FFF 036: Low Carb Dieting Flaws, Examining The Claims vs Evidence – with Alan Aragon

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This week on the podcast with Alan Aragon we’re chatting all things low carb. Specifically some of the flaws regarding the claims made about ditching carbs from your diet.

alan aragon podcast

Alan Aragon is the man in the guest’sk chair. He is someone who is held in extremely high regard in the nutrition and fitness industry and for many good reasons. He is a nutritionist, researcher, writer and speaker, he also loves a good troll on Facebook too…but in a good way, he provides evidence, is polite and doesn’t block folks who disagree with him.

In this episode, Alan defines a low carb diet, what some of the reported benefits are versus what the science really has to say. He’ll delve into some of the flaws with low carb research, why protein is the secret ingredient, why carbohydrates really aren’t that bad (assuming you’re eating the right ones), why they’re important for folks who are training and why some of the healthiest people on the planet thrive on a carb rich diet.

Transcript

Scott: Hey, Alan, welcome to the podcast.

Alan: Hey, what’s up, Scott. Thank you so much for having me on.

Scott: It’s my absolute pleasure. Alan, give us a little bit more info about you. Who are you? What do you do? How did you get into this industry and why you’re so badass at it?

Alan: Well, when I’m in a hurry, I usually say, “Just Google me.” But since we are a little bit more relaxed, I was a trainer back in the day and then I went and did nutritional counselling, both stints for about 5 to 10 years each. So I think the nutritional counselling stint was a little bit longer than the training stint but altogether it was almost a 20-year period. And then for the last 5 years or so, my efforts have been dominated by research and lecturing at various settings like conferences and fitness summit type of things. So that’s me in a nutshell, man.

Scott: And one other thing, how actually I came across you was many, many, many moons ago, when I first started out and had a shade of bro and I remember I read one of your articles and I was like, “Who is this guy telling me that I don’t instantly need a protein shake after workout? And what? I don’t need to spike my insulin? Now, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” And that was the first time I came across you. And then more and more as my views changed, I’m like, “Yeah, could have saved myself a lot of hassle and just started reading your stuff from the beginning.” And I know several other people have said exactly the same thing.

Alan: That’s cool, man. I’m glad to have rid you a little bit from some of that bro-ness. A little bit of bro-ness is always good to maintain though.

Scott: Yeah, just got to keep it in check.

Alan: Yeah.

Scott: So for anyone who doesn’t follow you, one of the things you’re known for is debating people in the low carb community or challenging some of the reported benefits of a low carb diet but before we get into looking at some of those claims, what’s the definition of a low carb diet?

Alan: There are couple of different definitions. One of them is a subjective definition and then one of them is an objective definition. So the subjective definition, it’s usually stated as either a percentage of total calories as carbohydrate and that’s typically 40% or less and even in some of the literature, they go as high as 45% or less of total calories from carbohydrate that would constitute a low carb diet. And in absolute terms, in the literature they’ve stated as high as 200 grams of carbs in the diet or less being a low carb diet and in some other sources say a 150 grams max to call it a low carb diet. So that right there is the subjective definition of a low carb diet. It can also be called a non ketogenic low carb diet.

So now the objective definition of low carb or some would call it ‘very low carb ketogenic’ is whatever carb intake elicits the production of ketones. So that amount of carbohydrate for the vast majority would be somewhere well below a hundred grams and a lot of people would say that it’s 50 grams or less would constitute a “true ketogenic diet.” So that would be the objective definition of low carb whereas every other definition is just sort of subjective. So, yeah, that’s how I would define low carb on those kinda two levels, a low carb non ketogenic subjective and the objective ketogenic low carb which can be objectively assessed by blood ketones.

Scott: And so for those who are sitting in the low carb camp, what are some of the main arguments they have against a high carb intake or why do they say that carbohydrates are to blame for the obesity crisis? I mean, obviously that’s a big sweeping statement and a huge generalization. They say that, carbs are the inherent cause of obesity, the root of all evil and so on and so forth. What is the basis for these statements?

