The Nutrition Grouch

Todd Weber, PhD

The weight loss industry is, has been, and always will be a dumpster fire.  People like to say health & wellness (of which weight loss is a part of) is “broken” or full of “misinformation” but that is being too generous because it implies that some of it is good or that it is actually fixable.  It is damaged beyond repair.  If it were possible, I would burn it to the ground and start over.

While it is impractical to try to summarize what’s wrong with the industry in one podcast description, my premise is this: there is a truly astronomical amount of information that neither our media nor our professionals are able to communicate to you in a meaningful way without losing all context, applicability to real life, and/or the ability to see how all of the pieces fit together.

The media should just stop covering health & wellness because their soundbites explain nothing and are little more than headlines and talking points.  They may raise awareness but not understanding, leading to the illusion of explanatory depth.  Academics actually know what they are talking about and could help educate us but are too busy with their work and only some are engaged with the public.  Most academics look down on and laugh at the quacks and zealots in the field but it’s the quacks and zealots that have the real power.

Businesses do not have the right people in place (PhDs or medical professionals) to drive product and service development (that’s left to the MBAs).  After the brand is established, the number one rule is that you must protect and promote the brand no matter how myopic, self-serving, or unimportant that brand is.  Healthcare is for the (already) sick and public health is so surface level.

When it comes to their health, the public is lazy.  They want the most entertaining, convenient, and positive information available, even if it is at the expense of achieving their goals.  Hard work, I think not.  Let me take the path of least resistance and “do it on the side”.  There’s no reason for real change.

Instead of being stuck in pedaling the news of the day, disconnected factoids and tidbits, overly reductionist, cliché, idealistic, magic cures, easy fixes, secrets, tips, tricks, hacks, fads, gimmicks, cherry-picked, binary, good/bad, flashy, insanely optimistic, exaggerated, fantasy land, sunshine and rainbows, theoretical, testimonial based weight loss information -- let’s come up with a more comprehensive, systematic, sustainable, realistic, semi-automated, results-oriented, pragmatic approach to weight loss with a slice of common sense.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time (years and decades) thinking about the thousands of nuances of weight loss (just Google Energy Balance Nutrition Consulting, The Paper Database, or The Science of Dieting).  I’ve also spent thousands of hours trying to understand why the health & wellness field isn’t actually science based despite the information being readily available.

I am so fed up and exhausted by it all.  It is so broken that on many days I want to say forget it.  I’m done with this.  It can’t be fixed.  I’m a smart motivated guy that can take my talents elsewhere (LeBron).  But something keeps drawing me back.  It’s like a sickness or a bad relationship.  I just can’t get out of it.  At my core, it’s who I am.  In this podcast I want to offer you truly science-based weight loss advice, critiques of the weight loss industry/diet culture, and thoughts on my experiences and failings in the profession.  And with that, I bring you The Nutrition Grouch.

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Health & FitnessHealth & Fitness

Episodes

Summer Vacation!
Jun 5 2024
Summer Vacation!
