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Artificial sweeteners are quite safe and helpful in weight loss: masterpost.

Another master post / link dump for you all, this time all about artificial sweeteners and aspartame in particular. It's ironic that many of the people who fear monger over natural sugars also insist that artificial sweeteners must also be avoided.

It's almost as if they just have a puritanical view on food and don't want you enjoying anything sweet at all, isn't it?

Newest Updates: 2018

Pertinent Update: July 2017

Let's start continue, with a video:

A couple of posts from some good friends of this blog:

SuppVersity have a hell of a lot of articles on artificial sweeteners, here are some helpful ones:

More Information On The Safety Of Aspartame:

    Latest Updates:

    Great infographic and supporting article from Scott Baptie. I'm more of a Pepsi Max man myself, just for the record.

    In the interests of balance:

    To be fair there are some studies that do suggest a correlation between regular use of artificially sweetened beverages and obesity and/or health concerns.  This should not be confused as to suggest that it because of those beverages that the person's diet is inappropriate and unhealthy.

    At best (or, at worst) we could interpret this data as evidence that "simply switching to artificially sweetened beverages from those that contain sugar may not be enough to ensure that your diet is appropriate over all, depending on what other choices of meals and snacks you make".

    More of the sorts of things people get mad at me for telling you.

    If I'd known I was going to write something
    today, I probably would have shaved.

    First of all, here are some things that we know:

    • Athletes require a certain amount of energy (aka "total calories") on an individual basis subject to various factors, and a certain amount of protein, usually determined in "grams per kg of lean body mass" but there are varying opinions on exactly how many grams is required / optimal.
    • Too far above that amount means a stall in fat loss despite level of activity. More excessive still means fat gain. Also known as "calorific surplus".
    • People will lose weight when total energy intake is less than would be required to sustain current weight including fat mass at current activity level, aka "while in calorific deficit". However, the body will adapt to being too far into deficit for too long, especially while highly active, precluding further weight loss despite still being in deficit.
    • As sustaining that level of energy deficit is unlikely, weight regain is likely to occur and may be disproportionate to the increase in energy intake. aka "weight gain at an energy intake that should not be excessive under normal circumstances".

    Some of that we've known for ages, and some of it is stuff that I've observed and based my approach on, but has only recently been confirmed. Keeping all of that in mind, when active people stall or reach a plateau in terms of improving condition and body composition, what are they invariably told?

    • Cut calories (or just cut carbs).
    • Burn more calories (for example add more cardio).
    • Eat clean. 
    • Eliminate grains / sugars / whatever. Some variation on that theme.

    We already discussed why "cut calories" or "burn more calories" is counter productive advice. "Eat clean" infers that something other than energy balance is the concern and that despite being active and in deficit, something "unclean" from a puritanical, moralistic standpoint is to blame for not seeing more pleasing results.

    Too much sugar? Don't be ridiculous.
    So scrutinising eating habits to omit anything with a question mark over "cleanliness" only exacerbates the problem by creating a greater and more destructive level of energy deficit, while also associating the ability to abstain from certain foods with being a good or a bad person who does or does not deserve success & happiness.

    Since such a level of deficit is unlikely to be sustainable, the client WILL end up eating those "unclean" foods and likely in more massive quantities than she would other wise. This is another thing that we know; when foods are "banned" we tend to crave them all the more. Here we are starting to get into "restrict / binge" (and possibly purge) territory. The client is likely to be told her lack of progress is due to that one lapse in adherence when she ate "unclean", and that she needs to have more discipline and will power in the future. This goes back to what we described in the paragraph above, and perpetuates this destructive cycle.

    Let's go back and look at my first paragraph in the "things that we know" section we began with:
    Athletes require a certain amount of energy (aka "total calories") on an individual basis subject to various factors, and a certain amount of protein within that total amount.
    If you are in the habit of consuming a daily intake that is within a suitable range of that appropriate amount, you'll see great results from any effective and productive approach to training, and if you're not... you won't. Focusing on the appropriate total energy provision coming from a suitable balance of protein to fats to carbohydrates, you have an approach referred to as IIFYM. Concepts like "clean", "unclean" or "cheat meals" have no relevance, your individual food choices either fit into a total daily amount that is appropriate aka "fits your macros", or they do not.

