Social proofing

Yesterday was an interesting day! I started off with my normal routine, checking my phone to see what notifications I had on social media. Usually, I’m tagged in posts by people asking to disprove a fad diet that appears on the internet. One of the tags immediately caught my attention, it was from a school friend that I hadn’t been in contact with for some time.

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He had tagged me in the post where a personal trainer with a huge following was selling a method to weight loss called the 2mealday. He seemed to have amassed quite a following and a lot of people praised his method. The diet approach stated that in order to achieve weight loss you should only eat two meals a day!

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My friend quite rightly challenged this hogwash, stating that the trainer’s method was simply glorifying a calorie deficit. The trainer, in his rebuttal, said that this was not the case! ‘If you were in a calorie restriction diet your body would change the way that your metabolism worked!’ He then went on to say ‘if you are drip feeding your body food you won’t be able to lose fat’. It was at this point I had to intervene!

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I asked the trainer what was the study/evidence he had developed this premise on, I also asked him about the comments he had made to my friend. Funny enough he didn’t want to discuss the issue on his social media page and asked me to message him privately.

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I acquiesced his request and we had a conversation which started off with him telling me that there was a study on his website to back up what he was saying. Now, this study I had not seen on any of the scientific literature sites [which are subject to stringent reviews, peer reviews from the top scientists in the field after more reviews they are published] They are the most credible sources available!

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He told me that the study was proof because it had been published. My retort was asking him if he had read the Mr Men, book because this was proof that Mr Tickle existed! He might as well have pulled the article from the Sun newspaper, there was no scientific backing to the study as it hadn’t made it past stringent testing to be featured on such sites as previously mentioned

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After some discussion, he eventually admitted that a calorie restriction would reduce fat loss over time but still claimed his method was superior. My hang up with this there was there was no evidence to support his claim and he was trying to bullshit my friend. He was resolute and obtuse with his standpoint that it had to be two meals a day.

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I told him that he didn’t have to misinform people and that he could still make a livelihood from educating people on calories, food choices, macronutrients and keep hold of his integrity. Then I asked him an important question “do you have any qualifications in nutrition“ his response ‘none’. He said he was a coach with a ‘special interest in fasting’ and he had the backing of a qualified person who was part of his business. I then raised the point that of course, you would have his backing if you are pushing his product/method and that doesn’t qualify you.

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He couldn’t see the obvious he was wholly consumed by his belief that two meals a day is the only way and there was no other way to lose body fat despite the empirical evidence that calorie restriction and intermittent fasting diets have been shown no discernible difference between results in fat loss.

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Please take from this that just because people have large followings it doesn’t mean that they are right! This is something called social proofing. Because the person has a lot of followers or fans people automatically trust or believe them because it is best to go along with the crowd rather than question the fact that the person with this following could be an idiot.

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But the most important thing to take from this is that that meal frequency and timing have no bearing on weight loss, as I tried to get through to the trainer, let’s call him Max. The most important thing is adherence, sticking to your calorie allowance! It has to work for you, your diet is personal, you have cultivated it over years. You like the foods you eat and you have them at the times that are convenient for you, it doesn’t have to be rigid for it to work!

Published by Andrew Shaw

Personal Trainer Chocolate connoisseur Lifts weights Holiday lover I interview fitness folk on YouTube

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