Here are a few objections raised in the comments. Although I've answered a few already, I want to put the bulk of them together in one spot.
1. Other things are dangerous too. Why eat healthy if you're not going to take EVERY precaution?
This is a pretty good question, especially aimed at me because I do tend to do fairly dangerous things occasionally.
The CDC says that the top six causes of death in the US are:
The things we cut out of the MaxDiet are directly and scientifically proven to be responsible for four out of the six. These make up 59.7% of the deaths in the US every year. If you're willing to agree that part of the MaxDiet is not smoking, you can bump that up to just over 65%.
Compare that to the 5.4% of deaths that accidents make up. This is a HUGE chunk of causes-of-death that the MaxDiet virtually eliminates. Sure there is still the chance of getting skin cancer or being so stressed that you'll have a heart attack anyways, but by and large, diet is THE root reason for these causes of death.
And even in cases of potentially getting skin cancer, all of the antioxidants and largely alkaline properties of the food have been proven to fight cancer.
Let me remind you again that this is a quality of life issue as well as a quantity of life issue. Lives not spent in the hospital are better.
I am willing to put considerable effort into diet because of all the possible ways I could die, the industrialized diet is by far the most likely to kill me.
I'd do it even if it was unpleasant. But it's not. Here's a graph of my food enjoyment:
As you can see, yes... it does suck to switch. You miss the foods you're used to eating and everything seems very inconvenient. Foods taste bland. Then after a while you start loving it so much that you'd never consider going back. Normal food seems gross and artificial.
Bottom line - diet is the best way to prevent terminal diseases, and (to me and others I know who have switched) it is more enjoyable once you transition to it.
2. This Source Says that Eating Meat is Good for You!
Food is a very controversial issue, and everyone has an opinion on it. Some of these people are scientists, and some are compelling writers (*cough cough*).
Pick any decision you've made and you'll find someone on the internet or in a book who says it's wrong. They will always be out there.
However, if you follow the science you'll see that a diet made up of the ingredients in the MaxDiet consistently proves to be healthiest. This is like the people who claim that there is no global warming. A lot of people believe that and can be very convincing, but scientists are pretty much unanimous.
Of course there are a few studies here and there that show that meat is good for you. This could be due to variance or poor experiment design. The largest and most complete study (among others) shows that it's definitely bad.
And here's the thing. I'm not 100% convinced. I'm 100% convinced on flours and sugars, but for meat I'm around 95%. Maybe there is some hidden benefit to meat that we haven't discovered or something like that. But current research just doesn't show it. So I go with the science and keep my ear to the ground.
And while we're on the subject - I've never found a study that shows that eating only the items on the MaxDiet is unhealthy. And I've looked.
3. All Vegans are Pale and Weak
I actually agree with this somewhat, mainly because most vegans eat TERRIBLE diets. The typical vegan gets rid of meat and replaces it with weird soy / chemical based analogues and even more refined flours.
To be clear - if you're going to eat like that, you're better off eating meat.
Meat has many good things in it, but it also has a number of bad things in it that make it suboptimal. Flour and sugar are worse - they are pure nutritional evil.
Besides - let's compare apples to apples. What does the average meat eater look like?
The MaxDiet is not about being vegan. That's part of it, and the easiest one word label for it, but it's about a lot more. That's why I put all these posts together, rather than just talking about meat.
The average person who switches to the diet looks better than before. That's been the experience of all of my friends who have tried it, and that's been my experience. Try it for yourself and see.
4. Vegans don't get enough protein
First of all, meat protein has been shown, as mentioned earlier, to contribute to all of the leading causes of death in the Western world. So first consider how much good that protein is actually doing you.
Next, realize that everything in the MaxDiet has protein in it (except fruit). Instead of eating meat, which provides a lot of protein, and then eating bread and junk that has virtually none, you eat small amounts of protein in every meal.
You will probably eat less protein on the MaxDiet, but the typical diet today has too much, which can actually cause liver issues. If you want to eat a ton of protein anyway, just stock up on nuts, seeds, and hemp protein (or just ground up hemp seeds).
The End Of MaxDiet Week
I've said my piece. It's a bit disappointing to me that more people aren't motivated to try it out or at least get the books I recommended and research it more for themselves.
Maybe I haven't written compellingly, maybe people are too stuck in their ways, maybe it just seems too difficult to switch. I don't really know.
For what it's worth, I consider adopting this diet to be one of my very best choices in life. If any of this stuff struck a chord, I'd highly suggest that you try it out for 30-60 days. If you need any help with it, start a thread on the forum and I'll respond personally.
