Diet myths never die. They change with the times and evolve accordingly. Gone are the days of bodybuilding forums, Tea Nation. and the champions of Broscience 1.0. I know because I held the shovel. As did a few others.
A decade later, we’re back were we started. You might not see it because you’re not in it. But Broscience 2.0 is here and it has been for the past two years.
This time, podcasts are the medium of choice. It’s perfect. Think about it. It’s passive, and it comes without consumer interaction and the risk of being called out. With low-ball questions and neutral topics thrown into the mix, you turn a 3-hour ad into what appears to be three guys having a chat. It’s a marketers dream come true.
I’m talking about Joe Rogan Experience #1176 – Dom D’Agostino & Layne Norton which you can watch on YouTube or download to your podcast player of choice.
I had a few thoughts on the topics discussed, so let’s get on with it. Note that the time points given are based on the video and the audio version is different from the YouTube version.
There too many issues to address if we start from the beginning. Even though that was my intent, I came to my sense and decided to narrow my focus. Besides, I don’t want to come off as a ‘hater.’
Let’s start from the end at around 2:52. Layne Norton starts talking about fraud in scientific research, mentioning it being a problem. D’Agostino chips in, ‘even in cancer!’ as if that’s surprising.
Sidenote – the more money involved, the higher the risk of the resulting data being false. In scientific research, cancer is the single most lucrative field of research and success comes with a huge amount of money and prestige. It’s only natural then that fraud is a problem especially in cancer research. Other lucrative areas are obesity and supplements.
Layne then goes off on government conspiracy theories and libertarians. He let’s them have it and says they’re nuts, something I don’t find disagreeable.
But it’s odd that he brings cancer research into the mix when it’s the supplement industry that’s most vulnerable to fraud and falsification. That’s something I don’t know for a fact, of course, but in the food industry, Marion Nestle has concluded that:
- Of 152 industry-funded studies, 140 boast results that favor the funder. That’s more than 90 percent.
- Studies sponsored by the food industry were far more likely to reach conclusions that favored the industry. They seemed more like marketing than science.
These examples are relevant because supplement and food research has many similarities. The one difference is that supplement research is so poorly controlled, that anything goes. If you want examples, take a look at D’Agostino’s research. If you think Brad Schoenfeld’s study was ludicrous, wait ’til you see how it’s conducted by Dom’s lab.1
Let me state for the record that I also think Layne’s did OK throughout the podcast. By JRE standards, he’s probably the most factually correct guy to ever sit there as far as nutrition is concerned. 2
I’m not his biggest fan, that’s probably not a secret. But I try to be objective and I lower my expectations to suit the standard. Compared to his partner Dom, the guy’s a beacon of enlightenment.
You might wonder, what the hell is Layne even doing there with Dom of all people? It’s a pertinent question and I invite you to dwell on the answer. Layne’s been waging Twitter-war on low carb zealots and keto proponents for ages. A strange alliance indeed.
Fast forward to the last two minutes where Layne states that experts never gives yes or no answers. They never say never and provide nuance and context, so to speak.
Let me address that and say that I don’t agree, nor do I think Layne’s opinion is consistent with his Twittering. An expert gives yes or no answers when they exist and doesn’t shy away from conflict unless they’re a bitch. They don’t hide behind ‘it depends’ and ‘everyone’s different’ just to appease their crazy funding source I mean partner.
But there’s no handwringing on Twitter where he calls out all sorts of spurious claims. It’s easy to be a hero on Twitter. In the 3 hours of this conversation, I stopped counting at 20 factually incorrect statements that escaped Layne’s finely tuned keto alarm. They cut through Layne like a hot knife through coconut butter. Dom D’Agostino had his way with both of them, but Layne’s the low carb expert and Joe’s only a victim in this mess. 3
So what the hell is this unlikely duo doing on Rogan together?’ The answer is money. It’s money that unites these two and pacifies Layne. Dollar signs explains why he’s allowed Dom to get away with jaw-dropping statements that even Tim Noakes would frown at and that’s saying something.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is not a roundtable that is concerned with the truth. When and where it exists, facts and consensus turns into ‘everyone’s different’ or just radio silence (in Layne’s case.
