Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Masterpost: All detoxes are a scam.

I decided a "master post" is where I dump EVERY link I can find addressing a particular source of nonsense, quackery, pseudoscience or scammery. In this case, "detoxing".

Here it comes, hold on to your hats.

First though, you may well ask "if all these things are scams, how do they get away with selling them?" well you may be sorry that you asked. Here's a great video that explains it.

You want more links explaining why "detox" is junk science? You got it.

A few updates, as if we didn't know these products were bad enough already:

And another video for good measure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gabrielle Maston: Orthorexia Is Real

Gabrielle Maston: Orthorexia Is Real:
This topic has been a long time coming - orthorexia.  Haven’t heard of it before?
 

Well I will inform you, it’s a form of an eating disorder where someone has an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding what is perceived as unhealthy “bad” foods. 

Click the link to read the full article.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ugh this whole raw milk fiasco. Wow.

In the center of the drinks fridge,
but not to be drunk?
No pun intended, but this is hard for me to process. Possibly due to my background in the security industry, my brain likes to just write people off as bad, scumbags, or whatever, because that's the simplest explanation for unconscionable behaviour. Some of the things I dealt with in the past... trying to make sense of it will drive you around the twist, it's better to just say "because he's a shitbag" and move on and not let it upset you too much.

So, thinking about it now, that's probably why I'm less than diplomatic with certain of these self appointed health experts, who I'll just call straight out as scumbags who've just made up some load of bullshit, potentially harmful, and are making a fortune selling it at an inflated price to vulnerable people after scaring them off conventional, safe things.

Now these people with the raw milk though...

Here's some of what we know.
  • We know that before pasteurisation, people often got sick and / or died as a result of drinking tainted milk.
  • We know that it is illegal to sell non-pasteurised milk for human consumption.
  • We know that 4 children became seriously ill and one died after drinking "raw" unpasteurised milk.
To be fair that is all we know right now. It is yet to be established that the milk was actually responsible for this. It seems likely, sure... but let's be fair and not draw our own conclusion and treat it like an established fact when it isn't.

The supplier though. This is where I have mixed feelings.

Judging from their comments in the news article and from some posts (some now removed) they've made on social media, they clearly do think it is ok and in fact preferable to drink unpasteurised milk. There is an arm of the anti-vac, anti-flouride, "everything as close to natural as possible" type movement that is anti pasteurisation and pro raw milk too... it's not just these particular people.

So, I'm not sure if these guys are anti-all that other stuff as well but it does appear that they are advocates of drinking raw milk and the "bath milk not for consumption" sticker is just a nudge nudge wink wink way to circumvent the laws against selling raw milk for human consumption. Laws that are in place for our safety.

So for that and keeping in mind what I said earlier, my first inclination is just to write 'em off as more scumbags pushing dangerous and overpriced goods, pretending that they're healthier products than you'd get from a conventional source. I looked at their FB page though and it is all pictures of happy, well cared for cows and other animals. No one who loves animals that much can really be a bad person, in my mind anyway.

What I am experiencing at this point is called "cognitive dissonance". Two conflicting conclusions on observation of the same situation.

What you can probably take from it is that is possible for even the best people to be misguided. And when you think about it, the food standards laws that we do have do such a good job of preventing the illnesses and diseases they are designed to protect us from, that it's probably easy to get complacent like "oh that's a lot of fuss over nothing, it's all perfectly fine". It kind of reminds me of the Y2K bug... once a problem is solved, people forget what a problem it was. And and some point after that, people start to think there was never a problem in the first place and the solution to that problem is unnecessary or a scam.

That's probably understandable and excusable. Not to say it is excuses trying to circumvent the law of the land, but it is understandable that people might be complacent to the dangers of improperly handled food, untreated milk and so on. Which is all the more reason for the importance to be driven home in the process of businesses or individuals attaining a certification in safe food handling.

