Tom Naughton owns the nutritional establishment and give us hope for the future in just 20 minutes

Tom Naughton used to be a full time stand-up comedian but, although he’s still funny, he’s spending more time these days spreading the word about what truly healthy eating is. He also produced the movie Fat Head (a revealing and entertaining watch if you haven’t seen it yet). Tom has a blog here. It’s one of the blogs I read as regularly as I can and I recommended it wholeheartedly in my last book.

Tom recently gave a 20-minute talk in Washington DC in which he gives a (I think) great summary of the dunderheaded dietary advice given to us by government agencies, health groups and most health professionals. He also highlights the fact that people are increasingly looking for help on-line, and finding it in the form of blogs and within social media. He makes the point that getting information this way can be better and more useful than taking, say, one piece of advice from a so-called ‘expert’ who just so happens to have it all wrong. He’s right.

Tom’s presentation gives us cause for optimism. He seems to be rightly aware that people appear to be turning away from conventional sources of information in their droves, and that people are increasingly looking for genuinely helpful dietary advice in all the right places. If I had 20 minutes to say what I feel is wrong with conventional dietetic advice and where people would be better off looking for useful (and science-based) information and advice, I hope it would come out a lot like Tom’s talk. See below.

25 Responses to Tom Naughton owns the nutritional establishment and give us hope for the future in just 20 minutes

  1. jake3_14 19 March 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    This is classic Naughton: a concise and accessible summary of the current state of affairs and trends.

    Why were so few people clapping at the end? Were few in the audience, or were they mostly defenders of the old guard?

  2. Dr John Briffa 20 March 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Jake – only five people in the audience, apparently. Though through the miracle of the internet, a few more should be seeing and enjoying Tom’s talk soon….

  3. Rachel 20 March 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    I half agree with this. If I was a diabetic who had finally found success in controlling my blood sugar levels, I may agree totally. But I’m a fat person who has had equal success in loosing weight on a higher carb and higher protein diets, and equal failure in maintaining weight loss.

    I’m always concerned when high protein diets are promoted, where little thought is given to the type of meat/protein. Good quality lean meat is expensive, and not all people can afford this luxury. Some would say not to worry about saturated fat content – so eating lots of bacon, minced beef, burgers, sausages, cheap cuts of fatty or processed meat could be seen to be OK. I’d love to read a blog post about this. I’ve trawled your archives but can’t find anything.

  4. Dr John Briffa 20 March 2012 at 3:21 pm #


    Put ‘saturated fat’ in the search box and see what you come up with. One option might be to cook cheaper cuts of meat in the form of a stew or casserole.

  5. Rachel 20 March 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Thanks – but the casserole idea doesn’t quite cut it. Because I have an interest in diets, people sometimes ask me for advise about theirs. These are often poor people – and as we all know – poor people in this country are often fat people. Junk food is cheap. I often refer to you as a source of info for low carb diets – but am reluctant to do so if the person is poor. In the good old days they went out and killed a beast. Now, we have pre packed meats in supermarkets – not cheap unless you want the fatty or processed variety. I can’t recommend this way of eating when the hungry user is likely to pig-out on any old processed scrag-end of ‘meat’, day in, day out.

    There has to be a healthy diet for rich and poor alike (as well as those of us in the middle, who don’t have a pinched middle…) and I intend to find it. I expect it will be more like a low GL diet.

    I’ll keep referring people to your site though ; )

  6. Asclepius 21 March 2012 at 1:44 am #

    @Rachel – some of the most nutritious cuts of meat are very cheap (and would have been highly prized by your grandparents) – these include (Ox) liver and tongue.

  7. FrankG 21 March 2012 at 1:47 am #

    @Rachel – I’m confused why you say casserole (or stew?) does not cut it? Surely these are based on cheaper cuts of meat that necessarily take longer to cook? Isn’t an whole chicken cheaper by the pound than boneless-skinless-shrinkwrapped? Cut it up yourself at home for several meals/servings, plus a stock/soup from the carcass (giblets, skin, fat, cartilage, bone etc…). Isn’t regular ground beef cheaper than extra-lean? This is where I get the “fat” part of my diet: simply by no longer avoiding it… no need to sit on the sofa armed with a spoon and a tub of lard 😉

    Yes ideally we’d all be eating locally sourced grass-fed and finished animals where even the cheaper cuts are good for you, but even factory-farmed cattle are better for you than processed/packaged franked-foods 😉

    Arguably the “best cuts” of meat are not always the best for us — our ancestors ate the whole animal — and my Mum always made sure we had liver every week or so. Interestingly I recently read how lions tend *not* to start with the lean meat of their kill, instead they eat everything *but* the muscle.

    I focus on real, whole food that doesn’t come in a box and ideally doesn’t even have a label because it comes from a local, seasonal and trusted source.

