Eating Disorder remarks on a recent podcast

So some remarks made on a recent episode (Hot takes: Intermittent Fasting, etc) have been constantly nagging me lately. Ivy, I believe, gave the opinion that IF was a symptom of an Eating Disorder, and later they read all the symptoms of having an disorder, I realized I probably check every box. It was recommended that one should seek help through a therapist. The symptoms though seem so mundane, “Do you count calories? Do you skip meals? Do you care about your weight?”. I do all of these, but currently , for the first time in my life in my mid 30’s I’m 100% happy with my body. I’m hitting my best numbers. I don’t stress about food. I also am eating healthier than ever. With all that it seems that I’m doing something wrong, and the alternative is??? Not paying any attention to my diet, blowing up, and being happy with whatever I end up looking and feeling like? I’m just confused about the whole issue and would like your thoughts.


This is in my opinion the big difference between just doing your thing and a eating disorder. It gets problematic when eating controls you, instead of the other way around.


I tend to agree with this concise statement, and think it distinguishes pretty well between areas of attention and areas of concern.

Also, I think in the podcast there is a distinction between an “eating disorder” and “disordered eating.” While those two phrases may seem like a distinction without a difference, I have always been under the impression that the latter is more in line with a full-blown diagnosis of a discreet/recognized condition, whereas the former means that an individual is trending toward potentially problematic behavior. I may be wrong on this front, but that has always been my understanding.


I think you might feel better if you go back and listen to the segment again. I just went and listened to it for the first time and although Ivy does say that she agrees at the beginning of that segment that IF is an eating disorder, the discussion gets more nuanced right away. I think the key to the list of possible symptoms that Nate goes through at about 28:30 in the video is when he lists “anxiety associated with” or “guilt and shame” going along with these symptoms and having it “negatively impact your quality of life”. It sounds like you aren’t stressing about food and are happy with where you are, so I think you are fine. :smiley:


I don’t totally disagree (based on personal experience), but I think context matters with those statements.

Counting calories can be done for several reasons. Some people count to make sure they’re getting enough food based on the requirements of their training load. If you’re counting to restrict intake to potentially unhealthy levels, that’s a problem.

I would change the second question to “Do you skip meals when you’re hungry?”. If you’re legitimately hungry but skip lunch, then you might be doing some harm, especially if you’re also training consistently.

Finally, “Do you care about your weight… above all else?”. Everyone cares about their weight, especially cyclists, but what you are excluding from your life in service of reaching some goal weight is what is important to consider.

I think a lot of the advice regarding weight given on the podcast is given from the perspective of athletes on the pointy end. Remember, Ivy’s a pro and pros (both men and women) have often gone to dark places in service of getting their weight as low as possible.

I’m a middle-aged dude who spent the first 37 years of his life overweight or (most of that time) obese. I wasn’t going to change that by not caring about my weight. I took the IF route to weight loss in 2020 and was successful with it, but it has taken the subsequent two years to reach a psychologically healthy balance with food and eating.

Early on after getting to my goal weight I had actual nightmares where I’d have regained all of the weight I worked so hard to lose. I lived in fear of backsliding for well over a year. When I upped my training volume in 2021 it took a while for me to realize that I needed to start eating more and it took even longer to be mentally ok with how much I was eating.

I think being able to maintain my weight over the last couple of years has helped bring me back to an even keel wrt food, but the discipline required to maintain the IF regimen certainly had some negative psychological impacts.


This is also my understanding.

I engage in disordered eating to various degrees at various times. I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder. My mom, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with an eating disorder and engages in disordered eating nearly constantly. But the line between the two of us is blurry, so I check in with myself regularly and have loved ones who know my issues and will gently nudge me if they notice me trending toward bad habits.

I don’t think it will ever be as simple as check marks by a list of risk factors.


If you’re for the first time 100% happy with your body because you’re doing these things, that’s probably not a good sign for disordered eating.

Then again, here is a stat from CDC:
“Percent of adults aged 20 and over with overweight, including obesity: 73.6%”

I’d keep counting if I was you! Lol

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Your’e right, I did listen again and agree. I had googled “Eating Disorder Symptoms” where the more vague items were listed.


