In other words, both men and women can tell with “above-chance accuracy,” simply from looking at his face, whether a man is likely to cheat (aka his potential infidelity). Honestly, I’d say that most of me and my friends’ dating experience goes against this particular finding—but on the other hand, isn’t the problem that we do always see the red flags (or likelihood to cheat) and forge ahead anyway? Something to think about. The study went on to say that participants were using “facial masculinity” to judge the pictured men’s unfaithfulness. According to these researchers, facial masculinity is a “well-established signal of propensity to adopt short-term mating strategies.”
For God’s sake. If anyone lets the f*ckboys of this generation hear the phrase “short-term mating strategies,” it’s all over. (“It’s not that I don’t want to date, I’m just evolutionarily designed for short-term mating strategies!” Kill me.) Another more candid portion of the study lays it out like this: “male masculinity positively related to preference for uncommitted sex and multiple matings.” You heard it here first, guys: run away from that strong jaw. It does explain a lot about Luke P.’s whole face and energy, not to mention that of every athlete who’s ever cheated on a Kardashian. I’d personally be hard-pressed to describe Lamar Odom as having a feminine face, just saying.
her: are you cheating on me
me: why would you say that?
her: i found a hair straightener in your bathroom
me: [too embarrassed to tell her that every morning i use it on my ass hair] yes i’m cheating on you
— viking (@notviking) September 3, 2018
There are a few facts in this life that we can count on. Men lie. People who say “I’ll pay you back” will never pay you back. Your period will arrive like clockwork every 28 or so days. And before you come at me for that first assertion being untrue, I have enough text message receipts to fill the Old Testament to prove it. The bigger issue is that a new study led by UCL and Natural Cycles, a contraceptive app, found that a basic assumption we take for granted about menstrual cycles is not actually a given. And by that I mean, this “rule” that your period comes every 28 days? You know, the premise that a lot of hormonal birth control packs are based off of? Yeah, it doesn’t even apply to a vast majority of women. Cool cool cool cool cool. Good thing we don’t base a whole slew of other science on this premis—oh wait.
The study, published in Nature Digital Medicine earlier this week, examined over 600,000 menstrual cycles of 124,648 women who used the Natural Cycles app. These women were from the United States, Sweden, and the UK. Researchers set out to look at how menstrual cycles were influenced by factors like age, BMI, and body temperature, in order to try to understand when women are more or less likely to get pregnant. Now, to be clear, the sample size of this study is not a complete accurate representation of the general population. For one, the sample only consists of app users. For another, only 8% of the app users in the study are obese while 15% of women in the general population are obese. Finally, the study excluded those with a pre-existing condition that would impact fertility, like PCOS, hypothyroidism, or endometriosis, as well as women who were experiencing menopausal symptoms. This makes sense considering the study was specifically concerned with pregnancy, but it does mean its findings are not applicable to everyone.
i can always tell when i’m going to start my period by how close i get to cutting my own bangs at 3am
— gabbie hanna (@GabbieHanna) November 6, 2017
Now that we’ve gotten all the disclaimers out of the way (shouts-out to the AP Psych class I took senior year of high school), let’s get into what the study found, because it’s actually very interesting. Researchers collected data from women ages 18 to 45, with BMIs between 15 and 50, who were using Natural Cycles from September 2016 to February 19. The women had not been using hormonal birth control within 12 months from registering for the app. So, remember how I said that it’s basically taken as gospel that menstrual cycles last 28 days? Yeah. Guess how many of the cycles actually lasted that long.
Just 13%. Thirteen percent of women in the study had 28-day menstrual cycles, and yet that timeframe is the basis for a lot of birth control methods and, equally importantly, fertility windows. If you literally Google “when does ovulation occur”, the top answer will tell you that ovulation typically occurs about 14 days before your period starts, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days. The problem with this model is that, according to this study, very few women do have a 28-day cycle, and in fact, researchers actually found the average cycle lasts 29.3 days. And, furthermore, 65% of women had cycles that lasted between 25-30 days—but that means 35% of people (or over a third) do not. That is a good chunk of people who do not even fall into this window that we take for granted as “standard”.