    Unfortunately, the acronym IIFYM has become associated with a version of this approach that is kind of taking the piss a bit with a proclivity for nutrient sparse convenience foods and a lack of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Hopefully this style of IIFYM is a minority of cases, although it has been brought to my attention in the past that some so called "macro coaches" do charge people good money for diet plans fitting this description, which is entirely unacceptable.

    To distance themselves from this and to acknowledge that there is more to a healthy diet than just "hitting your macros", many of the more responsible proponents moved to the term Flexible Dieting which is an easier way of saying "hit your macros, get enough fruit and veg, make up the balance with more nutritious choices where possible but also include some for enjoyment and indulgence as you see fit".

    For me, the word "dieting" being in there has that connotation of still being focused on calorie deficits, so I named my approach "Flexible Fueling" as we are far more interested in working towards optimal fueling targets for best performance and athletic physical condition, rather than slashing further and further into calorific deficit in a destructive and misguided effort to starve and burn weight off.

    Bottom line?
    • Results, in terms of an athletic body condition from training come from:
      • Turning up regularly and giving it your best with a productive and strategic approach.
      • Consistently providing at least an adequate and preferably closer to optimal total energy provision, and sufficient protein.
    • I don't want anyone out there who is active but frustrated or unhappy due to not seeing results thinking that:
      • They need to eat less, when they're already not eating enough.
      • Any individual choice whether just once or more regularly is to blame for a lack of results, when they are not eating enough.
      • There is some correlation between not eating "the right foods", not seeing results, and not being "a good person".
    • Arbitrary and unfounded instructions like "cut carbs", "burn more calories" or "eat clean": 
      • Only take people further away from a level of fueling that will facilitate the results they desire.
      • Only take people further into a destructive level of calorific deficit.
      • Foster and reinforce disordered behaviours and ideas related to eating.
    Yep. This is the sort of thing that people get mad at you for trying to help people with and protect people from. I guess they don't like having their god given right to judge people and tell them what to do infringed upon.

    The Most Epic Week In Review, Ever?

    Selfie of the week is a little awkward but
    at least my arms look huge.
    I don't always do a week in review every week, because some weeks there's not all that much to talk about. This week though? Holy crap. This week was a legit game changer as far as I'm concerned. So much happened.

    First of all though; Busted Scammer Of The Week is always a regular feature. And today we got some good news regarding perhaps one of the most disgusting and despicable scammers of all time.

    What a piece of trash.

    This following story is good news too, and if I'm not mistaken I believe the Blocked By Pete Evans page (which I was a founding admin of, but am no longer involved with) are owed credit for first exposing this dangerous and outrageous nonsense.

    We're just getting started though. Now the big stuff.

    The Biggest Loser Study was big news this week.

    This one basically confirmed what I've been saying for years now. Too far into calorie deficit for too long at high activity levels (aka over worked and underfueled) is a myopic approach to weight loss and people WILL stop seeing further fat loss at a certain point, and slashing further into deficit or increasing activity even further will not fix it. This approach will backfire over the long term resulting in weight regain even if you do stick to the regime of restricting and burning of calories.

    Low carb & keto dieting as beneficial for weight loss, finally and thoroughly debunked.

    I have saved the best for last and this really was epic. For years, advocates of low carb and ketogenic dieting have insisted that it is the only way to avoid weight gain, and the only way to lose weight. Obviously, that's not correct. All you have to do is ask around, "hey, you seem quite lean and not over weight. Are you doing low carb or keto?". You'll find there are no shortage of people who consume a moderate to high amount of carbohydrates within a total energy intake that is appropriate to them, who are quite normal sized, quite healthy, and even in quite athletic shape.

    Real world observation and clinical evidence have shown for some time that it is total energy provision relative to total energy requirement that drives weight gain, and not the mere presence of carbs in the diet as per the alternative "carbs drive insulin, insulin drives fat storage" hypothesis.

    Here's where it gets funny.

