Thought this was fascinating, the author of this book, Timothy Ferriss
talks about the Principle of Minimum Effective Dose. What’s that you ask? Just let him explain:
“The Minimum Effective Dose”
“The minimum effective dose (MED) is deﬁned simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Jones referred to this critical point as the “minimum effective load,” as he was concerned exclusively with weight-bearing exercise, but we will look at precise “dosing” of both exercise and anything you ingest.* Anything beyond the MED is wasteful. To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.
If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a melanin response, 15 minutes is your MED for tanning. More than 15 minutes is redundant and will just result in burning and a forced break from the beach. During this forced break from the beach, let’s assume one week, someone else who heeded his natural 15-minute MED will be able to ﬁt in four more tanning sessions. He is four shades darker, whereas you have returned to your pale pre-beach self. Sad little manatee. In biological systems, exceeding your MED can freeze progress for weeks, even months.
In the context of body redesign, there are two fundamental MEDs to keep in mind:
To remove stored fat, do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of speciﬁc hormones.
To add muscle in small or large quantities, do the least necessary to trigger local (speciﬁc muscles) and systemic (hormonal2) growth mechanisms.
Knocking over the dominoes that trigger both of these events takes surprisingly little. Don’t complicate them. For a given muscle group like the shoulders, activating the local growth mechanism might require just 80 seconds of tension using 50 pounds once every seven days, for example. That stimulus, just like the 212°F for boiling water, is enough to trigger certain prostaglandins, transcription factors, and all manner of complicated biological reactions. What are “transcription factors”? You don’t need to know. In fact, you don’t need to understand any of the biology, just as you don’t need to understand radiation to use a microwave oven. Press a few buttons in the right order and you’re done.
In our context: 80 seconds as a target is all you need to understand. That is the button.
If, instead of 80 seconds, you mimic a glossy magazine routine-say, an arbitrary 5 sets of 10 repetitions-it is the muscular equivalent of sitting in the sun for an hour with a 15-minute MED. Not only is this wasteful, it is a predictable path for preventing and reversing gains. The organs and glands that help repair damaged tissue have more limitations than your enthusiasm. The kidneys, as one example, can clear the blood of a ﬁnite maximum waste concentration each day (approximately 450 mmol, or millimoles per liter). If you do a marathon three-hour workout and make your bloodstream look like an LA trafﬁc jam, you stand the real chance of hitting a biochemical bottleneck.
Again: the good news is that you don’t need to know anything about your kidneys to use this information. All you need to know is:
80 seconds is the dose prescription.
More is not better. Indeed, your greatest challenge will be resisting the temptation to do more. The MED not only delivers the most dramatic results, but it does so in the least time possible. Jones’s words should echo in your head: “REMEMBER: it is impossible to evaluate, or even understand, anything that you cannot measure.”
80 secs. of 20 lbs.
10:00 mins. of 54°F water
200 mg of allicin extract before bed
These are the types of prescriptions you should seek, and these are the types of prescriptions I will offer.”