The 80/10/10 Diet: A Guide to Insanity

18 02 2013

80-10-10bookA friend of mine recently mentioned the 80/10/10 Diet and gave me the book to read. The general idea of the diet is to consume 80% carbohydrates, 10% fat and 10% protein, with the entire diet being to consume nothing but raw, natural food- primarily fruit.  Despite the fact that this concept goes against everything I know about health and nutrition, I decided to read the book with as much of an open mind as possible.  These are my findings.

Foreward

“High-fat diets can be dangerous and put you at risk for the diseases that most Westerners die from prematurely.”

“Low-carb diets are also dangerous, and most people have no idea that the ideal diet consists of 80% carbs.”

“High-protein diets lead to osteoporosis, kidney disease, and lack of energy for exercise.”

“Obesity is actually a symptom of eating the wrong diet.”

Again, I’m trying to keep an open mind here, but all four of the above quotes were found on the first page of this book. As you may have noticed, all four statements are either misleading or flat-out untrue. High-fat diets are dangerous only if the fat content is mostly trans fat and saturated fat, and if the diet also contains many processed, refined carbohydrates. Low-carb diets are only dangerous if extremely low-levels of carbohydrate are consumed for an extended period of time (and we’re talking next-to-no carbs for consecutive months). There are no clinical studies linking high-protein diets to osteoporosis or kidney disease- this is absolutely absurd. Finally, obesity it not a symptom of eating the wrong diet, it is the direct result of eating high-caloric, processed foods accompanied by a lack of physical exercise. This is all very cut and dry.

Introduction

The most difficult part of trying to read this book was not the content, but the manner in which the author delivers his message. Instead of listing facts and evidence, he merely plays on the heartstrings and stereotypical beliefs of his audience:

“The standard American diet (SAD) is a sad testament to the rampant physical and mental decay of the most prosperous nations on Earth.” – Playing up to the proud American mindset, with a terrible pun nonetheless.

“Hordes of scientists, nutritionists, doctors, “healers”, and lay people fill the bookstores and crowd the lecture circuit with convincing tales of the indispensable virtues of vitamins, essentially fatty acids, antioxidants, enzymes {etc}… All of these parties defend their turf with a vengeance… Most of them have deep economic ties to their particular nutritional approach.” – Am I not reading a book that has been sold for a profit to the author? Does he know that he is talking about exactly what he is doing by writing this book? Well, except for the part of actually offering any legitimate healthful advice…

“Junk-food-eating entertainers, anorexic runway models, and supplement-pounding body builders may look good… but are any of these people nourishing their bodies on a cellular level? Are they eating whole, unrefined foods in the quantities and proportions on which their bodies were designed to thrive? Absolutely not.” – Obviously all beautiful people are stupid and don’t do anything positive for their health. This isn’t an unvalidated blanket statement at all.

At this point, the author has done nothing but contradict himself and make outlandish claims without evidence. Hopefully the meat of the book will provide some value…

Core Content

01256Spoiler alert! The main content of the book is worse than the Foreward and Introduction. Here are some of the highlights.

Firstly, I have to include the first 3 paragraphs of the first chapter, because this eloquently sets the table for the insanity that ensues:

“How does one determine the correct food for any given creature? Let us suppose that you were given a baby animal and you had no idea what it was or what it was supposed to eat. Perhaps it was a gift from a foreign land. How would you know what to feed it?

The answer is relatively simple. All you would have to do is offer the creature different types of foods in their whole, natural state. That which it was designed for, it would eat. It would likely ignore all the other items, not even considering them as food. I have done this successfully with orphaned animals that I have saved.

The same technique would work with a human child. Put the child in a room with a lamb and a banana. Sit back and watch to see which he plays with and which he eats. We can be fairly sure of the outcome. Try again with fats versus fruits by offering a choice of natural, raw, unsalted) nuts, seeds, avocados, or olives on the one hand and any fresh sweet fruit on the other. Again, we can safely predict that the child will choose the sweet fruit.”

