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AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page1

Copyright April 1st, 2008 by Alan Aragon


2 Strength training vs. endurance training: macro-
effects on body composition.
By Alan Aragon

6 Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of
medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater
rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil.
St. Onge MP, Borsarge A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008
Mar;87(3):621-6. [Medline]

7 Perceptions of antiobesity medications among
personal trainers.
Lobb LR, et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Mar;22(2):485-9.

8 Carbohydrate-supplement form and exercise
Campbell C, et al. IJ SNEM. 2008 Apr;18(2):179-90.

9 A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and
spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized
human clinical study.
Frestedt J L, et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008 Mar 27;5(1):8

10 The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training
combined with beta-alanine supplementation on
whole body strength, force production, muscular
endurance and body composition.
Kendrick IP, et al. Amino Acids. 2008 J an 4; [Epub ahead
of print] [Medline]

11 Combining fish-oil supplements with regular
aerobic exercise improves body composition and
cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Hill AM, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1267-74.

12 My philosophy on career success.
By Alan Aragon

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page2

Strength Training vs. Endurance Training: Macro-
Effects on Body Composition By Alan Aragon


Contrary to what the title might imply, I dont intend to paint
strength and endurance training into an either-or proposition.
Different goals will dictate the proportion of each type within a
program. For those anticipating (or dreading) it, this wont be a
lecture on the bioenergetics of muscle fiber types. The focus of
this review will be on the macro-aspects of body composition
lean and fat mass in particular. Ill tackle the following question:
Given that strength training is obviously superior for
gaining/retaining lean mass, is strength or endurance training
more effective than the other for fat loss? Lets take a look at the
research. But first, lets get our definitions straight.

Slippery Definitions

When you look at broad definitions, the two terms are actually
integral. Endurance is the ability to maintain strength for
extended periods, which requires a reduction in power output per
unit of time. Common activities associated with endurance
include running, cycling, and swimming. Obviously, those
activities can be done at various intensities relative to the
anaerobic threshold, near which the endurance label can
change. Increased endurance equates to an increased maximal
oxygen uptake (VO
), and thus ability to sustain these low-
resistance activities at intensity levels that suit the given sport.

On the other end of the spectrum, strength is the ability to
perform short bouts of high-resistance activity at near-maximal
or maximal intensities. Common activities associated with
strength training are powerlifting, Olympic weight lifting, and
throwing sports. For the purpose of this article, well type-cast
strength training as any activity involving weight training with
external loads (ie, barbells, dumbbells, and machines).

Sports such as bodybuilding, football, rugby, and sprinting
require a mix of strength and endurance. Physiologists have
referred to the spectrum encompassing all the degrees of each
type of activity as the strength-endurance continuum (SEC).

Conceptualizing the bodys energy systems is yet another way to
look at the SEC. Pure strength/power work will correspond
primarily with the ATP-CP system, while lower-intensity
endurance work will correspond primarily with the oxidative
energy system. Most team sports and activities related to general
fitness will fall somewhere in between, using the glycolytic
system in varying proportions along the continuum.

To add another necessary wrinkle in the definitions, endurance
training is often mentioned interchangably with aerobic training,
while strength training is interchanged with resistance training. I
have to hammer these points because, for the sake of nit-picky
accuracy, everything is resistance training, as long as theres
gravity. Even training in water involves resistance. Conversely,
not all endurance work is aerobic, some of it is anaerobic on an
intermittent basis, yet the term aerobics tends to get
automatically applied to the realm of anything doesnt involve
barbells or dumbbells.
Weights vs. Cardio

Hypertrophy occurs mainly in the fast-twitch muscle fibers,
which are stimulated by strength training to a much higher
degree than endurance training.
Thats sort of a well duh
statement, but other interesting and perhaps less-known
adaptations of strength training are its metabolic effects on
muscle during endurance work that occur independently of
muscle fiber hypertrophy. Illustrating this, Gorham et al
conducted a 12-week study on untrained subjects involving a 3-
day/week strength program consisting of 3 quadriceps exercises,
6-8 repetitions maximal (RM) per set.
The subjects were then
put through a series of endurance tests, and several parameters
were measured. Decreased lactate accumulation, decreased
glycogen depletion, and a protective effect (less decrease) in
ATP and PCr content were seen before hypertrophy was
detected at the 7th week of the trial.

Strength training has a lean mass-preserving effect under
hypocaloric conditions, but endurance training (at least in the
classic sense) does not. I mention the classic disclaimer
because of the relatively recent popularity of circuit training,
which is the completion of different resistance exercises in
continuous succession with minimal rest, in essence hybridizing
strength and endurance training (more on that coming up). The
following trials look specifically at comparisons of traditional
endurance-type/aerobic exercise and weight training.

In a memorable example of the lean mass-sparing effect of
strength training, Brynner et al used obese female subjects and
compared 12 weeks of resistance versus aerobic training on lean
mass and resting metabolic rate (RMR).
Despite an 800 kcal
liquid diet containing 80 g protein, 98 g carbohydrate, and 10 g
fat, the resistance-trained group had no significant LBM losses
while the other group lost 4 kg lean mass. Interestingly, the
resistance-trained group also lost significantly more bodyfat (~2
kg). To top everything off, the aerobic group experienced a
13.4% drop in RMR, while the resistance groups RMR
increased by 4%. The resistance group also had greater
endurance capacity in the time-to-fatigue test. This study
supports the idea that untrained obese subjects dieting severely
will get across-the-board better benefits from strength training
instead of aerobic training. The greater fat loss in the resistance
trained group is intriguing indeed, since calories and nutrients
were tightly controlled in this trial. In a similar study by
Geliebter et al using a 1286 kcal liquid diet, both groups had a
decrease in RMR, and no significant differences in fat reduction
or total bodyweight were seen.
But as expected, better retention
of lean mass occurred in the strength-trained group.

In the most recent weights vs. cardio study to date, Sarsan et al
found no significant difference in waist circumference or
waist/hip ratio at the end of 12 weeks.
The aerobic group had an
increased VO2max as well as improved indicators of mood,
while the resistance group gained greater maximal strength in
the hip abductors. Body composition was not measured, since
the objective was to compare different exercise modalities
without any dietary restriction or intervention. Unfortunately,
there was zero control or accounting of dietary habits throughout
the trial, so this limits the applicability of the results.

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page3

Cardio Alone vs. Cardio + Weights

This is an interesting area of research with a couple of studies
showing contrasting results. In perhaps the first study of its kind,
Kraemer et al compared the 12-week effects of diet only, diet +
endurance training, and diet +a mix of endurance and strength
Surprisingly, no significant differences between groups
were seen in fat mass or lean mass. Correspondingly, no
differences were seen in RMR across the groups. However, the
diet plus strength & endurance group had a lower respiratory
exchange ratio (RER) at the 12th week. Lowered RER is an
indicator of a higher rate of fat oxidation.

Roughly two years later, Kraemer et al conducted an identically
designed study with male subjects, and the results made a little
more sense.
The diet-only group lost 2.96 kg lean mass, a
statistically significant reduction. While the lean mass losses in
the two other groups didnt reach statistical significance, they
were still notably different. The diet +endurance group lost 2.0
kg, while the diet +endurance +strength training group lost only
0.33 kg. As for fat mass, the diet-only group lost 6.68 kg, diet +
endurance lost 7 kg, and diet +endurance +strength topped the
field once again by losing 9.97 kg.

