n past issues of Applied Metabolics, I’ve discussed the findings presented at various science and nutrition conferences. Such conferences are ostensibly held in often exotic locations to present new information and studies that have not yet been published in science and medical journals. In that sense, the conferences present information that is presented for the first time. When I first began science writing nearly 40 years ago, I thought that it would be important for me to attend such conferences so that I can gather new, avant-garde information to readers of the various magazines that I wrote for.But after attending a few of these conferences, I soon realized that attending them was a waste of time. In many cases, the studies presented at the conferences were just regurgitated studies that had already been published, with the authors of the studies presenting the findings using slides shown on a large screen. The real useful information didn’t appear during the seminars at the conferences, but rather in a cavernous hall, where large posters were placed around the room. These posters showed abstracts of studies that hadn’t yet been published and most of the information was brand new. Knowing this, I stopped attending the conferences, but did keep up with finding and reading the abstracts of new studies presented at the conferences.
One of the most interesting science conferences is presented by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). This conference often presents a lot of new data that is pertinent to anyone engaged in bodybuilding or fitness activities. This year the ISSN presented their annual conference in Clearwater, Florida between June 7 and 9. I have noticed an unfortunate pattern over the years with this particular conference. It has become increasingly commercialized, with many of the new studies sponsored by supplement companies. That alone doesn’t invalidate a science study, but it does raise the question of bias on the part of the researchers who conduct the studies. I say this because those researchers are paid by the supplement companies to do the studies and they do all they can to show that the supplement examined in such studies is effective. It’s not hard to manipulate the findings of science studies so that the conclusion reached in the study is what you were seeking. In this publication, I usually avoid reporting on studies that have been sponsored or paid for by various food supplement companies. The reason for this is two-fold. First, in most cases I find evidence of bias on the part of the researchers who published the studies. Second, the studies often aren’t properly designed to the extent that they presented credible science. For example, some studies don’t include a placebo to compare to any particular product. Again, without a placebo to compare with the product, it’s easy to show beneficial results simply by manipulating various details of the study. An example of this would be a study showing that ingesting a certain protein supplement increased muscular gains. If you provided the supplement to one group, then had another group not ingest the protein but consume less than the amount of protein known to promote muscular gains, those in the protein group would always show superior results. But if you provided the same amount of protein from food in those who didn’t ingest the protein supplement, the results would likely show no superiority of the protein supplement at all.
But such results also depend on who the study subjects are. For example, many people over age 40 haveAnabolic Resistance,in which they are able to absorb protein without a problem, but the amino acid uptake into muscle isn’t as effective. Studies in which men over 40 have been provided with a whey protein supplement in addition to their normal protein meals show that the addition of the whey does seem to overcome most of the Anabolic Resistance effect. What this means in a practical sense is that those who are 40 need to ingest more protein compared to their younger peers. Working out with weights also helps to relieve any degree of Anabolic Resistance.
Many of the studies presented at this year’s 15th annual ISSN conference were just thinly disguised advertisements for various food supplements. Of course, such studies are sponsored by the companies that sell such supplements.Unless the study showed a rock-solid scientific design, I have not included these studies in this article. I’ll leave others to be unpaid shills for these companies. I also avoid most animal studies, such as those using rats and mice as study subjects. This doesn’t involve any prejudice against rodents, but rather involves the fact that less than half of such animal studies have any true applicability to human physiology. They are nothing more than indications of something that may or may not translate into human physiology. In rare cases, however, the results of animal studies are more compelling. These involve studies where the same mechanisms exist in both the animals and humans. But this is relatively rare.
With that being said, I now present the most practical and interesting studies presented at the 2018 ISSN conference. I will outline what the study found and add my own comments.