You could say that it’s a roundtable about supplements. After all, all parties are supplement company reps (Layne) or supplement company owners (Dom and Joe). Or patent holders, or all of it.4 Suffice it to say, they make money from supplements.
In his ending note, and when given the opportunity previously in the podcast, Layne does not mention that he’s still working with Scivation. I wonder why. Maybe the answer can be found in the discrepancy between Twitter and podcast studio. Like it’s easy to play hero on Twitter, it’s easy to forget strict standards and opinions when it comes real life. Where there’s consequences. t
But I’m a minimalist and ‘supplements’ doesn’t hit the spot. At the core, it’s not about supplements. It’s about manufactured needs.
The Fitness Machine
We all have needs but what you need to get big, strong or lean is hard work, a gym and discipline to keep going.
Then there’s the extras that come with the territory. Things like protein powder, creatine and maybe caffeine pills., We don’t need them, but they make life convenient and adds pep to our step.
There’s equipment like squat shoes, belts, chalk and various tools like MyFitnessPal and apps for tracking lifting, running or bar movement. A wide range of things that fall under the umbrella of extras.
I have nothing against things that makes life easier or products that do what they’re claimed. Of the aforementioned, I’m a heavy user of protein powder and I have dabbled with most of what’s mentioned in the past. Nothing wrong with that.
Manufactured needs, that’s what I don’t like. A manufactured need provides no utility, limits progress and makes life more complicated. I’ve made my bones in the industry destroying manufactured needs and the proof is in the pudding. From articles like Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked and the early days of internet forums. 5
Manufactured needs come in different shapes and forms, but they all start in belief. A false belief. The belief that you need to eat six times a day, have breakfast and take glutamine, for example. Those are all manufactured needs that make the engineers who put them there lots of money.
Whether it be Kellogg’s or Cell-Tech, bad things happen when you let corporations and companies decide the agenda. Best case scenario, they only hurt your wallet. Worst case scenario, they lead to a lifetime of trying but never succeeding. In my case, 7 years wasted on the nonsense of the olden times. You can read about it in The Leangains Method.
Other examples of manufactured needs can be found in Shape, pink dumbbells and other elements of female oriented exercise culture. The belief is that women need a special kind of training when they don’t.6
Now that I’ve described what a manufactured need is, you need to understand that it’s lubricant for the cogs that keep the great fitness machine turning. The 3-hour conversation I listened to is the manufacturing process. Like those before it and many yet to come.
Dom wants you to believe that ketone esters are worth a damn when they’re not. He wants you to believe that pricking yourself with sharp objects is a worthwhile endeavour because ketosis will solve everything. It won’t. But thinking it will fattens his wallet and complicates your life.
For more on the problematic keto alliance and their members, I suggest you read:
How Keto Scientists Connect to Keto Companies (a critical investigation)
You will find D’Agostino listed there. Explore the rest of the site and you will also discover that his claims don’t measure up to science or even textbook basics about the mechanisms governing ketosis.
If that’s not immediately apparent, let it be known that he stated that keto is a death sentence for Type 1 diabetics and used the Harvard study to argue his point. A study that concluded the following:
Exceptional glycemic control of T1DM with low rates of adverse events was reported by a community of children and adults who consume a VLCD.
Only 7 (2%) respondents reported diabetes-related hospitalizations in the past year, including 4 (1%) for ketoacidosis and 2 (1%) for hypoglycemia.
Of 316 people, no one died and most thrived. Not to mention the fact that ketogenic diets were what kept people alive before insulin.
He wants to work with the US Military, but I’d feel safer with this guy in charge.
