22 01 2013
Blog : Updates on the IF article / The industry is keeping you stupid and you are letting them !
Well I know I haven’t been keeping up with my M.A.S.S. responsibilities. Not only was I hoping to get done with the next article last weekend, I’m two days late on the blog as well. Now, as far as the article is concerned (updates below) I do believe in the end it will be a good thing, since its going to turn into a much broader, more in-depth discussion than it was originally going to be. I know that means I have to keep you guys waiting, but I’d rather focus on quality than quantity, especially if I hope to ever realize my goal of making this site into an encyclopedia of science-minded sports and fitness information. And I’m sure you guys feel the same. If you don’t please read beyond the updates, since I believe the blog below is for those people. I would actually urge you all to read it, if not for yourself, than possibly to share with others, since I honestly believe its some of the most important non-scientific stuff I have written to date, and I’d hate for it to get lost because people were only waiting on the next article. I’d also like some feedback, since I’m pouring my heart and soul out about this project here, and i’m not sure how that’s coming across. So let us know !
Updates on the IF article
I know a lot of you have been waiting on this one, and truth is I had already started it the weekend I posted the last article on the High Protein diet, with high hopes of having it finished last weekend. But then a few things happened that made me rethink the concept of the article and has me back to the drawing board. I initially didn’t get to work on it for the first 3 days of the week because we had recently got some bad news. A friend of ours was hospitalized with leukemia. That’s right, not diagnosed, hospitalized. Now if you know anything about how leukemia is usually treated, then you know they usually have a typical wait-and-see approach before they start treatment, so when they admit you immediately for chemo treatment that week, it sort of has everybody up in arms. Luckily since then we’ve learned the outlook, overall, is positive. In all, the experience certainly has me looking differently at how I do things. If you would know this person, you would understand there is no person in the world less deserving (not that anyone is) of having something like this happen. She’s usually all smiles and joy and the type of person who is always more concerned with someone else than herself. Even now, in what must probably be one of the most scary and confusing moments of her life, she is more worried about other people and keeping a very positive outlook. Although you can’t compare the two, as she was never an image of will-power, it really had me rethink my own outlook on the following year. If she can do this, who am I to complain about anything really ? But ok, that’s not what set the article back as much, it just kept me from doing pretty much anything for a few days. The actual cause of the delay is that I engaged in a discussion on a web-board in regards to meal frequency and intermittent fasting, and while the article was supposed to be a medium-length introduction into the benefits of intermittent fasting for fat loss, I quickly came to realize that there may actually be more people who seem to live with the notion that IF is a valid lifestyle choice and acceptable, even preferable, for muscle gain as well. That prompted me to rework the article into a much grander discussion on meal frequency and patterning. I had to get quite a few more studies and I’m still working through all of them right now.
As I operated from this new concept I went to view Martin Berkhan’s site again as well, for some references, and was quite frankly astonished at his last blog. Where my previous assessment of the man was that of someone with moderate scientific knowledge who occasionally made the mistake of letting his passion for IF skew his interpretations of thing, this last blog really paints him as an egotistical prick with delusions of grandeur, who is not just more or less deliberately disseminating only information that fits his views, he doesn’t flinch when it comes to misinterpreting data to MAKE it fit his views. He seems to have this idea that he “owns” the rights to IF (credit where credit is due, most of us wouldn’t even know about IF if it wasn’t for him) and that he is the only one that could possibly understand how it all works, ignorant to many of the misinterpretations and blatantly incorrect information he has on his own site. It also finally dawned on me that it wasn’t a few hardcore fans that had turned this IF thing into the dogmatic belief system that had me initially dismiss the benefits of IF for fat loss (because there are), but Berkhan himself that started and perpetuates this notion that you either conform to the lifestyle completely, or you are the mortal enemy of everything he stands for. His ranting and raging against anyone who even mentions IF in any context that is not his own, and his depressive meltdown at the bastardization of “his” system were staggering, and indicative of a very narcissistic person, blind to his own flaws. Something I want to briefly discuss in the section below, in general, not related to Berkhan or IF.
