The Willpower Gap: Debunked or NOT?

A LOT of people have been asking me for my opinion about a recent article published on research claiming to debunk the ego depletion phenomenon that forms the basis of the Willpower Gap. Watch my vlog this week to hear my response.


  1. Fay Thompson

    Thank you, Susan. As a non-scientist I found your brief insight into of researcher’s life fascinating. However, also as a non-scientist I can only proceed on my own experience and this supports the idea of a willpower gap. I have had a problem with snacking but it only happens in the evening and at night. I have done the Permission to be Human checks and one of the things I found was that my days were disorganised, so I was constantly trying to decide what to do next out of all the things I felt I should do and all the things I wanted to do. I find that I have to pencil in a daily plan much as I plan all my meals the night before. Fail to plan and you plan to fail is so true.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Terrific insight, Fay! So glad you’ve found a solution that works for you! <3

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  2. Mercedes (from Argentina}

    Thank you Susan! All I know that I am the living proof that the Willpower Gap is a true fact. I am on my day 88 of Brightline Eating, with my ups and downs, but with a new identification mode. This is who I am, I don’ t rely on my willpower anymore. Again, I have my weak days, my moments of downfall, I am not perfect, I am unstoppable. Thank you, Susan. Whoever says this is not true, has not been in hell as I have. Thank you again.

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  3. Monique

    Wow, Susan. I think your response is healthy and sane. If people are getting healthy, do what works! I agree with the concept of letting “them” hash it out and revisit the subject in 5 years.

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  4. Sheree

    Appreciate you for sharing research. Cause and effect is interesting. My cause has been 41 days of BLE and to date the effects are easy: no sugar, no flour, no cravings, and now the 3 meals a day are “habits”. The food choices are more than abundant and consequently my energy levels are sky high. The program is easy and appreciate the research you have vested in this program. Thank you Susan!

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  5. Kristen

    Thanks so much for addressing this topic! I agree, no matter what the research says, our own experience dictates a clear pattern of depletion in our daily lives 🙂

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  6. Riadh

    food addicts understand every single letter of what you are talking about.
    you know there are about 10 billion galaxiesin the observable universe, the number of stars in a galaxy varies to an average of 100 billion stars per galaxy, so a total of 1000000000000000000000, that is a trillion billion stars in the observable universe, I think the human brain is more complicated than that fact, and to discover its corners is harder than to discover all those stars

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  7. Kate

    It’s always hard to control all the variables in any study involving living beings.

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  8. frank oconnell

    This nice lady does not sound very convincing. She does shoot from the heart, but I cannot buy into her logic. I wish her well.

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  9. Laurie Barshay

    Excellent explanation of your educated perspective. I’ve been ready the Willpower book throughout the boot camp. What I ultimately ask myself is, “Is it true for me?” And the answer is, it’s brilliant and explains so much. I believe it is the answer to the question, “Why do people gain their weight back even when they are so motivated not to?” Rockin’ answer. When I was in graduate school, I had an acquaintance in the hard sciences. He used to say, “You know what the answer to all social science research is? Some do… Some don’t” It used to piss me off but now I realize that there are always folks debunking studies to try to satisfy their world view. And there always will be. Keep on rocking it girl! Thank you for the Revolution you are brave enough to spearhead and endure.

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  10. Christina

    The only thing that matters is whether the concept rings true for you. It does for me, so I don’t really care what anyone else says. I know that I have a much better chance of success if I anticipate willpower depletion and plan accordingly.

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  11. Yoland

    Thanks very informative

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  12. Mary Montanye

    I have a tendency to over-think things. What I’m finding is that BLE works. As I lose weight and also lose the cravings and emotional overeating. I truly do not want to overthink this one and possibly lose my bright lines. Thank you, Susan!

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  13. Nat

    I looked at some of the studies mentioned by both “debunkers” and “defenders” and there is much to debate and misunderstand. The first thing they have to agree on is the criteria for studies to agree and disagree. If they need a statistical package to decide whether their results are significant or not, I must question whether they have first verified whether the studies are really equivalent. Something as simple a difference as having to fill in an oval with a #2 pencil or clicking a mouse may result in two otherwise similar studies not replicating each other. Publication bias can be dealt with. Whether “Ego Depletion” model is correct, is not the real issue. Undoubtedly someone will improve on the model. What is important is how well the model predicts results with humans in our everyday laboratory, not in a standard box.

