4 Fitness Myths That Are Pure Bullshit

The fitness industry is full of bullshit. I don’t think anyone will contend that point. There’s so much money to be made that companies are incentivized to market their products on increasingly laughable claims. After all, humans have become a vain race, with egos that need constant validation, and there’s no better place to get it than looking in the mirror at a ripped body.

And so while the source of many fitness myths is the supplement companies and fitness personalities who are trying to sell more product, there are also a lot of old school myths still being passed around that are equally inaccurate. Below I’ll cover four common myths, the rationale behind them, and the science that disproves them.

1. Eating carbs late at night will make you fat

The idea behind this popular myth, like many others, is based on pure logic. Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of short-term energy. At night we’re resting, and thus we don’t need this type of energy. Therefore eating carbs at night will result in fat gain, because our bodies won’t have any use for the carbs so they’ll be instantly turned into fat.

This reasoning is wrong on many levels, but I’ll only point out its two main fallacies. The first one is that our bodies only convert the food we eat to fat when we’re in a caloric surplus—that is, when we’ve consumed more energy than our bodies have expended. Yes, the macronutrient profile of what we’ve eaten can have slight effects on the net amount of calories ingested, but for the most part being in a caloric surplus causes weight gain (1). So if you’re not in a caloric surplus, it doesn’t matter what you eat or when you eat it—it will be burned as energy for your body NOT converted to fat.

The second fact is that our bodies don’t simply turn off at night. Our brain and bodily functions require energy to continue functioning even while we sleep.

2. You can confuse your muscles to make them grow faster

This myth is a more recent one. The idea behind it is that after doing a particular exercise for a while, your body gets used to it, thus rendering it ineffective. By simply switching it out for a new exercise you can “confuse” your muscles and cause them to grow.

This is just silly. Our muscles don’t have brains inside of them.

But when doing a new exercise, we do tend to grow stronger at it quite quickly at first. And this is the “evidence” that supports this theory. However the reason for this initial increase in strength is what’s called neural adaptation: when we perform a new movement for the first few times, our nervous system quickly gets more efficient at performing it (2). So the reason we got stronger was that our brain got used to recruiting our muscles in this new pattern NOT because they were confused and got bigger.

3. There are certain foods that will cause you to gain fat

Whether it’s carbs, fats, fried foods, or donuts—there are plenty of foods out there that people think are “evil” fat-causing agents. But there’s no such thing.

Sure, our bodies may absorb a greater percentage of the calories in particular foods, but the fact is that you must take into account the rest of your diet in order to be able to accurately predict the outcome of eating something specific. For example, if you eat a donut for breakfast and eat a light diet throughout the rest of your day, you’ll likely be nowhere near the caloric amount needed to gain weight. However, if a morbidly obese man consumes that same donut after eating 5000 calories, then it’s probably going to end up as fat. Context, my friends, is everything.

4. Lifting more often will yield better gains

We all know that lifting weights leads to the body’s anabolic response that results in hypertrophy (the synthesis of new muscle tissue). I’m not debating this point. But using backwards logic, people often use this as justification for lifting weights almost every single day.

More lifting = more muscle gains, right?

Wrong. The anabolic period takes place over roughly a 36 hour period after you lift (3). By slamming more and more lifting sessions into this window you aren’t doing yourself any favors. The anabolic processes in our bodies require proper rest and nutrition to work at maximum capacity, not lifting more weights. The take home lesson here is: go hard in the gym, and then focus on resting and eating to recover and build muscle. This way you can go just as hard during your next session, if not even harder.

If you liked this post, check out my book Shredded Beast for a complete scientifically based training program and diet protocol. 


1. Feinman, Richard D., and Eugene J. Fine. “A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics.” Nutr J 3.9 (2004).

2. Aagaard, Per, et al. “Neural adaptation to resistance training: changes in evoked V-wave and H-reflex responses.” Journal of Applied Physiology 92.6 (2002): 2309-2318.

3. MacDougall, J. Duncan, et al. “The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise.” Canadian journal of applied physiology 20.4 (1995): 480-486.

Read More: 5 Bench Press Mistakes That Will Stall Your Progress

165 thoughts on “4 Fitness Myths That Are Pure Bullshit”

  1. I’m not so certain about the author’s claim about carbs. I’ve read it elsewhere that once you consume sugars and refined carbs, your blood glucose rapidly increase causing a spike in insulin. Insulin then takes the excess glucose out and converts it to fat to be stored away before you have a chance to burn it. Then your body feels like it was deficient in total calories you need so you eat more high carb and more insulin. This is how you gain weight quickly.
    I had tried the low fat diet many years before and it never worked. I was always hungry and suffered. Then I did the opposite of what they claimed was healthy by eating low carbs and high protein, high fat diet and the weight came off. Only carbs are from mainly vegetables and fruits.

    1. I think it is all about context, but it has been proven over again that not all calories are equal based on hormonal response. That explains why you did much better on your diet, and how one rarely sees a healthy vegetarian or vegan, because over consumption of carbs is not a good thing.

    2. I think you’re fine with eating complex carbs. Low glycemic fruits and veggies are the carbs you can eat around bed time.
      I believe it’s all about context for that one.

    3. Carbs aren’t bad because of the carb. They are “bad” because your body can easily incorporate them and you feel hungry again very quickly compared to a more balanced meal. Think about drinking a soda (about 200-300 calories) compared to eating an apple. Even though both have lots of carbs, the soda “integrates” almost instantly and does nothing for your hunger. The apple, because of the fiber, takes time to absorb and keeps you “full” longer.
      Carbs can be great when you need them. If you’re working out for a long period of time (cardio, like biking, for example) carbs are a miracle. I can literally “feel” the exhaustion break when I take in 2-300 calories of carb after a few hours on the bike. But they are counterproductive if you don’t need them; they don’t fill you up, and typically lead to overeating.
      The author is correct, IMHO, a calorie is a calorie. It’s just that you can more easily eat lots of calories from carbs than you can, say, from protein or fat.

      1. A calorie is a calorie but a nutrient is not a nutrient. We eat nutrients not calories. Different nutrients have different metabolic effects on your body. The biggest fitness myth, sadly, is the one that the author is promoting. That calories have anything to do with fitness.

    4. I’m right there with you. I’m 47. I’ve been working out (cardio/weights) since high school.
      But since my early 30’s to 2 years ago, no amount of cardio or strength training could shrink my waist or my belly. And if I stopped the high intensity cardio for 2 weeks I’d gain 10 lbs just like that.
      Then my wife discovered LCHF. I sympathetically went along.
      Now my waist is 4″ smaller, body fat ~12% (compared to 20+ a year ago), and I don’t do cardio at all now. Just Stronglift 5×5 3 times per week.
      And I don’t feel hungry all the time like I did eating a low fat high carb (healthy grains LMAO) diet.
      I eat as much meat and vegetables as l want, till I feel full.
      Any my weight doesn’t change a bit if I miss working out for vacation or injury etc.
      Butter, bacon, steak, pork, chicken, fresh eggs, fish, whatever as long as I steer clear of bread (wheat) completely and eat only minimal potatoes or rice.
      I still eat a burrito or indulge in pizza without bad consequences.
      Lagniappe: once I gave up wheat, so then did I give up a multi-year prescription for GIRD, a PPI called Zirtec.
      No more fucking heartburn!
      Today’s wheat was hybridized in the 60’s to increase yield. It has much higher gluten content than Americans ate prior.
      Two excellent reads on wheat”
      Wheat Belly
      Grain Brain.
      Fascinating stuff and I’m here to tell you that as somebody who does pay attention to ‘health trends’ and who’s been a lifelong gym rat, that the LCHF diet is full of win.
      I look better, feel better, am stronger and have more T, and I spend far less time at the gym.
      Try it LCHF diet for 30 days and watch what happens to stubborn fat areas.

      1. Right on! I’m 46 and started this 18 mths ago. Results have been incredible. Big fan of Dr. Davis Wheat Belly.
        Also watch a YouTube video called “The Complete Skinny on Obesity” with Dr. Robert Lustig. It’s about an hour long but very informative.

    5. You’re absolutely correct. People are lazy and don’t want to go through the trouble of figuring out which carbohydrates are complex (low GI mechanism) and which ones are simple carbohydrates.

  2. That muscle confusion bullshit had me literally laughing a my T.V. when I first saw it. Damn near spit my food out. I stick with heavy compound exercises (squats, bench, deadlifts, etc.) and a keto diet. Both are very effective in building muscle and burning fat. Best part about both is that they’re both simple.

    1. “Muscle confusion” works great for trainers; since they allow the trainee to keep “getting stronger” at a fairly rapid clip for a long period of time…….
      Every 6 weeks, just do something completely different, and you’ll “never plateau.”
      -“Just don’t keep logs long enough to realize that when you go back to performing the sideways XCRW whacksquat you first did 2 years ago, you start at the exact same weight you started at then………”
      More seriously, even crossfitters, who are often (for sometimes good reason) accused of pushing the muscle confusion myth, realize they have to keep revisiting the core lifts regularly, in order to measure if all the work has had any real effect at all.

