Article Review: EvidenceMag.com 11 Reasons People — And Why They’re Wrong

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.

After 3k+ words this is the only advice the guy gives..."Eat less than you burn." Really ground breaking stuff.

After 3k+ words this is the only advice the guy gives…”Eat less than you burn.” Really ground breaking stuff.

Most people are horrible at calculating their energy intake and expenditure...so that's the method you want us to use? We don't need a double standard...one will do just fine.

Most people are horrible at calculating their energy intake and expenditure…so that’s the method you want us to use? We don’t need a double standard…one will do just fine.

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.

The drivel about a Gunmaker...Why do we care?

The drivel about a Gunmaker…Why do we care?

But don’t worry, there is yet another link that might take us to the information we are looking for!

Link to LM

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 would not call this simple

I would not call this simple

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.

Not a myth

 

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:

http://evidencemag.com/calories-count/

 

 

 

 

Daily Training- 1/16/14

I haven’t been eating enough this week, and it finally caught up with me today, when all I really wanted to do was lay in bed until I had to go to work. Fortunately my workout today is the shortest of the week before it ramps back up tomorrow and Saturday. Next week I’m going to move the BTN jerks to Thursday (I did them on Monday this week), to balance the sessions out a little bit…

Klokov Press- 40(4×5), 45×5 (I’m really weak in this position)

Back Squat- 150(5×3) (this was too easy, probably should have done sets of 5)

Ring Dips- Green Band (3×10)

RC Sit-Ups- BW(2×10)

Tricep Push-Downs- Purple Band(3×10)

Daily Training 1/15/14

Wednesdays for a while were my “off” day from lifting where I would do some cardio training in the form of the rower and bike, which eventually turned into just the rower, which eventually turned into just more lifting. Weight training is the most superior form of training there is, with that said, for me to strictly to weight training is a mistake. I’m so well adapted to it, a lot of its benefits are lost on me. I NEED to do other forms of training, but doing the rower on Wednesdays was proving to be a mistake, since Tuesdays are my heavy pulling days, all the muscles that you use to row (biceps, traps, low back, lats, etc…) were getting way over trained. The simple solution? Buy a jump rope. Today was the first time in a really long time (probably years…no joke) that I did some circuit training.

Warm-Up: 20min airdyne bike

Circuit 1: 20/40 Battling Ropes (alternating waves), Box Jumps (24″), Jump Rope (feet together). 2 rounds

Circuit 2: 20/40 Airdyne, Battling Ropes (slams), Box Jumps (24″), Jump Rope (alternating feet). 2 rounds

Airdyne Intervals: 15/30. 10 rounds

I prefer intervals with positive work to rest ratios. It gives plenty of time to recover and ensures you can go nearly full blast on each exercise. 20 seconds is a pretty easy interval for most, but I’m so deconditioned, it was perfect for me. I’ll probably do a very similar workout next week and slightly increase the work and keep the rest the same.

Daily Training 1/14/14

This training session was miserable. I woke up with a headache, and I thought training might make it go away, instead it turned it into a migraine. I did finish all my prescribed work though.

Snatch Corbatilla- 50(5×5)

Power Clean- 85(5×3)

Snatch Pull- 100×3, 120×3, 130×2, 140×2, 110(2×2)

Pull-Ups- Green Band(5×5)

Pendlay Row- 70(5×5)

Hypers- BW(2×12)

 

Since I tried to sleep off my headache before work, I didn’t prepare any food to bring with me. Needless to say when I headache finally wore off hours later I was starved, and so I stuffed a couple of chicken sandwiches from Burger King down my face just to get some calories in me. When I got home I ate some steak, but it’s a long commute and I wasn’t going to make it.

 

 

Daily Training- 1/13/2014

First workout back after missing a week due to a nasty stomach bug. Also had one of the worst fevers of my life. Easing back into it with some lighter weights…

Snatch Balance: 66(5×3)

BTN Split Jerk: 85(5×3)

Front Squat: 117(5×3)

Military Press: 60(5×5)

Bench Press: 81(5×5)

Band Rotation: Purple Band(2×12), Red Bandx12

 

Tomorrow Should be interesting.