Summer, summer, summertime!  Ah, summer vacation, a time to rest, relax, rejuvenate, enjoy the great outdoors, and the many hours of daylight.  Summertime is also a time when your eating goes sideways, and your food environment gets destroyed.In today's episode the Nutrition Grouch explains why he is taking the summer off from podcasting (he'll be back in the fall) and discusses how he is going to handle his eating environment during his two big summer trips to Wisconsin and Buffalo, New York.Some of the topics on today's podcast include:How common are single income families? (0:56)Self-conscious on the playground: my 24:1 woman to man ratio (1:37)Stephen Hawking teaches high school algebra (2:31)Why I’m taking the summer off from podcasting (3:42)Let’s just say I don’t like social media (8:38)I’ve decided that I love Christmas cards! (9:14)My worldview/philosophy on life (11:00)We have too many (social media) friends but not enough good friends (12:01)One big game of status seeking (14:02)I control everything about the foods we have in the house, from start to finish (17:25)The importance of fridge and pantry super organization (17:37)Variety is not the spice of life (20:29)Baked goods are my kryptonite (22:41)But dad, you can’t set soda on fire, it won’t burn (23:06)We eat out once every 10 to 14 days (24:10)My diet is not the poster child of healthy eating (24:55)A tightly controlled food environment allows me to drink beer and eat Cheez-Its (25:14)Gaining 5-10 pounds in Buffalo, takes 1-2 months to lose (25:31)The 5 phases/time sections of vacation eating (26:05)The food trap I tend to fall into the week before a trip (27:12)There’s nearly a 100% chance I’m buying overpriced airport McDonalds at DIA (28:17)959 miles from Wisconsin and 1500 miles from Buffalo (30:22)Buffalo is very food centric (32:59)Eating strategies for my Buffalo food environment (36:01)Visiting family is not a true vacation (38:19)The long trip back home from vacation (38:52)Get back into your weekly meal cycle, ASAP: a bridge meal can help (40:03)Exercise recommendations for your trip (42:46)My 48-72 hour exercise adaptation window and getting to the gym 2.5 times/week (42:46)My personal obstacles to exercising (44:38)Go to the gym the day of your trip (47:04)The battle between present self and future self (50:57)
Hunger Actually has Very Little to Do with Weight Loss
May 22 2024
Hunger Actually has Very Little to Do with Weight Loss
Hunger is often reported as one of the biggest reasons why a weight loss diet fails.  And yet, dietary strategies to reduce hunger, such as drinking more water, eating more protein, fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and even going on a ketogenic diet are no more effective than diets without a hunger reducing emphasis.In today's podcast The Nutrition Grouch provides an overview for why he believes that hunger actually doesn't have that much to do with weight loss or weight gain.  Some research studies seem to indicate that not all people on a diet will have increased hunger and that some peoples'  hunger will only increase to that of a lean, non-dieting control.People with obesity appear to be no more or no less hungry during the fasted state or after a test meal than their lean counterparts, and in fact, their lean counterparts may actually be hungrier after a test meal.Hunger isn't comfortable but rather than focusing on dietary strategies to control hunger, I argue that we need to lean in and embrace it, or employ other cognitive, non diet strategies.  And if that doesn't work, I think you may want to consider a GLP-1 weight loss medication, because unlike fad diets and other dietary strategies to reduce hunger, GLP-1's actually work.Some of the topics in today's podcast include:Three disclaimers on my views of hunger (1:49)Hunger is a super complex topic under the umbrella of appetite (3:23)The Triad of Appetite: hunger, food choice, and the amount of food eaten (4:57)The two types of hunger: physical and hedonic (5:40)Food choice: an apple or a bag of potato chips? (7:47)Dietary restraint, willpower, inhibition, and the amount of food eaten (10:22)Four types of eater, which one are you? (12:19)How many apples can you eat in one sitting? (14:41)The appetite triad and overeating to reach obesity (15:26)Do small plates help you with portion control? (18:42)The blunted food reward response: more isn’t always better (20:19)Cigarettes, beer, gambling, climbing mountains, and lifting weights (20:55)Look in the fridge, look in the pantry, repeat, don’t eat (21:49)Losing weight begins with