Delicious or Dangerous? Spotting Bad Science

Andy MorganUseful Diet Theory55 Comments

Spotting bad scienceHome visiting my family for a couple of weeks, I’m in the kitchen rustling up a delicious, super-sized omelette when mum comes in. I cringe and expect the usual criticism of my cooking skills but get something different.

Mum: “Five eggs!? Don’t you know that they will give you a heart attack?! I thought you would know about such things.”

Me: “I do. I’m fine mum. It’s fine.”

Mum: “Didn’t you see the headline in the paper?”

[Mum sets this incontrovertible evidence on the counter. Looks smug.]

How do you think I reacted?

Don’t believe everything you read

If something is written in the newspaper or on a popular TV station then it’s taken by most to automatically be true. I can understand that. We shouldn’t have to view everything with a critical eye but that’s just the way things have become.

Here are some eggy headlines over recent years:

“Eggs Linked To Diabetes.”

“Regular Eggs: No Harm To Health”

“Eggs Linked To Increased Risk Of Heart Disease”

“Eggs Improve Glucose Control”

Widen the focus from eggs a little and there are hundreds more like it. – It’s tough to know what we can eat anymore!

Are you frustrated? It seems we’re swimming in such a vast pool of information nowadays that it’s tough to determine the good from the bad. Journalists don’t necessarily intend to lie, they just weren’t able to spot the bad science and so spread misleading or wrong information without knowing.

Though easy to feel powerless it doesn’t have to be that way. Most of the time you don’t need a scientific background to find out quickly that a study is flawed and the headline rejected. Here’s an entertaining video that shows you how.

Learning to spot the good science from the bad is important. If you don’t then life may suddenly become a whole lot less delicious. – That whole “Is Sugar Toxic?” nonsense a prime example.

So what was my reaction? I just carried on cooking anyway. Eleven years of whipping up omelettes, this one too delicious to not be eaten. I knew I had my trump card up my sleeve – the video even nearly elicited an apology. Victory!

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional and training coach living in Tokyo, Japan. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, racing around Suzuka circuit, or staring at watches I can't afford.

55 Comments on “Delicious or Dangerous? Spotting Bad Science”

  1. Hey Andy,

    Thanks for redoing the site to allow easy navigation to your past posts. I spent half a day reading all your posts, and picked up a few things that I missed before. Sometimes, you can’t learn new stuff until you had some real life experience.

    Because I’m in a surplus, I have a lot of freedom of how to eat my macros. But there is so much chatter like your post above about what to eat/not eat for long-term health.

    My question is: Can you point me to links or sources where I can learn about macro-nutrients for cholesterol & blood sugar? I want to set my macros where I am also eating correctly for long-term health.


    1. Edit: “I want to set my Macro-Nutrients where I am also eating…” Sorry, I didn’t mean Macro like P,C,F but the food that makes up my macro for the day.

      1. Sure, long term health, like the right micronutrition also right?

        1. Eat 80% of your calories from non-processed foods. – Related guide at the end of the article, Is Clean Eating a Scam? – Clean Eating vs IIFYM.)
        2. Eat fruit or veg with every meal. – Specifics guidelines in, The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance – #3 Micronutrients & Water.
        3. Have variety in your diet most of the time.
        4. Don’t get fat. Ideally, keep your body fat under 15% most of the time.

        Do that and you’re golden Eric.

  2. Andy,
    What are your thoughts on a ‘cheat meal’ once a week whilst doing LG ? For instance, going out with friends to the movies and afterwards getting a _huge_ burger with all the trimmings.

  3. Hello Andy,

    Good article. I could relate it to training:
    I have found that most people are scared about lifting (fairly, in my case) heavy weights.
    Friends and family were like terrorized that I would become either huge or fat (where did came this common idea that when you quit lifting you get fat?). Well, I have almost stopped doing cardio because I felt it was not any more for me, and since I lift weights, I am getting so many benefits but people keep on saying that it is crazy for me to do it.
    What can I say:
    First time in my life that I do not have to “compensate” weekend excesses. This “diet” is a complete thrill! I eat so much and feel clean and fit.
    First time in my life that I do not feel any single backache, even after long working days at the PC.
    First time ever that I feel strong (always been so weak).
    The real issue is that I am leaner and also working on the foundations for a brand new, stronger and better me.

    Thanks a lot for making it possible!

  4. andy, this might seem like a novice question from a client but i need to ask it. i am fooling around with the maco calculator and what would you set the activity multiplier at for someone training 3 days per week for 1hr (compound stuff, RPT) (MON/WED/FRI) 20min walk jog on rest days?

  5. Andy, how would you meet your rest day fat requirements when you don’t have access to fatty meats such as steak and fish? I will not have access to fatty meats for 6 months. Eggs and cheese work out okay. Are there any other foods or recipes high in fat and protein but have no carbs? Tried looking into fried chicken but looks like all of the recipes require a batter (flour etc). If I can’t find anything else, are 7 eggs and cheese okay for every rest day over 6 months?

