Monday, September 9, 2013

Waist-to-weight ratios in pictures: The John Stone transformation

John Stone is a bodybuilder and founder of a bodybuilding and fitness web site (). There he has provided pictures and stats of his remarkable transformation, which were used to prepare the montage below.

John’s height is reported as 5' 11.5". Below the photos are the months in which they were taken, the waist circumferences in inches, the weights in lbs, and the waist-to-weight ratios (WWRs). Abhi was kind enough to provide a more detailed plot of John Stone’s WWRs ().

Assuming that minimizing one’s WWR is healthy, an idea whose rationale was explained here before (), we could say that John was at his most unhealthy in the photo on the left.

The second photo from the left shows a slightly more healthy state, at a reported 8 percent body fat (his lowest). The two photos on the right represent states in which John’s WWR is at its lowest, namely 0.1544. That is, in these two photos John minimized his WWR; at a reported 14 and 13.8 percent body fat, respectively.

When we look at the WWRs in these photos, it seems that he is only marginally healthier in the second photo from the left than in the leftmost photo. In the two photos on the right, the WWRs are much lower (they are the same), suggesting that he was significantly healthier in those photos.

Interestingly, in both photos on the right John reported to have been at the end of bulking periods. Whenever he entered a cutting period his WWR started going up. This suggests that his ratio of lean body mass to total mass started decreasing just as soon as he started cutting. I suspect the same would happen if he continued gaining weight.

Which of the two photos on the right represents the best state? Assuming that both states are sustainable, over the long run I would argue that the best state is the one where the WWR was minimized with the lowest weight. There whole-day joint stress is lower. This corresponds to the photo at the far right.

By sustainable states I mean states that are not reached through approaches that are unhealthy in the long term; e.g., approaches that place organs under such an abnormal stress that they are damaged over time. This kind of damage is essentially what happens when we become obese – i.e., too fat. One can also become too muscular for his or her own good.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Is Refined Carbohydrate Addictive?

[Note: in previous versions, I mixed up "LGI" and "HGI" terms in a couple of spots.  These are now corrected.  Thanks to readers for pointing them out.]

Recently, a new study was published that triggered an avalanche of media reports suggesting that refined carbohydrate may be addictive:

Refined Carbs May Trigger Food Addiction
Refined Carbs May Trigger Food Addictions
Can You be Addicted to Carbs?

This makes for attention-grabbing headlines, but in fact the study had virtually nothing to do with food addiction.  The study made no attempt to measure addictive behavior related to refined carbohydrate or any other food, nor did it aim to do so.

So what did the study actually find, why is it being extrapolated to food addiction, and is this a reasonable extrapolation?  Answering these questions dredges up a number of interesting scientific points, some of which undermine popular notions of what determines eating behavior.

Read more »