food choice, not hunger (22:45)Protein, fat, and carbohydrate, which one keeps you the fullest, the longest? (24:59)Why I hate short-term feeding studies on hunger (26:56)Individual variations in hunger are wildly astounding! (29:46)We spend too much time, energy, and effort on hunger (33:16)The more we pay attention to hunger, the more power and control it has over us (33:16)The weight loss maintenance behavioral strategies that work (35:44)Tried and true, boring, cliché behaviors are in your control, hunger is not (40:06)Are people with obesity just hungrier than those without obesity? (41:44)Four papers on hunger during weight loss (44:32)Hunger increases during refeeding (50:01)Population hunger versus case study hunger (52:22)Eating food to control hunger is a stupid idea (52:55)
The 5 Things Fad Diets Actually Get Right
May 8 2024
The 5 Things Fad Diets Actually Get Right
I really don't like fad diets but there are a few things that they actually do get right.  In today's episode I talk about 5 of the things they do get right as well as what some of the pitfalls of even those five "positives" are.To get to that point, we first discuss the multiple diets and diet diversity of our Paleo ancestors based upon region, geography, and season, how relatively new and arbitrary dietary guidelines are, the dominance of the low-fat/high carbohydrate diet of the late 20th century, which became the springboard for all of the other fad diet varieties that we see today.Some of the topics in today's podcast include:What is a fad diet? (0:36)Most nutrition advice is somewhat arbitrary (1:22)There are Paleo diets, not a singular Paleo diet (1:54)Region, geography, and season creates thousands of Paleo diets (4:15)Humans = 200,000 years; dietary guidelines = a mere 130 years (5:11)What diet is healthier, a true Paleo diet or a modern-day diet? (7:49)The simplistic story of the history of obesity in the United States (8:44)By default, a low-fat diet is also a high carbohydrate diet (10:12)The prevalence of obesity skyrocketed in the 1990s (11:12)The data on the relationship between saturated fat and heart disease is a mess (11:29)Why did obesity skyrocket?  One word: CARBS!! (12:54)Carbs make us fat and prevent us from losing weight (13:41)Calories make us fat, not just carbs (14:17)Two of the many great Kevin Hall research papers (14:32)How many fast-food restaurants have you ever been to?  Can you name them? (15:26)The carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis and Occam’s Razor (16:30)Captain Obvious: losing weight and keeping it off is really freaking hard (19:13)Traditional caloric restriction (low-fat/high carb) does not work well for weight loss (20:58)The creation of fad diets and the fad diet lifecycle (21:25)Fad diets have helped tens of thousands but failed tens of millions (25:48)Low-fat/high carb doesn’t mean you can have a carb free for all (28:08)Is a 5-12 NFL record really better than 3-14? (29:25)Using science to explain non-existent differences (30:39)The logical fallacy of “A” causes “B” and “B” causes “C” so “A must cause “C” (31:08)Common examples of weight loss logical fallacies (31:39)Macros, meal timing, and nonexistent differences at the expense of energy balance (32:51)The 5 things fad diets actually get right (33:52)#1: Fad diets solve some common overeating problems (34:04)Fad diets are too rigid and inflexible to be long-term solutions (36:39)My personal feelings on eating (with flexibility and freedom in mind) (36:59)This may sound bad, but sometimes I eat so I can drink (37:35)I ate my first banana in months, I don’t like forced fruit eating (38:45)#2: Fad diets provide you with a system of eating (43:37)We have studied every different type of diet possible and they all suck (46:33)Fad diets: the path of least resistance for the practitioner and the client (47:56)The mental framework for how and why a diet works, matters greatly (48:30)A common story/example of how low-carb diets fail (48:39)If you’re willing to give away ALL your food freedom, maybe a fad diet is for you (51:19)#3: Abstaining versus Moderation (52:18)Everything in moderation is a stupid saying (52:21)#4: Fad diets lack variety (55:12)When it comes to food, variety is not “the spice of life” (55:17)#5: Fad diets overcome the inertia of getting started (56:52)Starting a diet and maintaining a diet are not the same thing, the importance of transitions and exit strategies (57:20)I don’t think a fad diet can compete with one that you’ve created for yourself (100:51)
My Love/Hate Relationship with Nutrition
Apr 24 2024
