resistance is different, the person who downs 20 bottles of Diet Soda may not actually be as safe as she muses.

    Sugar. It has been proven that sugar causes brain damage in young adolescents (because it breaks the neuro-synapses that are forming. And while again, no lasting negative effects found in adults, there has been curious studies into sugar affects the human body. The “sugar highs” and devastating lows are some known side-effects. Also, energy absorption is high in pure sugar and definitely not recommended for ADHD.

    Soybeans. Recent studies have shown that while soybeans have some good effects, in the older strata of people, it has been known to cause dementia

    These are just a few points. I hope more research would be done before writing such an article. Quoting George Orwell, doesn’t seem like a good way to get anywhere.

    • CheesyBread says

      I’m gonna be blunt and skip the pleasantries. I have to disagree slightly with your points; Here’s why:

      1. Anyone drinking 20 bottles of Diet Soda in a day is gonna have problems, I don’t even think you can down 20 bottles of water in a day and not have problems. Yes, Aspartame is bad, but as stated in the article, the author explicitly and repeatedly (i’m emphasizing repeatedly) states, it’s about context and the amount you take in. I’m not saying over long term it won’t have problems, but if you consumed 20 bottles of Diet Soda in a year versus a matter of days and did so consistently then you’re bound to have problems. So again, it’s not about the food being bad, it’s bad because it’s the amount you take in over a certain time. Also, you’ve even stated:

      “it has been proven that these chemicals is large quantities are bad for health.” If you meant they are bad in large quantities then i’m sure the author agrees with you, as do I. However, he’s stated that in his article, he’s stated that very point and i’ve stated it in my response and i’m restating it with this paragraph. It’s the amount you take in, how often you take it in and the consistency. Do you drink Diet Soda daily, multiple times and have a poor deficient nutritional scheme going ? very different effect.

      I don’t even understand why you made your point about sugar after reading the article and thinking about….wait…ready for this ? the consistency, context and quantity someone is ingesting it. I understand and agree with the ADHD bit and you express that “curious” studies have been taken. That’s fine, but until it comes out as a real study and people have “really” been impacted by it in such a way that was negative, then we can’t count on curious studies alone.

      Again, it’s not the foods that’s bad from your post, it’s the quantity you ingest and how often you do it. Big difference between eating large packs of cookies every day, for 10 days versus 1 large pack of cookies over the course of 2-3 weeks.


  10. says

    I really enjoyed the approach to the topic. You put into words many of the things I try to teach my clients and friends. At the end of the day all food is good in my opinion as it provides energy to live life. I will be using this article to share with anyone who brings up the topic of dieting. Well done.

  11. John says

    Interesting article, but disagree with most of it. I can certainly see that in the society we live in that junk foods are all around us, and at times it may be socially unacceptable to refuse food (at a party, wedding, etc), because of your nutritional beliefs. I also accept that demonising certain groups of foods can lead to paranoia that does not lead to success when trying to improve performance or lose weight.

    You should probably all read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston Price to gain some insight into what eating modern, western foods do to groups of people that have little to no exposure to them. If, as the author says, clean eating is a myth, then when an aboriginal group switches from their ancestral diet to a western diet there should be no noticeable change in their health, yes? This is not what happens.

    Ben and Jerry’s, Margarine, and other junk are not readily available in nature, so why would you eat them? Just because they are available? The same logic goes for something like a back squat versus a leg press. The quads and hamstrings never work in isolation, so why would you want to train them in isolation? Because someone built a machine that lets you?

    Also, if there is no difference between the quality of food of either junk or “clean” food, then the overall health of the populace should be roughly the same, should it not? This is obviously not the case, as the statistics on obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer clearly show.

    This quote also takes the cake, literally. “There is also no evidence that certain foods will accelerate fat loss at the same calorie intake, or that other foods will slow down or prevent fat loss. You could eat 43% of your calories from table sugar and still lose just as much fat as someone who only consumed 4% of their calories from sugar.92″

    Yes, eat 43% of your calories from sugar and you may well lose weight, but you may also have a one way ticket to Diabetes central.

    • Rhiannah says

      John, you state:
      “You should probably all read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston Price to gain some insight into what eating modern, western foods do to groups of people that have little to no exposure to them. If, as the author says, clean eating is a myth, then when an aboriginal group switches from their ancestral diet to a western diet there should be no noticeable change in their health, yes? This is not what happens.”

      As a molecular and micro-biologist I can see where this assumption goes wrong. Due to genetic make-up and, more importantly, the microflora inside someones’ intestines, dangers of foods cannot be determined by comparing different racial groups. A couple of decades ago there was a big hype in so called “macrobiotica” in which people stuck to a very specific diet. This diet was designed by a Japanese man and although it worked well in Japan, people who followed the diet here in Western Europe got really ill; some women even stopped menstruating. Why? Because people born and raised in Japan have a completely different bacterial lay-out in their intestine than we do, meaning they digest their food in a completely different manner (as gut bacteria are the first and foremost important factor in nutritional uptake by the body). Putting Aboriginals on a Western diet, will make them just as ill as the Western people will when you put them on an aboriginal diet.

      The main important thing in food is, like with many things, moderation. Of course you will be ill if you only eat McDonald’s every day, but then eating only rice will also leave you with nutrient deficiency. There is a term called Rabbit Starvation which is a form of acute malnutrition caused by the overconsumption of lean meats. Does this mean those meats are unhealthy? Of course not; but they need to be ingested in moderation.

      Armi does not state that people can just binge on junk food and cake. He is stating that a slice of cake or a burger during a long trip home, is not going to kill you. Just as living solely on lean meats/ solely on fruit/ solely on anything will make you very ill, so will living solely on junk food. But there is the clue; moderation, and as long as you keep to moderation, little to no food is so unhealthy you should never ever eat it.

    • Ashley Mayer-Liotta, NMD, CSCS says


      I read your “about me” and I need to say thank you first and foremost for sharing your journey with readers. What I read was very personal to me, and I appreciate what you stand for and your wish to encourage and motivate others.

      With regards to this article, I have mixed feelings. I totally agree with the whole notion that different “diets” swear off “bad” foods, though in reality paleo people not eating carbohydrates or vegetarians not consuming meat doesn’t mean carbs or meats are bad, just simply means the person chooses for whatever reason that it is not in their best interest to eat them. I personally feel that carbohydrates and meat are very important, physiologically speaking. Everything (whole foods) in moderation is the point I understood you making.

      I also enjoyed the part about how red meat/omega 6 does not cause heart disease. Though it may not cause heart disease, a person with risk factors for heat disease (say an elevated CRPhs, overweight, etc) probably should not consume much red meat, even though they have not been “formally diagnosed with a disease” like you stated.

      And well, I must agree with John with regards to everything he stated. People are enjoying most synthetic “bad” foods only because technology and chemistry have made them. And I’ll plug dairy here too… You mine as well call dairy synthetic now (pasteurization kills everything nature intended) as well as many grains, veggies and fruits which are now genetically modified. Now there may be limited research on GMO, as Monsanto has his hands in very deep pockets, but I have a problem eating “round-up ready soybeans” or a fruit containing a gene of an animal?

      I must say I used to write with your passion and charisma, all that I cared about were my own opinions (most cited research is garbage). What I learned: I won’t win many friends, but create many enemies. The “acupuncturists, naturopaths (board certified), and homeopaths” of the world are more likely to be on your side of the fence, and most of them with sound merit.

      • Friend of Armi says

        Well Ashley, if it’s any consolation to you, I don’t trust any blogger who IS supported by naturopaths and homeopaths. So, there’s that.

  12. says

    “Vegans believe meat is toxic and gives you cancer.”

    wow, i did not realise that i believed this about meat – thank you for your unbiased & thorough research. Lines like this really help me take your writing seriously

  13. Beth says

    very sad article..not sure if you truly get the concept of Clean Eating….& avoiding illnesses & cancers. Looks like you need to just go buy you a box of ice creams bar. :(

    • Joshua says

      Tell that to my grandmother who has cancer and has been a vegetarian her whole life. Yes you can get cancer from not eating certain foods, just as you can have health problems from eating certain foods. There isn’t clean food…try defining that. How do you not get the point of this article? Moderation plus vitamins and nutrients = balanced diet.

  14. steve fury says

    im sorry but this is the biggest load of crap ive ever heard and most of it is not even true. if clean eating was such a myth then how come thousands of ppl are doing and seeing great results in health and physical looks. and there is tons of research to show otherwise that there is food that is bad for you. i know from experience what bad food has done to my body and my life

      • Richard Wagner says

        Most people are confused by “weight loss”. The quickest way to lose “20lbs” is to chop an arm off. Just because the professor lost weight rapidly does not mean it was 100% fat. With a weight loss reduction of that speed it’s very likely he had a vast reduction in muscle capacity as well. They also did a fine job of ignoring fit tests; was he more fit before or after? Was he strong or weaker? That’s piss-poor science to me.

        Clean eating does work. 99% of people that disagree tend to not be fit. Now, completely avoiding cake or sweets doesn’t necessarily make sense, but eating predominantly healthy fruits, meats and vegetables is the best way to go because those foods tend to be self regulating as in, it’s very easy to drink 10 cans of soda or eat 10 twinkies but most people will stop eating apples or more nutritious foods.

        Unfortunately for this article, all it does is serve as an excuse for fat or lazy people to point out how awesome they are because they didn’t try to exercise and be fit; but that’s okay.

        • says

          Just because the professor lost weight rapidly does not mean it was 100% fat. With a weight loss reduction of that speed it’s very likely he had a vast reduction in muscle capacity as well. They also did a fine job of ignoring fit tests; was he more fit before or after? Was he strong or weaker? That’s piss-poor science to me.

          Agreed. Anecdotes and personal opinions that lack supporting controlled evidence are poor science.

          Clean eating does work. 99% of people that disagree tend to not be fit.

          Define “clean eating.” Did you consider that people who are interested in “clean eating” also tend to be more interested in their health, exercise more, watch their food intake, and practice a number of other behaviors that also improve their health and fitness?

          Now, completely avoiding cake or sweets doesn’t necessarily make sense, but eating predominantly healthy fruits, meats and vegetables is the best way to go because those foods tend to be self regulating as in, it’s very easy to drink 10 cans of soda or eat 10 twinkies but most people will stop eating apples or more nutritious foods.

          I completely agree, which is why I wrote the article.

          Unfortunately for this article, all it does is serve as an excuse for fat or lazy people to point out how awesome they are because they didn’t try to exercise and be fit; but that’s okay.

          If you completely miss the point and selectively read what you want the article to say, then yes.

          • Richard Wagner says


            I think you misunderstood what I mean with your article. So far, most of the comments I read are of people celebrating how smart they are for eating crappy food and how stupid others are for trying to change their dietary habits.

            Clean Eating, as you suggest, varies wildly by definition. If there was a way to better describe the most effective dietary routine, I would call it “Managed processed Carbohydrate consumption”. Carbohydrates have their place for high intensity exercise, but it is not necessarily needed in the modern world. Sedentary individuals don’t need to be carb loading because their bodies have no need for it, thus these bad carbohydrate habits lead to even worse habits, including the forthcoming insulin spike and therefore need for energy drinks and loads of caffeine to stay awake. Nobody will die or get. Injured from the occasional Twinkie or cake slice, but unmanaged consumption WILL lead to some negative effect.

            Thus, my recommendation for sedentary individuals is a dietary habit more like Paleo, whereas athletes have a reason to consume carbohydrates.

            I do believe people that try to “eat clean” are more in touch with their health concerns and dietary habits which is what makes them more likely to be in good health. The problem here are the lazy folks that do nothing but look for excuses for why they eat so poorly and I believe that it is very easy for those people, of whom comprise of 80% of the commenters, to assume this article means eating like shit will produce no harm, which is not true.

            Lastly, caloric restriction is not the end all practice for fat-weight loss. Paleo dieters often trigger a metabolic change from sugar burner to fat burner with the reduced carbohydrate consumption and the effects of EPOC from the workouts regiments that come with Paleo dieting. However, modern methods for Paleo like diets suggest more cyclical diets, as in 2 days of healthy and managed processed carbohydrate consumption with one day of eating whatever you feel like to prevent excessive ketosis. The tens of thousands cross fitters are doing something right! And most I know enjoy processed carbs and manage that consumption well.

            My point was not to insult the article but those who use it as an excuse to eat poorly.

  15. Bilt Chamberlain says

    I think john pretty much destroyed the article, I hate internet commentators, half of the comments were about Darin when he just spoke his opinion like everyone else, As far as this article is.. FOOD is FOOD. but what you call food is the question, the chemicals for preservation alone effects the psychological process because of the hormones in the body. So though food doesnt make a direct correlation between weight and physique.. The processing of the food rather it be. factory or your digestive system process all have psychological effects on the person causing some type of imbalance that will manifest in the body. How about somebody spend their time eating greasy-cheesy hamburgers and another person eat a balanced diet for 2 months straight and we will see what the difference in health will be.. If you dont think there would be a difference in health regarding how the person eats then.. i feel bad for you and your goal your trying to obtain if you werent blessed with good genetics

  16. says

    This is a great article! The overall message here I think translates well to life in general. “Everyone in moderation”. If you don’t overdo any one thing then you’ll probably be just fine.

    • Denver says

      Define moderation, please! Eating synthetic sweeteners/chemicals/drugs in your food moderately but over time, has cumulative synergistic positive or deleterious effects! Judging by the health trends in our society. Yes/no? Moderation can/is, for many people, license to continue slowly hurting themselves with modern food & lifestyle.

  17. Steve says

    I guess you have to define what “food” is. Like you, I never understood the whole demonizing of things like dairy or red meat—things people have eaten for centuries. However, there are so many “foods” nowadays that are little more than just a few calories and nutrients pumped full of chemicals—chemicals that weren’t in our foods 50-100 years ago. You say no food is good or bad. But with all these preservatives, artificial flavorings, and other chemicals being introduced to our foods, at what point does a “food” become more than just a source of calories equally comparable with any other source, and become a source of potentially toxic chemicals? When it comes to gaining or losing weight, I agree that a calorie is a calorie. But you have to take into account the chemicals that are being added to our foods and the very real potential health risks they bring. If I eat a burger, or I eat a burger soaked in bleach, I get the same calories, but should I assume that the health effects of both burgers are going to be identical??

    • Grant says

      Well said Steve.

      Armi you make a lot of sense, and are very well researched, I would love it if you started to look into ultimate health as well as body composition and see what you find out?

      Thanks for the great site.


  18. Phil Goater says

    The writer seems to have written a piece based loosely on some science and given yes a lot of references, however you can find references for any point you wish to make on the Internet.
    The point should be if you can have a large number of references for any given point, something in the region of 100′s would certainly make a point slightly more valid.

    All the author is saying is IIFYM.
    Which in some ways does have certain logic, but not in the fact that you could eat up to 43% of your diet as sugar. If you have read anything about insulin or looked into insulin resistance this would quickly be dismissed as bullsh*t.

    Everyone should go and read what John suggested, plus also look into authors and trainers like Alex Ferontinos, Phil Learney and Ben Coomber. They are the guys really educating the masses and if you believe tripe like this you will probably just ignore my post, slag me off and say I don’t know what I’m talking about, just like the angry post after Darin’s comment where the author didn’t really say logical he just swore a lot and threw a tantrum.

    Fact is I know what I’m doing, get great results with my clients and this article lost me at the start when it said fat loss is ultimately about calories in vs calories out.
    If that was the case there would be no problem with dropping calories by 1000 and training all day – you would certainly lose weight to start with but very quickly you would slow your metabolism and after just a month of two you would probably stop losing body fat, and promote adrenal fatigue – in which case eating certain foods and drinking certain things sure as sh*t will be healthy for you – drinking liquorice tea as an example will lower the demand on your adrenals… Or increasing your intake of fresh sea food if you have thyroid problems will make a huge difference as the iodine is not used in the body in the production of thyroid hormones. Speaking of thyroid, if you eat A LOT of crucifers us vegetables you can slow your production of thyroid – therefore that can be bad for you.

    The only take away point from this that is valid is moderation.

    • Sienna says

      Agree completely. This article is completely bogus. Calories in vs. calories out is an already debunked myth if people would do the proper research. You can cure most ailments through dietary changes.

      • Certified Genius says

        How has calories in vs. calories out been debunked exactly? I’m going to need a source on that, please. As far as I know, you can lose weight eating nothing but cookies – that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily “good” for your body in the long-term, and you’re bound to develop some kind of malnutrition, but calories in vs. calories out is THE single most effective way to lose weight. Hell, I would go as far as to say it is the ONLY effective way to lose weight. So I’m calling bullshit, Sienna. Also, bullshit – you cannot cure “most” ailments through dietary changes, you may be able to manage SOME but I think it’s a far stretch to claim that you can “cure” most. I think the word you’re looking for is ‘treat’, because the word ‘cure’ in that context is total bullshit.

        You cannot “cure” cancer, you cannot “cure” polio, you cannot “cure” meningitis through dietary changes – you need medical treatment. My god, I hope you don’t illicit your advice to your friends, because they’re going to end up dead.

      • Julie says

        What? What kind of fantasy world are you living in? I’d like to see some citations for this outrageous claim.

        I think you can make some things worse, some things better, but cure?

        Either you are scientifically illiterate, or you know a LOT that I don’t know. Let’s have some evidence.

  19. Luke says

    If I eat a healthy, balanced diet, enjoy all food types in moderation, and excercise regularly. I will be a healthy person. Fact.

    The big problem with discussions about diet is, as Armi points out, everyone defines success in health and fitness differently.

    Life should be viewed in relative, not absolute terms.

    If you view public health, rather than individual health as a measure of health for a nation, then surely if tomorrow the overweight population exercised twice more in a week and ate a slightly more balanced diet, in relative terms they’d be healthier.

  20. Phil Goater says

    And it should be noted, that everybody is different.
    People have different requirements of nutrients, ie. they need different levels of each nutrient, vitamin etc for THEIR optimum health, this article is talking very broadly and seems to run with the governments RDA’s for saying people aren’t deficient.
    The RDA in the UK for instance for vitamin D is just 400iu per day, this was set at this level because this was the minimum amount that was noticed to stop Rickets. Stopping a disease is not healthy, that is just not in a diseased state!!!

  21. Chris Hess says

    I give this article a lot of credit. It goes into explaining the risk of overeating which is easier to do when you aren’t eating more filling low calorie foods. It also addresses different people have different caloric requirements based on activity levels, etc. My only issues with the IIFYM craze is a lot of people are just spitting out uneducated information about it saying things like “I am getting ripped eating waffles and oreos” What they don’t explain is they are eating 4-5 oreos not a sleeve of oreos. They should also be explaining it takes self control because if you sit down to have 4 cookies and have 15 cookies we have a problem. Another thing, a lot of the IIFYM’ers don’t explain is they ARE also still eating chicken, fish and vegetables however, they just want to talk about the oreos, pop tarts and pizza they eat. If you have someone who doesn’t know how to properly put together a balanced diet trying to lose weight and they hear a guy saying I eat all these “junk foods” (for lack of a better word) and I am ripped it could lead them down a terrible path. Most people in the general public don’t understand what macros are let alone how to calculate macros. IIFYM could be a great way for people to maintain a normal social lifestyle but I just wish people would spread the word more appropriately like this article has done. I also wish the IIFYM macros people would get off their soapboxes. IIFYM is one way of many ways to build a diet it’s not the ONLY way.

    • says

      Chris, I completely agree. Some people are taking IIFYM to absurd extremes and promoting it in a way that confuses and hampers people’s efforts. I’m writing another article to clarify the matter, and offer some suggestions for different ways to eat a “healthy” diet.

      • says

        Armi, I have some of the same concerns as chris. I think there’s a lot of room for this clean eating is a myth/scam message (and the IIFYM message) to get misinterpreted by people who dont have the background and thought process of guys like you, alan or JC. As someone who has contest prepped both 100% “clean” and including 10% or so pizza or whatever, both with success, Im onboard with what youre saying, and I wrote my piece on this a few years ago. But the IIFYM message is not being communicated well overall online; it’s being delivered with a lot of attitude, antagonism and even self-righteousness (ie, “here’s a picture of the cheescake I just ate – go ahead and keep eating your chicken and broccoli you idiot bodybuilders”) The name itself contains a presupposition of anything goes after your macros are met (which is why many people are preferring “flexible dieting). I think the response to these legitimate issues – concerns about food demonization, orthorexia and so on, has been reactive too far in the opposite direction. The message I try to send is that calorie quantity and calorie quality both matter, for weight management and health, respectively and the issue is finding the right balance, as well as promoting health and nutrition not just physique and weight loss. I’d like to see some discussion about that aspect – what is the right balance. some approach it from compliance rule point of view, others from get the essentials in place, then fill up the rest. But how much? Im eager to see your follow up.

  22. Jason Hartgrave says

    This is a strong, but interesting article, but I have trouble “digesting” it as full of truth. It seems to be an oversimplification of diet. I would challenge you to prove this position by taking the “soylent” challenge for a month or so similar to this and sharing your results.


    If what you say is true, only calories and basic nutrient intake are important making this an ideal solution to provide solid proof of concept.

