The beauty of science is that is self-correcting. When a study is published, others get to scrutinize the data and methods. When issues arise, the scientific community gets to discuss and debate the findings, and when appropriate, challenge their veracity. Recently, I collaborated with ...
May 28, 2011
In case you don’t know, Alan Aragon is a popular expert on nutrition in general, and sports nutrition, in particular. I’ve seen several of Alan’s articles over the years on various internet sites (including one I mentioned in a recent post on How Many Meals A Day Should You Eat) and have always been impressed with his evidence-based approach. Recently I became aware that he publishes a monthly e-zine called, not surprisingly, Alan Aragon’s Research Review (AARR). I subsequently received a copy of the latest issue of AARR, for reasons which I will describe shortly. After reading through the publication, I thought I would share my views on it.
According to Alan’s website, AARR is “is an unbiased monthly critical analysis and application of the latest research pertaining to nutrition, exercise, and supplementation. This journal is designed to help the reader develop a solid understanding of important topics in fitness that are widely misunderstood. Overall, the goal is to provide a unique science & practice-based, multi-topic, bias-free, commercial-free, in-depth, ongoing resource of information.” Pretty lofty goals. Question is, does it deliver as promised?
Each issue of AARR apparently follows a similar format. It begins with an “Editors Cut.” Here Alan dissects a recently published peer-reviewed article. It is an in depth critical analysis where the respective article’s strengths and weaknesses are discussed at length (spanning several pages). The segment concludes with Alan providing his opinion of the article’s validity as well as commenting on any relevant practical applications. Alan is frank in his analysis; he says what he feels.
Of note, the subject of “Editors Cut” in the issue I received was actually an article of mine, recently published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. He was nice enough to send along a copy so I could see his commentary on my article. He invited me to submit a rebuttal to his criticisms, if I so desired. I did. The gesture was appreciated.
Next up are several shorter reviews of published articles (usually one page in length). These reviews are segmented into three categories: Nutrition and Exercise, Supplementation, and a “Less Recent Gem” which, as the name implies, looks at an article published in the distant past. Although Alan does not go into the detail that he does in the “Editors Cut” section, the reviews are nevertheless quite detailed. He delves into the strengths and weaknesses of each study and makes practical applications where relevant.
The last article in AARR is called “In the Lay Press.” This segment evaluates a non-refereed consumer-oriented article with the same scrutiny afforded peer-reviewed publications. This is especially apt given the pomp and hype surrounding so many articles appearing on the web and in the muscle rags. Given the lack of peer-review in these articles, there is a lot more for Alan to pick apart…and he does so without pulling any punches.
What is my overall impression of AARR? Plain and simple, it’s one of the most definitive resources on nutrition that I’ve seen. Alan is extremely knowledgeable about the subject and obviously keeps up with current research (which sadly is rare, even amongst many nutritional professors). What’s more, Alan understands how to critically evaluate research studies with respect to internal and external validity, providing appropriate recommendations on their relevance. Just as importantly, he provides information in a completely unbiased manner without allegiances to any food or supplement industry companies (as is the case with many so-called “experts in the field). The content is good, the writing is good, and the recommendations are solid. It’s a winning combination.
As for my article, his review was very balanced and fair. He actually pointed out several things that, in retrospect, I should have clarified to a greater extent. It would have strengthened the article. I could have quibbled over a few of his criticisms, but these would have debatable points. Most importantly, I learned from the experience, which is what science is all about.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend AARR for anyone who wants the straight facts about nutrition, particularly as it relates to those involved in exercise programs. You can view a sample copy here and see for yourself if it is worth the investment.
DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with AARR and, as is my policy, receive no compensation of any kind from its sale or proceeds.
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