My Love/Hate Relationship with Nutrition
I love nutrition but I hate the way it is practiced.  In my opinion, there's academic nutrition based upon science, facts, figures, and knowledge and then there's the business of nutrition based upon sales, marketing, and persuasion.I just can't figure out how to compete in the business of nutrition, or rather, I just can't bring myself to do it.In health & wellness, nutrition knowledge, realistic expectations, and context seem to be optional.  Instead, testimonials, best case scenarios, a total lack of quantification, false optimism, wishful thinking, and low effort, high reward programs seem pretty standard.What I want more than anything is for nutrition claims to actually represent the data and the evidence and for them to be put into the context of life.  I know this isn't the way it works and there are far too many moneyed interests for it to work this way.  But this is the way that I operate, and this is what you can expect from me.  Honest, contextual assessments, and advice.We're a little too good at telling people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.Some of the topics in today's podcast include:I love nutrition but not practicing it (1:10)The two books that first changed how I view obesity and weight loss (2:05)The parts of nutrition that I really hate: marketing, sales, and persuasion (3:05)Weight loss is high effort, moderate reward, not low effort, high reward (4:11)Nutrition education is as futile as trying to convert a Trump supporter (6:09)Fast food, diet coke, and full-blown hatred = immortality (7:31)Nutrition is ultimately a selfish pursuit (8:41)The battle between helping people or fighting misinformation (10:24)Changing the culture of health & wellness and your relationship with it (12:08)Nutrition knowledge has little effect on day-to-day food decision making (14:06)Metabolic carts are for fun, entertainment, and education but not real life (16:22)The lack of willpower is a myth (17:20)The appearance of “trying” to lose weight (22:23)Body dissatisfaction is a great predictor of weight loss success (23:13)Being ignored/not mattering is soul crushing (25:28)There’s no place in nutrition for me (29:57)Our models for practicing nutrition kind of suck (35:17)What I really want more than anything (38:03)Academia is the only place for weight loss science (38:55)Nutrition undergrads aren’t properly prepared for the real world (38:55)$100,000+ and two decades of training, only to be blacklisted (41:14)It’s hard to love something that doesn’t love you back (41:50)
Where is Weight Loss or Healthy Eating on Your Priority List?
Apr 10 2024
Where is Weight Loss or Healthy Eating on Your Priority List?
No one ever has enough time.  Everyone is too busy.  Meal planning becomes an afterthought and meal decisions are made in the moment.  Pardon my pun, but this is not a recipe for success.Diets work in the short-term because they help you create a negative energy balance and provide you with a system and a way of eating.  But they fail in the long-term because diets fall on your priority list and suffer from a lack of long-term commitment. In today's podcast the Nutrition Grouch outlines the first three steps you need to take to build a systematic, comprehensive way of eating and also talks about the importance of periodically identifying/ranking our priorities and making sure that nutrition stays towards the top.  He realizes this isn't easy and that some sacrifices need to be made, but it's what you need to do for healthy living.Some of the topics in todays podcast include:Nutrition is Not transactional (0:37)The first 3 steps to building a comprehensive and systematic way of eating (4:12)What are the most common priorities for people? (12:20)Time use surveys – what do you do with your time? (13:05)My top 10 priorities (19:49)My priority #1: Sleep (20:31)My priority #2: Chores/Household Activities (21:16)My priority #3: Food (22:33)I want to be a snake and eat once a month (25:20)My priority #4: Kids (26:30)My priority #5: Work (27:39)Studying hungover and missing Packer games (29:19)Doing this podcast is a real grind (31:28)Meaning making and mattering (32:23)My priority #6: Spouse (34:54)My priority #7: Self Care/Personal Care (36:51)My priority #8: Friends (38:43)My priority #9: Hobbies/Recreation (39:27)My priority #10: Extended Family (41:13)Create an excel spreadsheet to manage meals and cooking methods (44:32)Nutrition is more about time management than it is about knowledge (47:42)Skinny people have to try hard too (49:09)The eating advantages I have (51:12)Riding my bike to a brewery (54:58)Things I cut back on or do when I’m too busy (55:28)Coffee and beer are life, the rest is just details (56:28)