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  14. Michael

    I LOVE this Susan. Great way of describing how science really works. With complex systems, isolating specific “cause-effect” relationships is almost always risky as it assumes that causes and effects are isolated in the real world (they are not). As a scientist, I’m often drawn to using the literature to guide my thinking. And yet, often I find that people want to debate what is “right” or “wrong”. I think the better question is what is useful and not useful, and sometimes a “debunked” concept still has tremendous value even if it does not exactly describe the way things work.

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  15. Nancy Himelstein

    Thank you for a lucid and intelligent summary. I am so glad to on board with BLE.

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  16. Deborah Wiley

    I see no value in quibbling about the veracity of theories. The fact is that in on the ground practice, in thousands of peoples’ lives everyday, this concept works. That is what counts.

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  17. Anne Turley

    Thank you for all your wonderful insights

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  18. Anne

    Just yesterday I was recognizing that your BLE construct around willpower depletion has really proven true for me. It has been 2 1/2 months and I find that my bright lines are just so easy to follow and the cravings and temptations stay gone they the steadfast adherence to BLEating principles. If I plan my 3 meals in advance, journal at night, and have NO sugar, sweeteners or flours, everything has been super easy to follow. I wven imagined that I am down a notch or so on the susceptibility scale. So, research or no research, the concept has really worked for me. BTW – I have dropped 23 lbs since 1/1. Thank you!

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  19. Jean Rountree, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

    Could it perhaps be that BEHAVIORAL science is more fluid, not that all science is?

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  20. Jesuis Laplume

    As someone who worked in moving new science onto practice for about fifty years, I learned that most of the founding assumptions of science are useful, but only in a restricted field of endeavor, and some were never really very good in the first place. Space science proved that again and again. Good linear approximations to real-world non-linear processes cannot be safely used outside of the well-proven arena.

    A much bigger part of the problem is the terrible Dogma that says that there can be no top-down organizational fields that help all of nature (and even mathematical models) choose the most fruitful paths. This childish (in my opinion) decision, after the Spanish inquisition (just to remove the possibility of the nasty model of a God that was used to justify those atrocities), is totally ridiculous, but is still supported by the old foggies. We are spiritual beings in a universe that is filled to over-brimming with fields that are denied by such a belief or Dogma. Read Rupert Sheldrake’s ” Science Set Free” to better understand just a small part of the problem.

    All that being said, when we do linear approximation fits to curved shaped processes, it is just a matter of time before we find evidence that they are just that, useful approximations of complex processes, wherein we have ignored some things that should never have been left out of the equation. To better understand your present issue, are the debunking studies being done slightly outside of the old arena where the fit was seen as good enough?

    I used to preach that we could have simplistic fits, where we assumes that the things that we did not understand, or know enough about, were not important, as an act of Dogma, or simplified ones where we tested to see what made a significant difference and what did not. I prefer the latter, but that raises up the risk that we might be modeling things that are not important and ignoring things that are. It takes a young and brave heart to face up to such a choice and then go ahead anyway! LoL

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  21. Penelope Tolva

    Hi Susan:

    Thanks so much for your weekly Vlogs.

    I recently quit sugar and processed flour and I feel so much better. It’s been 47 days. I want to know how long it takes to get the brain functioning right. I think I’ve done a lot of damage over the years. I’m hoping that it will just get better and better over time.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    Love and kisses, Penny

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  22. Julianne

    Yes, very helpful! Your candor is also very much appreciated.

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  23. Peg

    Hi Susan,
    Interesting timing. I was thinking yesterday how helpful knowing about the willpower gap is!
    I’ve also been wondering if one’s addictions might affect one’s ability to both conduct and evaluate research. It seems likely – and I am NOT trying not to ask a question here, so your “pile” won’t increase even more. =) But if you ever wanted to address that, I’d love to know your thoughts.
    So appreciate you!

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