Alan: In my opinion, it’s mostly propaganda. It’s mostly just repeated media messages and repeated sensationalism and alarmism against the single factor being carbohydrate which is silly to begin with. The obesity epidemic is a multi-factorial thing. You can’t just pin it on carbohydrate The obesity epidemic is a multi-factorial thing. You can’t just pin it on carbohydrate. ~ Alan Aragon Click To Tweet Some people even take that concept further and pin it on a specific type of carbohydrate. They’ll pin it on sugar. And some people take that even further, hey’ll pin it on a specific carbohydrate subtype and they’ll say, “Ah, well, it’s fructose.” There’s different degrees of craziness that you can go. Blaming it completely on carbs is a sort of a low level of craziness but a level of craziness nonetheless.

Scott: What does the evidence actually say then about low carb dieting? I mean, if you get into a debate with someone from the low carb camp, they say that low carb dieting is superior for fat loss and improving cardiovascular function and general markers of health can all be improved as a result of a low carb diet.  What does the science actually say? I mean, does it hold up? I know there are flaws but can you explain what some of the issues are with these studies?

Alan: Yeah, definitely. Before I get directly into that I want to add add that one of the reasons why carbohydrate gets blamed as the bad guy is because people swing all the way to the end of referring to the standard Western diet or the standard American diet and that happens to be lowish in protein, high in refined carbohydrates and relatively high in fat. So if you want a recipe for weight gain or fat gain then you would wanna go high refined carbs, high fat, low protein.

Scott: Washed down with some Coca-cola.

Alan: Right. That’s one way to get your body carb supplementation in is your sugar sweet and beverages.

Scott: But not diet coke because diet coke causes cancer, right?

Alan: Oh, yeah, you wanna avoid diet coke at all cost. Cancer, right. Cancer in a can. So, yeah, that’s part of the reason why carbs have been blamed because they’re kinda lumped in with the high refined flour type foods, high sugar and along with the high fat stuff and low protein model of the standard Western diet. So carbs kind of get this wrong accusation and they kinda get framed for being the bad guy inaccurately.

Scott: So people are using an extreme example of high-carb dieting when they’re arguing against the inclusion of carbohydrates in the diet, just like when people challenge flexible dieting. They’re using extreme examples and say, “Oh, it’s just pop talks.”

Alan: Yeah, exactly. It’s a way of thinking that human nature gravitates towards this. Either one extreme or another, it’s sort of black and white framework, nothing in between and it’s either this extreme or that extreme. So, yeah, I totally agree with you on that. The evidence for and against low carb, the scientific research typically compares an Atkins type model versus a low fat model or a standard Western diet type of model. So the  majority of studies that compare low carb with low fat do not match protein intake. The majority of studies that compare low-carb with low-fat do not match protein intake. ~ Alan Aragon Click To Tweet Let alone matching sufficient protein intake or adequate protein intake. It’s almost never matched using an optimized protein intake but in any case, when you match protein intake between the conditions, you tend to not see any significant differences in weight loss or fat loss and the differences in clinical markers are entirely unremarkable.

Just to reiterate the take home message, the body of research comparing low carb with some other higher carb comparator fail to match protein intake. And of course, the higher protein diet is gonna win in terms of satiating capacity: in terms of the thermic effect, and in terms of preserving lean body mass. So you got that tri-factor of advantages there. On the low carb side, just because it has significantly more protein, and now when you finally look at the studies that do match protein, you don’t see any significant advantages of the lower carb condition.

Now this is not to say that we might see some of this research in inter sewing an advantage of ketogenic diets over non ketogenic diets with matched protein but we’re yet to see that research role out and there’s been an abundance of studies right now that have failed to do that.

Scott: And why do you think that is? Why is protein being left out or not controlled for when they’re designing the initial study? There’s this huge body of evidence supporting a higher protein intake for improved weight loss, why did they just neglect it?

Alan: Well, a couple of things. One thing is researchers are really smart and really dumb at the same time. They’re like fucking Rain Man, okay? Researchers are really smart and really dumb at the same time. They’re like fucking Rain Man. Click To Tweet The second thing is some researchers like to take a stepwise approach. They wanna compare carbohydrate, and then they say, “Okay. Well, in our next study, we’ll compare matched protein,” but then that never happens. But yeah, a researcher named Stijn Soenen systematically compared 4 different conditions with higher protein, lower protein, higher carbs, lower carbs and he even included a bonafide ketogenic condition in there. And he still found that it was the differences in protein that imparted the advantage, not the lower carb component of the diet that imparted the weight loss and weight loss maintenance advantage. So this stuff really has been looked at systematically. Whatever else comes out, whatever else roles out, you wanna look at it with just as critical of an eye.