    2. Sharpshooter mind if I pick your brain for a minute? I’ve recently gotten back to the gym and I’m trying a new diet. I do intermittent fasting with a paleo type diet. I’ve been doing a lot of research but there is so may contradicting advice out there. Everywhere I look seems to say that I can’t build muscle on a keto/paleo high fat/low carb diet. It’s driving me nuts!

      1. You can build muscle on any type of “diet.” If you’re lifting heavy using free weights you’ll build muscle no matter how crappy you eat. However high fat, high protein, low carb diets (i.e. keto, paleo etc.) help you burn fat while preserving the muscle you build through lifting heavy weights. They help your body use your fat stores at for fuel (ketosis) while preserving the muscle you’ve built in order to achieve the “ripped” look you’re
        For example, look at Olympic power lifters. Those dudes are strong as bulls but have a high body fat composition because their diets are crappy. They’ve built plenty of muscle but it’s all covered in a layer of fat making them look fat. But trust me, the muscle is under there as proof of this can be seen when they clean and jerk 450lbs.
        I can’t speak to the benefits of intermittent fasting but there is a great article on ROK that can makes a compelling case for it.
        So the short answer to your question is, yes. You can build muscle on any type of diet which includes keto & paleo and any type of diet for that matter. Keto and Paleo diets seem to work best because of their cardiovascular and muscle preserving benefits.
        I’m not a personal trainer or nutritionist but I’ve been on the keto diet for over a year and I’m down to about 12% body fat. Other guys I train with who are on keto/paleo get the same results. You can take from that what you will but those are my results and I would highly recommend sticking with it and seeing how it works for you.
        Jefe can probably add to this with anecdotes and stories from his clients as he’s much more qualified in the way of fitness than I am.
        That’s my $.02. Hope it helps.

        1. “For example, look at Olympic power lifters. Those dudes are strong as bulls but have a high body fat composition because their diets are crappy. They’ve built plenty of muscle but it’s all covered in a layer of fat making them look fat. But trust me, the muscle is under there as proof of this can be seen when they clean and jerk 450lbs.”
          Incorrect about the olympic lifters, that’s just like saying powerlifters are fat. They often carry higher body fat because they aim to add muscle in the off-season to improve power potential, being bigger improves leverages and it’s easier to train and practice more often at a higher intensity when you’re 12% or more, as opposed to 7% body fat (last point may not be a conscious reason, although it’s very real). They then diet slowly to make competition weight. The smaller guys in lighter weight categories stay fairly lean year round because cutting too much weight will negatively impact strength in competition (look at Lu Xiaojun). The super-heavyweight lifters (unrestricted weight) have no reason to stay below a certain weight until it begins to negatively impact their lifting total. How good they look doesn’t make them lift more so they don’t care. Simple.

        2. My example was highlighting the super heavyweights who are in a competition of strength rather than aesthetics so muscle can be built on a paleo/keto diet. Solid points though.

        3. Some of those power-lifters have terrible diets for sure. Some of them are definitely fat but the added weight actually helps them in the displacement of mass (i.e. lifting heavy weights).

        4. I’ve competed in 2 local powerlifting competitions and I’ve seen plenty of fatties who compete in 100kg+ divisions with the same overall total as guys in the 83kg (or lighter) class. It’s usually when they don’t know how to train properly that they rely on increasing bodyweight to get any change. However, when you combine someone willing to gain lots of weight, use PED’s AND learn how to train properly…you get all-time records.

        5. Can share any more details?
          Is it for maintenance or can you actually build strength/muscle while doing intermittent fasting?

        6. You can definitely build strength and muscle but not like a bodybuilder (i.e. not mass). You can be stronger than a body builder though depending on your training style. I used The Warrior Diet as a basis and adapted it to my physiology. Check that book out. Its a good read.

        7. After 5 years I decided to leave my old work and it changed my life… I started doing work from home, for a company I stumbled upon online, several hrs every day, and I make much more than i did on my old work… My pay-check for last month was for Nine thousand dollars… Superb thing about it is the more free time i got for my kids… http://chilp.it/728813e

      2. Check out Brad Pilon [http://bradpilon.com/] for good info on intermittent fasting and have a read of the book MAN 2.0, explains a lot about diet and hormones, Marks Daily Apple [http://www.marksdailyapple.com/] is also a good source on diet and exercise then use your own judgement on how to proceed.
        Also look at http://www.simplyshredded.com “Pro’s” giving tips on how they achieve their goals.
        No two people are the same and a single program will not work for everyone, decide what you want to achieve with your diet / exercise and follow up accordingly.

    3. It’s an industry (like everything else) designed to make money…that’s all. Every year (or every other year) they come out with some new bullshit workout and diet. This method is done for pure profit (creating a need)…and people buy into it.
      People don’t understand the basics: eating right and exercise. You won’t change anything until you stop eating bullshit, all of the time, and get off of the fucking couch.
      It’s that simple. Everything else (food and exercise) is a variety.

  3. Yes, lack of recovery will kill progress. Must rest properly.
    You can’t rush it, unfortunately.

  4. #2 is certainly a myth, but I think the benefits of training your muscles and nervous system in different ways should be encouraged regardless.

    1. That certainly makes sense, but I have never felt that a strict, habitual work out regimen should be judged as “exciting” or “boring.” It is something that is hard, diligent work. You do it because it’s beneficial. Not because it’s like a trip to Disneyland. This is what I don’t understand about people when they want to mix it up for the sake of novelty.

      1. Those people just lack the discipline, and don’t get to the point where they see the results, so they quit.
        I’m saying something more along the lines that a powerlifter could benefit from doing a year of Maui Thai. You’ll gain flexibility, speed, balance, endurance, and the experience.

        1. Or the results are so subtle over a long period of time that you don’t really notice and they give up. If they would just take a photo of themselves and see how they have progressed, then that would give them the encouragement to contine.
          On the flip side of the coin, weight gain is a slow process as well and they don’t think they are getting fat until one day their knees give out and they are obese.

        2. Good point.
          I wonder how long it takes for you to mentally adapt to the new physique. Ever heard the term bigorexia? It refers to people (mostly dudes) who even though they are big, think they need to keep getting bigger because they perceive themselves as too skinny. I’d be willing to bet that The Rock Dwayne Johnson has this… in the last few years he’s become ridiculously big, even though he’s always been above-average.
          I bet he doesn’t realize that he is enormous.

    2. Correct, but it shouldn’t be used an excuse for not making additional gains. If you aren’t making additional gains using the same exercises, then it’s time to go heavier or more reps/sets. Take a week off, then try again.

  5. Great tips, I remember hearing those myths before. Especially the muscle confusion thing.

  6. One food item that should be forbidden is trans fats. I once heard a food guru discussing the effects of trans fats on the body. He described trans fats like this:
    Suppose you took a brand new Rolex watch and unscrewed the back. Then you took fine powdered SAND and slowly poured bits of it directly into the watch’s movement. What do you think would happen? Eventually that watch STOPS WORKING.
    Trans fats do the same thing to your body. It gets into every vessel, every organ, every tissue and your entire body stops functioning. Biochemically, it stacks up like legos and it WON’T BURN like normal fat. The only way to get rid of it is to PHYSICALLY remove it. Real butter IS BETTER, it actually burns. The people you see with a butt as big around as a trash can and diabetic socks around ankles big as milk jugs is in part due to trans fats. Foods list the trans fat content in small amounts (milligrams), but years of KFC and twinkies adds up significantly. The white shit in a twinkie or in the middle of an oreo cookie IS TRANS FAT by definition.
    In a previous article, I saw a 400+ pound brunette in a thorg bikini and I nearly went cross eyed. I thought ‘trans fat’, and the mcdonalds jingle came to mind: ”Buh duh bum bum bump”

    1. Exactly. Trans fats are the devil. I think only 1-2 grams of it a day is enough to significantly affect your health markers in a negative way. Manufacturers can claim trans fat free as long as there is less than 1 gram per serving. If you see “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” on the food label, put that shit away!

    2. I remember asking my biology professor about trans fats years ago and he told me our body simply cannot break them down at all regardless of how healthy of a lifestyle you live.

      1. If that was true, you’d either find massive amounts of transfats in stool samples, or end up with a population that had ever increasing mountains of transfats stuck permanently in their intestines, right?
        ROK’s often repeated maxim that men are better off not going to college, rings truer every day…..

        1. You are equivocating the messages. ROK generally promotes college if it beneficial to the student. Also, I perhaps should have clarified that the professor never claimed that the trans fats can’t leave the body, rather that they are not able to be broken down by normal biological processes.

