The Worst Nutrition Advice in History: a dietitian’s response

Jessica Penner, RDSmarten Up4 Comments

 The Worst Nutrition Advice in History: A Dietitian’s Response

As a Registered Dietitian and an expert in human nutritional sciences, many people have asked me to respond to this article by Kris Gunnars, about bad nutrition advice from “mainstream nutrition.”  I’m tempted to say that he’s got it all wrong, but the truth is that he just has us all wrong.

Yes, he calls out nutrition advice that is bad… possibly even the worst.  My dietitian colleagues and I are generally in agreement on that.  We’re nutrition professionals, and we make up the field of “mainstream nutrition.”

So, the question is, what makes him think we’re making these recommendations?

Gunnars seems to suggest that an entire field, including Registered Dietitians who have governing rules about staying current in our field, is purposefully making recommendations that are not in line with the current research results.  His article makes a lot of solid points, backed up with many links to solid evidence, but he never provides any links to the nutrition professionals who are apparently giving out these bits of bad advice!

I’m sure somebody out there is spewing this kind of bad advice, but it’s not mainstream nutrition.

Nutrition is, like any scientific field, a field that changes as new information comes up.  Sometimes that can make the public wary of new recommendations, since they contradict old recommendations.  People often distrust what they hear from nutrition professionals because of this, which can make it hard for us to help them be healthier.

Misleading articles like Gunnars’ doesn’t help with this problem at all.  He’s insulting modern mainstream nutrition professionals because of old, outdated information, which only fringe bloggers and unqualified nutritionists push.

A Common Enemy

Rather than take on “mainstream nutrition” and further muddy the waters, I wish Gunnars had taken on our common enemy, the hacks who actually give bad nutrition advice, all over the internet, poisoning the knowledge base that so many people rely on for information.

 Check out part two of this response where I respond to each of Gunnars’ “worst pieces of advice in nutrition history” and  point out what he got right and what he got wrong.

*Update 2019: I recently received an email from Kris Gunnars explaining that he wrote this article (and a lot of others like it) in an attempt to go viral and gain attention. He since regrets writing many of them and deleted many of them before selling his website to Healthline. Kudos to him for reaching out to me with an explanation.


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4 Comments on “The Worst Nutrition Advice in History: a dietitian’s response”

  1. I had the good fortune to accompany my pre diabetic 80 year old father to his appointment with a qualified dietitian the other day, and despite all the current research this one still promoted a low fat, high carb diet.

    So if this nutrition professional is mainstream, as recommended by a registered MD, then some mainstream nutritionists ARE still promoting out of date advice!

    1. Thank you for your input Ian. I hope you’ll read Part 2 when I post it (hopefully today or tomorrow!) where I’ll be talking about the interpretation of “low fat, high carb”! You might be surprised!

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