Recent nutrition and supplement research has revealed countless discoveries that could dramatically improve your muscle-building results. Science has also uncovered new information disproving things that were once held as gospel in the bodybuilding world. In this exclusive interview, you will learn the latest news on fish oil versus flax oil for essential fats, what the science says about the new creatine formulas, keen insights into supplement research methods, the truth about optimal water intake and fat loss, the dairy product controversy and much more. Apply what you learn in this exclusive interview with Will Brink and I guarantee you will improve your muscle-building results while saving time and money on methods and products that just don’t work.
|Will Brink is the creator of the popular Bodybuilding Revealed system, one of the most comprehensive science-based muscle building programs available on the Internet. Will has been a contributing writer for Muscle Mag International for as long as I can remember and I’ve been reading those columns, it seems, since the “good old days” of bodybuilding. Will has been doing this a long time and he is a wealth of knowledge, especially on matters of bodybuilding nutrition and supplements. It’s a privilege to be granted this exclusive 2-part interview because Will is a busy guy who doesn’t give a lot of interviews.
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, freelance writer and author of the #1 Best Selling Fitness ebook on the internet Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle
Tom Venuto: Will, I’ve been following your work for ages and consider you an expert in all areas of bodybuilding, nutrition, and training. Your knowledge base is very broad. You’re also a stickler for science and a no-BS straight shooter on all these subjects, which is why I’m here and I’m pleased to share this info with my readers. In my opinion, your knowledge of supplements in particular is one of your strongest points, so I hope you don’t mind if we start with that subject.
First question, amidst all the garbage supplements on the market, one that has been proven effective is Creatine Monohydrate. I’ve noticed that not only are supplement companies pushing their new versions of creatine like Creatine Ethyl Ester, but also combining creatine with other ingredients like beta alanine and glutamine. What are your thoughts on combining creatine with other ingredients? Any new research on this subject we should know about?
Will Brink: That’s more difficult to answer than it might seem on the surface. The problem is, companies mix all sorts of stuff, sometimes based on some study, but usually for marketing purposes. Many times what they are mixing into a formula with creatine makes no sense at all. So, it’s really formula by formula to see if what’s being mixed has any merits. The missing link in that equation is dose: not only does what’s mixed need to make some sense, it needs to be in a dose that has actually been shown to have the effects we want. It’s not at all uncommon for a company to do the former (mix creatine with something beneficial) but fail to do the latter, which is use a high enough dose to have any effects. It’s what I call “label decoration” where the company lists dozens of ingredients on the label, none of them in doses worth a damn, which is a very common strategy I am sorry to say. In both my Fat Loss Revealed and Bodybuilding Revealed (FLR and BBR respectively) programs our goal is to teach people to recognize the differences and thus save money in the long run.
Tom Venuto: Why is that sometimes one or two studies look promising, but researchers don’t follow up with more research to replicate and confirm the findings? I wouldn’t recommend a supplement on only one study, would you?
Will Brink: Generally no, I would not recommend a product on a single study, but there are exceptions. If say a product contains 5 ingredients and each of the 5 has 10 solid studies behind it, the product uses the doses of each that where found in those studies to be effective, and the product itself has one study, I may be perfectly happy to recommend it, even though the product in question has one study. However, if it was a new ingredient; call it compound X, and compound X has only one study supporting its use, I would probably not recommend it. It also comes down to the quality of the study. One well done study published in a respected journal is still better then 10 poorly conducted study published in some minor journal coming from a country we know has very poor standards of research. So, it’s not really a black and white issue there. This is why there is so much confusion out there, most people don’t know the finer points of science or what can be subtle differences and other issues that marketers use to confuse people. The ad might say “study shows 90% increase in muscle in 90 days” but the study was done on a single rat in Cambodia by a “researcher” who sells the product and was published in a journal owned by his brother…
Why don’t they follow up on a study to replicate the findings? That’s a tough question to answer. I agree, it’s curious. You get a study that shows supplement X has benefits and it seems like a no brainer to follow up with additional studies to confirm it. Studies are expensive, but for every dollar spent, 10 comes back, if the study is used as a marketing platform correctly and it’s a decent study. Every company I do consulting work for I always push the benefits of funding real research, vs. the garbage that often passes for research found on many web sites, etc. This is a topic I can rant about all day, so I will stop here. Let’s just say, the general answer to your question comes down to the usual suspects: greed, ignorance, short sightedness, lack of money, lack of interest, etc.
