Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Do we need nutritional supplements?

February 22, 2011

Here’s a good post by Harriet Hall at the Science Based Medicine blog on nutritional supplements. She concludes:

  • As my correspondent put it, “the public mania for nutritional supplements is baseless.”
  • In general, all our nutritional needs can be supplied by an adequate diet.
  • Supplements are beneficial for a few specific evidence-based indications; otherwise, they offer no benefits and may even be risky.
  • Diet supplements are not medicines, but are being used as medicines.
  • DSHEA should be repealed.

The behavioral economics gym

February 9, 2011

Could this be the business model for gyms of the future?

6 weeks to a plateau? Not so much

January 31, 2011

I just noticed this article on yahoo: 8 workout mistakes you probably make.

According to the article, mistake #5 is not varying the types of workouts. It states:

Sticking to the same routine for more than six weeks will cause your body to hit a plateau and you’ll no longer see the changes you saw at the beginning of your program. Your body, believe it or not, likes to be shocked, and putting it through new and challenging exercises is the best way to surprise it and wake it up…

It continues by stating, “Make sure you vary frequency, intensity and repetitions.”

It’s not that I have a problem with variation, per say, it’s just that it’s not true that you plateau after 6 weeks. As I noted in my last post, Narici et al used the same exercises, along with the same rep and set scheme for 6 months straight. The participants in the study seen gains in strength and hypertrophy for 6 months straight.

Some myths just never seem to die…


Metabolic finishers for fat loss?

January 18, 2011

A current popular trend is the programming of “finishers.” Finishers are short and intense exercises or circuits that take place at the end of a workout.

Many reasons are given for incorporating metabolic finishers, such as anaerobic/aerobic conditioning, fat loss, and mental toughness.

Let’s think about the impact that finishers could have on fat loss.

Typically, when you see finishers at the end of a workout they last between a few minutes up to five minutes. But 3-5 minutes worth of work will be pretty inconsequential in terms of calorie burn, and therefore meaningless for fat loss.

You might want to do finishers for another reason, but for fat loss I don’t see the point.

My opinion on Paleo

July 1, 2010

When it comes to health, a paleo diet is perfectly sufficient but not necessary (unless you have strong intolerances to both grains and dairy).

In regards to sports performance, it is perfectly sufficient for strength/power sports. Endurance sports, you can possibly make it work with lots of yam consumption.

But is it optimal for any of these? I’m not sure if I would be surprised either way. One possible benefit is that a paleo diet is more nutrient dense than a diet that that includes grains, dairy and legumes. But the benefit of extra micronutrients compared to other diets is an emprical matter that has yet to be settled. From the perspective of volumizing, a paleo diet may be optimal.

On the negative side, paleo advocates seem to be very vulnerable to nutritional fallacies such as calories don’t count, and a large % are taken in by “buy local” economic fallacies.

Worst of all, they engage in too much philosophical (armchair) as opposed to empirical reasoning. While it’s true that the reason something is healthy or unhealthy for us is our evolution, it doesn’t follow, a priori, that just because X behavior occurred over evolution that it is healthy for us or that if X behavior did not occur it is unhealthy. This known as an appeal to nature. It could be the case that we evolved in such a way that a novel substance turns out to be accidentally good for us, or at least unharmful. A prime example of this is the benefit of moderate alcohol consumption.

Of course, paleo advocates do make empirical arguments. It’s not the purpose of this post to look at those arguments in detail, so I’ll only make some introductory comments.

(1) The randomized controlled trials thus far conducted haven’t been adequate enough to prove the superiority of the paleo diet.

(2) Paleo advocates talk a lot about gut physiology and the effect of grains, legumes, ect. This is still very preliminary work. Much of it is in vitro, so its hard to say if it will pan out.

With that said, let me reiterate that the paleo diet is a fine diet. If you choose to eat this way, nothing bad is going to happen to you. The question is whether or not staying away from grains, dairy, and legumes is worth it.

Random Research Links of the Week

June 20, 2010

Word of the day: Hormesis

Strength training improves cognitive function

PWO protein + carb drink superior to pre-workout drink

Boot camp interferes with adaptations to additional strength and endurance training

Organic foods have no benefit over non-organic

A review on beta-alanine supplementation on exercise performance

Low and moderate-intensity strength training, but not high-intensity, improves blood lipid profiles


June 16, 2010

I absolutely love Mark Rippetoes books Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength Training. (Amazon affiliate links)

That’s why I was so disappointed in Mark when Alan Aragon exposed him as being brotastic. Also, he exposes some dude on Mark’s board named John.

Apparently, neither Mark nor John like to use peer reviewed research to learn about nutrition.

Here’s my take.

If you don’t want to use scientific literature to learn about nutrition, then fine, that’s your business. If you think you have discovered a method that gets you and your clients the results that you want then great for you. It’s certainly possible to do so and many have. Just think about all the old time strong men who got amazing results before anyone knew hardly anything about nutrition science. However, if that’s the position you want to take then don’t make a single claim about WHY your method works, only that it does.

Alan quotes John as saying:

Separate your carbs and fats. In each meal, you will have a portion of protein in addition to either carbs or fats, but not both. In the earlier half of the day, your meals should be Protein + Carb (P/C) in order to fill your muscle glycogen stores for your athletic activities. Later in the day (afternoon to evening, depending on your individual metabolism), when you are more sedentary, your meals should be Protein + Fat (P/F). Since carbs produce an insulin response, removing the carbs at this time will decrease the likelihood that you will store your excess calories as fat. Your final meal of the day should be *only* protein. Also, your PWO meal, regardless of what time of the day it is, must be a P/C meal.

So, now I have some questions. If John doesn’t believe in looking at the scientific literature, how does he know, “Protein + Carb (P/C)… fill your muscle glycogen stores…” Or that, “carbs produce an insulin response?” Furthermore, why is producing an insulin response bad? In order to say why (assuming, for the sake of argument, that it really is bad) you would have to make claims about knowledge that comes from peer reviewed science.

I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something.