Look, I get it. Some people have an agenda. Maybe they’re naive or gullible, or maybe they believe something so much they have to dig up anything they can to prove their point (i.e., confirmation bias). As Mark Twain once said:
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
So when I ran across this blog post blaming protein for everything short of climate change I just shook my head in disbelief. I’ve read nonsense like this before, I even quizzed someone at a health fair about their misleading pamphlets, but I still cannot believe there are people that accept some of this as fact. The evidence for the benefits protein, as well as the safety are bountiful and can be found in the NSCA’s position on protein, as well as some good resources, like this one. I’ve even discussed it on prior podcasts (search Matt Fitzgerald and Jose Antonio), so I won’t rehash any of that here. My issue with this article is that the author attempts, rather poorly, to link protein intake with the deaths of two body builders and create a conspiracy theory driven by the “supplement industry”. The problem is this “body building” insider is either delusional or in denial about the use of and role the anabolic drugs have on early deaths in body building. Simply reading the second paragraph tells the tale this author will try to weave:
“Two of my favorite professional bodybuilders, Nasser El Sonbaty and Mike Matarazzo, recently died in their forties, likely from diet-related health issues. In all probability, their deaths were a result of too much protein consumption, coupled with the use of performance enhancing substances day after day until their organs failed. Now they’re gone. This is not a rare occurrence in bodybuilding. Though bodybuilders exercise more than the average person, the rate of bodybuilders suffering from diet-related health problems is often more common than the general American public falling ill to diet-related diseases.”
Seriously?! Without any evidence at all, the author has associated protein intake with anabolic steroids, a known case for numerous health issues, as a cause for these deaths. This is known as a guilt by association logical fallacy and I’m calling bullshit on this one! In fact he continues down this fantasy lane in the very next paragraph. And backs all this up with a book (not peer-reviewed) and another blog post from the same damn website he’s writing for; double bullshit! In fact, the article as a whole is a lesson in logical fallacy identification.
Why should I, or you, care about this? This article is an important lesson on how to identify biased and deceptive information. Many people are shrewd enough to discount the advice, but not enough understand all of the failings. Being able to identify and articulate why something is incorrect is particularly important when educating clients, including young athletes not only about nutrition and training, but also doping. By associating protein intake to the deaths mentioned at the beginning of the article, the author actually diminishes the role that anabolic agents actually played, and thereby diminishes their risks. I strive to provide the best evidence-based advice I can, and I hope you keep looking for the same quality advice!