Why the lack of consistency of results with the womens trial?
Gender differences are a possibility, but as was the case in
research with similar results,
the likely culprits are a lack of
dietary control and a lack of optimal diet composition. In both
trials, protein intake was 0.6g/kg; this is even less than the
already low RDA of 0.8g/kg. Also, the authors state explicitly in
both studies: It was not the goal of the study to strictly control
what subjects consumed outside of their scheduled Matola
products. In addition, dietary intake was self-reported. This is
often a necessary logistical sacrifice, but its a distinct limitation
nonetheless. Another critical difference between these two trials
was the use of the laboratorys team of certified personal trainers
for administrating the exercise programs of the men. Direct
supervision of resistance training has been shown to increase
strength performance.
I would have loved to see both of the
above trials include a diet +strength training group.

Low-Volume Circuit Training vs. High-Volume Periodization

As promised, its time to look at the scant data on how circuit
training has compared to more traditional strength training,
courtesy of Marx et al.
Untrained, healthy, normal-weight
women were used in this 6-month trial. The 3 days/week circuit
training protocol consisted of a 10 different exercises covering
the full body. For each, a single set of 8-12 repetitions to
momentary muscular failure was done with 1-2 minutes of rest
between each set. Take note that the more stereotypical/popular
type of circuit training involves minimal rest between sets, but
apparently the authors of this study were more interested in
comparing different training volumes rather than different
densities of caloric expenditure or cardiovascular work. The 4
days/week periodized protocol consisted of 7-12 exercises
covering the full body, 2-4 sets per exercise, repetition ranges
varied from 3-5, 8-10, and 12-15. Rest between sets was 1-2
minutes on light and moderate days, and 3-4 minutes on heavy
days. The periodized group ended up doing about triple the
volume of work done by the circuit training group.

Despite the markedly higher volume in the periodized group
(roughly 90 versus 30 sets per week in the circuit group), no
significant differences in net weight loss. All groups dropped in
the neighborhood of 9-10 kg by the end of the trial. However,
the periodized group gained 3.1 kg lean mass compared to the 1
kg lean mass gained by the circuit group, and dropped bodyfat
by 6.7%, while the circuit groups body fat decreased 2.5%. As
expected, by the 6th month the periodized group beat the circuit
group in every strength/performance parameter tested, including
local muscular endurance. That looks like a slaughter, if you ask
me. Too bad this trial wasnt associated with a product; some
serious commercial leveraging could have been done.

My biggest beef with this study from a design & reporting
standpoint was the lack of dietary control. In fact, I couldnt find
the word diet anywhere in the text [note for the electronically-
challenged: typing the letter F while holding down the Ctrl
button at the bottom left of your keyboard will allow you to find
whatever word you want in a document]. Diet variation in terms
of macronutrients and total calories could have crucially
impacted body composition outcomes. A spontaneous increase
in total calories in the higher volume group could have explained
the greater strength and lean mass gains, but it wouldnt
necessarily explain the greater fat loss, which was triple that of
the circuit trainees. This trial provides a strong case for untrained
females to increase periodized exercise volume beyond that used
in the circuit training treatment.

Research Summary

Defining strength versus endurance training is not as simple
as saying weights versus cardio. Theres whats known as
the strength-endurance continuum which encompasses both
extremes and all points in between.
Hypertrophy occurs mainly in the fast-twitch muscle fibers,
which are stimulated by strength training to a much higher
degree than endurance training.
Strength training has a lean mass-preserving effect under
hypocaloric conditions, but endurance training at least in
the classic sense does not.
With little exception, there has been a lack of adequate
dietary control in the research thus far comparing strength
and endurance training effects on body composition.
Thus far, no strong case can be built for the idea that
endurance training is superior for improving fat loss (and
obviously muscle gain) than strength training.
Comparing diet +endurance training with diet +endurance +
strength training has yielded mixed results regarding body
composition, with a possible gender advantage for males.
Nevertheless, I would put my money on the combination
treatment being superior, regardless of sex.
The existing evidence hints toward the superiority of a
combination of the types for the purpose of fat loss at least
under minimally controlled dietary conditions.
Note that the above point is made given that the trainees
endurance and strength training are distinctly different. Often
the lines are blurred between the types of training depending
on the length of mid-bout rest periods, as well as the
predominant energy system(s) used.
Higher volumes of periodized resistance training appear to
cause more dramatic improvements in both performance and
body composition compared to low-volume circuit training.
The significance is that the latter is what people tend to
gravitate towards, not realizing the former is a lot closer to
the programs of their physique idols.

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page4


1. Nader GA. Concurrent strength and endurance training: from
molecules to man. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006
Nov;38(11):1965-70. [Medline]
2. Staron RS, et al. Muscle hypertrophy and fast fiber type
conversions in heavy resistance-trained women. Eur J Appl
Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;60(1):71-9. [Medline]
Everything is goal-dependent. If your primary goal is to
perform better at an endurance sport, then you should do
both strength and endurance training, with the most time
and effort spent on the latter. Numerous studies have
shown the cross-over performance benefit of
incorporating progressive resistance training into an
endurance-focused regimen in a variety of sports.

If your goal is a combination of endurance and fat loss,
the above objectives apply here.
If your primary goal is gain anywhere near the proximity
of maximal or explosive strength, with endurance being
either a secondary or non-existent concern, then
endurance work should be minimal, if done at all. Unlike
the beneficial effect of strength training on endurance,
theres little if any cross-over benefit of endurance
training on strength gains. Exceptions exist with lower-
volume regimes (3 days of training per week),
but the
majority of research indicates that concurrent endurance
training interferes with strength development.

If fat loss is your primary goal (with endurance being a
secondary goal at best) do hypertrophy-focused strength
training. This way, youll maximize your chances of
preserving lean mass under hypocaloric conditions. If
you have the spare time in your schedule, incorporate
endurance training incrementally only as fat loss
plateaus arise. The objective is to do the least amount of
total work necessary to reach the goal.
If gaining lean mass is your primary goal (with fat loss
or endurance being a distant secondary goal at best), the
game plan is identical to the above, minus the endurance
If your goals are split between fat loss and muscle gain,
then the general guidelines will be dictated by a the
amount of spare time in your schedule, as well as any
secondary performance goals. Do hypertrophy-focused
strength training unless you specifically are interested in
powerlifting or the like. In either case, add cardio
incrementally on an only-as-needed basis as a means to
break through fat loss plateaus.
What I covered are just a handful of many possible
permutations of goals. Individual response to trial &
error is the ultimate protocol determinant.
Periodizing your resistance training program is optimal
for continual progress, and it doesnt have to be
complex. For a range of perspectives on periodization,
Ive compiled a list of open-access articles (see the
supplement below). For the peer-reviewed literature,
youll have to access the references I provided.