Scott: And one of the champions of the low carb diet is Garry Taubes and you had a debate with him this year over in the UK and he’s, like I said, one of the champions for blaming carbohydrates and having a warped interpretation of what are calories and how physiology actually works. Why do you think that is? Do you think the champions of the low carb movement have such an ingrained level of bias that they just cannot stop for a moment and question what they currently believe or do you think that there is something else that play, or do you think they’re just burying their heads in the sand and refusing to accept what they’re basing their nutrition intake on is maybe slightly flawed?

Alan: Yeah, Garry Taubes is a reasonably intelligent man. The thing is he’s just not of the scientific mind set. So Garry, just like a researcher name Jeff Volek, he became emotionally attached to low carb when he found out that it worked for him. So one of the big leaps of faith and just sort of fundamental tendencies of human nature is to figure if this worked for me or them, it’s gotta work for everybody in the world. It’s gotta be superior for everybody. So that is Garry Taubes folly is this idea that, “Oh, wow, it’s working for me. It’s gotta work for the rest of the world.” So the opposite or not necessarily the opposite of that but the scientific way to approach things is to say, “Hey, it works for me, does that mean that it works for everybody else? Hmm, let’s look at the evidence.” And so while I don’t doubt that low carb keto might be optimal for someone like Garry, optimal for Jeff Volek. According to the scientific body of evidence, it’s not optimal for everybody. It’s not a very robust line of data but ketogenic diets could possibly have a satiating advantage over non ketogenic diets. Click To TweetAnd this has been seen in at least one study where protein was matched but this line of study is really, really scarce and I would still tend to think it’s the protein aspect of the diet that does the dominant satiating effect. So for some people, going keto may be more satiating. I’ll give it that but for others, it just won’t be optimal, period. You have to look at things from the standpoint of individual response.

Someone like Garry Taubes, he hasn’t spent any real amount of time doing nutritional counselling on a formal basis. I started out doing nutritional counselling in school, in my undergrad. And so even while I was training, I was gaining some experience with nutritional counselling and after I got my undergrad, I dove in to nutritional counselling and certainly while I was doing my graduate work, I was doing nutritional counselling full time. I got a chance to see hundreds of clients and how they responded and reacted to varying amounts of carbs and I can say that from field experience, field observations that some people do great on Keto, some people do absolute shit on keto. And so you can’t possibly say that everybody should get on it.'Some people do great on Keto, some people do absolute shit on keto.' ~ Alan Aragon Click To Tweet

Scott: The thing that I find interesting with low carb dieting, other than the fact that you’ve got a huge cult of people who call themselves a low carb. I mean, I find it weird that people identify with a group of food and plaster it on their Facebook page and so on. But the idea of sustainability seems to be neglected by people who promote a low carb diet. And I see, you know, if somebody likes or doesn’t like pasta and rice and bread and all this kind of thing then yeah, a low carb diet might work for them. But for most people, I would say, people like carbohydrates, so the simple idea of excluding something unnecessarily or if it’s really, really, really difficult to not think about it and not wanting to include it back in diet then it’s simply not sustainable. So I don’t know why people force themselves to go down this route and say, “Right, I’m cutting out carbs. I’m going on a low carb diet.” It’s bizarre.

Alan: Yeah, it is bizarre. And I think there are a lot of people out there who feel like the more painful their plan is and the more mental, the more psychological anguish that they’re going through while they go through their plan, they feel like the better the results are gonna be or the more sacrificial of a lamb I’m going to be for this cause. And it’s just–yup, like you said, man, not sustainable.

Scott: Yeah, the colder and the soggier the chicken and the broccoli, the better, right?

Alan: That’s right. Exactly.

Scott: And the more frequent. You can eat it 9 times a day, it’s definitely better than having it 6 times a day.

Alan: Definitely better than 6, right.

Scott: Yeah, that size right there. How many carbs do you eat a day? Do you track? Do you track your macros, bro?

Alan: I know how much I do. It varies. It will go as low as mid-100s to as high as about 300, 400. So I probably average around like 250s or so.