In any case, it became clear, certainly as I read many of the studies IF-protagonists throw out there, that there is a dire need for clear information regarding dietary patterning either way, since many people are out there believing the same stuff, even throwing these references at me, without realizing (or having even read them) that they don’t exactly say what they think they say. So a much broader discussion of these and other studies is needed to sketch an exact picture of the relevance of meal patterning and frequency for both fat loss and mass gain is needed, as there are as many people who need to hear about why more frequent meals are needed for mass gain as there are people who need to be introduced to the possible benefits of IF for fat loss. And almost everybody in the discussion needs to seriously take a chill pill and a step back to understand that all this information is largely about efficiency, and does not change the basis of our dietary practices for either goal.
Please don’t ever use my name to make a point
Being in a web-board discussion of some size again, it had been a while for me, made me notice a few things. Not just what I mentioned above, where a lot of people cite information and references they haven’t double-checked or even read, but also the amount of people who use the reasoning “this person said …”, often referencing someone I don’t even know, because I tend to get my information from more reliable resources. In most cases its someone in this industry who has written a few things, works for some popular medium, or is the person behind one or another system, diet or supplement. Below you’ll find a nice little blog about people just like that.
It made me realize that I really, really wanted to stress that I don’t EVER want my own name used in that context. I don’t want anyone, ever, to accept “Peter Van Mol/Big Cat said that …” as a valid statement of proof. You are welcome to link them to my writings and my conclusions, and let them draw their own conclusions based on the references and my deductions, but please, provide them the information and not the source. I’m one person. Even if I had been right 100% my whole life (and believe me, I have not) that does not exclude my potential for error in the future. That’s also why I try so hard to get a good reader base for M.A.S.S., because only critical eyes ensure the quality of one’s work for the time to come. I provide information, but science never sleeps. I read and interpret information, and I also make the necessary links to extrapolate it to the world you live in. I have enough of an ego to think I’m not too bad at it, or I wouldn’t waste my time on doing this for free, but no researcher worth his salt considers himself flawless, or the owner of the cup of wisdom. As stated in my previous blog, an open mind is such a valuable thing. But sadly too many people think they have an open mind, when in fact it is just vacant. An open mind requires that you accept any information or advice given, and then you are free to use it as you want, and think of it what you want.
And please, I urge you, never take anything I say in a dogmatic fashion. What I say is based on the proof I have and my ability to extrapolate it. In 10 years, we will have more information that changes our views. That is a virtual certainty. It won’t drastically change, but it will change. Read the actual information, show people the information, but do not tell them it is this way because it was written here. Just really wanted to get that off my chest as I re-acquaint myself with how this industry works. I’m not selling, so you shouldn’t be buying. Take the information at face value.
The industry is keeping you stupid and you are letting them !
And the amazingly simple FREE answer to amazing results
The entire fitness and supplement industry is centered around keeping you stupid ! I mean I’ve had that feeling once or twice, but I think I only recently came to the realization that this is how everybody in this business makes money. Not only do they share as little actually straight-forward useful information with you, they ACTUALLY try and deprive you of what you already know. That’s a bold claim, I know, but it’s becoming more and more obvious.
I recently heard Will Brink, a regular contributor to Musclemag and a person of name for well over 15 years in the industry, refer to the Time under Tension principle (See “M.A.S.S. training principles : part I” for more information) with the term CTNL (continuous tension non-lockout) rep in an 11-page discourse supposedly worth 47 dollars, and handed out free to sell his program, without once mentioning the phrase “Time under Tension”. I also came across a program called MI40, written by IFBB professional bodybuilder and Olympia contestant Ben Pakulski, in which he advocates drop sets at the end of each exercise. Only he doesn’t call them drop sets, he calls them NOS (neural overload sets). Aside from the fact that the terminology is incorrect (metabolic overload sets would be more appropriate, but MOS doesn’t sound that cool) what really irks me is that these people, the ones you look up to, and look to for proper advice, are really only telling you what has been known for years. What’s worse is, they are taking your used stuff, repackaging it and giving it a cool new name and SELLING it to you. THEY ARE SELLING YOU YOUR OWN USED STUFF !!! And you are buying it too.