        2. So, he’s stating the testable hypotesis that there will always and everywhere be a 1-1 correlation between transfat amount ingested, and transfat recoverable from the stool?
          With the highly lucrative corollary that you can stuff yourself with as much transfats as you care to, and none of it will have any other effect than going straight though? The Transfat Diet fad, IOW….
          Still not feeling any more confident about sending my sons to college………

        3. I believe he said you jizz it out whenever a black girl gives head as they are the only ones with the lip suction to extract it. There was a paper floating around MIT on that research. Your son should go to college for that alone.

        4. Why worry about college, what you really need to do it to teach your kids how to think, how to articulate and how to question.
          If you teach your kids how to think, instead of what to think, how to articulate instead of argue and to doubt and question everything. Then they will figure out the best way to get what they need out of college.
          This is the biggest problem with parents now days. They forget what children are supposed to be doing. They are supposed to be fucking up. They are supposed to make mistakes, get hurt. that is how we truly learn.
          If your a parent and your kid doesn’t regularly get into some kind of shit, you got a problem. Chances are you got yourself a dumbass kid.

    3. I didn’t go cross-eyed. I just use those pictures as a form of “thinspiration”. Putting down the fork and picking up a salad.

    4. If “trans fat” couldn’t be burned for energy, it would have zero calories. Does that make sense to you?
      The human body is pretty darned good at figuring out how to squeeze energy (that’d be burning) whatever you feed it. And if anything ever does “stack up” in your intestine unburned, you carry with you an opportunistic bacteria flora more than happy to gorge on whatever “food” it can feast on free of competition from your intestine itself. And, being clever and all, those bacteria have also figured out the way to avoid drowning in their own feces, is to ensure their feces are digestible by the host organism……. Pretty symbiotic this nature thingy……….
      For some dude about to starve to death, transfats are as healthy as anything. Not “the devil”, nor baaad baaaad baaad. They tend to be primarily present in foods with few other redeeming qualities. And eaten primarily by people who really shouldn’t be eating quite so much of anything. And the processes that create them, also tend to render the whole shebang potentially more carcinogenic than eating less processed foods, but it’s not like some healthy granola hippie will turn into an 800lb whale and die simply from substituting a teaspoon of trans fat for a similar amount of organic hemp oil she previously ate.

      1. A survival diet is just that. It shouldn’t be a staple diet. Sailors stuck in the doldrums would eat ‘long ham’ otherwise known as their fellow deceased sailors. It was a ‘survival’ diet only.
        But in good times when the sun is shining and the bannanas dangle ripe, one should eat the freshest, wholesome and balanced diet to build up his body for the event that a survival diet has to be implemented.
        For example, don’t rotate your food stores. Always eat the freshest food off the top as opposed to the old canned mush that tastes like metal. The old stuff becomes degraded and is less wholesome, but still a 5 year old can of beans is good enough if you are hunkered in a cellar as the world burns above. Halloween candy has its share of trans fats and dyes but it has eternal shelf life. Keep it in a sealed bucket for survival. Don’t snack on it or it will be gone and you will get a headache from it at best. It would only be beneficial in a long stretch hunker along with water. Eat two bacon cheese burgers per day and you cut your years off to a degree. Eat fresh.
        The idea is not to compromise your body where it has to survive your survival diet when it wasn’t necessary in the first place, but to eat healthy now and be prepared nonetheless. Digestive cleanse should start yesterday, before the need for a survival diet.

        1. Best advice I got ever was from a Naturopath, eat as fresh as you can and avoid all processed foods like the plague.

      2. “If “trans fat” couldn’t be burned for energy, it would have zero calories.”
        Gasoline and wood have calories. If they didn’t, they couldn’t make a car go. Does that make sense to you?

        1. A calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie, even if the wood calories are not available to the gas burner. The gas calories are available to the wood burner, although I wouldn’t necessarily advise it. Trans fats are less risky due to their lower volatility.
          And analogous situations arise in physiology.

    5. I think it is important to stop referring to these substances (i.e. trans fat) as food. They are not foods. Foods provide nutrients for the body allowing it to continuously rebuild and maintain health. A trans fat is in fact a toxicant. Toxicants do not provide nutrients they actually poison you, causing an immune response by your body. It shuts down all unnecessary processes to deal with the damage caused by the invader. They are not food.

  7. Pure BS. Complete tripe. Carbs make you fat period. The writer doesn’t know what he is talking about. The hormonal effects of food are the most important from a weight gain point of view. The calories are insignificant in comparison.

    1. Carbs in excess make you fat. Many cultures in the world rely on rice, potatoes and white bread as their staples. The fact is they do more physical labour and have little money for the luxury of meat and get their protein from legumes. These fat assed North Americans can’t wrap their heads around portion control, calories, calorie density, nutrition, and exercise in moderation.

      1. Sure, Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans are the fattest people on the planet statistically, but we also produce more Olympic Champions per capita than any other region in the world. Sure, the average American might be “statistically” obese, but I think a large percentage are in excellent shape. Maybe a large percentage of the women are dough balls, but no reasonable argument can be made against American women as being the greatest female athletes in the world. They dominate team sports, and do fairly well in the individual competitions like gymnastics and skating. That being said, most are fat ass whores who have given up in most regards, but credit must be given when it’s due. When you say “fat-assed North Americans” there is some truth in that statement, but it’s not the reality that I see when I’m in the gym every other day. Lots of us are in pretty decent shape.

        1. Your reality is like me working as a makeup artist during New York Fashion Week. The women I would see are pencil thin models not the average woman. Go to Walmart or any mall in America and tell me that obesity is not a severe problem. Plenty of people are in good shape and lots are badly out of shape.

  8. Carbs make you gain weight, I dont know why you would misinform people. Its not evil, its just the way it is. Stop eating carbs and your body stops storing fat. Very simple.

    1. Stop eating too many carbs. I have reduced the amount of food that I eat and my weight is dropping. I’m broke so I buy cheap bread, luncheon meat and processed cheese. Vegetables and fruit are frozen or prepared by me with fresh. Having a salad for lunch with avocado and because I ate too much yesterday I plan to make a light chicken leek soup for dinner. Maybe I will throw in a small potatoe. Everything in moderation.

      1. The cheap bread will cause weight gain faster than anything. Simple carbs are pure sugar. Processed lunch meat and cheese are crap also. If money is an issue, beans, potatoes, rice are your best bet.

        1. Carbs do not on their face make you gain weight and are essential for peak training and hence hypertrophy & anabolic response.
          Consuming carbs in excess of your BMR in the absence of a demonstrated need to restore muscle/liver glycogen will cause your body to store it as fat.

      2. Yes, if you reduce your portions you will drop weight. You will be hungry most of the time and never feel satisfied. This way of eating is not sustainable and once you get some money and can afford more food, you will eat more and pack on those pounds eating that same stuff…and more of it to feel satisfied.
        Diets should be a lifestyle change and not a temporary change. Find something you can do that is sustainable for the rest of your life.

        1. What I am doing is sustainable – eating less regardless of money. Self control should never be temporary. This why obesity is such a problem.

    2. Since agriculture was invented 10,000 odd years ago the common man’s diet in Europe consisted of mostly bread. Then potatoes were imported from the new world and potatoes picked up some of the load. Meat was a rare treat, fresh fruit and veggies would have been available for a few months a year until a generation ago. These people were far from fat.
      In WW11 the average American soldier was 5 foot 8 inches tall, weighed 144 lbs and had a 33″ chest. His main source of calories whilegrowing up would have been bread and potatoes

      1. If the liver is clean, carbs will be burned faster and people in the past didnt have all sorts of chemicals clogging their system. Plus these people didnt eat nearly as much bread as they do now and it was rare for any man to live a sedentary life. Carbs cause you to gain weight if you dont burn it off with exercise.

        1. I think the difference is lifestyle. I never had to watch what I ate as a soldier or construction worker. Now I am more sedentary, it’s a constant struggle to keep my weight under control despite lifting weights and doing regular cardio exercise. An hour a day in the gym is nothing compared to the day long, day after day toil of manual labour.

        2. There are plenty of fat laborers. I am assuming that you were quite young as a soldier. The reason you are struggling to keep your weight under control despite exercise is the accumulation of years of unfavourable nutritional intake. I am guessing it includes grains, fruit juice and some alcohol?

      2. The main source of calories for an American today is sweetened soda and “fruit” juice.

  9. Weak advice. Sumos eat and immediately sleep to gain weight. Its already been shown that calories in doesnt decide if you get fat. Just cooking food(a form of predigestion) seems to release about 20% more energy (theoretically uncooked and cooked food have the same calories). They’ve also given equal calorie diets with primarily fat, then protein then carbohydrates-fat based lost the most weight, carb gained weight.