McDonalds is Not the Enemy
Mar 27 2024
McDonalds is Not the Enemy
Is McDonalds really that bad for you?  Yes, it is.  But it's not McDonalds that is bad, it's how much and how often you eat McDonalds that is bad.  The poison is in the dose.  By focusing so intently on hating McDonalds people are missing the other culprits that make up the majority of our calories in our highly palatable, easily accessible, calorie rich food supply.McDonalds isn't going away, and neither is the fast-food market they created.  So, we need to find a way to live with it.  Bashing McDonalds or hating McDonalds is unhelpful and unproductive.  You can eat McDonalds or other fast food without breaking the calorie bank.  It just takes a little forethought and effort.Some of the topics in today's podcast include:Is McDonalds really that bad for you? (0:14)The poison is in the dose: 10,000 shots of whiskey (3:16)McDonalds checks all the “bad” boxes but none of the “good” (10:52)Is it McDonalds’ fault or personal responsibility? (11:19)McDonalds wouldn’t exist without customers, and customers don’t want salads (11:59)If McDonalds ceased to exist, would anything really change? (14:06)Going through the drive thru on my bike (17:04)More variety = more food consumed (18:18)“Calorie Pressure” (19:26)How I get tricked into eating 3 bags of chips in one week (21:08)The importance of knowing who your enemy is (22:47)Chipotle is Not healthy (24:46)If Natural Grocers is so great, why is half their store supplements? (25:14)I trust McDonalds more than health food vendors (i.e. Chipotle) (26:09)Normalizing “healthy” fast food: a slippery slope (26:55)Eating out is the enemy (27:39)Fast food breakfasts are for special occasions not common occurrences (28:31)8 tips for managing your fast-food environment (28:42)540 Meals Makes a Difference: how to eat McDonalds and lose weight (35:06)Morgan Spurlock is an idiot (35:57)Will you get sick eating 3 Chipotle burritos every day? (36:23)34,000 Big Macs eaten by one man (and counting)! (36:37)The cat is out of the bag and there’s no turning back (37:51)
The Small Changes Approach to Dieting versus Diet Perfectionism
Mar 13 2024
The Small Changes Approach to Dieting versus Diet Perfectionism
Change is super freaking hard.  In an effort to get people to change their diets, many practitioners have advocated for a "small changes" approach.  That is, make a few small changes to your existing diet and exercise to make the change a little easier to get started.On the other side of things, is nutrition perfectionism.  And as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has said, "The standard is the standard".  You do it or you don't.  Nutrition perfectionism is all about getting in your servings of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats including fish, low-fat dairy, water, omega 3 and 6's, vitamins, and minerals all while limiting processed food intake, saturated fat, sodium, alcohol, and added sugars.To probably no one's surprise, The Nutrition Grouch isn't a fan of either of these approaches.  Small changes should be part of the overall strategy but not "the" strategy and losing weight requires cutting calories and not necessarily health focused eating.Some of the topics in today's podcast include:The small changes approach and public health (2:03)How I used to be a small changes advocate (4:27)What is nutrition perfectionism (6:45)A perfect diet score is impossible (6:54)Are nutrition recommendations more a guiding star than an endpoint? (8:12)Dope like Lance and bones of steel (10:25)The Blue Zones (11:50)The Power 9 Lifestyle Factors (12:49)Wine at 5 (14:42)Liquor, beer, wine: what’s healthiest? (15:57)Wine and dark chocolate for health? (16:11)The 80% Rule (17:06)The free radical theory of aging (18:27)Eat till content, not full (21:57)The Plant Slant (22:26)Red meat, saturated fat, and cholesterol (23:00)How much red meat can I eat? (23:42)Generic advice on eating meat – diversity (26:00)Meat 4 days/week versus 2 days/week (27:12)Total calories versus red or processed meat – what’s worse? (33:14)Future disease versus current reality (obesity) (33:47)Why I’m drawn to weight management (34:50)The man who ate 34,000 Big Mac’s (37:39)Eating as many calories as you can get away with on a weight loss diet (44:55)Put forth an effort that you’re proud of (48:38)
The Bright Side of Negativity
Feb 28 2024
The Bright Side of Negativity