Tom Venuto: What about prohormones? I have to admit that I never did fully understand the chemistry behind pro-hormones and never did much research in that area. Do we classify them as supplements? Drugs? Some gray area in between? What are pro-hormones exactly? If I took them, would I still be “natural?”
Will Brink: of course most of the pro hormones, such as Androstenedione and others that followed were banned, so it’s somewhat of a moot issue. Although not technically interchangeable terms as far as science is concerned, one can think of the pro hormones such as Androstenedione as precursors to more powerful hormones, namely testosterone. Androstenedione, a precursor or ‘pro hormone’ converts via enzymes to the more anabolic hormone testosterone. That’s the super simple explanation, but it’s more complex of course. Various pro hormones followed the original “andro” supplement, some of which were more effective than the original, and were then banned. As always, banning one thing only lead to something stronger and (potentially) more dangerous. I refer to what’s often called “designer supplements” such as the original Superdrol and others. These “supplements” are modified versions of existing steroids/hormonal analogs, and we don’t know their pharmacology in terms of efficacy, side effects, etc.
A certain amount can be figured out from the chemistry (e.g., its potential to convert to estradiol, etc.) but make no mistake, small changes in hormones and hormone analogs can have profound changes on their pharmacology that are not discovered from a simple look at their molecular structure. Make no doubt about this, these newer compounds are NOT pro hormones but true designer steroids of unknown pharmacology. For that reason alone, I recommend people avoid them. You are not using any sort of normal pro hormone, but a true designer steroid here with all the known-and more important-unknown effects – good and bad. How can this possibly be legal you ask? Due to loop holes and poor language in the current law, it’s not legal per se, but it’s not exactly illegal either, and as expected, banning the true prohormones only led to more effective and potentially more dangerous gray market “supplements.” In some respects this too is a moot issue as these products were banned also for the most part, but all manner of steroidal compounds find their way into the market, mostly via the ‘net, so it’s a crap shoot out there.
Hard to really comment on the “natural” issue as it’s really a distinction science can’t make. It’s not “natural” to fly, but it sure beats walking! Most tested sports events have banned such products, so people need to see the list of banned substances if they compete in tested events. As mentioned, I simply recommend people avoid these products and they get a big thumbs down in my BBR ebook.
Tom Venuto: Ok Will, here’s the big debate over the last few years. Most experts are saying fish oil over flax oil these days. First, are you still as bullish on flax as you were 6, 7, 8 years ago? Any thoughts on using both – either at the same time, or alternating?
Will Brink Big questions! There’s a lot in that one that could take up a lot of space! As you may recall, I was the guy who introduced flax oil to the bodybuilding/fitness industry by writing the first articles on the use of flax for fat loss in the magazines “back in the day” as they say. Actually, I have recently altered my diet recs to be more fish oil oriented and less flax oil oriented. To back up a bit, one major reason I was so bullish on flax vs. fish oils was the fact the quality of fish oils at the time was very poor. Tests found it was common for fish oil supps to be rancid, and contain toxins such as PCBs, mercury, and other toxic compounds. However, the quality of fish oil supplements across the spectrum of products has improved greatly in the past few years with the use of processing techniques such molecular distillation and others, which produces very high quality fish oil products standardized for their “active” lipid content. So, I no longer have the above concerns and reservations for fish oil supplements, which is a good thing, considering how useful and healthy these products are. Thus, my diets in FLR for example now favor more fish oil and less flax.
