Are all calories the same?


“A Calorie is a Calorie”
If I'm overweight, it's my fault, right? I just need to eat less and exercise more?
“If You’re Fat It’s Your Fault”

“The processed food and soft drink industries promote the idea that obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. They say the problem is in the quantity of food that you eat, not in the quality of food that they sell. They call this “common sense” and we’ve swallowed it hook, line and sinker. But I’m a scientist. I don’t believe in “common sense.” I believe in science. And the science tells us something entirely different.” – Dr. Lustig, Sweet Revenge: Turning the Tables on Processed Food

  • In general, we humans are very good at storing energy as fat. The human race is highly adapted to store the energy we consume through food within the chemical bonds of fat molecules. In the era of our evolutionary ancestors food was scarce, and a proficiency in storing calories as fat helped early humans to survive. However the genetic mechanisms that helped us survive then do us little good in our current food environment; they now work to our detriment by encouraging over consumption and unnecessary fat accumulation.
  • The fact is that many modern humans live in “obesogenic” environments: at every turn we’re presented with an abundance of tasty, satisfying, and often inexpensive foods that are hard to turn down. These foods help us meet our energy needs, but often have unforeseen health consequences.This food environment, coupled with the disappearance of physically active work lives have resulted in a population-wide shift to overweight and disordered metabolism.
  • Each year billions of dollars are spent to convince the public to purchase processed foods. Companies wouldn’t spend that kind of money on marketing if it weren’t working as intended. Food marketing works.

Who’s responsible?

What about smoothies?

By pulverizing fruit into a thick paste, you’re losing out on the insoluble fiber and its benefits. Put simply, you’re better off eating fruit than drinking smoothies or juice. Watch this great video on this subject.


Sugar is an essential nutrient, right?

“The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.” IOM (2002)

Apparently, the folks who promulgated the U.S. never got this memo.

If carbohydrates aren’t essential, then added sugar certainly is not. Sugar only provides calories, not nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Lustig is flooded with questions from folks all over the world. Slowly but surely, we will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions here. We welcome your questions, but please be patient – we will start building a repertoire of answers here as soon as possible.

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