January 11, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Posts

I missed my four year blogversary!

My blog has existed since August 2012. I would have celebrated sooner, but August 2016 blew right past me. (Probably because I was mired in a deep and longstanding depression, which I thought I was starting to come out of, but which is actually back in full force and only lifted temporarily.)  As of this writing, there are 242 posts. I don’t think I hit my stride until sometime mid-2013, but there are a couple of gems going back as far as September 2012.

For those of you who found me a few years into my blathering blogging, and since new people stumble upon my blog every week, I thought it would be nice to start the new year by sharing a selection of my personal favorite posts for those of you who have only recently tuned in, as well as for any of you who are wondering what the “must read” posts are. (In my opinion, anyway.) I tried to purge all my low carb and keto-related anger in a few posts prior to the close of 2016 so that I could start 2017 on a more positive note. I can’t promise I won’t post any more rants in the future (I think we can all agree I’m not physically capable of holding it in), but I am going to try to stick to things that are a little more scientific, as well as posting tips and insights that are helpful for following these types of diets in the real world.

With no further ado, here are my top ten favorites, in no particular order, except that the first one is probably nearest and dearest to my heart and resonates with me, personally, the most deeply:

A takedown of the idea that obesity causes the myriad other conditions it’s “associated with” (such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, infertility, etc.), rather than it being yet another effect or symptom of underlying metabolic or hormonal dysfunction that is the true cause of health problems, and which occurs in people of all shapes and sizes, including those who are underweight or at a “normal” or “healthy” BMI (whatever the heck that even is, anyway). If, like me, you are tired of everything from cancer to a broken arm to a hangnail being blamed on somebody’s body weight, and you’re tired of people thinking they can make assumptions about someone’s dietary and exercise habits based on nothing but the size of their body, this one’s for you!

An 8-part series (so far…there will be more) that explores the underappreciated role of insulin in driving chronic illness in the industrialized world, and why a myopic focus solely on blood glucose has blinded us to a much more insidious and widespread problem. (Click here for an editorial I co-authored with Dr. Jason Fung on the topic.)

Within the insulin series, I honestly love all the posts, but if I had to pick favorites, I’d say they are part 6 (in which I wrote about the concept of “TOFI” – thin outside, fat inside, and how being “thin” does not mean someone is immune to the horrible consequences of chronically elevated insulin); part 3 (in which I wrote about the underappreciated role of glucagon in problems with blood sugar regulation, inspired by this video, which is absolutely worth your time to watch when you have 45 minutes to spare); and part 2 (in which I wrote about associations causal relationships between chronic hyperinsulinemia and/or hyperglycemia and a whole slew of health issues: hypertension, heart disease, PCOS, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease, gout, poor eyesight, and inner-ear and balance disorders (e.g., vertigo, tinnitus, Ménière’s disease), which are  typically deemed “idiopathic,” meaning no one knows what causes them. (Um, I think we do now.) Really, though all 8 parts are worth reading, if I do say so myself.

An eye-opening look at the not-at-all surprising link between statin drugs and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. (Sneak peek: in addition to lowering cholesterol [which is problematic in itself], statins interfere with synthesis of special proteins required for proper pancreatic beta-cell function. Nice, huh?) I will probably write a scathing post covering new and even more terrible things I’ve learned about statins since writing this one, but if you want to go straight to the source on the new stuff, this paper will make you furious. (Email me if you’d like the full text.)

A science-heavy (sort of) series covering exactly what it says – the metabolic theory of cancer. (That is, the idea that cancer is not caused by genetic mutations, but rather, by metabolic aberrations stemming from rampant mitochondrial dysfunction.) This series contains lots of explanations of biochemical processes. If you prefer my rants, this is not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for plain-English explanations of some semi-high-level biochemical “stuff,” this is guaranteed to blow your mind a bit.

Within the cancer series, my favorite posts are Aerobic Fermentation (a.k.a. “The Warburg Effect”),  Glycolysis Run Amok & Mutant Hexokinase, Mutations Vs, Mitochondria (my personal #1), and Cancer as a Protective Mechanism. Unfortunately, if you don’t have at least a little steeping in the biology of cancer cells, you’ll have to start at the beginning and progress through the series in order. But it’s totally worth the price of admission, I promise! (And considering admission is free, you are actually making out like a bandit on this deal!)