I love period dramas, I have one every month
— Karen Chee (@karencheee) August 11, 2019
So why does this matter? Researchers’ big takeaway was that this has significant implications for people trying to get pregnant. As Professor Joyce Harper, one of the researchers of the study, put it: “ovulation does not occur consistently on day 14 and therefore it is important that women who wish to plan a pregnancy are having intercourse on their fertile days.” More specifically, these results are important for people who are trying to conceive and are using apps or cycle dates to predict fertility days. “An individualized approach to identify the fertile window should be adopted,” said Dr. Simon Rowland, Head of Medical Affairs at Natural Cycles. “Apps giving predictions of fertile days based solely on cycle dates could completely miss the fertile window and it is therefore unsurprising that several studies have shown that calendar apps are not accurate in identifying the fertile window.” Harper added, “In order to identify the fertile period it is important to track other measures such as basal body temperature as cycle dates alone are not informative.”
On the surface, it’s not a particularly shocking conclusion that all reproductive systems are not identical, or that in general, biological functions and processes are complex and unique to the individual and cannot be generalized to a neat window or category that fits every single person. But then again, this is done all the time—whether we are talking about menstrual cycle lengths, body mass index, diets, or anything else. Am I surprised we are only now just being confronted with data that confronts the standard 28-day menstrual cycle, given that understanding of the female anatomy seems to be so low on the priority list that the clitoris was not even fully discovered until 1998? No, I am not surprised. But this study is giving me, and the researchers, hope that more studies will be done on the menstrual cycle, particularly, clinical trials done in controlled settings. “These initial results only scratch the surface of what can be achieved,” said Professor Harper. “We hope to stimulate greater interest in this field of research for the benefit of public health.” She added that with increased interest in and dedication to doing empirical studies, “there is enormous potential to uncover new scientific discoveries.”
Images: karencheee, GabbieHanna / Twitter
In news that should surprise nobody, a study showed that influencers don’t know how to give proper weight loss advice. I’m not even talking about the clearly sponsored tea ads that we all know are B.S.; I’m talking about the influencers with actual weight loss blogs and recipes. Yeah, apparently even the ones who seem legit can’t be trusted. A UK study was recently presented at a conference in Glasgow that gives scientific backing to this claim that the info these influencers are selling is misleading, to say the least.
The research conducted research on the 14 most popular UK influencers with fitness blogs, and they were chosen based on the following criteria:
- 80,000 followers on at least one social media platform
- They have a verified blue-tick on at least two social media platforms
- They have an active fitness/weight-management blog
So here’s what happened. Of the 14, 5 didn’t make the cut because too much of the blog content didn’t relate to fitness or weight loss. The 9 remaining influencers’ blog contents were further analyzed for credibility. The research had 12 indicators that they used to quantify credibility (science will turn anything into numbers, it’s crazy). These indicators looked at transparency, proper use of other resources, trustworthiness, adherence to accepted nutritional guidelines, and bias. They were measured on a pass/fail basis, and just like in high school, 70% was the pass rate. The study found that 5 influencers did not provide evidence-based references (so, scientific studies) for their nutritional advice and they presented their opinions as facts.
The researchers also took 10 latest meal recipes from each blog and analyzed their nutritional values. These values were then compared to guidelines in the Public Health England’s “One You” calorie reduction campaign (so their version of USDA’s My Plate) and something called UK Food Standards Agency’s Traffic Light Scheme (which sounds to me V. CONFUSING, but turns out it’s just their cute little method of labeling their food). Only three recipes met the UK’s public health criteria.
So who really passed? Just one. The passing blog is run by a degree-qualified blogger, who is also a registered nutritionist with the UK Association for Nutrition. Interestingly enough, a medical doctor did not pass. Considering that doctors are not trained in nutrition (a lot of people don’t realize this), this is not that surprising to me. The lowest scoring blog was run by an influencer with no nutritional qualifications.
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Now first of all, this study has an extremely small sample size. Nevertheless, the findings are still important. Let’s be real, personal trainers and nutritionists SHOULD require, at minimum, a certification course and passing a certification exam. Not all the online trainers you see will have these certifications. Better personal trainers have degrees in their field that require years of work, and better nutritionists are registered dieticians, which means they have to take the Board Exam.