    Proponents of this  alternate hypothesis such as Gary "Good Calories Bad Calories" Taubes who have rejected all of this evidence on the basis of "we don't know who funded it and if they might have had reason to fudge the numbers to protect big potato" (or something like that) decided they would fund and design their own study, contract respected, qualified, objective and impartial researchers to carry it out and find the conclusive evidence that carbs are to blame and LCHF &/or ketogenic dieting is what we should have been told to do all along.

    Just one problem though... the research found the opposite.

    Here's what we knew already:

    Those are the sort of studies that the LCHF fanatics aren't terribly impressed by. Here's their own study, which one assumes they designed to be more stringent, rigorous and unbiased:

    Even More: February 2018

    It's funny because professional low carb conspiracy theorists like Taubes & Noakes keep trying to prove the superiority of a low carb approach, and keep failing spectacularly.
    Further & Related: 


    Sugar is not an addictive substance: masterpost

    There's so much nonsense doing the rounds about how "sugar is addictive just like illegal drugs are addictive", usually coming from LCHF cultists. So here's a masterpost of all the information to put that myth to rest once and for all.

    Also though; here's my collection of reviews of That Sugar Film, in case you missed it: That Sugar Film: Link Dump

    Update: September 2018

    Here's a great new article; Is Sugar Really Bad For You, by Jessica Brown via BBC Future. It's wonderful to see such good and factual content on a major platform for once.

    You'll find much of the supporting evidence for the facts laid out in this article, below.

    Studies on sugar addition, food addiction and eating addiction:

    The plausibility of sugar addiction and its role in obesity and eating disorders.

    • The [above] predications have in common that on no occasion was the behaviour predicted by an animal model of sucrose addiction supported by human studies.
    • There is no support from the human literature for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive or that addiction to sugar plays a role in eating disorders.


    The mesolimbic system and eating addiction: what sugar does and does not do.

    • Sucrose is reinforcing and it promotes dopamine release independent of its taste.
    • Drugs and sucrose have strong yet transient effects on the mesolimbic system.
    • Addictive drugs severely disrupt brain plasticity after long-term exposure.
    • No data currently suggest similar central adaptations following sucrose.


    Eating is addictive but sugar and fat are not like drugs, study says.

    • People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research suggests.
    • An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods.
    • The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. 


    “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior.

    • “Eating addiction” describes a behavioral addiction.
    • An “eating addiction” is not necessarily associated with obesity.
    •  Consider “eating addiction” as a disorder in DSM-5 “Non-Substance-Related Disorders”.

    Sugar addiction: the state of the science


    • Given the lack of evidence supporting it, we argue against a premature incorporation of sugar addiction into the scientific literature and public policy recommendations. 

    Eating dependence and weight gain; no human evidence for a 'sugar-addiction' model of overweight.


    • The current findings indicate that sugary foods contribute minimally to 'food dependence' and increased risk of weight gain. 

    See also...

    Sugars and Health Controversies: What Does the Science Say?

    We conclude that added sugars consumed in the normal forms in which humans consume them, at amounts typical of the human diet and for the time period studied in randomized controlled trials, do not result in adverse health consequences. Although more research trials are needed in many areas of sugar consumption and health, there is little scientific justification for recommending restricting sugar consumption below the reasonable upper limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 of no more than 25% of calories. 

     Bonus Content:
     Even More: Do people need to "quit sugar" to lose weight?

    Bonus Content: Studies on the effects of restricting food choices. 


    Selective carbohydrate or protein restriction: effects on subsequent food intake and cravings.


    • The results indicated that selective food restriction resulted in selective behavioural consequences.
    • Specifically, carbohydrate-restricted participants consumed more of a high-carbohydrate food than did controls or protein-restrictors, in addition to reporting more cravings for high-carbohydrate foods over the restriction period.
    • Overall, selective food restriction is demonstrated to have negative psychological and behavioural consequences. 

    Even more:

    Restricting Your Children's Chocolate Could Do More Harm Than Good.
    "In terms of parenting practice, the results indicate that in the short term, restricting 'bad' foods is an effective means to promote healthier eating habits. But by restricting access you may encourage a preoccupation with unhealthy foods which in the long term could encourage the very behaviour you are trying to prevent," explains Professor Ogden.
     And finally:


    Ending the unhealthy obsession with calorie deficit.

