Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tom Venuto responds to the criticism

My review of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle prompted me to seek some clarifications regarding Tom's stance on meal frequency and whether he has changed his stance since the latest edition. I think BFFM is a great book overall, so I wanted to give Tom a chance to meet my critcism personally. This is how it went.


Hi Tom,

I'll keep this short and to the point.

I am an affiliate of your book and recently reviewed it on my site (check the post from 18th July). Credibility is important for me and I only review material I consider worth recommending.

The gist of the review was that I think BFFM is an excellent book, despite one major flaw; your stance wrt meal frequency and how it boosts your metabolism. This is simply put not true, as you probably know. I posted evidence to the contrary (check the excerpt from my book, the post above the book review).

In response to the review, my blog readers (and I) want to know if you have revised your stance wrt meal frequency and if you plan on releasing an updated version of BFFM.

Thanks for your time,



Hi Martin

Thanks for your email. Actually, I'm somewhat familiar with the type of work you do, so I'm surprised and very much appreciative that you even took the time to read and review my particular ebook - among all the others out there - and then email me
about your concerns.

You wrote:

I'll keep this short and to the point. The gist of the review was that I think BFFM is an excellent book, despite one major flaw; your stance wrt meal frequency and how it boosts your metabolism. This is simply put not true, as you probably know. In response to the review, my blog readers (and I) want to know if you
have revised your stance wrt meal frequency

OF course! Anyone who has read my recent work knows that I've become an absolute stickler for scientific accuracy.

In fact, this is EXACTLY why people should listen to me today, because unlike some others in the diet field who are too emotionally and financially vested in their dogma to change, I believe its our responsibility as fitness/nutrition professionals to acknowledge errors, omissions or new data.

I haven't read your post but Ive read all the literature on meal frequency (I have at least 40 full text papers in my files), actually I read them a long time ago.. which is why its' my "bad" that I havent updated the book yet. The first edition was written in 2002.

yes there will be a new edition. Burn the Fat 2.0 may get released later this year, or at the latest early 2009.

heres what you will see in the new edition:

You will still see me recommend 5-6 small meals per day,and rather strongly. But not dogmatically. What you wont hear me say is that 6 meals increases metabolism or weight loss over 3 meals at an equal caloric intake.

You will also not hear me say that your metabolism slows down if you miss a single meal. (starvation
response) I already reviewed that data on my public blog last year:

It's important that my burn the fat ebook - both the original 1st edition and the new 2.0 edition that will be released soon - is viewed inside the context in which it is writen: the subtitle of the book gives the context:

"fat burning secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models"

One reason I am still very proud of that book after all these years, even though my knowledge and teaching ability has since multiplied exponentially, is that I made a promise and I delivered on it: I promised my readers that I would show them how bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors do it. It did exactly that. As a matter of fact, It might help you if you view my book as somewhat autobiographical. Even if we (bodybuilders) did some dumb stuff (we did, LOL) or believed some dumb stuff (we did!). I delivered on my promise. The fact that I've spent 20+ years
going through the world of bodybuilding dogma and come out the
other side makes me a better person to teach this stuff today than
someone who has never been immersed in it

I also practice what I preach. I still compete to this day, drug-free for life, using
the same methods I teach in my book. Nothing has changed except my understanding of WHY certain things work.My technical errors in that original first edition, were virtually all about mechanisms, not methods. the methods worked, and looking at my client photos and my own competition photos are testimony to that fact.

Today, I do not view or pitch burn the fat, feed the muscle as an end-all-be all program, or as THE best solution and I have NEVER pitched it as "magic" in an attempt to sell more. I view it as A solution. Its one model. One way of doing it. Just like intermittent fasting is not THE way to do it, it's ONE way to do.

we are all amenable to certain laws, but there are many ways to skin a cat. four people can approach the same destination in the center of town, one each from the north, south, each and west. they are all heading in different directions on different paths, but all toward the same destination.

As an interesting footnote, my new book THE BODY FAT SOLUTION to be published in hard copy by a major NYC publisher in early 2009, is my attempt to show a different model: how does the average, busy overweight person with no inclination for number crunching, stay motivated, overcome emotional issues with food, deal with life stresses and pressures that get in the way, and burn fat, and keep fat off permanently. In the nutrition segment of this forthcoming hardcover book, i recommend THREE meals a day... plus 2-3 snacks.

Martin, THANK YOU again for contacting me. i appreciate the opportunity to personally answer your concerns about the old edition of my ebook. Other people would have just jumped on a forum and "flamed me."


Tom venuto

PS you have permission to reprint my reply as long as you reprint
the entire thing


I was quite pleased with Tom's openmindedness and sensibility; it is a rarity in this industry.


JC said...

wow, what an awesome reply

Hungry said...

One comes a long way with honesty!

Kenneth Johansen said... is getting better and better.. I'm checking for updates every day:)

I will certainly buy your book Martin when it comes out...

Tiffany said...

Yay, my world makes sense again! LOL!

Steven Sashen said...

Am I missing something?

Tom's big change in meal frequency recommendation is 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks?

Can someone explain how 3 meals a day plus 2-3 snacks is different than 5-6 meals per day?

It sounds like Tom is still committed to this multi-meal idea, regardless of whether it's because he's showing how bodybuilders and fitness competitors do it or because he hasn't looked at the research or had the experience to support IF.

Anonymous said...

You are not missing anything.

He is saying the EXACT same thing in different words.

Anonymous said...

Opulently I to but I about the brief should have more info then it has.

TJR said...

Venuto is a class act and I appreciate him taking the time to answer Martin's question. I bought BFFM when it first came out and I still consider it one of the best sources of information ever assembled on the subject. It allowed me to get in the best shape of my life but I believe that IF will allow me to go even further without the ball & chain of 6 meals per day.

Anonymous said...

I bought Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle a few days ago, and just read through most of it today.

I know Tom said he'd update his "6 meals per day does magical things!" stance in 2009, but as of 2011, it's all still there completely unchanged.

Tom, what's the hold up?

Georgios said...

You guys are both pure gold. Mutual respect and professionalism.

Anonymous said...

"You will still see me recommend 5-6 small meals per day,and rather strongly. But not dogmatically."

So he is still strongly recommending 6 meals a day. He doesn't cite a number of studies that support this and he doesn't offer any scientific reasons why it might be a good idea. But then he says he's not being dogmatic - huh?

He then tries to brush it off by saying he was revealing secrets of bodybuilders (and not then supposedly, purely scientific approaches). This is almost an admission that he doesn't have firm and clear scientific support for the 5-6 meals eating pattern.

He then goes on to say he still recommends 3 meals plus 2 or 3 snacks. That's 5-6 meals a day (after all how big can the meals be if you also have 3 snacks and a calorie restriction)

He is still recommending this in his book "The Body Fat Solution".

The link he includes talks about starvation mode (SM) but there isn't an issue that SM exists (among most IFer's) only that it doesn't begin to kick in until more than 2 or 3 days of fasting - not just one skipped meal.

I was disappointed in his response I thought he was trying to fudge it and is holding on to his dogma.

Other than this issue of meal frequency I think Tom has done some great work. The book I referenced has some of the best psychological analysis and approaches to dieting I have seen. It's just a shame he couldn't open his mind a little further.

Ted Walther said...

Another thing; starvation mode starts after 2-3 days of fasting. And it only lasts for 1-2 days. After that, it is almost pure fat loss. By day 5 of a fast, you are burning mostly fat.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

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