The assertion that animal protein directly causes cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity is crazy. Your blog doesn't any actual evidence, and the one book you reference shows otherwise if you look at the actual stats it's based on.
Modern industrialized meat which is composed of a huge amount of fat and chemicals we can all agree probably isn't good for you. We can probably all agree that eating lots of green vegetables is very good for you.
What does decrease your life expectancy is eating a large number of calories. The easiest way to get calories is via animal fat. This is why many studies may loosely correlate vegetarianism with extended life (the china study isn't one of them). People that typically live a very long time eat almost nothing and it's difficult to eat a lot of calories when you're eating lettuce. You can live a 100 years on not much more than a couple sweet potatoes a week, but that doesn't mean you'd want to.
Simply dropping your calories will reduce the risk of most diseases above. You don't have to throw protein out just to do this. Carbohydrate intake is more highly correlated with cholesterol levels in arteries than protein intake, despite what popular culture may indicate. Basically sugars cause cholesterol to bind to the walls, which is more important that the free floating cholesterol in the blood.
The reason most vegetarians are fairly frail looking is that they don't get enough protein, cholesterol, and a hand full of vitamins. Cholesterol performs important functions (it's used to make testosterone).
For a 160 lb male the RDA for protein (which I argue is super low) would be 72 grams a day. Eating nothing but black beans which are higher than most anything else a vegetarian would eat, would mean you'd have to eat 4 cups of beans a day. This isn't going to happen. Add to this that black beans are relatively inefficient because they aren't a complete protein. Further, most of the numbers I've seen is that trained athletes, which we should all be, need closer to 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight just to prevent a loss of muscle mass. If you work out with intensity, eating less than this will result in you excreting more nitrogen than you're taking in. To put on muscle mass you'd need more than this. Also protein intake doesn't affect the liver until about 2 grams of protein per lb a day (have you ever heard of someone dieing of liver failure that didn't drink all their lives?)
Just because those eating cheeseburgers for MCd's are dropping like flies doesn't mean that animal protein is the cause. No more than pale vegans eating processed soy indicates that lettuce will make you a pussy.
As a vegan you probably went from cheese burgers and pizza to vegetables. You'll obviously have a huge improvement in your health. Try adding small amounts of organic grass fed beef, free range chicken, and wild fish. I have two great grandmothers who lived to be over 100 and neither was a vegetarian by any means, but they both weighed about 90 lbs most of their lives. I can tell you that the last 10-15 years wasn't worth it.
Thanks for taking the trouble to write this series of posts. What you have written sure seems compelling to me.
As to why people aren't motivated to implement the changes you suggest here - you just need to look at the number of people who still smoke (both my parents included) to realise that not all people are making informed, rational decisions about their lifestyles and health.
Sadly, it's not likely that you'll change the mind of someone who is resistant to change. The people you will influence are people who are willing to change, those who are seeking optimal health or even just better health. Also, you will inspire people (like me) who have already made some of these changes (no longer consuming animal products) to go that step further and cut out sugar and white flour. I also feel encouraged knowing that there are other people out there who are making these same changes. So, thank you for that.
(from an ex-smoker and recent convert to veganism)
I got the China Study as soon as I read up on your blog about this diet.
Three hours of reading later, I gave up all refined sugars, and animal protein products.
1.5 weeks in I feel wonderful!
I strongly applaud EVERYTHING you stated! I have Parkinson's disease and after modern medicine nearly killed me I found that eating a diet of "living foods" many kept in a raw state to be the one and only thing that reversed the horrific symptoms of this condition.I take in NO meat..of any kind. The only dairy I use comes from a local farm where I can go and watch the cows nibbling the acres of fields they inhabit. I am good friends with the farmer and have walked through his barns as well. I also buy my eggs there.
Most autoimmune diseases are strongly connected to diet...one low in nutrients and high in garbage. People may need to reach a point like myself where my choices were to devolve to drooling sickness, suicide to end the suffering or radical altering of my diet. The diet won and so did I. I still have the disease but my mobility is 80% improved, my mind is no longer lagging and my pain is gone. No more tremors or spastic movements either... We ARE what we eat!
Thanks for sharing this.
