Metabolic health & Real Food

Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine

Dr. Robert Lustig, MD, MSL

May 4, 2021 • Harper

Price: $ 29.99

Target Audience:

Nutrition Practitioners, Clients/Patients

Dr. Robert Lustig’s “Metabolical” takes readers on a scientific journey, exploring the impact of processed food on our health, economy, and environment. In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Lustig unveils the biochemical processes behind chronic diseases, exposes the shortcomings of the healthcare system, and offers evidence-based strategies for improving our well-being through whole foods that protect the liver and feed the gut.

In this edition of The Well-Read Nutritionist, we’re diving into a book that, despite being released in 2021, continues to make waves in our field. “Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine” by Dr. Robert Lustig is a compelling read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the intricate connections between processed foods, chronic disease, and the limitations of modern medical approaches. If you haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with a purchase link and a brief summary that highlights key points and its relevance to our work as nutrition clinicians. For those who have already explored “Metabolical,” we’d love to hear your thoughts!


In “Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine,” Dr. Robert Lustig, a renowned pediatric neuroendocrinologist, presents a comprehensive exposé on the detrimental impacts of processed food on human health, the economy, and the environment. Dr. Lustig challenges the prevailing healthcare paradigm influenced by Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Government, highlighting how chronic diseases are symptoms of deeper metabolic dysfunctions, often exacerbated by our dietary choices. Through careful analysis and clear communication, Dr. Lustig connects the dots between nutrition, health, medicine, environment, and society, unveiling the stark reality of our current food landscape. He advocates for a radical shift in our approach to food, emphasizing the critical importance of protecting the liver and feeding the gut to combat chronic disease and restore both personal and planetary health.

The book is divided into five parts, each addressing a specific aspect of the issue. In Part 1, Dr. Lustig argues that modern medicine focuses on treating symptoms rather than the underlying causes of diseases, and that healthcare professionals need to re-evaluate their understanding of nutrition. Part 2 delves into the biochemical processes behind chronic diseases – a great biochem refresher! – and provides guidance on self-diagnosis. Part 3 discusses the true meaning of healthy eating and the impact of diet during various life stages. Part 4 examines the processed food industry, including food classifications, adulterations, subtractions, additions, and fraud. Finally, in Part 5, Dr. Lustig criticizes the government’s role in perpetuating the health crisis through inadequate oversight and misguided policies. He emphasizes the importance of consuming real, unprocessed food for both personal health and the environment, and presents a case for reforming the food supply.

Important Takeaways:
  • Chronic diseases stem from underlying metabolic dysfunctions, not just genetic predispositions or inevitable consequences of aging.
  • Processed foods, comprising a significant portion of the modern diet, are laden with toxic additives, lack essential nutrients, and are highly addictive, contributing to the surge in chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, cancer, and dementia.
  • The book provides guidance on self-diagnosis through the interpretation of lab tests (e.g., waist circumference, triglyceride to HDL ratio, uric acid levels, and liver function tests) and the identification of patterns indicating poor mitochondrial health.
  • The debate between vegan and keto diets is a distraction; the focus should be on consuming real, unprocessed foods that nourish the body and promote metabolic health.
  • Medical education inadequately addresses nutrition, leaving healthcare practitioners ill-equipped to address nutrition-related health issues effectively.
  • The processed food industry is examined in detail, including food classifications, adulterations, subtractions, additions, and fraud.
  • Government subsidies, industry influence, and lax oversight contribute to the proliferation of processed foods and hinder efforts to promote healthier eating habits.
  • A return to unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods is essential to reverse the tide of chronic disease and foster individual and societal well-being.
Favorite quotes

“All you need to know are two precepts, six words total: 1.) protect the liver, and 2.) feed the gut.”

“… a calorie is a calorie. That mantra… has set medicine back at least 50 years, maybe more.”

“Metabolical” serves as a wake-up call for traditional medical practitioners and the general public, urging them to reassess their understanding of nutrition’s role in health and disease. While nutritionists and nutrition clinicians may already be aware of the critical importance of whole, unprocessed foods in promoting well-being, Dr. Lustig’s book provides a compelling case for a broader audience to recognize the detrimental effects of processed foods on metabolic health. By illuminating the interconnectedness of nutrition, health, and disease, Dr. Lustig empowers healthcare professionals across various disciplines to prioritize nutrition education and intervention in their patient care.

The book’s detailed examination of the biochemical processes behind chronic diseases and the guidance on self-diagnosis through lab tests and mitochondrial health patterns can help practitioners better understand and address their patients’ health concerns. Furthermore, Dr. Lustig’s insights into the shortcomings of modern medicine and the processed food industry provide valuable context for healthcare professionals and the public alike, encouraging them to advocate for healthier dietary practices and systemic changes.

Anne Stephenson