Here is a published study a client/friend has referred which is an excellent example of how utterly useless and irrelevant studies are:
The message people extract from this study is that every level of low carbohydrate diet always causes everybody to suffer from low testosterone when training hard on any exercise modality. And that means less training gainz, brah.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Firstly, virtually no study ever finds a 100% relationship relationship between an action and consequence. Some of the participants in this study will have experienced the opposite result (increased testosterone). And, chances are, there is not a single participant in the study who personally experienced the exact result the study concludes occurs on average. This is virtually always the case in almost every study.
If you or I were given the raw results of this study we’d say there was no relationship at all between testosterone and hard exercise. The results would be all over the place, like they are in all studies. Thats why scientists need big brains, big computers and lots of time to crunch all these contradictory numbers to come up with a conclusion. Studies are all about statistics. And never forget the hierarchy of mistruths: 3rd) lies 2nd) damned lies and 1st) statistics.
So how do you know whether you will be one of the people whose testosterone increased or decreased? You have to measure yourself! Statistically, there is less chance of you personally achieving the exact outcome “found” in any study than winning every lottery in the world on the same day.
Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence presented by this study that the lowered testosterone – which did not even occur in all of the participants – lead to a reduction in performance or training effect or progress. The scientists never claimed that either. People just think testosterone = good. Less testosterone = bad.
I have personally blood tested clients who showed 30% reductions in testosterone correspond with massively improved body composition, muscle gain and strength performance. How is that possible? What does it mean? It means there is more to the human equation than 1 variable! It means nobody has any idea how your body works or what its doing internally each minute of each day. It means that you have no idea what the net effect of hormone changes actually mean to your body composition or performance. You don’t know why the body is doing what it is doing. And it doesn’t matter. Its irrelevant.
Studies are all about statistics. And never forget the hierarchy of mistruths: 3rd) lies 2nd) damned lies and 1st) statistics.
The body is going to do what its going to do anyway. You don’t need to understand or act to make your body keep your heart beating or lungs extracting oxygen. You don’t need a supplement or drug to make your eyes keep seeing or ears to keep hearing. So why do people think they need to understand how protein is synthesised? Your job is to give your body a reason to do what you want it to do. For example, if you train to swing a golf club, you get better at it. You don’t know how and don’t need to know how. You don’t need to know how the neurones interact or the electric signal affects the calcium ions and the actin and myosin filaments do what they do. And even if you knew all that academic garbage, it doesn’t change the fact that you still just need to swing the stick and hit a ball a lot.
So how do you know if your training is working? You measure it and measure yourself! And regardless whether you understand how or what the biochemical processes were, if your training isn’t working then the thing you need to change is still your training! Knowing or not knowing the biochemistry makes no difference to what you need to do! So why is everybody wasting time talking about studies and not measuring their training?
As it is, this study is about a bunch of guys who do a purposeless physical task for an hour per day at 70-75% max heart rate, for 3 days. They didn’t train. They didn’t lift weights to 100% of heart rate, then rest, like we do. The low carb diet was still 30% carb which is still much more than a lot of weight trainers are eating; but it was only for 3 days. There is nothing about the timing of the carbs, or what percentage of protein, or the quality of the carbs. There is nothing in the extract (which is all anyone reads) about the subjects training or diet background. The point is: what little you do know about this study is that nothing even slightly resembles the diet, training and long term focus of most people who think the study is relevant to them. Like virtually all studies, this study is utterly useless and irrelevant in the real world.
Your choices are simple when it comes to diet and training:
1) measure your body composition and training progress to tell if training is working. If it isn’t, change it logically and remeasure until it is working.
2) measure every single hormone and biochemical process in your body and spend every minute of every day hypothesising about what the net effect of all of them will be and how you are going to manipulate them with intravenous drugs and chemicals minute-by-minute to create a different outcome than your training and diet would otherwise cause
3) measure nothing and base your decisions in blind ignorance of everything, justifying your ignorance by quoting studies about hormones that you don’t test in yourself
Clearly option 1 is the simple and intelligent choice. It is also the scientific approach, and does not require reading a single study about anything. Studies apply only to Option 2 – which is ridiculous and impossible – and Option 3, which is the definition of ignorant and unscientific.
there is less chance of you personally achieving the exact outcome “found” in any study than winning every lottery in the world on the same day
The point is, studies are irrelevant! The conclusion of a study is never absolute truth. In fact, you’d be more correct assuming its a lie. Thats why the dictionary defines ‘academic’ as being: “not of practical relevance” (definition 2). Look it up!
You aren’t supposed to blindly apply any study result in the real world and assume it will be correct. In fact, the majority of the subjects in the majority of studies did not personally experience the magnitude of change in the study’s conclusion! The result was just a complicated averaging of all the pluses and minuses. So if the people in the study didn’t even get that result, what chance to you think you have when everything you do is different? None!
Studies are little more than a bunch of BS for other academics to get excited arguing about. Studies are less honest than damned lies. If you want to be scientific and intelligent, stop reading studies and start measuring yourself, your diet, your training and your progress. Measuring what you are doing and what it achieves is SO simple. Its SO logical. It answers ALL questions. And it makes you infinitely more knowledgeable than the idiot savants dedicating their lives to reading irrelevant studies.