    1. Sumo is totally different. They eat 7 huge meals a day trying to hit 400 pounds. They don’t care what they look like.

      1. Yes so eating immediately before sleep is effective for weight gain..which we don’t want.

  10. Great post! The fact of the matter is that you only need the basic, heavy compound movements to get big and strong. Rows, dips, deadlifts, squats, bench press, military press, pull-ups, and other advanced calisthenics variations. People waste their time doing light ass tricep kickbacks and chest flies on a machine and wonder why they aren’t growing. To get big naturally, you must lift big weights and get stronger!

  11. Great article and much appreciated citing your sources. It’s amazing how much misinformation there is out there that people fall for.

  12. This probably the first article i seen that someone actually sites their sources. Impressive.

  13. Number 4 I think is the most important , as it’s the one the most guys misunderstand. Working out does not build muscle, working out destroys muscle, that’s what you are doing in the gym; damaging your muscles. It is recovering from working out that builds muscle. If you go the gym and you can still feel your last workout you should go home and come back tomorrow.

    1. exactly. A friend of mine worked out almost every day (6 times a week). I started 6 months later with the power training and only did a maximum of 3 times a week. And I started from scratch. When I saw him at the gym, he hardly managed to push 32 kg in the air with the dumbell exercises, while I managed 44 kg without any problems at that time.
      It must be mentioned however that, while we both started power training with the ordinary fitness equipment, I started earlier (relatively speaking) lifting loose weights, which trains your muscles much more efficient…

  14. I have found that doing 50 push ups and 50 sit ups a day keeps up your physique, been doing it for years.

    1. Sustain the work-out at home routine. I usually change my routine depending on what muscles I want to work out. Change the push-up technique = change the muscles you work. Working-out at home, saves money & time. Plus, you can time yourself while doing it.

  15. To #1, for most non competitive athletes, I’d suggest biasing carb eating specifically towards night time. If you’re in any kind of shape whatsoever, and work a sedentary job, let the body preferentially burn fat in a low insulin environment during the day. Then exercise to burn down the carb stores. Then refill them, along with other nutrients, so you get a bit of the “food coma” effect helping you sleep well at night.
    Waking up eating carbs, does tend to result in a higher insulin environment throughout the day, making the body protest a bit more (by feeling hungry) unless you keep topping up the carb stores.

    1. Except they don’t use the same muscles over and over again, and when they do they get injured. Pro athletes have workout regimens that are scientifically calculated to maximize their performance. The only example that stands apart, is that of a major league pitcher. Some relievers might pitch every day, and like clockwork, suffer endless strings of injuries that always necessitate surgery to repair.

      1. So a football player doesn’t use his legs over and over again? Scientifically calculated workout regimens? This shit isn’t rocket surgery. I’d wager that most pro athletes excel in spite of their time in the weight room, not because of it.

    2. For starters, most athletes are more concerned about strength and performance than hypertrophy, so they’re probably not lifting to failure every workout.
      Athletes also take measures to speed up recovery time e.g. extra sleep, extra food, and of course, steroids.

    3. #4 is bullshit. Olympic weightlifters go hard every day, every session, with zero exception. Snatch, clean and jerk, back squat, front squat. Usually 12-13 sessions per week. I lift 5-6 days a week and squat every time I walk in the gym. What I do is pretty tame compared to a professional weightlifter. Most people are just looking for an excuse to not lift weights. If you’re sore, it’s because you don’t lift frequently enough. My legs are never sore. I also make sure I eat A LOT and get proper rest, along with all kinds of other preventative maintenance like stretching, foam rolling, trigger point release stuff, etc.

      1. Agreed. A lot of people equate soreness with muscle growth, which is nonsense. And it also explains the popularity of those idiotic bodybuilding split programs in which each muscle group is trained only 1x per week. Because of the low frequency and the relatively high volume per session the trainee will experience soreness and think that he is experiencing tremendous muscle growth.

  16. Carbs are a problem, only because they’re delicious and promote binge eating. I’m a real dude, and half a pizza is not out of the ordinary if I happen to indulge. Nutrition is the most difficult aspect of living a healthy lifestyle, and that becomes even more difficult once you have begun a rigorous workout regiment. As a common man, I’ve found that ensuring my first two meals are nutritious and healthy is the best method for warding off over-indulging, while also trying to hold off on my first meal for at least four or five hours after waking up. I look forward to the gym, so if I do overeat here and there, it’s not going to kill me. That being said, my go to meals are eggs, meats, and salads. Most especially, a cheeseburger salad. Lettuce, tomato, mustard, and a grilled cheeseburger right after hitting the weights is a guaranteed muscle builder. All of the taste of a burger, without the coma-inducing bun. Some might say ground beef isn’t the healthiest, but the natural creatine combined with a significant source of protein will always be on my training table.

  17. It’s time to stop the carb brainwashing of guys here as an excuse for a lack of discipline and self-control in dieting. Glycemic Index and insulin response are way overhyped; glycemic index and insulin response change depending on mixing different macronutrients. It MIGHT (key word) have an effect if you eat pure sugar with no other foods that contain other macronutrients. When was the last time you ate pure white sugar for four hours starting on an empty stomach? If you exercise regularly, the argument is even less relevant.
    If you consume less calories than your body requires to maintain, you will lose weight. No questions about it. Eating protein to a minimum level of .62g / lb of lean body mass is a good goal to aim for to aid a favourable muscle development ratio during weight gain or muscle retention during dieting. Eating a range of high fiber foods, vegetables and less processed foods will aid in satiety and micronutrient intake (vitamins and minerals) which will improve healthy body function.
    Most people develop a strong emotional connection with food that will cause them to overeat and under-report caloric intake. They instead jump on the bandwagon that has demonised different things over the years: fats, high protein, fruits, high GI foods, gluten and now the crusade against carbs to reassure themselves that it’s not their lack of self-control and discipline that is holding them back from their goals. If you’re getting angry, denying and rationalising right now; it’s probably a good sign you have this problem.
    I challenge anyone to eat 500 calories below your daily caloric maintenance (there is some individual variation on this, though nearly not as much as your rationalising brain would have you think), recording caloric intake using MyFitnessPal and a food scale, and not lose weight. If you do it honestly and accurately, you can’t not lose weight. Again, most tend to under-report (hence the food scale) or they lower their intake now they are consciously monitoring it and return to a higher intake when not consciously monitoring using an accurate tracking method.
    Lastly, the best diet is the one YOU can follow for the longest time. Demonising one particular element or more extremely, cutting out a whole macronutrient, is a sure-fire way to induce binging and develop an unhealthy obsession with food. That’s not sustainable and there’s better ways to approach it. If you prefer lower carbohydrate intake, the solution is easy, just eat less of it. If you prefer lower fats, eat less. Don’t stop eating it completely and unleash a tirade against anyone who is different. In that case, you’re just as silly as religious extremists…which funnily enough both have an obsession about what others put in their mouth.

  18. Righteous wisdom Jefe. Let me provide a supporting personal example. The calorie is a calorie concept is far too overlooked. The biggest, most ripped guy in my gym controls his entire physique with this as his first dieting basis. His words;”people just tend to over eat, it doesn’t take the massive deluge of calories you might think, just the right amount first, and then secondly from the right sources. done.” He eats the typical 5x a day.
    I switched up my workout a few times in past year, muscle confusion concept and lifting more often.. In neither case did I gain mass or strength (my goals), maybe a bit of tone. I wanted to gain mass, kept my calories high, but only lost size… muscle, strength, and fat. The 1st two were not my intentions. Now I’m back to giving each main muscle group 3-5 days rest in between sessions and I’m back on track once again. There’s much truth to what you’re saying.

  19. With respect, I must strongly disagree with points 1 and 3 (which arguably are corollaries of the same concept). The calorie surplus concept is completely invalid and is far too simplistic to describe the human metabolism. The key to understanding how we gain or lose fat or muscle is in part, understanding the hormonal impacts of the food that we eat. Different macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) have different metabolic effects on the human body. The reason excess carbohydrate intake results in increased fat gain is because it causes the body to secrete excess insulin, which simply stated, drives nutrients into fat tissue. Hence you get fat. Consuming fat for example, does not have this hormonal impact on the body. If you are in a caloric surplus for one day, the only thing that will happen is that you will have a reduced appetite the next day as the human body drives towards homeostasis. This is related to the thyroid hormone which drives metabolism (essentially how quickly your body processes nutrients). Eat more and your metabolism speeds up, eat less and your metabolism slows down. The slower your metabolism (due to reduced thyroid secretion) the less energy you will have. As such, going into a colorie deficit when you are exercising and trying to lose fat is shooting yourself in the foot.
    There is study after study indicating how the calorie deficit diets fail in their objectives (to lose fat). There are plenty of studies indicating how reduced carbohydrate diets (particularly the reduction of refined carbohydrates) result in fat loss.
    In short, if you reduce your exposure to refined carbohydrates (especially bread) you will lose fat. You do not need to concern yourself with calories – this is a red herring.