The supplement industry is no better. Aside from the fact that they are selling you stuff based on anecdotal evidence and limited research in obese mice I mean. The majority of supplements aren’t worth the money. That’s because the research they are based on isn’t representative and either can’t be translated to an active individual like yourself at all, or the effect it has is so limited that in the doses required you will see such a minimal effect and pay such a huge price, that you likely could have achieved the same results with just a little more time and discipline absolutely free. I can give a million examples of each of these. In the first category you will find any number of plant extracts in proprietary blends, that were once shown to limit weight gain in obese mice prone to diabetes. That’s not the same as making a dedicated athlete LOSE fat. And yet that is what its marketed for. In the second category you’ll find some staples you probably bought yourself. Like BCAA’s and Glutamine. Leucine and Glutamine are absolutely necessary for proper growth. But I recently calculated that my daily protein intake yields 40g of glutamine (that’s more glutamine than most people get protein in a day) and 20g of leucine DAILY. Not only are those levels MORE than optimal and is there A TON of research showing supplemental glutamine and leucine by themselves are fairly pointless, but just by using logic, what effect am I going to get from paying through the nose to increase my glutamine intake from 40 to 43g a day ? The jury is still out on arginine and its derivatives, with absolutely every study in regards to improvements in muscle mass or performance showing it just doesn’t work, but some modest results for using it as a weight loss supplement, but 3g of arginine a day is still a 60% improvement since my diet only contains 5g daily.
But that’s not where it ends. I noticed a disturbing trend that started in the late ‘90’s and has evolved yearly, largely because of an audience like yourself. A great number of companies are using supposed scientific information to market their supplements. But usually they apply one or more of three key methods to deceive you, so that while you think a supplement is rooted in science, they are actually warping the science to fit their needs and take your money. The first is the use of the so-called proprietary blends. That way they only need to list the amount of the blend and not the dosage of the individual ingredients. In that manner they can mask the fact that they are actually under-dosing the most useful and expensive ingredient, and instead selling you filler for the same price. The second is referring to scientific evidence they aren’t willing to share. It’s becoming easier and easier for people to get access to actual scientific studies, and people are getting smarter as well because of the increasing access to information. So their little advertisements claim incredible potency based on scientific evidence BUT THEY DON’T MENTION WHAT EVIDENCE. If you fell for this, you have a ways to go to becoming an educated athlete. Because evidence that isn’t mentioned is not actual evidence. That’s like me saying breaking new science revealed the earth is flat and not telling you what evidence. You wouldn’t believe me then would you ? So why did you waste 40 bucks on the latest pre-workout supplement using the exact same rhetoric ? The third and most devious way is one I can trace back to the Canadian supplement company Muscletech. They actually disguise their ads as actual articles. They do actually reference true scientific evidence and they even list their references. Unfortunately they aren’t being extremely scientific with it. They make ludicrous claims that are actually true, but they forget to mention it in the context of the finding, so you think it’s amazing, while the researchers actually specifically mention the effect is negligible. The strategy here is that they just assume you are too dumb to actually verify the information. If you fell for it, they were right. This is a company that managed to sell creatine at 3 TIMES THE PRICE simply for adding 75g OF SUGAR to every dose. That means this is a company that set some people on their way to getting fatter and developing diabetes, and managed to get people to overpay by a whopping 300% for the privilege. They did this based solely on the fact that research showed that insulin is needed for muscle to take up creatine. Research also shows that a very low dose of sugar, or even your whey protein are capable of providing an ample insulin spike to achieve the same. Or claiming their brand new supplement of several ingredients increase your muscle mass by x amount, but the reference they use is a study done on pure creatine monohydrate, meaning any creatine supplement can make the same claim, and probably costs a lot less.
