The Minimum Effective Dose: Why Less is More

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In pharmacology, the effective dose is the amount of a drug that produces the desired response in most patients. Determining the range for a drug, the difference between the minimum effective dose and the maximum tolerated dose is incredibly important.

The Minimum Effective Dose is a concept I first came across in The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.

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.

In biological systems, exceeding your MED can freeze progress for weeks, even months.

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.