Redaction to Dietary Malfeasance

I thought TC’s Dietary Malfeasance article was brilliant.
I wanted to shed some further light on this issue, more particularly, bending and doing so in moderation on occasion.

There are a plethora of scientific studies which document binging after dieting (see Polivy and Herman, 1985 for a full review). The issue seems to lie in what is know as “counter-regulation.” As TC mentioned, he had one donut and it was over twelve later. Counter-regulation can be described as a form of maladaptive regulating eating behavior. As noted in the above article "Even in as sterile a setting as a laboratory, dieters have consistently exhibited what we call ‘counter-regulation’–a pattern in which they eat little ad lib food (thus maintaining their diets) after no preload or a small forced preload, but eat a great deal of food ad lib after being forced or pressured [internally or externally] to consume large, high calorie preloads (i.e., Krispy Kreme).

Other theories to account for binging include Powley’s (1977) cephalic phase hypothesis in which exaggerated predigestive hormonal reflexes in response to palatable food spur binging patterns on that palatable food. This theory was also supported by the above-mentioned authors. In addition, Marliss and Greenberg (1981) found elevated motilin levels in dieters both before and after eating. Motilin is a hormone associated with gastric emptying and it might be expected to reduce bloating.

The interesting point to seemingly decipher from this research (incl. Key’s seminal induced starvation studies) is that it appears the binging is triggered not by physiological responses (i.e., lowered leptin etc., but by rather cognitive mechanisms). However, I would argue for an update of this idea. We now know that leptin influences neuropeptide Y which then can influence the dopaminergic system through the Jak STAT and Janus Kinase pathways. If the dopaminergic system is influenced, one might expect incessant “thinking” about palatable food etc. etc. Thus, leptin indirectly can influence binging through a cascade of intricate reflexes. How many of you on severe cut, pre-contest diets, or other diets have dreams about being naughty with food, or having to calculate something you should not have eaten? I argue this is the response of one highly adapated neuroendocrine system. As noted in Polivy and Herman (1985) "Anything that disrupts the dieter’s cognitive control or restraint, however, unleashes overeating, as an almost inevitable consequence of a situation that allows for only good “dieting” behavior or “bad” binging behavior. The causal link between dieting and binging, then, can be traced to the dieter’s imposition of cognitive controls (or in the case of the German’s a bag of potato chips!).

It all appears done to maintain SET POINT. Sometimes, even binges occur when not cutting, but continually being strict. I would argue that in most cases however, it is suppression of the set point that is responsible. In sum, the leaner one gets, the more succeptible to binge eating. However, if one can accept it as part of the routine, and develop safety plans on what to binge on, you will come out fine. Such an novel idea is already being used to treat anorexic-bullemics.

Yes, I think planning for it is the key.

Unless you truly want to be a machine and just eat perfect all the time (and go nuts in the process), just work some cheats into your plan. And then when the time comes to do it, do it right. Don’t half ass the cheat meal by eating a fake version of the food (ie low fat) or some other dumb idea since that won’t satisfy you.

My personal items would be cookies or ice cream. Pizza is also up high on the list.
Beer I dont consider a binge item since it’s only carbs, not a mixed food.

Good idea with those bulemics/anorexics. Gotta figure out some way to deal with those people sans drugs.


Have you ever read that SET POINT is something that can be changed? A few papers I’ve come across have found that SET POINT can decrease/increase if someone maintians a lower/higher body weight for a certain period of time. Perhaps then, binge eating is more predominant in yo-yo dieters than it is in those who learn to re-program their bodies?



I think JMB had an article in the paper mag on changing one’s set point. Not sure I’m remembering the details, but I think it used cardio and slowly changing ones total calories.

I would be curious to see those cites.

Perhaps for a short period of time, one could maintain a certain level of leaness (or fatness). I am assumming that in order to study set-point a couple of things must occur:

  1. You have to establish what it is for each individual (is there a formula?, do you look at DNA/RNA transcription/strands? is it determined via a family physiological profile?)

  2. In order for the study to be reasonably valid, you would most likely have to study the target group for a substantial amount of time, longitudinally. Survival analysis would most likely be the statistic of choice, but we are talking a minimum of at least 10 years of following to really vouch and say that set point has been altered. Then again, are we looking at DNA coding? Quanitity of adipose tissue stromal cells or fibroblasts?