    Eggs are always a good and cheap meal too.

  8. PhilT 21 March 2012 at 2:13 am #

    There’s a limit to how much protein we can use efficiently so a low carb diet is not automatically a high protein diet but is inevitably a high fat diet. The maths are against you if you’re trying to find a low fat low carb eating plan for normal life – you aren’t going to get much more than 600 or 800 calories from protein. Google “rabbit starvation”. Add to that a couple of hundred from carbs and you’re looking for another 1,000 or more from fats and oils – enjoy.

    I’ve been eating 60-70% of calories from fat for two years and my total cholesterol is below the UK average at 5.05 and my total/HDL ratio is 4.

  9. PeggyC 21 March 2012 at 3:24 am #

    “But I’m a fat person who has had equal success in loosing weight on a higher carb and higher protein diets, and equal failure in maintaining weight loss.” Rachel, I don’t think Dr. Briffa or anyone here is recommending a higher protein diet. I know Tom Naughton isn’t. Try a low carb, high FAT diet and you will most likely finally find the successful long term weight loss and maintenance you haven’t found with higher protein and higher carb diets. And a low carb high fat diet doesn’t require that you buy expensive cuts of meat. Dr. Briffa, Asclepius, and Frank G had posted some good advice. You would do well to avail yourself of it.

  10. AuntWillie 21 March 2012 at 6:04 am #

    I’m a big fan of Tom Naughton’s. I wish, for his sake, he’d had a huge audience, but the internet is a wonderful thing. The video will certainly reach a wider and vastly more intelligent audience than he could have hoped for in DC.

  11. FrankG 21 March 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    As PhilT says “The maths are against you if you’re trying to find a low fat low carb eating plan for normal life…”

    But again, please don’t think that “high fat” means sitting on the couch with a tub of lard — the terms “high” and “low”, in this context, relate to the percentage of energy from each of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) NOT to the volume or amount that you eat…

    Fat has, on average, 9 calories (kcal) per gram as compared to 4 calories per gram for carbs or protein… so (for example) a person eating around 2,500 calories per day could substitute just 43g of fat instead of 100g of carbs and change their diet from “low fat, high carb” to “low carb, high fat”, while keeping calorie intake constant… and that can be as simple (as mentioned above) as no longer avoiding fat : eat chicken with the skin on, using whole milk or cream instead of 1% or skimmed, avoiding “low fat” products, adding a dab of butter to steamed green veggies etc…

  12. Rachel 21 March 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    “Try a low carb, high FAT diet…Dr. Briffa, Asclepius, and Frank G had posted some good advice. You would do well to avail yourself of it.”

    With genuine respect – this is what I find so irritating about staunch advocates of any specific diet. You just don’t seem to understand that your way of eating will not promote health in all people. What I termed a high protein diet, was not low in fat. Satiety has never been a problem. I stopped this diet because it got boring (yes, not everyone likes the kind of food that you do), I got bad breath, and constipation and I didn’t feel great. For me, the pay off has to be GREAT, to bother limiting my diet in this way – and it was not. I think you could avail yourself of the truth that not everyone is struggling blood sugar levels that cannot be kicked into touch by dropping junk and processed foods – like sugar. I’m glad this way of life works for you, and I would advise it for some – but the world is a bigger place. The rest of us may never need it,

  13. Rachel 21 March 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    @FrankG Thanks for your ideas. Casseroles don’t cut it, because the average poorer person could not tolerate the extra measures of food-austerity necessary to achieve long term success on this diet, on their budget. Cheap cuts, eggs, offal, whole chickens..yes – it can work, but it isn’t going to work for many. Not to mention the quality of some cheap meats. I would still struggle to recommend this diet to anyone who I didn’t think could control their blood sugar in less extreme ways.

    I personally had most success with a whole food diet – no junk, no sugar, some meat, some dairy products. lots of veggies and pulses, as much unrefined fat as I wanted, lots of non gluten whole grains, gluten grains occasionally. I felt like a million dollars. Only abandoned it because I got lazy, and bad habits soon get a grip.

  14. kem 23 March 2012 at 2:59 am #

    My beautiful wife and I sell halves and quarters of beef from home kills on our farm. We wouldn’t dream of dumping all that “non-prime” organ and casserole meat in the offal pit. There is at least 10 kgs of caserrole or ground, high quality pasture fed beef in every animal (and the same for the organs). It is all healthy and tasty and well worth the extra time and effort fishing these good bits from the beast (we think we owe it to the animal, actually).

    Ever watch your dog go for a carasse they can’t eat whole? Liver, brains, and fat first. Same as our ancestors

  15. Jay 23 March 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    I think carb sensitivity is based on blood type, as an O negative I put on weight just looking at a grain (same goes for fruit and dairy). A meat and vegetable diet is the only thing that works for me but my mother on the other hand who is an A positive has a much higher tolerance when it comes to grains, fruit and dairy. Observe your body, it will tell you the truth.