As someone who has degrees in both fields, I can attest to the amount of work we do. We talk about the cycles of metabolism in deep detail. I’m talking all-nighter required levels of detail. We literally remember the glycolysis pathway with each metabolite and catalyzing enzyme, along with the byproduct of each metabolizing step. We also remember the actual chemical illustration (the hexagon looking things, you see? Yea, those). A nutritionist who knows their science should know it takes 10 steps to get a sugar molecule into usable energy for your body because they should’ve learned it in an Advanced Metabolism class (pre-requisites include organic chemistry). A personal trainer who knows their sh*t should know all about the correct ways to periodize training programs to overcome the general adaptation syndrome for their clients’ continuous progression because they should’ve learned that in Kinesiology 101, or at the very least, during their certification course.
That all too science-y? Thank you. The point is this: People cannot just start going to the gym, getting their own bodies in better shape, and start giving out advice. Not only does that put people’s health at risk, but it also demeans an entire industry. That’s like if someone who put Neosporin and a Band-aid on their cut started calling themselves a doctor.
people take one mirror pic at their local gym and swear they’re fitness influencers
— J (@oh_jdiaz) June 12, 2019
The main takeaway from this study? Be careful who you take advice from! They may have the perfect IG feed with a blue check, but that doesn’t mean they’re qualified to dole out advice. Nutrition and fitness is a field that is super scientific and specific, and it deals with your HEALTH. Always, always double check someone’s background in the field before believing what they have to say.
Images: Ayo Ogunseinde / Unsplash; dietstartstomorrow / Instagram; oh_jdiaz / Twitter
At the end of a long day scrolling through memes, there are a few things we can reliably turn to for comfort. Specifically: removing your bra, grabbing a bottle glass of wine, and turning on Bravo. Unfortunately, according to a new study, one of those things (Bravo) is making you a monster who hates poor people. Honestly, I’m a little sad that these researchers are spending their money on ruining reality TV. But I’m even sadder at what the study results showed. Let’s dig in.
This London School of Economics study tested participants in two ways. First, they polled the group about their TV watching habits, focusing on shows like The Apprentice (BBC version) and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Overall, they found that regular watchers were more likely to have materialistic and “anti-welfare” attitudes. (To be clear, they demonstrated anti-welfare attitudes when specifically questioned about the issue. Watching KUWTK has no correlation with randomly railing against the existence of welfare, unless you happen to be Paul Ryan.)
Second, the researchers showed some participants ads for luxury goods and pictures of celebrities. The other participants looked at ads featuring nature or animals. The researchers then polled all participants on their “views on wealth, success and government benefits for impoverished people.” The results? With only 60 seconds looking at the ads promoting wealth/expensive goods, people were way more likely to back anti-welfare policies.
After looking at a Prada ad for 60 seconds, apparently:
What It Means
So, why would this be the case? Obviously, they can’t know for sure—but if you watch reality TV on a regular basis (think: all Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules, KUWTK, etc), you probably have a pretty good idea. The study author, Dr. Rodolfo Levya, phrased it like this:
“Programs like ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The X Factor’ are engineered to absorb audiences into the world of wealth and celebrities so act as ‘cultivators’ of materialistic values and attitudes…If there is more emphasis on materialism as a way to be happy, this makes us more inclined to be selfish and antisocial, and therefore unsympathetic to people less fortunate.”
As much as I’d love to poke holes in this, I have to say that it holds up. What I watch on TV has a strong influence on my purchasing habits. (Exhibit A: I never would have gotten eyelash extensions if I hadn’t been bingeing Vanderpump Rules.) And I do pretty firmly believe that a trust fund would solve most of my problems. So yeah, I’ve definitely bought into the whole “materialism as a way to be happy” thing. That being said, the idea that money = happiness is not exactly new to our generation. So it feels a little cheap to pin all of that on the advent of reality TV. If anything, it’s just exaggerated the phenomenon.
As for the other finding (that people became anti-welfare and generally unsympathetic), I find this harder to explain. Personally, I don’t feel a strong correlation between wanting to buy a designer bag and supporting Medicaid budget cuts. Then again, Trump rose to fame through The Apprentice, and his 2019 budget proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance. So on a national level, we’re definitely seeing a lack of sympathy in that direction.
Overall, as much as I love blaming any bad character traits on external factors, these study results are disappointing. (And not all that surprising.) Am I going to advocate that you throw out your TVs and/or boycott the Kardashians? Def not—for one thing, I’d be out of a job. But in your quest to live half as luxuriously as Blue Ivy Carter, maybe consciously take the time to remember that other people are struggling too. In other words, make an effort to care as much about the homeless population in your city as you do about Kim and Kourtney’s latest feud, or they’re going to label Bravo a public health risk and take it away from us.
