Why Nutrition “Research” Verges on Useless

This article sums up well why nutrition research – in general – is not worth the paper its written on, and explains why we are constantly reading contradicting and conflicting headlines…

e.g. eggs good, eggs bad, back to good, oh no… eggs are definitely bad, and so on.

Click on the image above to enlarge

Click here to link to the full article

So next time you read that kale will do this for your health, and that acai berries mixed with avocado will cure this, and that quinoa mixed with barley will heal that… don’t waste your time chasing yet another poorly conducted study in hopes that health comes by eating a diet of a magic mixture of ‘super-foods’.

There is no magic to health… it starts with a life that is lived on purpose, a life that has meaning, supplemented with strategies to dealing with stochastic as well as consistent stresses and stressors, plus a daily does of aerobic exercise which respects your individual capacity, skill and ability level, and a common sense diet consumed in an appropriate eating window (i.e. intermittent fasting). In time – no, not over a weekend or two at Bernie’s – and you will slowly restore and regain your health.

Fail to have all these components, and your health will fail (sooner or later).

There is no magic. And, there is definitely no ‘super food’ that is a cure all.

Short vs Long

Ask runners and the key event for them will undoubtedly be either a half or full marathon. Ask an open water swimmer and their event will be 4, 5 or 10km open water swims (with a few going so far as to suggest that nothing short of 15k is the pre-eminent event). Ask triathletes… actually you don’t have to ask triathletes because they will tell you before you get a chance to ask that nothing less than a 70.3 or full 140.6 iron distance triathlon is the metric of a triathlete.

You mean nothing except the longest distances pose a challenge?

I beg to differ, and not only do I but the author of this article…

Click here to link to the full article

Excerpt from the article:

“…on the hierarchy of running achievement, longer doesn’t automatically mean more difficult. Another way of putting this is that it’s less about what you run and more about how you run.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Real satisfaction comes not from mindlessly trying to finish longer and longer distances in any sport.

Real satisfaction comes from performing in sport at higher and higher levels of technical excellence.

Success in Supplements

Recently I blogged on the TOEST.ca website how the hyper competitive environment in amateur sport is leading children and their parents to explore and pursue every opportunity that may offer a competitive advantage. In the past, this usually led to additional training opportunities but today, the mindset is that training is for losers and the ‘low hanging fruit’ to being faster is in equipment and supplements. Why waste time training, when being faster is as easy as lighter components, more aero gear, or supplements yielding performance benefits?

Click here to link to the article

Undoubtedly there is benefit to equipment and supplements, the point is not to argue that, the point is to highlight that when process and progress in training is not the primary focus, and when everything else does become the focus… its unreal how far athletes, their parents, and coaches will go. No red spinach vs beets is not the issue, the issue is that today children and their parents are resorting to ‘legal doping’ in order to obtain desired outcomes. Children and parents have figured out that some of the prescribed medications children are on actually yield performance benefits. So what happens now, when some children are on such drugs for medical reasons which have performance enhancing benefits, yet other children are not? How exactly is competition fair? How exactly is qualifying fair if cut off times are being established based on times achieved with performance enhancing drugs… even if they are legal, even if mom & dad have a TUE? How long before parents of children who are not on meds starting seeking options to ‘help’ level the playing field?

This is how perverted amateur sports is becoming. Its not about children using sport as a metaphor for life and developing a skill set to succeed as adults… its all about putting children in head to head competition for the sake of selling the 0.1% chance that the child is going to Worlds, to the Olympics, etc…

Big business has taken over sport, and as big business does… it seeks to monetize the dreams of children & parents selling short cuts with massive price tags instead of selling process and proper progression with the price tag being proper training (not equipment & supplements).

If it was only red spinach or beets, then there would be no issue but the point of linking to this article is to showcase the overall mindset that has been emphasized. Training on sport websites, on sport teams and in the sports media has been cut down to cookie cutter 10, 12 and 16week training programs dumbing-down training to HiiT and eliminating any discussion as to skill, technique, and physiological capacity. Its hard training, end of discussion.

When training is dumbed-down to this extent, then athletes start looking elsewhere. And the elsewhere is now prescribed medications used along with a TUE in order to obtain cuts, qualifying times, to make it onto various teams.

We need to go back to basics, back to the beginning, emphasizing the development of body/kinesthetic intelligence seeing it as the primary engine of performance; and leaving all the supplements and equipment as the turbo effect. In this way, remembering that a turbo is useless without a proper engine should help us keep first things first.

