Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Occam's Razor

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Occam's razor is a principle named after the 14th-century logician, theologian and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham.

In short terms, it means that you shouldn't make your hypotheses more complex than they need to be. The simplest explanation or strategy is often the right one. Sadly, it's rarely applied in the fitness industry or among people in general. We have a tendency to seek out exotic and alternative hypotheses when an explanation for a phenomenon appears too straight-forward.

If the truth is non-complex and fairly unexciting, invent new truths - make them complex and exciting. It's an effective way to get attention and it's a strategy employed by charlatans and quacks since the beginning of time. Spice up your claims with half-truths, credentials, maybe add some charisma to the mix, and you'll soon have a following of people that are all too eager to buy into the lies.

Some of the most despicable kind of quackery is revealed when the topic of the obesity epidemic and nutrition arises. It's despicable because it preys on people's failures to take responsibility for their own actions by telling them that they are victims of circumstance.

For a good example of what I mean, I'd like to direct your attention to Alan Aragon's excellent article "The bitter truth about fructose alarmism".

It's an educational read, especially if you read the ensuing discussion in the comments. Alan does a great job of appealing to science and reason when discussing the issue at hand, which is far more than can be said about Lustig and his followers. Lustig even shows up and makes a feeble attempt at discussing the matter. He proceeds to make a fool out of himself by appealing to his YouTube hit-count as some sort of proof for credibilty and then leaves.

Occam's Razor and the Obesity Epidemic

My goal here isn't to discuss fructose specifically, but rather the ongoing trend to blame the obesity epidemic and weight gain on inane aspects of our diets. In the case of fructose, an argument is made that fructose consumption alone can explain a substantial part of why people are getting fatter. That's the gist of the argument, read Alan's article if you want more.

Occams's razor applied to the obesity epidemic would reveal that we're becoming fatter due to a mismatch between calories in and out. We're eating more, but not compensating for our ever increasing calorie intakes by becoming more active. While this makes sense from a purely intuitive point of view, it's also backed up by studies.

Fructose consumption is a moot point. Yet some of the fructose-alarmists seem to be convinced that people would magically unfatten themselves if food companies were to use glucose instead of HFCS in their products. Never mind the fact that some people are drinking seven cans of soda each day, which adds approximately 1000 calories to their daily intake. The connection between soft drink consumption and obesity is such a no-brainer that it simply isn't exciting. So in comes the anti-fructose-brigade led by Lustig and his ilk ready to present an unfounded but all the more interesting theory on the issue. And surely enough, some people choose to swallow it hook, line and sinker.

There are countless examples of this on the net. The quacks and their followers blame fructose, carbs, omega-6 fats, environmental toxins, hypothyroidism, parasites and all kinds of redundant shit that makes people feel like they are victims of circumstance rather than passive over-consumption and inactivity. The truth is easier to accept that way.

Environment vs evolution

The alarmists and their ilk have a naive and glorified view of human psychology and physiology. In their naivety, they seem to assume that humans are not prone to sloth and excess when opportunities present themselves, and in this age, there are plenty of opportunities indeed. You see, we love to eat. We especially like to eat calorie-dense foods. Carbs + fat is a tasty combination. We don't like to move too much, especially not when they are so many appealing reasons not to. Television, video games and the Internet - that's great fun. Going out running or training, not so much.

In stark contrast to most animals, the human body does not defend against body weight gain effectively. Our physiology is actually biased toward weight gain. In the animal kingdom, a high body weight can be detrimental to survival. Fat animals are easy prey for larger predators. For that reason, animals possess the ability to regulate their body weight within a fairly tight range by effectively matching feeding patterns to their actual needs. A period of overfeeding is usually followed by a period of spontaneously reduced food intake due to suppressed hunger and vice versa.

Throughout evolution, humans relied on wits and intelligence, in contrast to physical attributes, in order to hunt and survive. We were never the hunted ones, so there was never any evolutionary reason for us to be light and mobile. On top of that, periods of low food availability and famine encouraged us to eat far beyond satiety whenever food was available. All of these traits proved to be very useful for us thousands of years ago, but in an environment with an overabundant food supply and little incentive to physically move and expend energy... Well it doesn't require a rocket scientist to understand that we're prone to gain weight in this age. The environmental influence is strong enough to override our innate defenses against body weight gain, defenses that were weak to begin with.