"Clean coal" and "light cigarettes" make about as much sense as the "bright side of negativity".  In general, it's almost always to your advantage to be positive than negative.On today's episode, The Nutrition Grouch talks about why he was shocked to realize that he sounded so negative and does his best to explain why.  The nutrition world is showered in and drowned by positivity and the only way to counterbalance positivity is with its opposite, negativity.You can't "out positive" the positive and a constructive criticism and "nudges" aren't enough to bring people back to rational.  Some of the topics in today's podcast include:Oscar the Grouch vs Oscar the Complainer (3:20)No one has worked harder for less career success (4:10)King on the Mountain (5:43)I’m not that smart, I’m educated (6:41)Grateful to keep my values and my integrity (8:26)My strong sense of right and wrong – and why it matters so much (9:35)The four primary reasons why I’m negative (11:04)The only way to fight positivity is with negativity – you can’t “outpositive” the positive (11:50)One of the best children’s books I’ve ever read (12:25)What can you really sell with negativity? (14:21)Most medicine only makes you feel “less worse” (15:37)The pathology of disease is more severe than the benefits of good nutrition (17:10)Is food medicine or is food toxic? (18:27)A healthy skepticism (19:31)There’s a chance I’m wrong about all of this (21:12)To hell with your nutrition perfectionism! (22:08)Systemize your nutrition and let it play in the background of life (23:31)Why studying long-term nutrition is so difficult (24:05)It’s hard to argue facts or data with make believe (26:54)The quantification debacle 2.0 – how to lie with percentages (27:27)A Kia is not a Mercedes – no nutrition levels, categories, or tiers (29:11)Is diet quality important for weight loss? (29:41)Diet input does not equal health output (31:48)The luxurification of everything – does your dog eat better than you? (33:02)Nutrition is about the avoidance of disease more than it is for positive benefits (34:34)Absurd positivity and altered normal are explained by habituation (37:01)
Sigh Inducing Marketing Buzzwords & Nutrition Philosophies
Feb 14 2024
Sigh Inducing Marketing Buzzwords & Nutrition Philosophies
Anyone who knows anything about nutrition, knows that the vast majority of nutrition buzzwords are made up, don’t mean anything, misinterpreted, or stolen from an unrelated industry.  These buzzwords belong in works of fiction, not nutritional science.If students in a college class used even a fraction of the buzzwords used to market nutrition, they would fail.  And yet, in the real world, we tolerate them, and I can’t understand why.  On today’s episode, The Nutrition Grouch provides his rationale behind his general dislike for nutrition buzzwords while also explaining some of his own philosophies.  Some of the topics in today’s podcast include: Goals of The Nutrition Grouch: practical & actionable over theoretical (1:55)90-95% of our time is spent in theory; only 5-10% on action – why? (2:35)What if you were the only one of your kind? (4:35)Trying to find people to play music with (5:54)Brain melt (6:15)Nutritional Science is missing the science (6:39)The three tiers of nutrition buzzwords (7:50)Tier 1: Turn Offs/Trigger Words (8:49)Tier 2: Gray Areas (10:31)Tier 3: Thumbs Up (11:29)Why “the Process” of eating is more important than what you eat or the individual (12:03)A more thorough explanation of my own nutrition philosophy (14:04)An oversimplified short history of nutrition (14:34)Nutrition deficiencies courtesy of the industrial revolution (16:02)The very first nutrition guidelines in the United States (1894) (17:32)The discovery of vitamins (1912) (18:39)Body’s nutrition needs operate on demand driven, as needed basis (20:20)Continuum of deficiency and not deficient (20:34)What really burns me: above and beyond optimum; forever and ever (20:56)Unlimited rewards – your body isn’t a credit card (22:04)Too much or too little is harmful; preferred setpoints (22:32)Phytochemicals, antioxidants, nutraceuticals (25:23)The free radical theory of aging (25:55)Exercise’s role in oxidative stress (29:34)Inflammation (30:44)Why not eating might be the best way to fight inflammation (33:36)The overwhelming financial incentives for you to eat more, not less (34:37)Eat for weight loss or health but not both (35:47)Are all diets healthy? (38:24)Trying to rationalize and defend your way of eating (41:24)I like Doritos, beer, pizza, and other processed foods (41:53)