I'm amazed that you're still getting posts on this since it was posted so long ago. Got here from Zen Habits. Just wanted to say that this whole subject is puzzling to me. We can figure out what every animal on the planet eats and feed them accordingly in zoos, but we can't come to a consensus on what we as humans are supposed to eat. I've come to the conclusion that we'll never know the truth because everyone, including the govt., has money in the game. If we're told Paleo is our real diet, it is unsustainable and impossible to feed us all that way. Imagine the repercussions in our food system if the govt. came out and said Paleo is our true diet. Imagine school lunches, food stamps, hospitals, and so on going Paleo and the costs involved. We just don't have the land for it. Yes, some say it is the best diet, and that we would save alot in healthcare in the long run. But it's much cheaper to feed us all on grains, even though it may be causing us disease and more costs in healthcare. I'm sure the medical and pharma industries would go ballistic. ... I was a vegetarian many years in my earlier days (I'm 48), then I got married and my husband turned me back into a meat eater. I really don't like eating meat. It grosses me out. Delicious but gross, even after all these years. My 14yo daughter is the same way. I think I'll be going back to being vegetarian just because it's more mentally comfortable for me. So I think that's what everyone should do: Do what's comfortable for you. I think if we just give up the processed junk, we'd all be better off, whether we eat meat or not. All the sugar and highly processed stuff is what's really killing us.
Beautiful and well said. I've arrived at this diet the same way you did. I am not Vegan but if you analyzed my diet I get closer to it everyday. Every cheat I have is definitely regrettable minus the 85% cocoa organic chocolate. That is completely a mental hurdle to overcome though! I appreciate your well thought out research supported thoughts and will definitely shoot friends this way when they ask about my own diet. I almost wish it didn't have a name like Max Diet. It should just be diet, the way you should base your eating habits. Listen to your body!
"Healthy at 100" by John Robbins convinced me. Very fair and clearly written argument. It's not even an argument after you look at all the scientific research he cites.
The bookt focuses on the few high percentage centenarian cultures and what they eat.. then throws in the China Study bombshell to smack down all your apprehensions. Also discusses other non-food related things that are equally as important (other than the obvious exercise more).
Hey, I know I'm a bit (very) late to the table but I just wanted to say thanks for the great succinct posts. I've been looking to try something like this for a while. Reading this has given me some good guide lines, and also a motivational push. Cheers.
This was a very interesting read! It definitely has me intrigued to look more into this type of diet, although the idea of cutting chikfila out of my life is pretty scary! But I do have one question for you: What about peanut butter? Is that something that could fit into the MaxDiet, especially if you were to buy a more natural peanut butter that isn't processed?
I occasionally mention my diet, which has spawned some questions in a recent thread as well as in my survey results.
So this week I'm going to explain my diet in detail, focusing on what I eat, why I eat it, and the facts behind the food.
The ideas aren't mine originally, and I'm certainly not the only person to eat this way, but I call it the MaxDiet because there is no formal name for it, and from the research I've done it appears to be the best possible diet.
First off, I want to say that I hate how people use the word “diet”. My blood boils when I hear someone say something like ,”I gained a few pounds, looks like I need to go on a diet.” Such a statement implies that a diet is a temporary way of eating healthier until you lose a few pounds, then you can go back to eating whatever you want.
The way I see things, your diet is how you always eat. It is long-term, which means that you need a diet you can live with. Temporarily eating in a very restrictive manner only makes you crave unhealthier foods even more, and promotes “ballooning” or constantly going up and down in weight. Ballooning is an unhealthy, stressful way to live. A healthy diet is one that you can live with for your whole life. This means that restriction and bland health food products are not an option, as it would require tremendous willpower to stick to. Conversely, the other end of the spectrum, with cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and the like, is also unsustainable because of the associated health risks.
What does all of this mean? The optimal diet is one that is healthy for you and that you enjoy eating. That almost sounds too easy. The reality is that it is slightly less easy than it sounds. The hard part is wading through all of the conflicting dietary advice and figuring out what is actually healthy for you. Then, you can prepare meals that you enjoy while incorporating these dietary ideals. This is exactly what I did to create my diet, which I have named The Healthier Diet, in the spirit of this blog.
The Healthier Diet combines elements of traditional dietary advice with some more unconventional ideas. I would say if anything, it is closest to the Paleo Diet, but still very different. The Paleo Diet gets a lot of things wrong, especially when it comes to fitness, but it also gets some things right. My Healthier Diet is based on a few core ideas. Mainly, that the prevalence of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and cancer present in modern society is not a product of a high-cholesterol diet, but a result of eating too many refined sugars. I’m too lazy to find a citation on this but feel free to do more research if you would like. I won’t go into the science here, but there are three main takeaways:
1. Dietary cholesterol alone has little effect on blood serum cholesterol. Only when large amounts of cholesterol are consumed along with saturated fats will your blood cholesterol levels rise. One of the main places the Paleo Diet fails is that it doesn’t restrict saturated fat intake.