But while the human species may be more prone to obesity as a function of our evolution and the modern environment, we have other distinct traits that separate us from other animals: self-reflection and the ability to control our impulses; to take conscious action to better ourselves. Animals don't posess these traits, but we do. It's part of what makes us unique, what separates us from all other species on this earth.

Of course, all of this requires some sort of effort. It's more convenient to tell people that they are fat because of fructose, toxins or a sluggish metabolism. The truth is easier to accept. It makes us appear more virtuous if willpower is removed from the equation. But humans are not automatons like the alarmists and blame-throwers would like us to believe. That's the underlying issue I have with all this quackery. By buying into it, people choose to abdicate their responsibiliy.

Grown men and women take responsibility for their lives and actions. They do not blame a life of excess on some trivial aspect of their diet. A diet that on the whole consisted of refined foods, rich in both carbs and fat, often combined with a sedentary lifestyle: that's how I got fat. I loved food and I liked to sit on my butt and play videogames. It was an enjoyable lifestyle and I had a lot of fun. I'm very typical in that regard. People get fat by giving in to pleasure in the form of food and entertainment. It's not more complicated than that. Be wary of anyone who tries to make you believe that it is.

---

Note: When I talk about our inherent defense against weight gain, I'm referring to the bodyfat set-point. For the only article(s) you'll ever need to read on this subject, go here and here. Excellent and comprehensive coverage on a fascinating topic.

As a closing comment, I'd like to say that Dr. Lustig isn't the best example of a quack or charlatan. There are plenty others out there who would serve as better examples. Lustig just happened to be one who caught my attention due to the recent hoopla caused at Alan's blog.

62 comments:

PATRICK BATEMAN said...

One of my favourite things about reading your blog is that you don't try and plug your system in every post. It makes you come across as so much more trust worthy than the rest, which in turn makes your system seem more credible. Keep up the good work, and thanks for everything so far, can't wait for the book!

Neal W. said...

Occam's Razor doesn't state that the simplest explanation is usually true. It says that you should not make your hypotheses more complex than is sufficient to explain a phenomena. Newtonian mechanics is more simple than Relativity or Quantum Mechanics, but greater simplicity is not a virtue for Newtonian Mechanics because its not a sufficient explanation. Occam never meant to say that the truth has a tendency to be more complex than not, only that you shouldn't make it more complex than it needs to be.

Tom said...

Great post. I agree 100%.

Martin Berkhan said...

Fair enough, Neal. I changed that part. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This was a good read - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Martin,

I have a quick question loosely based on the following quote

"The quacks and their followers blame fructose, carbs, omega-6 fats, environmental toxins, hypothyroidism, parasites and all kinds of redundant shit that makes people feel like they are victims of circumstance rather than passive over-consumption and inactivity."

While none of these things is responsible for weight gain in and of itself, do you feel that there is any merit to the notion that, at least in the case of something like environmental toxins, that these can potentially have varying degrees of unfavorable impact on certain folks?

Admittedly I've never buried myself in reading any research on this front so I don't have any stance on the issue, but it seems to be another area where people are prone to making "interesting" conclusions. I am not suggesting that people would be dropping left and right, just wondering if there can be more subtle effects unrelated to the issue of weight gain.

~Ray Prohaska

Tan Yew Wei said...

I still think that Occam's Razor isn't as good as a general rule of Thumb given by David Deutsch: Seek Hard to vary explanations.

But getting caught up on the title of the post would be pointless. Great post Martin.

Martin Berkhan said...

Ray,

'While none of these things is responsible for weight gain in and of itself, do you feel that there is any merit to the notion that, at least in the case of something like environmental toxins, that these can potentially have varying degrees of unfavorable impact on certain folks?'

For a very small and unlucky sample of the population perhaps (i.e endocrine disruption). On the whole, their contribution would pale in comparison to the real issues at hand.

Sarah said...

While it may well be true that we are eating more now than we used to, one of the questions *that* point should raise is - WHY? Something has changed within our food supply and environment to make us eat more than we have ever historically done.

The large quantity of fructose that has been injected into our diets via both processed foods' additives (HFCS) and the year-round availability of fruits that have been bred to be sweeter than ever could be one of many possible culprits.

Anonymous said...

@Sarah

I'm sure its HFCS; certainly not cultural pressure towards eating over maintenance and moving as little as possible.