Scott: So far we’ve been touching up on carbohydrate from a weight loss and gen pop perspective. What about some of the arguments in the sporting context when I saw this discussion about fat adaptation and an abundance of energy in the form of body fat? Can we use this fuel? We just need to tap into that or what is the research saying about this approach, the whole fat adaption? Or what’s the research don’t say? It’s maybe a better question.

Alan: Oh, that is a good question because people have this misconception that if you become a fat burning machine, you’ve become a body fat burning machine. When the reality of the matter is when you fat adapt, when you undergo a high fat and/or high fat low carb diet for a period of time, yeah, you do end up oxidizing more fatty acids. But the fatty acids that you’re oxidizing don’t necessarily come from a body fat to a higher degree than somebody who’s not fat adapted. So when you’re “a fat burning machine,” you’re burning more free fatty acids in the blood and you’re also burning more intramuscular triglycerides as well. And so this can give people the false impression that, “Oh, yeah, my body fat is just melting away.” No! The fucking fat you just ate is getting burned, man. Good job.'No! The fucking fat you just ate is getting burned, man. Good job.' ~ Alan Aragon Click To Tweet

Scott: Yeah. So what we’re saying Tim Noakes theories slightly flawed?

Alan: I had a huge amount of respect for him as a researcher a decade plus ago. Ever since he jumped on the low carb keto religion bandwagon, I decided to figure, “Well, he’s no longer Tim Noakes. Now, he’s Tim Jokes.”

Scott: Yup, he’s going down a slippery slope and I don’t think there’s any way for him to crawl back into the general field of respect by normal folks.

Alan: People just have to look at the full range of evidence. I would bet my left nut that he has no idea that the body of research comparing low carb with high carb doesn’t equate protein. A lot of people have no idea of that. And so they’ll point to the research and say, “Aha, look at this, look at this, look at this.” And so people are just–people are just ignorant in that respect. But to go full on religious about it like Tim Noakes has done, it’s disappointing.

Scott: And one of the kind of arguments that are–it’s not me. It seems like a fight, a constant go between but one thing that the low carb was doing like you bringing up is when you talk about the Blue zones and how some of the diet have some of the healthiest populations in the world consist of large amounts of carbohydrate. Can you explain to the person listening who may not be familiar with this concept of blue zones, exactly what they are and who some of these populations are because often when a population group is being referred to, it’s the low carbers  saying, “Oh, well, that was in Inuit populations so much their calories are coming from fat and protein and not any carbs so therefore they’ve got excellent cardiovascular health. Diabetes is none existent and they’re all shredded”. So what’s the concept of the Blue zones?

Alan: Right. The basic concept of the Blue Zones is that these are populations on the planet that lead the world in longevity and the lowest rates of chronic and degenerative disease. So these are folks who live into their 90s and up to and beyond a hundred vigorously, physically active, mentally sharp. So the Blue Zones are pretty hot area of interest as far as the whole health and nutrition community goes. There have been five Blue Zones established. I’m gonna go off a memory so I might hesitate here. But a famous one is Okinawa, Japan. Those guys lead the world in longevity. And another Blue Zone is Ikaria (Greece), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and then the 5th Blue Zone is Loma Linda (California), specifically the 7th Day Adventist in Loma Linda, California. So those 5 Blue Zones share a few commonalities. And the relevant commonality to this discussion is that their predominant macronutrient in their diet is carbohydrate. They’re all relatively low fat. Some of them are extremely low fat and, you know, you got to wonder, are the people in the Blue Zones doing it wrong because their predominant macronutrient is carbohydrate and the least dominant macronutrient is fat. Are they doing it wrong?

Scott: Yeah, because if obviously not read Wheat Belly.

Alan: Yeah, they haven’t read Wheat Belly. They didn’t get the memo that they need to be eating bacon and butter with cheese sauce. Now, of course, this is observational data so we can’t claim cause and effect relationships between the diet and health but it certainly isn’t hurting them. And when you look at the top 10 leanest countries in the world, 8 of them are Asian countries, 2 of them are African countries, all 10 of the leanest countries in the world are on high carbohydrate, low fat diets. And of course, the 10 leanest countries in the world are eating significantly less calories overall than the top 10 fattest countries in the world but the point stands that observationally anyway, you can’t blame carbohydrate. Either that or you can take the leap of faith that all these guys are doing it wrong and they could do much better if they just swap their diet out for butter fried bacon with some bullet proof coffee.