    Also, what are your thoughts on http://www.Nusi.org?

  23. Sasha says

    Hi Armi! Just discovered your website and love your content/topics. I’m curious what your take is on things like “leaky gut” and “candida”??? I have both (long story but I took a massive round of antibiotics and it destroyed my stomach line, thus the leaky gut…and candida — which is an overgrowth caused from too much sugar and yeast — typically goes hand in hand with a leaky gut). When I have candida (which I typically get every few months like clockwork I’m guessing due to the fact that my gut lining is damaged) when I eat things high in sugar (fruits, chocolate, etc) and yeast (wine, breads, etc) and slays me and the pain is just unbearable. So clearly “clean eating” matters in my situation as I (literally) can’t stomach certain foods (i.e. gluten, fructose, etc). So what are your thoughts on clean eating as it pertains to leaky gut, candida, and other digestive conditions? Oh, and if you have any tips for either of these conditions, I’m all ears. I’m SO over dealing with certain things being off limits in fear it’s going to warrant massive stomach pain…I miss the days of being able to eat a large variety of foods with nothing being off limits….


    • says

      Hi Sasha, thanks for your kind comments.

      “Leaky gut” is still a fairly nebulous term, but it’s possible that for some people, some foods do cause an increase in intestinal permeability. Whether or not this has a large impact on health or subjective symptoms is still largely unknown.

      Regarding candida, there’s not much evidence that it’s as common as many people say, and it usually disappears with anti-fungal treatment. That’s something to talk to your doctor about.

      I do suggest thinking hard about whether or not your symptoms are caused by a real problem with your body, or mostly because you might expect to feel bad after eating these foods. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case, but it’s something worth thinking about.

      • Sasha says

        Thanks for responding with your thoughts on leaky gut and candida, Armi. I’ve been battling this stuff for about 18 months now (all thanks to 6 weeks of non-stop antibiotics). And I’d explore your suggestion of it being more “mental” or “a conditioned thing” if it weren’t for the adverse, immediate, painful reactions when eating certain foods. I’m talking hard-core stomach-cramping-kind-of-pain. And it’s never a “guilt” thing when I attempt to consume certain food groups. I’ve always been of the mentality that one can eat whatever they want…all in moderation…and shouldn’t restrict or villify specific food groups. So much so people used to tell me how annoying I was for subscribing to the whole “eat what you like, all in moderation” school of thinking. Would love to see a future article on your blog on the topic….

        I also welcome any/all comments on the topic of leaky gut and candida. (Or more specifically how to kick it so I can go back to eating the occasional slice of pizza or sugar-laden brownie ;)

  24. Sly says

    The one thing you didn’t mention is that while certain foods, such as diet soda, may not be “bad” in moderation, it has been proven that the chemicals in it are highly addictive. As addictive as cocaine in fact. This was proven in a study of mice with diet soda. I agree with most of your article but I feel that people should know that it is near impossible to eat/drink certain foods in moderation because of the addictive effects.

  25. Mike says

    There are some great points in this article and some things that this article completely misses entirely. First off just because you eat 50 calories of a food does not mean you will absorb all 50 calories. Not all macros are digested equally. Things like refined sugar are absorbed in the small intestine by direct transport across the cell membrane and trigger a release of insulin. Fats on the other hand require the release of bile and the formation of micelles to be transported into the cells of your body. The signals required to make these things happen are triggered by both the nervous system and hormones. The hormonal system of the body is a very sensitive system, and if you trigger it too much loses some of that sensitivity. That is basically how Type II diabetes works. Additionally, eating a diet high in fat can cause over production of bile or gallbladder failure.

    Another point completely missed is storage of calories. The human body is really good at converting sugars to fat, but not so good at converting protein to fat. Basically if you eat a lot of sugary foods, your body will very efficiently turn the excess calories to fat. However if you were to eat a lot of protein rich foods, your body would not absorb more protein than it needs, you will literally poop or pee out the excess protein.

    A third point skipped over is the regulation of appetite. You get hungry because of signals in your brain. These are controlled by both the nervous system and the endocrine system again. Things like Leptin, Ghrelin, Neuropeptide Y NYY and insulin to name a few make us feel full or hungry. Certain foods do a great job of triggering certain signal factors while other foods do a good job of triggering the other factors. So while yes a calorie of cake might equal a calorie of broccoli they will not fill you up the same. And as much as you think you can control your eating habits, the brain is much more powerful than you think.

    One last point I want to touch on is inflammation. Due to evolution the human body has developed mechanisms to convert a lot of chemicals to energy. Food wasn’t always in such a plentiful supply so the body adapted and became efficient. That said, the metabolism of certain foods cause the release of oxidants or free radicals. These have been proven to cause havoc in the body and kill cells. That is why it is advised to eat antioxidants to reduce free-radical formation in the body.

    While the premise of this article is good (all foods are ok in moderation) I think there is a lot of biased information covered and a lot of information left out. This is a perfect example of why you should always discuss with trained medical professionals instead of someone who has read a few scientific papers.

  26. Ashlee says

    WOW. I’m a fitness fanatic and I’ve been die hard Paleo for 9 months and this article was so moving I truly want to ease my way off of it. I’m getting my masters in nutrition (so yes, I should know better than to believe that dairy/grain/legumes are the devil) but this article provided exactly what I needed to hear to step away from 100% primal lifestyle. My body DOES feel better when I stick to Paleo, BUT this is so true that a cup of yogurt with breakfast or a cookie after dinner won’t impede with my macros. Thank you so much for such an eye opening article. Truly changed the way I see my diet in a matter of 10 minutes.

    • says

      The logic in this is based on opinion and outdated studies. There are enough shitty studies in the world to prove or disprove any point. Grabbing the ones that support your claim is just bias nonsense.

      I hate to say it, but this article is doing a disservice to those out there trying to lose weight and make themselves healthier. You are trying to say it’s ok to eat shit as long as you don’t overeat and this is pure bullshit. Assuming you over-eat foods is not myopic, that isn’t even half the point of clean eating recommendations. Certain ‘food’ is damaging to the body and it has been proven over and over in study after study as well as in thousands, maybe millions, of cases.

      Simple understanding of insulin, glucose, and the processes which dictate weight gain and loss in the human body is enough to dismantle your entire assertion. I wasn’t going to reply until I saw Ashlee’s comment. Poor thing. She found an excuse to go back to her shitty eating habits from this completely off-base bias article written by/for those that want an excuse to be lazy crap-eating slobs. You are doing a disservice to all that read this article and become even more confused than they already are.

      Cheap food destroys your health, the environment, and animal welfare. At the end of the day, food quality is what matters. Calorie intake is a moot point when eating the best food possible to satiety. Fat loss is NOT ultimately about calories in versus calories out.

      • Angelina R says

        I couldn’t agree with you more Colin. It saddens me that this article will be read by so many people who will feel they can now justify their poor eating habits. This article is seriously absurd to me. Full of absolute crap advice and stereotypes.

        • shawn says

          Agreed… this article is why we nearly 70% of people are overweight. Telling people that they can have their cake and eat it to is what people want to hear. It relinquishes responsibility and diminishes the severity of just how bad the quality of our food really is. The fact that a little bit of something won’t kill you is true, our bodies our amazing. I also might agree with the argument that no food is bad BUT trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, and any of the other man made garbage in our food supply IS NOT FOOD. Just because you can put something in your mouth, chew it up, and shit it out does not mean it is food. How anyone that works in the health and wellness field can call someone that promotes real whole food from the earth a quack is beyond my comprehension. If the rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and every other disease were not ridiculously high then this article may be a valid argument. But the rate are sky high so what do we blame these high rates on? Maybe we are sick sad and depressed from eating too “clean”.

      • AllergicToGlutenAndThisArticle says

        Agree so much with you Colin – this is a dangerous, poorly researched, generally really terrible article. Anyone with a basic understanding of how the body even works will realize that.

        Ashlee – don’t let a stupid article on the internet change your habits.

        • says

          To all of the above: feel free to cite existing research that proves the efficacy of whatever you consider “clean eating”. The fact of the matter is that people are not overweight because they consume dirty food, they’re overweight because they consume too much of it.

          If you’re in a caloric deficit, it does not matter what you eat, you will lose weight. This has been proven over and over again in tightly controlled metabolic ward studies, some of which Armi has written about extensively here on this site. Also, as an anecdote that I’m sure many others can relate to, I eat what you would consider “junk” on a daily basis, and I’m not overweight and my health has not been destroyed.

          Collin: you seem to have a superiority complex, evident by the way you describe those who eat what they want. Also, if you think glucose and insulin are of huge important in weight gain/loss, I highly suggest you read James Krieger’s series on insulin. And, you say that calories in vs. calories out is not the main determinant of fat loss, and you suggest that there are thousands of studies to prove your point about clean eating, yet you didn’t post one of them? And, you weren’t specific when discussing the “outdated” studies that you referred to. Your argument is not looking too strong, my friend.


          • Martin says

            100 % with you Jake. I can’t believe how people can be so stupid. It makes me wanna cry!

            One of the best articles of the topic!

          • Richard Wagner says


            You are contradicting yourself via your website. Carbohydrate back loading is a wildly successful dietary routine for packing on muscle and burning fat which supports that which I believe Collin was getting at, minus the need for all the insults shooting all over the place in this discussion.

            To say that creating a caloric deficit to up induce weight loss is just not logical, because there is a huge difference between weight loss and fat weight loss. Caloric deficits only works for so long until the body re-adjusts its metabolism and stores calories as fat when you eat beyond your means. You cannot continuously do so without sacrificing lean muscle mass.

            By the way, the father of all the carb back loading is not John Kiefer, but rather Rob Faigin, writer of Natural Hormonal health so many years ago it hurts. Nobody yet has written a more complete book on health and fitness and there is nobody on this planet that has yet cited more sources than Rob about optimal eating habits and exercise routines. Spend the $50 on his book and give it a read. It is the best book for health and wellness knowledge without fail. John Kiefer pretty much robbed Rob Faigin of his research, much like Edison did to Tesla.

            Of note, I am also a firm practicer of the carb back loading way and am fit, but I am also aware that calories in vs. calories out does not define weigt loss. Rob Faigin will give you thousands of sources to cite otherwise, because he already did all the research of course! His shit works and everyone that tries it is amazed by the accuracy.

            Ironically, I think you and Collin have a lot in common.

          • says


            Not sure where I’m contradicting myself. Of course, my writing has changed dramatically, as have my views on nutrition in general. I still recommend Carb Backloading via my website because it gave me great results, and I’ve found that it’s a practical way to eat considering many people enjoy eating a boatload of carbs post workout.

            However, as I have mentioned in some of my more recent posts, I don’t think the science behind CBL is quite as sound as Kiefer likes to think. There’s nothing magical about eating carbs post workout when compared to eating the same amount of carbs spread throughout the day. I will admit that the diet is a lot of fun, which is why I still recommend that people look into it if it happens to fit their preferences.

            You said: “To say that creating a caloric deficit to up induce weight loss is just not logical, because there is a huge difference between weight loss and fat weight loss. Caloric deficits only works for so long until the body re-adjusts its metabolism and stores calories as fat when you eat beyond your means.”

            Yes, there are adaptations when the body drops to a lower weight, which is completely normal. However, to say that this drop in metabolic rate is so significant that it will cause weight gain is silly and not backed by any research. In fact, Armi did an excellent podcast on the topic, you should check it out.

            The fact still stands: you must create a caloric deficit to lose body fat. No matter how you create this deficit, it has to happen. CBL nor any other dieting protocol can bypass this.


      • Angelica says

        I do believe in clean eating !! Been training since 3 years and i lost weight; and also gained weight by poor diet , even if i was lifting 7 days a week ! The most horrible part of my life is that i should not jump on the scale and measure myself daily for results, BUT my goal should be “go to the gym daily”. Results come so slow that i sometime wondering if i will ever lose my extra fat ( and i am not even close to being fit ) ! I lift heavier then any girl in my gym and i am one of the fattest girls in the gym ! Thus all i must do is regulate my diet ! without it , all my efforts go down the drain! High protein diet had also downsides – the ammonia smell when sweating shows me i train so hard that my body starts burning protein for energy ! .. what the hell is my fat doing then ? resting? … all i can do is moderate cardio in order to actually tap the fat deposits and not burn more protein doing HIIT ! … Sometimes i feel this is so complicated (for me) that the idea to even have a small cookie makes me sick – clean your diet , or die trying :)))

      • Jo says

        “Cheap food destroys your health, the environment, and animal welfare. At the end of the day, food quality is what matters”

        Thanks Colin, our food choices impact more than ourselves and our physique.

  27. trizzle says

    most of this is incorrect.GMOs are not good for you at all. why are they banned in other countries then, if there is nothing wrong with them?

  28. says

    Crushed. Spot on, comprehensive and well written.

    I obv stumbled across this through my fitness ppl on twitter, but I really lit up when it came through my email from a non-fitness, nyc, I-care-about-my-body type chick.

    The people need to know this stuff!


  29. Lisa says

    I want to stick my neck out and say that all large studies are flawed. The real issue is that we are all different, we all react to things differently. What we should be doing is paying attention to our bodies and how we feel after we ingest them. Large studies look at the average, but in reality we only have ourselves to experiment on. So for me I found, I love eating vegetarian most of the time. However, if I don’t eat meat after a while my body feels very lacking (and this is even taking into account taking Iron and B Vitamin supplements). I know I can’t over-do cheese, and generally avoid milk. As for meat, I ingest Beef, NOT chicken. Chicken does not appeal to me.

  30. CCW says

    This article only serves to support old-fashioned mentalities of a population who is unwilling to change.

    It is a long-winded, lackluster self-defence mechanism. People will like it and support it because it prevents them from having to think for themselves.

    Anyone who chooses to pollute their bodies should be prepared to face the consequences. Eat from the Earth. Simple as that.

  31. Alley says

    I simply want to say that you are wrong about your definition of clean foods. And I am offended as you classify “hippies” as a sub-genre of humans. Clean food is food that is not polluted with chemicals & unnecessary chemical processing agents. It is meat that is not injected with hormones & antibiotics. This is not an opinion of different classes of people. It is fact. http://i.word.com/idictionary/Clean

  32. Pepin Tuma says

    If a 16 oz bottle of coke has 200 calories, that’s 10% of the recommended intake for the entire day–so it wouldn’t be tough at all to get to 20% of your diet from refined sugars while not getting sufficient nutrients. Maybe no foods are bad per se, but it’s not as if people are eating cake instead of dinner.

  33. Christian Day says

    This article is important for people who have a calorie deficit in their diet. For example, if I was burning 3000 calories a day and only eating 1000 calories of “nutrient rich healthy” food because I was avoiding “bad” food, that would be unhealthy. In this circumstance, it’s better to make up another 1000 calories or so with “low nutrient” food than to eat nothing at all. This article really is very specific towards people who are simply not eating enough. So the first step is just eat something. Understanding, that there are very few foods that are perfect is a step towards this. However, saying that just have everything in moderation is overly simplistic. Eg: you can eat alot more broccolli than cake. Have everything in moderation, but the degree of moderation is different depending on the upside and downside of different foods. So, education on nutrition is important but this article seems to want to dismiss that …. because this is what led to the eating disorder in the first place. No coach or fitness advisor should be recommending cutting out “unhealthy” foods and not replacing them with “healthy” foods, particularly for a person who is already lean. There are alot of references here but the best reference would be what books, coaches, trainers etc are saying this. Who is saying this?

  34. says

    While I am sure that your article will please the American masses and amp up your SEO, it contains ample misinformation. Truth does not a superscript make. Personally, I would not want the public to read this.

  35. says

    Hey Armi,

    It’s pretty clear you put a great deal of time into this article, and the content is rock solid. I think calling “clean eating” a myth may be a great understatement…it’s probably one of the, if not, the biggest misconception in nutrition. Biggest reason? It makes money. Now that’s not to say some authors didn’t have good intentions when creating the new fad diet (maybe a misunderstanding of the evidence or simply zealous pursuit of the “key” to nutrition that whatever evidence they find, they’re naturally biased to support).

    I commented on Layne Norton’s vlog about a similar topic, but I’m glad that articles like this are being written to reinforce the idea of balance and moderation, which as I’ve seen for years has been pushed under the rug by fad diets.

    The audience I cater to probably would be dissuaded from a long article, so you’ve inspired me to write something similar, but more concise. I’ll definitely link to this article, as anyone that has time, should definitely check this out.



  36. Sarah says

    I agree that foods shouldn’t be labeled as good or bad, but I do think every food has nutrient value. I prefer to get the most nutritional bang for my calorie buck. I know I feel better about eating a food that doesn’t have a chemical laden ingredient label, but more in it’s natural 1 or 2 ingredient form. Heck, people have been eating those foods for 1,000′s of years. Now, look around at modern day society, we are living in a age of an obesity epidemic. I choose to listen to my body and how it feels…I feel better and function better with nutritionally dense food. I also don’t crave the addictive empty calorie foods many do, but I know if I eat it, it’s not going to kill me. Balance is key.

    I’m interested to know if anyone has watched Supersize Me documentary? I’m pretty sure someone could fit in all their macros (IIFYM) by eating at McDonalds, but it doesn’t make it ideal, in my opinion.

  37. Risto Uuk says

    Thank you for writing the article! I’m actually writing/thinking about/researching the same topic, so it was very timely to read this.

    Here are a few references I’d like you to check out and get back to me. What do you think of them?

    - First: What America’s Missing (2011 report): https://milkmustache.onstreamsecure.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/what_americas_missing.pdf
    - Second: Food Alone May Not Provide Sufficient Micronutrients for Preventing Deficiency: http://www.jissn.com/content/3/1/51
    - And third: Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2905334/

  38. Cristina says

    Look I have notice when I eat junk. It seems to be like food poisoning I just keep eating it non-stop, such as desserts. Why do we crave ice cream, bread,oily shit after we had it because theirs something in it. You will never keep on binging on fruit because it has good nutrients. Wish all that crap didn’t exist is making people harder to lose weight.

    • Cristina says

      But I also agree with you in this article somewhat causes eating disorders and should not be label as good or bad.

  39. Christian Day says

    i actually thought that “unclean” eating was the money spinner. Foods that come in wrappers, packages, and boxes are all from a brand and company that make money. Also dairy and grain industries are huge industries that most governments support and earn money from. Most packaged foods are laden with sugar and processed carbs.
    If clean means whole foods, then this is not supporting a particular brand, corporation, or massive industry.

  40. BigPappa says

    I agree that IIFYM can work. You can eat nothing but Twinkies and lose weight. With that being said it’s very possible to eat 10,000 calories worth of Twinkies in one sitting. It would be a lot more difficult to eat 10,000 worth of chicken, spinach, or any other whole/real food in one sitting. Fiber and protein fill you up. I can eat an entire family sized bag of Doritos and still be hungry. You can certainly eat anything you want, and perhaps you should often eat whatever you want in moderation, but it is very easy to eat too much of the higher calorie and lower nutrition value foods and bust your calories/macros. I don’t see why someone suggesting that you eat real/whole foods as the majority of your diet is a bad thing? If you want to call that Clean Eating who cares? Of course having a fanatical belief about clean eating or a lot of other things is not good. No one is going to grow a new chin because they ate 1 Ho Ho.

    People today eat on the average of something like 300 more calories per day than they did 40-50 years ago. Assuming we expend the same amount of calories as we did back then (certainly more people exercise now though), if all that mattered was calories in vs. calories people will have gained over 31 lbs per year or 310 lbs every decade. Obviously since we’ve historically only gained on the average of 2 or 3 lbs per year some other factor must be involved.

  41. says

    Some pretty good points made here. My caution would be to avoid foods you know you don’t tolerate well, which for me is corn and wheat. Corn crashes my blood sugar and wheat triggers food cravings. But overall I would agree that diet isn’t as black and white as the hardcore practitioners of various fads claim.

  42. Christian Day says

    The author has given examples of “unhealthy” food and highlighted some positives (eg: white bread has some nutrients). Then has also highlighted examples of “healthy” food with negatives (eg: vegetables can make you fat). Then ran with this logic to say, just have everything in moderation. So what do I eat? 1 can of coke, 1 piece of broccolli, i slice white bread, i glass milk, 1 piece of cake, i glass red wine, …Surely, you need to understand the positives and negatives of what you eat. Eating veges and fruit are vital to obtaining vitamins and nutrients, as they are difficult to obtain elsewhere. So, they are a vital part of the diet. They are difficult to over-eat as veges take time to prepare and generally fruit and veges satisfy hunger. However, it is possible to over-eat them and still get fat. I don’t think any trainers or nutritionists would dispute that. If so, who are they? Again, no reference. White bread would only be vital if you were calorie deficient and not getting calories elsewhere. Otherwise, you could cut it out and not be deficient nutritionally. Surely, there is a big difference in the “moderation” approach here. A higher proportion of fruit, veges, lean meat in your diet over cakes, soft drinks, alcohol, chocolate, and lollies is healthier. So the levels of moderation are different. If you never ate a cake again (assuming you eat enough), you would be fine. Although, the odd cake every now isn’t bad either. That’s the key. But if you ate broccolli every day, that would be good. So broccolli doesn’t need to be moderated as much as cake.