Alan Aragon said...

Martin,

Thanks for the acknowledgement re: my blog post & discussion. I agree that there are far more wacked-out charlatans than Dr. Lustig, who probably has more education and native intelligence than he knows what to do with. However, as he demonstrated, you can be the most brilliant guy in the world & still find yourself fumbling over groundless claims.

Keep up the great work,

-Alan

Martin Berkhan said...

It was my pleasure, Alan. And I must say I admire the patience you have shown in dealing with the people that still cling to their beliefs in spite of all the research presented thus far.

Hopefully the ongoing discussion in comments will serve as a great learning opportunity for those still on the fence with regards to fructose.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Martin,

The great thing about guys like you, Alan Aragon, and Lyle McDonald is that you always make people think and enhance the learning process for all involved.

So many people attempt to drive wedges between people these days, but you guys are some of the select few who present solid content and foster quality discussion.

Thank you to each one of you for all that you do on this front.

Ulf Dahlen

Rikard said...

" Sarah said...

While it may well be true that we are eating more now than we used to, one of the questions *that* point should raise is - WHY? Something has changed within our food supply and environment to make us eat more than we have ever historically done."

Money. Money have changed many things over the years. Watch Food Inc, a great documentary!

Jon said...

This article sums up the main reason why most people are obese today.

And as a FFB (Former Fat Boy), I can 100% agree with everything you have said, since I have experienced the "fat-boy" lifestyle.

Sweet deal Martin.

- Jon

Anonymous said...

Great post. I also think its funny when HFCS alarmists bring up the fact that its ~50% fructose, when regular table sugar is too!

Mark said...

Hi Martin,
Great post, it is always helpful to see stuff from you to keep from believing everything the Paleo crew says. They're great people but sometimes I think they may be a little over the edge, and the good ones will readily admit that they may be reaching at some things.

To summarize your point, you are saying that the biggest problem today is our lack of activity combined with an increase of calorie intake? Items like fructose are just subdivisions that deserve some attention but shouldn't be the main headline?

I like your view as I often get got caught up in the minutia and focus too much on the details rather than just eating generally good, watching total calorie intake of varying macro-nutrient percentages, and moving a little more.

Overall, I think I would be on-target by saying: Eat mostly real food, but not too much. Eat lots of protein, carbs to match activity, and fat to balance things out. Watch out for refined sugars and oils, and be aware of how you react with wheat, legumes, and dairy. Stay active but don't kill yourself. Get some sleep and don't worry about skipping meals. Would you agree?

Thanks Martin. You provide a very important perspective.

Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks, guys.

Mark,

'To summarize your point, you are saying that the biggest problem today is our lack of activity combined with an increase of calorie intake? Items like fructose are just subdivisions that deserve some attention but shouldn't be the main headline?'

Exactly. The fructose issue is vastly overblown. The alarmists like to cite rat studies where insane dosages are used - ignoring the fact

a) that rodent metabolism is different from humans

b) that no one is ingesting such tremendous amounts of fructose in the first place

..among other things. Alan really did a good job of summing it up, so I'm not going to make any attempt at covering it all here again.

'Overall, I think I would be on-target by saying:...Would you agree?'

Absolutely. Stick to whole foods and avoid too much refined crap. Get most of your nutrients by chewing, not drinking them.

Allan said...

The interesting article of Alan Aragon contains a very wise thought:

"Pointing the finger at fructose while dismissing dosage and context is like saying that exercise should be avoided because it makes you fat and injured by spiking your appetite and hurting your joints."

A very good sumup!

Anonymous said...

Sarah -

You said:

"The large quantity of fructose that has been injected into our diets via both processed foods' additives (HFCS) and the year-round availability of fruits that have been bred to be sweeter than ever could be one of many possible culprits."

Did you thoroughly read Martin's post? In particular, did you catch the part about personal responsibility?

Let's pretend that, contrary to the research, moderate HFCS consumption is detrimental to body composition/weight loss. One still has the option of avoiding fructose. It has not been "injected into our diets." Rather, it has been made available. If you think that fructose is poison, you still have the freedom to avoid it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin thanks for your writting, I enjoy your blog very much.

I do disagree with your contention that it’s a simple matter of calories in/calories out. "Occams's razor applied to the obesity epidemic would reveal that we're becoming fatter due to a mismatch between calories in and out."

