Two really smart guys explain — quite simply, actually — why so many people make so many dumb mistakes in diet and exercise. I agree with their thesis wholeheartedly. My approach with every client I work with is…stick to basics. Doing the basics well will help you deal with a large of proportion of the health risk that you can control…what you eat (which is, really, how well and how much you eat), how well you sleep, and how well you train. That’s it. Oh, and yeah, make sure you do the obvious…don’t smoke, drink modestly if you drink at all, and just try to be an all-around good person.

“There’s often a gap between what you can measure and what really matters,” Christian tells Tech Insider. “And there’s a tendency to overoptimize for the thing that you can measure for the thing that really matters.”

That overoptimization is what statisticians call “overfitting,” and it appears again and again when researchers want to build models for their data. In being thorough, they end up generating a lot of noise that makes it much harder to find the signal.

Diet fads are prime examples of overfitting because they turn an ongoing process ā€” healthy eating ā€” into an oversimplified mandate.

A mathematical theory reveals why you should ignore diet and exercise fads