Scott: Oh, yeah, gotta get the bullet proof coffee out there and making sure that the food that they’re cooking obviously is in non-stick pans and they’re not using a microwave either.

Alan: You know it, man. You know it.

Scott: Yeah, not drinking water out of plastic bottles, that’s another killer. Right. I think we’ve pretty much nailed the low carb or dispelled most of the claims about it. So before we move on from that, what then is the take home for someone listening about carbohydrate that they should include reasonable amount to support performance and go up to a high enough level that they find enjoyable results and the longest adherence to that plan, that approach?

Alan: Yeah, the take home message would be unfortunately, it would be a few sentences. I can’t make it all that sound-biting but get adequate protein and adequate protein is a whole lot of discussion but somewhere in the neighbourhood of a gram per pound of lean body mass or if you wanna go, you know, if you wanna go kilos somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2 grams per kilo of lean mass.

Scott: While we’re on that one. I’m going to interrupt you and your summary of low carb dieting but we’ll go off in a protein tangent. What is your standing on this protein intake has come up to the people in the community have been discussing a little bit. I mean, there was Eric Helms recommendations going up to 3.2 grams in lean folks but then Menno Henselmans has said, I mean, that’s far too high. It should be much lower not only lower than that but lower than what the recommendations are saying. Where do you sit on that debate?

Alan: Well, Eric and Menno are both personal friends and colleagues of mine and I think it’s great that, even as researchers looking at the same data, we can interpret it differently and still be friends.

Scott: And without blocking each other and calling out each other haters.

Alan: Without blocking each other and sending a nasty PM and then block. So I feel that the argument between Eric and Menno boils down to 2/3 of a chicken breast or boils down to a scoop of protein powder in a day. I am part of a camp that says, “Eat that freaking extra scoop of protein or eat that extra 2/3 of a chicken breast and just be on the safe side.” A little bit more is not bad, you know, when you’re trying–in dieting situations. And as long as the allotment of carbohydrate and fat is not critically impinged upon to the point where you’re not getting enough of those other guys then protein is the one macronutrient where it can actually benefit people to overdo a little bit. And there’s more emerging research through Dr. Jose Antonio. I call him Joey because we’re kinda tight like that. That is showing, you know, the benefits of not just a high protein diet but an amount of protein that significantly exceeds current recommendations. So yeah, Eric saying of I really lean pretty heavily on Eric’s systematic review that came down to the conclusion of 2.3 to 3.1 grams per kilogram of lean body mass being ideal for lean trained athletes in hypocaloric or dieting conditions. And when you translate that amount to total body weight, it’s not a whole hell of a lot difference than what Menno would say being 1.8 grams per kilogram of total body weight being the upper cut off. It’s not much difference. It’s like 20, 30 grams at most. With protein, I’d rather error on the higher side personally.

Scott: Okay. So, yeah, sorry for that interruption. Now, you return to your little carb summary or your little carb take-home for the person listing going and how much carb should that be?

Alan: Right, right. No, that’s a good segway because at least we have some kind of a background on the protein recommendations, you know, I’m not pulling in out of thin air. I would  set protein at a minimum of 2 grams per kilogram of lean body mass and then the amount of carbohydrate that you take in is gonna depend on two things. Number 1, your personal preference for a “richer” or a drier type of diet. And then of course, the other factor would be your training volume and the demand of your given sport whether it’s recreational type of situation, casual recreational or whether it’s a competitive situation. If you are an athlete in a competitive sport or team sport that has high endurance demands and certainly high demands that combine endurance and strength and power then you will be shooting yourself in the foot if you go low carb. Some people don’t, some people can survive it but there’s a difference between surviving conditions and optimizing it. So in terms of net amount of carbohydrate, it’s really tough to put a finger on that because people have vastly different total energy demands. So where some people may only need a 100-ish grams of carbs where other people may need 3 to 4 times that amount given their sport, sometimes even more if they’re alter endurance guys. So that’s kind of the most simple way I can put it without diluting it too much making it too general.

Scott: So we’re saying it’s really depending on once you’ve allowed for protein intake and fat intake. We’re essentially filling the void and that void being remaining energy requirements depending on that person’s lifestyle and the amount of activity they’re doing.