3. Goreham C, et al. High-resistance training and muscle
metabolism during prolonged exercise. Am J Physiol. 1999
Mar;276(3 Pt 1):E489-96. [Medline]
4. Bryner RW, et al. Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training
combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass
and resting metabolic rate. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999
Apr;18(2):115-21. [Medline]
5. Geliebter a, et al. Effects of strength or aerobic training on
body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen
consumption in obese dieting subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997
Sep;66(3):557-63. [Medline]
6. Sarsan A, et al. The effects of aerobic and resistance
exercises in obese women. Clin Rehabil. 2006
Sep;20(9):773-82. [Medline]
7. Kraemer WJ, et al. Physiological adaptations to a weight-loss
dietary regimen and exercise programs in women. J Appl
Physiol. 1997 J ul;83(1):270-9. [Medline]
8. Kraemer WJ, et al. Influence of exercise training on
physiological and performance changes with weight loss in
men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Sep;31(9):1320-9.
9. Lemura LM, et al. Lipid and lipoprotein profiles,
cardiovascular fitness, body composition, and diet during and
after resistance, aerobic and combination training in young
women. [Medline]
10. Mazzetti SA, et al. The influence of direct supervision of
resistance training on strength performance. Med Sci Sports
Exerc. 2000 J un;32(6):1175-84. [Medline]
11. Coutts AJ, et al. Effect of direct supervision of a strength
coach on measures of muscular strength and power in young
rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2004
May;18(2):316-23. [Medline]
12. Marx J O, et al. Low-volume circuit versus high-volume
periodized resistance training in women. Med Sci Sports
Exerc. 2001 Apr;33(4):635-43. [Medline]
13. Mikkola J S, et al. Concurrent endurance and explosive type
strength training increases activation and fast force
production of leg extensor muscles in endurance athletes. J
Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):613-20. [Medline]
14. Chtara M, et al. Effects of intra-session concurrent
endurance and strength training sequence on aerobic
performance and capacity. Br J Sports Med. 2005
Aug;39(8):555-60. [Medline]
15. J ung AP. The impact of resistance training on distance
running performance. Sports Med. 2003;33(7):539-52.
16. Vincent KR, et al. Improved cardiorespiratory endurance
following 6 months of resistance exercise in elderly men
and women. Arch Intern Med. 2002 Mar 25;162(6):673-8.
17. Millet GP, et al. Effects of concurrent endurance and
strength training on running economy and .VO(2) kinetics.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Aug;34(8):1351-9. [Medline]
AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page5

18. McCarthy J P, et al. Neuromuscular adaptations to
concurrent strength and endurance training. Med Sci Sports
Exerc. 2002 Mar;34(3):511-9. [Medline]
19. Putman CT, et al. Effects of strength, endurance and
combined training on myosin heavy chain content and fibre-
type distribution in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004
Aug;92(4-5):376-84. [Medline]
20. Hakkinen K, et al. Neuromuscular adaptations during
concurrent strength and endurance training versus strength
training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 Mar;89(1):42-52.
21. Bell GL, et al. Effect of concurrent strength and endurance
training on skeletal muscle properties and hormone
concentrations in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000
Mar;81(5):418-27. [Medline]
22. Kraemer WJ , et al. Compatibility of high-intensity strength
and endurance training on hormonal and skeletal muscle
adaptations. J Appl Physiol. 1995 Mar;78(3):976-89.
23. Willardson J M. A brief review: factors affecting the length
of the rest interval between resistance exercise sets. J
Strength Cond Res. 2006 Nov;20(4):978-84. [Medline]
24. Peterson MD, et al. Applications of the dose-response for
muscular strength development: a review of meta-analytic
efficacy and reliability for designing training prescription. J
Strength Cond Res. 2005 Nov;19(4):950-8. [Medline]
25. Kraemer WJ , et al. American College of Sports Medicine
position stand. Progression models in resistance training for
healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):364-
80. [Medline]
26. Hass CJ , et al. Prescription of resistance training for healthy
populations. Sports Med. 2001;31(14):953-64. [Medline]

DISCLAIMER: These articles are not peer-reviewed.
Theyre layperson-directed internet articles, that for the
most part have useful information. As open-access
articles written by an eclectic mix of un-tethered fitness
nuts, youll find most of these articles are less sterilized
than the peer-reviewed references I provided in the
AARR. Some youll like, some you might hate, but at
the end of the rainbow youll be more educated about
periodization, especially if this happens to be your first
exposure to the concept. If nothing else, these articles
might give you some new ideas to adapt into your own
training regime. Like all internet links, these are subject
to deletion and spontaneous glitches in the matrix.
Special thanks to the authors who generously gave their
insight to the masses.

Christopher Frankel & Len Kravitz
Per i odi zat i on: l at est st udi es and pr act i cal
appl i cat i ons

Dan John
The Basi cs Behi nd Per i odi zat i on

Dave Tate
[ war ni ng: t hi s si t e has hal f - naked but t
shot s]
The Per i odi zat i on Bi bl e, Par t 1
The Per i odi zat i on Bi bl e, Par t 2

Jacob Wilson & Gabriel Wilson
Per i odi zat i on par t 1: Hi st or y and
Physi ol ogi cal Basi s
Per i odi zat i on par t 2: Di vi si ons of t he
Tr ai ni ng Cycl e
Per i odi zat i on Par t 3: Tr adi t i onal and Non-
Tr adi t i onal Per i odi zat i on

Kelly Baggett
The Magi c of Mani pul at i ng Tr ai ni ng Fr equency
How t o Benef i t f r omPl anned Over t r ai ni ng

Lyle McDonald
Per i odi zat i on f or Bodybui l der s, Par t 1
Per i odi zat i on f or bodybui l der s, Par t 2
Per i odi zat i on f or bodybui l der s, Par t 3

Matthew Perryman
Per i odi zat i on Si mpl i f i ed

Matthew Perryman & Fortified Iron
Per i odi zat i on f or t he Poor Man, Par t 1
Per i odi zat i on f or t he Poor Man, Par t 2
Per i odi zat i on f or t he Poor Man, Par t 3

Tom Myslinski
The Devel opment of t he Russi an Conj ugt at e
Syst em

Various Authors
I n Case I mi ssed Anyt hi ng

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page6

Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-
chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight
and fat mass loss than does olive oil.

St. Onge MP, Borsarge A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):621-
6. [Medline]

PURPOSE: To determine whether consumption of MCT oil
improves body weight and fat loss compared with olive oil when
consumed as part of a weight-loss program. METHODS: 49
overweight men and women, aged 19-50 yrs, consumed either
18-24 g/d of MCT oil or olive oil as part of a weight-loss
program for 16 wk. Subjects received weekly group weight-loss
counseling. Body weight and waist circumference were
measured weekly. Body composition assessed by dual-energy X-
ray absorptiometry and computed tomography. RESULTS: 31
subjects completed the study. MCT oil resulted in lower body
weight than olive oil (-1.67 +/- 0.67 kg). Endpoint trunk fat
mass, total fat mass, and intra-abdominal adipose tissue were all
lower with MCT consumption than with olive oil consumption
CONCLUSION: Consumption of MCT oil as part of a weight-
loss plan improves weight loss compared with olive oil and can
thus be successfully included in a weight-loss diet. Small
changes in the quality of fat intake can therefore be useful to
enhance weight loss. SPONSORSHIP: International Life
Sciences Institute, North America, and GCRC grant M01 RR-
00032 from the National Center for Research Resources.