My speculation on why some people coast through life never having to give a thought to body weight regulation, while others (like me!) seem to accumulate second chins and extra-large saddlebags just looking at a cupcake. Why are there people who seemingly don’t gain body fat no matter what or how much they eat, while others seemingly can’t not gain body fat, even when they “eat less and move more?” Why, oh WHY, is getting to and maintaining a lean physique completely effortless for some, and so, so damn hard for others? (But I’m not bitter or anything…)  ;D

The phrase “calories out” is too often used to encompass only the calories that are “burned” during deliberate exercise or low-level physical activity, rather than the myriad biochemical processes over which we have no conscious control, and which are responsible for expending the vast majority of calories we burn energy our bodies use. When we put body weight regulation down to eating less and exercising more – that is, taking in less energy than we expend through deliberate physical activity – we completely ignore the massive amount of energy our bodies expend just to keep us alive, whether we’re running a marathon or lying on the sofa. Why do some people’s bodies seem to use so much more energy for the unconscious processes than others’? That is, why are some people’s basal metabolic rates so much higher than others’? It’s not only about having more skeletal muscle mass. Something else is at work, and until we acknowledge this and find ways to address it, many attempts at forcing fat loss in the short term (by eating less and moving more) will fail in the long term.

A deep-dive (a.k.a. extra-long post) into the concept of vitamin J. (Spoiler alert: it’s joy.) You can have the most pristine diet, the most hardcore workout program, a stockpile of fancy-schmancy super-expensive supplements, walk barefoot on the grass, wear special light-blocking goggles at night to help entrain your circadian rhythm better, and guess what? None of that matters if you hate your life. I could say more, but, well…just read the post if you have been trying—and failing—to “fix” your life solely by addressing your health and physique. Contrary to what we hear via social media, there’s more to life than avoiding carbs and vegetable oils.

As I reiterated in my epic year-end rant about strict ketogenic diets, some folks use these terms interchangeably, and they’re not interchangeable. There are important distinctions, and while some people might argue this is merely semantics, in my estimation, lumping these two approaches together as if they’re the same is leading to problems when people try to follow these diets over the long term, or when particular circumstances necessitate tweaks and changes in application.

A shorter and much lighter version of the aforementioned keto rant. Contrary to what some might believe, there are, in fact, human beings who can consume potatoes, fruit, legumes, and grains without becoming diabetic, obese, infertile, depressed, or keel over immediately from a heart attack. Really, there are.

My thoughts on why the backlash against low carb high fat diets is not based in science, but rather, in the prudish and puritanical attitudes we have in the U.S. toward rich, fatty, succulent animal foods. Can you imagine an Italian turning his nose up at prosciutto? A Spaniard saying no to a sizzling chorizo, with a chunk of manchego cheese on the side? Or a Greek man passing up a nice, juicy piece of roasted lamb leg in favor of fat-free feta? Please. Some of the backlash against low carb diets comes from people who are still brainwashed by the low fat, healthywholegrains “thing,” and who avoid fatty animal foods for ostensible health reasons, but in my opinion, it’s much more a product of people simply not being able to wrap their heads around the idea that it’s neither sinful nor downright deadly to indulge in the delicious flesh of a dead animal.

Honorable Mentions:

Why do so many medical professionals either ignore the stunning efficacy of low-carb diets, or worse, actively warn patients against implementing this potentially lifesaving nutritional strategy? Do they ever feel like failures when patient after patient only continues to get worse, and requires ever-increasing doses of medications with dangerous side-effects? Do they ever stop to wonder why their patients’ health deteriorates? Do they assume patients don’t follow their advice, rather than stopping to question if maybe the advice, itself, is the problem? (There was a follow-up post as well, in which I pointed out that many of the physicians who use low carb and ketogenic diets in their practices have come to do so after trying to get healthy or lose weight with the conventional advice themselves, and failing.)

An exploration of the structure and function of the entire digestive tract, north-to-south, from the brain to the bunghole. (No, the brain is not technically part of the digestive tract, but it’s definitely a player in what, when, and how much we eat, and how well we do or do not digest what we eat.) Ever wonder just what the heck your gallbladder is for, or what your pancreas does aside from helping to regulate blood sugar? This is your chance to find out. I cover it all: leaky gut (and the connection to autoimmune conditions), hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid, and why antacids are a terrible idea, because stomach acid is good for you), constipation (and its connections to depression), and more!

Some of my very first posts, from back in 2012!
Saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated. What do these terms mean, and what are the implications for the different fats we should favor for hot applications versus cold applications, and which oils we might want to avoid ever eating. (Sneak peek: there’s a reason you never see recipes calling for deep-frying anything in flaxseed oil, and you don’t make salad dressings with beef tallow.) Also: what, exactly, are trans fats, and why are they so undesirable in the food supply? And omega-6 & omega-3s – where do these terms come from? What do those numbers mean? I go through all of that and more! (Gets a little technical, especially in the post about trans fats, but if you’d like a good layman’s intro to the chemistry of this stuff [or need help falling asleep], this will be up your alley.)

Happy Reading!