Alan: Yes, correct. And I wanna also add, Scott that if somebody does not have competitive athletic demands and they want to try keto and they tried everything else, I say, go for it. It might be appropriate for you but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s appropriate for everybody. So, yeah, just wanted to throw them.

Scott: Cool. And for anyone listening who is wanting that or those wanting to ask in more detail, I’ve actually written an article called “How to calculate your Macros for fat loss” which I’ll link to you in the show notes for this episode which will be on Foodforfitness.co.uk/podcast/36 and all other references Alan has been talking about I’ll link to them in the show notes too.

So couple other questions for you, Alan, I posted this on Facebook that you were coming on and there were some things that people wanted me to ask you about. What do you think is the next fitness trend in 2016? What will people be discussing or arguing or bitching about next year?

Alan: Wow, man. Wow. Now that’s a huge question. It seems like we’ve been bitching about the same three things for the last four decades. I think that people will continue to argue over carbohydrate intake and as new studies come out, if they ever come out, showing some interesting advantages of ketogenic dieting specifically through Jacob Wilson’s lab. That will spark a lot of debate and a lot of discussion. So there may be two pretty big things in 2016 that people may be arguing about is keto, different applications of keto as well as perhaps maybe a resurgence of vegetarianism and veganism.

Scott: Continuing that theme on vegetarianism, that was one of the other questions somebody asked me to ask you was, what are some of your top plant protein recommendations? So I think people get bored of beans, pulses and eggs.

Alan: Right, right, right. You know, there’s a really good product that I personally tried and I’ve been on it as a matter of staple and that is a product called Rawfusion. It’s by SAN Nutrition and that is a predominantly pea based protein. Not pee as in, you know, water sports but, you know, pea like P-E-A. You know, I don’t want people to go ahead…

Scott: Like peas in corn peas.

Alan: Yeah, it’s not a fetish type of protein I’m talking about here. It’s literally peas and corn type peas. So pea protein and the thing that I’ve heard about pea protein product is that they all taste like crap but lo and behold this product Rawfusion tastes good. And interestingly about pea protein and you probably already know this, Scott. It’s been compared head-to-head with whey in one study where it actually outperformed whey for increasing muscle thickness in a longitudinal study. So that was kind of an eye opener as far as pea protein goes which has got a lower leucine content in whey. So you would think that it would get outperformed but lo and behold it didn’t but of course, it could be a one hit wonder study that is sponsored by the company who puts out the pea protein. So yeah, I would say pea protein has done well in the research. Rice protein surprisingly has done well but you have to consume a fair amount of it in order to equal the animal protein equivalents. Generally speaking, if you’re gonna go full on plant protein, if you want to get the leucine equivalent of the animal proteins, you’re gonna need to eat somewhere between 20 to 25% more protein, total dietary protein from the high quality plant sources in order to be on the same level, leucine wise.

Scott: Yeah, so we’re saying get that quinoa down you.

Alan: Get that what?

Scott: Get that quinoa down you.

Alan: Oh, crap, man, quinoa. Holy cow.

Scott: Sorry, I should have called quinoa then you would have correct, yeah.

Alan: Quinoa, it sort of slipped my mind, man. That was almost like a 90s thing for a while. You kinda had to take me back a little bit, man. Sorry about that.

Scott: Well, we’re on to it just now. I think you guys must have had it first and now we’re going into quinoa.

Alan: Oh, it’s coming around to you guys now? Finally.

Scott: Yeah, have you seen that meme. It’s the guy from Futuramma when it’s taking the piss and he tell people saying, “Don’t eat things if you can’t pronounce it.” And then he goes, “Quinoa.”

Alan: Oh, there you go. I haven’t seen that meme, man. But the pronunciation of quinoa has definitely been an issue.

Scott: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Last couple of questions. People wanting to know more about you and these are ones that I often ask people when they come on the show. What would you say that you know now or what are the main things that you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?

