A couple of days ago, April 1st to be exact (unfortunately this wasn’t an April Fools Joke), anti-fructose crusader Robert Lustig, among others, were interviewed on a special 60 Minutes segment called “Is Sugar Toxic?”
4 years ago almost to the day I was saying “Fruc Fructose.” But nowadays I find myself saying “Luck Fustig!” While the case against fructose is very compelling on the surface (de novo lipogenesis, lower leptin secretion, raises uric acid levels, we’re eating more of it, statistically – soft drinks are fattening, sugar feeds cancer, yada yada), I had to face the fact that sugar, in all its glory, did some pretty impressive things for my health when I finally let my biofeedback, as opposed to a neat youtube video, some rat studies, and a couple dozen books, determine whether or not I should be eating it. And don’t think you are gonna educate me somehow in the comments by saying something like, “well read some John Yudkin and you’ll change your mind.” I’ve read them all son, ate a very low sugar diet for many years, until 2011 have been at war with sugar since my teenage years, and preached the gospel of Yudkin, Price, Cleave, Page, DesMaisons, Seale Harris, Abrahamson and Pezet, Appleton, Dufty, Richard Johnson, and more low-carb authors than you can shake a stick at on this very website.
Although I’m well on pace to do it in 2012, I generally agree that taking in 130+ pounds of refined sugar each year with absolutely zero nutritional value is a risky dietary investment. It seems that some kind of penance shall be paid in anyone and everyone who gets a fourth of their caloric needs from something that contains no nutrients for decades. Overall, Lustig is fighting the good fight, and his intentions are good. But there is a lot more to health, particularly on an individual basis, than just avoiding one dietary substance. I found that trying to eliminate sugar from my diet for about a 10-year period in my 20′s actually made me a sugar addict, due to complex psychological and biochemical changes that take place when you try to restrict something that you are craving (increased dopamine receptors, increased binge-proneness, increased fixation on restricted item, etc.). Sugar itself is not very addictive. Highly palatable foods can be in that context, and sugar, in the right form and amount, can play a part in that (sugar is just one of many factors in what makes food excite our reward centers).
My road to recovery first began with adding starch to my diet. That helped a lot. I eventually stagnated and only until I introduced tremendous amounts of simple sugars did everything really start coming back. Sex drive, ability to exercise and lift weights, skin is clear, and especially: my sanity is back! I now have anywhere from 500-800g of carbohydrates every day. ~Corey; 12 Paleo Myths
Anyway, I won’t beat this to death. Suffice it to say that the 60-Minutes anti-fructose video is stupid and over-sensationalized, like most health information. Don’t eat sugar because sugar feeds cancer? Yes, excess sugar and excess insulin in the blood probably do contribute to the growth of cancer, but consuming sugar doesn’t cause blood levels of glucose or insulin to become chronically high. This is no different from thinking that cholesterol causes heart disease, so we should avoid foods that contain cholesterol (even if it was bad to have high cholesterol levels, eating foods with cholesterol doesn’t impact blood levels of cholesterol, just as eating sugar doesn’t impact insulin and glucose levels, except maybe to lower glucose and insulin levels). Sugar activates dopamine so it is as addictive as cocaine? You don’t think Cheetos, chateaubriand, breast milk, french fries, or a slice of New York pizza do the same? Yeah, our brains reward us for eating and having sex and stuff. So we don’t go extinct!
Fructose raises LDL? In what universe exactly? Because I routinely help people lower LDL, often by adding sugar to their zero-sugar diets.
Anyway, this post isn’t about debunking the fructose haters. There is plenty of intelligent and objective discourse about that. Stephan’s recent post was great. Rather, it’s about taking a day to thank fructose for all the nice things it has done to us – for those of us who have noticed health improvements from adding it back to our diets – sometimes in obscene quantities (temporarily, permanently, or sporadically). What better way to celebrate it than with a friendly competition?
This Friday I invite anyone and everyone to participate in 180DegreeHealth’s First Annual International Sugar Eating Competition (aka Fructose Friday… Sugar Sunday for the Catholics and Easter Candy fiends). Here are the Rules…
In no more than 60 minutes (like the name of the show), consume as many grams of sugar as you possibly can. Starch does not count, nor does fiber. It must be something that would appear on a food label as “sugar.” It can be refined or unrefined. Unrefined sugar sources are often superior, such as eating a few pounds of Medjool dates washed down with grape juice – a strategy I hope to utilize.
This sugar quantity will then be divided by your approximate total body weight in kilograms, a unit of measurement known as the “Lustig.” Whoever has the most Lustigs, wins!
Scoring example: Let’s say I eat 500 grams of sugar in 1 hour. I weigh about 95kg, so my score would be…
500/95 = 5.26 Lustigs
A decent score, but I expect it to be fully blown out of the water by one of the 80-10-10 fruitarians, who I will be inviting to participate.
On Friday, I will put up a post where you can share your results in a comment, and we will declare a winner on Monday. You will have all weekend to post your sweet feats! So if Friday doesn’t work for religious reasons, or you are holding out for Easter candy to do this, you can do it on any of these weekend days and still enter the contest. I’m aiming for 500 grams in an hour, so you better bring your A-Game.
If you know a famous sugar-eatin’ fool, please invite them to participate. I want the best of the best to show up for this venue. I want Martin Berkhan. I want Alan Aragon. I want Durianrider. I want Chief. I want Furious Pete. I want Tim Ferriss (although I think he only eats sugar on Saturdays, lol). They will be going up against 180DegreeHealth’s sponsored sugar-consuming athlete, the one, the only, known in the Northeast as the flapjack lumberjack…
GLUTEN FIEND!!! (shown below, demonstrating the obesigenic effects of excessive fructose intake, and no doubt laying down a hearty amount of intimidation with his tremendous appetite/bodyweight ratio)