Thursday, January 28, 2016

Let go of the bad science

This article came across my news feed yesterday. It's long and wrong. There's so much I want to rant about, but I don't want to scare you away. So let's call today's rant part 1: cognitive dissonance.

The premise of the article is that all these people out there are counting calories and it's not working. You see this every week on The Biggest Loser when someone is shocked that they only lost 1 pound this week, even though they "put in the work".

Back in July when no one was reading this blog, I posted my interpretation of why, for most people in most situations, calorie math doesn't work. So my initial thought when I started the article was "yay, they're finally catching up to 2007 with Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories and I'll have another good reference to back me up."

Well it turns out this article is a perfect example of why the mainstream thought processes are all wrong, especially about calorie math. Instead of assuming that there must be something else going on, something that simplifies the story, they just jump to we need to do it better and more. Instead of saying that the body is a complicated (non-linear!) feedback system and there's more to it than adding and subtracting calories, they say that we just need to put more effort into measuring our calories. It's a perfect example of cognitive dissonance: the evidence (people aren't losing weight like they thought they should) isn't matching with our beliefs (it's all calories-in-calories-out), so we just need to try harder and measure those calories more.

The article is not all bad; there's some discussion on the gut microbiome, which is pretty new research. I just got mad because it's another mainstream article going down the path that reinforces the simple calories-in-calories-out model. And when we see that model not work we generally blame ourselves for not working hard enough or eating too much, when in reality the problem is with the model.

Challenge your beliefs. When something isn't working, don't just do more of the same. Start trying to figure out why it's not working.
strength - add weight from last time (more info) 

press 3x5 


accumulate 50 pull-ups

stop every 5 minutes and do 20 KB swings