Study Strengths

Participants were required to be weight-stable for at least 6
months prior to beginning the trial. Subjects received weekly
group dietary counseling by a dietitian. Sessions consisted of
several practical weight loss achievement-related topics. Body
composition was measured via DEXA. Computed tomography
scans were used to identify intra-abdominal and subcutaneous
adipose tissue.

Study Limitations

There was a high level of attrition (36% dropout), which can
confound the results because of missing data that could have
swung things the other way. There may be sex-specific
responses to MCT, and 23 women and 8 men completed the
study. In a previous 27-day MCT study on women, no effect on
body composition was seen. The authors mention that
Differences detected in energy expenditure with MCT and long-
chain triacylglycerol (LCT)

are considerably greater in males
than in females thus the modest results seen in this trial. Would
the outcomes be staggeringly different with either an even mix
of the sexes or a predominantly male sample? Thats yet to be


The choice to compare olive oil with MCT has both pros and
cons. On the plus side, olive oil is one of the most extensively
studied (and heralded) oils in terms of its positive health effects.
If MCT was compared with any other oil without an illustrious
track record for improving markers of cardiovascular health, it
wouldnt be such a thrilling battle. On the downside, although
the oils were provided in opaque plastic containers, olive oils
distinctive taste is very tough to mask within food, and a great
proportion of the known world (study participants included) are
familiar with its taste. Knowing which treatment youre
undergoing in the study negates the necessary blinding effect.

Despite the rest of the reported outcomes, both groups
experienced an equal decrease in waist circumference. As for the
bottom-line numbers, total weight reduction in the MCT group
was 1 kg greater than the olive oil group. As well, total fat loss
in the MCT group was 1.54 kg greater than the olive oil group.
These results might perk up my ears if they occurred in a 2-4
week span, but were talking about 4 months here. Once again,
how meaningful is a statistically significant result when the
actual size of the effect is like a pimple on the ass of a planet?
Based on this, I can see why the authors were attempting to
justify the small differences by hemming and hawing about the
conservative effect potential of having an female-dominant set
of subjects.

But then the question becomes one of whether these small
effects can lead to meaningful weight reduction over time, as
long as no variables in ones weight loss program change with
the exception of a trading away your beloved olive oil for more
MCT. Is this a feasible solution worth pursuing? Losing an extra
quarter-kilogram per month can be accomplished by burning an
additional 64 kcals per day. Take up fidgeting (tapping your
fingers, bouncing your knees, etc), and youll be able to burn 5
times that much.

For you convenience, heres a link to a tracking guide for The
Compendium of Physical Activities (a study originally published
in MSSE), courtesy of the USC Prevention Research Center. The
energy cost of each activity is expressed in metabolic
equivalents (METs). 1 MET =1 kcal/kg/hr, which happens to be
the equivalent of sitting relatively still. As a sample calculation,
if an activity such as walking has a MET value of 3.0, then
youd multiply your weight in kilograms by 3.0 to arrive at how
many kcals per hour youll burn. For the metrically-challenged,
simply divide your weight in lbs by 2.2 to convert it to kg. So, if
youre 80 kg, walking for an hour would burn 80 kg x 3.0 =240
kcals per hour of walking. Moderate training is roughly 6.0
METs, so a 75 kg person would burn 480 kcal per hour. This
means that if youre willing to add an average of 7.5 minutes of
daily exercise, or easier yet, cut a measly 64 calories out of your
diet, you can have your delicious olive oil and let someone else
pay 30% more per unit of volume for MCT.

One thing to seriously consider is the potentially adverse effect
MCT on markers of cardiovascular health. In at least two studies
MCT increased plasma triacylglycerol compared to long-chain
triacylglycerols (LCTs). In a relatively recent comparison study,
high-dose MCT (about 70g) increased LDL & VLDL levels 12%
and 32% higher than the high-oleic acid sunflower oil, without
any effects on HDL. The significance here is that olive oil is
over 70 % oleic acid. Its plausible that wed see similar
outcomes given the same trial with olive oil in place of the
sunflower oil.
AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page7

Perceptions of antiobesity medications among personal

Lobb LR, et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Mar;22(2):485-9.

PURPOSE: to develop a baseline understanding of the
knowledge and perceptions that certified personal trainers have
of both prescription and nonprescription weight loss drugs.
METHODS: A 16-item qualitative survey was used to
interview 43 certified personal trainers. Interviews were
conducted via telephone to assess trainers current level of
knowledge and perceptions of weight loss drugs. Questions
about both prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC)
medications were included in the survey instrument. All trainers
held current National Association of Personal Trainers (NAPT)
certifications or certification from the American College of
Sports Medicine (ACSM). RESULTS: Almost half of the
sample had no knowledge of weight loss medications. Of the 43
trainers surveyed, 58% were able to list one currently or
previously available medication, 42% were able to list two
medications, and no one was able to provide names of more than
two medications. Personal trainers did not support the use of
either prescription or OTC weight loss medications. In fact,
these interventions were rated the lowest on a 7-point scale
among options assessed concerning their importance to a weight
loss program: diet (6.67), exercise (7.00), and medication use
(1.96). CONCLUSION: a lack of awareness of weight loss
medications and a potential bias against prescription weight loss
medication use. This finding illustrates the need for further
studies of fitness professionals' perceptions of and attitudes
toward antiobesity medications as a form of weight loss
intervention. SPONSORSHIP: None listed.

Study Strengths

This study is conceptually very interesting to me since my
profession involves constant communication with certified
personal trainers (CPTs). Having been one myself, Im aware of
the various challenges and issues they face. One of the main
issues and ill-defined aspects of the relatively new profession of
personal training is the scope of practice. Based on the abstract, I
thought this paper was going to be a general roasting, but
surprisingly, the authors give CPTs some rather resounding
credit for their role in health care:

Certified personal fitness trainers (CPT) are important
partners in health care and are key players in the battle against
obesity. Often overlooked, CPTs usually have a wealth of
knowledge in the areas of physical fitness and weight

The subjects had an average professional training experience of
7 years. According to the authors, the survey was developed by
experts in the pharmaceutical, health promotion, and exercise
science fields.

Study Limitations

Being a observational/exploratory study, theres no intervention
or control of variables to critique. But considering how
staggering the sheer numbers of certified personal trainers must
be on a nation-wide scale, it struck me as odd that the authors
were only able to secure 43 completed surveys. Another
limitation was the lack of reporting of formal education of the
trainers, since indeed the sample was relatively small for a
survey. Given that an internet search yielded 125 different
certifying bodies, it was strange to see the sample comprised of
only two certifying bodies.


I personally havent heard of NAPT. I just did a Google search
on the organization, and was unable find it after going 5 pages
deep. In my observations working closely with health club
management in Southern California, the two most desirable
certifications are by the National Academy of Sports Medicine
(NASM), and the National Strength and Conditioning
Association (NSCA). While the American College of Sports
Medicine (ACSM) has an industry reputation for offering top-
tier certifications, theyre generally perceived as appropriate for
covering the needs of cardiac-rehab patients, and other such
clinical applications. In contrast, the NASM and NSCA are
generally perceived as a better fit for the healthy to high-
performance sports populations. I would wager that if a
consensus amongst the high-end fitness industry educators was
taken, the NSCA-CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning
Specialist) certification would get the highest ranking.
Incidentally, a recent study indicated that the NSCA certification
was the preferred certification for personal training employment
in Southeastern Massachusetts.

