Friday, February 15, 2013

More of the simplicity stuff

in the vein of the recent posts on keeping thing simple and in perspective, I thought I'd post this recent statement from Brad Pilon

My advice - Stop trying to get a PhD in endocrinology by studying blog posts and articles about hormones and hormone interactions and stick with this simple plan:
  • Consistency of Effort in the gym + eating a little less than you want to.

  • Get a good nights sleep, don't get injured and stop trying to figure out 'what's wrong with you'

The whole post is here


Anonymous said...

Abel James had a guest on his last podcast talking about behaviour change. He mentioned one of the most important aspects of starting to become fit, that many people ignore, is adopting the identity of somebody who works out consistently. The little tweaks can come later if necessary - just start simple and build a habit.

Rick Blaine said...

I love the simplicity, but "eat less than you want to" is bizarre advice: it's both counter-productively ascetic and pointless. It's also identical to mainstream-diet advice for the last 40 years of the progressing obesity epidemic.

Unknown said...

For weight loss, it's true that diet trumphs exercise, but for maintenance...I don't think there is a need to really watch your diet or do fasting as long as you walk daily and do strength training or intervals.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
Brad's comment - eat less than you want to implies that everyone has a consitent appetite which is clearly not the case.
Also, it sounds a bit condescending telling readers not to "try to get a Phd". Some trainees may be interested in the science and are keen to learn as much as they can.

Having said that, I could not read the whole article as it only seems to be on facebook(which I pride myself on not having!) So the full article may provide more context.


Øyvind said...

How about tall skinny guys who want to gain muscle( or at least lean mass)? I have always been told that we should eat more -not less- than we want to. How to both do that and lean out seem quite mindboggling to me...

Anonymous said...

All things are wearisome. Too wearisome for words The eye is not satisfied by seeing nor has the ear enough of hearing What has been that will be what has been done that will be done Nothing is new under the sun

js290 said...

No PhD required: "...the mobilization of fat from adipose tissue is inhibited by numerous stimuli. The most significant inhibition is that exerted upon adenylate cyclase by insulin. When an individual is in the well fed state, insulin released from the pancreas prevents the inappropriate mobilization of stored fat. Instead, any excess fat and carbohydrate are incorporated into the triacylglycerol pool within adipose tissue."

Chris said...


I think we might be lacking the context. Pilon's post was really about weight loss and the way in which it is over complicated. I think it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, but such body recomposition is neither common nor easy.

Chris said...


.....and your point is?

Diana said...

I must be bizarre, because I don't find "eat less than you want to" to be bizarre at all.

"it's both counter-productively ascetic and pointless."

Neither is true for me.

"It's also identical to mainstream-diet advice for the last 40 years of the progressing obesity epidemic."

Rick, every reputable study I've seen shows that Americans are eating more than they did in the 1970s. I don't know about Britain, but I suspect the same goes for UK.

You are blaming the advice. What you should be looking at is what people are actually doing.

I do not know how old you are but I have seen the exponential growth in the US of our 24/7 eating habits, and our BMI.

Unknown said...

Brad Pilon is intermittent fasting advocate, and while he sees fasting as a tool, his first topic is fat loss, then exercise.
Eating a little less than you (initially) want to is good advice, obviously if you are already healthy, normal weight, consistently can eat as you want and be ok, but you aren't target audience.

Rick Blaine said...


"Neither is true for me." This isn't an argument; it's a single data point, which makes it meaningless.

"Americans are eating more...." Okay. Why are Americans eating more?

"I have seen the exponential growth in the US of our 24/7 eating habits, and our BMI." Okay. Why are Americans eating more than we need?

You have successfully identified a problem, but suggested nothing to explain it. If I am chained to the bottom of the pool, a solution isn't "breathe", just as "eat less that you want to" isn't a solution to Americans eating more and getting fatter.

I am not "blaming the advice." I'm calling the advice out for being a tautology: Which is exactly what makes it pointless (and bizarre when masquerading as something useful).

Let me phrase this another way. Do you seriously think that overweight-to-obese people don't know that they need to be eating less energy than their body consumes in order to lose weight? Assuming you agree that everyone knows that brilliant "advice," why is anyone fat?