Images: Giphy (3)
It’s February, which means you’ve probably recently given up on your first 2018 diet attempt. Sometimes, no matter how many Sweetgreen calories you count, it feels like nothing will make your holiday belly go away. And a recent study is here with the explanation why—specifically, an explanation other than your 3am pizza binges. According to this study, restricting your calorie/fat/carb intake specifically (aka the cornerstones of every diet ever invented) is way less effective than previously thought. Instead, weight loss is as simple as swapping out “evil” foods (sugar, anything “refined” or “processed”) for their healthier counterparts. And the best part? If you follow that system, calories and portion size are much less important. Since this defies everything I thought I knew about how to lose weight, I decided to investigate how credible these claims really are. Here’s what I found out.
For what it’s worth, this study was fucking expensive ($8 million, to be exact). Over the course of a year, over 600 participants followed either a healthy low-carb or a healthy low-fat diet. Dietitians set these diets by advising participants on which foods to eat and which to avoid, as dietitians do. For example, the low-fat diet group was told to avoid “bad” low-fat foods (like soda, baked goods, or white rice, things that technically are low in fat but are also low in any real nutritional value). “Good” foods included brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, and other foods that are devoid of happiness. The low-carb group was advised to eat foods like olive oil, salmon, avocado, and nut butters. (So like, if you combined the two diets you could form a decent meal.)
Notably, they gave no numeric limits on calories, carbs, or fat for any test group. They also didn’t assign any kind of exercise requirements, beyond recommending they meet federal guidelines for physical activity. (The guidelines suggest a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of “moderate-intensity” exercise per week, BTW. And no, running your mouth doesn’t count as exercise. Then again, they also recommend daily “bone-strengthening” exercises for adolescents, so they lost a little credibility for me there.)
As with every study ever conducted, results were not 100% consistent. On average, low-carb participants lost around 13 pounds, while low-fat participants lost a little under 12. On average, they also found smaller waist sizes, lower body fat, and better blood sugar and blood pressure levels across the board. Participants who lost the most weight (50-60 pounds) also announced changes like eating less in front of the TV. (This seems both like a negative change and unnecessarily braggy to me, but whatever.) Finally, researchers checked to see whether genotypes or insulin resistance affected participants’ results—they didn’t.
What This Means
Basically, these findings means we may have two major theories wrong when it comes to how to lose weight. First of all, the national obsession with calorie counting should maybe chill out, so tell that to your friend who won’t STFU about MyFitnessPal. It also means counting grams of carbs or fat isn’t essential to weight loss either, and that sound you heard in the distance might be the crumbling worldviews of keto dieters everywhere. The downside of these results is that you basically have no excuse not to diet, since you can no longer claim “being bad at math” as a legitimate reason to not watch what you’re eating.
Second, these findings combat the notion of “genotype-specific diets.” Earlier findings had suggested that individual metabolisms reacted differently to certain food groups, like carbs or fat. And in response, people were told to customize their diets to their metabolic properties. But this study tested for all genetic variants—and found no significant variation in results. One researcher even lamented this, saying “it would have been sweet” if a clinical test revealed how you should diet. (Follow up research was not done into what fraternity that researcher was in.) But no—according to this study, eating nutritious whole foods until satiated was the only consistent key to weight loss. In other words, you’re not going to gain weight from eating an unlimited number of vegetables, but you can’t just eat a million donuts because “my body wants donuts and I’m practicing intuitive eating.”
Of course, there are many reasons to take these findings with a grain of salt. While many participants lost weight, others gained it. And since the study is so recent, we don’t know whether participants who did lose weight will keep it off. So, you shouldn’t go full Whole 30 and dive into family-size portions just yet. But if these studies continue to be proven correct? You may finally be able to say goodbye to Googling nutrition info 800 times a day. If nothing else, your data plan will thank you.
Dieting is a tricky area for betches, since it requires hard work and patience, two decidedly awful things. On the other hand, FaceTuning yourself 20 pounds thinner every time you post an Instagram is equally difficult. So in the interest of maintaining a #nofilter bod, maybe take a step away from the juice cleanses and fad diets. You made it through 2017; you can eat fewer things with nutrition labels that read like science fiction.
