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Strength and Muscle Mass Increases in Young Women

I don’t usually bother with studies on untrained beginners.  The main reason is that, to a first approximation, everything more or less works the same.  One set or three sets, twice a week or three times per week, different loading parameters…it usually ends up being about the same.  So it doesn’t really tell us anything under most circumstances.  Certainly nothing you could apply to a non-beginner.

There are occasional exceptions, studies on beginners that do make an interesting observation at least for beginners.  Specifically in this case is a study that looked at differences in strength and muscle mass for untrained women doing simple or complex exercises.  So today I want to look at the following paper:

Chilibeck PD et. al. A comparison of strength and muscle mass increases during resistance training in young women. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;77(1-2):170-5.


I haven’t done a research review in a fairly long time since I think I found it more useful to write articles and just link out. … Keep Reading

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Dietary Restraint and Cortisol Levels

I don’t think I’ve done a research review in a while and even though I imagine some visitors to the site may be getting tired of topics related to the book I’m working on, well, that’s what I’m currently working on so it’s kind of at the top of my mind right now.  Today I want to look at how dietary restraint impacts on cortisol levels based on the following paper.

McLean JA et. al. Cognitive dietary restraint is associated with higher urinary cortisol excretion in healthy premenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jan;73(1):7-12.

And you can get the free full text here.

A Primer on Cortisol

I imagine most visitors to my site are familiar with the hormone cortisol, even if many aren’t quite clear on what it does. Cortisol is often thought of as a “bad” hormone but this is too simplistic; what cortisol does in the body depends on a host of factors.… Keep Reading

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How Does the Menstrual Cycle Affect Energy Balance?

One of the primary factors that separate women and men is the presence of the menstrual cycle, the roughly 28 day cycle during which her primary sex hormones estrogen and progesterone change in a fairly “standard” pattern.  During this time, nearly every aspect of her physiology changes.  Specific to today’s article I want to look at the impact of the menstrual cycle on energy balance (i.e. calorie intake vs. calorie expenditure).    In doing so I will be primarily looking at the following paper.

L Davidsen et. al. Impact of the menstrual cycle on determinants of energy balance: a putative role in weight loss attempts. International Journal of Obesity (2007) 31, 887-890

Women and Body Composition

As I discuss in extreme detail in The Women’s Book women get the short of the end of the stick when it comes to body composition.  Their bodies fight back harder, they lose both weight and fat slower (even given an identical intervention), they tend to gain fat more easily, they gain muscle more slowly, etc. … Keep Reading

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Are Low Fat or Low Carb Diets Superior?

A long-standing debate in the field of dieting for fat loss is over the relative superiority of low fat and low carb diets in terms of which is superior.  Today I want to address the issue by examining the following research paper by Kevin Hall.

Hall, KD et. al. Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity Cell Metabolism  Cell Metabolism (2015) 22: 1–10.

The Diet Debate: Low Fat or Low Carb

For years the debate over reduced fat or reduced carbohydrates has gone on and it shows no sign of stopping.  The pendulum has actually swung over the years.  In the 70’s, the Atkins diet drove interest in very low/reduced carbohydrate diets.

In the 80’s, reduced fat diets came into vogue as it looked like dietary fat was more easily stored as body fat and it looked like, so long as fat intake was kept low enough, weight and fat loss would happen (this was true until people went nuts and started overeating low fat foods in excess).… Keep Reading

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The Dieters Paradox

In writing this, I am reminded of an old joke/quip to the effect that “All that separates man from the animals is our ability to rationalize.”   I’d add “And accessorize” but that’s neither here nor there.   The reality is that humans are able to engage in amazing mental gymnastics sometimes.  As psychologists put it, we are slaves to cognitive bias.  In this context, I want to look at an odd little paper addressing what they call the dieter’s paradox.

Chernev A.  The Dieters Paradox.  Journal of Consumer Psychology.  (2001) 21: 178-183.

Cognitive Bias in Diet and Exercise

I don’t know if I’d say that people do or do not engage in more cognitive bias when it comes to nutrition than in other areas of life but but there is no doubt that they do.  Some of this is conscious but much of it can be chalked up to either unconscious behaviors, misunderstandings (or a lack of information/education) or mishearing or misinterpreting the message.  … Keep Reading