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Issue #29 (March 2017)

From the Editor

Volume 1

Picture a Venn diagram, with one of the circles being “Bodybuilding diet” and another being “Health-promoting diet”. How much do these two circles overlap?

This is somewhat up for debate. Some people poo-poo bodybuilding diets, for various reasons. Some think that these diets are too high in protein and animals products, others think that cycling bulking and cutting isn’t healthy, and some are just plain elitist and decry any diet that isn’t theirs.

But if you take a step back, the common characteristics between different bodybuilding diets are typically health-promoting. What’s the number one reason for the increase in chronic disease worldwide? Overeating junky food. And what do bodybuilders aim to do? Stay away from eating junky food, otherwise known as food that will not help them gain muscle or lose fat. Bodybuilders eat a lot of protein, which is satiating, and typically eat a decent helping of veggies and other fiber-rich foods, which are also satiating.

That isn’t to say that bodybuilding diets are universally healthy. Some bodybuilders gain an inordinate amount of weight during bulking cycles, stuffing their faces with too much unhealthy food. But these bodybuilders will invariably lose their competitions, unless they take the right combination of anabolics or have incredible genetics.

Some of the bodybuilding ethos has trickled down over the years, and helped non-bodybuilders lose weight and attain a healthier body composition. Prime among these has been calorie counting: competitive bodybuilders were some of the first people to actively count calories on a regular basis. This might sound obsessive to some, but if you count your calories regularly (often under the label of IIFYM or “If It Fits Your Macros”), it’s much harder to stray into binging territory.

Whey protein has also come a long way since being almost exclusively the territory of bodybuilders. Health nuts often dump some whey in their morning smoothies, cold-processed whey is used for its immune-supporting properties, and recent evidence suggests that whey supplementation can help lower blood pressure and possibly help normalize blood sugar if taken with soluble fiber before a meal.

And these are just some of the things that have trickled down. If you look back a few decades, there are other areas where bodybuilders were “ahead” of their times. While America was in the throngs of low-fat, low-cholesterol eating in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, many bodybuilders still ate a fair amount of whole eggs and steak (although others consumed massive amounts of egg whites and chicken breast only).

What’s the point of all of this? Well, when you want to find out how to gain muscle and lose fat, smart bodybuilders are some of the best people to talk to. Getting ripped is their obsession, and they likely read about it way more than you do. So even if you don’t desire 12-pack abs, getting familiar with hot topics in bodybuilding (and hence, body recomposition) could be a good idea.

Kamal Patel,
Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Examination Research Digest

Volume 2

If you like nutrition, there’s always something new to learn. But if you LOVE nutrition, you might want to get paid for your love.

This is a relatively easy road, compared to getting paid for something like your love of binge TV watching.

One reason nutrition is easy to get into is that it’s a very, very broad field of study. Every human eats, even the Breatharians who pretend to survive on air alone. Our bodies are made out of the food we eat, and the food we eat is inextricably tied into the diseases we develop. It’s hard to understate the breadth, complexity, and importance of what you eat.

If you google “How to earn a living in nutrition” or something of that nature, you’ll find a wide mixture of scams and legit advice. That’s because of a few reasons. For one, nutrition comes with a heavy dose of snake oil - after all, the original snake oil was a fatty acid supplement. Another reason is that nutrition is not quite as discrete of a field as something like nursing. You can be a registered dietitian, non-registered non-dietitian (aka nutritionist), or be in one of many allied health professions but concentrate in nutrition.

So where does one start, if they’re interested in nutrition and want to earn a living from it?

First, don’t feel like you’re obligated to pursue any particular path. Formal education in nutrition would be great, but it also takes time and money. Not everyone is in a stage of their life where further education is a good idea.

Second, nutrition is an integral part of many fields, so a nutrition degree in and of itself is not absolutely necessary. For example, the best gastrointestinal doctors are extremely well versed on how food affects the body (especially the gut), and many healthcare providers with a holistic bent specialize in nutrition.

Third, try to hit a sweet spot between “I’m an ambitious, up-and-coming nutrition guru who knows everything” and “Nutrition is interesting to me, I’m maybe possibly on the road to becoming more involved”. Many people go years wishing and hoping they could switch careers, and never pull the trigger. While others pull the trigger, and become one of those annoying know-it-alls who’s always spamming for more sales. If you pretend to know more than you do, you have a chance at earning more money but also a chance of losing your soul.

Last and most importantly: always, always keep learning. Learn more about topics you’re knowledgeable on, but also more about those you’re less exposed to. Get to know the research and maybe even the people behind the research. We’re part of an information-based economy, and being truly knowledgeable is especially important in a misinformation-heavy field like nutrition.

Kamal Patel,
Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Examination Research Digest

See other articles in Issue #29 (March 2017) of Study Deep Dives.