An interview with Jamie Hale, by Andreas Zourdos

I am fortunate enough to interview Jamie Hale, one of the scientists I most admire in the field of nutrition and exercise. Jamie Hale is the author of 7 books, his latest being “Should I Eat The Yolk?”, a must read for those interested in quality nutritional information. Jamie’s work ethic is a unique mixture of an in the trenches understanding of fitness combined with an unbiased scientific approach.
Andreas Zourdos: I know you have trained people from all walks of life, from experienced bodybuilders and MMA athletes to previously sedentary individuals. What is the most underrated factor people tend to neglect in their training?
Jamie Hale: For sedentary trainees the most underrated factor is probably consistency.  It is imperative that workouts and eating regimens are followed consistently, for a substantial period of time.  Working out for one week, then maybe missing a week weakens the chances of attaining goals.  This type of behavior is called instrumental irrationality (cognitive science term).  For competitive athletes the most underrated factor is the difficulty in scheduling the training and nutrition regimen so the athlete peaks at the right team- dialing them in. I know many coaches that have a bag full of training techniques, but haven’t figured out how to combine, and schedule these techniques in the proper manner.  This methodology problem makes it difficult for athletes to peak at the right time.
Andreas Zourdos: There is a tendency for many people to blame genes when it comes to weight loss. What is your response when you come across such opinions?
Jamie Hale: Some genotypes have a harder time than others with weight loss, but that simply means they need to approach things differently.  If a person consistently consumes calories below their average daily metabolic rate weight loss will follow. The problem is how do we get people to follow these guidelines.  The future of nutrition research is the study of behavior modification.   We need to address questions such as- How do we set-up our homes to maximize our nutrition goals?  How does eating with others influence food intake?  What foods decrease appetite?  How does container size and design affect consumption?  How does proximity influence intake? etc..  Genetics do matter, but they do not make weight loss impossible. I worked in a Prader- Will (disorder that includes, among other characteristics, insatiable appetites) Group Home where all of the residents at one time were chronically obese.  Once they were institutionalized they all dropped weight. The staff had complete control of the residents food intake, the clients ate only what was provided by the staff. Their diets consisted of a low calorie mix of carbs, proteins and fats.  Believe it or not, nothing extraordinary- NO low carb, low fat, or food combining.
Andreas Zourdos: What do you think of popular fitness and bodybuilding magazines?
Jamie Hale: I think they contain some good information from time to time, but for the most part should be ignored if you’re looking for reliable information.  Generally, they are packed full of opinions and personal testimonies, which may or may not be useful to the readers.  Scientific information is not the normative in popular fitness magazines.
Andreas Zourdos: How important is compliance when it comes to dieting?
Jamie Hale: If you consistently follow a diet that creates a calorie deficit you will lose weight.  But, as mentioned previously, consistency is the key.  I advise my clients to pick a diet that they will stick with, and not to worry so much about what their friends or magazines advise.  In my books Knowledge and Nonsense , and Diet Sham or Diet Revolution? ,I offer a critique of a various diets.  To reiterate compliance is important, but this doesn’t mean compliance 100% of time.  An occasional variance from the diet is no big deal, as long as this behavior doesn’t become habitual.
Andreas Zourdos: What’s the difference between scepticism and the denial of science?
Jamie Hale:  The word skepticism is derived form the word “skeptikos”- meaning- inquiring. Being skeptical is a good thing, and is a key characteristic of scientific thinking.   Some people believe that skepticism is the rejection of new ideas. Often people confuse “skeptic” with “cynic.” Skepticism is a method used to question the validity of a particular claim. In it’s simplest form skepticism requires evidence for a claim to be accepted as fact (valid evidence doesn’t include “they say” “my instructor says” “the gym staff says” “I have always heard”.). Cynics are distrustful of any advice or information that they do not agree with themselves. Cynics do not accept any claim that challenges their belief system.  The denial of science is the denial of how things really work in the observable universe- Epistemic Irrationality.
Andreas Zourdos: Any plans after writing “Should I eat the yolk”?
Jamie Hale: Currently, I am working on my eight book- How We Know: A Guide To Reason. The book addresses knowledge acquisition, tools for rationality- logic, probabilistic thinking, scientific thinking-, research methodology, and common errors in reasoning and decision-making.  I am also in the process of coming up with a research hypothesis that will be tested at a local University.  The research is in the area of cognitive science.