It was not a surprise at all to see that the CPTs had very limited
knowledge of anti-obesity drugs. It was also quite predictable to
see that they unanimously had a very negative perception of
pharmacological interventions for obesity I happen to share the
same view. While certain factions of the medical community
support the idea that obesity drugs and lifestyle intervention (diet
& exercise) can be adjunctive, I see them as inherently
antithetical. They directly oppose eachothers basic premise. In
my 15-year span in the business of helping clients get in shape,
not a single one of them was succeeded satisfactorily in the short
or the long term from the help of obesity medication.

Enough of my subjective experience, what does the research
say? A recent systematic review update by Rucker et al showed
that among the range of commercially available anti-obesity
drugs, rimonabant, orlistat, and sibutramine were the only ones
with acceptably designed/controlled research. The key finding
was that these compounds caused less than 5 kg weight loss in
trials lasting 1-4 years. Thats flat-out dismal. Its even worse
considering that you have to take the pittance of progress along
with the side effects. Sibutramine increases blood pressure and
heart rate. Rimonabant increases the incidence of psychiatric
disorders. Orlistats side effects include spontaneous spotting
and leakage of oily fecal matter, as well as urgent bowel
movements. The authors of the review also emphasized the
distinct possibility of publication bias. To quote Rucker et al,
Nearly all trials were funded by pharmaceutical companies, which
may increase the likelihood of positive results.
Ya think?

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page8

Carbohydrate-supplement form and exercise

Campbell C, et al. IJ SNEM. 2008 Apr;18(2):179-90. [IJ SNEM]

PURPOSE: To determine the effectiveness of carbohydrate gels
or jellybeans in improving endurance performance.
METHODS: On 4 separate days and 12 hr after a standardized
meal, 16 male and female athletes cycled at 75% VO
for 80
min followed by a 10-km time trial. Participants consumed
isocaloric (0.6 g of carbohydrate per kg per hour) amounts of
randomly assigned sports beans, sports drink, gel, or water only,
before, during, and after exercise. RESULTS: Blood glucose
concentrations were similar at rest between treatments and
decreased significantly during exercise with the water trial only.
Blood glucose concentrations for all carbohydrate supplements
were significantly, higher than water during the 80-min exercise
bout and during the time trial (5.7 0.2 mmol/L for sports
beans, 5.6 0.2 mmol/L for sports drink, 5.7 0.3 mmol/L for
gel, and 4.6 0.3 mmol/L for water). There were no significant
differences in blood glucose between carbohydrate treatments.
The 10-km time trials using all 3 carbohydrate treatments were
significantly faster (17.2 min for sports beans, 17.3 min for
sports drink, and 17.3 min for gel) than water (17.8 min).
CONCLUSION: All carbohydrate-supplement types were
equally effective in maintaining blood glucose levels during
exercise and improving exercise performance compared with
water only. SPONSORSHIP: J elly Belly Candy Company,
Fairfield, CA. [editors note: go ahead and laugh]

Study Strengths

The concept of the study is interesting, and guaranteed to get
jelly bean lovers excited. The majority of studies on this topic
have used liquid carbohydrate beverages, but this is perhaps the
first study to pit the full range of physical forms (liquid, solid, &
gel) against each other. Subjects were trained endurance
competitors (averaging roughly 9 hrs of training per week, so the
anything works better than nothing newbie effect was
eliminated. Carbohydrate dose was administered on a
proportional (0.6g/kg/hr) rather than a standard/flat basis. Fluid
intake was kept constant throughout the trial. A 4-way crossover
insured that the results werent unique to each participant.

Study limitations

Breakfast timing was not standardized. The subjects arrived at
the lab for testing 1-2 hours after their typical pre-race
breakfast, after having consumed their typical pre-race dinner
the night before. The 60 minute timing variation opened up the
possibility for variations in blood glucose and amino acid flux
during training. Nevertheless, despite the authors not mentioning
any specific dietary instructions given, the subjects consumed a
strikingly similar diet within the 12 hours leading into the trial in
terms of both total kcals and macronutrient content. Since no
differences in blood glucose during training were detected
during the steady state segment or the time trial, this lack of tight
control turned out not to be a non-issue after all.

Given the similar carbohydrate subtype composition of each
treatment (a roughly even mix of glucose and fructose), its not
too shocking that they were equally effective. Ingesting
carbohydrate solutions with different intestinal transporters (i.e,
fructose and glucose) produce greater absorption rates of
carbohydrate and water compared with solutions containing a
single carbohydrate source. Illustrating this, a recent trial by
Rowlands et al examined the effect of graded amounts of
fructose with maltodextrin on cycling performance and
carbohydrate oxidation. Doses of 0.0g/min (none), 0.3g/min
(low-fructose), 0.5g/min (medium-fructose), and 0.7g/min (high-
fructose) were consumed with a 0.6g/min dose of maltodextrin.
The low- and medium-fructose doses caused the greatest
exogenous glucose and total exogenous (ingested) carbohydrate
oxidation rates, while the medium- and high-fructose treatments
was associated with markedly decreased fatigue and nausea, and
better sustenance of power output during exercise.

The present study is yet another illustration of what I refer to as
the wide margin of optimal effect, or the doesnt matter factor.
Competitive and recreational athletes alike all strive for whats
optimal. Often, people automatically equate optimal with
singular, as if there a single-best method for improving the
given condition, whether it be performance or body composition.
This wide margin concept sort of takes the intrigue away from
the false idea that theres just a small handful of excusive
secrets. On the flip side of the coin, theres also a wide margin of
low-effectiveness across various methods.

An interesting aspect of this trial is how relatively well plain
water did in a number of parameters compared to the
carbohydrate supplements. Fluid balance, plasma electrolytes,
and rate of perceived exertion were no different than the carb
treatments through the 80-minute steady-state segment as well as
the 10-km time trial. It should be noted that in the most crucial
measure performance all of the carbohydrate treatments
outperformed water, but not to a staggering degree. This lack of
an obvious shut-out was likely to the subjects not being
glycogen-depleted at the start of the trials.

One missing element from this trial was the inclusion of protein
(or amino acids). Its well-established that including protein or
essential amino acids to the mix of energy substrates
surrounding and during the training bout can promote muscle
protein synthesis and prevent muscle protein breakdown. When
carbohydrate dosing is ample (about a gram per minute), any
performance benefit that protein might have disappears.
Nevertheless, it will always suppress muscle proteolysis, which
is why including protein to the training drink is a wise tactic. I
would even call it essential in most prolonged endurance
scenarios where the risk for muscle catabolism during the later
stages of competition is increased. Un-answered questions
remain regarding how protein might differentially affect the
performance outcomes of the 3 physical forms of carbohydrate.
The answer is likely to be one of two possibilities not by
much, and not at all.

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page9

A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and
spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized
human clinical study.