  43. Michelle says

    You should have started this whole article with the fact that there’s actually no such thing as a “calorie” and proceeded with some real diet science from there. I am very curious what Lyle McDonald would have to say about this article.

  44. Christian Day says

    I don’t think people are exercising more. They may be going to gyms and joining fitness classes more but they are also sitting on their bum all day before that. Non-formal, natural exercise that accompanied people’s jobs and day-to-day activity is less as people are sitting at computers and desks more.
    If you walk into a milk bar or shop, all the food “in your face” is packaged low nutrient, high carb/sugar food that tempt your cravings, leave you hungry, and make you fat. Some of which is labelled as “health bars” (eg: chocolate coated muesli bar). Bread, mueali bars, breakfast cereal, sports drinks are common foods that have been touted as healthy. This is obviously for the companies that sell them to make money. People who have knowledge on diet, health, and fitness are debunking this myth. The author is claiming the fitness advisers are creating a myth. Ok, now to clear that mess all up – high carb muesli “health” bars are not that healthy for someone who is already overweight. But for someone, who needs to gain weight or trains alot and need to increase calorie intake, then it would be healthy. However, I think a banana would be even better, as you get the carbs, calories, and the vitamins/minerals.
    It really needs to be stressed that when nutritionists are advising on cutting out “empty calories” (eg: high carb, low nutrient), they are directing that at people who already eat enough and need to lose weight, and that today is most people. It’s not directed at people who are underweight and need to eat more. If anybody is doing thst, then who are they? References please !
    I really feel alot of people like this article because it justifies their bad eating habits and the crap they want to keep indulging in. The main people this article is for, is for people who became so obsessed with “trying to eat well, they ended up hardly eating at all …. and not enough yo cater for their energy expenditure.

  45. katie says

    For what it’s worth, most vegans I’ve known (and there have been many) don’t eat meat for ethical reasons related to animal rights and environmentalism, not because “it’s toxic and gives you cancer.” So while I agree with your overall argument, the hyperbole isn’t adding to it.

  46. Dan J says

    I appreciate you taking the time to do research on certain health claims, but there are some serious flaws in your thinking and interpretation of the literature. You have make several valid points, but convey a very distorted image of what is important with nutrition and health.

  47. Christian Day says

    ok ……. so to clear this all up ………. if you are an athlete training heavily and trying to have healthy weight and body fat, you may try and cut out “unhealthy” food but it is very importabt you get anough “healthy” food. If you didn’t eat enough “healthy” food, you could lose too much weight and be low on energy/performance. This may leave you feeling that “clean eating is a myth”. Who exactly is advising to train and eat like this??? Surely, the advise would be to eat clean with a strong emphasis on getting the quantity of what you need. If you can’t get enough food this way, then you just need to eat something (eg: white bread). So for example, your coach might want you to eat clean (eg: whole foods), so after training ideally you may need to eat 3 bananas. However, you only have 1 banana and 2 pieces of white bread. what do you do? Eat the banana and throw the bread away? No, you eat them all because you have been training regularly and already have leaned out. If you are not training, the 1 banana may be all you need. What coaches, dieticians, fitness experts are telling athletes to cut out “unclean” foods and not replacing them with enough quantities of other foods??? Who is saying this?

  48. Bri says

    It’s actually proven that animal products create a more acidic environment in your body which is more hospitable to disease/illness. It is also proven that cancer cells cannot exist in an alkaline environment as they do in an acidic environment. Your body becomes more alkaline when you eat more plant based foods. So I don’t agree with this article at all. While I do agree that moderation plays a big role, I don’t agree that it is the only factor that contributes to one’s health. I have met people who were completely cured of cancer with no treatment, but by eating a more alkaline diet.

    • weaver says

      It’s *actually proven* that the alkaline environment created by your post made me lol. I don’t have the footnotes for it though, you’ll just have to believe me.

  49. says

    There are so many comments here already, I am not going to try and beat a dead horse. As a fitness and nutrition writer myself, though, I feel compelled to address this kind of writing. I’m a newcomer to this forum, so I don’t have a full understanding of the author’s beliefs on nutrition outside this article. But creating straw man arguments that assign fictitious attitudes to the people with whom you disagree is not compelling. Beyond that, it seems like you play loose with your reference material and their conclusions.

    This stuff is controversial and I don’t mind having a passionate but respectful disagreement and debate about it. But you’ve slammed me (a clean eating practitioner) from before the conversation began and you couldn’t be more off base in your assumptions about me.

    I think we, as writers, have a responsibility to be extremely clear when separating facts and information from editorializing and rants.

    Continued success in your writing.

  50. Jamison Delallo says

    Great article!! I am a flexible dieter myself along with intermittent fasting. My only concern with our food system is GMOs. I know there isnt enough evidnce now, but changing an organisms genetic make up doesnt seem very smart to me. food allergies, autism, birth defects and digestive problems have all increased since the 90s when GMOs were introduced….not saying that its the one and only problem, but I think we need to pay close attention to them and take back control of our foo supply. It doesnt seem right that companies like Monsanto are making it harder for ppl like me to get a hold of grass fed meats and organi produce.

    • says

      If your only concern with our food system is GMOs, I would start educating yourself more. I don’t mean to be rude and that’s not a personal attack, I know you said you were aware there were other problems, but it’s so important that people become aware of the massive problems plaguing the food industry so they can (or at least attempt) to make better choices.
      Other widespread, downright dangerous issues:

      + Grain-fed animals pumped with antibiotics and hormones (I’m not one of the “meat = cancer vegans”, as the article states, I am a big meat eater, but ensure it’s grass-fed, organic, free-range or nitrate-free)
      + High fructose corn syrup being added to everything in such high quantities
      + Poor nutritional advice being dispensed by governments (whose interests align with the grain and dairy industries)
      + The abundance of “food-like products”, instead of real food, being sold in supermarkets
      Just to name a few. As I said, not a criticism of you, just some thoughts. :)

  51. Mel says

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but my friend have you done research and read valid articles on gmo free and organic foods? And to think that all foods are ok is a big statement because they aren’t. If your all for Monsanto then to each it’s own but I think making an opinion like this is very narrow minded. And to classify NDs like that is very ignorant. This is an article in your own opinion but I really think you should do research on ALL aspects of food before posting something like this.

  52. Brianne says

    I do agree that moderation is a key part of nutrition, but to say that there is no “good”or “bad” food is completely absurd. If that’s the case, then why don’t most people eat a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake for breakfast? I mean, as long as its in moderation it’s not bad, right? I think most people would agree that they define “good” food as the foods with the most nutrients and the most health benefits. And bad foods are the foods that are processed, genetically modified, etc, and foods with very little nutritional value. Food that is processed and has preservatives and GMOs will cause negative effects. You’re putting chemicals in your body. So yes, there are such things as “good” foods and “bad” foods and you can easily distinguish between the two. I will say that all people are different and we all react differently to food. Maybe a person has IBS so they avoid eating broccoli and asparagus because they create more gas when being digested and cause them discomfort. That does not mean that broccoli and asparagus are bad, it just means that this specific person does not react to them like many other people do. In the long run, however, these vegetables are still delivering many vitamins, nutrients and health benefits to the person consuming them. When you eat a slice of cake, you are getting a very small amount of nutrients. I think the key thing is to eat what 1. What your body NEEDS. And 2. What makes you feel good! It’s pretty common sense. I will agree that extreme dieting and all these new fads are somewhat senseless and may do more harm than good. I think people make the concept and process of losing weight much harder on themselves when it’s pretty common sense. Nourish your body, give it what it NEEDS! Your body does not NEED a cupcake, even if it’s in moderation. Of course you can indulge and have cheat days, you should. But remember that you do not need it. Don’t be sedentary. Drink plenty of water. Get enough sleep. Boom.

    • says

      then why don’t most people eat a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake for breakfast?

      They do.

      bad foods are the foods that are processed, genetically modified, etc, and foods with very little nutritional value. Food that is processed and has preservatives and GMOs will cause negative effects.

      Define “processed.” Please provide a reference for how GMO’s are harmful to humans.

      You’re putting chemicals in your body.

      All food, and other existing objects in the universe are “chemicals.” By that logic all food is toxic.

  53. Nurse Viv says

    Armi – not only are you lying to your audience, but to yourself as well! i question your integrity when your own bio says “I eat about 80% of my calories from whole, minimally-processed, nutrient dense sources.
    The other 20% of my calories can come from anything I want”

    Go to school and LEARN about nutrition and kinesiology instead of reading other people’s articles.

  54. Buddy says

    Certain foods are bad for you. Eating only burger king for 30 days would leave you in much worse condition than eating only fruits and vegetables for 30 days. Cheese burgers are bad for you, vegetables are good for you. Yes, you can eat ‘bad’ foods in moderation based on your activity level and stay healthy, I don’t think any health experts are disputing that. I don’t think it’s a good idea to promote the notion that no foods are bad for you. There’s an obesity epidemic going on here.

      • says

        But Armi, come on! Why do people end up eating excess calories? Because they eat a diet that is full of calorie rich foods that have a poor nutrition to calorie ratio and don’t make you feel “full”.

        If people eat “clean” it’s tremendously more difficult to eat excess calories. True story. Your article, while not a total lie is based on a false premise and incomplete information.

        That’s really unfortunate.

  55. Catspaw says

    Fascinating, but the article is incorrect. Foods are laced with non-food products. Writers like whomever wrote this article try to shove people into test tubes–assuming they know how they make their choices and why–sickens me. There IS evidence that GMO’s harm people. I can’t believe…who is this–a Greenberg? Thats pure idiocy.

    “Clean” food should mean–that which is wholesome; healthy–the best choices you can make–and that can include..sweets is managed. Do your own cooking; watch restaurant food–especially fast food. Know your ingredients; do your own preserving, or co-op with other people. This is just common sense. I wish..people like this writer..could be held accountable for their drivel.

  56. says

    Wow, link bait or what?

    If you were to say that “all foods are okay in moderation” and leave it at that you may have a point. But to actually claim there’s no such thing as good and bad foods? REALLY?

    To try and claim that someone could eat only sugar and still lose weight as long as they didn’t eat too many calories? REALLY? Your body would be in starvation mode from malnutrition and hanging on to every calorie in no time.

    Gluten isn’t harmful? There’s no evidence? Really? There’s a tonne of it, if you choose to disbelieve it, fine. But don’t deny it.

    To repeat the calories in calories out myth. Really? Are you kidding me?

    This is one of the most disingenuous articles I have ever read. Frankly you should be ashamed.


    • says

      And to be clear: Of course if you have a calorie deficit, no matter what you are eating, you will lose weight. But that does NOT mean that what you eat doesn’t matter and does not have any effect.

    • says

      To try and claim that someone could eat only sugar and still lose weight as long as they didn’t eat too many calories? REALLY? Your body would be in starvation mode from malnutrition and hanging on to every calorie in no time.

      Do you have a reference to support this claim?

      Gluten isn’t harmful? There’s no evidence? Really? There’s a tonne of it, if you choose to disbelieve it, fine. But don’t deny it.

      Do you have a reference to support this claim?

      To repeat the calories in calories out myth. Really?

      Really. Read this and we can debate on whether or not weight loss is about calories in versus calories out.

      How does the link you provided refute anything in this article?

    • rfe23r23 says

      Author is a moron. The very title of this post is ridiculous. When a body builder describes his diet as “clean”, it’s pretty fucking obvious what’s he talking about.

      Clean eating, with no official definition, is mostly used to describe meals with minimal processing and fewer ingredients, preferably without all sorts of industrial additives.

      Author is also a moron for suggesting people adapt a Paleo diet, a diet which is unsustainable should everybody adopt it (hey dumb fuck, go research how much animal protein is produced per capita).

      He then goes on to criticize people making money off dietary strategies, and yet this very website sells “coaching” and other health services, from a bunch of unqualified uneducated morons. Exactly the same as all other self professed “professionals”.

      Now let’s all sit back while this author douche either deletes this post, or comes up with some intelligent sounding defense about why I’m wrong and he’s right.

      Hey guys, eating clean, it’s a myth! Go ahead and choke down your PGPR, artificial colors, BPA, AGEs, preservatives, oxidized cholesterol, modified fats, tainted grains, etc. Because gosh, since there’s no research showing that they are dangerous, they must totally be safe, right guys!?

      Phew! Glad I know that. I guess I’ll put down the fruit smoothies and start the morning with some Kitkat bars.

  57. Jodi says

    I love and respect the hell out of Armi’s big brain but I’m still not going anywhere near GMO’s if I can help it.

  58. Kr says

    I guess you have never had an autoimmune disease then or a bad gene because if I were to follow your advice, I’d get very ill again.

  59. Jeremy says

    So, by your logic Armi, if I eat all my daily calories from rice-a-roni I should be good right? Oh and maybe a supplement. It’s not the quality of the calories that matter it’s just “the moderate amount”. Wow. There is so much we don’t know about the synergism of natural foods that it’s stupid to prescribe eating whatever you want (in small doses). You do that and see how it works for you when you get older Armi.

    You must be either a high school student or someone who recently got their undergrad and now thinks they know everything about “good science”. You can humour us Armi, You’re still a little pup and you have a lot to learn.


    • says

      So, by your logic Armi, if I eat all my daily calories from rice-a-roni I should be good right?

      Do you consider that a “moderate” amount?

      It’s not the quality of the calories that matter it’s just “the moderate amount”.

      The article never said that.

      You’re still a little pup and you have a lot to learn.


  60. Tammy says

    All I have to say is you are an idiot if you believe clean eating is a scam, my mother died because of aspartame at the age of 59, you think all the chemicals in our food supply are safe? Let me know what kind of cancer you end up with.

  61. says

    This article brings up some valid points. It’s too bad that the sad fact is western medicine has failed in promoting a healthy diet. Rarely do I hear anybody talk about “clean eating”, besides body builders. The fact is we are the most obese unhealthy country in the world, and It’s no coincidence other countries who have adopted the “American diet” are experiencing the same healthcare problems currently plaguing our country ie rampant heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. So what is the correlation? I believe if you want the facts, you should do your own in depth research by people who have been researching health and food for decades, Michael Pollan, Dr. Essylstein, Dr. Colin T. Cambell, Kimberly Snyder, Brendan Brazier and others. I think it’s ridiculous for the author to either consciously ignore or disregard the enormous amount of information and research that exists and confirms that their is such a thing as “bad” or at the very least “unhealthy foods”. If there isn’t such a thing, then why does our nation and others suffer from the problems we do? I believe it can hardly be attributed to portion control alone. It’s a cultural, economic, and social phenomenon that has no clear answer. But, there are definitely corporate and political powers that are reaping the benefits of the status quo, and do not want any deviation from it. They use their enormous resources to halt the spread of information that is beneficial to Americans, think ag gag bills. I find it irresponsible of the author to make such claims as “there is no such thing as clean or healthy eating.” The fact is there is such a thing, and arguing semantics is a weak angle, and one that can only continue to cloud and mire our populations ideas and beliefs about a healthy lifestyle.

  62. Ben says

    Nice article. A friend brought up the point that neither pesticides nor preservatives are discussed though. Perhaps you could address these points with some good references in a follow up article?

  63. Kyle says

    Opinions about possible health implications of diet aside, my real qualm with your article lies in your approach to the argument. You stand on the point that the lack of sound scientific evidence leaves open the possibility that the idea of “bad” food is complete nonsense, but you completely omit the fact that by the same token there exists an equal possibility that the idea of “bad” food is totally legitimate. You seem to be using a lack of proof as proof of a negative.

    Put another way (disregarding the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics):In a world where everyone lives looking at the ground, the fact that no one has ever looked up does not constitute proof that the sky does not exist

  64. Joe says

    I find it very easy to believe that you are only 18 from your advice in this article, as the very premise of it is dead wrong on so many levels. Although I believe that your overall point: that you do not need to eat “clean” 24/7 and that some “cheating” is ok, is correct, I believe that the way you are going about preaching this is completely off base.

    A majority of people that read this will come away thinking that they should throw away everything they have learned about clean eating, and that it is now ok for them to indulge in poor food choices more often. The bitter truth is that most people that decide to start eating clean have a weight problem which came about from making poor food choices in the past, and overeating. Now telling these people who could so easily fall back to their past food vices, that clean eating is a scam, is setting them up for an epic failure.

    Most diets that people use now include some “cheating” that help the dieters get through the major life change they are making, but overall these people still believe that they are eating clean. Eating these “cheat meals” SHOULD make the dieter feel as if though they are “cheating,” and that it should not be a big part of your diet, as to deter them from eating these foods as much in the future. Your message tells the dieter that these meals are not “cheating,” and that it is ok for more and more of these meals to become poor choices. The fact is that the people who NEED to eat clean have an addictive food choice problem, and the more poor food options they eat, and you’re telling them they can eat more, the greater the chance of them falling off the wagon. It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of diets fail, and this is because the dieter is “dieting” and not focused on making a life change, and eating “clean” is a life change.

    The fact is that more and more people each day are becoming unhealthy and overweight on the normal western diet. The trend is to overeat and eat poor food, and people are gullible and give in to peer pressure. Telling people that eating clean is a scam is so deeply harmful. Most people need to be told what to do, or at the very least, read or find tips on how to improve their lifestyles. I truly hope that no person that was on the verge of making the life changing decision to eat clean has changed their minds, or altered their plans for the worse, because of this article. Not everyone is 18 and can get away with eating more “poor” food choices than they should. The “poor” foods that you are saying are ok are usually calorie dense and contain higher amounts of fat and salt, and so the “clean” foods are usually better for the person to overeat, when they inevitably do.

    I guess to sum up my point, I agree that it is ok for you to eat these “cheat” meals every once in a while, I think you are forgetting that the people who should start eating clean are gullible, have addictive food choices, and are going to look for the easy way out when it comes to becoming healthy. So putting this article online is only going to do more harm than good. The people who are already healthy have already come to this conclusion independently from you, and have made their life change, and the people who are unhealthy are going to see this as a godsend to eat more unhealthy food, and will more than likely end up failing.

    • Diana says

      Yes, yes, and yes. Those who don’t know better will take from this article the idea that their poor food choices are okay, which will only hurt the individual in the long run and make their struggle to be healthy that much harder. This author is giving out the wrong message.

      • Gareth says

        Has no one actually read that it isn’t stated you can eat what you want, when you want in the quantity you want?

        It’s a sensible, science backed article. Not one person has counteracted it with published science just opinion and pseudo “science”

        Your style reminds me if Ben Goldacre Armi.

        It’s certainly made me think about what I should have and not have too much of.

        No one has defined what a healthy diet is, not all foods agree with everyone. No one has the answers that apply to everyone.

        Great article, most comments left need to read it again.

    • Susan says

      Very well said. This can be a license to eat awfully for someone who may be struggling with dietary choices and feeling pressure from family, friends, or society. You just handed them an “out”. It feels a little irresponsible, especially in a nation that is killing itself with food.

      • says

        This can be a license to eat awfully for someone who may be struggling with dietary choices and feeling pressure from family, friends, or society. You just handed them an “out”.

        Is your solution to tell them they can never have anything that isn’t considered “health” food? How does this article give people an “out” to ignore their eating habits entirely?

        You may want to read this article before saying this one is “irresponsible.”

  65. says

    I agree that there’s essentially no such thing as “clean” eating (mostly because nobody’s ever bothered to define it). However, I take issue with some of your points. E.g. your third criterion for why a food might be “bad” for us (“Directly interfering with your body’s functions, causing specific diseases, increasing fat gain, or accelerating aging”).

    You’re correct in that there is much flawed correlational research in nutrition (and everywhere else). You note that “Despite flawed correlational research, there is no evidence that meat, red or not, causes cancer or heart disease or death. In contrast, there is controlled evidence showing red meat consumption can improve health markers as much as other meat sources.”

    Actually, there’s 40 years’ worth of random controlled trials in lab settings showing that animal protein is carcinogenic, in any amount (see work by T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and others). Other studies find that red meat in any amount increases mortality, but that’s mostly correlational work (e.g. Pan, A., et al. (2012). Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(7), p. 555-563).

    As a side note, as far as I can tell from your references, the studies you mention that show red meat improving health markers didn’t compare a meat-based diet with any other type of diet. Every experimental group in the study you reference in #45 contained beef! All they changed was the amount. As I always say, “Compared to what?” is one of the most important critical thinking questions we need to ask ourselves.

    Given the immense number of variables that can influence outcomes when it comes to nutrition, there are studies supporting both sides to pretty much any argument. It’s a matter of sifting through ‘em to find the highest quality work, and wearing our critical thinking caps, of course.

  66. says

    All of a sudden laymen become skeptical when presented with a skeptics point of view. Ironic don’t you think?

    “A man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”–Leon Festinger

  67. J says

    Well written and researched article. I just wanted to comment on two things…

    I disagree with your statement that “There is no evidence GMO’s are harmful to humans.” I think that not enough research has been done on the long term effects of GMOs. And I also appreciate that you cited articles that support this…however, I could also support the opposite.

    I think that your reference to naturopath, acupuncturist, homeopath, or voodoo priest is perhaps a bit harsh and maybe deters from the credibility of the article. You could have found a more diplomatic way to convey this point. Also, there are plenty of “real doctors” that have bought into many of these fad diets.

