In the past, I wrote the post titled “How Can We Be That Wrong?” (click to link to the post) to detail the epic con-job pulled by exercise physiologist Ancel Keys who in the 1960s was searching to find the root of the rampant rise in heart disease in the United States. Unbeknownst at the time, Keys cherry-picked his data in order to come to the conclusion that dietary fat (and not smoking) was the root cause and with that he unleashed upon us the low-fat diet. Its been decades now since the low-fat diet was promoted not only by Ancel Keys, but even by the American Heart Association which only two decades ago was promoting cookies & candies to replace those horrible horrible fats.
Now, as a result of Ancel Keys seeking to short cut his way to fame and fortune by making a name for himself through his shitty science, we have a global obesity epidemic which can find its roots in his recommendation to drop fat and load up on carbs. Amazing isn’t it… Keys ended up on the cover of Time Magazine for his epic con-job meanwhile millions if not billions ended up obese and undoubtedly dealing with one or a multitude of chronic diseases as a result of taking his direct advice not to eat fat, and his indirect advice which came as a corollary that ‘smoking wasn’t bad for you….so keep puffing’.
As a result, I have little trust for exercise physiologists as I have yet to find anyone who spoke against this con-job nor have I found any decent scientific research that questioned the validity or reliability of Keys’ conclusions (that is until Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung came along). Equally, I have little trust for the nutritionists/dietitians who failed to test Keys’ conclusions for themselves, instead jumped on the no-fat bandwagon assisting major food manufacturers to design the low-fat/high carb factory foods which fueled the fat bubble that we find ourselves in today.
But that’s not the end of the perversion of health, its unfortunately only the beginning…
Not long after Ancel Keys came another epic con-job, this time though it wasn’t an exercise physiologist but medical doctor Thomas Bassler who proclaimed in 1977 that “running protects against coronary disease” and that “completing a marathon confers immunity against heart attack” (Dr James OKeefe – TEDx UMKC).
Huh… 1977 you say… wasn’t there something else going on in the 1970s, oh yeah… it was the start of the running boom in the United States.
“In the United States, there was a boom in the 1970s in competitive road running and in jogging for recreation and fitness. It is estimated that 25 million Americans took up some aspect of running in the 1970s and 1980s, including President Jimmy Carter.“
Well ain’t that convenient… in the midst of the running boom, another effort to find fame and fortune by hoping to make a name for oneself promoting that the effort of running a marathon provides immunity against an heart attack. Immunity… that ain’t no small word to throw around; imagine today claiming that you have a vaccine against Covid19… how well would that go over if you really didn’t, but just said you did, and just sold billions of dollars worth of your vaccine – which didnt really work – to governments around the world?
So let me get this straight… running protects against coronary artery disease, and a marathon provides immunity against an heart attack, so what does running an ultramarathon do? What about completing an Ironman triathlon even if it does end up on hands and knees crawling across the finish line in exhaustion do for you? Can you imagine what people have extrapolated from a “marathon yields immunity“? Can you imagine what people want to believe, or perhaps hope lies on the other side of those finish lines? I bet the belief is that nothing less than immortality is on the other side, because there is no logical reason for the average person who is simply seeking an active healthy lifestyle to contemplate either of these endurance events, nor a marathon.
Our definition and understanding of health has been perverted time and time again by those seeking to make a name for themselves, and it continues to this day. Trainers & coaches who have absolutely no qualifying education or experience to either train or coach anyone, spew whatever it will take to make a name for themselves to build a business around themselves with no thought as to the consequences it will have on the long term well being or health of any of their clients/athletes.
It still doesn’t stop… today exercise physiologists follow in the footsteps of Ancel Keys performing shitty science that only reiterates time and time again as to the countless health benefits of hi intensity interval training (i.e. HiiT and all its variations – bootcamps, Tabata, Crossfit, spin classes, etc…) meanwhile none perform any research to identify if any consequences occur in the mid to long term? In the short term almost any drug can be demonstrated to have positive effects… heck, chemotherapy in the short term kills cancer (provided the patient doesn’t die first), so why don’t we just take chemo drugs daily? Why aren’t we all poppin’ a chemo pill every morning with our cup of coffee to ‘prevent cancer’? Exactly, the long term can and often does have different consequences than the short term. Hence why no one performs mid to long term research on HiiT: no one wants to truly find out what are the consequences; but when we do… e.g. a 15yr old dies from repeated adrenaline surges scarring his heart to the point that he dies in his sleep from silent heart attacks, its conveniently swept under the carpet and crushed with a new study promoting how awesome HiiT is once again.
Imagine if Ancel Keys actually tested his conclusion by performing a study that had participants eat nothing but carbs to examine whether in fact the elimination of dietary fat was as healthy as he was promoting it to be.
Imagine if Thomas Bassler actually tested his conclusion by examining whether runners do indeed lack any evidence of coronary disease in their arteries, and tested to see if indeed training for and racing marathons – in all the manners that it would be interpreted by runners – did indeed grant immunity against heart attacks.