Best of Diet Habits

Public health warning: False nutritional enlightenment

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5 years ago, the Fuckarounditis outbreak was in full force (Berkhan et al. 2011)


In the UK, we referred to this as being ‘bogged down’. Bogdown would commonly take the following form:

‘Simple Bogdown’:

“But it’s 1400 calories from vegetables, or cheese, or egg?”
“It’s any calories”
“But what about cake, sweets and fruit?”
“It’s calories.”
“…If you actually get bogged down in thinking that if you don’t eat, then you can’t lose weight, you have to accept that this is a physical impossibility.”

Textbook case of Simple Bogdown


The recent IIFYM boom has cleared up a lot of the misconceptions over any supposedly magical qualities of foods, and the importance of calories, relegating the prevalence of Simple Bogdown to only the most isolated locations.

Eric Helms devised a particularly effective treatment for Simple Bogdown, the nutritional pyramid:

The Helms nutritional pyramid. Click for full graphic


A more insidious form:

Regrettably, in the last few years, Bogdown has mutated into an information-resistant virulent strain known as Macrocytic Bogdown.

While the primary clinical signs persist, e.g. aversion to physical exertion and consistency, Macrocytic Bogdown is often accompanied by a sense of perceived nutritional enlightenment and an obsession with ‘hacking’.

The ‘false recovery’ is precipitated by misinterpreting flashy acronyms such as ‘IIFYM’ and ‘DUP’. Sufferers will commonly bypass understanding of principles in favour of sloppy application, transplanting their previous neuroses from broccoli and grilled turkey breast to meticulously counting wine gums and pop-tarts.

The consequent information-resistance stems from a sense of superiority over the bros, (who may even be in better shape). While claiming to follow an evidence-based approach, there is often a refusal to engage with the scientific literature on principle, because it is seen as irrelevant. After all, they already have the answers.



Primary Aetiology: Binary thinking

While information-resistance masquerades as nutritional enlightenment, a full blood count usually reveals that mental laziness and justification have infiltrated the cells.


The blue structures infiltrating the red blood cells are identified as 'mental laziness' and 'binary thinking'. Untreated, this can result in terminal hypogainaemia
The blue structures infiltrating the red blood cells are identified as ‘mental laziness’ and ‘binary thinking’. Untreated, this can result in terminal hypogainaemia

Severe sufferers have been observed to prematurely become online-coaches and become potent vectors for spread of the disease.

Terms such as ‘flexible dieting’ appeal to our humanness because of the implication of lower effort. Tragically, hundreds of cases have been recorded of babies being thrown out with the bathwater as a result. Approaches such as carb-backloading can be easily abused to legitimise late night ice-cream binges, meanwhile traditional bodybuilding approaches are indiscriminately cast aside.


Catchy fitness acronyms and terminology are leveraged as a device to:

1 – Feel as though they are on the cutting edge
2 – Avoid probing the fundamental human pattern of avoiding effort and seeking a quick fix.

Validity is then sought by only engaging on social media with those who agree, colloquially known as a ‘circle-jerk’.

The tunnelled perspective leads to binary thinking, where ‘eating dirty’ and desperately posting the pictures on social media is used as a public signal to demonstrate how much ‘balance’ the individual has in their life. Conventional deadlifting is seen as old-fashioned. This is done while simultaneously mocking those who ‘eat clean’ or demonise food groups.

“Once we have emotional certainty to go along with intellectual certainty, it’s an incredibly difficult loop to break. Something has to come from the outside and come crashing into it.”


8 clinical manifestations

1) The bulk-too-hard

Two facts underpin the bulk-too-hard:
1) Dieting is uncomfortable
2) The delicious sorcery of KFC

The bulk-too-hard acutely recognises these facts, thus consigns himself to being fat, relying on the convenient excuse that he is now a powerlifter, and so body composition doesn’t matter.

The bulk-too-hard
The bulk-too-hard

How to avoid this and look good all year round.

2) The obsessed-with-form

The obsessed-with-form begins with good intentions, but soon discovers that excessive concern over technique and adjustment allows her to avoid difficult heavy work sets. She is now able to squat 40kg for years while absolving responsibility for lack of progress.

3) The permacutter

The permacutter is not deficient in willpower, and has a high tolerance for the discomfort of dieting. Their fear instead stems from losing their abs, loss of control and therefore identity. Patients commonly present with chronic hypogainemia and seemingly always have an upcoming beach holiday.

A tense standoff between permacutter and bulk-too-hard
A tense standoff between permacutter and bulk-too-hard

The solution: Stop caring about leanness

4) The max-outer

The max-outer is averse to training volume. He prefers to forgo the longer term progress for the shorter term benefits of impressing other gym users with his prowess with heavy-ass-weight. The max-outer fears being seen publicly doing a work set with anything that isn’t his max.

5) Mobilityman

Mobilityman bears similarities to the obsessed-with-form, and often presents as a comorbidity. Mobilityman may avoid training entirely, paralysed by fear of their buttwink, spending endless hours ‘fixing their movement’.

6) The “just-getting-back-into-it-yeah?”

This is the guy in the office who swears that ‘back in the day man I woz doin hundred KGs on the bench innit, just gettin back into it”. The just-getting-back-into-it is keenly obsessed with telling his story of past training conquests, and how his knee/back have put him out of the game recently. However, he rarely presents with physical signs of such prior training.

7) The explain-awayer

The explain-awayer has suffered a complication of of Macrocytic Bogdown, where information resistance has sequestered in their brain vasculature forming an embolus. They have a prepared explanation for their lack of progress, inability to perform certain high yield exercises, and ability to adhere to a diet.


8) The miss-the-point

He’s switched to sumo deadlift, the latest DUP program, and religiously foam rolls his IT band, but couldn’t tell you why. He saw people doing it on instagram.


He’s hitting macros from poptarts come hell or high water, doesn’t go out for meals, yet has not touched a vegetable in months, because he does ‘flexible dieting’.
After a solid 6 months of training, he decides that his 100kg bench sufficiently equips him to set up shop as an online macro-coach.


A strong purgative is the first line treatment for Bogdown. Placing the patient in temporary quarantine to avoid reinfection may also be required, via an information cleanse.
Fitness blogs with poor hygiene can be a hub for infection. Trust no one.



1 – Unplug entirely from any of the false dichotomies created by the industry, e.g. the clean-dirty dichotomy, the science vs bro dichotomy.

2 – Establish clear goals, tracing them back to specific behaviours with a clear purpose, regardless of how ‘bro’ the final approach may look:

You want bigger arms? Add an arms day. Don’t be ashamed.

Want to eat a sweet potato? Do it. Fuck da haters.

Feeling too hungry on the diet? Introduce more potato and cauliflower. Experiment with a different number of meals.

Want to squat high bar beltless but everybody and their grandma is doing low bar? Earphones in, Chopin on, big smile.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 09.27.04

3 – Doing the hard stuff, even if it’s not ‘optimal’ will be better than trying to fine tune the easy stuff. See where you’re flinching in your training.

This can be overwhelming. If you find a trustworthy source with a solid track record, consider coaching with them to accelerate the process and keep you accountable.

Fortunately, the treatment is definitive.

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