What does Layne want? He’s far more subtle about his agenda. You have to be deep into the mix to understand it because he’s mostly doing damage control. Trying desperately to save face when the idiot sitting beside him makes one ludicrous statement after the next.
What Layne wants is to compromise. Since I made it clear that there was no need (AKA evidence) to shuffle shakes down your gullet every other hour, the companies had to rethink their strategy. They used Layne to manufacture a solution and cherry-pick the evidence. They came up with snazzy theory and a cool name, ‘muscle-full.’
You don’t need 6 meals a day. 4 will do. Because believing that there’s a difference between 3 and 4, is the difference between Scivation’s continued existence and their possible demise. And if not that, a difference of billions of dollars and millions of BCAA/EAA/protein powder canisters sold.
If 3 squares of protein will do the trick, who needs protein powder or amino acids? A hell of a lot less than those who are currently buying it. The podcast ends comically when D’Agostino delivers this nugget of wisdom:
When someone’s really strong on one side, dig kinda deep and look for conflicts of interests too.
I did and every single study D’Agostino has been involved in comes with a disclaimer that looks like this
Conflict of interest statement
BS is an employee of HVMN Inc., which sells exogenous ketone products. She has the option to purchase stock in HVMN Inc. AP is a scientific consultant for Pruvit Ventures, which sells exogenous ketone supplement products. She is also an inventor on intellectual property related to exogenous ketone supplementation for various uses.
Dom D’Agostino is an inventor on intellectual property related to exogenous ketone supplementation for various uses. The other authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Let me translate that for you.
‘Everyone involved in this study makes money from ketone products and would benefit from a positive result.’
‘But we say it’s not a conflict of interest.’
I shouldn’t have to point out the Twilight Zone like qualities here nor will I do that either. I’ll just end on a positive note and confess that I was wrong in the original version of this article.
In that superfluous review of claims and statements, I concluded, in summary, that Dom doesn’t get a single thing right. That his advice is ass backwards when it’s not bad, irresponsible or ignorant.
I was clearly wrong and I’m glad we found common ground in the last minute.
- A decade ago, the first generation of broscientists promoted ‘clean eating’, six meals a day, breakfast as necessity and little to no food after 6 PM, etc, etc. They claimed it was all based on science and everyone bought it, hook, line and sinker. Until I came around and set them straight.
- The new generation of broscientists are no different than the last. They just put initials after their names and migrated from forums to podcasts.
- Broscience is driven by companies and fueled by greed. Their agents are broscientists. Before they were bodybuilders, fitness profiles and magazine owners. Today they are literally scientists. There were a few back then too. I made quick work of them. Don’t be fooled by titles and initials.
- At the core, broscience works by instilling a belief or a thought in your head. The belief that you need this to do that (optimally). You don’t and that’s called a manufactured need. A common tactic in other fields as well, skincare products being a pertinent example.
- They must be stopped
The $10k Challenge
Here’s a check for $10,000,00. It’s for Layne, Dom and anyone else ready to engage me in debate when I call them out. If I can prove that the claim(s) made are wrong, I keep the check and you write an apology letter that I post on my site. You win, you level up your rep and collect the check.
I’m ready to tango. Are you?
- For those of you who aren’t familiar with best practices in research methodology, these guys are basically doing unsupervised science. Simply put, there’s zero outside control.
- I’ve been listening to JRE since the first episode more or less.
- To be fair, he tried to intervene in some of the nonsense voiced by his partner. The highlight of the show is actually Layne’s throwaway ’Shut the fuck up’ line addressed to one of many ludicrous statements.
- But I don’t want to throw under the bus with these two. He doesn’t hide the fact and the only way it affects his judgement might be in terms of his bias.
- When I cleaned up the industry, Layne ate his 6 meals a day, counted carbs and kept a food log.He claims to have railed against convention when he’s only been riding on the coattails of those who did the work.
- Thankfully they now have acceptable alternatives thanks to CrossFit. That’s not a joke and I’ve stated the same before.