“Fitness” means different things to different people. To a thirty-year-old man, fitness might take the shape of a six-pack. To a sixty-year-old woman, it might bring to mind Jane Fonda, leotards, and endless aerobics. To both, it probably means feeling more like a cheetah than a sloth, and looking more like a panther than a panda. (Nothing against pandas or sloths, mind you; they’re pretty amazing.)
Each month, we get hundreds of messages from people looking to improve their body — how it looks, feels, and functions. So we decided to spend time distilling the scientific evidence into practical recommendations.
We ended up spending over a thousand hours doing this. To help you achieve optimal fitness, we couldn’t just look at muscle gain or fat loss; we had to address cardiovascular health, joint pain (which can make it hard or even impossible to exercise), testosterone production, and sleep (maybe the most important fitness factor after a healthy diet).
The result? An easy-to-follow but comprehensive volume called The Examine.com Fitness Guide: A blueprint for optimizing nutrition and supplementation.
But why should you trust our Fitness Guide, and, by proxy, why should you trust us?
In order to stay unbiased, we have to stay 100% independent. So we don’t have partnerships or sponsors. We don’t even sell ad space on our website. All our revenues come from our publications, of which we have only four: the Examine.com Research Digest (ERD), the A-to-Z Supplement Reference, the Supplement Guides, and now the Fitness Guide.
Any recommendations you see, it's because it’s based on evidence, not because we're trying to push some product on you.
Our products are so well-researched and thorough, and take so much time to write, that our previous new product was launched in 2014 — which doesn’t mean it has since gathered dust, for our publications benefit from lifetime updates.
Have you been keeping track of the latest meta-analyses on omega-3s and cardiovascular endpoints? The fish-oil picture sure is getting muddy. How about the changing evidence on chondroitin for joint health, with or without different forms of glucosamine?
You get the idea: there’s a lot to keep track of. Each year sees hundreds of new studies on hundreds of supplements and dietary strategies. Our research staff is very good, but numbers only a dozen scientists. We’d need hundreds to read every single paper. So instead we focus our efforts on:
What’s practical. If a study elucidates a new mechanism through which omega-3s may influence platelets, we may be aware of it, but it won’t change the Fitness Guide like a study on actual heart attacks could.
What’s in the news. We’ll track intermittent-fasting and ketogenic diets more closely than we’ll track macrobiotic or blood-type diets.
What our readers want. I read through every single feedback email we get, and we regularly conduct customer surveys.
All of this comes together to form our update strategy. In short, we update the Fitness Guide with the evidence most likely to affect you and your health.
Our research staff is small (a dozen people) but varied: it includes doctors, pharmacists, bench scientists, and more. Further, each of our researchers has his or her own network of specialists to call upon. As a result, if we need to look at the big picture of fat loss, we can approach it from a dozen angles. And if we need to explore a supplement’s side effects in depth, we can do that too.
The advice you get isn’t reflective of just one viewpoint. Our entire team takes scientific honesty very seriously, and we’ll debate until the wee hours to make sure you get the most accurate picture possible. Here’s an example of how obsessive we are about details:
You’ve probably heard that “if you lift, you can gain a couple of pounds of muscle per month”. This statement, however, isn’t based on a comprehensive review of the evidence. This issue affected only one sentence in our guide, but to get that one sentence right, we ended pouring over some twenty studies.
We also dug into more esoteric issues: How does a daily surplus of 200 calories affect muscle gain for people of different weights? How about a daily deficit of 200 calories? Do the newer studies tend to confirm or contradict the results of older studies? Which study populations best mirror our readers?
And when we run across studies with poor methodology, we take the time to find better studies, so you’re never mislead by bad data.
Academic papers have a glaring downside: they typically don’t conclude with practical advice. Their focus is, rightfully, on gathering and interpreting data, not on exploiting it.
But in the Fitness Guide, we’ve distilled the research into explicit recommendations on what to take, in what dosages, in what combinations, and when, depending on various factors. The needs of a 20-year-old female endurance athlete are not the needs of an overweight 70-year-old man with a high risk of heart disease, and we don’t want you to take supplements that only succeed in age or disease demographics you don’t fall into.
We guide you step-by-step through what’s known, what’s promising, and what’s to be avoided, so that you only spend your time and money on the supplements and dietary strategies that work and best fit your specific needs. Even at over 200 pages, this guide is designed to be practical and to the point. All its sections are concise and actionable.
As I mentioned, I read through every single feedback email we get, and we regularly conduct customer surveys. Last year, we went as far as going through a limited release of our Fitness Guide in order to gather feedback so we could offer a better version this year. (Don’t worry, the people who bought it last year will benefit too: our Fitness Guide comes with lifetime updates.) As a result, this year’s version has 40% more material than it had last year, all based on what our users told us they needed help with.
Of course, we can’t make everyone happy, but as with scientific data, the more “wish data” we see pointing in the same direction, the more likely we become to take that path.
The Fitness Guide helps us, the Examine.com research team, optimize our own health, and we believe it’ll help you too. However, we also believe that if it does not help you, you shouldn’t have to pay for it, which is why it comes with an unconditional money-back guarantee.
Millions of people visit us every month. As a science-heavy website, we’re thankful to gather such an audience. We appreciate you, and we try to be straight shooters. If you have any questions, you can chat with us live on our Fitness Guide page, or you can just send us a message. We'll be happy to answer.