Denise Minger: Death By Food Pyramid, Women Who Gain Weight on Paleo, and How to Spot a Fraud

Denise Minger on The Fat-Burning Man Show

Denise Minger is one tough cookie. As a health writer and researcher, she has zero patience for dietary dogma and does one heck of a job at beating the tar out of conventional wisdom. Denise just published her book “Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health.” I think you’re really going to like this show.

Before we get to it though, I’d like to ask a quick favor. If you haven’t already had the chance to leave a review for the show in iTunes, I would greatly appreciate you taking a few minutes to do so. This helps us get in front of more listeners, help more people get healthier and change the world! 

On this week’s show with Denise you’ll learn:

  • A surprising secret behind how the food pyramid was created.
  • Why some women gain weight on Paleo.
  • How to spot a fraud in nutrition and fitness.
  • Why writing a book will ruin your health.

Here’s the show.

Just because someone has letters after their name does not make them immune to bias. Click to Tweet!

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  1. Can I suggest that maybe women are remaining chubby on paleo is because women are genetically designed to be chubby? Through evolution we have sort of learned to store extra fat for child baring and breast feeding etc. The lean look is really designed for males, and the desire to look lean for women is a lot more cultural than natural. Maybe it’s not a failure, and it is actually just our bodies turning to what they were designed to be?
    Just a theory. Something that has interested me. I will definitely be looking into that a little bit more as a beginner biohacking female myself.

    • Some truth in that Jamie. However, why do women (maybe men, too?) get that middle age spread? Even thinner people seem to have more belly fat after 50 than they did at 25. Waiting for Raphael’s image of women to be popular again.

  2. Jamie- I was thinking the exact same thing. The current thinking about how women ‘should’ look is based on young teen models who are probably so underweight that they are not reproductively healthy. I am ‘fatter’ than I maybe could be, but eat a homemade, primal diet, I get lots of sleep and feel healthy. Pretty sure our ancestors didn’t have magazines, scales or mirrors either! 🙂

  3. hello Ania here ,
    I personally didn’t find this interview content new or helpful reg women’s health/fitness and paleo ,and would love to hear from mature women ,who overcome weight/hormonal issues and would be willing sharing their wisdom
    because it is crystal clear (to me) that our gender and at some point age do matter when striving for our personal best in health and physical appearance ,hope it doesn’t sound too gloomy 😉

  4. I’m 61 years old. I love the paleo way of eating. When I eat paleo I lose weight and feel great. When I eat my old way I gain weight and don’t feel as good. I enjoyed Denise Minger podcast and I liked learning the things she has been studying and is now sharing. I also think gut flora is very important. I learn so much from watching Abel’s podcast. Thank you for addressing women’s issues.I do trust you. Thank you

  5. Laura Santagata says:

    I’m yet another female, age 42, that GAINED FAT while going Paleo over the last 16 months. I went from a lean distance runner with many minor issues such as reoccurring sinus infections, sore throat, charlie horses in my calves, and feeling run down quite a bit to a NON-runner other than sprints, lifting heavy things, giving up the low-fat, high whole grains. The positives are that I am sleeping better, have better energy throughout the day, haven’t had more than the sniffles in the last 16 months, and have gained strength in the gym. The negative is just one, FAT gain. I’ve put on a total of 9 pounds in a little over a year eating Paleo foods! I no longer fit into my size 2 pants, and have had to shop for both casual and dress clothes which is depressing and expensive! Since I internally feel better and well-nourished, I’m going to continue eating Paleo, but I’ve learned that just because the foods may be Paleo, they are also high calorie (other than veggies which I eat a bunch of 3-4 times a day). I’ve had to completely give up all nuts as I was eating 2 handfuls a day to fill the gap of my usual low-fat pretzels. I’ve had to give up fruit too since my sugar cravings from my previous diet was hitting me hard and I’d turn to fruit, thinking it’s OK to eat 2-3 pieces a day. I’ve been working hard these past 2 months trying to get the FAT off my frame as I don’t feel sexy or comfortable at all. The worst part is that I’m a fitness instructor, and people rely on me to “look the part!” Paleo foods are high calorie and most are high , healthy fats. This means, for females, watch your portions. When you are still hungry after your protein and veggie — you must eat more greens, not nuts or chocolate or Paleo treat foods such as macaroons! Those will get ya chunky!! 🙁

    • Hi Laura, thanks for your input. I know it can be frustrating to gain weight while others are dropping it (seriously, I know from personal experience!!). I’m glad you are recognizing the other positive benefits though and sticking to the whole foods based approach. I think the other important factor to remember is that when you come from a long history of low calorie/low fat (ie general restriction), your body is immediately going to try react by holding on to fat because it’s actually being NOURISHED for the first time in however long… I was immensely frustrated when this happened to me as well, but I’m happy to report that now that my body has healed (and I’m even less restrictive on what “paleo foods”) I’m eating, I’m starting to notice my body change in the direction I was hoping for all along 😉 Keep at it, and remember how important it is to nourish your body first and foremost! – Emily, FBM Team

  6. This podcast opened my eyes a bit. I’m really struggling with losing weight and jumped to a ketogenic diet. I actually think I’m eating far too many calories and fats. Whenever I’m hungry, I go for fats. Maybe I went too extreme with the diet. I’m getting sick much easier than before, have absolutely no energy, can’t workout (no energy), and my chin is breaking out. I’m not satisfied after eating a high fat meal. ex: 2-3 eggs cooked in ghee, 2 cups greens cooked in grass-fed butter, 3 slices bacon, good size portion of feta cheese, and sometimes an avocado. And I’m not satisfied afterwards! I’ll then proceed to make a mini shake (1/2 scoop vega protein powder, 2 tbsp pb2, almond milk, and 1 tbsp cacoa nibs.) After that, I’ll force myself to get out of the kitchen. But I’m honestly feeling awful right now and am so self conscious with this weight gain. Any suggestions????

  7. Niki, not everyone thrives on a ketogenic diet. Women especially find that it doesn’t work for them, as has recently been covered on several paleo blogs. Chris Kresser, I remember, and some others I can’t dredge up right now.
    It is an established fact of low-carb diets that the only blood marker they worsen is cortisol. If your adrenal glands are compromised, you will not be able to produce enough cortisol to make it on a low-carb diet, and attempting to do so will give you adrenal/thyroid crash symptoms. Bringing net carbs (carbs minus fiber) up to 150-200 g per day generally relieves the problem, although some people turn out to have done themselves deep enough damage it takes months to get fully back.
    Remember, unless you descended from Arctic peoples, all of your ancestors for 200,000+ years have eaten cooked starches more days than they haven’t (wild tubers, etc). And for most modern people, their ancestors have gotten a substantial portion of their calories from starches (farmed grains and tubers) for several thousand years, which is plenty of time for our genes to accustom themselves to that. It would not be logical for us to be able to suddenly zero-out that source of calories and find our health improving. Does it work for some people? Sure. So does veganism, which is equally ahistorical. But in neither case should anyone be surprised to find that it doesn’t work for them!
    Try going back to eating something closer to what your ancestors in the last thousand years ate and see if that helps.

  8. Jonas Sunshine says:

    I sense you reject life science.
    no blame no shame.
    we know free acids and heated foods cause the body to protect itself from them and if we get too much we store.

    I don’t hear names named and when i hear amtpssprache i say . no

    i’ve not had meat in my life and i have superb health. 14 years of it raw.

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