Personally, I still use both, but my own diet is also higher in EPA/DHA from fish oils and lower in flax than it was a few years ago. Flax is still a great healthy source of fat calories, and can still be part of the diet, but does not need to be the sole source of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. No real reason to alternate them. I keep my fish oil intake steady but will rotate my other oils, such as flax and more balanced oil sources such as Udo’s Choice and others such as hemp. There’s no hard and fast rule to that per se. People should shoot for approximately 30% of total calories coming from fat, of which a third to a half should come from healthy fat sources such as fish, flax, hemp, etc.
Tom Venuto: Another nutrition controversy that has heated up lately in both the fat loss and health fields is over dairy products. We have some alternative health gurus on the net spreading the message that they believe dairy products are unhealthy and have no place in the human diet; and not just referring to the lactose intolerant, but to everyone. On the other hand, I just read a peer-reviewed paper that said the opposite: that milk has more bioactive compounds than we previously thought and that fermented dairy products have their own functional health improving properties. What are your thoughts on the milk and dairy debate in both health and body fat loss contexts?
Will Brink: I think the anti milk crowd supply very little quality objective data to support their position and rely more on objective non science reasoning. They make claims they either cant back up or attempt to back up with less then quality “research.” Dairy products have a place in a healthy well balanced nutritional plan, and like most things in life, there’s potential for too much of a good thing. It’s a non-issue in my book.
Tom Venuto: The big pastime of the last several years is debunking stuff that was accepted as the standard advice for decades. People love myth busting. Here’s one that caught my attention. A couple of nephrologists took to task the 8 glasses of water a day advice and said they couldn’t find any evidence for that recommendation and said we don’t need as much water as we thought. Funny enough, I saw TWO studies published right after that one; one showed a correlation between higher water intake and weight loss and another showed increased thermogenesis. So now that we are thoroughly confused, how much should we really drink? Are we wasting tons of money on bottled water, not to mention all the trips to the bathroom?
Will Brink: Much of this probably comes down to the issue of adequate vs. optimal. Can people survive on less than the old maxim of 8 glasses per day? Sure. Thus “need” which is equal to adequate is very different then optimal. As with many old recommendations, 8 glasses or less might be perfectly adequate for some, while not sufficient for others, depending on body mass, activity levels, temp, and other factors. Anecdotally speaking, it’s a very common theme that people report better weight loss, performance, and general well being when they drink plenty of water.
Tom Venuto: I asked a drug free bodybuilder this question recently and I’m going to ask again to get another perspective. If a man takes testosterone replacement therapy can we still say he’s natural, from a natural bodybuilding perspective? What if he also takes growth hormone for “anti-aging” purposes?
Will Brink: Unfortunately, I have to re state that from a scientific perspective, I can’t make that judgment, but the question shows what a slippery slope the very term “natural” can be. If a person needs testosterone replacement for his health, but it also gives him advantages over those with naturally lower testosterone levels, are they cheating? Some would say yes, some would say no. And as you mentioned in your question, what about growth hormone? Thyroid? I take thyroid every day due to a non- working thyroid gland. Am I cheating if I compete in a “natural” show? For me, I think it simply exposes the fact that the very term “natural” is of no real value. I mean, uranium is “natural” but you don’t want to eat the stuff! I view the whole “natural” debate as really more of an ethical/moral/philosophical issue vs. a science issue.
Tom Venuto: Good points. I think it’s important that each of us define natural for ourselves and in my opinion, the line of what natural is can certainly be drawn by the rules and banned substances list of the bodybuidling organizations you compete in. You were years ahead of the curve on recommending whey protein as an excellent protein source, but beyond that you were saying years and years ago it had functional properties. Now I’m seeing studies left and right saying whey is a functional food or health food. What’s the latest you’ve heard on whey and would you go as far as to consider whey one of the “super foods” in regards to health benefits.