    1. Share it if you think friends will find it useful too.
      Also, the book “Bad Science” is something you will probably equally enjoy and get pissed off by.

  6. This video was awesome. I learned a lot of this stuff as a Psych major in school, but it definitely helped in the sense as how people view newspaper articles and such as credible sources. Keep up the good work. Now to cook a nice fat omlet to break the fast

  7. Good Stuff Andy.

    Quick question about trying to sub in some alcohol on a cut – let’s assume it’s a rest day and carbs are low. Let’s say I want to have two beers, is it ok to sub in my two beers for two pieces of fruit? Calorically, is that about even?

  8. Great presentation, thanks for sharing this! I’m going to find that Kellogg’s paper haha

  9. This article was hilarious, I laughed when I read it. I went home for the holidays, worked out, and ate a huge meal afterwards. I got so much shit from my mom around how much I was eating, how it’s unhealthy to skip breakfast, etc. How breakfast is the most important meal of the day, blah blah. She even insisted on setting me up on an appointment with her nutritionist. What I don’t understand is that I was 30 lbs lighter than the last time she saw me, had more noticeable muscle, I had moe energy, etc. Yet that is all ignored, her nutritionist and everything on TV trumps all of that.

  10. this also reminds me of a girl at work who told me that someone told her “red meat” was bad for her and i asked “who told you that, the guy trying to sell you chicken” lol

  11. Thx for sharing. As always great article.
    I have seen so many articles throughout my life about coffee.
    BAD, GOOD, BAD, GOOD, BAD, GOOD and so on.
    I drink it cause I love it and it tastes good.

  12. A brilliant book on these matters and other popular ‘myths’ is called Trick and Treat ‘ why healthy eating is making us ill’ by Barry Groves. Well worth a read!

  13. I admit I got caught up in the “sugar is toxic” thing at first, but had it quickly shown how it is false. It was around the same time I discovered the existence of Alan Aragon 🙂

  14. Love this video Andy. Knew everything he said already, but never seen it put so eloquently.

    Like the guy’s above, I’ve stopped replying to comments about my diet, I will point them towards this in the future.

  15. Haha, so so so true, everyone around me always tells me to stop eating eggs, bacon and sausages because “I’ll never get lean that way”.

  16. The link between saturated fats/cholesterol and atherosclerosis. I gotta say that I was so surprised that eating a low carb high fat diet actually improves your blood lipids. LCHF + Leangains ^^

  17. HDL/LDL

    Another example…people at work eating peanut butter and fluff sandwiches because PB has “good fat”

  18. Prior to LeanGains I was on a low carb diet; my breakfast every morning consisted of a ridiculous amount of eggs and bacon, which always invited the heart attack comments. More recently, when I went to visit my mom for the holidays and told her about my eating schedule, she replied that it wasn’t good for me and that I need to eat more often because otherwise I would go into starvation mode. I don’t even try to argue anymore, I just say trust me, I know what I’m doing and let the results speak for themselves.

    1. Funny, my friend Jon sat across from me the other day in my other friend’s company office I invade every time I visit the UK (steal their wifi), and when Chris next to me mentioned that he had lost 28lbs by skipping breakfast over the last 4 months, Jon blurted out, “Ah no, your body will go into starvation mode…”

      He’s an intelligent guy but I do question it sometimes when he says such things in light of what was said to him immediately previous to his outburst.

  19. You should have seen the FB comments I got from friends and family when I posted a pic of a 12-egg omelette I made a while back. I didn’t say anything other than “I’ll be fine”. I wanted to say, “Guys, in the past year, I’m down 50 pounds and I’m staring to see definition in my abs for the first time EVER IN LIFE. I can deadlift over 400 pounds and perform a set of 20 pull ups. Do you really think I’m unhealthy?” Or I could’ve said, “My cholesterol was 162 at last count. What was yours?”

    People need to reevaluate themselves. Or read a book.

    1. Here’s some homework for you. Complete the sentence: It’s not the cholesterol number that has the biggest link to heart disease but the ratio of…

      Quickest correct answer wins a t-shirt.

        1. Recent work by da Luz et al examined a range of relationships between lipid levels,10 and found that the ratio of triacylglycerol to HDL-cholesterol (TG/HDL-c) was the “single most powerful predictor of extensive coronary heart disease among all the lipid variables examined.” – AARR

          Well done Jason. Check your inbox.

      1. Dont forget thats its not only the ratio but also the particle size as well; bigger sized LDL particles appear to be better than smaller/dense ones

        1. haha didn’t see I’d been beaten to it – great article Andy, have you read Ben Goldacre’s book – Bad Scence? It’s a great read.

  20. Haha lol, I am sitting at ihop (breakfast) right now as I read this article, lmao. Perfect andy! Great timing, great read and I will enjoy the heck out of my turkey bacon and avacado omlette when the server brings it. Lol

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