Frestedt J L, et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008 Mar 27;5(1):8

PURPOSE: To evaluated a specialized whey fraction
(Prolibra) for use as a dietary supplement to enhance weight
loss. METHODS: 59 overweight and obese subjects completed
12 weeks of a caloric reduction of 500 calories per day from
their maintenance intake. Subjects consumed Prolibra or an
isocaloric ready-to-mix beverage 20 minutes before breakfast
and 20 minutes before dinner. Body fat and lean mass were
measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Body
weight and anthropometric measurements were recorded every 4
weeks. Responders were defined as anyone who lost at least 2.25
kg. RESULTS: Both groups lost a significant amount of weight.
Prolibra group tended to lose more weight than the control
group; however the amount of weight loss was not significantly
different between groups after 12 weeks. Prolibra subjects lost
significantly more body fat compared to the control subjects for
both the completer (2.81 vs. 1.62 kg) and responder (3.63 vs.
2.11 kg) groups. Prolibra subjects lost significantly less lean
mass in the responder group (1.07 vs. 2.41 kg), but no significant
difference was seen in the completer group. The ratio of fat to
lean loss was much larger for Prolibra subjects for both
completer and responder groups. CONCLUSION: Subjects
taking Prolibra lost significantly more body fat and showed a
greater preservation of lean muscle compared to the control
group. SPONSORSHIP: Glanbia Nutritionals, Inc.

Study Strengths

A larger-than-usual sample (59 subjects) completed the study.
Subjects were given diet diaries. A broad range of instruction
sheets were given, including corresponding sample diets ranging
from 1000-2400 kcals. Body composition was measured via
DEXA. Subject compliance accountability was enforced by
telephone contact between visits to review diet and supplement
compliance and to answer any questions.

Study Limitations

There was a substantial dropout rate (47 subjects withdrew, 59
completed the study). This means that not everyone who was
randomized was actually analyzed. This opens up serious
questions about alternate outcomes if the dropouts stuck around.
Subjects in the control group had a total protein consumption of
0.61g/kg. Adding Prolibra simply bumped the experimental
group up to 0.81g/kg, which is barely a hair over the RDA. Not
only is this an imbalanced treatment from the standpoint of
nitrogen intake, it also represents a marginally adequate protein
intake versus an inadequate protein intake in the control group.
One of my personal preferences is to see an exercise program
properly administered in nutritional intervention trials. In
addition, the data could be more directly applied to the fitness-
oriented population, who tend to respond differently in many
aspects than the sedentary population.


When I read A whey protein supplement in the title of the
study, I went straight to the funding source, knowing full-well
that I had roughly a 99.9% chance of being correct that it was an
industry-sponsored study, and I was right. That was easy.
Glanbia Nutritionals is an international company selling an array
of whey protein products, as well as personal care items such as
toothpaste, mouthwash, and skin cream. They are one of
Europes leading dairy companies, and theyre one of the largest
cheese manufacturers in the world. With headquarters based in
Ireland, Glanbia is the countrys largest milk producer. Another
interesting (and critical) element of this trial is that two of the
studys authors Loren Ward and Eric Bastian are employed
at the Glanbia Research and Development Center. This
definitely cranks the bias meter way up.

I touched briefly on the protein treatment imbalance between the
groups. The question is whether this imbalance on its own could
have been enough of an advantage to cause the observed
outcomes. There was no significant difference in lean mass
decrease in those who completed the study, so its a good thing
the statistics were massaged to include responders, who lost a
minimum of 2.25 kg regardless of whether or not they dropped
out from the trial. The responders in the Prolibra group lost 1.34
kg less lean mass than the maltodextrin control. Given a
difference of 20 g more high-quality protein per day in the
Prolibra group while the control group consumed a placebo total
of 20 g maltodextrin, this isnt too surprising.

In research by Layman et al, the RDA for protein (0.8g/kg) was
compared to double that (1.6g/kg) under moderately hypocaloric
conditions, and the higher-protein group lost more bodyfat and
lost less lean mass. Layman saw better lean mass retention and
greater fat loss results in a subsequent study comparing the same
protein amounts but including a structured exercise program. My
point is that the RDA is not just sub-optimal, its ineffective at
enabling even non-severe dieters to retain lean mass. Double the
RDA accomplishes this by the skin of its teeth under exercising
conditions. So what does this say about a study comparing the
RDA level of protein with a 25% lower intake?

Looking at the magnitude of the results, this looks like a
common case of achieving statistical significance, but falling
short of clinical relevance. In those who completed the trial, the
Prolibra group lost 1.19 kg (2.61) lbs more than the placebo
group after 12 weeks, less than a pound difference per month. If
an equal comparison was done with more favorable protein
intakes in the vicinity of double the RDA, this difference would
very likely be erased.

The companys website markets Prolibra as a weight loss
product. Its claim to fame appears to be a simple mineral blend
mixed into the whey protein. I find it ironic and humorous
whenever a macronutrient, calories and all, gets marketed as a
causal agent for weight loss. Protein specialized protein is
easy to push in these current times of carbohydrate backlash that
the fat-free over-carbed 1980s created. It seems that much of
the public still isnt ready to accept this radical fat-fighting agent
called a caloric deficit.

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page10

The effects of 10 weeks of resistance training combined
with beta-alanine supplementation on whole body
strength, force production, muscular endurance and
body composition.

Kendrick IP, et al. Amino Acids. 2008 J an 4; [Epub ahead of
print] [Medline]

PURPOSE: To assess the effect of 10 weeks resistance training
on muscle carnitine concentrations, and, secondly, to investigate
if increased muscle carnitine from beta-alanine supplementation
had a positive effect on training responses. METHODS:
Twenty-six Vietnamese sports science students completed the
study. The subjects completed a 10-week resistance-training
program whilst consuming 6.4g/day of beta-alanine or a matched
dose of a placebo. Subjects were assessed prior to and after
training for whole body strength, isokinetic force production,
muscular endurance, body composition. RESULTS: beta-
Alanine supplemented subjects increased muscle carnitine
concentrations by 12.81 mmol/kg dry muscle, while there was
no change in the placebo group. There was no significant effect
of beta-ala supplementation on any of the exercise parameters
measured, mass or % body fat. CONCLUSION: 10 weeks of
resistance training alone did not change muscle carnitine
concentrations. Although beta-alanine supplementation did raise
muscle carnitine levels, it was ineffective at improving
performance or body composition. SPONSORSHIP: None

Study Strengths

I chuckle every time I say something like this, but the sample of
21-22 year-old healthy male physical education students was
appropriately chosen. In my observations, thats the ballpark
demographic most prone to jump on the latest sports
supplement. As intended by the authors, the field tests were
used were designed to more closely reflect the activities athletes
would actually be subjected to. This is in contrast with the
performance tests of previous studies, the latest of which were
laboratory-based. At 6.4g, Beta-alanine dose was consistent with
previous research that showed its potential effectiveness.