Images: rawpixel / Pexels; Giphy
If you’re looking for the perfect excuse to get out of doing shit for other people this summer, we’ve got just the thing for you. There’s a new study in the European Journal of Social Psychology that says people in uncomfortably hot environments are much less likely to help others. Basically, summer is making you a bitch.
We’ve always loved complaining when we’re too hot, but now we have science to back us up. The researchers found that there’s a strong link between temperature and “prosocial behaviors,” which means that when you’re hot, you’re not going to do anything that doesn’t actually benefit you and you’ll have zero tolerance for socializing or making small talk.
Anyone: How are you doing?
One of the examples they use is employees in retail stores. If the store is too warm, the employees are going to be bitches and not offer to help you with anything. If you need something in a different size, you’ll be stuck sweating in the fitting room while the employees, like, sit around and talk shit about you. We’re always complained that stores are too cold, but at least that means you’ll be getting better service?
The study also found that people who are uncomfortably warm are way less likely to agree to fill out surveys, which is very useful information. Next time you’re in a parking lot and some lady harasses you to sign a petition, just mumble something about it being hot and run to your car. You’re not being rude…
Lastly, the researchers concluded that hot environments made people more fatigued, so it’s completely reasonable to take two naps a day in the summer. Basically, this whole study is just giving you excuses to do all the things you already do, and we’re totally here for it. Thanks science, gotta go take a nap now!
I feel like scientific studies regarding food can really go either way. There are the kind that tell you something you thought was bad for you actually has health benefits. Ya know, like the ones that says cheese and red wine are good for you and shit. And then sometimes, these studies are culinary cock blocks and just ruin your whole
life day. The study I’m about to break down for you is the latter because science now says that if you eat fries, you’re more likely to die. Well isn’t that just fucking wonderful.
Look, it’s not like I’ve ever been under the impression that fries are good for you, but death? That seems a bit much, no? The study at hand looked at the potato intake of more than 4,000 people between 45 and 79 years old for eight years. During that time span, 236 of those people died (bummer) and those 236 people, as a whole, had a higher frequency of fried potato eating. So you’re telling me this isn’t just French fries, but tots and hash browns too? OH HELL NAH!
Getting even more specific, there were findings showing that those who ate fried potatoes at least twice a week had double the risk of death. Way harsh, Tai. Tbh, the whole twice a week kinda makes me feel better. I mean, that’s a fucking lot of fry eating. You can probably guess why fry consumption and death are related, but for the people in the back, researchers guess it has something to do with the ridiculous amounts of salt and fat in fried potato products. That, or the people who are eating fried tots all the damn time probably don’t live the healthiest of lifestyles to begin with so they’re probs at a higher risk for heart disease anyway. Take your pick—whichever helps you
justify your poor eating habits sleep at night.
One positive from this
buzzkill study is that there were no signs that tie death to the consumption of other forms of potatoes. So like, mashed potatoes are Gucci. Phew. Also as I learned from my AP Psych class, correlation does not mean causation, so you scientists can go shave your back now.
So there you have it: don’t eat fried potatoes more than once a week. But look on the bright side. At least it isn’t pizza.
Aryan race, beware… looks like we’ve finally found your flaw. The American Journal of Medical Genetics just released a study claiming that light-eyed individuals (especially blue) are more at risk of developing alcoholism than their dark eyed counterparts. This is great news for some because they can now start blaming eye pigment for their alcoholic tendencies instead of bad relationships, absent fathers, etc. Researchers admit the findings are only a small portion of preventing alcoholism, but let’s be real, scientists can’t do shit when it comes to our drinking habits.
This news is probably the first to ever touch on the disadvantages of having blue eyes. All our lives we’ve been bombarded with song lyrics and Photoshopped pictures boasting the unparalleled beauty and exceptionality of blue-eyed women. Millions of brown-eyed girls can attest to eye-rolling the shit out of someone gushing about how beautiful someone’s blue eyes are (like, she’d only be a 4 if she had brown eyes, ugh). So, brown eyed betches, here’s some good news. Your blue-eyed friend may get more free drinks at the bar, but you are way less likely to show up drunk to your child’s piano recital. Even trade, right? And after all, eyes are the windows to the alcoholic’s soul.