Unbiased Source on Nutrition Research

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Kamal Patel- Podcast

Kamal Patel, MPH, MBA
A nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain.

Kamal currently serves as the Director at Examine.com. Examine.com is an independent organization that investigates the science behind supplementation and nutrition. He is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics. Kamal has also been involved in research on fructose and liver health, mindfulness meditation, and nutrition in low income areas.

In this podcast you will learn:

1. What is Examine.com?
2. What is the concept and idea of developing examine.com?
3. How many followers do they have?
4. What are the qualifications of your staff?
5. What is the criteria you use to rate the research and evidence?
6. What are the most popular supplements people want to know about?
7. What is the biggest problem with the supplement industry today?
8. Can a High School or College athlete use Examine.com?
9. What supplements work and what doesn’t?
10. What are some over-hyped ingredients?
11. What are some pre-workout supplements and those with ingredients with little to no science to support the evidence?
12. What does Examine.com offer to the consumer?

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Podcast Transcript

0:08 Welcome by Tavis Piattoly

1:29 Introduction to the supplement industry and ingredients

  • What supplement ingredients really do work?

2:01 Introduction to Kamal Patel

  • Kamal is the director at Examine.com, an independent organization that investigates the science behind supplementation and nutrition.
  • He is a nutrition researcher who is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain.
  • He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics.
  • Kamal has also been involved in research on fructose and liver health, mindfulness meditation, and nutrition in low income areas.

2:40 What is Examine.com?

  • Examine has interpretations of primary research.
  • When we cover a supplement or nutrition issue or nutrient, we look at every study and try to convey objectively what the study says.
  • The team is made up of physicians, PhD researchers, and toxicologists to provide different viewpoints.
  • The purpose of Examine is to examine in depth, supplements, nutrition and related issues and get the objective information out there for anyone that is interested.

4:37 What is the concept and idea of developing examine.com?

  • The founders saw there was a disconnect between the research and the end user.
  • The idea was to make the research easier to read for people of all ages.

6:03 How many followers do they have?

  • We have about twenty thousand readers per day.
  • There are about thirty thousand Facebook followers.
  • We respond to a ton of daily emails from people with random questions.  

6:32 What are the qualifications of your staff?

  • We try to get a wide variety of people to not only write and research, but also to review what we put out.
  • Everytime we put out a page, we have a team of reviewers to go over it and provide different insights.
  • We also have an advisory board.

7:33 What is the criteria you use to rate the research and evidence?

  • If it is a randomized control trial (RCT), then that is the first higher hurdle to cross.
  • We also use observational evidence and try to come to a sort of agreement among us on how strong the evidence is.

9:01 What are the most popular supplements people want to know about?

  • Two of the pages that are most popular on our website are fish oil and creatine.
    • Fish oil is something people or doctors will tell their grandparents to take.
    • Creatine has the most evidence for a variety of usages, but especially with athletes.  There are always new creatine studies that come out.

10:16 What is the biggest problem with the supplement industry today?

  • Non standard formulations and misleading marketing.
  • Policy in the United States with regards to supplements, is very shaky.
  • The basis is that, if you have a supplement, you are allowed to market it in a certain way as long as you make claims related to the structure and function of the supplement, and not particular health claims.
  • As a consumer, people don’t really differentiate between, “Can support bone health” as a general claim, versus “Can prevent osteoporosis.” To a lot of people that is one and the same thing.
  • If a supplement is marketed in a clever way, it can look almost like it’s a drug or pharmaceutical, whereas it is obviously not.
  • On the flip side, there are supplements that are stronger than some pharmaceuticals that are marketed in a very benign fashion.

12:44 Can a High School or College athlete use Examine.com?

  • We always cover supplement safety, and have a section on nutrient interactions, as well.
  • In order for a supplement to work, it has to affect a body process more so than your typical diet or lifestyle would.  Which means that is bound to have interactions with things that you might not know about or even researchers might not know about.  For some medications, you just don’t know what interactions exist because there are so many things that people take.
    • For example: Creatine.  If you are taking a certain medication or have a mutation in your genes, it’s possible that even something as benign as creatine could interact with your genetic makeup.  

15:55 What supplements work and what doesn’t?

  • Creatine is the one supplement that is most universal.
  • Some nutrients are perhaps more helpful than other discreet supplements. Optimize the following:
    • Vitamin D: It’s involved with more other nutrients than any other vitamin.
    • Minerals: magnesium, copper, iron and iodine are all very important.

19:38 What are some over-hyped ingredients with little to no science to support the evidence?

  • A lot of pre workout supplements in general with testosterone boosters. Testosterone boosters, if they work at all, only work temporarily. 
  • Any supplement related to achieving the pump probably isn't doing much for you.  A much better way to increase nitric oxide levels is to eat something like beets or kale pre workout because it leads to sustainable increases.
  • Arginine is decent and okay, but there are rate limiting steps in the metabolism of arginine that limit their use as pre workout supplements.  They get a lot more sales than I think is warranted. 

21:12 What does Examine.com offer to the consumer?

  • We have a couple products:
    • The Supplement Reference Guide is a very easy way to see any study for any supplement all in the same document and all very well arranged.
    • The Stack Guides: there are sixteen stack guides, all for different goals.  It makes the information so digestible that you can take five minutes and learn all the most important things about the most important supplements for any goal.  
      • Example: If your goal is skin quality, or mood or depression, we have guides for each of these goals.
    • The Examine Research Digest bridges the area between information junkies and researchers.  We take eight of the most important recent articles and then we write about what the study found, any flaws in the study, were the findings split in the context in all the information about that topic, and an overview of everything.  
    • We offer monthly subscriptions or a test trial for a lower price.

24:27  Closing remarks from Kamal

  • We would like input on The Examine Research Digest from our readers.
    • What they want to read about.
    • What format they want to read it in.
    • What issues are hot right now. 
  • We want to hear about the issues so we can do the research and release it.

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