Study limitations

The strength training protocol involved a rep range of 2-5 per
set. While this is fine for developing maximal strength in the
powerlifting vein, it doesnt necessarily reflect the aspects of
physiology that beta-alanine supplementation might enhance.
Beta-alanine increases levels intramuscular carnosine levels, and
thus act as a hydrogen ion buffer, suppressing fatigue brought on
by decreases in pH. A training program with a higher volume of
sets and repetitions may have been more appropriate, but
nevertheless it certainly didnt hurt to test some un-charted
ground by examining the supplements effect on maximal
strength. The one limitation that really made me wince was the
use of skinfold calipers to determine body composition. I
normally dont have an issue with the use of calipers in one-on-
one private practice, but when big dollars are shovelled into a
controlled trial, there better be some liberal investment going
into the instrumentation, which should leave no option for the
error of human hands. Hydrodensitometry or DEXA would have
been a much better choice. To top off the list of shortcomings,
this study did not report any measures of dietary control. No
dietary recalls, no diet records, nothing. In contrast, previous
research by Hoffman showing positive effects of beta-alanine,
had subjects continuously monitor protein and calories
throughout the study using 3 d dietary records every week.
These little details can make big differences, and Im always
baffled and disappointed to see the nutritional control neglected
in studies involving exercise and/or supplementation.


If youve been reading the AARR since its inception in J anuary,
youve already have developed an eye for commercial influences
in scientific research. I never automatically dismiss industry-
funded research, but it sure does put the paper on the hot seat for
any clues that preconceived agendas are merely being fulfilled.
In any case, I found it interesting that beta-alanines
effectiveness took a fall only after 3 previous studies showing its
performance benefit. At the momentum stages of the beta-
alanine buzz from the Hoffman study and the subsequent Stout
study, I was beginning to get the notion that beta-alanine might
actually have a glimmer of hope. But now this failure to
perform? Wait a minute, this is bad for marketing.

Speaking of marketing campaigns, the two positive-effect
studies preceding this one were both funded by Experimental
and Applied Sciences (EAS). Some of you might recall that
fitness supplement mogul Bill Phillips, author of the bestselling
pop diet book Body for Life, used to own EAS. Im not sure how
long hes been away from the companys helm, but I do know
that Abbott Laboratories, one of the worlds largest
pharmaceutical companies, bought EAS in 2004. This definitely
brightens the forecast for EAS product sales. However, it also
puts a looming cloud of concern for the bias inherent in
company-funded trials. The present trial does not list any
funding source. One things for sure, its not EAS-sponsored.

The authors of the present study repeatedly allude to the
Hoffman study, since it also tested for maximal strength gains in
the squat and bench, in addition to assessing anaerobic power via
the Wingate test and 20-jump test. To its credit, the Hoffman
trial used DEXA, a more accurate method of body composition
assessment. Unlike the Hoffman et al, who saw the greatest
improvements in body composition and strength-endurance gain
resulting from a beta-alanine +creatine combo, the authors of
the present study saw zilch. Notably, one of the tests in the
present trial involved a load enabling 20-40 repetitions of arm
curls. Given this high rep range, one would assume that the
increased intramuscular carnosine levels got a fair shot at
delaying acid saturation and fatigue that terminates the set.
However, no such ergogenic effect was seen. Given this data, the
brakes have been pulled on the beta-alanine train for the time
being, albeit with a rather unpolished trial. As the clich goes,
more well-designed, well-reported research needs to be done.
Currently, the data on beta-alanine supplementation is very
preliminary, and just not compelling.
AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page11

Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic
exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular
disease risk factors.

Hill AM, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1267-74.

PURPOSE: To examine the individual and combined effects of
n-3 FA supplements and regular exercise on body composition
and cardiovascular health. METHODS: Overweight volunteers
with high blood pressure, cholesterol, or triacylglycerols were
randomly assigned to one of the following interventions: fish oil
(FO), FO +exercise (FOX), sunflower oil (SO; control), or SO
and exercise (SOX). Subjects consumed 6 g tuna FO/d
(approximately 1.9 g n-3 FA) or 6 g SO/d. The exercise groups
walked 3 d/wk for 45 min at 75% age-predicted maximal heart
rate. Plasma lipids, blood pressure, and arterial function were
assessed at 0, 6, and 12 wk. Body composition was assessed by
dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at 0 and 12 wk only.
RESULTS: FO supplementation lowered triacylglycerols,
increased HDL cholesterol, and improved endothelium-
dependent arterial vasodilation. Exercise improved arterial
compliance. Both fish oil and exercise independently reduced
body fat. CONCLUSION: FO supplements and regular
exercise both reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular and
metabolic health. Increasing intake of n-3 FAs could be a useful
adjunct to exercise programs aimed at improving body
composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk.
SPONSORSHIP: University of Adelaide postgraduate award
(to Hill).

Study Strengths

DEXA, the gold standard of assessment, was used to measure
body composition. Compliance was assessed by capsule count
and erythrocyte fatty acid analysis. At the start, midpoint, and
end of the trial, subjects submitted 3-day physical activity diaries
and weighed food records that were analyzed via computer
software. As well see, these were noble attempts to control
dietary variables, but self-reported dietary intake is always
subject to inaccuracy.

Study Limitations

Its not always feasible for the lab to provide all meals for the
relatively high number of subjects and long study duration, so a
certain degree of control is surrendered. This was apparent in the
studys statistically insignificant, but still discrepant outcomes in
the non-exercising control (sunflower oil) group. According to
the data table, these subjects progressively decreased their daily
caloric intake, but gained weight by the end of the trial. This is
an example of the error potential inherent with self-reported
dietary intake.


Cardiovascular disease risk factors altered by fish oil in this trial
were an increase in HDL-cholesterol and improved flow-
mediated dilation, while lowering plasma triacylglycerol. These
changes, as well as their promising implications, are consistent
with whats been observed in a substantial body of research.
However, a recent systematic review by Hooper et al on the risks
and benefits of omega-3 fatty acids had this to say in the

Our meta-analysis of RCTs assessing the effects of increased

omega 3 fats on total mortality found substantial variations

between studies. Studies with stronger methodology had more

consistent results, and the pooled relative risk of these studies

was 0.98 (0.70 to 1.36; 138 events). We found no evidence from

RCTs or cohort studies that omega 3 fats have an effect on

cardiovascular events.

Nevertheless, fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid consumption have
an appreciable accumulation of research showing multiple health
benefits. So, why not frame it out to be a fat loss aid as well? In
light of the current worldwide obesity epidemic, it seems
convenient to position fish oil as an agent of fat loss. However,
the problem lies in its inconsistent track record. Early research
by Couet indicated its potential for fat loss, and since then, the
hunt has been on for clues that fish oil is the fat-burning gift
from the sea. In contrast to the Couet study, 2 more recent
studies failed to see any significant fat loss effects of fish oil
beyond placebo or caloric restriction alone. In other recent
research, omega-3 supplementation was seen to enhance the fat
loss of severely obese female inpatients in very low calorie (525
kcal) conditions. A trial comparing the effect of fish oil alone,
fish oil +exercise, and exercise alone found no differences in
body composition. A recent study found no effect of fish oil on
energy metabolism during exercise in either the fed or the fasted

Now fast-forward to the present study, which the authors
themselves tout as the first properly controlled trial to show an
improvement in body composition in overweight or obese
subjects after intervention with n-3 FAs and regular aerobic
exercise. Everyone is proud of their own work, but this trial
almost positions itself as some sort of breakthrough. Is it? Pay
close attention to the details I outline in the next section.

