Broscience Part #1: Myths and Sports Supplements

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When looking to get in shape or get some workout tips you probably head straight to the internet. Maybe heading to a forum or a youtube channel for advice – perhaps preferring the advice from others in the same boat over ‘experts’ who have no idea what it’s like. These guys are your ‘bros’, and why shouldn’t you trust them? But how valid is all the advice collected over the internet and from the mouths of ‘bros’ at your gym – you know, the training gems that come from that stacked guy that spots for you on occasion – and can it be trusted?

All this word of mouth style information has now been classified under the term of ‘bro science’ – which can be defined as anything from “the uninformed opinion of meatheads” to “tried and tested information passed from bro to bro”. Which is where it gets complicated… because although some broscience is a valid conclusion of tried and tested training, other snippets have passed from mouth to ear getting tangled along the way and ending up full of rumours, exaggerations, and, quite frankly, terrible advice.

When it comes to physical fitness we all want quick results with minimal effort. From diet pills to weight loss surgery, no one seems prepared to put in the effort needed to look good. Bodybuilding is in a league of its own in this respect. It takes years of sacrifice and dedication to get the perfect physique – after all, no pain no gain. But it’s part of human nature that we still look for the easiest route to achieve our end goal.

Broscience appears to offer us that easy way in – tending to stem from someone telling you a workout tip with the words ‘quick result’ peppering their conversation, or a diet tip with ‘eat what you like’ thrown in. We work so hard that taking a shortcut seems like a nice way to treat ourselves. But with broscience, it’s never proven that what you’re doing is actually the correct thing for your body and your workout plan – what you think could be a shortcut could in fact be setting you back months.


Anti Bro – Join The ‘Slayers of Broscience’

Known as a term for misconceptions and questionable training tips, broscience relies on anecdotes from others who you believe to know more than you do to sway your opinion. Although guys you meet in the gym are not only displaying the rewards but also know all about the hard work and effort needed, proper science has its place, and you literally cannot argue with methods that have been scientifically proven.

The vast majority of broscience originated from companies and magazines who found that exaggerated marketing ploys and extreme claims for products worked well for them. Other bits of broscience have come from bodybuilders who live an unachievable lifestyle and are riddled with injury due to their poor technique. Think of the diet fads that are always on the rounds – one person loses a lot of weight on a particular diet and states that it is the one and only diet for weight loss. Other people take this as gospel and the diet becomes a national phenomenon. And maybe it does work… until science comes along and proves that it is hugely bad for your body and cannot be sustained long-term. It might seem as though broscience is actually bad for your health, not just your training programme.


Classic Broscience Examples


The ECA stack

BROSCIENCE: The ECA stack (comprised of Ephedrine, Caffeine and Aspirin) is a great weight loss tool. And a great way to give yourself a heart attack.

ACTUAL SCIENCE: The ECA stack works, and is one of the most popular fat burning stacks on the market. However, Ephedrine is banned and a medicinal license is needed to sell it, but taking a product like Sida Cordifolia (which has ephedrine content) is a safe way to reap the benefits of Ephedrine without the health risks.

Turn your fat into muscle

BROSCIENCE: Fat can be turned into muscle: beer belly = six pack. Easy.

ACTUAL SCIENCE: Countless publications and websites offer this as some kind of miracle cure for the overweight, and internet forums are full of people asking why their fat hasn’t magically transformed into muscle after a couple of gym sessions. A scientific discovery in 2008 can put this broscience myth to bed. Scientists from the Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute discovered that fat can be directly converted into muscle, but only the body’s brown ‘good’ fat (which we are born with), and not the white ‘bad’ fat created by overeating and not exercising.

The Urban Caveman Movement

BROSCIENCE: The Urban Caveman Movement (which encourages you to mimic the eating habits of early man by consuming large quantities of meat, fruit and vegetables, avoiding any foods that were not available in prehistoric times, and fasting between meals) is a great way to live your life. Basing your eating habits around the Paleo Diet, choosing exercise routines focused on sprinting and jumping, working out on an empty stomach, and donating blood frequently will make you stronger, healthier and incredibly macho.

ACTUAL SCIENCE: The Urban Caveman Movement is perfectly valid – avoiding carbs and sugar is not such a bad thing, and science agrees. There is also some scienctific research suggesting that working out on an empty stomach increases fat utilisation. However, science doesn’t think that loading up on high cholesterol meat is a healthy dietary strategy. From a health perspective, avoiding whole grains and low fat dairy foods can cause a lack of nutrients, such as fibre. Science agrees we should be healthy, but just not in the same way as our ancestors were (who lived until the ripe old age of 30).


Pro Bro – from Broscience to Proscience

There will be many personal trainers who are educated up to the eyeballs in scientific facts and nutritional advice but have terrible technique. Broscience exists simply because some of this stuff works. Sometimes things will just work for you – whether that particular tip suits your body chemistry or whether science is just lagging a little behind with this one. Just because somebody doesn’t have access to the resources that would make their point a scientific one, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid point hidden behind the broscience.

Some broscience tips can even stem from real science. If actual science tells us that green tea boosts your metabolism, then broscience tells us that green tea extract guarantees to help you lose fat. It’s a little over exaggerated, but the same message still rings true. We reckon that the same thing applies in a vice versa way – some scientific discoveries might have been inspired by a broscience myth that came before it. Just because something makes sense on paper doesn’t always mean that it will translate the exact same way onto your body.


Personal Bro

You probably ‘bro’ yourself without even knowing it. You might pass on a ‘tried and tested’ method to a friend, perhaps it’s something that you believe in 100%, but you read it in a magazine or a forum, or saw it in on YouTube. Out of everything you read – from magazines to websites – you’ll use your own judgement to decide what is worth it and what isn’t. And how do you decide? Based on your own intuition – your ‘bro-ometer’. The only difference with your personal broscience is that you can quickly become the judge of what works and what doesn’t – and what works for you may not work for somebody else.

YOU are the keeper of your own success – use your best judgement, combine the best bits of all ideas, and workout smart. But just remember that pros should always come before bros…but if they don’t, check out these guys because they have a pretty serious following online and their videos are a hoot too. Introducing the Hodge Twins…

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