Will Brink: Well I’m always hesitant to call anything a “super food” as it’s such a common marketing term, but whey has an impressive track record in the research at improving immunity, reducing oxidative stress, potentially reducing cancer rates, to name only a few of it’s potential benefits. And that’s all above and beyond its being a great protein for athletes due to a high biological value and high BCAA content. I have not seen anything new on whey in terms of a new effect, but there has been new research confirming earlier studies. One of the more interesting group of studies I found was on whey’s use as a weight loss aid, in that it appears to have a multitude of benefits to dieters, which I put together as an article called The Whey to Weight Loss people can find on my web site.
Tom Venuto: Yeah, I’ve also seen fairly recent research saying that whey had potential weight loss benefits, and it was attributed to a possible appetite suppressing effect. I get this next question all the time since I started posting recipes in my forum. Protein can be denatured at a high enough temperature , correct? But what about my favorite recipe – oatmeal pancakes where I mix the protein powder with oatmeal then put it on a fry pan for a few minutes at medium temp? And what about using whey protein in baking, like high protein muffins. And while were at it, what exactly Does it mean to denature a protein? Is it completely ruined, or even dangerous?
Will Brink: Put simply, to dentaure a protein (called denaturation) is to cause a structural change in the protein. This can happen due to heat, but other conditions can also denature proteins, such as enzymatic hydrolysis, changes in pH, and others. For example, when you eat a protein and it hits the stomach acids, the protein is denatured to some degree so enzymes can get at it and continue with digestion. Denaturing proteins has gotten a bad rap as people associate it with ruining a protein, but that’s not technically true. Denaturing proteins can be both a negative or a positive, depending on the protein and what effects one is looking at. In some cases, it can actually be a positive as denaturation make proteins more digestible. For example egg whites; raw whites are far less digestible then cooked, which makes raw egg whites a poor source of protein. Where denaturaton is a negative, is in proteins that have a specific biological effect, That is, proteins with some specific biological activity, such as whey. Whey is made up of various smaller proteins – these protein being responsible for the effects on immunity and such – which lose their biological activity if denatured. Thus, whey manufacturers who wish to maintain the biological activity of the whey, have to use various low temp methods not to destroy these proteins. However, the protein content of the whey is the same, though it wont have the various beneficial effects whey is known for beyond just being a good protein source. The topic can get complicated quickly, but the take home is, denaturation is not inherently a negative and one has to look at the protein in question.
Tom Venuto: Post workout nutrition recommendations seem to be changing. First it was just whey after the workout, now some are saying use a mix of fast and slow proteins. And I know some of our readers will have a hard time believing this, but there are experts recommending chocolate milk as a great post workout drink and they base that on published studies! What’s new on the post workout nutrition front?
Will Brink: I think the essential message, that some protein and carbs immediately after, and perhaps before, a workout is beneficial. That has not changed and I doubt it ever will. Exactly how much protein, which proteins, how much and which type of carbs, etc, and so on is still being hashed out, but solid recommendations can be made. At the same time, as I wrote in an article called “The Religion of Pre and Post Workout Nutrition” recently:
“As expected, supplement companies—and self–proclaimed ‘net guru types—have used what does exist for research to convince everyone that that if they don’t take in exactly 98.7 grams of carbohydrates and 37.2 grams of protein within 28 seconds after they leave the gym, their muscles will be attacked by every muscle-hating hormone they possess in their body by second 29; with the prior year of hard work in the gym totally wasted by second 30!”
Meaning, people over focus on the topic and worry too much about it. I also cover the studies showing chocolate milk is probably a perfectly adequate post workout drink. People should take a look at that article on my web site for all the details.
Tom Venuto: What’s the deal with waxy maize? I take a few years off competing and then come back and everybody is carbing up on this stuff! Am I a bodybuilding dinosaur because I’m still carbing up on oatmeal and potatoes and rice?