I for one consume far more calories and work out far less than I did 35 pounds ago. I lost an initial 30 pounds by cutting carbs down to about 150 grams a day but I plateaued right at 200lbs body weight. I tried then to restrict my fat intake and increase my work-out load but couldn’t drop below 195. After a year of trying I finally added back the fats and cut the carbs down to less than 75 grams/day and voila I lost the final 30 pounds effortlessly in about three months.

I eat about 3000 calories a day (obviously mostly fat and protein). At 170 (lbs body-weight) I bench 315, squat (reps) with 405 and can run 10 miles in just under 80 minutes (I’m 39 btw). I eat more, I am faster, stronger and have far more endurance (while working out less) than I did when I was driving myself mad on a lower calorie diet/high intensity workout schedule.

It was simply a matter of finding my ideal carb threshold which happens to be much lower than most.

Thanks again for your blog, you are a rightous teacher brother.
-Chris

Anonymous said...

Looking shredded & massive in the latest pic. Very cool physique. I find it pretty amazing that you maintain that kind of conditioning all year around.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah forgot to say I liked the article too. Keep up the good work.

Wilmar said...

But you still love playing videogames, don't you?

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous guy three comments above Wilmar. I'm very espoused to the rule of thermodynamics and so I feel it may be other factors, not lowering carb intake, that helped you lose weight again. Water weight is lost with lowered carb intake, and a study showed that a carb intake lower than 120g/day lowered thyroid output. The brain needs about this amount of glucose daily to function as well. It may or may not impact metabolism that much, but carb intakes to the low extreme are probably not conducive to anyone's diet.

Martin - Great article. I do have an extraneous question that doesn't immediately pertain to your article, if you don't mind. I understand that the majority of one's diet is fat (as in a ketogenic diet), more fat is naturally oxidized by the body by virtue of more of it coming in (which does not necessarily mean more weight loss is occurring, of course). I believe I remember you saying that when a lot of carbs are consumed, that the body does not behave the same way by oxidizing more carbohydrates at rest. I couldn't remember where on your site to look to find your statement, so I'll ask you here: after a carb load, are carbs preferentially oxidized at rest, or are they safely tucked away as glycogen and only oxidized during high intensity activity? Will your glycogen stores remain about the same after 1, 2, 3 days of inactivity? Are there studies showing this? Thanks, Martin.

Martin Berkhan said...

Wilmar,

Hah yeah sure, just don't find the time to play as much as I used to. I'm a certified geek deep inside - video games, RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy books etc, used to be into a lot of that stuff.

Anon,

Whenever you eat carbs your body immediately switches to carb oxidation and thus fat burning is suppressed (and this is how carbs affects fat storage, that is by inhibiting lipolysis and enabling storage of dietary fats, yet very rarely gets stored as fat by themselves).

OTOH in the face of glycogen depletion followed by a carb load, fat oxidation still occurs to some degree. There's references in UD 2.0 relating to that effect.

As for your second question, muscle glycogen stores are unaffected by inactivity as muscles need to be exercised with some intensity in order for glycogen to be utilized/depleted. This is pretty basic stuff covered in any semi-decent physiology book, though I guess you could probably find a ref in UD 2.0.

Martin Berkhan said...

Oops, I take that back. No refs in UD 2.0.

Anonymous said...

"Hah yeah sure, just don't find the time to play as much as I used to. I'm a certified geek deep inside - video games, RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy books etc, used to be into a lot of that stuff."

I don't want to detract too much from the topic, but I sure hope you gave the Final Fantasy series a try, Martin.

"As for your second question, muscle glycogen stores are unaffected by inactivity as muscles need to be exercised with some intensity in order for glycogen to be utilized/depleted. This is pretty basic stuff covered in any semi-decent physiology book, though I guess you could probably find a ref in UD 2.0."

Sorry for miswording my question. I was confusing 1. carb oxidation immediately after a meal and 2. glycogen breakdown and subsequent release into the bloodstream for the same thing.

The reason why I asked the question was because I am taking ECY, which people still believe causes preferential fat oxidation in the absence of insulinemia. However, I remember that catecholamines cause an indiscriminate breakdown in both glycogen and TGs (and their subsequent appearance in the blood as glucose and FAs).