Training Plan = Heart Attack

So you want to run in an event… probably a marathon, right? Everyone wants to run a marathon these days, because anything less if for whiners not winners.

So where do you begin? With Google! Search for a training plan to take you into your event of choice. But, let’s say you are a mindful individual, conscious of the fact that stepping up into a full marathon is perhaps a bit excessive for your body & brain, so you decide on a half marathon as a warm up to the full marathon.

Can’t go wrong… right?

Well, what if things do go wrong…

Click here to link to the full article @ RunnersWorld.com

But… he trained right, didn’t he? He didn’t do a full marathon, he started with an half and he trained “properly” because he followed a plan… isn’t that the right way to train?

Indeed, he followed a training plan, and even with a training plan… he was unable to avoid having an heart attack. And now as a result he has to live with a defibrillator implanted in his chest for the rest of his life, but fear not… the goal of a marathon is not abandoned.

Just need to find a “better” training plan, right? One that avoids heart attacks, because of course the one used to do the half-marathon must have been defective?

Point: training for sport does not follow a cookie cutter pattern… there is no one size fits all. The only reason training plans exist is because there are coaches who are willing to ‘sell’ the fantasy that there is an one size fits all for any and all events. Problem is… these coaches don’t have the smarts to know how dumb that statement is, and the problem that arises from that is that individuals who want to complete events end up believing dumb-ass coaches who sell fantasies and then end up dead, or almost dead.

Training – even at the age of 24 – needs to take into consideration far more than whether or not you can bang out the mileage… that is if you do not want to compromise on your health in the process. Otherwise you risk participating in the event by using your health like a credit card in an attempt to pay off the effort of the event (and hoping you have enough credit to get yourself to the finish line).

In the case above, this young man had the mileage but didnt have the health to race a half marathon, proper coaching could have prevented this… but hey, today everyone is so smart, no one needs a coach… all they need is a training plan.

Good luck with that.

Too Much of a Good Thing

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing…

Click here to link to the full article at Bicycling.com

But our hi intensity lifestyles coupled with our hi intensity training and our mindset that rest is for losers is supposed to lead us from one epic high to the next doesn’t accept that there are limits, let alone too much of anything.

The mindset is… if a little is good, then more is better, and even more is best.

It doesn’t work that way.

Iron-Clown [2]

Since so many triathletes who complete iron distance triathlons end up with tattoos, figured that all the iron-clowns should also have an image to commemorate their finish line crawl…

Think that a m-dot sad clown face should do justice for all those who think the finish line actually holds some secret special power of making one whole, or that the words spoken by the commentator that “you are an Ironman” is something other than a mindlessly repeated corporate motto, conveying some special meaning in regards to who you are as a person.

Its not that you cross a finish line that matters.

Finish lines are arbitrary pieces of pavement, in and of themselves they are meaningless.

Its how you cross a finish line that matters, but when you realize that the how begins not at the start of the race, but with the how that you approach each and every day that you are alive… only then do you appreciate that there are no finish lines.

All that there is… is life… and how you succeed in life is what matters. Everything else is temporary but the how with which we live is what immortalizes us and is what we take with us beyond this life.

Iron-Clown [1]

/ˈī(ə)rn kloun/

noun

  • An individual who lacks awareness of the fact that they do not have the health nor the basic physical skill set to swim, bike, and run with the degree of competency required to compete in the sport of triathlon, yet who subsequently enters and competes in the longest endurance events in the sport of triathlon, namely iron-distance triathlons, believing it will serve to accurately portray the superior state of physical fitness, emotional stability, and mental health they believe they have

Misrepresentation

Can science lie? I mean… isn’t science objective, as in 100% objective?

Science may be, but we must remember that scientists aren’t.

Case in point…

Click here to link to the full article

Researchers did indeed show – in this study – that parachutes don’t work, or more correctly, work as well as backpacks (which were worn by the control group). The spoiler… the study subjects jumped from planes that were not flying, weren’t even moving, were actually parked on a nice piece of grass with the jump off point from the plane a mere couple of feet above the ground. Refer to the picture in the linked article to see exactly how researchers ‘proved’ parachutes don’t work.

The point… this is exactly how scientists can use research to cause readers who fail to dig into the details of the scientific study to come to false conclusions. Worse, sports writers who rarely are versed in scientific literature (you need a minimum of a university level course in statistics to understand the data points precisely and in order to draw conclusions), defer to the scientists study title in order to write articles which are then posted on triathlon, running and cycling websites. With few of the website readers digging into the depths of the research the dissemination of false information grows and grows until you have a meme develop like… take for example all the articles that showcase only the upside of HiiT and fail to ever mention any downside, any long term costs or consequences to hi intensity training.