I was listening to the podcast and had some thoughts about the IF comments as well. Eating disorders are some of the most medically and psychologically complex disorders that exist in all of medicine. Using a checklist could be useful to determine if you are at-risk or should have a further assessment. Having ambivalent feelings about food, restricting calories, anxiety around eating, etc - all of this can be normal (even preferable in some cases), and I was disappointed to hear a comment like “Intermittent fasting is just disordered eating.” It’s simply not true.


just a general reminder…

a “hot take” is defined as a piece of commentary, typically produced quickly in response to a recent event, whose primary purpose is to attract attention.

do not confuse a “hot take” beyond someone’s opinion, they are often being dogmatic


yeah, I’m also not agreeing IF is disordered eating. I mean 3 meals a day seems pretty arbitrary. We naturally have an eating window that is while we are asleep, but there is probably nothing biological that says humans must eat three meals a day at these intervals. I don’t buy that IF is going to unlock all these other physiological benefits, but I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that 2 meals a day is worse than 3 meals a day. You might eat the same amount of calories regardless.


I don’t think there’s much confusion about that. Stated opinions are open to criticism, especially when they are dogmatic.

I think this is more than a single incident though. The relationship between TR and food has been cringe-worthy and downright problematic for years. We all remember when Nate took laxatives to lose weight before a race as well as multiple guests and hosts referring to food as “fuel,” discussions about food “quality” ad nauseum, etc. Very typical for the endurance community in general


I could make an argument that it is. If we’re doing hot takes. Dogmatically restricting food based on an arbitrary set of rules falls into a lot of flags for disordered eating.

As someone who did intermittent fasting for 2 years and loved it while I was doing it, I can say that it had a lot of hallmarks of disordered eating. I skipped social events where food was present because I was afraid I would eat outside of my window. I went to bed under fueled and failed workouts the next day because I wasn’t able to eat during my window. I asked family and friends to move or cancel meals to fit within my eating window.

Did I have an eating disorder, probably not diagnosable. Does the list of actions above sound like disordered eating, I think so now.

Not saying that’s everyone’s relationship with IF, but if you follow the letter of the system, then you almost have to make these choices.


I do think TR has a problem with messaging around food in general to be honest. Cycling of almost every discipline punishes excess weight.
Whether through aerodynamics, gravity or rolling resistance- there are no upsides to lugging excess baggage around.

Now- in a physics sense, us fatties are doing more work as we have moved a greater mass through space and time to the destination. But unfortunately, it’s not the rider that’s burned the most kj’s that wins- it’s the first over the line :rofl:

TR’s dilemma comes with the fact their workouts are based on a sweetspot protocol that needs lots of fuel to complete. You can fake an odd one but to do a plan religiously for months requires good on the bike nutrition. And of course, subscriber retention relies on good rates of workout completion.

So they flog the “don’t diet on the bike” message relentlessly. (Edit/ and with Ryan Standish the other day, Johnathon did his usual trick of completely contradicting himself by picking on FasCats “Win in the Kitchen” moto :rofl: If we’re not allowed to win in the kitchen or diet on the bike- when the heck are those of us with lots of excess weight they hope to lose supposed to do it :rofl::rofl:)

I succumbed to it hard too. But having had a high carb diet since childhood, my body is super receptive to them. I have to go pretty extreme to get even mild gut distress. If eating alone was key to winning bike races (as also relentlessly messaged on the podcast) I’d be world champion for sure :trophy: :bento:

So last summer, I tried to just ride and clean up my eating, not count calories and fuel every ride to the limit. After all- the studies show we’re burning it right?

Wrong! I was doing 10h weeks on top of a physical job and put on 10lbs!!

In order to start to reverse that in a meaningful way I’ve had to resort to the full list of ‘disordered eating’ tactics as mentioned in this episode :rofl:
MyFitnessPal is even the only app on my Home Screen.
But without resorting to every trick in the book: fasted or lightly fuelled rides, IF, calorie counting and everything else- I know from a lifetime of experience that my body doesn’t give up an ounce!

For me- disordered eating occurs only when I don’t step in and override my natural tendency to store fat like a pre-hibernating bear :rofl:

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Haven’t listened to the podcast yet so forgive me.

Was 140kg, lost 50kg over a period of 12~months after an initial consultation with a nutritionist and subsequent ongoing monthly appointments, a food diary to record my food intake, upping my step count to 10,000+ steps a day and cardio/weights throughout the week.

Was told I had an eating disorder, that I was doing damage to my body, it wasn’t normal to stop drinking alcohol, too much exercise is bad for you, the whole nine yards of statements from people who either wanted to lose weight but lacked motivation, or, as a close friend of mine said of one or two so-called friends, just outright jealously that I took a chance to do something about my health. Was even dumped by my girlfriend - :face_with_raised_eyebrow: but that’s a story for another time.

