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Edward D. Friedman 08-04-2005 06:20 PM

For anyone skilled at articulating complex concepts in language so simple that even I could understand it, please ;

how would you explain a "power law" as Dr. DeVany uses the term on his blog ?

More specifically, if eating and activity are "random", how does that translate, per "power laws" to a "schedule" for IF ? ( Even though "random", at least some gauge of when, how often, etc.)

If randomness is indeed beneficial for our wellness and performance, shouldn't it ( at least logically,) apply to sleep, sex, etc. ?



Troy Archie 08-05-2005 06:28 AM

Good call on the sleep part. I've read a few different articles that kind of touched ground on that, where people would have 3-4 hours of sleep a night and then have a 1-2 hour nap in the middle of the day. In the end they were as rested as someone who had a full night's sleep and in some cases more alert despite sleeping less.

Ryan Abbott 08-05-2005 07:14 AM

Yes, logically randomness should apply to everything. However, randomness can only work within the biological framework in which we operate. Sleep, for example, works a bit differently for everyone. We all get into REM sleep and have sleep cycles that vary from each other. To get optimum recovery from sleep one still needs to complete sleep cycles which may be x amount of hours for me and y amount of hours for you. Randomness with food would be fruitless if random eating operates around high amounts of calories and foods like twinkies and ring dings.

Oh, and by the way, I love ring dings.

Michael Ledney 08-05-2005 07:38 AM

I only have a sample size of one, me, but during my first year of grad school I slept in cycles very similar to that which Troy aludes to.

I'd typically get between 2 and 4 hours of unbroken sleep each night then catch a soldier's nap in the lab at some point during the day. I was never completely rested but I was also using a great deal of caffeine.

Eventually I settled into a system where I would switch up my sleep hours. i.e. I'd stay up until 2 or 3 and rise at 6 for as long as I could stand it (typically 4-6 days) then just crash one night at 7 or 8 and get a good 10-12 hours. Then I'd switch up and go to bed at 9 or 10 and get up at 1 or 2 for as long as I could. Repeat. Fortunately we were on quarters so I only had to do it for 11 weeks at a time. Never truly rested though.

Robert Wolf 08-05-2005 07:46 AM

I am on the road this weekend and internet access is dicey...I will try a crack at this on monday.

Alexander Karatis 08-05-2005 07:56 AM

College sleeping cycles?!!!! MUAHAHAHA!!!! ROFLMAO!:biggrin: Yeah, that definitely was intermittent for me... Itermittent like 2 days no sleep, 1 day full sleep.

Hint: It didn't work!:proud:

Jeremy Jones 08-05-2005 04:30 PM

I function pretty well on (sleep times are listed for that night, naps listed happen the following day).

Mon: 4-5 hrs plus 30 min nap next day
Tues: 6-7 hrs
Wed: 4-5 hrs plus nap
Thur: 6-7 hrs
Fri: 4-5 hrs plus nap
Sat: 4-9 (depending on schedule)
Sun: 6-7 hrs

Not extremely random, but not consistant either. If I do get out of whack (less hours than normal for a few days), it can throw me off for a week or so.

Caffine is a harsh mistress for me as well. I try to limit coffee and tea to only when I need it. If I have too much I can't take the naps when I want to. Causing me to need more Caf, messing me up more. . .

Mike Minium 08-06-2005 11:48 AM


I'm sure Handsome Robb Wolf's post will be far more insightful and useful than mine, but I'll attempt to put on my Prof De Vany thinking cap and take a shot....


In spite of some of the experiences of the posters above, I'm going to say that sleep schedules should be far less random than the intake of food. I say this because although De Vany uses evolutionary theory (with a dash of chaos theory thrown in) as the underlying structure that supports his views and opinions, he also borrows heavily from the world of economics (he was, as CFers here probably already know, a professor of economics).

And in economic terms, the supply of food was highly variable in prehistoric times (not just in terms of quantity, but even in terms of quality; for example, Prof Cordain has speculated that the level of saturated fat in animals would've likely fluctuated based on seasonality, meaning the same type of game would've had different Omega-6/Omega-3 profiles depending on the time of the year. But I digress....).

However, the supply of sleep was far more predictable and assured. In fact, the supply of sleep would've been limited by only a few factors that I can think of: 1) time of year (more daylight hours during spring/summer months); 2) hunger (less likely to sleep if bodyfat percentage is dangerously low--the body's way of telling you that time would be better spent looking for food rather than sleeping); and 3) supply of predators (more human predators around = less sleep).

Additionally, as Ryan points out above, our biological processes are tied to the day/night schedule. If we're looking for an optimal scenario, we'd want to maximize physical activity during the day and minimize (or eliminate altogether) activity during the night. De Vany talks about this here (his blog post titled "Internal and External States"):

So embrace the diurnal schedule and get some sleep at night.


De Vany hasn't posted much about this topic so I'm kind of winging it.

De Vany, however, has written about how our prehistoric landscape would've had so much more to offer in terms of sensory stimulation and variety (in comparison to today's society--his opinion, mind you).

So just from the standpoint of the human mind seeking variety, I'd think that having sex with Martha at 7:07 p.m. every night in the missionary position would get a bit old. So sexual variety (not necessarily in terms of multiple partners) seems like the way to go as regards this topic, with evolutionary theory in mind.

Power Laws

Power laws are simply mathematical descriptions of the tendency in nature or society to have extreme variation at the ends of a distribution curve.

Here's a good picture of a power law graph (a Pareto distribution):

This graphical relationship could describe the accumulation of wealth (a small percentage of society having the majority of the wealth--the bane of socialists), the popularity of websites, blogs, etc., and even the tendency of a small number of posters on a given website to contribute the majority of posts. All of these are power law distributions.

If interested, here are some great resources on power laws, starting with the always-reliable Wikipedia: (this one's pretty long)

Hope this helps, at least a little bit, and is not repeating what other posters have already said.


Edward D. Friedman 08-07-2005 06:41 AM


Thanks for the terrific reply. I'm going to take some time to review and digest the links.

My "sleep and sex" references were actually what I intended to emphasize least. ( Although my post certainly did not make that clear.) I'm most interested in the guidelines for effective IF. ( But, again, you provided great info that I will review with great interest.)



Dan John 08-07-2005 03:04 PM

You know, I never considered "randomness" to sexuality, but if you think about it, life seems to work that way. We talk about "vacation sex," "summer sex," and some other things and I think there is a valid point here: 7:07 missionary sex would probably ''de-evolve" over time. I know that people who use the "rhythm method" always tell me that the sex is "better" because of the "no can do" and "can do" elements.

Jeff Foxworthy addresses this a bit, too...

I'm actually thinking this through...

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