There are so many things wrong with these 3 paragraphs that I don’t know where to begin. As a matter of fact, I won’t begin. It’s mind-boggling that anyone can read this and continue to give any credibility to the author.

Some additional beauties:

“Our anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and psychology all indicate that we are not carnivores.” Really? Based on what evidence? Oh right, that zero evidence that you have.

meme-cow-mistake

“Carnivores consume most of the animal, not merely the flesh, eating the muscle meat as well as the organs and lapping up the warm, fresh blood and other bodily fluids with gusto. They delight in the guts and their partially digested contents. They even crush, split, and eat the smaller bones and their marrow and gristle.” The author is well aware that his target audience is vegetarians and animal-lovers and he plays this up nicely with paragraphs like this. Is it bad that this paragraph actually made me hungry?

“Slaughterhouses have the highest employee turnover rate of any industry. Meat eating does not fit in with our concepts of kindness and compassion. There is no humane way to kill another creature.” Again, please show me the stats on slaughterhouses, and please tell me again how eating animal protein makes me a bad person.

Additionally, pages 16-18 detail the differences between Humans and Carnivores, and why we are not meant to eat meat. Some explanations include:

– Carnivores have tails. Humans do not.

– Carnivores have sharp teeth. Human teeth are meant only for mashing soft foods.

– Humans have opposable thumbs, carnivores do not. We are therefore meant only to pick and eat fruit.

At this point, I stopped reading the book and merely skimmed through the rest. There are another 150 pages explaining why we should not eat meat, why we don’t need more than 10% fat and 10% protein in our diets, and why eating a diet composed entirely of fruit is the best thing in the world. There are many comments like the ones listed above and almost all the information given in the book is without evidence or validation.

Neither does the 80/10/10 Diet

Neither does the 80/10/10 Diet

Positive points

The author does make some good points about health and nutrition. He hammers home that supplements should not be the key component of a diet and that eating whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to ensure that we get all the vitamins and minerals that we need.

He also mentions that physicians aren’t the best resources for nutritional advice. Doctors are obviously intelligent individuals with an extensive education in the medical field, but human nutrition is a very small part (or non-existent part) of their expertise. “The United States Congress mandated that nutrition become an integrated component of medical education, as of 2004, less than half of all U.S. medical schools have a single mandatory course in nutrition. That explains the results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that pitted doctors against patients head to head in a test of basic nutrition knowledge. The patients won.” I’m not claiming that you shouldn’t listen to the advice of your doctor, but you need to understand that nutrition is not their field of expertise.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables, and it is great that he is preaching these values, but it is completely irresponsible to try to convince people that our bodies function optimally on a diet based entirely on carbs.

The 80/10/10 Diet Backpedaling

Last July, the author of this book posted a video online, going back on many of the things he initially published in The 80/10/10 Diet book. He now claims that it is merely the nutrient ratio (80/10/10) that is important, and that it’s ok to eat animal-based products! I don’t need to analyze his reasoning for changing his mind and posting this video, but it is clear that he is either trying to save himself the embarrassment of the failure of his proposed “perfect” diet, or it is a financial scheme to reach out and take advantage of people outside the raw food community.

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Conclusion

The 80/10/10 Diet is a great example of giving certain people exactly what they want to hear. There is no doubt that there are people who believe this kind of diet can be beneficial to overall health, and books like this prey on that sentiment, giving legs to an unproven idea and giving people a reason to believe in false information.

Human nutrition is complex, but the basics are not hard to understand. Fad diets come and go, but one thing is certain: eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods will result in good health. Eat your fruits and veggies, keep your protein intake around 1 g per pound of body weight per day and consume a balanced ratio of saturated and unsaturated fats and everything else will fall into place.

If you have tried the 80/10/10 Diet, I implore you to post your experience in the comments below… that is of course, if you survived to write about it.

Happy Family Day!

DW

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