  68. Diana says

    This is ridiculous. Most of what is written here is completely absurd, untrue, and one-sided. An example:

    “There is no evidence GMO’s are harmful to humans.”
    There is “evidence” supporting both sides of the argument, that it is harmful and also that it is not harmful, though the latter position comes from studies funded by the biochemical industry that profits immensely from GMOs. Who do you trust to give you the correct information? The point here, though, is that the author is completely one-sided and makes false claims.

    Oh and here’s another:
    “No food causes nutrient deficiencies.”
    Phytic acid (found in grains, nuts, and seeds) is a substance with a strong binding affinity to minerals that are very important to proper body function, such as calcium, iron, and zinc. What this means is that the phytic acid will bind to any of these minerals when they are present in your stomach, forming an inseparable compound that cannot be absorbed by the intestines and instead gets excreted by the body as waste. You could go ahead and eat all the mineral-rich veggies you want, but so long as you’re also eating sources of phytic acid, you could severely restrict the body’s ability to absorb these minerals. If you do this over a prolonged period of time, you better believe that your body will become mineral-deficient. Mineral deficiencies in developing countries are a huge problem because their diets rely so heavily on food sources that contain these absorption-blocking compounds.

    I could go on and on but I think I made my point that this article is not at all based on fact.

    Whoever falls for this nonsense should consider some education in Biochemistry and Nutrition to find out the truth about how the body and its metabolism TRULY works. It’s a heck of a lot more complicated than one calorie in, one calorie out. Hormones, immune response, toxins, carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism, protein metabolism, and so much more all comes into play when talking about health and a good physique. All calories are not made equally, especially when they are ridden with substances that interfere with your body’s ability to function properly.

    People, please educate yourself PROPERLY before trusting sketchy claims made by some random bimbo. Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because this point of view gives you the freedom you always wanted: an excuse to eat anything you want. By the author’s logic, I could go ahead and take a teaspoon of motor oil daily, and since it won’t have an immediate, significant effect on my body, then I’m okay because I am doing it in moderation and a calorie of motor oil is equivalent to a calorie of anything else. What nonsense! Once your body accumulates more stress than it can handle from your poor food choices, your health goes all downhill from there.

      • Diana says

        If you had some college-level education in biology, chemistry, and nutrition, you would be able to make sense of what I said without requiring sources! But since you need some extra help, that’s okay. Grab a biochemistry textbook and EDUCATE YOURSELF. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Also, you’ll do yourself a big favor if you learn to differentiate between good, trustable sources and bad ones. This is a skill that will help you throughout your entire life.

        For proof about what I had said about GMOs, google something along the lines of “Are GMOs good or bad?” I guarantee you will find studies that both support and refute GMO safety. That is a given: there are always arguments for both sides in any given case.

        In regards to phytic acid and how it prevents nutrient absorption, this is something I learned in college from a class on nutrition. Since I cannot cite that, you can find information regarding phytic acid on Wikipedia. Sources for articles can be found at the bottom of the Wikipedia page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytic_acid)

        And finally, in regards to metabolism being dependent on a number of factors, rather than just calorie count:
        Well, if you had any common sense you would know that metabolism depends on many different factors, not just how many calories you eat. If you’re still skeptical, go ahead and read that biochemistry book I was telling you about. You will quickly learn that the body’s metabolism is a complex process that involves many different chemical reactions in order to successfully turn the chemical energy in your food into an energy that your body can use to function.
        You can also try a personal experiment. Try eating 1500 calories worth of nothing but cupcakes, bread, and any other junk food of your choice every day, and then let me know one year later if you were able to get a lean body. A calorie is just a calorie, right? WRONG.

        Btw, I did not “ramble.” I took two statements made by the author and provided arguments for why they were incorrect. This then proved that the article contained false information. Then I told people to properly educate themselves so that they don’t fall for such idiotic claims as those made in the article. That is not rambling.

        Educate yourself, for your own sake and the sake of humanity. Knowledge is power.

        • says

          Still a large rant. As I figured, you couldn’t provide sources.

          1) Find direct cause/effect evidence that GMO’s are bad (no epidemiological support here)
          2) If phytic acid, phytate, or oxalate (anti-nutrients) are so bad, by that logic we should avoid green, leafy vegetables (you know, since they contain these anti-nutrients)
          3) If you had any knowledge of the literature, you would know that when subjects are placed in a metabolic ward, it is indeed calories in vs. calories out that determines weight loss assuming isocaloric intakes.

          You still bear the burden or proof.

    • Judochop says

      Agreed with you Diana. There are always two sides to an argument but will find most people are naive because they can’t face the fact that they are incorrect in how/what they eat. They kill headaches with a tablet (sugar-packet solutions) while other change their diet to get to the source of the cause and avoid headaches. “Prevention is better than cure”

    • Sienna says

      Diana you are spot on. I agree 100%. There is no actual research in this article and not even a basic understanding of bio-mechanics from the sounds of it. So much ignorance.

    • Whitefox says

      Diana, while I agree with the GMO thing (that it’s both ways – pragmatic to avoid, but not proven to be necessary), you missed a nuanced point of the phytic acid part.

      Phytic acid does not bind minerals in other foods that you are eating, only the minerals that are already present in the food that contains the phytic acid. I.e. the bran of wheat bread will have phytic acid bound to magnesium, calcium, etc. So you are correct that eating wheat may cause nutritional deficiencies, but not that eating wheat with broccoli will negate the nutrients in said vegetable.

      Just FYI.

    • Chris says

      Hi Diana, I completely agree! An education in biochemistry and nutrition is definitely essential to actually understanding human metabolism and how the body deals with nutrients at a cellular level. :)

  69. Judochop says

    I started reading and gave up. You will find research thats agrees with your beliefs regarding any topic. There def is a thing such as clean eating. How it is defined depends on the person. The moment I eat something that is not classified as clean (how I define it) my body feels it. I feel sluggish with white starch, I get eczema with milk intake and my sinuses feel awful. Sugar triggers cramps. Overall avoiding these I feel healthy and my body feels great. Those that follow the Paleo way of eating, as an example, have a much lower rate of obesity and health issues are limited.

    Don’t dismiss something you have never tried

    • says

      I started reading and gave up.

      I’m sorry reading was such a challenge.

      You will find research thats agrees with your beliefs regarding any topic.

      Or maybe I align my beliefs with the best available evidence.

      The moment I eat something that is not classified as clean (how I define it) my body feels it. I feel sluggish with white starch, I get eczema with milk intake and my sinuses feel awful. Sugar triggers cramps.

      Do you have any evidence eating these foods caused these problems?

      Overall avoiding these I feel healthy and my body feels great.

      Do you have any evidence besides your feelings?

      Those that follow the Paleo way of eating, as an example, have a much lower rate of obesity and health issues are limited.

      Probably, but did you consider the fact that people who eat paleo are also generally far more health conscious in the first place, exercise more, and are eating more satiating/less palatable foods, which helps them control their calorie intake?

      • Nejc says

        It’s easy to say (and believe) you align your beliefs with the best available evidence, but let’s not get into that. What I wanted to mention was that it’s fine to scientific research and evidence when you are writing to the general public about something, but in the end it comes down to you. How you feel and react to something (food in this case). If a study reaches a conclusion that some food is good (not going to mention anything specific here, that’s not the point), that does not mean it is good for you. It means it was good for the majority of the people in the study, which are all different from you.

        What I was getting at is that it’s fine to use evidence and studies to make a point, but NEVER put down someone else’s feeling, because that is the way your body tells you what is good for you and we all need to listen to it more.

        • Mike says

          Feelings can be “wrong.” Sounds insensitive, but it’s true.

          People get so butthurt when the evidence tells them that what they are “feeling” is most likely psychosomatic or worse, the result of being crazy. I personally find science and evidence to make me feel much better because then I can say, “Thank heavens, it’s not a disease, it’s all in my head and now I can move on.”

          PS – With all respect, I don’t think you understand how scientific studies work.

  70. Jo says

    You sound incredibly uneducated and ignorant. Which is sad because thats probably not true. We eat to nourish and fuel not to indulge and satisfy some craving. “Eat to live don’t live to eat” Benjamin Franklin. This makes me sad. It promotes the complacency and convenience of our broken food system instead of fighting what has become of it. There is a fight to be fought. I understand the extremes that you speak of, but 99% of it sounds like an attempt to justify.

  71. says

    This article lost me at “Fat loss is ultimately about calories in versus calories out.” THIS is one of the biggest myths, not the idea of clean eating.

    Fat loss is NOT about calories in, calories out, and even though calories aren’t a good measurement of energy, it’s not even about energy in, energy out. It’s about the QUALITY of the energy in vs the QUALITY of the energy out – different foods (and their varying macronutrient ratios) have different impacts on our body.

    By subscribing to ‘calories in, calories out’, you are agreeing that all calories are created equally. That logic says energy input is all equal – so 1000 calories of broccoli would have the same effect as 1000 calories of Coke. But by the same logic, energy output would also have to be equal – but does burning 200 calories by running on a treadmill have the same effect as burning 200 calories by lifting heavy weights? Absolutely not. People do different excercises (energy output) to form, sculpt and refine their bodies in various ways. Food and diet (energy input) is exactly the same.

    So any time anyone tries to purport that weight or fat loss (or maintenance or growth) is calories in/calorues out, it’s actually good – because it immediately signals I don’t want to keep reading because they know absolutely nothing about how the body works. Biochemisty, hormones, stress, genetics and environment all contribute to how our bodies respond to energy intake and output.

    The rest of the article is just as flawed but I can’t be bothered rebutting those points individually.

    • Gareth says

      I have only read the article, don’t even know the guy. The article is well written and referenced.

      You lost me at, “can’t be bothered rebutting those points individually” and the complete lack of evidence for your point of view other than “I don’t agree because I believe this” which is a shame as I’d like to hear your point of view.

      Can’t be bothered seems to suggest you have no evidence to the contrary.

    • RA says

      I just read your website and I’m almost positive you have no clue what you’re talking about. Paleo is the biggest sham in the fitness industry. Its premise is entirely flawed and unsubstantiated.

      • says

        “Paleo is the biggest sham in the fitness industry.” People following a paleo lifestyle will probably incorporate exercise into their life, but I don’t see any direct links between paleo and the “fitness industry”…?

        Also, to say its premise is flawed, you must think you have a good idea about what its premise actually is. What is it to you? I only ask because most people that don’t like/agree with/support paleo don’t actually know what its premise is.

        Paleo is not about losing weight, eating low-carb, eating no-carb, glorifying meat (or awful factory farming methods), spending a lot of money, telling people they have to go and kill their own dinner, or pretending we know everything about paleolithic man and trying to recreate their entire life.

        Paleo is about eating (and enjoying) delicious food, not counting calories, finding freedom from negative food behaviours, sleeping more, caring about the environment, prioritising health, being curious and openminded, exercising/being active because you want to you be (not because you think you should be), enjoying indulgences like a glass of wine good quality chocolate, not feeling guilt or shame around food (which SO many people counting calories/macros/points/portions etc do), not judging others for their food choices and being compassionate, and knowing there is no one perfect diet.

    • Red VonMunster says

      Are you fucking stupid? Fat loss is absolutely about calories in vs calories out. If you eat 4k calories of “clean food” and don’t work, you’re going to get fucking fat.

    • Chris says

      I agree Jenna that not all kilojoules are the same. There is definitely a quality component to what we put into our bodies. I have never, however, heard health professionals link broccoli with coke. I think that this idea has stemmed from alternative health practitioners (i.e. naturopaths).

  72. Nathan says

    When I was reading this article, I noticed a big emphasis on BALANCED diet. Balanced. Diet. Seems everyone is digesting this as “purely eat junk.”

    Great article Armi!

  73. Ashan says

    Dude I totally understand what you’re trying to say but perhaps it is a good idea to make generalisations about ‘bad foods’ in the way that processed foods generally have a high content of synthetic materials in them. The basic rule is that if you can’t go out and buy that ingredient individually then it definitely shouldn’t go in your body. ‘Clean eating’ is more than likely a term that has been taken out of context but was originally coined to mean ‘without fucked up chemicals that are found in 100% of packaged goods’. What about the impact that these synthetic chemicals have on your hormones? Every ingredient on the package that has a chemical name, eg. sodium hexametaphosphate (found in coke), is damaging on a cellular level.

    I eat copious amounts of pastries and other baked goods yet I maintain an athletic physique through diligent exercise and by consistently monitoring my amino acid and vitamin intake. Two EXTREMELY important factors that you fail to mention throughout your article. You also clearly don’t understand the lower intestinal tract and the impact that saturated/trans fats have on the elevation of bile content in the stomach that leads to a plethora of prevalent ‘diseases’ invading our medical system. I could go on for days but eh…

    Regardless, there’s something that can be agreed on – Humans didn’t evolve by hunting wild herds of Ben and Jerry’s and we sure as fuck didn’t survive by harvesting Fruit Loops out of the ground. Get a science degree.

    • says

      but perhaps it is a good idea to make generalisations about ‘bad foods’ in the way that processed foods generally have a high content of synthetic materials in them.

      Define “processed” and “synthetic.” As the article stated, there are plenty of processed and “synthetic” foods that do have health benefits, hence the problem with generalizations.

      The basic rule is that if you can’t go out and buy that ingredient individually then it definitely shouldn’t go in your body.

      Who created this “rule?” You can also buy just about any ingredient individually if you look hard enough.

      ‘Clean eating’ is more than likely a term that has been taken out of context but was originally coined to mean ‘without fucked up chemicals that are found in 100% of packaged goods’.

      The term definitely has different meanings to different people, which is part of the problem. What do you consider “fucked up chemicals?” What kind of chemicals do you not consider “fucked up?” They also make “packaged” salad greens, are those filled with “fucked up chemicals” too?

      What about the impact that these synthetic chemicals have on your hormones? Every ingredient on the package that has a chemical name, eg. sodium hexametaphosphate (found in coke), is damaging on a cellular level.

      Are you saying that any compound with a long chemical name is bad for you? What about 2-phenylchromen-4-one, which is the basic structure of several flavones which may have some health benefits.

      I eat copious amounts of pastries and other baked goods yet I maintain an athletic physique through diligent exercise and by consistently monitoring my amino acid and vitamin intake. Two EXTREMELY important factors that you fail to mention throughout your article.

      You mean you eat some foods people wouldn’t consider “clean,” yet you still get enough essential nutrition to reach your goals? You do realize that was the point of the article?

      The article has an entire section on nutrient density. It also never said that you shouldn’t eat enough protein.

      You also clearly don’t understand the lower intestinal tract and the impact that saturated/trans fats have on the elevation of bile content in the stomach that leads to a plethora of prevalent ‘diseases’ invading our medical system.

      Would you provide some references to support these claims?

      Regardless, there’s something that can be agreed on – Humans didn’t evolve by hunting wild herds of Ben and Jerry’s and we sure as fuck didn’t survive by harvesting Fruit Loops out of the ground.

      I agree. Your point is also completely irrelevant. We didn’t evolve using computers, yet you seem fine using one. The same thing is true with cars, modern medicine, housing, etc.

  74. Nixes says

    I eat as much low fat yogurt as I want, as much lean steak as I want as much fish as I want, as much chicken breast as I want plus have 2 cheat DAYS a week, exercise everyday for only 20 mins a day and I’ve lost 30 kgs after my third child. So really, in the section titled excess calories blah blah blah. This article is full of shit.

    • Gareth says

      You eat as much as you want?

      How much is this, could be like a starvation diet to an overeater?

      Do you eat 30 yogurts a day, every day? Along with 20 lean steaks?

      If you did, you would be fatter.

      It is harder to be fatter eating that, not
      impossible. Sounds like you eat a moderate or balanced amount, as is the point if the article.

  75. Showponie says

    Agree with everything you said except the mycotoxin bit. Doing food micro for a living myco toxins are a toxin produced from mould, if you eat your apple with mould on that is toxin producing you can die never mind a little unwell for you. Other then that great job.

  76. LQ says

    This article completely misses the mark when it comes to “clean food”. Every major society and religious group in history has held beliefs about what food is clean and what is not. They have always defined food the same way: “eating _____ could kill you or make you sick” . Jews do not eat pork which has had a very high association of carrying parasites that infect humans. Shellfish can cause serious allergic reactions, so it is no surprise that some cultures would ban eating them. The manner in which animals are slaughtered has also been deemed “clean” and “unclean” because of potential e. coli contamination. In our present day culture we have replaced religious practices with FDA regulations and food inspection. This protects us from parasites, botulism, e. coli, listeria, chemical contamination and many, many other potentially fatal hazards. We take all of these safeguards for granted, but every meal we eat, every sip of water, has been deemed “clean” for us at some point before it reaches our mouths. Please do not ever confuse “healthy” with “clean”- it could be to your peril someday.

  77. Eirith Garza says

    To the many morons who disagree with the article because it tells people to eat like crap all the time: Show me where the author said this

    So many of you are arguing points he NEVER made. You all come in high and mighty and tell him to get an education while your reading comprehension skills are stuck in a 15 year old capacity.





    It’s always black and white with you stupid fucks. Middle of the road doesn’t exist since you all adhere to your diets like religions, so if anyone questions them you begin attacking them and COMPLETELY missing their point. I like how your best rebuttal is “someone who is not well informed will use this as en excuse to pig out” fallacy. Actually, it seems that YOU dumb fucks are the only ones who took the article as saying this, so who in the end is not well informed?

    Shout out to jenna felicity, Diana, and Jonathan for going full retard here.

    So to recap:

    1. Author never claimed that eating like crap is ok
    2. Author never claimed that calories are all metabolized equally
    3. Author never claimed that foods can’t make you sick
    4. Your jimmies are rustled, u mad.

      • Amanda says

        Thank you, Eirith Garza!! Where are earth did the author state that everyone should stop caring and eat cake and cookies all day long? He didn’t!

        Giving up on “clean eating” saved my emotional AND physical health. I only ever binged when I refused to eat “dirty” foods. Now there’s no guilt or shame, and no binging. I feel healthy and happy.

        Great article! Agree with it 100%!

  78. Eirith Garza says

    P.s. no one has managed to define what clean eating actually means and people STILL fail to realize there is no universally accepted definition. But, no one bothered to refute THAT. All they did was get mad, tell the author he is ignorant, and proceeded to pound their chest and wank to their own reflection.

    P.p.s. BRB think I’ll argue with a rocket scientist about rocket science data based on my ‘feelings’ GTFO

    • Nejc says

      You (and only you) can know what is good for you from the way your body reacts to food and how you feel. The same cannot be said for rocket science. You failed to make a point.

  79. Nejc says

    First off all, how the hell can you claim there is NO evidence for or against something? Are you so arrogant that you are willing to claim that you know all the studies and research that was done on all of the subjects you covered? And like Kyle said ‘You seem to be using a lack of proof as proof of a negative.’ There is always research that supports both sides of an argument, but you not only choose just the research that agrees with you, but also claim there is no research that proves the opposite? That is just plain ignorant and wrong.

    Second of all, you seem to have no proper education or knowledge about nutrition, what goes on in our body (that is what I was able to deduce from the article and what I later confirmed after I read your story). You may think that reading a bunch of studies gives you knowledge about this stuff, but unfortunately it’s not as easy as that. If you wish to talk about this as arrogantly as you do, you need to have attain proper knowledge about it and put a lot of time into this. You did neither of those things and still have a lot of things to learn, which is OK, but acting as though you know it all, is not. What do you know about hormones, metabolism of different nutrients, the reactions of your body to different kinds of food and the body’s biochemistry? If it seems simple it’s because you don’t know enough about it.

    Just because it seems that your favorite reply to people who make a good point is ‘what research supports this’, I added 2 studies (the amount that you found that state the opposite) that show that GMOs can be harmful.


    And as a last note, some of the stuff in your blog (can’t really call it an article) is downright insulting to some people and too generalized. If you intend to write serious, scientifically backed stuff, try to refrain from generalizing and immature insults.

    I could go on, but unfortunately you decided to write about a lot of subjects in your blog post and I don’t have enough time to reply to everything.

  80. Charlotte says

    “Vegans believe meat is toxic and gives you cancer.”

    Most vegans I know are ethical vegans, they don’t think animal products are bad for you, they think eating animal products is morally wrong. Some people do go vegan for health reasons, and it can really help with conditions like heart disease or diabetes. The ‘meat gives you cancer’ crowd is just a small subsection.

  81. Oprah says

    Great article, very well researched and even more impressively cited. I think my biggest issue with IIFYM is the way it is misrepresented so often on social media. What’s more fun? Taking a picture of the steamed bok choy and grilled salmon you had for lunch or taking a picture of the brownie mudslide you had after lunch?

    You haven’t convinced me on the GMOs, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils. This is not for lack of scientific evidence though and therefore, I 100% respect your decision to ingest all of these things. My personal “hippie” preference is to conciously limit and try to avoid processed food with the above mentioned cheminals (and others). For me, anecdotal evidence, correlational data and individual case studies are enough to choose unprocessed when I decide to eat my less nutrient dense foods (like your cake above which looks heavenly, I too make some damn good brownies).

