Bullshit Marketing Vs. Honest Marketing & The “Zero Launch”

2012 October 10
by Alan Aragon

Something’s wrong with this picture.

The pics on the left are straight off of the side banners on Facebook, leading to a website that promises to transform your physique into those of the Spartans in the movie 300 — in 4 weeks.  All you have to do is buy their supplements. It’s hilarious how the heads of Will Ferrell and Keanu Reeves were superimposed on random, enhanced bodybuilders to bait people into the site.  At the right is fitness marketer Mike Chang, photo-morphed into a mass-monster. read more…

The 2012 NSCA Personal Trainer’s Conference: Vegas, Baby!

2012 April 15
by Alan Aragon

This past weekend, I spoke at the annual NSCA Personal Trainer’s Conference. Not only did I have a blast of a good time, it was such sweet revenge. In contrast to several years ago when clinching a speaking spot at a national conference was a long shot requiring a ton of pavement pounding & red tape, I was now invited to speak at a conference held by the industry’s top organization.  Here’s a photo montage made possible by my dear wife, who wanted to capture every dirty detail of this trip. read more…

The Fitness Summit is quickly approaching!

2012 March 4
by Alan Aragon

Mark your calendars for May 18th-19th

The planets are aligning, the Fates are conspiring, and the ultimate time of reckoning is upon us. The 10th anniversary of the Fitness Summit is right around the corner, and registration is as easy as visiting this page. Whether you’re in the fitness business, or simply are passionate about fitness, you will get tons of practical knowledge from the Summit. read more…

Interviewed by Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University

2011 December 14
by Alan Aragon

It’s been more than a decade since I graduated from college, but the memories are vivid and most of them are good. I was recently contacted for an interview with Anoop Balachandran, coordinator of the Health & Fitness Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. This interview will appear in the Fitness Center’s newsletter. By the way, Anoop maintains one of the few blogs out there with useful, research-based information (exercisebiology.com). The questions I answered were a pleasant diversion from the ones I typically get from the more advanced/technically inclined audience. While the latter are also important, they only apply to the minority of the population. In the following exchange, more of a general college student audience is addressed. Without further ado…. read more…

Crazy Chops

2011 September 2
by Alan Aragon

The Price of Internet Fame

I’m not too modest to admit that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the amount of online celebrity I’ve experienced – however minor it may be in the large scheme. Here’s some of the fine handiwork of the people on the forums (and other social media) who make my job something I truly enjoy. read more…

Quick Announcement & Product Plugs

2011 May 5
Comments Off on Quick Announcement & Product Plugs
by Alan Aragon

The Fitness Summit is about a week away (May 13-14th), and I’m one of the speakers. If it’s feasible for you to make it, there’s still a little bit of time left to take the plunge. Here is the info & registration page. Listen to Lou Schuler describe it in detail in Episode 204 of The Fitcastread more…

I’ve had my hands full!

2011 February 23
by Alan Aragon

Full-on brofessor mode

The above pic, taken earlier today, is of me & the nutritional counseling class of Dr. Terri Lisagor, at California State University, Northridge.  Dr. Lisagor was one of my nutrition professors in my undergrad, and she’s one of the most well-rounded, successful, big-hearted people I know. She regularly invites me to lecture to her students on a range of topics from sports nutrition, altering body composition, and counseling various client types.  The teaching sessions consist primarily of Q & A with the students, and me coming apart by the jokes & wisdom that Terri interjects as I answer the students’ questions.  read more…

Paper Credentials Vs. The Fitness Industry

2010 November 18
by Alan Aragon

Is the fitness industry unique?

The fitness industry appears to be unique in its ability to facilitate career success despite a lack of what I call paper credentials (letters after your name). Before I go on with this, it might be a good idea to set some operational definitions for fitness industry & career success. The latter term is highly subjective, so let’s just define it as the ability to make a decent living. I’m not necessarily talking about getting filthy-rich, but at least being able to comfortably cover your independent living expenses without needing a night-job where dollar bills are waved at you.  read more…

A Recent Career Milestone

2010 October 30
by Alan Aragon

One of the most defining moments in my career just happened.

Some of you might relate to the experience I’m about to describe. The reason I wanna share this is not to show off how cool I am, but to show you how I still run into inner struggles with a journey that I’ve intended to create for myself. I also think there’s a lesson or two to be learned, and I’d like to pass those on.