Alan: You cannot train your way to muscle mass. You have to train and eat your way to muscle mass. You cannot train your way to muscle mass. You have to train and eat your way to muscle mass. Click To Tweet Yeah, you know, there’s this–when you first start out people tend to have a pretty good focus on either training or nutrition. Usually it’s the training part that they have this concept that you need to work hard with that, need to push through that. But for guys who are struggling to put on muscle mass, they really are unaware of the idea that they need to eat quite a bit more than they think. And typically guys who struggled to put on mass are really high, what I call NEAT freaks or non-exercise activity thermogenesis freaks. So they are sketchy, they are twitchy and they are burning a lot of calories outside of the gym. So when they try to impose some sort of caloric surplus in order to bring in the raw materials to build that new muscle, that caloric surplus gets eaten up by all their twitching and moving around in none exercise activity. So these so called hard gainers really need to eat a whole lot more to the tune of anywhere from 500 calories more than their regular maintenance all the way up to near a thousand calories more than their maintenance in order to put on some size. So that’s one of the things that I didn’t realize at the beginning is some people really need to eat a shitload more than their maintenance in order to really establish that caloric surplus that optimizes muscle growth.

Scott: Drink more milk.

Alan: Well, yeah, of course there’s the GOMAD Approach.

Scott: GOMAD, yeah, I was gonna say it. Just anyone–well, one we do really do go ends over here but does anyone still recommend GOMAD which is for anyone listening it’s Gallon of Milk A Day. It’s old school body building get swole logic.

Alan: That is taking the idea to not necessarily extreme and yeah, you definitely gain some muscle but you just gain an excess amount of fat along with it.

Scott: Yeah, and you’d lose friends with the flatulence as well.

Alan: Oh, god, the guys doing GOMAD are just wherever alone, you know, they’re single. So, you know, they’re just dutch opening their dog all night.

Scott: Okay. So before it degenerates further, what’s on the cards for you at the moment and how can the listener find out more about you?

Alan: I’ve got a bunch of different speaking engagements coming up. In February, I’ll be in Saskatchewan, Canada. Well, Regina. It’s Saskatchewan, Regina. And that’s in Canada and in February, nonetheless, people are telling me I’m crazy for doing it because of the cold weather but, you know what, man, as Layne Norton said, “No sacrifice, no win, baby.”

Scott: Out work.

Alan: That’s right. Out work. That’s right.

Scott: I outwork my way in Iceland in December and it was cold so yeah, you can do it.

Alan: You outworked your nuts off. So, yeah, I’m gonna be in Canada in February, gonna be in the UK at the end of April. This is gonna be with Brad Schoenfeld and Brett Contretras and James Krieger. We’re doing something that’s hosted by Luke Johnson and Chris Burgess and that’s gonna be really cool. And then in May or actually end of April–yeah, beginning of May, gonna be at the Fitness Summit in Kansas City, Missouri. And then in June, I’m gonna be back with Brad Schoenfeld , James Krieger and Brett Contreras in Australia, then that’s gonna be hosted by two buff girls that Jill Taylor and Charlotte Mary. And gosh, what’s gonna happen after that? Norway is gonna happen at some point after that and then perhaps another stint somewhere else in the US. So I’m doing a lot of speaking. I typically don’t keep a calendar of that stuff posted, you know, with the events and all that stuff. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a way that I make it more difficult for stalkers to, you know, come and get type of thing. So I’ll just announce it on Facebook as it come up.

Scott: Playing it safe.

Alan: Yeah, I’m playing it safe. Trying to stay a little bit low key, you know, and…

Scott: I mean, you’ve got your research review as well.

Alan: The research review is something that’s on going and that is my baby, you know, that’s my pride and my joy. You can find a link to that on my website. Alanaragon.com and my research review is something that I think is my best work. And not only that but I invite various guests to contribute articles on that that I think are excellent and, you know, in many cases better than the work that I do. I really think that that’s the stuff. My research review, I’m really proud of it, yeah.

Scott: That’s the muts nuts as they’d say.

Alan: Yes. Bees knees, yes.

Scott: Awesome. Well, I’d just like to thank you again, Alan for coming on. It was great to finally  get time for this and, you know, on behalf of the listener, I’ll extend my thanks to you as well. It has been fantastic and yeah, look forward to hopefully getting you on in in the future.

Alan: Thanks so much, Scott. You ask some great questions and fun questions and I would love to be back on.

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Scott Baptie

Scott is the owner and founder of Food For Fitness. He is a fat loss coach, speaker and fitness writer with a masters (MSc) degree in Applied Sports Nutrition.