Daily Training 12/30/13

No video today. I broke one of the lenses on my camera, and I don’t have anything decent for shooting in a dark basement now. It’s a little too much of a pain in the ass to use my phone to film everything, so if anything special is going to happen I’ll be sure to grab it, but other than that you’ll have to be satisfied with text.

Today:

Snatch Balance: 70(5×3)

Front Squat: 125(5×3)

Military Press: 65(5×5)

Bench Press: 87(5×5)

Roman Chair Sit-ups: BW(3×10)

 

Last week I started a new cycle that had me doing some variation of snatch and C&J every day, and alternating pulls and squats. Apparently I’m not quite there yet, because by the end of the week I felt like hell, and my snatches took a turn for the worse, instead of getting better. So It’s back to the tried and true push/pull split for me. I’ll do some snatching and cleaning tomorrow along with some pulls, but for right now I need to keep focusing on the accessory work, and quality of my quick lifts, not quantity.

The Indoctrination of America

In my professional life as a strength and conditioning coach, I am often working with people who simply want to be healthier, and look better. Of course America’s health problems, especially regarding weight should be known to you, but the topic of why is the one that’s often debated. One thing that I would like to address, is the influence of improper nutrition both intentionally and unintentionally in our media. Of course in advertisements, the influence is intentional…perhaps not to make us less healthy, but definitely to turn a profit. In other examples that I will use in the future, you will see references to social “norms” we have adopted that have lead us down a very unhealthy path.

In this very first example of the IOA, I bring to you a new Yoplait Yogurt commercial, where they suggest swapping out one “traditional” snack a week for a Yoplait Yogurt, insinuating that the Yoplait is healthier for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAtYK313CHY

If I told you that yogurt was “healthier” for you than an ice cream sandwich, many of you may not bat an eyelash. For most people what dictates the health of a food is its effect on your body composition. Although there are many indicators of health, body composition can be used as a marker of general health (though don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket). We can certainly talk about the ingredients in yogurt vs. an ice cream sandwich, but nothing as much of a direct impact on body comp as a food’s macronutrient profile (fats, carbs, proteins). When you eat proteins, carbs, and fats in excess (in other words in an amount more than what your body has use for) you’re likely to store those extra calories as body fat. Carbohydrates are a special exception, as they are more readily converted to body fat, especially compared to fats.

It’s tough to tell what brand of ice cream sandwich is pictured in the Yoplait commercial (it actually looks like a Skinny Cow) but to be fair we’ll pull up the nutrition facts of a standard ice cream sandwich:

Screenshot 2013-12-25 17.40.10

 

Total Calories: 180

Total Grams of Carbs: 31

Total Grams of Sugar: 16

Percentage of carbs from sugar: 52%

Now let’s take a look at the Yoplait Orange Creme featured in the commercial

Screenshot 2013-12-25 17.56.03

 

Total Calories: 170

Total Grams of Carbs: 33

Total Grams of Sugar: 26

Percentage of carbs from Sugar: 79%

As you can see the Yogurt has only 10 less calories, which is a negligible amount, has more carbohydrates, and nearly twice as much sugar. Let me be as clear as possible here: If you are eating an ice cream sandwich once a week, and you swap it out for a yogurt in an attempt to improve your body composition, it’s not going to make one bit of difference. When it comes to long term general health, both are filled with enough chemicals (the yogurt’s coming from juice concentrates) to make me want to steer clear of them. For a long time, dairy has been toted as part of a healthy diet (thanks food pyramid!) But truthfully if you want to work them into your diet, they can be fine in moderation and balance, but they are not, by nature a “healthy” food.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Yoplait to the other “snacks” pictured in the commercial. For the record, I didn’t search around finding brands that fit my argument, I searched whatever product the pictures in the commercial look like the most to me:

Pringles (looks like about a dozen chips in the commercial): 150 cals, 15g of carbs, 1g of sugar.