P.S. Did I miss anything? Do you have a favorite post I didn't mention? Are you a fan of the food label posts? Did you like the explanation of being in ketosis versus being fat-adapted

Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to amazon.com, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.


  1. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I have learned a lot about nutrition in the time that I've read your blog, and wanted to thank you for delivering that knowledge in a writing style that I greatly enjoy.

    I know that some of the comments people have made on here were not the nicest, but rest assured that there are plenty of people like me that appreciate your insights and hope you keep on doing so.

    P.S. I am a big fan of the food label posts! I think it's because I often find myself doing the same at a grocery store, and -- much like your blog slogan -- trying to find the good stuff "in the sea of nutritional madness."

    1. Thanks! You made my day. I'm glad you came out of lurkerdom to leave such a nice comment. :)

    2. An item on the Montreal news last night. It will only take five years to impliment changes in labelling.

      Corinne Voyer of the Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems said this is a prudent move since most foods produced in Canada have added sugar.
      She wishes, however, that companies would work faster to use the new labels, which are only required to be in place by 2021

    3. I have to agreee that " ITIS – It’s the Insulin, Stupid" is my favourtie post too. As you know Canada is making changes to its food guidelines.
      I wrote to Sonia Sidhu who is a member of the committee asking this question ".Do you think changes in the guidelines will reflect enough change to benefit diabetics? "
      The current recommended minimum intake for carbohydrates is not less than 130 g/day, which in my opinion. is way too high.
      My main concerns is that I am lead to believe that dieticians must follow the Canada Food Guidelnes for people who have diabetes.
      My husband was prescribed a high carbohydrate diet of 60% from the time he was diagnosed in 1967 to the time of his death in 2013.

      Ms. Sidhu replied to me as follows;
      "As co-chair of the all-party Diabetes Caucus, a former diabetes educator, and the Member of Parliament for Brampton South – I can say categorically that we need to do more on this issue.
      I will discuss some of these suggestions with my colleagues at the next meeting of the all-party Diabetes Caucus and also at Health Committee when the topic arises."

      Hope there may be some light at the end of the tunnel after all.

  2. Hey Amy,

    I've been digging nutrition for some years now and decided to switch careers. A scientist by training I am now studying for becoming a nutritionist. What can I say...your blog is a huge help. You keep me going when the learning materials are about to make me reconsider my decision..., since it is very much based on promoting official guidelines (high carb, no fat, reduce consumtion of animal foods...). I love your humor, the explanations and your open-mindedness. Many thanks for this awesome resource. All the best

  3. I really loved your cancer series. It was SO eye-opening for me! Coming from a family with quite a bit of history of cancer, it gave me so much more information than I ever thought possible.

    I also love all your posts that keep us off the "carrot train to crazytown". :)

    Gonna get sappy here... Your blog is like a rock, a foundation, that I have built so much of my nutritional understanding from, and I will always be eternally grateful!

    1. :D Awwa, thank you! I'm so glad my blog has been educational.

  4. I'm looking forward to reading these posts, as I've been around here a year or so, but I wanted to say, Darn it! I'm so sorry you're having dark days again. I know how badly that sucks. : (
    wishing you total healing soon ~ Tracy

    1. Thanks, Tracy. I've recently started on some medication that seems to be helping. It's going to take some time for me to identify my optimal/most effective dose, but there have already been a few pinpricks of light in an otherwise very longstanding, deep, and immense darkness. So the fact that I've had *any* better moments at all is promising, as this is more than I've had for the last two and a half years or so. I'm not feeling all that great just yet, but I'm hopeful and optimistic for the first time in way too long. :)

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  6. I LOVE your blog!

    So glad to hear things are getting better; that is quite the challenge. I am also enjoying your Alzheimer's book, which helps keep me on the straight and narrow.

    My friends tease me that like my beloved kitties, I am an "obligate carnivore." Low carb eating has been an incredibly important tool in my own health challenges, and you are one of my favorite writers on the subject.

    Don't stop :)

    1. :D Thanks! Always love hearing from happy readers. I think I, too, am an obligate carnivore. I actually love vegetables very much and probably could be a vegetarian if I had to, but I know I feel (and look!) better when I eat adequate animal protein. But even when I was a kid, I loved the veg most kids tend to hate: broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus. Didn't even have to be roasted with bacon fat or with balsamic vinegar, hehheh. I liked them plain just fine, and still do. I don't know if I would "miss" meat if I gave it up, but I do know I fare better with a good amount of animal foods.

      Pet those kitties for me! I love cats, but live in a rented house now with housemates, and no pets are allowed. :(

  7. Thank you SO much for your last blogpost. I very much needed it. Much of it I had in the back of my mind but I thought it was just me (and Dr. A.). Please keep telling us things like that. You rants are VERY helpfull. Thank you.