Will Brink: Actually that’s an interesting story, and I am writing an extensive article on that as we speak. The down and dirty is, it’s over-hyped and there is better money spent on other things. Studies are quite clear, waxy maze is at best about equal to dextrose and maltodextrin as a carb source, with some studies showing it to be inferior to malto for glycogen synthesis, performance, etc. There’s a big waxy maze craze going on right now, and it’s based on exactly nadda, and studies show it’s nothing special. So why have you read it has all these amazing properties that started this run on waxy maze? That’s where it gets fuzzy. The carb source that was found to have essentially all the benefits being claimed by waxy maze is not waxy maze, not even close. The carb source – which has been directly compared to waxy maze in humans in the studies – showing all the benefits being claimed by waxy maze is Vitargo, a high molecular weight low osmolality carb source with data and patents to back up its claims. This will be news to many reading this and probably the first they have ever heard these facts, but busting myths and giving the facts is what I do, so some using or selling waxy maze will not be happy with me for blowing the whistle. Needless to say, I will have an extensive article on this topic shortly that will go into detail on all that, so stay tuned!
Tom Venuto: Cardio for the bodybuilder. Are your recommendations any different than cardio for the average person or overweight person?
Will Brink: Not really. That is, the basic rules are the same: you do the minimum cardio you have to do to get the effects you want, and realize resistance training/weight training and diet/calorie manipulation are the key to changing body composition. Assuming changing bodycomp is the major focus vs. performance or cardio vascular health, etc. It’s somewhat individual, but one fact remains: cardio is overrated for fat loss and resistance training is underrated for fat loss. I have gotten several national and pro level bodybuilders ready for shows with zero cardio. Depends on the person. For example, the person who is naturally lean but has a hard time putting on and or keeping muscle when dieting, does not need cardio. For him or her, it’s a negative. For that person who has little trouble adding size and weight, that person will benefit from cardio during a fat loss phase. Cardio has its place ina fat loss program, but people over estimate its benefits and tend to overuse it, and end up losing muscle and mucking up their metabolism. Beyond the general, there are individual variables that have to be figured out such as, what the person’s goals are, their experience levels, how much time they have to dedicate, as well as others. A blanket statement such as “everyone should do X amount of cardio per day” is always a mistake. We teach people to customize their routines based on their own variables in the FLR and BBR programs for example.
Tom Venuto: I saw that you finally joined the blogosphere! Congratulations. Can’t fight technology can we? So when will we see you on you tube and twitter? Seriously, where can we find you online and for those who aren’t familiar with your fat loss and muscle building programs, where can our readers learn more about your programs?
Will Brink: I’m all over the ‘net at this point. However, I was late to the blog thing I admit. The BrinkZone blog has grown rapidly since I started it just a few months ago. Actually, I have several YouTube pages with all kinds of videos, one for my fitness/bodybuilding stuff and one directed at tactical law enforcement (SWAT) which I also do some work with. People that want to check out my many articles, ebooks, blogs, and such, can start at my main site which is BrinkZone.com.
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About the Author – Tom Venuto
Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, freelance writer and author ofBurn the Fat, Feed The Muscle(BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has writtenover 140 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development,Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for Global-Fitness.com and the nutrition editor for Femalemuscle.com and his articles are featured regularly on literally dozens of other websites.
|See Will Brink’s Top Selling Books Online Here:
Fat Loss Revealed
About the Author – William D. Brink
Will Brink is a columnist, contributing consultant, and writer for various health/fitness, medical, and bodybuilding publications. His articles relating to nutrition, supplements, weight loss, exercise and medicine can be found in such publications as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.
He is the author of Priming The Anabolic Environment , Body Building Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed. He is the Consulting Sports Nutrition Editor and a monthly columnist for Physical magazine, Musclemag and an Editor at Large for Power magazine. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
He has been co author of several studies relating to sports nutrition and health found in peer reviewed academic journals, as well as having commentary published in JAMA. He runs the highly popular web site BrinkZone.com which is strategically positioned to fulfill the needs and interests of people with diverse backgrounds and knowledge. The BrinkZone site has a following with many sports nutrition enthusiasts, athletes, fitness professionals, scientists, medical doctors, nutritionists, and interested lay people. William has been invited to lecture on the benefits of weight training and nutrition at conventions and symposiums around the U.S. and Canada, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs.
William has worked with athletes ranging from professional bodybuilders, golfers, fitness contestants, to police and military personnel.