As a responsible adult you then have the obligation to take these matters seriously, as you DO know better, you've been presented with all the information, and it is indefensible to simply choose to dismiss it. This is the same argument I have with people in my industry who promote unnecessary, restrictive approaches to dieting. You have been taught better, and just chosen to ignore what you've been taught and do something irresponsible with the potential to do harm to others who come to you in good faith.

The big picture.

You can do a google search on "raw milk healthier" and what you'll find is a lot of the claims about treated milk being "stripped of it's nutrients", too high in carbs, causing disease and so on. Also claims that raw milk cures all manner of diseases. Also a bunch of conspiracy theories similar to the anti-vax, anti-flouride, and other "big pharma / big agriculture" type of nonsense as we touched on earlier.

All of that is completely made up, imaginary, and with literally zero basis in reality. What is a concerning trend these days though, is for people to just choose their own version of reality, their own facts, and insist upon their version being correct and everything else being a lie, regardless of a complete lack of supporting evidence and overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In this case, it's all this talk about raw milk being a "healthier, more nutritious" choice.

It just isn't.

This phenomenon is explained to an extent by what is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, which describes how people with limited knowledge on a subject will assume a position of authority or expertise on that subject, because in actuality they do not even know enough about it to realise how much they do not know about it!

Now not to be a hypocrite, I'm writing here about the dangers of raw milk when I'm not an authority on the subject. I'm a trainer, not a microbiologist. That though, is why I'm happy to defer to the authority of the people who research these matters professionally. Which is not to say that we should blindly kowtow to authority figures as if they could never be wrong or mistaken... but if you have the choice between the scientific community as a collective, and the people who specialise in a specific field in particular vs someone who just has a strong opinion but no credentials, someone who has just decided "this is how I reckon it is"... who would you reasonably expect to be more likely to be correct?

So this isn't so much an essay on the dangers of raw milk so much as it is about the dangers of the Dunning-Kruger effect run rampant, and the trend towards the dismissal of real science in favour of "feelpinions". Especially it is an essay about the dangers of being complacent in regards to other people's health and wellbeing, and the moral obligation as adults to act responsibly.

In the case of treated vs raw milk though. As I said elsewhere last night, you have got one option that's safe and healthy, and you've got another option that comes with a risk and is also illegal. What possible reason is there to choose the latter option?

Whichever side of the debate you are on, I invite you to come and discuss this matter on facebook.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Holiday Dieter's Survival Guide

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mainstream news needs to stop publicising crap like "bulletproof coffee"

Shoutouts to Mike Howard for
this more honest version of
the book cover.

And by "crap" what I mean is "blatant, pro-eating disorder scams based on nonsense".

So... yesterday one of the mainstream news websites posted an article on "bulletproof coffee", and in the ensuing facebook discussion I had a woman explain to me how she uses it as part of an "intermittent fasting" plan for weightloss, and it's great because it means she can last until 2pm without eating. Also it "keeps you in fat burning mode while you are fasting".

No.

There are so many problems with this.

#1 is the idea she's picked up somewhere (and has decided to spread to others) that not eating until 2pm is an in some way admirable or beneficial habit to develop. It isn't. You've got shit to do and your body requires fuel to do it with.

#2 since you're actually getting approx 400 - 600 calories out of that ridiculous butter & mct oil infused concoction you've been duped into believing is good for you... you're not actually fasting anyway. You're getting a similar amount of total energy. You're just not getting from a "meal" in the conventional sense.

#3 intermittent fasting has been shown to not be inherently beneficial anyway, other than that it may offer some individuals a strategic advantage in setting a schedule that allows them to meet but not exceed their energy requirements.
As we discussed in a post last week, what is strategically advantageous for one person might not be so convenient for another.

So... since the best case scenario for ANY diet or other "system" is that it works as a method to achieve suitable total intake without overeating... why wouldn't you just do that by scheduling regular meals and snacks of foods you enjoy, to an amount that meets but does not exceed your total energy requirements? What seems so outlandish and unlikely about that?