Why Wellness Influencers Suck
Jan 31 2024
Why Wellness Influencers Suck
Wellness influencers of today are all too often modern-day snake oil salesmen who also happen to be masters of social media.  Enthusiasm, optimism, passion, and artistry trumps evidence, knowledge, facts, and expertise.  Most wellness influencers know very little about nutrition, metabolism, or weight management, and yet they are the leaders in the field.On today’s episode, The Nutrition Grouch provides his observations on what it takes to become an influencer and why he will never do what it takes to become one.  Some of the topics in today’s podcast include: The three types of wellness influencer (11:24)Doctors (MDs) can be the worst fact offenders (12:35)My mother-n-law’s hyperbolic nature (in a good way) (15:47)The event that changed my life forever (17:03)Oversimplistic, unifying theories to explain everything (21:17The traits and characteristics that make a great quarterback (24:59)Make losing weight so easy that you don’t even have to try (27:10)Be a contrarian, go against the grain, see what no one else can (31:29)Promote, promote, promote (34:55)How Flo from Progressive and wellness influencers are very similar (35:56)Quantity > Quality (37:51)Masters in reductionism (38:28)Everything you eat will kill you! (38:43)The one and only blog I subscribe to (41:42)Make people feel good about themselves and what they’re doing (42:58)Lexus and Apple versus Kia and Timex – the role of status (45:32)I think I’m better than you, how did nutrition become so moral? (46:12)Some problems just aren’t fixable (46:45)Entertainment > Education (51:05)Absolute Certainty (55:23)Wellness professionals significantly overestimate the importance of their fields (56:21)Personal experience and testimonials cannot replace research (58:05)Conclusion – not all influencers are created equally bad (1:00:45)The two people in the field that I jam with (1:02:46)Why fitness might have the most “good” influencers (1:03:19)What do we do about these influencers? (1:05:30)
Why Recent Studies Don't Mean Shit
Dec 20 2023
Why Recent Studies Don't Mean Shit
According to a recent study……who cares what your recent study says!  Is it earth shattering? Paradigm shifting? Revolutionary? Game changing? Groundbreaking?  No, it is not.  But that’s not what the news media, internet ads, and radio spots will tell you.Outside of weight loss medications (a category of their own), there haven’t been any truly paradigm shifting research in diet, exercise or behavior modification for many, many years and there isn’t going to be for weight loss (I’m not talking about health, just the number on the scale).We already have mountains of research on what works (and doesn’t), we just can’t properly formulate or execute a plan.  Much of this stems from the lack of control in our food environment and our incredible drive to eat.In today’s episode The Nutrition Grouch talks about His disdain for the ads on ESPN sponsored by Taboola – such trashHow new studies don’t nullify and trump the existing 50 studies on a topicWhy I love research papers from the 80’s and 90’s but no one pays attention to themHow we’re going to look back on this fad diet period and say those people (researchers) were idiots for trying to lose weight using dietary strategies in a 21st century food environmentWhy both journalists and researchers are trapped in their methods of storytellingWhy conducting research is a painfully slow, methodical, and grinding process that does not allow for immediate “breakthroughs” but takes years and decades to “inch” forwardThe difference between randomized controlled trials, observational studies, review papers, and meta-analysis and what the advantages and disadvantages areWhy no new diet, exercise or behavior research will ever beat Zepbound or Mounjaro As well as BMW drivers and Platinum Ford-150 guy living in so-so apartment complexes and trailer parks, standing on your left leg and chewing bubble gum while exercising, 1984 mac computers vs. supercomputers, mystery doctors and miracle cures, flies landing on elephants, writing hit songs on the back of napkins vs. conducting research, Chuck Norris’ two minute routine, the illusion of explanatory depth in test taking, how toilets work, how research is more selfish than it is altruistic, significance vs meaningfulness, why nutrition articles written 10 or 20 years ago will still be relevant 10 or 20 years from now (not much changes), and why the biological drive to eat will never be overcome by diet, exercise or behavior modification strategies.
Nutrition is Way Too Much Like Politics
Dec 13 2023
Nutrition is Way Too Much Like Politics
Nutrition and Politics are two seemingly very different fields/disciplines, yet they have far too much in common.  In today’s episode The Nutrition Grouch illustrates the ways in which the disciplines are structured, and how their individual incentives are at odds with actually helping people live better lives.  Nutrition and politics are more about being a performative artist, self-promoter, instigator, fighter, and entertainer, than they are about helping people.  And the public is oddly complicit.For example, they both:Pick a Side and Dig in on a Single Issue – allowing no nuance or discussion, I’m right, you’re wrongHave Strong Party Affiliations/Professional Organizations – fosters an “us” versus “them” environmentBlame Someone or Something for Your Problems – McDonalds and carbohydrateAllow Only the Most Extreme People to Get Attention – just Google “Top 100 Wellness Professionals”, yikes!Lie, Embellish or Oversimplify – the pitfalls of absolutism and relativismLove to Use Fear – to gain money and powerLove to Tell You How to Live – what to eat and not to eatAre Super Passionate about Shit They Don’t Know Anything About – I should have been an MD, not a PhD The Grouch also explains why fad diets are band aids to far larger “life” problems, why dietitians are maniacal about explaining the difference between dietitians and nutritionists, aren’t great at understanding metabolism, and protect their professional territory like honey badgers, how defending McDonalds gets you lots of hate mail, how the health & wellness industry is dominated by quacks, that his favorite health & wellness influencer of all time is Nia Shanks of Lift Like a Girl, why most wellness industry experts are being forced out of the industry (myself included), his disdain for absolutism and relativism as well as nutrition advice based on questionnaires/diet surveys, and why he would love to see aJon Stewart/Liz Cheney 2024 presidential ticket and nutrition science to break away from health & wellness to form its own organization actually based upon science and sound, practical advice.
Starvation Mode
Nov 29 2023
Starvation Mode
Anyone who diets, will at some point, go through a weight loss stall or a weight loss plateau.  Many people will tell you that your body may have entered “Starvation Mode”.  In starvation mode your body “thinks” you are starving and will no longer allow you to lose any more weight. But is “starvation mode” really a thing?  And if so, what can you do about it?In today’s episode The Nutrition Grouch questions the validity of “starvation mode” and surmises that it is an overly simplistic made-up term used to describe a complex phenomenon.Weight loss stalls and plateaus are usually fairly explainable:Body mass loss – less metabolically active tissue – lower resting metabolic rateEat less food – decreased thermic effect of foodWeigh less – decreased thermic effect of physical activityLess dietary adherence – more foods “sneak” or are “allowed” back into your dietFood logging stops or is less accurateDietary motivation and prioritization of diet decreasesLess meal replacements – replaced with higher calorie “real food”Life is busy – gets in the wayYet, there are times when your metabolic rate decreases further than you would expect it to and your dietary adherence seems to still be good.  This isn’t starvation mode, this is adaptive thermogenesis.The Nutrition Grouch details how energy expenditure is measured (body composition, oxygen consumption or a predictive equation) and how in adaptive thermogenesis energy expenditure (calories burned) is lower than expected.  But what can you do about it?NothingEating more calories won’t fix it, weight training won’t fix it, high protein diets won’t fix it, weight loss medications won’t fix it.Your numbers are what your numbers are.  But despite the hand that you’re dealt, you can’t use it as an excuse.  Once you start playing the blame game, you lose/forfeit/cede control and that’s not a winning strategy.But don’t despair, whether you experience adaptive thermogenesis or not, you will still do many of the same things you otherwise would.Meal planFood logSelf-weighGet in a weekly meal cycleExerciseIdentify and overcome obstaclesControl your food environmentUse meal replacementsDecide how much effort versus reward you are putting into and getting out of dietingAt the end of the day, do the best that you can do.  That’s all anyone can ask of you and that’s all you can ask of yourself.