The catecholamine release caused by such stacks as EC, ECA, and ECY, then, should theoretically cause glycogen phosphorylase-mediated glycogenolysis EVEN AT REST, right? Just need clarification on this to see if my thinking is correct. Thanks a heap, Martin.

justy said...

With regards to your latest pics... are you still below 200 pounds? And at what height? What is your BF% in that pic? Impressive and just what I needed to stay on track as I've been in a rut these last few weeks.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous guy after Wilmar this is from the anonymous guy three comments above Wilmar. I don’t think that my very low carb intake was worth 30 lbs of water weight.

I rarely eat more than 75 grams of carb per day anymore. The exception is typically a monthly long run powered by yams and raisons. I am very active and strong (as a proportion of body weight) and I’ve been eating this way for more than a year.

I assume that the glucose my body needs that it doesn’t get from the little carb in my diet is made by my liver from amino acids or glycerol from fat(triglycerides). This is just standard gluconeogenesis right Martin?

My theory is that I have a crazy-overactive pancreas. When I eat an apple it produces an insulin surge equivalent to a “regular” person eating several apples. I eat only meat and vegetables 4 times a day in the 8 hour window Martin has turned us on to and I feel great, I’m never hungry (I used to be ravenous ALL of the time) and I’m setting PRs into middle age.

-Chris

Pete Brown said...

I am glad to see some one else enjoyed the last episode of the Mentalist!

Love your hard work, and I sure do love some Alan Aragon!

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Yup, Final Fantasy 6 for the old SNES is my all-time favorite RPG. Played most of them, but I think the series lost some of it's magic with part 10 and onwards. Or maybe I'm just getting too old for this stuff.

'The reason why I asked the question was because I am taking ECY, which people still believe causes preferential fat oxidation in the absence of insulinemia.'

Did you mean to say despite insulinemia? Recall that even small increases in insulin basically turns off lipolysis completely. However normally when insulin is high, epinephrine is low and vice versa. FFA oxidation requires epi. Thus stimulating it through artificial means (i.e via ephedrine) may then affect fat oxidation positively despite insulinemia (though I hardly believe the effect is dramatic).

'The catecholamine release caused by such stacks as EC, ECA, and ECY, then, should theoretically cause glycogen phosphorylase-mediated glycogenolysis EVEN AT REST, right? '

From hepatic stores, yes of course. But this would occur in either case (sans ECA), so I don't see what you're getting at. Catecholamines only accelerates the process.

Martin Berkhan said...

Justy,

'With regards to your latest pics... are you still below 200 pounds? And at what height? What is your BF% in that pic? '

I'm not sure - I haven't weighed myself in quite some time which is a) mainly due to my scale being broke and b) an experiment in self-regulation. I'm heavier than I was in October (see pics for reference), so I might be at 200 lbs or slightly above atm. I'm 6'1 or 186 cm. As for body fat %, I tend to hover around 5-6%. Might be more atm, but dont quite care as long as I look presentable.

Martin Berkhan said...

Chris,

'I assume that the glucose my body needs that it doesn’t get from the little carb in my diet is made by my liver from amino acids or glycerol from fat(triglycerides). This is just standard gluconeogenesis right Martin?'

Yes, but it would be glucose from protein mainly. Triglycerides are very poor substrates for glucose.

Anonymous said...

"From hepatic stores, yes of course. But this would occur in either case (sans ECA), so I don't see what you're getting at. Catecholamines only accelerates the process."

I didn't know liver glycogen gets used up at rest. That's interesting, thanks. I was just curious to see what would happen to muscle glycogen with heightened catecholamine release in the resting state (I used to think only exercise could force the body to pull from muscle glycogen). Looking forward to your next article!

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

1. Liver glycogen is used to maintain blood glucose at all times - exercise and rest.

2. Muscle glycogen is only utilized in exercise.

Patrick said...

A good read!

Anonymous said...

whats your take on building muscle in one place, say wider shoulders. Do you use different reps/set for building muscles? or is it just about calories?

awesome site :)

Anonymous said...

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Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

'whats your take on building muscle in one place, say wider shoulders.'

For specialization, volume and/or frequency should be adjusted up for the muscle group in question. For other muscle groups it should be adjusted down or else you'll just tax your recuperative abilities.

