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Monday, May 26, 2014

Frank Bruni, "Diet Lures and Diet Lies": Green Coffee Beans Anyone?

A couple of years ago, did you see the Dr. Oz Show (see: and then run off to buy green coffee bean extract pills? I did (fortunately you can't see me blushing from embarrassment over the Internet).

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Diet Lures and Diet Lies" (, Frank Bruni, the rising star of the New York Times's blindered and self-absorbed op-ed page, writes:

"'In terms of diet, the general laws of thermodynamics hold,' Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at the Columbia University Medical Center, told me. 'The issue of — ‘If I eat a diet of all watermelons as opposed to a diet of hamburgers with the same number of calories, will I be able to lose more weight on the watermelons?’ — that’s a specious argument. We’re dealing with chemistry and physics, not imagination.'"

. . . .

Cue Oz. A distinguished cardiothoracic surgeon, he has traded time in the hospital for time on TV, where he revisits no topic more incessantly than (supposedly) ingenious ways to slim down. With a shameless vocabulary of 'magic,' 'miracle' and 'revolutionary,' he has showcased or outright validated HCG hormone shots, green coffee bean supplements, raspberry ketone supplements and more. He told viewers: 'I’m going to show you how you can get fat to eat itself right out of your body.'

The sum of these exhortations 'just violates science,' said Leibel. 'It’d be like if we went to NASA and they were using astrological charts to try to figure out how to get a rocket to Europa. It’s at that level.'"

Bruni's conclusion:

"[D]ecades of trendy diets have confirmed one and only one magic bullet: a mix of restrained eating and regular exercise."

But is there really no hope? What about an Atkin's low-carb diet? As observed by U.S News & World Report (

"It is still unclear, regardless of claims made for low-carb diets, whether the main reason for weight loss is carb restriction specifically or simply cutting calories. A study published in 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that after two years, participants assigned either to a 35 percent or a 65 percent carb diet lost about the same amount of weight—6 to 7½ pounds on average. In 2003, researchers who analyzed about 100 low-carb studies concluded in the Journal of the American Medical Association that weight loss on those diets was associated mostly with cutting calories and not with cutting carbs."

The sad bottom line for me: Notwithstanding the joint pain and loss of flexibility that comes with aging, there can be no avoiding weights and aerobic exercise, unless I am stressed-out, whereupon the extra pounds disappear overnight.

No benefits to food supplements whatsoever? "I wouldn't go that far," he (meaning myself) said, staring hopefully up at a shelf over my desktop, where there are bottles of CO Q-10, melatonin, vitamin D, tumeric and green tea extract lined up in less than neat rows.

Will I live to 100? Not a chance. Please spare me the pain.


  1. Isn't it astounding how long the "miraculous" diets concept prevails? Best videos I've ever seen about weight loss is "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" which entertainingly demonstrates the merits of a diet comprised chiefly of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. The filmaker (and dieter) makes his way
    across -U.S. tour documenting middle America's attitudes about eating, while doing a fresh juice fast. Dramatic and moving testament to how restrained eating, regular exercise and juicing (which kick-starts weight loss as well) are not only the way to lose weight, but to restore health, eradicate migraines, eczema and host of other problems. As long as there are ignorant people, there will be guru-charlatans of weight loss.

  2. Anonymous, sorry to inform you but diet consisting of fruits and grains is much less healthy than you think. Among other things, one can lose not only weight, but also life.
    There is a difference between losing weight and having a healthy diet and diet consisting of fruits and grains isn't healthy. Humans are not tunnels for fast moving of food.
    OK, it's time for a breakfast. Can't wait for my everyday eggs, today probably omelet with mushrooms, cheese and scallions and juice/pulp from one orange, then berries and tea. And some chocolate, of course.

  3. I did not mean, nor did I say, that one's diet should consist only of fruit and grains. I too eat eggs, fish, cheese and, once a week, meat. My point is that too many people rely on processed food and not enough PLANT foods. Your breakfast is half plant-based and half protein. Since you brought it up, my breakfast is plain yogurt (usually 4%), with fresh fruit and muesli. I usually mix into it: shaved unsweetened cocoa, shredded coconut, raisins, walnuts. Love it! Never had a weight problem in my life except when I was pregnant but lost the weight within one year without "dieting."