Due to the fact that there is so much information to wade through on the internet, I’ve considered doing an article review section for a long time. After reading EvidenceMag’s recent article about calories, I thought it would be the perfect place to start.
Let’s get this out of the way early, this article is complete garbage, and the result of a world where people can simply just put out whatever trash they want, and don’t have any editor to keep them in check, or make sure they don’t make themselves look completely stupid. I will do my best to keep this review shorter and simpler than the article itself, but there is a whole lot of excess and idiocy to overcome.
First let’s address EvidenceMag’s tagline “Helping you simplify your health, fitness, and productivity.” Sounds reasonable enough, until you consider the fact that this article which is supposed to simplify your fat loss, is over 3,000 words and has 124 references. I would love to total out the word count for all the references too, but that would take way too much time. I think it’s safe to assume that it would be a lot of words. Of course one may argue that you don’t have to read all the references, but then what is the point of them? Truthfully most people probably don’t bother to read them, and are simply wowed by the fact the author has cited so many different scientific sources. The author knows this, so I consider this a sort of intellectual dishonesty. (not to mention nutritional studies are highly susceptible to error).
To summarize the article itself, the author urges you to simplify your weight loss efforts by creating a caloric deficit (he claims being in a caloric deficit is the only thing that matters when it comes to losing weight.) Of course at no point in his unnecessarily long article does he tell you how to establish how many calories your body burns each day, nor does he tell you how much of a deficit you should have. I would say these are two very important things you’d need to know if you wanted to take his advice.
What’s even more pathetic, is one of the “myths” the the author “dispels” is that some people claim they’ve tried being at a caloric deficit before and it didn’t work. His main retort to this claim is that people aren’t good at counting their calories or establishing what their caloric needs are, so this anecdotal evidence is irrelevant and can’t be taken truthfully.
YET HIS SOLUTION TO WEIGHT LOSS IS FOR YOU TO COUNT YOUR CALORIES AND BE AT A DEFICIT EVEN, THOUGH HE JUST SAID THAT MOST PEOPLE AREN’T CAPABLE OF ACCURATELY COUNTING THEIR CALORIES.
Let that one sink in for a minute.
Furthermore, he claims that even if people set up their own controlled experiment on themselves, that because they are aware of the details of the experiment the results would be compromised. From a strict scientific stand-point I would tend to agree on that detail, however, given how hard this guy has nailed himself to the law of thermodynamics, I can’t see how wanting to prove the “law” of calories in vs. calories out would effect the result. If people could simply “will” themselves to gain or lose weight, I think that they would.
On top of the 124 references, the author was also kind enough (sarcasm) to include dozens of hyperlinks throughout the article for various things, including one on how to “simplify our efforts.” Great! Maybe this one (found at the end) will help me determine how much I should eat, and how much of a deficit I should have…wrong.
Instead it takes us to another article written by the same shmuck, only this time it’s about a Russian gun maker, which he somehow loosely parlays into another article about weight loss. Fortunately this one is only 914 words (bringing the word count up over 4k) and contains 3 references. At the very end of the article the author informs us that we need to “Eat less+move more.” So now the author has used over 4k words to say “calories in vs. calories out” which is quite possibly the most popular weight loss technique of all time. It’s worth mentioning that nearly all my clients have a negative relationship with food, because this mantra has been shoved down their throats for years, and that this over simplification of nutritional science causes many people to create too large a deficit. Still, as a reader, we have no idea how to determine how many calories we need, and how much of a deficit to create.
But don’t worry, there is yet another link that might take us to the information we are looking for!
Actually it just takes us to yet another article. I would say I was happy that it wasn’t just a link back to this guy’s own website, but since it links to Lyle Macdonald, a piece of my soul died, because Lyle is notoriously one of the most long winded writers on the internet. Not only that but Lyle is a master of taking simple concepts and (for better or worse) making them more complicated than they really need to be. Want proof? Lyle’s article clocks in at a whopping 3,850 words. That makes for a total just shy of 8k words. Just to find out that if you eat less calories than you burn, you’ll weigh less.
These guys sure made it simple.
Eventually Lyle gives us some guidelines to help us figure out how much we’re supposed to eat, but not after throwing equations like this at us…
I understand that Lyle (to my knowledge) has no affiliation with EvidenceMag.com, but this is anything but simple. The hilarious thing is that the guy who claims he is making your life more simple, links to an article that shows you that eating less and moving more is anything but. This is, of course, he already admitted that most people aren’t even good at counting their food intake.
Lastly I’d like to talk about how some of the myths he discusses aren’t even myths at all, nor do they suggest that calories don’t count, just that counting calories isn’t the most efficient way to lose fat.
As far as I can tell this isn’t saying that calories don’t count, it’s saying that because reducing your caloric intake makes you hungry, it will be more difficult to stick to it. The author admits this plainly in the first sentence of his retort. So not only is it not a “myth” about calories not counting, he admits to it being true, thus making everything he says about it from that point on, completely irrelevant.
There are a lot of scientifically erroneous statements in this article, but I wanted to focus mainly on the poor quality of writing, and the irony of it. While it has a lot of flash and bravado, this article delivers basically zilch. I’ll likely do a follow up addressing some of the the points the author makes, but to keep things simple I wanted it to do it separately from this, in the even you don’t want to read it. Overall I give this article an F-.
I hate to give publicity to such garbage, but so you can form your own opinion on the article, here is the link: