People think “natural” meds have less side-effects…

Posted March 5, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Biases & Heuristics, Fads

Tags: , , ,

… but are equally effective at combating disease.

Do we need nutritional supplements?

Posted February 22, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Uncategorized

Here’s a good post by Harriet Hall at the Science Based Medicine blog on nutritional supplements. She concludes:

  • As my correspondent put it, “the public mania for nutritional supplements is baseless.”
  • In general, all our nutritional needs can be supplied by an adequate diet.
  • Supplements are beneficial for a few specific evidence-based indications; otherwise, they offer no benefits and may even be risky.
  • Diet supplements are not medicines, but are being used as medicines.
  • DSHEA should be repealed.

The behavioral economics gym

Posted February 9, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Uncategorized

Could this be the business model for gyms of the future?

6 weeks to a plateau? Not so much

Posted January 31, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Uncategorized

I just noticed this article on yahoo: 8 workout mistakes you probably make.

According to the article, mistake #5 is not varying the types of workouts. It states:

Sticking to the same routine for more than six weeks will cause your body to hit a plateau and you’ll no longer see the changes you saw at the beginning of your program. Your body, believe it or not, likes to be shocked, and putting it through new and challenging exercises is the best way to surprise it and wake it up…

It continues by stating, “Make sure you vary frequency, intensity and repetitions.”

It’s not that I have a problem with variation, per say, it’s just that it’s not true that you plateau after 6 weeks. As I noted in my last post, Narici et al used the same exercises, along with the same rep and set scheme for 6 months straight. The participants in the study seen gains in strength and hypertrophy for 6 months straight.

Some myths just never seem to die…


Is muscle confusion the secret to success?

Posted January 30, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Fads


Unit bias

Posted January 28, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Biases & Heuristics

One of the most obvious cognitive bias’ that  has application to the understanding and treatment of obesity is the unit bias. Unit bias is a “sense that a single entity (within a reasonablerange of sizes) is the appropriate amount to engage, consume, or consider.” In regards to food, people will think that a  “unit” like a single package, tablespoon, plate, bowl, ect is the right amount of something to eat. If you click the above link you can read more about the unit bias.

Today, the good folks at Obesity Panacea posted some new info on the unit bias. They discuss a new study in Obesity that looked at the effect of 100-calorie snack packs on voluntary consumption between overweight and normal weight individuals.

If there is a unit bias, then 100-calorie snacks packs (which have come under much fire) should lead people to eat less. If so, then maybe they aren’t as silly as everyone has said. So, what did researchers do and what did they find?

A total of 42 undergraduate students participated in the simple study which basically had the participants snack on crackers while watching a sitcom…

Half of the participants were given one large 400-calorie package of crackers or a similar-sized package that had then been sub-divided into four smaller 100-calorie sub-packaged crackers. They were blinded to the purpose of the study.

After watching the show, the crackers not consumed by the participants were counted to calculate everyone’s caloric intake. Also, each participant was asked how many crackers they think they consumed.

Turns out, overweight participants ate significantly more crackers when eating from one large package than from four small packages. In fact, they consumed more than double the number of calories with the bigger package: 384 calories versus 176 calories.

Surprisingly, there was no difference in consumption between package conditions among the normal-weight participants.

Interestingly, the researchers found that only the overweight subjects were susceptible to unit bias! This is a really cool finding and it offers us a new contribution to overweight & obesity.

Research I’d like to see next is whether or not eduction of proper portion sizes can help overcome unit bias. Another possibility is that changing your environment so that your home is stocked with smaller bowls or plates could lead to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake.

Metabolic finishers for fat loss?

Posted January 18, 2011 by Miles Rationis
Categories: Uncategorized

A current popular trend is the programming of “finishers.” Finishers are short and intense exercises or circuits that take place at the end of a workout.

Many reasons are given for incorporating metabolic finishers, such as anaerobic/aerobic conditioning, fat loss, and mental toughness.

Let’s think about the impact that finishers could have on fat loss.

Typically, when you see finishers at the end of a workout they last between a few minutes up to five minutes. But 3-5 minutes worth of work will be pretty inconsequential in terms of calorie burn, and therefore meaningless for fat loss.

You might want to do finishers for another reason, but for fat loss I don’t see the point.