    Always take a selfie.
    I'll try to make this as clear as I can. Calories In / Calories Out is definitely a thing, but people need to STOP worshiping this idea about "calorific deficit", because it's stupid.

    Now, don't get me wrong... and in fact I'll address this pre-emptively before the inevitable strawman attacks start: you cannot lose fat in a calorific surplus. If you take in more calories than you can put to use, that energy gets stored as body fat. Calories from any source as well, mind you.

    However... the EMPHASIS on being in calorific deficit is all wrong. Note how I used to capital letters to emphasise the word emphasis just now. I'm not saying "take people out of deficit". I feel like I can't just say what I'm saying any more, I have to specify what I'm not saying as well, every paragraph or so. I'm going to go ahead and predict that a few people will still miss that and make stupid comments all the same once I share this to facebook.

    Why not focus on being in deficit though?

    As a profession coach and trainer and a specialist in Flexible Dieting with an interest in eating disorder awareness, recovery and avoidance, I've had active and athletic people come to me on... one particular example that I have in mind is a female athlete who came to me a few years back on 1300 calories a day and quite unhappy. She is now well aware that she REQUIRES a 3000 calorie a day minimum in order to see best results and performance at training, and to remain injury free.

    That's something of an extreme example with very high fueling requirements, but it is quite common for me to reverse diet a female athlete from as low as 1100 or even 900 calories per day all the way up to 23, 2400, maybe 2600 calories per day subject to the amount they actually require to facilitate good results at their level of prowess at training.

    Predicting an amount that is in deficit is easy. Literally, it's any amount that's less than would support current mass (including fat mass) and activity levels. All of these programs and diets where you just have an arbitrary amount like 1200 calories to restrict to, that's just about being in deficit and it's stupid. Some "macro plan" that doesn't end on a round number? Also stupid. Those "these are the only foods you're allowed to eat" type plans? They're not even smart enough to understand that how you'd lose weight on that plan is because you would be in deficit.

    Now, on a personal level, "I just eat these foods and avoid those foods" is fine if people are happy with the food choices they're making and the results  they're seeing. I don't mean to insult people for not having a working knowledge of nutrition... other than the ones who are trying to enforce those choices onto others, and especially if they're charging money for it.

    I have digressed. Where was I?

    Picking an amount that is in deficit is easy, but it's not what is good.

    As a coach who is giving sports nutrition advice, you need to be focused on how much people require, AKA how much they can utilise. That is, how much they can put to good use to fuel performance, to recover, and to adapt to training with the creation of lean mass. FKN IDIOTS WHO ARE BOUND TO SHOW UP TO TRY ARGUE WITH ME PLEASE NOTE: "how much they can put to use" does not translate to "a calorific surplus that would preclude fat loss", no matter what way you try to twist it.

    Going back to those examples of mine from eariler: As a coach, you're never going to find out that your athlete requires 2400 or 2800 or 3000+ calories per day while you're thinking "results come from being in deficit, if you were in deficit you'd be seeing results". You won't have the BRAINS OR THE BALLS to raise their targets that high, so long as you're still married to and they're still enslaved by this brain dead notion of being focused on "calorific deficit". Rather, you're likely to slash intake targets even lower, clutch at straws about "not eating clean", or accuse the client of lying about their intake. These are the sort of things I keep getting told about, anyway.

    Understand this: Not seeing fat loss does not necessarily automatically infer that you are "not in deficit" or that eating more would mean "going into surplus". While in deficit, tapping into fat stores is only one of many adaptations the human body might make and not necessarily it's preferred option. The further you go into deficit of an adequate amount, the less energy and resources the body will make available for other functions in order to preserve those fat stores.

    Bottom line? If you're an athlete (and by this I mean anyone training with an interest in improving performance and body composition) you need to be fueled in a manner to facilitate performance and maintain condition. You can't build or maintain lean mass without making those resources available.
    If you're a coach... if you're a trainer, train people and fuel them for results. We're supposed to be qualified professionals, stop trying to starve people thin with the same sort of logic I'd be dismayed to read on some kind of pro-ana blog.

    You're not doing IIFYM if all you're doing is calculating a deficit, much less if you're just slashing further and further below some arbitrary amount.

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