    1. Actually caloric deficit is the principle upon which bodybuilding diets are based. Granted, there is more than meets the eye and it takes a bit of finetuning to get the numbers right.
      Of course, it is not simply a matter of simply dropping calories. Otherwise there would be a hell of a lot more shredded guys walking around. The macronutrient ratio is extremely important; protein intake usually stays relatively high and fat and carb intake are reduced. In order to keep the metabolism from slowing down a refeed can be incorporated every couple of weeks.
      But in the end your total intake will be less when you are getting shredded. Which is rather logical, since subtracting carbs will cause you to ingest less calories. Simple mathematics.
      In this documentary you can see how Stuart, a regular guy, prepares for a bodybuilding contest under the guidance of a professional. :

      1. I am aware that modern bodybuilders operate on the calorie deficit concept however there is no science behind it regardless of whether it appears to work or not. Also keep in mind that the average person trying to lose fat is not and never will be a bodybuilder.
        I have already explained why your total intake on any particular day is irrelevant to fast loss. You say “simple mathematics”. The human body is an extremely complex organism that operates on quantum mechanics principles. There is much we do not understand.It is anything but simple.
        The secretion of various hormones can be directly observed in response to stimulus as can the body’s response to the secretion. The predictions based on these events is backed up by empirical study. In other words, the body increases fat cells in response to excess refined carbohydrates.
        If the calorie deficit concept appears to work for bodybuilders it is not for the reason they think.

        1. Losing fat is about burning more calories than you ingest, provided your ratios are in check. Nowhere am I implying that the human body is not a complex machine. On the other hand, to say that the total caloric intake is irrelevant is a weird statement. Because a person with a metabolism which requires around 2,400 kcals will gain fat if he or she ingests 10,000 kcals.
          There certainly is science behind the way modern bodybuilders get shredded. People like for example Lyle McDonald and Layne Norton have a science background and are well known figures in the fitness industry.

        2. You say that you don’t imply that the human body is not complex and then you try to reduce metabolism to calories and macronutrient ratios. This is simplification.
          I have explained at length about the hormonal affects of the nutrients that we consume. If you look at human metabolism and observe the processes that lead to fat gain or loss you will find no place for calories. Calories is a measure of energy and it applies to coal as it applies to a banana. Try to eat 10,000 calories of coal and see if you get fat. You won’t because you will probably pass out or die first.
          More to the point, try this starting tomorrow. Eat 10,000 calories of lean beef (7kg of sirloin) every day for the next seven days and tell me what happens.
          I know about Layne Norton but I did not say there was no science behind bodybuilding just that there is no science behind the CD diet. Besides I have already told you what causes fat gain. It is primarily the insulinemic response to excess sugar (glucose) in the blood. You will get fat to the extent you consume excess refined sugar. I challenge you to prove that wrong.
          More to the point, I challenge you to show me an obese, diabetic person, who got that way eating a diet absent sugar, grains and alcohol.

        3. Correlation =/= causation. Fat people are fat from overeating. What’s easy to overeat? Sugary food. It’s not very satiating whilst being very palatable.
          Caloric deficits have been the only scientifically-proven method effective in reducing weight. It doesn’t matter if you eat low carb, high carb, only fast food (done before in a documentary); if you eat less than your body requires to maintain, you will lose weight. To claim otherwise is ignorant. There are some other factors that come into it but without a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight.

        4. Calorie deficit diets have been scientifically proven to fail. You are demonstrating your ignorance and a lack of logic. Calories in =calories out is an equality not a causative relationship. You could just as easily say people overeat because they are fat. And you could prove this by observing how the human body actually works.
          I like how you state correlation is not causation and then use a correlation based argument.

        5. I think you are misreading my comments. Nowhere did I state that hormones do not play a role in either fat loss or gain. Which is why I stated at the start of my previous comment “provided your ratios are in check.” That makes all the difference. Once you have your fat/carb/protein ratios properly matched, lowering your bodyfat percentage is all about creating a deficit. In most cases this is done by lowering carb intake.
          To claim that caloric deficit diets are inherently nonsensical does not makes sense. Because anything applied improperly will get you less than optimal results. Most fad diets, for instance, are idiotic because they are simply based on eating less. But all too often macronutrient ratios are not taken into account.
          On the other hand a proper bodybuilding diet is also based on decreasing calories, but these diets are meticulously put together to maximise fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. That is where the science comes in.
          So while both diets are based on creating a caloric deficit, they are totally different animals.

        6. My understanding is that a bodybuilding diet is based on calorie zig-zagging because they recognise the metabolic issues of long term calorie deficit (slowing metabolism, homeostasis, fatigue, thyroid issues, etc.). As they get older they struggle with fat gain because this kind of diet is not in keeping with the natural human physiology (eating six times a day is not natural).
          Once you start talking about macro-nutrient ratios you are essentially contradicting yourself since to concern yourself with MRRs is to admit that a calorie is not a calorie. The body metabolises fat, carbohydrate and protein differently. Furthermore, there are substances (drugs) that do not contain calories but do result in fat gain.
          Why is this? Because the body stores nutrients and toxins/toxicants in fat tissue in response to the type of nutrient that they are. As such, you can be in a calorie deficit and still gain fat or be in a calorie surplus but still lose fat. The body reduces fat tissue when the need for it to be there is removed (eliminate the toxin, reduce blood glucose levels).
          But the point is calories are merely a descriptor (i.e. unit of energy). It tells you nothing about the way a particular nutrient will be metabolised by the body or in what order of priority (i.e. toxins first). Yes the body will always store fat – in response to any meal – but after the metabolism process is complete the body will switch to nutrient drawdown rather than nutrient storage. The reason that obese people are capable of eating so many more calories than the rest of us is that they are suffering from multiple diseases that lock away their nutrients in fat cells (meaning they are internally starving). A normal person will not have this issue and will feel full for much of the day, particular if they were in calorie surplus the day before, provided they avoid toxins (like refined carbs).

        7. Okay, I admit it was a terribly flawed argument. I was just trying to get a point across.
          Show me studies where (ceteris paribus) caloric deficit diets have failed to reduce weight/fat mass.
          Naturally, when I say ‘losing weight’ I mean losing fat. I don’t think anyone’s goal is to lose lean body mass so I didn’t think I needed to explain it haha. The only occasions that people have been known to be able to reliably gain weight and lose fat are beginners to training and/or those who use exogenous hormones. You don’t honestly believe a relatively experienced drug-free trainee can gain weight and lose fat to a significant degree simultaneously, do you?
          I would encourage you to pay attention to the upcoming debate between Alan Aragon and Gary Taubes on caloric surplus vs carbohydrates in making people fat, you might find it interesting.
          Don’t get me wrong, I’d actually recommend most people to have a somewhat low carbohydrate intake. That’s partly because the average person does not do any activity that requires significant carbohydrate intake and it’s easier for those not diet-inclined to ‘get their heads around’ (so to speak). I’m only continuing this discussion because most people who frequent this site should be physically active enough to require carbohydrates for optimum function and I enjoy playing devil’s advocate.

        8. For bodybuilders the whole idea is to either maintain or gain muscle mass, and to lower the fat percentage during a contest preparation. There is no point in going into caloric deficit during long periods of time. It is counterproductive. It will slow down you metabolism, have a negative impact on your endocrine system and you will lose muscle mass.
          Also, you are again misreading what I wrote because nowhere did I state all calories are the same. Quite the opposite in fact, since I posted that lowering ones fat percentage entails mostly cutting down the carb intake. It would rather silly to cut down on your protein intake because you need those amino acids to maintain muscle mass, especially when you are getting shredded.
          Yes, the body does metabolise the macros differently. This is basic knowledge. Why do you feel the need to mention that? And what’s the deal whith that whole text about drugs, toxins, the explanation about what calories are, obesity, how a normal person feels during the day, etc.
          Also, the number of meals is not that important. I find it kind of funny that you mentioned that eating 6 meals a day is not natural. Where did you dig up that number? In any case, it is about meeting your daily requirements. You can spread it over 6 meals, 4 meals, or 5. Whatever makes you happy.
          Many people who claim to be so-called hardgainers are simple undereaters. For them it is hard to increase the size of a single meal. Eating 2 extra smaller portions or having a nutritious snack between meals is easier for these individuals.

        9. I think englishbob is getting things mixed up here. He is overlooking the fact that not all caloric deficit diets are created equal.
          The fad diets will reduce your bodyweight. You will end up losing some fat, some water, and muscle mass. Plus it will screw up your metabolism. These are caloric deficit diets. The ones that englishbob was referring to I think.
          A fat loss diet put together by someone knowledgeable like Lyle McDonald, Alan Aragon or Layne Norton will allow you to lose mostly fat, while maintining as much muscle mass as possible. These are caloric deficit diets as well, but totally different from those fad diets.

