“I’m trying to help the evil empire,” Iron Culture Podcast, Ep. 132 -Where Does Bro Science Come From?

Wooboy. Take a breath, weed through the SNES stories and nostalgia, and find your way to the connections Eric and Omar see between what we think we know right now and how it’s influenced by when we enter into a particular world of information. And THAT, to me, is the main message of this episode of Iron Culture!

What do you know, what do you assume is true, and how has it been influenced by who you first learned from? I think fitness and nutrition is a great way to analyze these questions and to test our abilities to keep learning and thinking critically since there are such obvious eras in exercise and eating dogma. My dad is an old hippy who learned to eat “healthy” in the 1970’s. So, when he was raising us kids, he made sure we got lots of protein and our “fun” cereal was all-natural granola from the health food store (where he also bought his little vial of patchouli essential oil to scent his hair with). Twenty years later, high protein was out and low fat was in, and it didn’t change my dad’s ideas one bit. Of course, the dogma has swung back towards protein these days, but my dad has remained consistent throughout these shifts–to this day, he won’t make a smoothie without throwing some tofu into it to boost the protein content.

Eric and Omar discuss bro examples of this tendency to stick with the knowledge we first learned such as: how do we view creatine supplementation? Do we think we need to swig a protein drink right after a workout in order to maximize muscle protein synthesis? What mechanism grows muscles? Does insulin explain obesity better than caloric energy balance? The line between bro science and current knowledge is all about the timing.

Can we tell which of our understandings are bro science in the moment, or do we only realize it after the fact, when new information has forced us to reconsider a former point of view? I know that everything I believe I “know” is not actually true, but of course, if I didn’t think it was true, I wouldn’t believe it to be knowledge! On the other hand, I have opinions that I know are not grounded in anything but my own experiences and observations, and I’m comfortable stating when that is the case.

What do you still feel is true even though it’s gone out of style? I like to lift in the 12-20 rep range for hypertrophy, even though research says I can gain muscle at lower rep ranges. It feels better to me, and I feel like I’m getting in more work, accomplishing more. I recognize that it’s probably bro science at this point, but on the other hand, if I believe it to be better, maybe it is actually better for me? The placebo effect causes real changes in our physiologies, after all!

How about you? What bro science have you clung to even while the evidence has shifted? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

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