The Manhattan Project to End Fad Diets


Today, a dream of mine came true.

Imagine what could be done if we had an X-men-like group of the world’s best scientists, independently funded and uninfluenced by industry, tackling the most important questions in nutrition?

Starting today, we have such a group: the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI).

I am thrilled to be a part of their Board of Advisors, alongside a diverse group of experts including David Berkowitz (Ziff Brothers Investments) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (of Black Swan fame), among others.

Funded off the bat by a foundation started by billionaire hedge fund manager John Arnold, and supported by a world-class Scientific Advisory Board, NuSI is off to races.

Born from a shared vision of its co-founders, Peter Attia, M.D. and Gary Taubes, this non-profit will fund research that applies first-of-its-kind, rigorous scientific experimentation to the field of nutrition…

Contributing researchers will span the dietary spectrum, including scientists who personally adhere to veganism; low-carb, high-protein diets; and everything in between. This purposeful “agree to disagree” mix is integral to the success of the project, as biases are discarded in favor of solid, experimental data.

No hidden agenda, no corporate interests, nothing to do with food subsidies or ulterior motives. Just good science. It’s about time, right?

Kevin Schulman, M.D., Director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics at Duke University, had this to say:

“…Do we really have good science to support our diet recommendations? The answer is convincingly no. The largest public health crisis in the United States is being addressed with the type of data that we question in every other field of medicine: observational studies subject to selection bias, and small scale, short-term clinical studies which can’t offer definitive results…

It’s well past time for an effort such as that proposed by NuSI–to test our hypotheses with rigorous science. We owe this effort to the public and to our children who otherwise could suffer from the disastrous consequences of our scientific hubris on this issue.”

Here are two slideshows that introduce NuSI in more depth. The first is short (16 slides), the second is more in-depth (35 slides):

David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School Professor of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, echoes my sentiments exactly:

“…The need for philanthropic support of nutrition research has never been greater. With a willingness to focus its resources on the most difficult and risky projects, an organization like NuSI can have a transformative impact, not only on scientific understanding, but also on public health.”

And in closing, Peter Attia, M.D., the President of NuSI:

“Without all the elements – money, time and talent – working in concert, research efforts will continue to fall short of what is necessary to solve this problem [of obesity and related diseases]… NuSI will be successful because we are bringing together the best scientific minds and giving them the time and resources they require to find the answers we all need.”

Are you ready to settle some of these neverending debates, once and for all? I certainly am.

Learn more.
Join the team.

Posted on: September 12, 2012.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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217 comments on “The Manhattan Project to End Fad Diets

    • Really curious to see what book 3 will bring, must have kept Tim busy, nearly 1 month between blogs! Then again, this is a great one. Think Tim has thousands of test cases to bring to the NSI thanks to the 4 hour body…

      Been doing a mixture of the slow carb diet and primal diet, which basically is less carbs than the “officially recommended”, but as shown on slide 5 of the smaller pack, increasing of carbs and lowering of fats has had drastically bad impact on obesity rates! Cutting that down has meant shedding weight easily and increasing energy. Cant be bad can it!!


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  2. Awesome. I hope that such a logical, research based group with no corporate interests will finally be able to provide real and sound information to the public. You’re the shit, Tim!


      • No, but I suggest that researchers should not assume that everyone is the same. There needs to be some categorization so that different approaches can be aimed at different types.

        If they don’t, it would be like looking at the whole population and concluding that the average person is half man, half woman. Not very useful and wrong.


  3. Thank you for this. This is among the most important things that we can do as a species right now. While Large Hadron Colliders and rovers on mars may be exciting and inspirational, it’s great to see people pursuing practical science that will positively impact people’s lives on a daily basis.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


  4. Awesome, this is a really great step forward. I really hate how every time I see a new piece of research I have to evaluate the financial gains behind it.. or the agenda… A lot of meat is bad research can be linked to vegeterian groups or PETA etc..


  5. “No hidden agenda, no corporate interests, nothing to do with food subsidies or ulterior motives. Just good science. It’s about time, right?”

    Yes, it is. And it’s sad it’s taken this long! Can’t wait to see some results.