Thus far all the research shows true setpoint can’t really be changed although this has really only been examined in rats. When they were dieted down to a certain bodyweight and kept there for 2 years their brains and other metabolic regulators still looked like starved rats and not normal rats :). In another study a group of rats were bred to have a genetically high setpoint. When they were kept below that setpoint, even in the absence of dieting, their metabolic regulators were all sub-optimal. When they were fattened up as soon as they hit their genetically programmed setpoint their metabolic regulators normalized.
In humans we certainly don’t see much evidence of the setpoint reducing. How many people ever maintain weight loss without diet or exercise or both? However their are many things we can do to kind’ve outwardly influence that setpoint so we do have quite a bit of control. Those who maintain a lower bodyfat % nearly always engage in some sort’ve deprivation either through caloric deprivation or consistent exercise. How many fat people can lose weight and once that weight is lost, go back to the EXACT eating and lifestyle habits and maintain their leaner self? I haven’t seen any.
One natural condition I’m curious about in regards to setpoint control involves conditions like depression and the effects of neurotransmitters and hormones. We know how neurotransmitters such as dopamine and nor-epinephrine can influence the setpoint. Dopamine mimicking drugs show fat loss even in the absence of dieting. Is it no wonder that people with depression of the low dopamine/nor-epinephrine variety tend to be obese? My question is what happens when this is corrected by drugs, counseling, or just a change in situation? Perhaps manic/depressives would make a good long term study for this. Something i’m looking into but wouldn’t be surprised to see what would amount to a constant changing in setpoint over time.

For what it is worth, this is from a previous thread where I posted the following.

"I think it is always a lot harder to get to an ideal weight than to stay at it. And also, the longer you stay at a certain weight the more resistant your body would be to change. I will try to illustrate in a theorem: (time it took to current weight) x(total ? %BF)x (time at current weight) =Resistance to change Set Point

I would think this would only apply normal body fat % ranges. Too lean or too fat and change could come fairly easy. It is the stubborn 7% to 15% range that seems to be most sensitive and the theory would apply there most. So if you lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks and have maintained for 3 days then it would be easy to put that weight right back on. In turn, if you lost 10% body fat and took 4 months and have maintained it 6 months then you could probably binge for a while without having major changes.

It has happened to a lot of my friends and family that they worry about not ever being able to return to eating the fried sampler and cookie dough ice cream. But you will see that when they start logging results and getting compliments they will begin to pick the carrots out of their salads. We are also creatures of habit so I think our tastes change when we get in the habit of eating right. I never ate vegetables 3 years ago and now I eat several servings a day and can’t get enough of them."

Additionally, I personally always used to get that guilt of gluttony after one of my binges but have learned that they are fine and acceptable. I occasionally take a step back but notice a couple of strong steps forward afterwards. Sometimes it has been what breaks one of my plateaus. I often tell people that get the binge guilt that eating one or two ?cheat? meals a week is not going to totally wreak you no more than the fatso that eats two ?healthy? meals a week is going to lower his cholesterol or lose any noticeable weight.

I used to be fat, but I find that when I get lean it is pretty easy to stay there. This summer I got down to 8% which is extremely low for me, and am able to maintain it pretty easily. By easily, I mean eating at maintenance or a little higher and just working out and no extreme cardio. I have done this the past 3 summers and results have all been pretty much the same. What makes this odd to me is that during the last 2 winters I gained about 10-12 pounds of fat and I find it hard to knock that fat off. But when it’s off then I have no problem. I don’t know if this has anything to do with me changing my setpoint or not but it has happened more than once. I also have the problem of gaining too much fat if I try to increase calories too much. So, I don’t know if I’m changing my setpoint or not.

Chances are that no one is really changing their set point; you can* stay at a relatively lean level for some periods of time, but certainly not at very low body fat levels, or levels that are drastically different from your setpoint. Kelly, in the rat studies, how did they determine set point? I am very curious on that one. One might think that if we can change set point through dieting, than we could change it at the medical level through some form of intricate procedure. Doing so would be the “money maker” of all time, as one could eat ad lib and not gain fat.

The binging articles are very intriguing in that they point out one mechanism that may help to keep this set point in check. Then again, if the West Germans had never seen that bag of potato chips, what would have happened? A lot of this seems culturally induced. Every day at work you see fat people with no discipline, or you see the average joe eat piss poor. As long as they are happy that is fine, but one has to wonder. Are they happy and are WE happy?

Or are we, as a group, like the west germans? Striving after a fantasy body that is never attainable, outside of reality. One aspect of Buddahism is accepting the self as is; if that were the case, would the vanity inherent in this pursuit exist?
In some form or another all of us on this board chase vanity.

Hi all,
I’m sorry I don’t have the time to go into great detail about this, but if you do a search for C Bouchard and the Quebec Family/Twin Studies you’ll find some great information about this topic.
Basically, the researchers looked at an increase of 1000kcals and a decrease of 1000kcals in twins and follwed them for a certain period of time to see what happened with their wt. When cals were increased, wt gain occured and was greater than the fat loss that occured with the decrease in cals. Then as the participants were maintained on the diets for a long period of time, they seemed to maintain the new weight easier (i.e. stay fatter easier, stay leaner easier). This could be an implication of a new set point in these individuals.
On the other hand there are some who don’t belive there is such thing as a set point because there are just too many variables that affect weight maintainence… ie polymophisms of genes and enzymes etc.
Just something else for us thinkers to wrap our brains around.

Vain, my setpoint is around 14-15% bodyfat, so I’m well under my setpoint at 8%. I’m pretty sure my setpoint is around 14-15% because the last 2 years I took 1-2 months off during the holidays and both times I put on about the same weight. I was also eating regular food and none of it was really clean food.