  16. Floral Gum 23 March 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    “I personally had most success with a whole food diet – no junk, no sugar, some meat, some dairy products. lots of veggies and pulses, as much unrefined fat as I wanted, lots of non gluten whole grains, gluten grains occasionally. I felt like a million dollars. Only abandoned it because I got lazy, and bad habits soon get a grip.”

    Rachel, this sounds like the way I need to go. The full on low carb way is not for me, I lost about a stone quite quickly then stuck at about a stone more than I want to be. I also suffered from constipation and hair loss, which fortunately was resoved quite quickly by adding in wholemeal bread.

    I’d be interested to hear from you which vegetables and pulses you favoured, also which non- gluten whole grains?

  17. Bill 23 March 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Thanks! Tom hit the bull’s eye again. I’m glad you put this up. I’ll definately share it and watch it again.

  18. JT1 23 March 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I scratch my head constantly when I hear that low-carb isn’t for everybody, or “doesn’t work” – of course it is and does – it’s the way it’s meant to be. What can possibly be wrong with meat, fish, veggies, fruit, dairy – in fact whole foods – eating the way our grandparents, great-grandparents used to. If folk don’t want to eat correctly, that’s their choice and their list of medications as they get older (or in fact younger nowadays). You can lead a horse to water etc etc. I hear so many excuses, excuses, excuses. You can still eat properly on a tight budget, you just have to be smart and work a little harder at it.

  19. Nicki 24 March 2012 at 12:39 am #

    I think there is some great advice here, and I think Rachel hit the nail on the head, for why some diets don’t work – she got lazy, despite feeling like a million dollars. I think there is no more to say!

  20. Scott 24 March 2012 at 2:04 am #

    This is fascinating, because what Tom describes on the part of nutritionists and doctors is the classic response of charlatans and witchdoctors through the ages. Namely, they prescribe needlessly complicated and difficult to follow remedies, and then blame the patient when they don’t work:

    Patient: Hello witchdoctor, how can I cure my terrible disease?
    Witchdoctor: Ah, you must recite this verse three times backwards during a full moon, whilst hopping on the grave of a ancestor who was born in the month or January (or whatever).
    Patient (several weeks later): Witchdoctor, I did what you said, but I am still suffering!
    Witchdoctor: Ah, then you must not have followed my instructions properly!

    In other words, witchdoctors (and modern nutritionists) ensure that their advice can never be falsified, thereby escaping the scrutiny of the standard scientific method.

    “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.” — David Hume

  21. Alexandra 25 March 2012 at 12:29 am #

    @Rachel… If you don’t wish to eat this way, then don’t.. this is not a vegan site, no one will admonish you for your choices. If you do want to eat this way, tinker like crazy til it works for you.
    Best of luck.

  22. Cherry 26 March 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Lots of talk about the cost of meat here. I dont eat any meat, just some fish and lots of vegetarian food. If you are trying to save money you dont need to eat meat at all and there are still ways to lower your carbs or choose lower GI carbs

  23. Pete Grist 28 March 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Not sure how many people here do the family shopping. The cheap cuts hardly exist any more (lamb shanks are the same per kilo as other cuts, frying steak much the same a braising steak). You do have to shop and work around special offers, which I have time to do but. You also have to counter the fake value in ready-meals, which often contain far less meat than a recipe would call for. Since when has fish been cheaper than meat? Or veg for that matter. Green beans £4.88 a kilo free range chicken £4.50.

    I do like advice that tells me not to worry about fat though!

  24. Pauline 8 April 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Oxtail, cheap
    neck of lamb, cheap
    tongue, cheap
    all livers, cheap
    eggs, cheap
    cow foot, cheap
    mince, cheap
    heart and kidney’s, cheap
    herring, cheap,
    mackeral, cheap as chips
    mussels, cheap enough

    you get your essential fatty acids, cholesterol, choline, b vits, vit A, D, gelatin, and all sorts of other nutrients. Add the odd fruit and cheap green leaves and you’re as happy as Larry. I eat green bananas, true yam, breadfruit and coconut milk to the mix too (not low-carb but certainly paleo).

    So tired of hearing poor people can’t afford to eat well. It simply isn’t true.

    Whatever way of eating works for you i say stick with it.


  1. Paleo Diet News: Saturday Link-Love - Paleo Diet, recipes, articles, news, videos | Paleo Diet, recipes, articles, news, videos - 24 May 2013

    […] to food.   Three recent posts worth reading: his praise of Tom Naughton’s efforts to debunk today’s established nutritional advice; his advice on how to beat acne by going primal; and his well-thought-out guidance on supplementing […]

Leave a Reply