I'm also a fan of using slightly unconventional strategies like high frequency chinning to bring up lats and biceps specifically (rather than hitting them with dozens of different bodybuilding movements, put focus on a variety of chins like rope chins, close-grip chins, pullups etc)

Jordan said...

Re: chin ups for biceps. So you don't do bicep curls, or just not many?

Martin Berkhan said...

Up until now, I haven't curled for years - curls or any other direct arm movement have no part in my arm developement. My arms grew quite well from a lot of heavy chinning.

I think it was McRoberts that said something to this effect -

Do you really believe you will have small arms when you can do chin-ups with an extra 100 lbs around your waist?

That said, chins require a decent base of strength and fitness and not everyone would be able to do them productively when starting out. There are also other instances when direct biceps work would be beneficial - I'm certainly not against direct arm work. But people tend to overemphasize arm-training when you could come a long way without ever doing a curl. I don't think an "arms"-day have any place in a beginner or intermediate trainer's routine, for example.

dan said...

I'm a believer in the body fat setpoint and a believer in the calories in versus out theory.

while the set point may be biased towards weight gain from the evolutionary standpoint, i think nowadays it has more to do with the modern crap diet we mostly eat. the toxins like fructose, omega6, etc. while individually may not have any big effect, together i think they disrupt the hormonal system's messages throughout the body and to the brain.


I think a normal human being can eat tons of calories and if as long as they are unprocessed real foods, the body's hormonal system will respond normally by either increasing metabolism to expend extra energy or will reduce hunger so the next meals are less caloric. A person raised on crap foods will have some of the signaling and communication messed up so the brain is never told to eat less or direct a higher metaboolic rate and fat is stored.

Stephen has a good series over at
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/01/body-fat-setpoint-part-iii-dietary.html

Anonymous said...

Martin,
I have a question regarding cyclical dieting: my off days usually consist of 1900 calories. Some days, I find myself binging to, say, 3100 calories. However, since I tend to view fat loss macroscopically (within week-long time frames), I tend to compensate by adjusting my next day's calories so that they would be, say, 1200 calories. This would bring my average intake over 2 days to 2150 and is my personal way of salvaging my diet and still staying close to a deficit.

Is this a good way to "save" one's dieting efforts and sustaining a week-long deficit? I don't train on those low-calorie days, of course.

Thanks,
Martin (yup, that's my name too)

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

'Is this a good way to "save" one's dieting efforts and sustaining a week-long deficit?'

Yup, definitely. I use a similar setup for maintenance.

Matt Metzgar said...

I agree with your idea that people try to make weight loss too complex. However, there is a difference between being lean (having low body fat) and being healthy. Manipulating calories can produce leanness, but in addition, the quality of a diet determines health. Therefore, I don't mind all the research efforts to look into the small details of a healthy diet.

Greg S. said...

Though I generally agree with your arguments, I think your comments on humans differing from other animals on controlling their weight is inaccurate. When humans eat natural foods (like what a hunter-gatherer would find), they can have some fat on them, but they are never obese. And you can take most wild animals and feed them enough junk that they become obese. Many people have pets (including reptiles that are not in any way domesticated) that have been overfed to the point of being overweight or obese. It is not that humans lack the weight gain checkpoints, it is that many modern foods that are now overabundant get around those natural checkpoints.

Martin Berkhan said...

Greg,

That was one of the arguments in the article. Humans are surrounded by calorie-dense foods that makes overconsumption easy. I agree that if we removed all the junk surrounding us and replaced it with natural whole foods we'd self-regulate our body weights better. But that won't happen.

"And you can take most wild animals and feed them enough junk that they become obese."

Some species, sure. Big predators defend relatively poorly against weight gain, but not species that risk ending up as prey if they become too fat.

IPBrian said...

Fantastic post! So often these days you see authors trying to blame this macronutrient or that ingredient...if we could only reduce your cortisol levels brought on my the stress of modern life. BULL! We are hard wired to love fat, salt and sugar and the food industry is well aware of this truth. Bad for you food products sell because they are engineered specifically meet these taste profiles. Put down the monster cheeseburger people, start eating well and moving more.

Sifter said...

New reader here. Great post, very impressive physique. While I totally agree that the hoopla over fructose is nonsense, the only good I can see coming from this is that sugar in general, whatever the form, does cause some negative effects on heart health, endothelium function, and Lp(a) production. If this indirectly gets people to just consume less sugar in general, than maybe its good.