        10. I think that’s the case. A caloric deficit diet doesn’t mean that a caloric deficit is the only thing considered. It is merely the constraint that forms the base.
          Here’s an interesting study that Bob might be interested in; looking at LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet vs HCLF in obese women losing weight.
          The researchers did something sneaky and broke the two groups into two sub-groups: insulin-resistant and insulin-sensitive. The study finds that with equal caloric intake (read: equal caloric deficit) the insulin-resistant women on LCHF lost around twice the amount of weight as the insulin-sensitive women on LCHF. The opposite was said for the LFHC diet: insulin-sensitive subjects lost twice the amount of weight that insulin-resistant subjects did.
          The study is definitely interesting to observe although dealing with obese subjects, the criteria for insulin-sensitivity (fasted insulin level) will already be substantially higher than even the out-of-shape average Joe…let alone those who are somewhat health conscious. Add to that the macronutrient breakdown for the “low carb” group had their intake at 40%…much higher than traditional low-carb approaches. Interesting nonetheless.

        11. Actually Gary Taubes has a book which gives an excellent round up of many studies on the failure of CD diets. Good Calories, Bad Calories. It also discusses the relative success of carb restriction.
          I agree with your point on experienced versus inexperienced trainees. I would suggest this is down to the human body’s tendency towards homeostasis. My body composition really only changes now when I increase the intensity of my training.
          Your devils advocacy is greatly appreciated

        12. If you agree that not all calories are the same and that the body processes different nutrients differently then I am sure what we are debating.
          I don’t think that it makes sense to keep mentioning bodybuilders. They are extreme outliers

        13. I have read GCBC, and I did find it interesting. That said, I think Taubes exaggerates the role of insulin (in response to carbohydrates) as the reason for fat gain. Protein creates a insulin spike (although to a lesser extent if I remember correctly, dairy protein creates a comparatively huge spike), and a low carb diet typically entails higher protein intake, and well…you can connect the dots. Insulin response also depends on the macronutrients eaten simultaneously. Fat and protein eaten alongside carbohydrates will reduce the insulin response. As discussed in my previous comment, it seems that the insulin resistance/sensitivity will affect the results of the diet given equal caloric intake. Interestingly enough, exercise will also create an insulin response as glycogen is used to fuel muscles.
          It’s well established that excessive carbohydrate intake to a level beyond requirements for liver and muscle glycogen replenishment leads to ‘spill over’ into the fat stores. But just as with Taubes’ insulin argument; the body needs to be fueled and it’s largely irrelevant if there is spill-over or an insulin-response because in the presence of a caloric deficit it will be used (provided lean mass is not used entirely).
          Side note to the ‘spill-over’: research which seems to suggest that fasted training leads to greater adaptions in glycogen storage as opposed to ‘fed’ training, which could allow fasted trainees to increase their appropriate daily carbohydrate intake accordingly. Same daily macros, same daily calories with a 30% surplus. Fasted group gained .7kg and fed group gained 1.4kg. Not exactly relevant, interesting nonetheless. http://jp.physoc.org/content/early/2010/09/13/jphysiol.2010.196493.abstract?abspop=1&related-urls=yes&legid=jphysiol;jphysiol.2010.196493v1
          I’m not going to go through the criticisms of Taubes because that is easy to see for yourself, but his use of dated research instead of better, more accurate, modern research and his apparent love affair with the China Study (heavily criticised in its own right) leaves something to be desired.

        14. Agreed the China Study is bullshit.
          I’m not sure that Taubes exaggerates the role of insulin in the context you describe. He is talking in the context of an obesity epidemic. Most people eat refined carbs almost to the exclusion of everything else. Not only that, the processed foods they eat contain numerous toxins that are quarantined in fat tissue. Furthermore, the addicted nature of these toxic nature causes them to consume them to excess.
          Fat free dairy creates a significant insulin spike for the reason you describe although this is nothing compared to the spike you will get from ice cream even with the (oxidized) fat!
          I don’t agree that the excess carbs will necessarily be used in the context of a calorie deficit since your metabolism will slow in response and your energy levels will fall. There are no shortage of fat people who are in calorie deficit yet cannot shift fat. Homeostasis means that their calorie balance point will simply be reset at a lower level.

        15. I would agree that most eat refined carbs to the exclusion of everything else. No argument here. It sounds like you’re on a bit of a paleo angle right now, I don’t agree that toxins create an addictive response. I would say that refined carbs (usually sugar-laden) sidestep the body’s natural appetite control system. It also stimulates ghrelin production to a greater extent if I remember correctly.
          About fat free dairy, true. But the spike is greater than produced by carb sources and I don’t see any recommendations to reduce dairy protein intake, that’s what I’m getting at (it’s only carbs demonised).
          Do you have any studies to show the metabolism will slow? That just sounds…silly, to me. Especially alongside two studies (will leave them at the end) the first of which, subjects’ metabolisms did not change during a 72 hour fast. The second were a group exercised while only eating 800 calories for 12 weeks and saw no change in metabolism. Yet you believe that someone’s metabolism will decrease….by eating?
          I actually have experienced what you’re talking about, previously being overweight myself. I was eating 1800 calories a day, training 5 days a week and not losing weight/fat. That’s what drew me to Taubes in the first place, funnily enough. Before jumping into low carb I made a last ditch effort and recorded my entire caloric intake with a food scale and MyFitnessPal. Turns out I was eating 2600+ on days I thought I was eating 1800. On the days I was accurately eating 1600 calories, it only lasted for a short while before a binge wiped out my deficit for the week.
          So in the last 10-12 weeks or so, I’ve dieted from 92kg @ 20% down to 82.6kg @ 13ish% (definitely not higher) by counting calories, strength training 3 days a week with no cardio. My powerlifting total has increased to over 500kg; constant forearm, calf, bicep and shoulder vascularity with abdominal, chest and leg veins occasionally making an appearance. Yesterday was a non-training day, I ate 1600 calories with 30g of carbs; today I’m training and I’ll eat 2500 calories with 300g of carbs including ice-cream and a stout or 3. AND I’ll still be getting leaner while getting stronger. My metabolism has not changed.
          This isn’t just me either, my parents were the same (blaming carbs), they saw what I was doing and copied me. Both have got significantly leaner, every health marker improving (they were never in really bad shape). Friends have done the same. The emotional connection to food is the main problem facing people who want to lose weight, in my opinion.
          12 Webber J, Macdonald IA. The cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal changes accompanying acute starvation in men and women. British Journal of Nutrition. 1994; 71:437- 447.
          Bryner RW. Effects of resistance training vs. Aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1999; 18(1): 115-121

        16. I am not Paleo at all. I just make an attempt to understand the body’s natural physiology, how it metabolizes different molecules and nutrients (micro and macro) and eat accordingly, combined with my choice of exercise. I have gone from 90kg 20% to 80kg 10% with constant improvements being made. Most importantly, energy levels are through the roof and I have “cured” incurable diseases. I do not concern myself with calories, macros or any other unnecessary details.
          Alcohol is a toxin. Alcohol is addictive. Agree?
          I am not demonizing all carbs, only refined carbs (that includes grains, alcohol and sugar).
          We don’t need studies to show the metabolism will slow (although they do exist), we can just use logic. If you believe that you will lose a pound of weight for every 500 calorie daily deficit that logically you will waste away to nothing. Why does this not happen? Homeostasis. Your metabolism slows in response to not eating.