When you ignore the caloric intake data, the fish oil +exercise
groups weight/fat loss is 2 kg more than the control group,
which qualified as statistically significant. However, a closer
look at the data tables reveals some crucial information that
either was intentionally not discussed, or accidentally
overlooked by the authors. The daily intake of the exercising fish
oil group during the trial was on average 143.4 kcals less than
the exercising control group. This caloric difference would allow
the fish oil group to rack up a 12,906 caloric deficit, which
would lead to 1.68 kg (3.7 lb) loss by the end of the trial.
According to the data table, the exercising fish oil group lost 2
kg (4.4 lb) more than the control group. So, factoring in the
reduced caloric advantage of the fish oil group, were now
looking at a difference of 0.32 kg (0.7 lb). Thats less than a
pound in the span of 12 weeks wow. In other words, this
difference between the groups is a notch below jack diddly. The
intake imbalance between the groups puts a whole new twist on
the outcomes, since it almost perfectly explains the weight & fat
loss advantage of the fish oil group.

AlanAragonsResearchReview,April,2008[BacktoContents] Page12

My Philosophy on Career Success
By Alan Aragon

I decided to put this in the Lay Press section because one day
Ill post a public tutorial about of how to pick your career and
succeed at it. In the mean time, AARR subscribers will get the
raw, unbridled, overly-philosophical version of it.

Those of you reading this already know my writings and
ramblings are fairly famous among the online fitness
communities. I would venture to guess that a very large
proportion of the online forumites (especially on sites like are still in school, struggling to decide what
on Earth to do with their lives. Even folks who are already out of
school and fully fledged into their careers might occasionally
ponder the possibility of following latent career passions that
have begun to nag at them. Anyway, my point is that I get asked
career questions all the time. However, I received an email on
the 17
of this month that finally inspired me to buckle down
and organize some advice, and what better place to publish it
first than here. Heres the actual email in its entirety, with the
persons identity blocked:

Realize that success is personal.

Let me tell you right off the bat that reading this email was a
defining moment of career success for me. The intrinsic
gratification of knowing I help so many people is tremendous.
Thats true career success; its better than any paycheck has
made me feel.

The definition/concept of career success is, and should be,
unique to the individual; its a highly personal thing. My concept
of career success has 3 basic components:

1) I have to be doing the absolute favorite thing(s) I love to do.
For me, theres no other option but to be 100% excited and
driven toward my profession. Im in the business of helping
people become physically and mentally awesome, how
amazingly great is that?
2) I have to have enough time away from work to lead a
balanced life with God, family, friends, and self.
3) I have to earn enough income to cover my basic expenses as
well as my recreational time with family and friends.

Component #1 requires an awareness of what your absolute
favorite things to do actually are. If the things you love to do
arent right at the tip of your tongue, then block out a few hours
to sit down in a relaxing environment and brainstorm a list of
things you absolutely love to do. Dont even think in terms of
career when you brainstorm. Think in terms of things that you
would pay to do. Alan,
First, I'd like to say thanks for all you do for so many
people. It's rare to find someone with so much knowledge
that's so willing to help. I know you're very busy, so I
really appreciate any feedback you can give me.
Ten years ago, during my Freshman year in college, I lost
about 150 pounds. I dropped from about 300 to 170 over a
span of about nine months by simply cutting back on what
I was eating and starting extra cardio (plus playing
basketball). I dropped to around 150 because, being in
college, my metabolism was off the charts. Since then, I've
gradually built back up to around 185 thanks to weight
training and gaining knowledge about nutrition. Your posts
and insight have helped tremendously. It's helped so much,
that I've developed a passion for nutrition and exercise and
am contemplating a career change.
I'm currently blessed with a great job (Sports Director for
the [- - - - -] station here in [- - - - -]), and I still like what I
do very much. But my passion for nutrtion and exercise is
unmatched and it seems to draw others to me (friends
asking advice, etc.).
That said, I'd like to know what advice you'd have for
someone like me? I'm 28, single, and able to move around.
I graduated from Virginia Tech, but my major was in
communications and my minor was in psychology so,
needless to say, science isn't strong on my record!
However, I love working with people and seem to have
been blessed with the ability to communicate and express
the passion for nutrition.
Thanks so much for your time. And thanks in advance for
your advice.

Using my (boring) self as an example, I absolutely love to train.
I absolutely love to eat. Holy crap, imagine my excitement when
I found out I could make a career out of teaching people how to
do those things right. I love to write, teach, and communicate my
ideas. My counseling practice keeps me grounded in reality,
keeps me in touch with actual humans, and allows me to fine-
tune my methods. I get a huge kick out of teaching, its truly
priceless to see someone realize that theyve just been
enlightened. To me, thats a rush; a fine indulgence.

Others may love to paint, sing, sculpt, build houses, crunch
numbers, sweep floors I dont really care what it is that you
love to do, the thing is that you MUST get in touch with it. You
must gain a keen awareness of what really fires you up and
makes you fly out of bed in the morning to do it again and again.
Thats step one. Find that out, then you can make a damn good
career out of it.

Each year, I do an exercise which I call The Blank Sheet
Melee. I block out a whole day for this, and its done in
solitude. On clean sheets of paper I write out EXACTLY how I
want my life to look in terms of my day to day work & play --
as if there were no limits to the life I wanted to create for myself.
The scenario evolves every time, but the changes at present are
becoming less pronounced as I march toward where I ultimately
want to be career-wise. Keep in mind, I personally dont give a
damn about having excessive wealth, and I hate the idea of
showing it off. A childish part of me still likes to drool over the
art of the automobile, but I once calculated that getting my
favorite Aston Martin would be the dollar equivalent of 500
week-long vacations with my family. At the thought of that, the
image of the Aston instantly becomes a hunk of metal, plastic,
and rubber sitting in the garage collecting dust.

Component #2 requires the skill of time management, and that
primarily involves the guts to stick to your commitments. One of
the main reasons Ive chosen to be an entrepreneur is that I can
be in charge of when I work, and when I dont. I like the idea of
ultimately being in charge of hiring or firing myself. I like to
make all the decisions about what happens in my work schedule
and the projects I undertake. I can decide how little or how much
money I want to earn, based on the merit of my efforts and the
quality of my work. I actually enjoy having the weight of the
world on my shoulders.

I consciously chose to pursue my writing interests (with this
publication being the centerpiece) because it allows the ultimate
degree of schedule flexibility, and it frees me from any
geographical constraints for the purpose of getting work done.
But most of all, I truly love doing it, and it gives me the
opportunity to stay both educated and creative. I love spending
time with my wife & kids, so I make that a priority. I block in
time with them into my schedule first, then I build everything
else around that. Thankfully, I chose a career that allows me to
do that.

Component #3 is the natural, almost unavoidable consequence
of sincerely diving into the first two components. The common
denominators of achieving anything you want are the desire to
do it, the discipline to push through sticking points, and a
genuine enjoyment of the process of striving to increase your
level of mastery.

Im obsessively equivocating over a few ideas for next months
opening article. One thing is certain - it's gonna be juicy. As
usual, Ill critically review the latest fitness-related research, as
well as the good stuff from the recent and not-so-recent past. If
you have any questions, comments, bones of contention, cheers,
or jeers, send them to

I recently got tipped off to what I believe is one of the most
amazing artifacts in human history. Ongoing research sponsored
by some heavy hitters such as Hewlett Packard is attempting to
unlock its many mysteries. Instead of trying to nutshell the story
behind this mind-boggling device, heres the official page of the
Antikythera Mechanism Research Project.


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