I’ve kept the weight off for over 12 years now. I don’t keep a food diary anymore because I understand that a cheeseburger and thick shake isn’t a healthy meal on a regular basis but a treat after a week of healthy meals or a big day in the saddle/on the trail.

It was scary taking the first step and holding myself accountable but it has changed my life for the better. I would encourage anyone who might be struggling with their weight or their relationship with food to talk to someone about it. Your GP would be a good start, or a nutritionist like I did. You don’t need to suffer in silence.


I think this is probably unfair to TR. I hear what you’re saying, but if you go back and listen to old podcasts, you’ll hear Jon and Chad talking about doing IF/ Keto and eating a single egg for dinner.

When they’re talking about fueling now, it’s just following accepted wisdom in most of the endurance sport world.

Matt Fitzgerald: No study has ever shown that increasing carb intake decreases performance.
David Roche: Eat enough always, eat too much sometimes.
Kristian Blummenfelt: We just got comfortable eating more than everyone else.
Nell Rojas: I went to the carb store and got some carbs.

The recent TR discussions on eating enough and focusing on fueling the work is supported by pro athlete anecdotes and training science. It’s less clear if the same thing still applies to me as a recreantionally active middle aged thoroughly mediocre athlete :sweat_smile:,

But I think it’s fair to say that they’re doing more than just trying to sell a diet that makes their training system possible.


Well quite. We know from the bell curves where the average TR user is…… :grinning:

I’m not a carb denier! I love how I feel when carbed to the max :yum: :biking_man:t2: :dash:
I just think when trying to actively ditch large amounts of fat, the priority should switch to fuelling your ability to survive each day in a deficit (which probably means favouring satiating real food with whatever calories you have available). Workouts are merely a calorie burning means to an end……

I’d rather be 85kg/300w than 100kg/350w that’s for sure….


Yep and that’s unfortunate that it happened to many pros and unfortunate that the topic of losing weight is seldom addressed. Yes fueling the workouts is important. When a goal (from your MD let’s say) is to be in calories deficit, should we fuel half the kJ of a ride ? or match the kJ and cut down somewhere else?

I don’t know what’s the % of audience or TR subscribers who belong in the

  • Pro /Pro-wannabe & avg riders having Eating disorders
  • riders who are overweight and use cycling training with one of the goals being to lose/manage weight.

I suspect the latter group (while less than 74% ) outnumbers the first.

The “cycling to lose weight” case is seldom discussed while Jonathan & others are super careful about what they say so noone is encouraged towards eating disorders. It smells of legal dept having warned & coached them… I guess TR & cycling cannot easily be blamed for people being overweight but could be blamed for reinforcing eating disorders.

When I hear on the podcast the topic of eating , it’s time to fast fwd after the “first fuel your workout” is repeated.


Well perhaps we’re talking about two different degrees here. In my case, I don’t fast to restrict calories. I do it to ensure I eat the amount of calories I’m aiming for. On the days I fast until lunch, I still eat the same amount of food than I do on the days where I don’t fast, I just do it in fewer meals. I think if you are doing anything dogmatically and if you are truly “restricting” yourself from things you want to do such as eating with friends, then, yeah, that’s not for me.

But same goes for a lot of things. I go to bed at 8:30pm to wake up at 4:30 for a morning workout. I do that 4 days a week during the week. But, if I had a work call at 11pm or I had an evening event with family or friends, I’m not going to say no to those things because of a workout. I think flexibility is healthy and any time you have an obsession that eliminates flexibility, it’s probably a sign to evaluate.


I will say that one of the potential issues with the “hot take” format is that certain statements are prone to being taken out of context and either exaggerated or moved in entirely different directions by online communities. :sweat_smile:
The resulting discussion around eating disorders was a fairly nuanced and even-handed one IMO, but the “IF is an eating disorder” statement probably less so. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing viewed through the lens of “strictly personal opinion with a side of controversy and humor,” but when it’s about a highly sensitive topic and immediately followed with a more serious discussion it’s pretty easy to mischaracterize.
With that said, I do appreciate that this is a highly relevant topic to endurance athletes and I’m supportive of TR’s messaging as a whole, but IMO “hot takes” are probably better suited to less delicate/personal issues. Finally, those sorts of lists can be enlightening for some, but they’re also particularly subject to WebMD “everything is cancer” syndrome, so if you have concerns I’d absolutely seek the advice of a professional.