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  • Shame On You/Say What?: Intruder Alert!

    A reader by the name of Rachelle recently left a comment on this blog notifying me about author John Gray’s foray into nutrition.

    If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Mr. Gray is the author of the “let’s make cultural norms seem like biological qualities” pop-psychology book Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus.

    Despite a lack of nutrition credentials, Mr. Gray now considers himself knowledgeable enough to dole out nutrition advice. Oh, joy.

    Perhaps it is the “PhD” after his name that gave him this confidence, although that credential has been severely questioned.

    In any case, Mr. Gray offers nutritional cleanses retreats (red flag, anyone?) and hawks — are you ready for it? — Mars & Venus shakes.

    According to Mr. Gray, these shakes offer the “ideal balance of nutrients” for men and women. Don’t you love vague pseudo-science catch phrases?

    You do? Great, because here’s another one: “the shakes are designed to assist the brain in functioning in a more balanced and harmonious manner.”

    Mr. Gray also claims these shakes get you to your ideal weight. If you need to lose, you will lose. If you need to gain weight, you will gain. I would love to see the randomized double-blind control trials that confirm this (because I’m so sure he conducted them.)

    Despite having the exact same ingredients in different amounts, Mr. Gray claims the Mars shake produces more dopamine in the brain, while the Venus shake produces more serotonin.

    Huh? Both shakes contain a protein powder. Protein-rich foods cause a surge of dopamine. So, how then, does the Venus shake differ?

    If you’re looking to lose weight, Mr. Gray has you covered!

    All you have to do is buy his shake powder (of course!) and have it as your breakfast and dinner.

    For lunch, you can eat a salad “with as many raw vegetables and avocado as you wish” as well as some form of protein, all topped with olive oil and either lemon juice or vinegar.

    Although Mr. Gray claims the “effortless weight loss” (15 pounds a week, he claims!) is due to the magic ingredients in his shake, it’s clear that the “magic” is simple caloric deprivation.

    How can you NOT lose weight if your only solid meal of the day is a salad and your other two meals each consist of one scoop of powder and eight ounces of water?

    Despite all the fantastic claims, the small print at the bottom of his website reads “John Gray’s Mars & Venus LLC does NOT guarantee weight loss.”

    Hmmmm… interesting how he never mentions that in his breathless infomercials where he mentions how “life changing” his shakes have been!

    Now we come to my favorite part — the head-scratching nutrition-related statements:

    * The weight loss cleanse prohibits the intake of any dairy, yet the shakes — which are a significant part of the cleanse — contain whey protein!

    Newsflash, Mr. Gray, whey protein is a dairy protein!

    * Mr. Gray on Omega-3′s: “A couple of tablespoons of flaxseed [have as many Omega-3's] as a meal of salmon.”

    Firstly, how big is a “meal of salmon”?

    Additionally, can you say “back to Nutrition 101 for you”? The Omega 3′s in flaxseed consist of alpha linolenic acid, whereas salmon offers Docosahexaonoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

    It is not an equal comparison!

    * Mr. Gray hates soy, mainly due to its phytate content, which blocks mineral absorption.

    Had he bothered to research the topic, he would have realized that although phytates interfere with the absorption of some minerals, they also offer a variety of well-documented health benefits.

    Tannins in coffee and tea interfere with iron absorption, but that doesn’t mean coffee and tea are “bad” beverages.

    * Mr. Gray refers to a food that contains a certain amount of cholesterol as one that provides “3% of the daily requirement.”

    Wrong again! There is no daily requirement for cholesterol; it is not an essential nutrient. The 300 milligram figure is considered a “limit,” not a requirement.

    * Mr. Gray claims coconut is the only food that contains lauric acid.

    Not so! Goat’s milk, cow’s milk, and palm kernel oil also contain the fatty acid.

    These examples merely scratch the non-sense surface.

    As I said in an earlier post — enough is enough! The last thing anyone needs is more inaccurate nutrition advice from individuals who don’t possess even the most basic knowledge!

    This Earthling is not amused.

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    3 Comments

    1. T said on March 10th, 2009

      What a joke…I used to own a bookshop and was always amazed at the number of educated people who would buy his books and rave about how much they learned.

      In all due respect however, I have met an awful lot of PhDs from highly accredited universities who are as dumb as a ton of bricks.

      Dennise

    2. lbwsimpson said on March 10th, 2009

      It’s such a shame that there will be so many people that will fall for this quackery simply because of the name associated with this ‘diet.’ I can only hope these people will be smart enough to do some research. Somehow, I doubt it.

    3. bevy of bees said on March 19th, 2009

      15 lbs a week seems like a dangerous amount to lose, and shouldn’t be something to be excited about.

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