Seperately, just my opinion, I think the PaleoPutzes have gone off their rocker, and this is just one of their sideline fights. Good to see you and Alan and Lyle contributing some real science and common sense into all of this discussion.

Bravo!

Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks. Good to see some people out there aint buying into all this alarmism-bullshit after all.

justjuliebean said...

Awesome post! I have lost a bunch of weight, and people want to know how. When I tell them that I don't overeat (or when I do, I eat a few light meals after-this is comfortable for me), don't binge, obey my hunger, and exercise a buhch, they like to tell me why that would never work for them, and only low-carb (or low-fat or no fructose or no white food, etc) is the only thing that would work, but they don't have time for it now. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to agree, convince them otherwise, or what (as they sit in front of me drinking a pepsi, eating a huge sandwich and chips), but I just shrug my shoulders, tell them that they'll get to it when it matters to them. It's not my job to defend myself against people who won't make any effort to help themselves other than get snarky at me for not being obese anymore.

Paul Bowers said...

well, even if it is true that we're eating more (we are) or are less active (doesn't appear to be true, at least in children), it still begs the question why we suddenly began (consciously or not) to eat more and become less active. what made us hungrier and more lethargic in just the last 30-40 years? computer games? sorry, it's just a little more involved than gluttony and sloth.

Nik said...

Hi Martin, new reader here.. Very impressive info you have here on your blog. I'm new to all this stuff - coming from a modern dance background being relatively in shape. Stopped. And now looking for my way into shape again. Stumbled over marksdailyapple.com - and although having a bit of americanized "buy the book!" thing going on - I also think he gives some pretty good info - for me on my level anyway. I saw a comment on one of his articles which led me to your blog here.
I have to say that I don't understand half of what you are saying in the more technical parts(yet anyway) but the way you are writing and your knowledge is very admirable. I encourage you in your book project. And wish that people like you will reach a wider audience instead of all the crap that is spread to the masses about training and nutrition.

Martin Berkhan said...

Hey Nik, welcome. Hope you like it here. I'm sure you'll grasp the more technical parts eventually, as you learn more about physiology and nutrition.

Thank you for the words of encouragement. I appreciate it.

Rich Pinnell said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.
Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that fructose is the culprit for obesity as Lustig says. But excessive fructose is one player in our obesogenic landscape, namely in sucrose and HFCS. Alan is missing the point by rebutting Lustig when Lustig is simply trying to warn the public that fructose isn't so benign. I admit his youtube hit is a bit of a shock tactic but its often the only way to get ppl from continuing their poor habits. We all know how hard it is to change one's lifestyle habits.

Øystein said...

"We were never the hunted ones, so there was never any evolutionary reason for us to be light and mobile"

People have hunted people since the dawn of man and that will never end. Id say few species are more hunted than man.

When you meet a band of thugs on your way home from town saturday night, you better be light and mobile. (or have a gun).

Razor Wire said...

Great Post, I love to read articles that are informative and actually have good content. Thank you for sharing your experiences and I look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

Dr Lustig is a biochemist who researched fructose metabolism. He has spent years treating obese children and seen the direct causes and consequences of childhood obesity. He has demonstrated how the widespread and unhealthy consumption of HFCS and sedentary lifestyles have been detrimental to our health, but you think he is a charlatan?

You make some good points, but most of your arguments are the same old contemporary ones blaming everything on one's willpower and show a typical lack of understanding and don't address the underlying physiological/emotional reasons for our eating behaviors.

I'd suggest you read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes before writing on this topic again.

Kris said...

Hello Martin.

Usually I agree with you, but not quite this time.

I think you don't really get what Lustig is going on about.

First of all, he doesn't dismiss the fact that people are eating too much and exercising too little. He acknowledges all of this.

Hyperpalatable food, food availability, video games, tv, etc.

He is looking at things from a public health standpoint. So far the common advice of eat less, move more (that you, Alan, and others in the fitness sector preach) has been absolutely useless in combating the obesity epidemic.

This is advice that simply does not work for the public as a whole. A few motivated individuals can accomplish it.

I am absolutely positive that removing or reducing sugar in the diet would lead to a positive outcome for the public as a whole, with all else being the same.

Lustig does not advice against eating fruit. He also recommends a whole foods based diet, like yourself.

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

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