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Of Yo-Yo Mice and Epigenetics

December 16, 2010

Okay, so there are a few methodology issues, misconceptions, and pre-conceived biases to nit-pick in this study (Why Diets Fail), but still, the end result reveals a quite valid point — that, yes, overt and chronic stress (and that includes cumulative stress due to chronic overtraining) can totally derail your long-term weight-loss goals.

The calorie-in, calorie-out theory of weight management has been sufficiently debunked (see works by Gary Taubes and Robb Wolf), and yet this misconception persists, still managing to creep into even the most recent of dietary studies, as does the notion/implication that “fat makes you fat”.  So while the controls are not nearly perfect (few dietary studys sport controls that are), there is still much to learn from this study; namely, that if you want sustained weight loss, you’ve got to get a handle on your stress levels. 

Remember, the body only perceives acute and/or chronic (and cumulative) stress, not the source of that stress.  The stresses of modern life (work, relationships, economic juggles) are indistinguishable from events such as lack of sleep, faulty and/or a hypo-caloric diet, or chronic overtraining.  This is why we at Efficient Exercise are unwavering in our assertion that exercise is akin to a high-potency pharmaceutical — too little does no good, and too much is utterly destructive.  The key to proper exercise, then is acute, “smart-bomb-like” dosing — the right mix and the right intensity.  When it come to exercise for weight management, one really must zero-in on the all-important Goldilocks zone. 

The supposed ‘paradox” of the individual who “trains like a fiend, and yet can never drop those last few pounds” is, in reality, no paradox at all.  I’ve seen this play out over and again — the names change year to year, but the stories are identical.  Those chronically elevated cortisol levels resultant, in large part, to long-term overtraining, make shedding those last few extra pounds an impossibility.  The prescription?  Ditch the scatter-shot and all-too-frequent training sessions and follow a smartly-designed, infrequent and properly-dosed exercise protocol.  “Brief, brutal, basic, and infrequent” — the type of protocol endorsed and prescribed by Efficient Exercise — trumps day-in and day-out flog-sessions every time. 

In short, smartly applied intensity and effort are paramount to long-term weight loss success.  Weight loss can be successful and a breeze (and utterly stress-free!) if gone about correctly.

In health,


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