Because, like being chained to the bottom of a pool and being told to breathe, just eating less than your body uses as fuel is incredibly difficult in the modern food and lifestyle environment. Especially when you are pre-disposed to being fat through genetics and epigenetics.

I know that the paleo community as cast out the Gary Taubes like a leper (for some decent reasons), but we shouldn't throw out his (and others') observations that will power when it comes to appetite is a myth, and that far more powerful (and extant) physiological forces are at work regulating when we eat.

Diana said...

""Neither is true for me." This isn't an argument; it's a single data point, which makes it meaningless."

It's not meaningless at all, I simply responded to your point --which was really more of an accusation than a point - with my personal experience. I know the difference between what's true on a population level and what is individually true. (Men are taller than women, Julia is taller than Paul.)

Why are Americans eating more? Because they can. People do. Food is cheap, exercise is dear. Clearly you have no understanding of the history of food in the US, or you say such things.

But at least you admit that Americans are eating more. That's something.

As to whether or not they don't realize it, nope, I don't think they do. And a lot of Americans dont' give a shit. They are fat and they are fine with it. In the black and Hispanic communities, thinness in women is not prized.

I am guessing you are young, and white and you have atypical tastes in female: you like leannness.

diana said...

Chris - this is a nitpick, but I think the problem is the gym, not going to it, but having to go to it. When the mere act of moving has to be bolt on as opposed to built in, that's an obstacle. My dad was a manual laborer and he got his exercise at work - one or two shifts a day. He was thin to begin with but it made him really lean.

Unknown said...

More easily available food and bad habits like eating in a car, at the street...explain pretty much everything, no need for another books full of fancy hormonal cascades.
In some countries activities are widespread and normal. In my country everyone is a good skier - there are obligatory skiing courses. Or dancer - it's traditional that everyone around the age of 15 learns to dance at specialised courses. People generally go to the cottage at the weekend, or on a mountain bike trip etc. And it's not a part of some rediscovered romanticism or new fitness wave. I've never heard my neighbour talk about health blogs or books, yet she goes for a walk about twice a day.
--->less obese people, and those who are obese - because food availability is an issue here as well, to lesser extent - are still healthier.

Rick Blaine said...


"Why are Americans eating more? Because they can. ... Food is cheap, exercise is dear."

Now that's an argument. And one that has a decent amount of empirical evidence behind it, along with logic. Importantly, though, it isn't food that's cheap; it's calories that are cheap. Real food in the US---meaning, quality meats, fish, and veggies---is not cheap. But Frankenfoods and processed foods are. And those foods happen to be nutrient-deficient but calorie-dense, and hyper-rewarding and non-satiating. Maybe that's the end of the story: Nutrient-dense, calorically-sparse foods are both expensive and difficult to prepare relative to the cheap, readily available high-calorie, low-nutrient processed foods. I can buy that as a useful hypothesis.

@ondrej truecek seems to agree with that narrative. I think it's reductive, but it's a start. To rule out the effects of the American food supply on neurology and endocrinology and gut health---and all of their effects on appetite and fat accumulation---is to mistakenly elevate will power [a hazy concept, at best] above physiology.

"A lot of Americans don't give a shit. They are fat and they are fine with it." That point (regardless of its truth) is a red herring. I asked if you believed that obese people didn't know that in order to lose weight they needed to eat less than they burned. I think your answer is "No. They don't." But not caring (apathy) is different from not knowing (ignorance). My point was that the advice of "eat less than you want" is silly because everyone already knows that's the endgame you need to lose weight.

We aren't here to convert the knowledgeable & apathetic, but to inform the ignorant & motivated. And "eat less" doesn't constitute any real or useful information to that group. On the other hand, "eat real foods and avoid processed/fast/franken ones" is very concrete, helpful, and good advice.

You were two for three with your guesses about me. Well done.

Unknown said...

"Get a good nights sleep, don't get injured and stop trying to figure out 'what's wrong with you"

My list of priorities would be:
2)eat the most nutritious food available at the moment
3)learn to eat less
4)walk daily

It starts with sleep. Hormonal balance, less time to eat:-), willpower, the urge to eat...

Diana said...


I think you get my point(s), and that is enough for me. One thing I've learned in life is that a lot of people aren't worth engaging with. That's more important than "fitness."