Its not only the setup of the study that matters – e.g. jumping from a plane on the ground vs a plane flying hundreds of feet above the ground to test a hypothesis over parachutes – everything about science matters… from the number of participants, to who are the participants, how they were selected, how the study was performed, and whether the results of the study are in fact statistically significant.

Every study will yield results, the questions that need to be dealt with are the results meaningful, reproducible, valid and reliable? If not, then the study, irrespective of how awesome the conclusion may be… is irrelevant because it wasn’t science that was performed, it was a hack or hobbyist attempting to do science.

Google “research fraud” and you will find that the number of reported and unreported cases of scientists messing with their scientific studies in order to deliver “results” is growing. This has huge implications not only in sport, but everywhere, especially in areas such as health care.

In the meantime, be cautious about accepting scientific research study results just because someone says the data was published even in a noteworthy journal.

Scientists unlike science are not 100% objective. They are prone to the fleshy pursuits of profit, power and prestige and if the opportunity to mess with results offers the potential to eek out a nicer slice of the pie for themselves… well… some scientists won’t blink twice to take the opportunity even if it means disseminating incorrect information hence compromising on their name and their reputation.

Flat Feet Don’t Mean You Need Orthotics

Lesson is… you cannot look at feet in isolation of the entire body, or in the case of runners just in or out of the running stride, and the entire body and how it moves needs to be assessed, meaning all the joints from head to toe.

This is NOT a skill set any specialty running shoe retailer sales clerk has; that running stores make such claims … well, if any professional made such claims and didn’t have the education, the experience, the credentials to back it up, its called malpractice.

Running Shoe Sales Scam

What happens when you put any body part into a cast?

What does it look like 6 or 8 weeks after having a cast?

Besides hairy, its what… thin, weak, fragile.

Alright… so what happens when you place an orthotic onto a body part?

The exact same thing.

The orthotic – whether that be a foot orthotic or any other type of orthotic – will result in the underlying structures slowly becoming more and more dependent on the supporting features and functions of the orthotic device, hence the underlying structures will weaken and in time be unable to support the body part or entire body without the orthotic device.

Now, with this said… there is a time and place and person who will need a true orthotic device and thank goodness there are health care technicians & professionals specializing in constructing these custom devices for patients. For the most part, most do not need orthotics. What is needed is a proper training program that teaches the body to do the work the orthotic device would do, so that the orthotic device is no longer needed, or not needed to begin.

What if… all the stability shoe nonsense, and orthotic nonsense is actually the source of many running injuries and not the so-called solution that its made out to be by your typical specialty running store sales clerk?

What if… all the support, stability, etc… that we are putting under our arches is resulting in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even bones becoming more and more dependent on the supporting structures, hence having to work less and less becoming weaker and in time instead of being able to function properly, become so dependent on being ‘casted’ 24/7 that without a stability shoe or orthotic insert or both… the person ends up not even able to walk.

Yet that same person will swear that if it wasnt for the amazing support in their shoes and orthotics… they would never be able to walk again.

Gee… this sounds like a terrific con job if you are in the business of selling shoes and need to ensure that your customers become repeat customers and in turn bring in more customers (all with foot problems, foot pain, and most importantly running injuries)!

For those not interested in being scammed any longer, there is an alternative but you won’t find it in any specialty running retail shop… its called training.

Indeed. You can actually train the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones in your feet, your lower leg, your entire leg all the way up to your core to becoming more agile, able to balance with less effort and exertion, leading to greater coordination in movement.

Guess how that happens?

Right… through repetitive simple silly little exercises that most laugh off as pointless and useless, meanwhile they will run – sorry, i mean hobble – over to their running store sales clerk seeking a solution for all their running injuries, and never clue in to the fact that their injuries have progressively become worse and worse, even chronic in some cases as a result of the shoe sales scam of… seek ye… Stability! Support!

What I would like to see… research that identifies just how many running injuries result from so-called ‘proper running shoe selection’ from a typical specialty running retailer. How many injuries have actually been caused? Based on that research, I believe an estimate could be made of all the wasted health care dollars that the public health care system and individuals have used for private health care in ‘resolving’ issues that were never properly solved because the so-called solution never was, instead running shoe selection by a sales clerk being a bandaid that covers up what is truly needed: proper training, proper progression, perhaps even a period of no running so that the body can heal, return to zero so that it can be built up to take the repeat stresses of running or whatever is the sport the athlete is involved.