        17. Sorry to leave you hanging Bob, I’ve been studying for exams like a madman.
          I’m not sure of the exact biochemistry to do with alcohol and addiction. I agree it is a toxin, though that’s not exactly relevant. Is it addictive? Well sure, anything that invokes a dopamine response can be form an addictive pathway (drugs, masturbation, sex). Not exactly relevant either.
          That’s a silly logical argument. You’re implying that it’s linear. Metabolism slows from extended (>1 week fasting) and loss of lean muscle tissue. Metabolic adaption accounts for a maximum of 15% reduction in subjects, which is temporary and returns upon eating somewhat normally again (the 15% is very optimistic). You obviously won’t waste away to nothing in a linear fashion. Top bodybuilders with pharmacies of ‘supplements’ struggle to get stage-lean (5%) because the body has physiological processes that kick in to keep you alive. This doesn’t mean those same processes are active for people who are not in the same vicinity. Logic: fat people do not have the exact same ongoing physiological responses as the incredibly lean.
          There are some good articles on the science behind insulin and fat oxidation/storage that you should find interesting. Some great comments too in response to arguments posed by disciples of Taubes.
          ———————————————————————–Blah, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I’ve seen and heard it all before but here’s the problem. A major part of Taube’s entire premise is based on a 1980 study that is incorrect.
          I’ll simply quote Bray from his review of Taube’s book and then ask you the following question: How come Taubes, in his ‘5 years of research’ wasn’t able to realize that the self-reported food data in 1980 was wrong?
          It’s 2009 and we know factually that the obese eat more than the lean. Yet somehow Taubes was unable to come across that data point. And refuses to acknowledge it even now. What does that tell you about him and his agenda?
          Bray, GA. Good Calories by Gary Taubes. Obesity Reviews (2008) 9:251-263.
          Bray says:
          “In developing his ideas about calories and obesity in Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes argues that obese individuals do not eat more than lean ones do. The data for his belief come from the Diet and Health Report (16) prepared by the National Academy of Sciences. This report said ‘Most studies comparing normal and overweight people suggest that those who are overweight eat fewer calories than those of normal weight’.calories more per day. To maintain this extra weight the women have to eat enough food to provide this extra energy.
          We now know that the data used in the Diet and Health Report were wrong and that obese people eat more food energy than do lean ones. The data showed that normal-weight people underreport what they eat by 10–30%. This means that dietary food-intake records underestimate energy expendi- ture by nearly a quarter. For overweight people, the degree of underreporting is higher, varying from 30% to 50%.”
          ———————————————————————–“The problem I have with Taube’s book is this: after criticizing folks for cherry picking their data, he does the exact same damn thing.
          He starts with an incorrect/out of date 1980 paper (suggesting that the obese eat the same as the lean) and then goes looking for reasons why this is the case, concluding that it’s insulin.
          He then carefully ignores all data that doesn’t agree with him including an enormous amount of data showing that the obese under-report their true food intake (which is why the 1980 survey is garbage
          For someone who ‘spent 5 years raiding the research’, he mainly just selected data that agreed with his pre-formed conclusion, ignoring a tremendous amount of current research that did not.
          And that a lot of people keep insisting on a metabolic advantage that NO study has ever been able to measure doesn’t change the fact that NO study has ever been able to measure it. I’d point you to the study by Brehm for example:
          “The role of energy expenditure in the differential weight loss in obese women on low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar;90(3):1475-82.”
          Which directly measured both resting energy expenditure and thermic effect of food after a low- and high-carb meal. Results? No difference in resting energy expenditure and a higher TEF after the carb-based test meal. If the metabolic advantage exists, it should be measurable with current technology. And no study has been able to find it EVER (it’s always inferred by changes in weight).
          And bodybuilders have gotten to sub 10% for a couple of decades with carb-based diets so what Poliquin says doesn’t seem to be that relevant here.
          Which isn’t to say that lowcarb diets don’t work for a lot of people. But they work because people eat less, not because of any metabolic magic.
          Understand? I’m not anti-lowcarb diets (my first book is about nothing but them), but I am against people preaching magic voodoo that doesn’t exist.”

        18. Well I certainly hope your exams went well. Good luck!
          Alcohol: My point is that the body does two things (broadly, and I am speaking from memory here) with toxins: a) it will sequester them in fat tissue and thus the consumption of toxins will lead to fat gain – this is a common complaint with people taking pharmaceutical drugs; b) shut down most other metabolic processes (i.e. fat burning) to deal with the toxic invader – so fat burning slows down. The addictive nature causes people to consume increasing amounts of alcohol – this also happens with refined carbs – thus leading to an accelerating fat gaining affect. I don’t think jerking off will lead to fat gain though…
          Calorie Hypothesis: That this is linear and silly is precisely my point. I think we are in agreement with this point.
          Good Calories, Bad Calories: To suggest that Taube’s argument is based on a single study is specious. I didn’t even remember this study from the book (which is some 800 pages – it would be a short book if he relied on this one study). It’s difficult to demonstrate exactly whether obese people eat more calories than the average person, since the average person is fat. So what do we compare obese people to? Bodybuilders? Cyclists? Marathon runners? However, if you look at the content of their diet you will likely find excessive amounts of soda, sweets, snack foods, and other heavily refined carbs. I don’t think this is controversial.

  20. Training more frequently can improve strength gains IF you properly adjust your volume. Eastern European athletes dominated Olympic lifting by training every day.

    1. Agreed. The problem is that many people in the gym do not adjust the volume but go balls out during every session, and that is when they hit the wall.
      Basic training programs like Starting Strength and StrongLifts also prescribe 3 squat sessions per week. After a while your body adapts and that is when the fun starts.

  21. I love your work Jefe where I have all your books but I thought I would give you some information that I learnt from my Diploma in Fitness (3 years of study).
    1. I agree with you!
    2. I disagree with you! For beginners it’s not a big deal but for advanced people, it’s best to switch sets/reps every 1-2 months. I look at it as the universal formulae for the human body. If you are in pain and u take a painkillers everyday, within a week your body adapts to it and the painkillers does little. It’s the same with muscle but it’s not so fast and a little different. The thing is even if you continue to do the same exercise u will still get gains but for even better gains it’s best to change every 1-2 months such as more sets and less reps. Keep the same exercise but after 3 months you should change it!
    3. Certain foods will cause you to gain FAT. Our bodies are design to process foods that are natural from the ground. These days, there is so many chemicals in food, we are only getting less than 40% of nutrient. The reason why is to keep the food fresher for longer. When we don’t eat natural foods, our body doesn’t process it correctly where it puts a little of it on as fat. Your body is busy trying to break down all the crap in food these days and puts the rest on as fat to process later. If you have a food deceit, you will lose fat still but not as fast with a real healthy meal.
    If you ask me, the real reason why people tend to put on FAT is due to stress. Nearly everyone I know are living a stressful life! When we go through stress, our body conserves energy by putting on FAT.
    I highly recommend everyone to download ‘Food Matters,’ it will open your eyes!

    4. The human body needs time to heal after a workout. What you are talking about is called supercompensation!
    You basically want to follow the green line from the picture! The best day to train is when your body has recovered (2-6 days). The best way to know if you should be working your chest again for example is by pressing on your pectoralis muscle. If it’s still sore, take another day off and repeat! Once your chest has healed, it won’t be sore and it’s then that u should hit the gym again and work your chest!
    More than a week is usually to long for muscle gain! After 2 weeks you start to lose your muscle!

  22. #2 is pretty nitpicky.
    lol yeah, thanks, we all know that “Our muscles don’t have brains inside of them.”
    Muscle “confusion” is really just a term of art. It’s more about hitting the muscles with something new and mixing things up (think different angles on incline bench). Those are solid ideas.

  23. Valid points, however to clarify….
    All food are not equal in terms of calories. When you eat low glycogen inducing carbohydrates your body will not store it since it does not spike your insulin as high . The carbohydrates in a poptart are not the same as the carbohydrates from oatmeal.
    So when people say they eat high carbs at night, they are mostly eating HIGH GLYCOGEN INDUCING carbohydrates as opposed to low glycogen inducing carbohydrates.
    A carbohydrates that has saturated carbon bonds is going to take much longer to breakdown = leads to storage and water bloat.

  24. “3. There are certain foods that will cause you to gain fat”
    Completely true. It’s been a fact in endocrinology for decades now that insulin is the fat storing hormone. Carbohydrates are the biggest macronutrient stimulus of insulin (with protein a distant second and fat practically non existent), and thus the two are related. Whether or not carbohydrate has caused the obesity epidemic is a little more controversial. I’d say it’s fructose —> insulin resistance ——> carbohydrate intolerance + continued consumption of carbohydrates = obesity, but there hasn’t been enough research to confirm that. Really fat gain is hormonal growth, just like height or muscle gain is hormonal growth. How many people on here have noticed how big American girls feet are? I read an article last year that showed how much bigger the typical UK girl’s shoe’s size has grown over the past two decades. It’s because their body is pumping a growth hormone non stop – Insulin.

  25. The anabolic period takes place over roughly a 36 hour period after you lift. Okay so that means you can hit the gym 2 days a week and get jacked?
    Why do most people say 4-5+ days

    1. Yes sir; If you’re lifting with your greatest effort, correct form (no bouncing or cheating but actually engaging the target muscle or muscle groups), eating to gain and getting plenty of rest and recovery, then you will see the best results your particular genetics can yield.
      If I lift more than 2x a week, I feel like hammered dog shiz and will regress.
      All you’re trying to do is provide a stimulus to the body in order to adapt to. You’re not stronger after leaving the gym, but weaker.
      If you don’t take recovery into account, your efforts will not be actualized.
      Hey, I love Arnie as much as the next bro, but there’s many others to check out that were more about merit and less on cult of personality. Mike Mentzer is one of many bright lights in a dim (exercise) world.

  26. Its nice to see someone finally looking at science, and not just spouting a bunch of shit from non-scientists.
    Jonathan Bailor’s two books (The Smarter Science of Slim, The Calorie Myth) opened my eyes and made me realize that much of what I thought I knew about weight loss, weight training, food, and exercise was not only wrong, but harmfully wrong.
    Keep on keepin’ on Jefe.