    In the early 50′s my grandma was told to continue smoking through all 4 of her pregnanices by her MD who also smoked at the time and claimed there was not enough scientific data to prove any harm would come to her or her children. It may very well turn out in 30-40 years that you are right and I could have been having all the diet Dr. Pepper and canola oil that I want without ill effect but in the meantime I’m going to pass (respectfully and without trying to push my un-scientifically-founded views on anybody else).

    Regardless, I once again tip my hat to your article, the general idea behind it (MODERATION PEOPLE) and I will for sure be checking back for more blog posts in the future!

    • Bikini Athlete says

      Agreed! As a bikini athlete, quality of
      food is way more important than calories per say. While I do agree you can fit certain foods in your “macros,” a cinnabon thats 1800 cal and has over 40 g of fat is not the same as 3-4 meals worth of chicken, fish, vegetables, etc. Its not as simple as calories in, calories out. There IS a difference between 2000 cal of whole foods vs 2000 cal of one fast food meal, especially for an athlete such as myself. I can not perform or build lean muscle if I eat French fries or a milkshake as long as it “fits my macros.” Some people may take this article and run with it, and that’s the problem. And with a masters degree in clinical exercise physiology, I have a couple of issues with some of your points. First, when you say saturated fat found in red meat and fast foods doesn’t cause disease. Of course you can’t say “cause,” but there is a strong Correlation. Only research that has really “proven” causation is link between smoking and cancer, and thats because they have spent millions of dollars and decades upon decades on this research. You can’t tell me there isn’t an association between eating fatty burgers and greasy fries with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or that it doesn’t matter if you eat healthy whole foods regarding disease risk. There are hundreds upon hundreds of studies that show the link, not to mention there are SUPER FOODS that show decreased risk of cancer. I don’t know if you know how to read or write or interpret research, but it seems to me that you aren’t skilled in this area. I haven’t looked into your references, but there is such a thing as good quality and bad quality research. I would be curious to see what type of studies you chose to include to back up your claims. This article seems a little biased to me, and it looks like you pick and chose what points you wanted to make and clearly disregarded the other side. That’s what good researchers do, explain why the other side may not be accurate, not just pick what you think is right and ignore all other possibilities. The point you make about not worrying about nutrient density because “90% of americans get enough micronutrients.” Again, big interpretation problem here: most Americans OVER eat so of course its easy to get enough micros if you are overindulging on calories. Over 2/3 of Americans are overweight, and 1/3 is obese, and it isn’t because they’re overeating spinach. It’s due to fast foods and processed
      Foods among other things. I could go on and on. Overall, you made some good points but in my opinion it was biased and the direction of the points are misleading. I feel like there should be a good balance between eating wholesome foods and IIFYM as well. I think you should enjoy food yes and indulge every once in a while. But it shouldn’t be eat whatever you want as long as IIFYM, especially when it comes to the health implications this could have. I’m afraid lay people will take this article the wrong way.

  82. Chris G says

    Just sounds like a lot of people here who want to eat cupcakes and drink soda and have someone tell them they’re okay.

  83. Sienna says

    Wow. This article is NONSENSE. It actually frightens me that people are reading this and taking it seriously. The number of times that you makes statements along the lines of, “there is no research to suggest that….” is messed up. How on earth could you possibly claim something like that?? How in-depth have you studied the field of science and biology or bio-mechanics? What are your credentials to even give this knowledge to people?? You’ve clearly never done any of your own studies, you’re just referencing random information from all over the place and then spewing it out as though you actually know what you’re talking about. You are not a doctor or a scientist or a nutritionist, you are just another person with an opinion and it’s frightening that you’re in a position where people trust and listen to what you’re saying.

    What about people like Dr.Natasha Campbell-McBride, who is curing people of neurological diseases using only diet? That’s not just rhetoric being spouted, that is SCIENCE curing people through NUTRITION. She cured her son of autism. Through diet. That actually happened. From the sounds of the way you do research, I would bet that instead of actually reading her book and evaluating the scientific studies and evidence within, you are much more likely to just read articles about her and then quote them.

    Our bodies are very complicated machines that run on whatever we fuel them with. The idea that what we put into our bodies every day is not directly effecting the way they function is completely absurd. Bio-mechanically, the way our bodies process grass-fed beef or pasture-raised eggs compared to how they process GMO corn or over-processed wheat flour is COMPLETELY different. The organs react differently, the cells react differently, EVERYTHING in our bodies reacts differently Yes, we can survive on these processed foods but there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving and anyone who actually, truly does eat clean can attest to that.

    I worked at a nutrition centre where we put people on natural, unprocessed diets and saw with my own eyes as their bodies and health changed in front of me. We had clients reverse their Type 2 Diabetes(my uncle included in that), go off their blood pressure and cholesterol medications, improve their energy levels, lose weight, sleep better, get healthier skin….etc. That’s not me reading a bunch of random articles, that’s practical application on real humans. With real results.

    This article is shallow and silly and more than anything, completely wrong.

    To anyone reading it: PLEASE don’t take it seriously, you will do yourself harm.

    You should stop.

  84. CCW says

    Counter-Argument: “Why Caloric Obsession is a Myth”

    I used to think like 18-year old Armi. Not that age is necessarily indicative of the amount of time/research/experience invested – but since then, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in all realms of my health and athletic performance by integrating quality food, vs. quantity (calories in, calories out).

    The chemical makeup of your food becomes the chemical makeup of your body. A plant-based diet, abundantly full of protein and nutrients, has healed many physical ailments I used to suffer years ago. Including an obsession with calories, which became detrimental to all aspects of my life, including my metabolic rate.

    Don’t tell us that “clean eating has no objective definition and no scientific support. It’s also an eating disorder.” This is utter insanity. Eating a plant-based “clean” diet is based on eating an abundance of healthy and delicious food, instead of restriction, and CURES eating disorders. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I no longer count calories, because when I eat “clean” food, my body knows when to stop naturally. Eating your “mixed diet” sends your hunger mechanisms into a proverbial shitstorm.

    Not all calories are created equal. Toxins that people ingest in this “mixed diet” you refer to (including aspartame, BPA, hormones & antibiotics in dairy and meat) accumulate in your body over time, and cause a host of health problems, amongst them, cancer. Your argument is about as valid as saying, “You can have a couple cigarettes every so often, it won’t hurt you.”

    Why would you want to slowly poison your body with food?

    Think for yourself.

    • Oprah says

      Let me preface this post by saying that I was a “clean eater” before reading this article and I will remain a “clean eater” after this article. My defintion of “clean” is limiting/eliminating foods with the things you mentioned BPA, GMO’s, pesticides, artifical sweeteners, colouring, preservatives etc.

      The issue here is that right now, evidence in the form of RCTs, meta-analyses and peer reviewed studies do NOT (I repeat do NOT) support the hypothesis that these chemicals/ additives have negative effects on human beings. Claims that these things “have been proven to cause cancer and other illnesses in humans” are false. Full stop. Ask all of the “experts” in their various clean eating fields. Mark Sisson, Joseph Mercola, Tosca Reno- whoever. This author is correct.

      Scientific proof does not take into account correlational data, individual case studies, stories of “My Uncle Bernie cured his cancer eating clean” and “my tummy hurts after sucralose” and there are very good reasons for that. Should a person then discount this anecdotal evidence? That is up to them but I choose not to.

      You, as a reader, eater and free thinker now have to decide if the CURRENT scientific data on these chemicals is enough for you to feel safe ingesting them. My personal opinion, which I will re-iterate is NOT scientifically backed is that you are best eating from the Earth and that just because these substances haven’t been proved to be harmful at the present time does NOT mean that they will not one day. My opinion is that current scientific data on the THOUSANDS of chemicals we now ingest daily in processed food is not nearly extensive enough and we will not see or feel the full effects of all our man-made food for many decades to come. By that point I personally believe there will be ample scientific evidence to back every claim you are making but in the meantime you and I are actually not supported by science.

      • Gareth says

        Great comment!!

        Not all of us can eat that “healthily” at all times.

        So lets not beat ourselves up when we do :)

        I totally agree that I personally like to keep things as “natural” and “untouched” as possible.

        Lovely comment and enjoyed reading it.

        • Oprah says

          Right there with you Gareth.

          People have completely missed the overall point of this piece-”perfect is the enemy of good”. Like I said, my own lifestyle preferences don’t line up with a lot of what was discussed in this article (and I wasn’t crazy about some of the generalizations) but overall this was a fantastically researched, very well laid out and very well articulated piece (and I believe I read the author is 18… that is astounding).

          Better believe that amongst my fruits and veggies (organic when availability and wallet permits), grass fed meats,free range eggs and full fat dairy there will always be a package of Oreos in my shopping cart (double stuffed of couse!)


  85. Duh says

    Bullshit article is full of bullshit statistics and research. It’s the same thing that most bloggers and amateur writers do. They already have their mind made up on a subject, then they scour the internet for statistics that support their claims while ignoring any evidence that refutes them.

    It’s the equivalent of semi-professional trolling.

  86. Bev says

    Great article with many good points. I am wondering what your take is on the Michael Moss book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” The engineering of fast food and highly processed food seems to illicit a drug like addiction. That would lead me to categorize it as bad food to a great extent. But I do agree, the food is not the culprit. It’s our behavior that is the problem. As far as only listening to a Medical professional when deciding if I shouldn’t eat a certain food do to a medical condition, I must disagree. If I have observed my bodies response to a certain food as negative, then I should stay away from it, regardless of a published scientific study to corroborate its negative effects on the population as a whole. Thanks for making me think through my opinions. That is a good thing.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting Bev,

      I disagree with the idea that food companies are to blame for obesity or poor health. As you said, it’s our behavior towards the food that’s the culprit. As far as blaming food companies, no one seems to mention the fact that homemade baked goods and other foods are also “chemically engineered.” They’re also “thermally processed,” otherwise known as “cooked.” It’s definitely true that salt, sugar, and fat are more palatable than other foods, but it’s a stretch to call them addicting.

      It’s downright dishonest to act like all food companies are tricking people by engineering food to purposely get people “addicted.” Consumers demand tasty/highly palatable food, so companies make it available. If the demand (i.e. people’s food choices) changed, the companies would supply less palatable/more nutrient rich foods.

      As far as only listening to a Medical professional when deciding if I shouldn’t eat a certain food do to a medical condition, I must disagree. If I have observed my bodies response to a certain food as negative, then I should stay away from it, regardless of a published scientific study to corroborate its negative effects on the population as a whole.

      You’re correct in that just because a claim doesn’t have an RCT doesn’t mean it’s untrue. However, it should also have some strong indirect evidence, and the social, mental, and physiological negative effects of avoiding the food should be minimal to nonexistent.

      Thanks for making me think through my opinions. That is a good thing.

      Thanks for being open minded. :)

  87. says

    Hi Armi thanks for posting such a thought provoking article. I can only respond based on my personal experience.

    I used to preach the everything in moderation approach for many years. However once I reached 61 I tried a different approach as an experiment. Over the years, although I followed the conventional wisdom of calories in and calories out, sticking basically to the food pyramid that recommended 6 servings of healthy grains, avoiding excess salt and saturated fat, eating so called healthy vegetable oils etc., I slowly gained body weight and fat, blood pressure crept up and my blood lipids became a concern. My doctor, of course, recommend I go on statins immediately and take blood pressure medication. I was a little pissed off to say the least, I had followed what was supposed to be healthy lifestyle choices. I lifted weights, ran consistently even competed in endurance sports. Why was my health slowly deteriorating? People would just slap me on the back and say, don’t worry take your statins you’re just getting older … Ha Ha!

    Well I decide to try a different approach. I said thanks but no thanks to the drugs and started to eat, train and live much differently.

    I began eating more mindfully, choosing organic and local when possible. My meat was from pastured animals, poultry and eggs were free range and I ate wild fish. I upped the amount of vegetables and ate seasonal locally grown fruit. I stopped drinking milk but still consumed dairy in the form of Greek style yogurt and raw milk cheeses. I eliminated wheat, soy, transfats, vegetable oils and processed foods containing the myriad of unpronounceable chemicals. My goal was to eliminate foods that might cause inflammation, toxins and artificially added chemicals as much as possible.

    The results have been stunning. I dropped considerable body weight and fat – going from 215 lbs to 170 lbs, body fat from around 22% down to 12%. Blood pressure from 140/95 to 105/75. Blood lipids are now better than when I was in my 30′s.

    I’ve dramatically increased my support of local farms, become interested in gardening and composting, provided support for community gardening and developed an increased overall awareness of our interconnection with nature. I’ve taken time to visit some of our local organic farmers, learning how they work the land and how amazingly tuned in they are to their animals. Physically I’ve embraced a very diversified approach to fitness combining strength, cardio and yoga and periodized my training and diet macros throughout the year and added intermittent fasting. I’ve also added meditation to the mix and I am focusing on being more mindful. My personal journey to peak health has evolved from a way to lose a few pounds to a search for true physical and emotional well-being.

    So to me what we eat is more than just calories in vs. calories out. It is a reflection of how we view the world and our connection to nature.

    • says

      Hi John, thanks for sharing your story.

      Over the years, although I followed the conventional wisdom of calories in and calories out, sticking basically to the food pyramid that recommended 6 servings of healthy grains, avoiding excess salt and saturated fat, eating so called healthy vegetable oils etc., I slowly gained body weight and fat, blood pressure crept up and my blood lipids became a concern.

      I agree that the USDA diet is probably not optimal for most people. I also think that focusing only on calories is not the best strategy for weight loss or health.

      My doctor, of course, recommend I go on statins immediately and take blood pressure medication.

      I’m sorry to hear that, and I also believe that statins are often over-prescribed.

      I began eating more mindfully, choosing organic and local when possible. My meat was from pastured animals, poultry and eggs were free range and I ate wild fish. I upped the amount of vegetables and ate seasonal locally grown fruit. I stopped drinking milk but still consumed dairy in the form of Greek style yogurt and raw milk cheeses. I eliminated wheat, soy, transfats, vegetable oils and processed foods containing the myriad of unpronounceable chemicals. My goal was to eliminate foods that might cause inflammation, toxins and artificially added chemicals as much as possible.

      The results have been stunning. I dropped considerable body weight and fat – going from 215 lbs to 170 lbs, body fat from around 22% down to 12%. Blood pressure from 140/95 to 105/75. Blood lipids are now better than when I was in my 30′s.

      Thats great, seriously. However, it also sounds like you’ve increased your activity levels, started eating more total protein, and ate fewer total calories, thus causing weight loss. You’ve made a lot of changes for the better, but that doesn’t mean a small amount of the foods you completely eliminated would necessarily damage your health or hinder your progress.

      I’ve dramatically increased my support of local farms, become interested in gardening and composting, provided support for community gardening and developed an increased overall awareness of our interconnection with nature. I’ve taken time to visit some of our local organic farmers, learning how they work the land and how amazingly tuned in they are to their animals. Physically I’ve embraced a very diversified approach to fitness combining strength, cardio and yoga and periodized my training and diet macros throughout the year and added intermittent fasting. I’ve also added meditation to the mix and I am focusing on being more mindful. My personal journey to peak health has evolved from a way to lose a few pounds to a search for true physical and emotional well-being.

      That’s great, and I’m in no way against gardening. I have a garden, I grow many of my own fruits and vegetables, and I’ve also raised animals in the past.

      The point of the article was that strict food avoidance — “never” versus “sometimes, in moderation” — is rarely necessary.

      • says

        Thanks for the reply Armi, actually hit turns out that I have reduced my activity. I used to do a lot more long distance work. Really backed off on it and replaced it with intervals and some other forms of HIIT. The weekly net calories were down significantly. The whole long distance stuff was starting to wear on me, the change up has really improved my overall energy.

  88. Larry D. says

    I just want to say one thing which can perhaps help you in your future articles. Please do some research on how to correctly reference studies. You have listed 100+ studies but we don’t know which one corresponds to which part of your article. The correct way of referencing would be to annotate a word or phrase with each study’s corresponding number. Please do that, it would be so much easier to understand what you are trying to say. Thank you.

  89. samx says

    Terrible article and dangerous. Doesn’t even tall about high glycemic index and insulin spikes caused by eating the sugar foods he claims is ok. This article is a one way ticket to diabetes, especially for those at high risk. Unscientific and irresponsible information. Sorry dude.

    • Nathan says

      “People with insulin resistance may benefit from a lower carbohydrate intake.91

      Outside of very specific medical conditions like these, there is virtually no evidence that any single food can directly damage your health.”

      Pulled this out of the article. You, like many others, have selectively read this article.

  90. Awwdamn says

    Your article is very valid. A basic nutrition course would be all it takes to make the point that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” or “junk” food. Now that being said, I notice your article makes zero distinction of what constitutes “food.” And because of this you create the illusion that macdonald’s Burger King, hostess cakes etc. are fine in moderation. The truth is, the products these and many many many other “food” producing companies produce are not actually food. They may smell like food, look like food, taste like food but are actually “food-like” consumer goods. Human beings never evolved to eat non-food ingredients and fillers like pink slime and calling it hamburger, or reconstituted potato starch with partially hydrogenated safflower and/or cottonseed and/or palm kernel oil and calling it French-fried potatoes. (I’m not even gonna start on the subject of GMO’s). I realize not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a wife that cooks everything from scratch and with whole fat ingredients, (our butter consumption tripled? we even buy lard now) For some, buying boxed, prepared food items is a necessity, but please, read the label first. If you can’t pronounce it you shouldn’t eat it. But that’s okay because large food companies like Kraft have lobbied the FDA for approval to rename hard to pronounce ingredients like monosodiumglutamate to “natural flavorings.”

  91. says

    Thank you for at least citing scientific journals in your blog. That’s refreshing. As a Chef and provider of Clean Food I’d love to give you my definition of clean food. “It is food not overly processed. Little, if any, sugar or sodium. Food that’s meant to nourish the body and fuel it for a fantastic, healthy life.” So: while I do agree that all things should be in moderation which can help one to avoid excess calories. However, at this time the world seems to suffer from diseases directly attributable to over consumption. My company goal is to provide balance to people who don’t know how to cook well for themselves or for those who struggle with portion control. I’m known to encourage clients to enjoy a glass of wine. One glass. I’m also known to encourage those same clients to go out for a dessert. One dessert. Once in a while. I suppose your blog has got people talking and thinking and that’s a good thing. I just hope that it doesn’t misguide people in to thinking that there is no such thing as clean food. Best — Marcia

  92. Frank A says

    Does Armi Legge have a medical degree? If not, disregard this article. Talk to you doctor for sound medical advise.

    • Bert says

      Talk to a doctor??? I am one of MANY who have received advice from a doctor that was downright dangerous. Never again will i follow a doctor religiously without investigating the facts further myself…

  93. mistersandoz says

    Armi, great article. Always enjoy reading your work. Loved the point about some people having to eat higher calorie so called “bad” foods to meet their needs. Ask a person with cystic fibrosis if Oreos and milkshakes are “bad” for them. Nope, not at all. In fact, they are quite “healthy” for them.

    • Amanda says

      Yes, I also loved that he pointed out that certain people (recovering from an eating disorder, for example) require more calories, and it’s pretty unreasonable for a person recovering from anorexia to be expected to consume 5000 calories from chicken and broccoli. These people NEED to eat higher calorie, palatable foods (milk shakes are recovering anorexic’s best friend) to meet their calorie needs. Yet, as the author stated, you don’t hear anyone talking about how cookies and ice cream are life saving for people in those situations.

  94. Jennifer says

    Interesting, I find your points refreshing and I get what you are saying. People’s diet is almost like politics or religion…and can become a very touchy subject. The thing about diet that is so complex, is that there are so many factors that influence it…genetics, habits they got growing up, the media messages, education, and awareness on how they feel when they do things (eat certain foods, exercise, drink alcohol…etc). The more we educate ourselves, the more we have the freedom to sift through ridiculous facts and common sense and know what’s best for us personally, and take a step back a look at food in a realistic, healthy, and objective way.

  95. grinch says

    “As long as the majority of your calories come from whole nutrient dense foods, there’s no evidence you can’t meet your micronutrient needs while still consuming some “empty calories.”14-17″

    Love this line. You are basically admitting that whole foods are better.

    You are missing the forest for the trees. The reason obesity has skyrocketed is because of the increase in highly palatable industrial foods that are engineered to be over-consumed and to have us crave more. For some people the only way to control calorie intake is to stop eating these foods. Do you tell an alcoholic that its just fine to drink in moderation? Of course not, why do we have to tell people they must eat junk food, otherwise they have an eating disorder? There’s nothing wrong with removing foods that contribute nothing nutritionally and only cause us to lose control of our health. The body’s weight regulation system simply cannot handle junk foods in people who are genetically predisposed.

      • grinch says

        BS. Food choice is 90% of the problem. Nobody EVER overeats low palatability foods. Whole foods are never overeaten on their own. It is impossible to remain obese without eating processed junk, UNLESS you have some major defect such as being unable to produce leptin or something.

        The other 10% is our cultural acceptance of eating complete junk foods and shoving it in everybody’s face 24/7. You take humans who have thrifty genes and shove french fries and ice cream in their face, they are going to become obese and the only way to prevent it is to take them out of that environment. The environment is simply too powerful to overcome with willpower.