Whenever these sort of approaches are discussed, the common element in the conversation is the suggestion that it is a good way to manage avoiding a meal for a longer portion of the day. Or that it is a healthier option than conventional, officially recommended dietary habits involving... you know... actual meals of actual foods. This is very problematic.

We live in an information age, and the age of social media at that. Information that is actually correct, that has been scientifically tested and verified as correct to the best of our collective understanding, is often drowned out or lost in the mix of unqualified opinion, urban myth, or just blatant lies and misinformation. We unfortunately have not yet reached a stage where the public as a community recognise their responsibility to not further the spread of bad information that is not only scientifically false, but that may be to the detriment of anyone who acts upon it.

The sort of people I described above aren't to blame, even though they are spreading bad information to the effect of "to lose weight, avoid eating meals" which is highly problematic.  They aren't to blame, and if anything they are the victims. The blame lies primarily with the blatant scam artists like Dave Asprey and Vani Hari, and disingenuous charlatans like Pete Evans and Christine Cronau who make a living writing these books and going on speaking tours promoting a disordered view on food, health and nutrition through fear mongering, peer pressure and pseudo-science.

However just as bad are the mainstream news agencies; the TV, print and internet media who run stories on these frauds that actually loan them the appearance of credibility, rather than exposing them as the snake oil merchants that they are.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Are you really lacking in discipline, or just enthusiasm?

Here's a little fitsporation for you. I made it as narcissistic and obnoxious as possible.

"Discipline", right? Ooh I'm so disciplined. I turn up every day to do something I really enjoy, in order to achieve something that I'm going to be happy about. If only everyone else was as disciplined as me!

What a load of shit.

Discipline is turning up on time to a job that you don't really like and resisting the urge to murder any of the annoying ass motherfuckers who show up apparently just to make things as difficult as possible for you. THAT takes strength of character.

Doing something you want to do anyway, because you enjoy it and are getting something out if it and giving yourself an interest in life? I don't see how it takes discipline. And I don't see how that's helpful to the people who are still trying to develop their passion for training, either.

ENTHUSIASM would be a much better quality to encourage and associate with training. Not to take anything away from highly disciplined, elite level athletes who do deserve our admiration. It does take discipline to dial in such a tight nutrition plan and grueling training schedule, and to adhere to both with such consistency. That level of discipline however, is borne out of enthusiasm and self belief, and those are the two far more empowering ideas that are more appropriate for the rest of us to be concerned with.

Perhaps not to "elite" levels, but you will certainly see GREAT results from enthusiastic participation in an effective training program, with a flexible and moderate approach to nutrition. It does not take so much discipline, as it takes enthusiasm, motivation and momentum. With an effective training program, you will see results and build momentum, and will not lose enthusiasm.

The people who have not been successful in pursuit of their fitness and body condition goals in the past? I doubt they are lacking in discipline. Perhaps they have run out of enthusiasm, or lack some belief or optimism in their own potential. In my observation, this is usually through little fault of their own, and more due to simply never having been given a training strategy that would actually be effective and appropriate to their individual circumstances.

The idea that people need to "just be more disciplined" is egotistical and self serving when you are judging them as "undisciplined" for not doing what requires no discipline at all of yourself, as it is something you are enthusiastic about and which suits you as an individual. I see this attitude a lot from certain types of trainers and coaches pushing a "one size fits all" set of restrictions on food choices, for example.

For the people out there looking to get started: what you need is an effective training system,that is designed for results, for people who actually want to get stuck into it.
For the people already putting in the effort but without satisfactory results: you probably just need a more strategic approach, and more optimal (probably increased) energy intake.

My Flexible Fueling Program is all about being enthusiastic about training effectively without restrictive low calorie dieting. You can get more information right here, or click that link for VIP Access next season.