As devious as all these tactics are, these people aren’t the only ones to blame. They are crafty people that recognize a demand in the market and fill it. But you are the ones creating the demand. Since people started taking an interest in scientifically based performance and physique enhancement there has been an information overload. And for a lot of people, an information addiction. I’m no different, in that I read upwards of 10 studies on a daily basis, just because it’s what I love to do and I crave knowledge. But I’m equally aware that if I find one study a month that provides an applicable improvement to my knowledge on how to improve my physique, it’s a lot, and that even then, the improvement is bound to be minimal at best. Not too long ago I read a piece by Lyle McDonald responding to a reader asking him to post more useful content after he had been blogging about his dogs for a while, and Lyle worded a very apt response along the lines that sitting around waiting and pushing for more information wasn’t going to get that person any closer to his goals. While he was waiting, that person wasn’t applying what he already knew. And I never think I nodded at my screen as hard as I did then. We’ve become so addicted to NEW information, we forget that all this stuff only adds tidbits to the basics we already know. For as many kids as I see claiming they preferred the physiques of the 70’s like Arnold, Mentzer, Oliva, Zane, none of them seemed to realize that these guys achieved all that without supplements, without the last 40 years of scientific knowledge, heck, they even did it without half the machines you have at the gym now ! And of course, there was already some limited steroid use back then, almost all of them at one point admitted use of stuff like Dianabol and Primobolan, people get a little too hung up on it to understand that not only was that more limited than they think, those supplements, machines and 40 years of scientific knowledge helped spawn the mass monsters of today, and they made the same improvements in natural bodybuilding, making those physiques they admired very attainable in a natural fashion. That is of course, if they are willing to buckle down and apply what they already know.
People get so caught up in information, and getting more and better information where there is none to be had (allowing those people to rehash, rename and resell the old information), they forget that this sport isn’t about who knows the most, it’s about those people who have the discipline and dedication to do what they have to. And sure, I’ve made a life’s pursuit of making those goals easier to attain, I never once claimed it would take less dedication and discipline. The problem is that people think that anybody successful must have some secret X-factor (genetics, drugs, supplements, knowledge) that they don’t have, and then rant and rave against their bad luck and make excuses why they can’t get there. Don’t get me wrong. Some of those guys may in fact be juice monkeys, have more money than you or be blessed genetically. But even if that’s the case, complaining about it isn’t helping you ! And making excuses makes you overlook that all of them, whether they have something you don’t or not, are working a hell of a lot harder, applying the same stuff you know just as well, than you are. The truth is, the only X-factor standing between you and making incredible gains is dedication and application. But people see those as major obstacles. Everything seems so hard when you are at the start looking at the finish line. But trust me, once you are halfway it’s not only half as far, you’ll look back at how far you’ve come and realize it wasn’t half as difficult as you had imagined. Dedication and discipline sound like punishment, but they too get easier. You just have to remember to take it one step at a time. Trust me, 10 years ago I didn’t picture myself being 240 lbs at 15% bodyfat. And now I realize while I was doing that and making excuses I could have done so much more. 5 years ago I couldn’t have imagined myself sticking to a strict 16 week diet without some help. And here I am, already halfway there and still motivated. But it all starts with a single step. So just for today, stop reading after you finish this. All the info will still be here tomorrow. For today, just think about all the stuff you know, and how much more it is than what they knew in Arnold’s day. And then realize that you can do it. But you need to make the change today. Stop wasting time as I did so often. You’ll thank me for it later. You’ll thank yourself for it later. Because it will be all you.
