12 November 2013

In this issue...

  • What's New at StrongFast?
  • Feature Article: Social Studies
  • Fitness Found Online
  • Recipe: Thai Red Curry Quinoa

What's New at StrongFast?

The Form Cop is on hiatus this week. Perhaps he's watching you. So sit up straight!


I think it's time for me to finally start dieting. Got diagnosed with
a flesh-eating virus yesterday. My doctor says I have 30 years to live.

Feature Article: Social Studies

A recent post in the NY Times Well blog discusses myths surrounding breakfast and weight. It calls into question the conventional wisdom that eating breakfast is important for weight loss. But mostly, it looks at the studies that supposedly confirm--or refute or question--this widely-held notion.

research-beakersDr. David B. Allison, director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, observes, “At some point, this becomes absurd. We’re doing studies that have little or no value. We’re wasting time, intellect and resources, and we’re convincing people of things without actually generating evidence.”

Why does this happen? “Scientists are humans, and they’re susceptible to confirmation bias too,” Dr. Allison suggests, adding, “Just like bakers bake bread, scientists write papers and we get rewarded for writing and publishing papers.”

Indeed. But not just writing and publishing papers: writing and publishing the kinds of papers that will get picked up by the media. And the media (and its consumers) suffer from the same confirmation bias as the scientists. People like to hear what they already believe. And for various reasons, people believe a lot of dietary myths that lack supporting evidence at best.

Saturated fat is a good example. Everyone just knows that it's bad. And why not? Nearly every mainstream government and medical authority considers it unhealthy. (And Dr. Oz is obsessed with it.) So the research on it must be overwhelmingly clear, right? Umm...no. But bring this up with almost anyone and you'll be met with defensive disbelief. And research that challenges what "everyone knows" about the evils of saturated fat goes largely unreported.

Cholesterol is another example. First, the story was that cholesterol is bad. Then it became good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol. Then there were two different kinds of "bad" cholesterol, where one isn't actually bad. Of course, we can expect views to change as research reveals new information, but the original story becomes hard to shake because it requires challenging what's become the conventional wisdom. And so we still see warnings about eating foods containing cholesterol, even though research says otherwise. And if you really want to cut your cholesterol levels, cut out your liver: it manufactures far more cholesterol than you consume. If it didn't, you'd be dead. (Don't really cut out your liver. That would be stupid. Unless you did it with a spoon. That would be impressive.)

clownNew dietary "research" appears daily. Most of it is just crappy analysis of existing data, because that's cheap and fast and easy to do. And if it comes to a sensational (and scary!) conclusion, you can be sure it will get some press...maybe a lot of it.

Research studies certainly aren't value-less, especially the rigorous scientific ones (which are becoming more rare as money for such things dries up). But chasing the latest study-driven fad is a fool's errand. Stick to the basics of eating fresh, unprocessed, local foods (or as close to that as you can get) and treat the sensational dietary research stories as entertainment. Boring, predictable entertainment.

Be seeing you.


Fitness Found Online

pain-screamFrom the "I knew it!" files comes a study showing that swearing improves pain tolerance. This may come in handy if you try to remove your liver with a spoon. (But seriously, don't do that.)
barefoot-swingAfter all the hype, is it turning out that barefoot running is actually bad? Slip off your shoes and read why the barefoot backlash is much ado about nothing.

Recipe: Thai Red Curry Quinoa

I don't do a lot of vegetarian dishes, but gave this one a whirl. As usual, made a few adjustments to the recipe, including using Red Quinoa. (I have no idea what difference that makes.) It was pretty tasty, though! 




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One Comment

  1. Glad you liked the Red Curry Quinoa! The red quinoa won’t make much of a difference but for appearance.

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