        The only people with the eating disorders are the delusional people so addicted to these foods that they have to rationalize why they shouldn’t have to give them up.

  96. Angelica says

    Great article! Although, in regards to GMO I would have stated “There is still not enough scientific evidence to support the claim that consuming GMO crops are harmful.” No one knows what a balanced diet is anymore and this is why obesity is such an issue in America. Yes, the society we live in makes it difficult at times to make healthier food choices but it’s all about being aware and being education on nutrition (portion sizes, recommended intakes). I eat my high fat sugar loaded cake once a week and when I go out to eat at a restaurant I eat less than half of what they give me.. pack it up and bring it home because I know what’s in front of me is a lot more than what is necessary. If I wasn’t aware and I ate what was placed in front of me, I would go back to being overweight like I was years ago. I also make sure I consume a balanced diet on a daily basis. Most people have this “all or nothing” mentality about losing weight/eating healthier which is why most attempts to lose weight and long-term maintenance are unsuccessful.
    I am a student getting my Masters in Nutrition on the path to becoming a RD and I find the profession I picked to be very frustrating at times because everyone is an expert about food, despite the scientific based research that is out there. Keep up the great work!

  97. JessicaIDGAF says

    My favorite part? The people who are on Paleo, gluten free, vegetarian diets who are now FREAKING THE F OUT!


    NONE of you are nutritionists. There are people who are living to be 117 years old who have no idea wtf a gluten is.

    Deal with it.

    • says

      It’s conventional wisdom nutritionists who have contributed to our current obesity crises and the doctors pushing drugs as the solution to better health or the USDA recommending 6 servings of “healthy” grains each day.

  98. Ryan says

    This blog post is inaccurate regardless of the worthless references. It’s one individuals misinformed, uneducated opinion about nutrition and health and not even worth responding to.

      • says

        Sorry but both of you are just one side of the same coin. Although there have been snarky and angry comments like yours there have also been good points made on both sides, if you taken the time to read the comments. The beauty of the blog is that it has caused all sides to stop and question their beliefs more thoroughly.

  99. Jem says

    When I first read the article, my “indignation” (weak emotion) made me want to lay it on this author. Thankfully the comments were also here. They allowed me to calm, smile and enjoy some of the reasoning behind the article. And (obviously) we can choose to agree to disagree because in my opinion, nutritional health is all theory anyway.

    A couple of points of opinion:
    I do disagree that the metabolic equation is as simple as calories in to calories out. That simplicity of argument is a little tough for me because it doesn’t account for quality of life (sleep, digestion, hormonal balance) factors inherent in the individual needing it.

    Secondly, I think a strong adherence to RCT as evidence of truth is a bad idea, for two reasons: 1) the study could be flawed on purpose and supported by a commercial interest, and 2) I don’t feel you can study the impact of holistic influence nutrition plays using a medical methodology. There are too many factors that would need to be qualified to find a control group. So I guess in a way, the premise you use as your defense of argument – that of medical trials – doesn’t prove the point. Finding studies to counter arguments for or against a point is easy but follow the money to determine the objectivity. There may be nefarious reasons for a study as any researcher knows who pays the bills. It doesn’t mean the academic is a fraud; simply that the manner in which a study’s IRB is defined sets the parameters for the results. So perhaps in one sense, the true myth could be the proof. The straight biochemical elements proven at the time can be reversed at another time and so on. Just because biochemical texts suggest a truism doesn’t make it so as science evolves. So arguments against your theses would need to prove not only that your proof is wrong with studies that are more current and defined with methodology that is not slanted…good luck on that.

    Thirdly, the concept of clean eating is in the eye of the beholder; a point you made well. However, the chemical make up of a food does matter. But so does the physiology of its absorption. The concept of gluconeogenesis and liver glycogen validate the inconsistencies and adaptability of a food and its resultant nourishment. And environmental elements such as medications throw a link in that work. Genetic origin, administration of meds, balanced against the equation would likely invalidate its supposition. Those naive enough to believe RCTs are strictly based on scientific method are basing opinion on the selectivity of the studies available and the manipulation of them to validate their point. Monsanto isn’t going to publish results that affect their shareholders in a negative way but for damn sure will finance the studies needed to support them. It doesn’t invalidate the studies that do suggest GMOs are bad for us; it only hides the essence of the argument – that people fear that Monsanto is using chemicals and forcing otherwise honest researchers to validate safety (there are whistleblowers already under oath that tell us this has happened). Science doesn’t dwell in the house of passion; therefore, good trials arguing safety are not going to be believed by opponents even if the methodology looks sound. I think the comment section proves this. So, in short; your use of studies to support the myth will stir up the hornets no matter how much smoke is blown their way. Arguments that are supported by the most current research are easily invalidated by those passionate to do so, bringing the debate into a more tedious and boring topic of compendium of evidence.

    Lastly, I do disagree with some of your assessment of practioners – this tells me that the axiom, “Ignorance breeds prejudice” is again proven. I too jokingly dis naturopaths and alt med people even as I adhere to a lot of the precept of theories they tout. I frankly don’t feel their training is unbiased and I don’t like the way predominant theories such as “cleansing” enter into nutritional debate. Nutrition is about what we put in our bodies; not what we take out. I get a little concerned when my clients start discussing cleanses that don’t involve food – laxatives are not food; no matter what the US Congress suggests. But I would suggest that we will get much further bringing the ancient wisdom to the modern table and honoring all the efforts of people that choose alternative medicine to support their theory. They may not be always right but of their opinions and validation may lead to a compendium of evidence; they deserve more respect than you and I might offer tongue in cheek. Ironically, the very people seeking acceptance of naturopathy want equal validation to mainstream medicine do so because they want to be doctors. And modern naturopathy, in my opinion is not alternative medicine – it is quasi-medicine based on political and commercial motives. Proof of point, find a naturopath that doesn’t sell products and you will have found one that seeks truth. But this holds true for their practice and indeed for funding of their educational facilities. But the same motives fund medical schools – who funda and supports them if not the commercial interests of the drug companies? So as the comments show; there will not be that honor among adversaries because science now has passionate fuel: on both sides

    To the comment that readers should disavow this article because they are not doctors; let me say that you are entitled to the belief that only medicine can address the issue of health and nutrition but I think most docs would tell you that they really don’t know that much about it. I would also suggest that, by training, neither does a naturopath. That leads me to final point: as we try to honor all those opinions and their sources, we should include the fitness/bodybuilding/metabolic people as well. The trouble is finding people of that industry that are not pompous self-promoters. As an educator in the fitness and nutrition industries, I can tell you that I am continually embarrassed by the pomposity that exists in the field. Trainers with no nutrition or biochem education spouting off with the stereotypical narcissism that is so evident again in this thread of comments. But the true students of the industry realize that their “field” work does establish some authority. Most of the time their education is self-taught which is not a bad thing. But I see so many trainers call themselves nutrition experts simply because they feed people the way they were taught to eat. It doesn’t make you an experts; it only makes you lucky. On the other hand, I have learned a lot about nutrition from fitness professionals and some of their dogma is quite valid.

    Question the validity of all practitioners speaking to you about such an important topic as if it is the truth. If we knew that, most of them would be unemployed…or pose themselves as expert commentators on a website. To the guy in Chicago; you perpetuate the myth that fitness pros are idiots and untruthful. To the lady suggesting academic study is the only way to the truth – you embarrass academics. And to the author; I quite enjoyed this mornings diversion and how you caused me to think. Thanks for that. You reminded me that the best compendium of evidence rests in honoring those that seek a response leading toward truth. When I started in nutrition there were no schools of thought. Being self-taught has allowed me the freedom to question it all. Glad to see that continues. Your thesis of cause and effect relates to clean eating but in truth you exposed the best in cause and effect with the inflammatory topic. Kudos there. I see clients daily and there is no shortage of them. I don’t use calories and won’t let my clients count them. I don’t use weight as a measure and don’t allow clients to report to use the scale as a measure of progress. And I don’t use equations like “calories in, calories out” because it doesn’t work. Your studies might have allowed you to reach that conclusion but my clients have shown me that there is so much more to it. But I will say that your methods of promoting your argument promote you and I will be tuning in occasionally. Because seekers of the truth are entertaining to those that are still seeking. You did your work to the level of your understanding and accumulating the references of support arrests to your work ethic. And since to me all nutrition is theory, thanks for adding to my search. You’ll be one to watch in the future. Or at least until I have the time to read another thread. I enjoy the scholar; hate the pundit. If the other threads reflect this same feeling to me; regardless of agreeing or disagreeing with you; I will honor what you say and tell others it’s worthy of a look-see. Because even those that seek to stir the pot want to feel that they are doing so with best intention. And of all I have seen so far; you do so with the kind of manners most of us have forgotten. I will find you on FaceBook but I just hope you leave an opening somewhere so I can enjoy poking some holes in it. Just like you did to me this morning. Touché!

  100. Gene says

    You should look up some research on red meat before you say there is no research on eating red meat and negative results on the body. This is a completely junk article. Furthermore citing bodybuilders and what they eat and how they look is bs. A bodybuilding diet in any phase is not for health but for looks. Get a life, go to school, read, research, and stop writing.

    • RA says

      You don’t think there are big faults within the methodology of these studies that conclude red meat is bad for you?

  101. CCW says

    This article is absolutely riddled with hypocrisy and naiveté. Anyone who takes health advice from an 18-year old deserves what they get. It should be entitled “Things We Eat That Might Be Killing Us But Are Totally Okay To Eat Because They Haven’t Killed Us Yet”. Or have they?

    Just take a look at the current state of affairs in public health. It’s pure ignorance and denial, which is the basis of this article.

  102. Gunther says

    Hey I hope you read this, just because it’s a little bit of user feedback. The article was really awesome, I’m almost done reading it, but the font is so hard to read. I’ve never had a more difficult time trying to read an article. I’ll try and make it bigger or something but I just thought I’d put it out there. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem.

  103. Chelsea says

    I do try most of the time to “eat healthy” (not clean, because that would imply that other people are eating “unclean” food and that’s just a dick thing to say. not “whole” or “unprocessed” because I both cut *and* cook food. just foods that are the most filling for the calories) but because I’m not missing your point, I absolutely loved this article. People don’t want facts, they want a food religion, and anyone who speaks out is a heretic (and also in the pocket of Big Whatever). This is refreshing, realistic, and should be required reading material for everyone on the internet. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  104. Patt says

    If you think all of the food additives and chemically altered foods haven’t affected our health in the last 30 years or so, what would you suggest is the cause of the dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases, allergies, cancer and many other health problems? I don’t need a study to tell me that messing with REAL food is not smart. Since I cut all the crap out of my diet, my body aches disappeared, my mood swings disappeared and my energy level shot up. Oh, and I lost 30 pounds without even trying. I’ll stick to my clean diet. I couldn’t care less if you think such a thing exists.

    • grinch says

      Willpower has apparently decreased. That must be the only explanation since every other physiological explanation has been debunked!

  105. says

    thank you for this. We need more people talking good sense, moderate approaches and best of all you provided the references to prove this is not just “your opinion” but actual fact backed up by solid science. Will be doing my best to make sure as many people read this as possible.

    • Lisa says

      This article has missed the mark in so many ways! No wonder we have so many people confused about what to eat and what not to eat and why or why not!!! This article is so far removed from nutrition and health that it would take an eternity to move the writer and all the supporters to a place where they have a clue about this topic, and that is why I will go no further. Ah, I will never get this time back and it further reinforces some of the reasons behind the rapid decline of the human population. Yawn………..

  106. Gene says

    So, your food choices have no affect on your long term health? I mean, if clean eating is a myth, then one man’s choice to eat 2000 calories of chicken and broccoli daily is just as good as another man’s choice to consume 2000 calories of Pepsi and muffins. Their weight might be the same, but that’s hardly the only measure of good eating. This article, while correct on several points, it prima facie absurd.

    • says

      Uh no. 2000 calories of pepsi and muffins doesn’t have the same amount of macronutrients as 2000 calories of chicken and broccoli. Don’t act like you didn’t notice the part about the importance of macronutrients. There’s no way you can get all your macronutrients from muffins and pepsi. Sorry.

  107. says

    Good article, I think you make some valid points about the subject of “clean” eating and what eating “healthy” may or may not be.

    The general premise to “relax a bit and eating a fucking donut once and a while” (paraphrasing, ha ha), is a good idea, particularly for those that have orthorexia.

    I do have a couple questions/comments.

    First, I think it might be helpful in a discussion about food to “define” what constitutes “food”.

    Is food anything that you can put in your pie hole?

    A discussion of “food” would have been very different 100 years ago, even 50 years ago. What was available as “food” was very different than what “food” looks like today.

    So is some HIGHLY processed “food”, that is, a combination of items that were likely not easily available or not even invented, 100 years ago and expertly modified to hit the “bliss point” by a food chemist, a food?

    I am NOT appealing to the “natural” or “old” fallacy. I am not saying that ingestion of these “food” items are automatically harmful. In fact, “whey protein powders”, clearly a modern creation, is likely a health promoting “food”. But, should soda (whatever type) or a Twinkie, etc. be classified the same as a piece of beef, apple, brown rice, almonds, spinach, etc.?

    Is there some way to draw a line in the sand?

    You stated the following which I will comment on below

    “Unfortunately, there isn’t a formal definition of what “nutritious” means.7”
    “Classifying foods as healthy or unhealthy based on a score is a pointless and unscientific endeavor. In this case, common sense should prevail.
    It’s true that some foods are far more nutrient dense than others. Cake icing doesn’t have the same nutrient content as an apple. As long as the majority of your calories come from whole nutrient dense foods, there’s no evidence you can’t meet your micronutrient needs while still consuming some “empty calories.”14-17
    Research has shown that most people would have to eat roughly 20% of their total calories from refined sugar before it became impossible to meet their micronutrient needs.3,18,19
    People who eat tons of sugar are generally malnourished.20,21 However, most people who are serious about their health aren’t eating anywhere close to 20% of their daily calories from sugar.”

    Second, I agree that there is no formal definition of “nutritious”. However, your further statements actually highlight the fact that certain foods and the ingestion of highly processed/sugar based “foods” is probably not a good idea. Therefore, is it not logical to conclude that the ingestion of certain “foods” are likely to increase the odds of not meeting optimal nutritional intake and other foods are more likely to meet our optimum nutritional needs? It is not a black or white situation; there is definitely a lot of grey area. However, based on an objective look at nutrition science, is it not fair to say that a certain “food” is more or less likely to be “good” (likely to maintain a healthy body) for you? Of course there are exceptions to most rules, for example if someone has Celiac, then gluten based grains are not good for them and can be classified as a “bad” food for them. Other examples would include lactose intolerance and real food allergies, PKU and other situations. Keeping in mind that these exceptions are a small percentage of the total population. So there may be no foods that are purely good or bad; context, health conditions, etc matter. However, again, it seems plausible to state that certain foods, old or new, have a certain nutritional profile that increases the likelihood that it would maintain or even improve one’s health if eaten regularly, therefore giving it the “good for you” rating. Conversely, other “foods”, if eaten often would increase the likelihood of not maintaining health or even decreasing it, therefore giving it the “bad for you” rating.

    On a somewhat separate aspect, but I think, still relevant, is your “common sense” statement. I think there are many shortcomings to the “common sense” approach when applied to nutrition and many other things in life. Things can be common and make sense, but that certainly does not make them correct. There are many cognitive bias and a general lack of understanding on how science and how the body works, that common sense approaches to deciding what is good for use is really not very “scientific” or likely to result in conclusions that are valid and useful. The literature in psychology and sociology has clearly demonstrated that “common sense” thinking has many potential problems. For example, the relatively recent book The Invisible Gorilla, highlights some of the common sense problems. The authors state “Everyday illusions are so woven into our habits of mind that we don’t realize that they undergird all of the “common sense” that leads us to accept stories like Larry Taylor’s” (p.231).
    A couple of related links on this topic

  108. Whitefox says

    Hi Armi,

    I would just like to congratulate you on actually referencing some data in what seems like an attempt to cover it all. Of course, you have to pick and choose because nobody could cite it all, but you do seem to have made an effort to cite reputable sources and meta-analyses that covered a breadth of other studies.

    That being said, the limitations of a blog means that you are beholden to meta-analyses (which I don’t like as much as the collection of individual studies, each with their own methods) and a subset of the available studies.

    Specifically, I would like to disagree with two things: gluten-free and omega-6 oils.

    Gluten-free diets are superior to gluten containing diets, irrespective of celiac disease. While you stated in your gluten-free article that the various gluten-related maladies consist of <10% of the population, this researcher indicates that, from his study (which I don't have access to, so forgive the interview-text format) approximately 29% of people show a fecal-antibody response to gluten (fecal tests being superior to blood serum tests), which suggests that almost 1/3 of people are "gluten sensitive" if defined by an immune response.


    Furthermore, here are a few studies related to gluten, GI, and Neuropathy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224837

    As should be clear from the first study, sometimes gluten sensitivity can manifest without anti-gliadin antibodies, which may indicate increased prevalence of gluten sensitivity than even the 29% mentioned before (though in all fairness, it was one study, so perhaps an ultimate estimate of 10-50% of all humans is an acceptable range of its prevalence). The close connection of gluten and schizophrenia, gluten ataxia, MS, and so on is a disturbing trend that I think warrants a closer look than a one-off article can provide.

    As for Omega-6 oils' role in inflammation and heart disesase, you cited 2 analyses by Mozaffarian, but this leaves out multiple other reviews by Ramsden et al, such as:

    …Which speak strongly of the differential effects of dietary replacements, even in controlled, clinical trial settings.

    Overall, I agree that quantity matters, but so does overall quality (a point I believe you have made). The recent bodybuilding trend of IIFYM (if it fits your macros) follows this, but of course the majority of food must be high in quality to produce quality health.

    For example, I think you realize this, but the 20% sugar diet of an elite athlete is by no means healthy for their liver, as that would certainly cross the "beneficial in moderation" threshold and run into "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" territory. But athletes don't do it for health, and you're right that rarely would a human eat anything approaching 20% sugar in their diet.

    I'll leave it at that for now, but I really do appreciate the injection of sanity into the food discussion with regards to red meat, cholesterol, and so on and so forth.

    In the effort of full disclosure, I personally follow a paleo-type diet, however one that only eschews grains/vegetable oils/processed foods and includes dairy, legumes, and oats (yes that's a grain – sue me). As always, have nice day.

  109. Spencer Coronado says

    This article is pretty stupid. No food can damage you? Are you retarded? You’re not a fucking nutritionist, idiot. Go talk to a college educated person about this and you’ll realize you’re talking about something you don’t understand on a basic, fundamental level.

  110. Shannon says

    I have worked in the Research field. Let me tell you that the MAJORITY of ‘peer-reviewed’ research studies are funded by someone with an agenda. Either it is a corporation who wants to prove that their dead, processed food product is healthy, or the FDA who wants to prove their nonsensical ‘food pyramid’ is correct, or the dairy council who doesn’t want to go out of business. PEOPLE, don’t automatically believe a research study just because it was published in a “peer-reviewed’ journal!

    Secondly, it really is just COMMON SENSE. Stop being sheep and following the latest diet guru who wants to make $1m off lazy people who want a magic solution to their bad lifestyle choices.

    I’ll give this to you for FREE! Ready………..increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and quality protein. REDUCE your intake of processed foods, sugar, and chemicals. MOVE your body. HYDRATE your body with water (not soda, not caffeine, not artificially sweetened crap), REST your body with adequate sleep (this is different for everyone).

    You don’t have to NEVER have a donut, or chicken-fried steak, or ___________________(fill in the blank) again. MODERATION. SELF CONTROL, and getting to know your own body are the key to a well-rounded lifestyle.

    Peace Out.

  111. says

    Finally a study that will help determine if a calorie is just a calorie…

    What makes you fat? This will be an interesting study
    Primal Fuel
    ” A key initial experiment will be carried out jointly by researchers at Columbia University, the National Institutes of Health, the Florida Hospital–Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute in Orlando, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. In this pilot study, 16 overweight and obese participants will be housed throughout the experiment in research facilities to ensure accurate assessments of calorie consumption and energy expenditure. In stage one, the participants will be fed a diet similar to that of the average American—50 percent carbohydrates (15 percent sugar), 35 percent fat and 15 percent protein. Researchers will carefully manipulate the calories consumed until it is clear the participants are neither gaining nor losing fat. In other words, the calories they take in will match the calories they expend, as measured in a device called a metabolic chamber. For stage two, the subjects will be fed a diet of precisely the same number of calories they had been consuming—distributed over the same number of meals and snacks—but the composition will change dramatically.

    The total carbohydrate content of the new diet will be exceedingly low—on the order of 5 percent, which translates to only the carbohydrates that occur naturally in meat, fish, fowl, eggs, cheese, animal fat and vegetable oil, along with servings of green leafy vegetables. The protein content of this diet will match that of the diet the subjects ate initially—15 percent of calories. The remainder—80 percent of calories—will consist of fat from these real food sources. The idea is not to test whether this diet is healthy or sustainable for a lifetime but to use it to lower insulin levels by the greatest amount in the shortest time.”