But more importantly, think before you spend money next time thinking you need something to be successful in your endeavors. Think, the next time someone tells you their training program full of silly acronyms like CTNL and NOS as the absolute answer to unlimited muscle growth. Think, the next time some shiny new pill bottle claims the latest scientific evidence proves it to be 200% more effective for only 3x the price. You are here. You pride yourself on being smarter than the rest. You pride yourself on your attitude to always have the best and latest scientific information. You are a new breed of athlete, smarter and more educated. So use that incredible brain of yours to relativize the relevance of whatever they are selling you, and then remember all that you already know and how so many before you achieved so much more with so much less. Think of all the dumb meatheads you’ve seen in the gym. You know so much more, but while you were looking for the next bit of information, they were working out and eating right. And maybe its genetics, and maybe its drugs. Maybe it’s both, and maybe you’ll never get where they are. But be honest, are you doing all you can ? Are you doing all you have to in order to be the biggest, leanest, strongest you can possibly be ?
M.A.S.S. is here to educate you. To make training and nutrition EASIER and more EFFICIENT. To make sure you have the edge. To give you the ability to gain 6 lbs with less effort where someone else gains only 5 lbs. But here’s the most important bit of information I’m EVER going to give you : Knowledge is worth nothing if you can’t apply it. Knowledge isn’t power. Knowledge and having a use for it is. I wish I could tell you there is a magic bullet. But there is no substitute for discipline, consistency and hard work. And I say hard work, and you feel like it’s hard work, and it will be. But truth is, it’s not half as hard as you think and it actually gets easier. Don’t let anybody trick you into thinking you don’t already have what it takes. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s beyond your means to look great. Exercise and nutrition are the great equalizers, and if you next sentence begins with “but…”, then it’s an excuse. And that’s what’s holding you back.
As the Nike adverts say. Just do it. And when you are done ? Do it again ! And don’t you dare make excuses …
Bonus Bullshit tip :
Before I leave you to it, I’m going to share with you another very common and oft-used piece of commercial trickery people often use to squeeze the coin out of your pocket, the blame-the-other-guy approach. The thing is, I don’t even have to give you an example, this blog is actually close enough. This blog is written to express my outrage at those tactics and inspire you. By doing so, I’m actually making my information look better. Now imagine if you read this whole blog except the last paragraph, and instead of that I ended with a plug for my own training program, ebook or supplement. You’d actually feel pretty pumped to buy something wouldn’t you ? I mean if I hadn’t already told you you already have everything it takes and more to achieve success, and you just need to supplement your knowledge with freely available information and actually go out and DO what you know.
I wasn’t going to write this last piece at first, but then I found a commercial piece of information in my mailbox that did exactly this, and as I read the intro to their we-and-no-one-else-holds-the-cup-of-wisdom type sales pitch, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with this blog post. These two guys were trying their hardest to convince me the industry was evil and then turned around and said I needed to invest in their program to make the best gains of my life. So I didn’t just feel I needed to write this, but to express explicitly that just because you like or dislike me and my writing is no reason to accept of dismiss my information. I believe in science-minded physique and performance enhancement for the simple reason that it is scrutiny and peer review that improves and solidifies it. I want you, nay, I NEED you to question what you read here, challenge it. For all of our benefits. I want you to walk away knowing your information was correct, and if not, that you can come back soon and find the correct info. I’m nothing special, my whole point is that anything I can do, you can probably do better. I’m also no moral hero, I would love a little extra in my bank-account, I’m just not willing to sell out what I love to do it.
Well I really hope someone reads this, and I would actually like some feedback. I feel like this may be some of the most relevant non-scientific stuff I have ever written, and fear it may just go unread between all the rest of this stuff. In any case, I hope to have the meal frequency and timing article (previously the IF article) for you as soon as humanly possible, I think I’ll definitely get through all my reading and highlighting this week, then its only a matter of finding time to put it down in coherent sentences. But i’ll keep you updated.