  27. A lot of issues with this article despite my usual admiration for Jefe’s pieces.
    Just to be short about it: The idea that calories are calories is just plain wrong. This is well documented by many below in the comments section, I just want to add that simple calories in and calories out is the type of diet mentality from fat girls who work up to running half marathons and pork out on cupcakes. Dieting to loose a few extra pounds when you are already at 20% body fat maybe…but once you are under 15% body fat and you are looking to really fine tune your body and get under 10 the types of food you eat are incredibly important.
    Second: I feel that the author is correct about muscle confusion being bullshit, but only in the sense that he defines muscle confusion. This is a typical way of arguing for women. Define something incorrectly and then say why it is wrong. Of course muscle confusion the way it is stated above and, sadly, often the way it is presented in gimmick diets and fads like yoga and crossfit (aka dance class) is nonsense. However, if thought of differently it is a valuable tool. Arnold talks about it but uses the term “shocking the muscle” The body is a machine which, miraculously, gets more efficient at tasks you give it. Think about people who are on a tread mill and when they get off it says they burned 700 calories. BS. After 20 minutes or so your body begins to adapt to the work it is being forced to do and becomes more efficient doing it so while at 20 minutes you may have been on pace to burn 700 calories in an hour the next 20 minutes your body will require less calories to do the same work. This is why there is a benefit to HIIT training.
    The same goes with lifting. If you usually do pyramid sets then once in a while throw in a drop set instead…especially if, like me, your schedule forces you to work out at the same time at the same day. Your muscles don’t have memory in the silly sense, but you can prepare them for doing something and when you do something different you will, as Arnold says, shock them. Have to go with Arnold on this one.
    To the third point…while technically correct it really depends on goals. If you want to be like olympic power lifters who, if you saw on the street, would look fat but could prob clean and press 3x your dead lift while giving your ass a piggy back ride…then fine. That is a valid decision. Go ahead, grab that bacon. But if your goal is a more shredded look then you should be conscious of the fuel you put in your body and when you put it in there.
    Finally, about not lifting every day…that is crazy. of course you don’t want to be the guy at the gym hitting chest every day. But I do 2 3 day splits a week. That is 6 days a week in the gym on weights. There is nothing that will make you stronger, leaner and more of a beast….nothing. When I hear someone tell me that they lift 3 times a week I wonder if they have different goals or are just doing a half assed job.
    Anyway, my 4 cents.

  28. Good stuff.
    It’s been a while since I read a fitness article on a manosphere site that wasn’t full of Paleo/low-carb/Crossfit anecdotal marketing woo.
    Thanks Jefe, for restoring a little bit of sanity!

  29. “Whether it’s carbs, fats, fried foods, or donuts—there are plenty of foods out there that people think are “evil” fat-causing agents. But there’s no such thing.”
    I disagree, if someone eats 1000 calories in the form of chicken and another person eats 1000 calories in the form of chocolate every day, and they still stay within their daily caloric limits – who would have the least amount of body fat in the long run?
    I do agree that people mostly get fat cause they simply eat too much, but some food will get you there quicker, and some ARE prone to be stored as fat much easier. Not all calories are equal.

  30. Yea the first point is bullshit although he is focused on time of day and not the carbs themselves. The impact of high glycemic index/impact foods on fat storage are insanely well proven. The insulin response from simple carbs can bring your progress to a screeching halt.

  31. Yup, it’s complete idiocy what you hear people say in regards to weight loss or getting stronger 99% of the time. The most SOLID sounding factual speak is the stuff you hear coming out of the fattest, out-of-shape pieces of shit you’ve ever seen, while I usually never say a word. The difference between looking up a pipe dream in wikipedia and actually doing it with real world processes. There’s a part of me that wishes the logical understanding part of this site was a widespread thing, but life just doesn’t work like that, nor should it.

  32. “Sure, our bodies may absorb a greater percentage of the calories in
    particular foods, but the fact is that you must take into account the
    rest of your diet in order to be able to accurately predict the outcome
    of eating something specific. For example, if you eat a donut for
    breakfast and eat a light diet throughout the rest of your day, you’ll
    likely be nowhere near the caloric amount needed to gain weight.
    However, if a morbidly obese man consumes that same donut after eating
    5000 calories, then it’s probably going to end up as fat. Context, my
    friends, is everything.”
    Yes, but carbs have been shown to be addictive and will make you hungrier.People aren’t computers where rational inputs are decided. People are people and are to some degree beholden to their will power.

  33. I have to take issue with #s 2&4.
    “The idea behind it is that after doing a particular exercise for a while, your body gets used to it, thus rendering it ineffective.”
    It appears that you got something mixed up. It’s not that the exercise is rendered “ineffective”, it’s simply that the exercise is not ‘as’ effective as it once was, meaning your gains will be slower if you continue to perform the same movement/s with the same weight. I think that distinction is worth mentioning because of the significance.
    Confusing the musculature is all about throwing the body off. This is why Circuit training is invaluable when it comes to Body Building. The same logic powers the fact that Compound Lifts are so effective at creating both muscle and strength.
    The same can be said of the brain: do the same mental exercises everyday and your accuity will lessen eventually, you might be successfull at remembering data because you’ve covered it so much but as far as creating new neural pathways, I have a feeling that repetitive mental juggling will eventually equal a stale result…. switch it up often to keep things fresh and engaging and most likeyly you will make mental gains.
    With Point #4 you make sound sense and I concur with the message… however, as you know, not all bodies are the same and what works for one might not work for another, etc. For some, a 5 day workout week of short and intense 10-20 set workouts can have a tremendous effect on the outcome of muscle growth. I know from personal experience: I gained about 7 lbs in a single week, you read that right, no BS (for all I know, perhaps the high Creatine loads were upping my water weight or something, ??? who knows, I’m still a noob at this)… all because I experiemented with working out 5 days in a row with no rest days except for the following weekend. My experience was extremely positive, I did not experience Overtraining, I ate right, slept on average 8-10 hours on each of those nights, and am ultimately content with my experiment.
    *edit* – I imagine that if I attempted to pull that ^ off multiple weeks in a row… I might end up experiencing Overtraining. It was a tough week for sure, but it netted some killer results.
    What works for one guy… know whatta mean, Vern?

  34. How do Japanese Sumo wrestlers gain their incredible weight? They eat and immediately sleep. Does it work? You tell me.

        1. I don’t care, the eating at night time makes you fat thing is horseshit, one more internet urban legend that needs to die.

        2. I wouldnt be surprised if there were several but I believe that double blond studies are of limited value(game came from practice not double blind studies). I value the advice of hundred or thousand year practices nore. And in the meantime all youve added to the conversation is errors and air.

  35. Muscle confusion is neither new (Arnold spoke about it in both the Encylcopedia and in the documentary) nor is it bullshit. What it is is poorly named. The human body is an amazingly adaptive machine. This is why calorie counters on treadmills and stair climbers are bs. If you spend an hour on a stairclimber every day, on Friday you will be burning fewer calories than on Monday.
    If you do an isolation lift like bicep curls and do it with the same rep range constantly your body will get less and less from it. Arnold suggests switching it up by grabbing a light weight and doing 100 reps or by doing a 1-10 method where you do your one rep mad first. Then 2rm then 3rm so on and so forth.
    By constantly attacking the muscle in different ways you will get it to grow much better than constantly doing the same thing

  36. Thank you for yet another great article exposing the utter nonsense that this generation and media continues to push

  37. MacDougall, J. Duncan, et al. “The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise.” Canadian journal of applied physiology 20.4 (1995): 480-486.
    I did my thesis with Duncan MacDougall….brilliant exercise physiologist.

  38. What about KRATOM?
    Not sure what is a bigger bullshit myth: Kratom or all of the nonsense in Tim Fraudriss’ “Four Hour” book. Probably the latter.

  39. Being 49 and reasonably in good shape My theory is :
    -no foods cause you to gain weight unless you exceed your daily calculated BMR ..but not eating healthy will make you unnecessarily hungry.
    -Sugar is an addiction.. the more sugar you eat; the more sugar you want. You can stop the addiction with L-Glutamine.
    -If your over 30…take a T-supplement and a estrogen suppressor. Our water and environment is filled with estrogen causing most males to get && stay heavy even on small diets. If you take a t sup like d-aspartic acid …Most will find its a life changer.
    -20 min of aerobic exercise is a waste of time. 30+ mn is a minimum…Your body doesn’t burn fat until 30 minutes. So shoot for 1-1/2 hr jogs/runs or at least 4+ hour bike rides. 50- 70 miles min.
    -you won’t lose weight eating red meat. I don’t think its possible. I can eat 1 burger and go on a 10 mile run and gain weight.
    -if you don’t eat enough fat; your body will crave food until you get enough fat. Fat is good for you.
    Just my 2ct s

  40. Arnold believed in shcking muscle, fuck you.
    Also, you believe in the calorie bullshit.
    And lifting more does yield better gains.
    FUCK YOU!!!
    You liar.

Comments are closed.