    Calories will be the same (the presumed amount to maintain the current weight of the obese subjects) but different macros. Will the low carb group lose weight? What do you think?

    Here is the Scientific America article about the research – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-makes-you-fat-too-many-calories-or-the-wrong-carbohydrates

  112. Liv says

    Of course there are “bad” foods, and of course there are foods that cause nutrient deficiencies! Most processed foods, sugar, and refined industrial oils fall into this category. As in, the less you eat of them, the better! Can you really argue that??
    Psychologically, it’s probably difficult to avoid them completely, but it should still be the ideal…

  113. says

    Thank you so much for posting this as it comes just at the right time for me. After 8 months of trying various eating protocols, it occurred to me that the majority of the originators to the plan(s) collect their fee so you can join their site.. Then leave the nutritional coaching up to their loyal followers while they laugh their way to the bank.. I cry foul and I’m not following any more.. I’m reclaiming my old eating style, one that doesn’t include the potential for an eating disorder…

  114. Jason says

    I think the basic point of that unnecessarily long piece of drivel is actually correct to a point. That is basically not going to kill you to indulge in a piece of cake or Twinkie or whatever on a rare occasion. However your method of explaining that relatively easy piece of information is the most ignorant and convoluted piece of trash I’ve read in recent memory.

    Not only that, it’s a very dangerous and slippery slope to write an article the way you did. As has been pointed out, a person with an eating problem or disorder will read that it’s ok to go ahead and eat the things they are hooked on in moderation. That will put them right back where they started. Eating the addictive junk food that caused them to become obese, diabetic, insulin resistant, ect. For these people there is no moderation. They are the same as a smoker who just quit cigarettes. No one tells an ex smoker to go ahead and light up in moderation. Just because an elite athlete can eat an entire pie in a sitting with little noticeable effect doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing to do.

    Back to the original point however. That it’s ok to indulge on occasion if you are already careful of your food choices 80 plus percent of the time. That’s true. Our bodies are remarkable machines that are capable of extraordinary things. Like repairing the damage from bad food choices, drug addictions, or years or mistreatment from hard labor or sports. As long as it’s rare enough or you correct the behavior before it’s too late. The thing is though, there is a big difference to being able to indulge occasionally and needing to. I hate to break it to you but nothing good comes from eating crap food like your red velvet cake. It is nutritionally dead food that serves no good purpose for your body. If you never had another can of coke, slice of cake, or bag of Cheetos it wouldn’t matter. You would be better off for it. There is nothing in the junk food indulgences that we crave that the body needs and cannot be gotten in a much better form. The chemicals, additives, preservatives, ect are toxic and cause bad reactions in the body. That is simple common sense and deductive reasoning. If the majority of health ailments are relatively new and coincide with the rapid explosion and availability of the processed junk in the past few years. I’m good with going with the theory that the simplest explanation to a problem is usually the correct one. I have read plenty of real world studies and testimonials to know the general best direction to take for diet. No processed carbs or sugar, and eating whole foods in their best available form. It isn’t rocket science.

    You’re also quite foolish to dismiss every contrary argument to your idiocy because they didn’t follow up with a list of biased references dug up from the far corners of the internet. Common sense doesn’t require references. A simple Google search tells you that processed carbohydrates, excess sugar, and meat from sick poorly treated animals who have been pumped up with growth hormones, antibiotics, and fed a inappropriate diet are bad for your body. Just because you cited nonsensical references to attempt to validate your completely asinine points doesn’t mean squat in my book.

    I am not a nutritionist. So you can cover your ears and tell yourself that without references I can’t prove what I say. That’s fine. But you can’t prove conclusively any of your retarded points either. So where does that leave us? Back to that little thing called common sense. Obviously it’s isn’t very common anymore.

  115. skylar says

    This is by far the worst article I have ever stumbled upon. I could not even finish it because it was actually making me more and more angry. This article is legitimately verbal diarrhea and it’s hilarious that the author truly believes what he is saying is true. How sad. I pray that people who read this aren’t stupid enough to actually believe it. I mean come on. Really?

    We all know to lose weight you have to burn more calories then you put in. However, the fact that you are saying eat whatever you want, because a cookie is just like a sweet potato, makes me want to slap your face.

    Clean food is exactly what it is called, it is food that is clean. Clean of chemicals, clean of additives, clean of GMOs, fake sugar, added sugar, and words you cannot pronounce. It is food that has been eaten for thousands of centuries, it is whole foods that our bodies were intended to eat. Our digestive system was only meant to eat such foods. It does not know how to digest crap food so when you eat that way, it messes with your whole entire body’s functions. Eating garbage like processed junk that is chalk full of god knows what, will not make you healthy even if you control how much of it you eat. You cannot compare whole foods to junk foods and say they are the same as long as you watch how many calories you’re taking in. It just doesn’t work that way.

    You’re an idiot.

    Please reevaluate your life.

    • fred says

      Can you give me an example of a food that doesn’t contain chemicals?

      Even that water that you drink has a chemical formula, H20 and can be created by chemical reactions even some that occur in the body
      Oh and salt, that some will know as NaCl and glucose (C6H12O6) are chemicals so in short everything you eat is composed on chemical

      So clean food is definitely not chemical free, less processed or without added chemicals (both natural and manufactured) maybe

      • Heather says

        Sklar, I agree. Clean eating is real and valid in today’s world. And yes Fred, it is hard to avoid ALL chemicals but we can certainly try by opting for an apple and not a bag of pretzels. Sure, in moderation you can enjoy just about everything but listen to your body…it does talk to you when it doesn’t like what you eat! And I haven’t met one person whose body ‘likes’ sugar or processed foods…just sayin’. Anyway our goal should be to strive for a ‘healthy’ life because once your health is gone, what’s left?

        And Armi, I enjoyed your article although I sit on the opposite side of the fence. Keep up the researching and maybe we’ll meet again someday on the same side of the fence.

    • PoptartsarenotHealthy says

      I agree … telling me that 250 calories of brownies and a 250 calorie egg white omelet with spinach is going to have the same benefit for my body is INSANE.

      • says

        I agree … telling me that 250 calories of brownies and a 250 calorie egg white omelet with spinach is going to have the same benefit for my body is INSANE.

        Where in the article did it say that?

    • says

      I could not even finish it because it was actually making me more and more angry.

      Sounds like you may need to work on some anger issues.

      We all know to lose weight you have to burn more calories then you put in.

      Not everyone knows this. See this article for examples.

      However, the fact that you are saying eat whatever you want, because a cookie is just like a sweet potato, makes me want to slap your face.

      Where in the article did it say that?

      Clean of chemicals, clean of additives, clean of GMOs, fake sugar, added sugar, and words you cannot pronounce.

      Name one food that doesn’t contain chemicals.

      You’re an idiot.


  116. PoptartsarenotHealthy says

    And furthermore, produce just ONE IFBB or NPC bodybuilder that’s won competitions or achieved State or National Level Titles eating Pop Tarts during prep.

    THERE AREN’T ANY. Any clue as to why?

  117. Marcel says

    I completely agree with the fact that it isn’t necessary to completely avoid these bad foods in order to live a healthy life, but wouldn’t eating less aspartame, for example, lead to you being even healthier?

    I’m not interested in losing weight. I’m not interested in being healthy. I am already. But doesn’t it seem logical that eating even “cleaner” (for lack of describing it in another way) would make you feel and work even better?

    If certain foods are poisonous in large quantities, aren’t they a bit poisonous in very small quantities? After all, having cancer means nothing more than having millions of cancer cells. So why not spare your body the work of repairing even the small damage and using it somewhere else?

    Every little part, every enzyme of your body has a defined type of environment in which it performs at it’s best. Our body is not much more than a collection of these, so why wouldn’t you be able to bring the whole you to it’s optimal environment?

    - Marcel :)

  118. Nicole says

    I’d like to start off with the fact that this article is very demeaning. I know a couple of people that responded mentioned that this article is condescending to those who may practice clean eating, or health conscious individuals.

    Second, this article can be interpreted about as many ways as “clean eating” itself. Personally, after reading this article, I feel like stuffing my face with a Big Mac 3x a day is perfectly fine! As long as I am operating in a caloric deficit.

    Third, I’d like to thank you. Because of articles like these I have an even deeper passion for discovering how the body works. I’ve “heard” that certain foods are bad for you but I want to know WHY. I want to know HOW the body processes things differently. This article has encouraged me to pursue a major in physiology and psychology with a minor in food nutrition. I find this all extremely interesting and I’d like to know which side (clean eaters vs. the majority of America) actually has specific scientific backing.

    I might agree that a lot of the research done on Clean Eating is subjective, diets all have subjective experiments results. Why? Because everyone’s body is different. Everyone metabolizes food at different paces, people’s bodies vary as greatly as the individual. Specific, objective evidence is hard to obtain. People “cheat” on diets, people have varying amounts of willpower and people interpret diets in different ways.

    I am a believer in quality AND quantity of food. I believe that eating healthy and eating foods closer to the source is better for the way your body PROCESSES the food, not just the way you look after. I also believe that occasionally eating a processed food isn’t going to kill anyone but that everything should be done in moderation.

    While you may not agree with clean eating and its varied interpretations, there are some solid guidelines that should be emphasized FOR a BALANCED diet.

    Clean eating suggests:
    - eat fruits and veggies – nothing wrong with that, kids today don’t eat enough of them anyway; you should see the kids I babysit.

    - eat whole grains – ok. SO, no one said you had to get rid of your pasta, but wouldn’t you rather get more nutrients from your food?

    - no processed foods – I COMPLETELY understand that this is difficult for a number of individuals and that it can be pricey. I am myself a college student, and on a BUDGET. HOWEVER, there are ways to read nutrition labels to make sure that you are getting something that does not have a bunch of additives – while you say processed foods are ok, many should note that the ingredients that make up preservatives and artificial flavors are harmful in general – not just when we eat them.

    - lean meats – fat on meats comprise excess calories that most individuals do not know they are consuming. One might assume that if its on the meat than it must be healthy. Most individuals don’t take into consideration what they are actually eating.

    - Small, frequent meals. Good! Everyone should be happy that they get to eat more. Some research supports this as to keep your metabolism running so that you burn more throughout the day. Some research supports that this can be negative. However, in my experience, this keeps me full and focused. I don’t feel hungry and I don’t overeat.

    - Portion control – something that everyone should do and few people practice. While you may be correct that someone can consume a slice of cake and not gain weight it is by far HOW MUCH they are consuming. Also mentioned in a comment, most people don’t have the self control to eat just a few bites. Clean eating emphasizes the importance of eating enough to be satisfied but not overeating – hence the small, more frequent meals.

    More than anything what I have taken away from clean eating is:
    1. I am aware of what I’m eating.
    2. I portion control – everything in moderation,
    3. I am learning to eat a COMPLETE diet.

    You say that the diet is restrictive, but it honestly has opened more doors for me than anything. I have learned how to eat foods that are healthy and whole. I have a variety of foods to choose from and there are THOUSANDS of recipes that people can use to make a healthy change to their “diet”.

    Lastly, I do not view clean eating as a DIET, clean eating is a LIFESTYLE.
    If more people could eat more nutrient rich foods, fewer Big Macs, and drink a little, ok, a LOT, more water people would see a difference in their physique. QUALITY DOES matter. People tend to lean away from clean eating because it is inconvenient, as are a lot of positive things; like studying for a biology exam when your friends all want to go out.

    The fundamentals of clean eating can provide individuals with a healthier body. But more than anything I think more people need to UNDERSTAND and PRACTICE portion control and moderation – something that our society does not preach very often.

    Would you like to super-size that?

    • says

      If you’re eating whole-grains for the nutrient content, you need to get a little further in your physiology/psychology/food nutrition degrees. Sure, they do better than refined grains, but that’s only a lesser-of-two evils thing rather than a clean-eating staple. If you can name me 3 nutrients in whole-grain bread or pasta that is more prevalent than in a real food, I’ll eat my hat. Also: http://bit.ly/15qggOM

      On the other hand, I’d allow gluten-free grains like oats in moderation – despite their lack of a strong nutrient profile, they have some nice/rare micronutrient compounds and beta-glucan fiber.

      But… I like the thought. Tip: primary literature is your friend, and the stuff you read in classes is probably outdated or biased if it does not incorporate said information.

  119. says

    As a Naturopathic Doctor (yes, I’m a real doctor, despite your insinuation otherwise), I’ve seen plenty of people with good diets and adequate sun exposure develop vitamin D deficiency.

  120. Zoja Kovacs says

    Oh wow! I’m a 14 year old girl and I’m in and out of an eating disorder! I work out with my mum and I try my best to get fit and muscly (get a six-pack). I have banned myself from any junk food and calorie rich foods! Thank you! This article really set things straight and set me onto the right track! I will try to eat more calories daily from now on than what i usually eat daily (approx 1300 calories). Thank you! I think you just fixed my eating disorder :)
    So if i eat more than 1300 calories I wont get fat and gain weight?
    Thanks again!

    • says

      Hi Zoja, thanks for commenting and I’m glad you liked the article. Your calorie needs are very specific to you — meaning you can’t just go by a specific number. If you don’t eat above maintenance, then you won’t gain fat, but it’s a moving target. For instance, if you are more active than most or start exercising more, you’ll need to eat more to maintain your weight.

      Before you worry about getting a six pack, do you know if you’ve stopped growing yet? If you’re growth plates are still open, I really urge you to eat more and worry about getting a six pack until a little later. Maybe even focus on muscle gain (which will help improve your appearance when you do lose fat). Restricting calories while you’re still growing is not safe or healthy, and it can stunt your height and bone development.

      I applaud your initiative, but I just want to make sure you’re going about it in a safe way. :)

  121. says


    I’ve read this article and unfortunately, some of the comments to go with it.

    You’ve challenged some of the norms and the myths that we’ve been fed for years in this industry that i’ve been in for the past 12 years and in the process, you have ruffled some feathers from a bunch of insecure people because you’ve challenged their beliefs.

    It’s funny because you’ve been called a lot of names, your youthfulness has been attacked and people have even tried to back their points up by claiming they do a million hours of PT a day lol..yet your responses to people have remained professional and the most mature.

    I too, like yourself have changed the way I look at food, health and exercise over this past year and have learned to let go of most of the crap I was taught about “clean eating” – People fail to realise that psychological health is just as important as physical health (which WON’T be compromised by having a varied diet)

    Finally, nobody has once offered to backup their counter statements with research like you have done and they have the arrogance to call this article “badly researched”.

    Congratulations on a fantastic article that must have taken you a very long time to put together – You should be very proud of this article, Armi. Keep fighting the good fight and uncovering the truth.


  122. Damon says

    You argue semantics. And you “demonize” a word used in popular culture. Does clean eating mean different things to different people? yes. Welcome to the english language! Also, you should consider that some individuals may have to paint their dietary decisions in a black/white way in order to keep them disciplined to make healthy choices. Perhaps you don’t realize how condescending you have come across?!

  123. says

    Good article. My paleo friends think I’m nuts because I eat cereal, and dairy, and beer, and all those other “bad” foods. They all fit within my macros and I stay looking good!

  124. realfood4me says

    This article is just as extreme, arrogant, nonsensical and as crazy making as what the author is criticizing. I have extremely severe autoimmune issues and multiple chronic infections and if I had followed this article’s advice, I’d still be sick in bed and disabled. But, following a generally “clean eating” approach to eating, without making any other changes, has given me my health and life back.

    This is the first and last time I’ll come to this site. Talk about cherry-picking research to make your point and pushing an agenda. I’m still looking for a balanced, scientifically based, open-minded health and nutrition site. This is certainly not it.

  125. Maya says

    As an outsider stumbling across this article. I felt that you made a very important and valid point, but that possibly the message got a bit misconstrued.

    The fact that a food may be considered healthy can be highly dependent on the individual and their own needs is a valid point, which definitely needs to be emphasised. It is especially important when you consider the vast amount of confusion people usually get when trying to figure out how to get healthier when they came across completely dichotomic diets such as “paleo” and “all-raw-vegan” which argue completely contradictory food groups as being detrimental to health (meat on the one side, fruit and legumes on the other side). From reading these contradictory messages people may often be left with the feeling of “so what actually can I eat?” When put in context of needs of the individual things become a lot simpler. Neither meat, nor fruit, nor legumes are objectively an ‘unhealthy food’ to consume but for example, it might be for an office-work sedentary all day who spends all day consuming calorie dense fats and protein that simply put, their body has no use for. Or for someone very active to be told being told to limit fat, limiting themselves from perhaps a very important energy source for them.
    This seems a bit extreme when you think about diets that promote people to cut out particular whole food groups from their diet have no knowledge of the individual and their lifestyle that they are actually promoting that diet for.
    Thank you for making this point. It is logical yet often overlooked.

    The problem I personally felt with your article was that you took it to an extreme and tried to argue that because sometimes a food’s ‘healthiness’ is very dependent on the individual, that you can not objectively say that specific foods exist that have a detrimental effect on human health. It sounds as if you were also trying to make this point but it is difficult for me to believe that you could honestly believe that.

    There are compounds that are detrimental when consumed by the human body. This has been established in the case of (for example) the ingredients in cigarettes. Cocaine. You kind of acknowledged this in the case of trans-fats “”There is some evidence that synthetic trans-fats may be harmful”
    but then went on to say “but the research is still inconclusive.” so it felt to me that this piece of information somehow contradicted the overall effect of your argument. Maybe you should think about this a bit more. Are you actually trying to encourage people not to avoid trans-fats? What about if it was firmly established in the scientific literature, such as cigarettes?
    “There’s little evidence that consuming a small amount of trans-fat is going to damage your health, especially since they’ve been removed from most foods.”

    Making an argument like this is basically just defending trans-fats themselves. Surely you can consume small amounts of anything without damaging your health, the body is a pretty amazing thing after all.
    For example, cigarettes (which I noticed did not appear in your article- not a food perhaps? Then why did BPA plastic get a mention…)- there are people that can smoke a little bit without damaging their health, just as their are people that can smoke a lot without damaging their health. It all depends on the individual. This should’t be made as an argument for people NOT to avoid them if they are looking for advice on how to stay healthy.
    Obviously one would try to avoid things once we are aware that they are negatively impacting us. For someone on a quest for health it would make sense for them to avoid something that has been established (or that they even have good reason to believe) to be having a detrimental effect on their health.
    Similarly to ingredients found in cigarettes, there are potentially toxic ingredients used in fast food. I’m not going list them or provide evidence as I don’t have time. But would your argument lead to the idea that the corporations producing products containing these foods should not be held accountable and should not be encouraged not to use these ingredients?

    So I think that you could safely and logically have argued that a lot of claims made about foods being unhealthy are not very sound (or backed by research) and we should be careful about what we read and listen to, especially if its someone’s personal opinion on what diet and foods works for them.This is particular important when people try to tell you to cut out major food groups and have no science backing up their claims, etc. But arguing that there is no such thing as an unhealthy food and particular things you should avoid was taking this argument a bit far. Perhaps if you instead encouraged people to be more aware of their sources when they are being told this information and not to view whole food groups as negative (and not to be so wary and restrictive of foods) this would have been a good message without having to claim that there are NO things out there which have negative effects when consumed, especially when it comes to extreme examples.

    Lastly, the comment “And by “medical reason,” I don’t mean some naturopath, acupuncturist, homeopath, or voodoo priest reading chicken entrails said a certain food is bad for you.” lost a lot of credibility for your article. I understand the point you were attempting to make (to be wary of what you read when it comes to avoiding foods), but you added in your own personal beliefs about particular professions which was unnecessary and detracted from the overall effect of the argument (Especially seeing as it was written in an attempted unbiased manner, with many and carefully considered research etc.)

    Anyway just my view :) Thanks for writing the article. :)

    • james says

      This piece seems more engineered as a “stick it to Dave Asprey” piece than a stand-alone piece. You’re being just as wreckless as he is. And you’re getting in personal insult spats with commentors on your posts! You cite Stephan Guyenet as one of your favorite bloggers (who I also highly respect), but the way you present things and handle disagreeing points of view could not be more different…

      • B says

        Obviously, you haven’t met my brother in law and sister in law, who think they’re the second coming of good health, as they lost weight due to dietary modifications (and supposedly more “clean” eating), exercise, yet they drink to excess, same as they have been doing for years. Sorry, but I call BS on that. Moderation in everything, including moderation. (And I also call BS on the paleo/whole 30 fad that everyone seems to be getting all excited about these days. Just looking at the plan is enough to know I’ll commit homicide after 3 days, never mind 30!)

  126. Julie says

    HA you keep telling yourself that…

    As someone else mentioned, it just sounds like a bunch of people want to eat hamburgers, drink milkshakes and have someone tell them they’re ok.

    Keep eating that way. Darwinism…

    • ted says

      …But they are “OK”

      Whatever “OK” means.

      IMO “OK” means that you can eat those items responsibly and suffer no long term negative consequences.

      Then yes, if that is your definition of ‘ok” – they are ok.