Last week I was given the opportunity to test my chops as the full-time nutritionist of the Los Angeles Kings. During a lengthy discussion with Jeff Solomon, the team’s director of operations, we came to an agreement that my distance-based model of working with clients didn’t line up with his vision of having a full-time staffer who traveled with the team. I could have decided to fulfill this more traditional position, but instead I chose to stick with my current trajectory.  read more…

Chris Shugart Drops The Hammer

2010 October 1
by Alan Aragon

Loading the Ammo

The screenshot above is from the forum of fitness writer Chris Shugart. He recently posted a comment that would strike a chord with anyone who has studied nutrition or dietetics in a formal university setting. Before I get to that, let’s cover some background about why it was said. To state the obvious, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is controversial. My blog post critiquing Dr. Robert Lustig’s fructose lecture brewed up a torrent of discussion. This included a 3-round debate between Lustig & I, which Lustig quite obviously lost. A summary of the action can be seen in this follow-up post.

Just when you think the clamoring over HFCS has hit a crescendo, there’s always another peak. Last March, a Princeton University news release claimed that a study done at their home-turf finally showed that HFCS “prompts considerably more weight gain” than sucrose [1]. However, this study has critical flaws that ultimately render it an interesting, but highly inconclusive piece of animal data. A few of the study’s important limitations are:

  • Humans are not rats, especially when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism. The metabolic pathway where carbohydrate is converted to fat within the liver (called de novo lipogenesis, or DNL), is far more efficient in rats than in humans. I discuss this and other physiological differences in my research review.
  • Dosing was irrelevant to human conditions. To quote a valid point made in a counter-release by the CRA“Translating the study’s reported rat intakes to human proportions, the calories gained from high fructose corn syrup would be equivalent to about 3000 kcal/day all from that single source. In comparison, adult humans consume about 2,000 calories per day from all dietary sources.”
  • There was no sucrose-fed control group for part of the short-term experiments and no sucrose-fed control group for the entirety of the long-term experiments in male rats. Missing sucrose control groups in the long-term phases of the experiment make it impossible to conclude that HFCS is uniquely lipogenic compared to sucrose.
  • Inconsistencies in the results simply do not support the headline of the Princeton press release, nor the implications made by the researchers themselves. For example, in the only set of comparators that actually included a sucrose-fed group in the long-term phase of the study, no significant differences were seen in bodyweight or triglyceride levels. For details about the statistical problems of this study, check out this excellent review by James Krieger.

Bang Goes the Hammer

So what did Shugart say that really set things off? The discussion began after he posted a commentary against HFCS (claiming it’s more harmful than sucrose), which he attempted to support by citing the aforementioned Princeton press release. In response to criticism leveled at the research he cited, Shugart decided to take a stiff jab at the dietetics profession. Click the screenshot below to see one of the most disparaging statements I’ve seen towards dietitians and nutrition students.

It’s given that Registered Dietitians (RDs) are better known for their clinical skills than their work with physique competitors and athletic populations in general. In fact, I’ve done my past share of criticizing RDs as a group for not being current in their knowledge of sports nutrition. The difference is, being a former dietetics student, I saw this gap in the curriculum and responded by providing CDR-approved continuing education courses to RDs in order to help beef up their proficiency. Shugart, on the other hand, is quick to belittle and dismiss RDs, while having a considerably less rigorous education in nutritional science than them.

More importantly, however, he attacked their supposedly corrupt governing body instead of attacking the content of their argument. If it was a discussion about the intellectual or academic honesty of governing bodies, then T-Nation vs. the American Dietetic Association would be a fun comparison. Too bad the discussion was about the comparative metabolic effects of HFCS and sucrose.  

Unfortunately for Shugart, a couple of fitness-savvy RDs lurking his forum responded in opposition. One member’s tone was strong enough for Shugart to delete his responses. I personally don’t care how aggressively someone comes off in a debate, but when their valid points get censored, you just have to shake your head. Thus far, Shugart has been unable to logically respond to the contentions put forth by the uncensored RD (and others) in this thread.

I think the moral of the story here is, in any discussion, place your focus on the data presented, not the decorations on the sleeve. 

Reference Cited

  1. Bocarsly ME, et al. High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 Feb 26. [Epub ahead of print] [Medline]


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