Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Dukan Diet - Some Unfocussed Ramblings

"what do you think of this Dukan diet thing then?"

"what you mean that "new" diet where you reduce your carbs and increase your protein?"

It's pretty clear that the Dukan diet is a repackaging of the Atkins diet, which was itself based on pretty well established weight loss diet principles prior to Ancel Keyes leading us on a 50 year low-fat wild goose chase. This "new" diet adds nothing meaningful to what we already know about weight loss, and is an example of successful marketing rather than interesting and novel nutritional concepts. So far so obvious, what then can we actually learn from the success of this diet?

1- Look for the commonalities. low carb high protein does work. In this regard the Dukan diet is spot on. This is just another case of the good information being the big principles that are common to successful programs rather than the minutia. Low carb high protein works. Focussing on real food not processed crap works. Lifting weights and moving more works. Really, though we tend to get caught up in debates about selenium or front squats vs back squats, these things are all just details.
Personally I would focus on food quality before macro nutrient ratios. Make sure you're eating real, whole foods that walked, swam or grew in the ground before you worry about how much carbs or protein you're taking in. There also seems to be quite a lot of dairy products in the Dukan diet which I'm not the biggest fan of. But low carb, yes I'm on board with that.

2- proximity bias is universal. It always amazes me when people I'm close to, and who I would therefore happily advise on diet and training for nothing, decide to go on something like the Dukan diet or weightwatchers. But I shouldn't be, because of proximity bias.

Proximity bias is the tendency to discount information that comes from a source that is familiar to us. You may tell your mother she should reduce her intake of bread til you're blue in the face, but if an actress says it in Hello magazine suddenly it's gospel.

The tricky part is this can happen with long term personal training clients too. I've seen it a number of times where I'll have advised a long term client on an injury for a few weeks before just referring them to a therapist, only for them to come back and tell me the therapist told them what I'd been saying for the past two weeks. This only tends to happen with clients I've been training for years, and shows that proximity bias is part of human nature. We need to take it into account and figure out ways around it.
(just realising I could get a whole blog post on this alone so I'll shut up about it for now)

3- people love a system. The rules of nutrition are very simple, they'll never change, they've always worked and will always work. But if you just tell someone "eat real food. Meat, fish, poultry, veg, fruit" they'll say "yeah but I already knew that." Now, at this point I feel like responding "well then why are you still fat?" but clearly this would get us nowhere.

What's weird though, is if I present the same information in the context of a specific "system" with phases and it's own unique language and principles, (repackaging the same information in a new way just like the Dukan diet) I get a much greater buy-in from the client.
There's no point fighting it, it seems to be hard wired into our behaviour . So instead I try to use this behavioural quirk ethically to the clients advantage. I present the information without making wild, unscientific claims but I present in the form of a unique system. This gets greater compliance initially, and once the client is on board I can start to emphasise the importance long term healthy eating over "going on a diet."

Good grief that was a bit of a ramble! I'm off to drag a sled .

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Interview - Alwyn Cosgrove and Dr Chris Mohr

Alwyn Cosgrove- I’m really excited to be back with Dr. Chris Mohr today. We’ve got him cornered in the the hot seat to talk about the always popular topic of supplements.

AC: Thanks for taking the time for our readers today. Let’s get right to it -- are there any supplements everyone should be taking?

Dr. C: High quality fish oil and vitamin D. A recent study showed that omega 3 deficiency is responsible for 96,000 deaths ... the 8th leading cause of preventable death in the US! And the more I read about Vitamin D, the more I realize how beneficial it is and how common deficiency is. I was recently talking with one of the world’s leading Vitamin D experts, Dr. Bob Heaney, as part of the monthly audio series for Dietary Supplement U ... he quoted studies showing around 60-90% of teenage girls were deficient.

AC: That’s crazy. I’ll get back to fish oil in a minute, but have you seen that’s also true for people like me, living in Southern CA who are fortunate to have a good amount of sun?

Dr. C: It’s interesting. Dr. Heaney (and others) have shown that if you live north of Atlanta, you don’t make sufficient D from the sunshine. And even if you are out in the sun, all summer long, research shows that by the winter your stores will be depleted again once the sun isn’t quite as strong and you may not be exposed to as much. Remember, too, most of us aren’t sitting poolside day in and day out, where most of our bodies are exposed. We’re covered by clothing and the rest of our bodies are covered in SPF, which doesn’t allow sufficient D to be made. The other problem -- it’s a really difficult one to get through the diet. Sardines and anchovies aren’t really at the top of most people’s “what’s for dinner” lists. But they’re great sources of D.

AC: Good stuff. What is the best type of omega-3 to take -- fish oil, krill oil, flax oil, etc?