  127. Anita says

    Nice article Armi you make some pretty stellar points here. Leigh Peele (another influencial online voice in the world of health/fitness) mentions that the average individual can attain minimal levels of micronutrients from about 900 cals (this number obviously changes based on physical stats, activity, etc). The rest of the calories required to hit maintenance can be distributed to macro groups according to your goals. That being said, once you get all your required nutrients, allotting some of those left over calories to the foods of your choice (whether they are “clean” or “dirty”) won’t hinder your health.

  128. says

    Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at
    work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait
    to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, fantastic blog!

    • krahswg says

      I appreciate the time the author spent writing this article, I took the time to read it, after which I feel I wasted my time, nothing of benefit, too much padding and encourages what I strongly believe is the incorrect support of eating processed foods that have lead to epidemics of obesity, diabetics and an assortment of other health issues. Most people don’t have the ability or control to make wise eating choices (What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat), especially when bombarded by false advertising and incorrect media and government avocation of dietary needs for man. I feel this article must in someway has been sponsored by the government or the food industry that insists on perpetuating mis-beliefs in what and how we should eat, consider grains, they weren’t part of our diet until the last few millenniums and are in fact totally unnecessary in our diet. If you want the facts watch The Perfect Human Diet and draw you on conclusions http://www.perfecthumandiet.us/. You will see how we ate for the last 1.999 Millions years and what our current state is.

  129. alex says

    I read it and thought there were some great points BUT there are dirty foods that exist. Dirty foods are covered in pesticides (literally poison). Dirty foods can be meats processed in unsantary conditions, which lead to ecoli outbreaks. GMOs are unsafe even just for the matter that part of the gmo agriculture package requires the use of pesticides. Plus though I totally agree that you can eat some less nutrient dense things if most of your diet is nutrient dense, that requires someone to have education on what foods have what nutrients and most public schools do not teach that information at all.

  130. Krissy says

    Sorry but I disagree with your article…. Clean eating CAN be defined.
    Clean = untouched, natural foods. Unclean = processed foods
    Its very simple.

    Clean foods include:

    - Vegetables
    - Meat
    - Fruit
    - Nuts
    - Seeds

    Basically anything that the earth provides naturally.

    All of the above foods are clean as long as you do not add anything processed into the mix.

    EG 1.grilled chicken with steamed vegetables and the juice of a lemon for a dressing is a clean meal.
    A chicken parmigiana with fries is obviously not a clean meal because the chicken has been coated with breadcrumbs (processed grain) and cheese (processed dairy), sauce (processed tomato sauce) and chips (processed potato) which makes it an unclean meal.

    EG.2. a fruit salad is an example of a clean dessert. But if you add icecream, even if low fat, it makes it unclean. Why? Because icecream is a processed food with many things added to it that arent clean.

    CLEAN = UNTOUCHED and as close to its natural form as possible.

    Easy. :)

  131. michael says

    This is great. I have to say though calories in – calories out has been largely debunked. Different types of food influence food reward, appetite and satiety, and the ‘calories in’ portion. Different foods also influence calories out, i.e. the body doesn’t have one fixed metabolism, and it can increase or decrease energy expenditure based on a number of factors, food included. Look into Stephan Guyenet’s food reward hypothesis.

  132. says

    Good points about macronutrients and the many definitions of what deems a food as “clean” or “bad.” It’s too bad there were also horrible points made in this article that basically messed up everything else. Especially about the GMO’s not being proved to harm humans. There are MANY science based articles proving that GMO’s harm humans. The fact that GMO foods have a protein that can slip into your own cells and basically JACK YOU UP, makes me sick to my stomach that he would encourage consuming GMO’s. After reading that, I had to remove this article off my website. There’s no debating people about that. I would be lying.

  133. says

    So, youre telling me in this article if i go eat mcdonalds in the right portions every day for the rest of my life, Ill be just as heathy as if i substituted those calories with something else? Dude, that just ignorant, I really hope you dont live this way.

  134. Evelyn says

    I agree with most part of this article, except for the junk food. Since the excess is the real bad guy here, most ingredients of junk food per se are already in excess. But I do agree that no whole food should be considered a bad guy, but the amount which we consume each of them.

  135. says

    This article ruffled a lot of feathers for obvious reasons. My take on the matter is this: if the food that you are eating doesn’t meet your nutritional requirements, then you are doing it wrong. One cannot argue that eating food loaded with saturated fats is better than eating REAL food rich in essential nutrients.

  136. Matt says

    The sad part is there are morons who will believe this article. Amazing the stupidity this guy writes. I mean seriously, there are so many things wrong with article it is impossible to list here.
    Complete fuking moron spreading trash.

  137. kat says

    what you say is in some ways correct but there is a CLEAN way of eating for people that want to look healthy and feel great and some times it is not JUST about calories in/out and burned. Sometimes where those calories comes from is VERY important to the kind of stable or unstable energy it will give. this is even more so for food sensitive ppl.

    • julielu says

      Armi WRONG! No one sits down to a “Plate of Calories” or snacks on a “Calorie Bar”: no one savours calories, calories are ONLY units of energy calculated from the available energy they contain. Recent research has shown that we don’t even eat for energy, that we eat for satiety. That is we have regulatory systems that determine our need to eat at all. Calories are not a rating of satiety and not a rating of nutrient value, and therefore food recommendations are at best incomplete if based on the concept of calories. Of course Calories are not good or bad! Calories are neutral ! To then say that “There is no evidence that any food will cause more fat gain than the excess calories it provides.” is a tautologous argument. An absolute NO NO in scientific discourse! I am afraid after that the whole article falls away as it is becomes apparent that pseudo-scientific philosophy is espoused. It is the ‘research’ of a biased sceptic who makes the choice to remain ignorant under a mountain of Specifically Chosen Evidence to support a contention -another scientific NoNo. This is article is only a debate of opinion. It fails to reflect scientific rationality and therefore it becomes nothing more than a scam for site hits.

      • says

        Would you please provide evidence behind the following claim:

        Recent research has shown that we don’t even eat for energy…

        To then say that “There is no evidence that any food will cause more fat gain than the excess calories it provides.” is a tautologous argument.

        Explain your reasoning. In what way?

  138. Sam says


    I realise I am very late to this discussion, and I got bored of reading through all the comments. I found this article very interesting, and I think the overall message is sensible advice. I wonder if it’s important to consider the psychological effect of different foods, like for example how certain enjoyable foods are supposed to activate dopamine pathways resulting in more pleasure and wanting. No research to back that up, but I’m just interested in how the psychological side of things (at both a mental and biological level) can have an impact on thoughts, attitudes, reactions, etc to food. Other than that, good job on the article.

  139. Jewels says

    The references you sited that were supposed to prove that there’s no evidence that processed foods (be it whole foods packaged with additives) are dangerous only refer to whey protein powder being healthy. That’s not very compelling, and doesn’t prove that ALL processed foods are healthy, just because the studies (that are probably funded by whey producers themselves) proved that whey is not dangerous.
    Why has there been such an increase of diabetes, cancer and numerous other diseases since processed food has become what everyone is eating in the last 50 years?
    I’ll stick with my whole foods, and leave the additives, dyes and artificial flavors behind any day, along with modern disease.

    • says

      The references you sited that were supposed to prove that there’s no evidence that processed foods (be it whole foods packaged with additives) are dangerous only refer to whey protein powder being healthy. That’s not very compelling, and doesn’t prove that ALL processed foods are healthy, just because the studies (that are probably funded by whey producers themselves) proved that whey is not dangerous.

      I never said all processed foods were healthy. The article stated that just because a food is processed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unhealthy.

      Please support your claim that the references were industry funded, and that this affected the results.

      Why has there been such an increase of diabetes, cancer and numerous other diseases since processed food has become what everyone is eating in the last 50 years?

      Good question, do you have any direct evidence this was caused by processed foods? There’s also been an increase in the consumption of organic food. How do you know that isn’t causing it? Correlation is not causation.

      I’ll stick with my whole foods, and leave the additives, dyes and artificial flavors behind any day, along with modern disease.

      Do you think that will make you completely immune from cancer and heart disease? You do know that even people in primitive cultures with no access to modern foods also get these diseases too, don’t you?

  140. Mie says

    While the basic messages (portion control matters, moderation is the key) are valid, the use of sources in this blog post is – in many cases – kinda weak. It seems as if the author never actually bothered to read certain studies critically or consider their role in larger context.

  141. Gem says

    Well, I went to a birthday party today, where I ate some fruit and camembert cheese – things I would normally eat, and also a couple of doritos, chocolate cake and about 5 slices of a sugary oat slice with chocolate icing.

    From just that small amount of junk I started to feel fuzzy and crap. A big drink of water and an afternoon nap helped.

    There needs to be more distinctions than this, some “foods” are not foods at all – the corn chips for instance, yeah they contain corn, they are also coated in chemicals that taste good and sodium extracted from all the minerals that should be there with it.

    Most things in nature are there to complement it – fructose for instance, in nature is bonded with glucose, making it filling – so we don’t want to overeat it like we do with high fructose corn syrup filled foods.

    Anyway, this article was an interesting perspective but nevertheless totally flawed. Look at Kelly Slater, he eats clean and he is the best surfer the world has ever seen. I do agree that one can become obsessive and pollutants are everywhere in our society. It is necessary to chill out and be realistic and I also agree that there are many conflicting points of view. Trying to find the truth can drive you crazy, but it makes absolute logical sense to eat quality, unrefined products as much as possible and avoid overt toxins.

  142. TravisRetriever says

    *standing ovation!*

    I’m surprised you didn’t add “organic” to the list of clean foods as big of a craze as that nonsense is. Or “pork/shellfish/etc” to those following kosher diets. Last I checked, “because God said so” wasn’t a rational reason either.

    • says

      Thanks Travis! I’m glad you liked it man. As an atheist, I agree with your point as well. Making a point of it would probably blur the lines between a blog about health and fitness, and a blog about religion and politics, however. I’ve gotten enough threats just for saying PopTarts aren’t evil. :)

      - Armi

      • TravisRetriever says

        I should have figured that. :) I just wanted to point it out for completeness sake is all. ^.^ And yeah, given the HUGE number of comments it makes so I can’t really blame Lyne McDonald for disabling/deleting all comments about his article on the subject on his site.

      • TravisRetriever says

        And as I said about ‘organic’ food (which is a scam if ever I saw one), I imagine the same applies like with the GMOs*. As many seem to think “organic” = clean and “inorganic” = unclean as well.

        *They aren’t even a new thing. We’ve been genetically modifying plants and animals for our own benefit via selective breeding for thousands of years. The only difference is instead of being done over decades in a haphazard way, it’s being done much quicker in a far more controlled and less chaotic/risky fashion. Moral of the story: Stop listening to the hippies, people. Processed/artificial (whatever those mean) =/= poison; that’s a naturalistic fallacy (and/or appeal to nature) If I ever saw one.

  143. BJ says

    Great read. Finally someone that makes sense. Although I agree with about 99%, I still do question your comments on saturated fats. As a graduate student in human nutrition and food safety there is significant scientific agreement that saturated fats are strongly correlated with heart disease and certain cancers. With that said however, as with all other foods, over consumption may ultimately be a contributing factor to whether saturated fats and trans fats have an detrimental effect on health. Not being a scientist myself, I can only imagine the food scientists have an greater insight on the “science” of food safety and human nutrition….whereas they have the labs and do the studies first hand. http://www.ift.org/knowledge-center.aspx

    • says

      Thanks BJ, glad you like it.

      Regarding your comment: “… there is significant scientific agreement that saturated fats are strongly correlated with heart disease and certain cancers.”

      There’s some old research showing a correlation, but it’s just that — a correlation, which doesn’t really prove anything. Newer evidence has also found no such association, and even the opposite.

      I’d show your professor some of these studies:

      58. Bonthuis M, Hughes MCB, Ibiebele TI, Green AC, van der Pols JC. Dairy consumption and patterns of mortality of Australian adults. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64(6):569–577. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.45.

      59. Kratz M, Baars T, Guyenet S. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. Eur J Nutr. 2013;52(1):1–24. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0418-1.

      60. Goldbohm RA, Chorus AMJ, Galindo Garre F, Schouten LJ, van den Brandt PA. Dairy consumption and 10-y total and cardiovascular mortality: a prospective cohort study in the Netherlands. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(3):615–627. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.000430.

      61. Huth PJ, Park KM. Influence of dairy product and milk fat consumption on cardiovascular disease risk: a review of the evidence. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(3):266–285. doi:10.3945/an.112.002030.

      62. Kratz M. Dietary cholesterol, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2005;(170):195–213.

      63. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(3):535–546. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725.

  144. says

    DHA provides massive health to your brain and can improve memory
    as well as protect against age related illness such as
    Alzheimer’s and dementia. While fish is a valid source of protein and the omega-3 oils that protect the
    heart, there are some other health concerns to consider.
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  145. Mel says

    Great article… except for one tiny thing. I now have a massive craving for phish food ice cream and a delicious, delicious steak! Mmmm… Not very helpful for my diet. ;)

  146. says

    Loved this Armi and will post on my FB page. As a chef and more importantly Italian, food has always been celebrated. I think we protest too much about what we eat and don’t eat and lose the nourishment that comes from lovingly preparing and sharing food in community.

    I came across this article while googling something else and so glad I did! I subscribed, BTW. I couldn’t agree more…common sense and balance is the key!

    Food certainly has a great effect on our health and wellbeing. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. I have no doubt that a steady diet of processed food can’t compare to a diet rich in variety, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and small, delightful indulgences. The former (if eaten more than you need) will most likely not only make you fat, but probably leave you feeling somewhat deprived and lonely…while the later leads to vibrancy and far more fun – especially if prepared by you or someone who loves you.

    It has been my experience (and belief) that it’s not simply what we eat, but how we eat that determines it’s impact on our wellbeing.

    • says

      Hey Silvia, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. As a cook myself, that was one of the things that bothered me about “clean eating” – it’s hard to make a lot of dishes.

      I also agree completely that how we eat our food is often just as important for health, weight loss, and general wellbeing. Glad to have you with us :)

      - Armi

  147. lucy says

    clean eating= eating what nature intended you to eat, as opposed to aspartame laced things and additives cooked up in the lab.

    Its really not that difficult.

    Dangerous idiots passing this stuff off as truth…

    • Sammie says

      Brilliant article, let these silly 120lb men and cardio bunnies looking for “muscle tone” get on with eating chicken and broccoli 24/7 while I’ll get back to having 10 large slices of Domino’s finest cheese and tomato and pulling a 4 plate deadlift for reps.

      Food is one of the nicest things in life, am I fuck going to force myself to eat salad and live off of steamed cabbage just so I can look down on those who eat “dirty”.

  148. Theresa Riggs says

    I think this is a bad article with outdated references. I don’t eat animal products. Yes, it’s a food group I’ve given up, and I don’t have an eating disorder! My long term health and the sustainability of the planet is my priority. Please read Food Choice and Sustainability by Dr. Richard Oppenlander.

  149. educateyourself says

    Incredibly ignorant and foolish article. Many of the comments are equally foolish and ignorant. America really embraces it’s ignorance and stupidity. Sad.

  150. Ian Coleman says

    These health food enthusiasts are magical thinkers. I grew up in the fifties and sixties, and the food my mother served us for every meal was nutritionally identical to the food you can buy at Macdonald’s restaurants. Miraculously, we all grew up to be healthy adults anyway. About the only thing different in those days was that children had to walk back and forth to school twice a day (we came home for lunch), and we played outside more, as television was two channels in fuzzy black and white, and there were no computers.
    I’ll tell you something else: I’m 62, and the aging process is real. No matter what you eat, or don’t smoke, or which exercises you do how often and how hard, your body ages and loses functions. And then you die. You can be reasonably vigorous into you fifties, but once you get into your sixties, things start to go, and they don’t come back. Your knees or you hearing or your eyesight. And this doesn’t happen because of anything you ate. So deal with it. And pass the chocolate cake.

    • says

      Ian, that’s one of the best comments I’ve seen yet. Frank, honest, and true. I agree completely, and thanks for contributing to the discussion.
      - Armi

  151. says

    This process allows you to see the image that is shown in a green-hue scene.
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  153. says

    Interesting article and quite abrupt but I think it is each to their own. When someone finds a way of eating they like, and it works for them, I think that is what they should do.

    On the other hand, I have been involved in many people who say they “eat clean” and make “clean” desserts and food, yet those clean desserts are making up the majority of their diet which doesn’t make it entirely good for them.

    Interesting post! Thanks

  154. Anon says

    Nutrition 101

    Eat whatever you want within reason
    See how it makes you feel
    Adjust accordingly

    I don’t understand how anyone is out of shape without medical reason, maybe it’s just because I grew up doing a lot of exercise and elite sporting competitions.

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  156. Renee says


    I must say, this is one of the most debated blog posts I’ve ever seen. Congrats on so many comments; I enjoyed reading (most of) the different points of view.

    While you bring up some very valid points, you complained about “clean eating” not being clearly defined, then touted “moderation” without defining it. As Denver said (way up above), I recommend lifestyle changes, changes in priorities, philosophies, and habits first, THEN add in your favorite junk foods once a month or every 2 weeks. Not once a day, which to some people is “moderate”.”

    Again, thank you for opening the dialog.

    • Caz says

      Hi Armi,

      I’m new to the site and have only read a few of your articles – but so far I’ve enjoyed every one of them! – and that’s not to say that I agree with absolutely everything in them, but in general, your work is really well balanced, researched and interesting.

      I just wanted to voice my opinion that I believe a lot of the people above who did not enjoy or who so vehemently disagreed with your article, may not have read or understood it properly and seem to think that you were dissing ‘healthy’ foods and promoting ‘unhealthy’ food as a way of life or as a suitable primary dietary source and as such, that we should all go around stuffing our faces with additives and cake.

      I personally see (and also according to my studies being undertaken at the moment) absolutely nothing wrong with having a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, well-sourced proteins, carbos, reasonable levels of fats, esp those rich in O3′s etc and then also enjoying the occassional treat – it’s called living! and yes, those who are active and exercise, will be able to have more of these ‘unclean’ (if they have to be so-termed) foods than others without developing macro/micronutrient deficiencies and with absolutely no detrimental impact on their health! Do some of you guys above really think that a cookie occasionally is going to kill you?!

      Nutrition ‘knowledge’ or ‘facts’ are quite cyclical and things that were once considered ‘proven beyond any doubt’ have been since debunked in studies with new research/measurement techniques, long-term data collection etc. Fashions come and go (thankfully some have never made a come back like the practice of ingesting intestinal worms as a weight loss measure! but when will this fad of stupidly low carbo diets go? So damaging…)

      Recent studies and research (including some really notable meta-analyses – which for those who maybe reading this and don’t know what these are, they basically look at all the notable, reputable research on a topic and analyse them together to make a final conclusion on the strength/validity of the theory) increasingly show that unless a medical condition is present, no food group consumed within recommended amounts, or one food/chemical/additive is solely or even largely responsible for causing the huge increase in chronic diseases rates (incl CVD, obesity, diabetes etc) – The connection between these foods and chronic diseases is all coming down to over-consumption/abuse of food in general, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles (though granted, naturally some foods are more likely to cause issues to the body when overconsumed than others – it’s really hard to OD on spinach!)

      Basically for a plethora of reasons – people are consuming way too much of everything for their energy requirements! Sadly, some diets are so out of whack that some overweight/obese people are actually under-nourished in the sense of their micronutrient levels despite their high level of food intake (please note though that people in general not nearly as often nutrient-deficient than what we are all being lead to believe…don’t get me started on the over-use and pressure to buy vitamin/supplements for people who don’t need them!)

      I think Renee makes ones of the most pertinent points of all the comments on this article – what does ‘moderation’ mean to people? For each type of food/fluid and for different types of people/activity levels, the quantity and frequency of what could be termed ‘reasonable consumption’ is different and it’s the lack knowledge/understanding/adherence to these reasonable amounts which is causing such health issues.

      It’s well established that in general, serving sizes both in the home but also outside the home have gone up, what used to be a Maccas meal that you had every few weeks a few decades ago is now double/triple the size and some people are having it every day (or more!). It’s not the Macca’s meal itself that is damaging the body/killing people – it’s the frequency/quantity of its consumption (while at the same time it’s consumption maybe displacing other valuable nutrients from their diets). People have lost sight and understanding of what’s reasonable and there is certainly no reputable, consistent research that I’ve seen that total abstinence from any one food group is required

      So by all means cut out food groups if it makes you feel good, please just research what vitamins/minerals etc are found in that food and compensate accordingly – as above mentioned, ironically at the moment in western society, among those most at risk of micronutrient deficiencies are the people who believe that they’re eating ‘cleanly’ (whatever that may mean to that individual!) but I don’t think you need to freakout if you have a piece of cake at your friends birthday party – but yes, you probably won’t feel good if you wash that down with a litre of coke, a few handful of chips, some fairy bread and a few party pies.

      It’s all about balance

    • Armi Legge says

      Thanks Renee, glad you read it. The reason I didn’t strictly define moderation is because it’s going to depend on the individual, like I said above. In general, most research indicates getting about 10-20% of your calories from treats is probably fine. There’s little evidence those treats need to be dispersed at a specific time or interval, such as 2-4 weeks. But if that makes it easier for the person to adhere to the diet, then that’s fine too.


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