Screenshot 2013-12-25 18.07.21

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies: 105 calories, 15g carbs, 7g of sugar (better than the yogurt on all counts)

Screenshot 2013-12-25 18.19.12

 

Cheetos: Calories 150, Carbs 13g, Sugar 1g (better than the yogurt on all counts)

Screenshot 2013-12-25 18.26.17

 

M&Ms: 240 calories, 34g carbs, 30g sugar (More calories than the yogurt, less carbs, and slightly more sugar

Screenshot 2013-12-25 18.39.37

 

Compositionally, the only snack listed in the commercial that would have any, even slightly positive effect on your body fat if swapped out for the yogurt, are the M&Ms, everything else is basically a wash in my opinion. Now might be a good time to address why I chose the word “indoctrination.” Click here for the definition of the word.

Doctrines, are typically things we are taught to believe, and not question…the rules of the government, the rules or beliefs of a particular faith or religion, etc… We have been taught to think a certain way as a society without giving much thought to the validity of these doctrines. A perfect example is the website from which I found the Chips Ahoy nutritional information. Along with the nutritional information, it also gives a letter grade to each food, and a short list of the pros and cons. Interestingly the Chips Ahoy received a “D” grade (which isn’t very good) and the Yoplait Yogurt Orange Creme received a “B” which is typically considered good. I found this interesting considering that the Yogurt has more sugar and more calories than the cookies do. The pros listed for the Yogurt was that it was low in cholesterol (which doesn’t really matter anyway), low in sodium, and high in calcium. It lists a con as that it is high in sugar. The Chips Ahoy Pro was that it has no cholesterol and a con of being high in sugar (like the yogurt). So why does the yogurt receive letter grades better? Just because it has some calcium in it?

As I often tell my clients, you can pile vegetables on top of a pizza…that doesn’t make it healthy. The fact that some foods have micronutrients in them that are beneficial to the human body doesn’t negate all the detracting qualities of the food. Is it worth dumping an additional 26 grams of sugar into your body to get a little extra calcium? And let’s not forget, YOU are probably not thinking about your long term health, but rather how you look RIGHT NOW, and that little bit of calcium isn’t going to really do much to help your body composition goals, but that extra sugar will definitely be helping you take a step back, not forward.

Other Things to Consider

We were only comparing the Yoplait Yogurt to the foods they depicted in their advertisement. Personally for me, a snack usually consists of some macadamia nuts, or some uncured bacon. A snack doesn’t have to be something that is made in a factory and comes out of a plastic bag. I think one advantage the yogurt has, is that you’re likely to only have one serving at a time. One of those small cups is a single serving, once you’re done, you throw it away and move along. Although we looked at a single serving for all the other items, and roughly 1 serving was shown in the Yoplait commercial, I think people are a lot more likely to eat more than a single serving when it comes to foods like potato chips, cookies, cheese puffs and candy.

When it comes to general health, I think food source is important, but when it comes to body composition, food amount (including amounts of carbs/fats/proteins, not just calories) takes the cake.  Very few processed foods (chips, yogurt, etc..) are inherently “healthy.” Instead think of foods as being either useful or not useful. The majority of your food intake should be from fat (any where from 40-60% of your daily calories). If you have a target goal of calories, carbs, fats and proteins for the day, and a container of yogurt is going to put you over any of your goal numbers, don’t eat it. If you can fit it in, and you enjoy yogurt, and you’re not sensitive to dairy products…have at it.

 

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the Indoctrination of America, be on the look out for the next one (in which I’m going to be tackling much more blatant offensives to our intelligence and health), and of course, comments are always welcome.

Daily Training 12/24/13

I was once again able to keep a really good pace in my workout. This makes all the difference in the world. You get more out of it, and obviously it takes less time. For a Weightlifter you should be able to fully recover in 60 seconds, because you never know when you might have to follow yourself at competition.

Power Clean: 91(3×3), 98(2×3), 104×3

Snatch Pull: 105(4×3), 85×3

Pull-Ups: Red Band(4×2), Purple Band(3×2)

Hypers: 1×12, 25lbs(2×10)

Band Rotations: Red Band(3×12)

Today (Wednesday) is an “off” day for me, where I usually just row and maybe do some plyos like box jumps or something.

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