Dr. C: Most of the science -- over 7,000 research studies -- use fish oil. Here’s the deal. There are three omega-3‘s. EPA, DHA and ALA. Fish oil is high in EPA and DHA. Non fish options of omega-3‘s are high in ALA. All are healthy, but they’re not equal. So flax seed or oil is NOT a replacement for fish oil. As for krill oil...there aren’t many data out there right now. High quality fish oil has more EPA and DHA. It’s more concentrated than krill oil. The “krill people” suggest krill is more potent. But I can’t say it better than omega-3 expert, Dr. Bill Harris, who is the August ‘issue’ of the Dietary Supplement University monthly audio series: “Considering the much higher price for krill oil (vs. fish oil), the potentially small increase in bioavailability may not be worth it. Until we have data comparing fish oil to krill oil on intermediate markers of risk (triglyceride levels, vascular function, etc) and actual disease endpoints (CHD death, heart attacks) we won't be able to say one is better than the other.”

AC: How much fish oil should I take?

Dr. C: From all the data I’ve read and heard, I think 1 gram of EPA/DHA per day is safe and effective. If you have heart disease, high triglycerides, etc than a higher dose is certainly warranted. Our 2 year old daughter even takes it and has practically since she’s been born.

AC: I’m excited to hear that interview. Let’s shift away from “general” supplements for a second and talk performance. At Perform Better when you presented on Dietary Supplements, you had one slide on creatine and said “it works.” Pretty funny. But what was shocking to me is that you were then bombarded with questions about creatine. Is there new information.

Dr. C: I stand by my original statement -- creatine works. It’s one of the few performance supplements that has stood the test of time. It’s safe and it’s effective for strength based athletes ... maybe even endurance athletes according to some research. But strength based sports for sure. No new information. As much as companies tried to come out with “bigger and better” creating products, basic creatine monohydrate has stood the test of time.

AC: Any other performance supplements on the horizon that show promise?

Dr. C: Beta alanine is an interesting one. The data seem to be mounting for this fairly new supplement. And most show promise. It’s most commonly used for delaying fatigue and reducing time to exhaustion. The data are pretty consistent in terms of positive findings; it seems to enhance muscle buffering (imagine easing the burning feeling in your quads if you did 200 rapid body weight squats, for example). More practically, if you are a sprinter, cyclist or other high intensity, short duration type of athlete -- maybe you can mask this “pain” -- which could increase your performance. We did an interview with Dr. Abbie Smith who is an Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill and has pioneered a lot of the beta alanine research. I learned a ton myself since it’s a pretty new area.

AC: You didn’t mention branched chain amino acids, but I know a lot of my clients ask me ... anything there?

Dr. C: I have to be honest, I’m not that impressed with the science. Most of the data suggests it may be effective in reducing muscle soreness, but not necessarily improving athletic performance. Theoretically, it’s great to have less muscle soreness. But at the end of the day, what does that mean? Particularly for the “average” client who is simply training to get in better shape or maintain their already great shape. I’d personally rather have someone use a whey protein supplement, naturally rich in BCAA’s and get more bang for their buck.

AC: Brings up a good question -- whey, casein, egg, soy, etc. What’s the BEST?

Dr. C: I side with whey. It’s absorbed quickly (great post workout). It It seems to be “better” for helping with protein synthesis (building protein). might help you feel more full, so you take in less calories. Not bad, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. Again, whey is also naturally rich in BCAA’s. We do talk more in depth about each of these -- including BCAA’s and essential amino acids -- in Dietary Supplement University.

AC: I have to say, I’ve never seen any supplement resource as complete as Dietary Supplement University. The monthly audio updates are awesome too, so you get to learn from so many experts. It’s an absolutely MUST have for anyone who works with clients -- trainers, coaches, strength coaches, etc. You did a nice job boiling all the research and complicated science into easy to ‘digest’ info. I don’t want to even know how long it took you to put together.


Monday, August 08, 2011

The Client Excuses Song

We are lucky enough to have a lot of very dedicated clients, but if they do miss a session or two without a good enough reason here's what we tell them

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Latest News From Aegis

Well its been a hectic week at Aegis studios hence the lack of blogging.

-We launched a new service, teaming up with a local business to provide the healthiest lunches in London to our clients. We're talking low carb, high protein, organic meat, cooked with coconut oil. Basically the ultimate healthy lunch. We put this in their hands as they walk out the door after the session, which is powerful. Lunch has always been the meal city workers seem to struggle with most, they would either leave after their session and then not eat for a few hours, or eat something crap. Not good enough, so we solved the problem for them.

-We've been dealing with a big influx of new clients, to be handled by our newest team member Fabio (more on him in a future blog, his story is ridiculous)

-Moving house, both myself and Greg. Me to somewhere local and Greg to the wild and scary world of "outside London" A place where your neighbours call over with cake to welcome you apparently, sounds dodgy to me. I've even heard rumors of random strangers in the street wishing you a good morning. *shudder*
So Greg is now doing 3 days of training people at the studios and the rest of the week in Chiswick. Not quite the four hour work week just yet but getting there.

-Lots of other smaller projects within the business. "Systems" is the key word here. We want the business running smoothly so we can focus on what matters, smashing it up in the gym.

SO in the mean time here's a little video interview I did a while back. I talk about the importance of program design in providing a service for your clients, its a bit technical as it was aimed at trainers, but hopefully you'll find it interesting.

So, have a great weekend and talk soon.