Robb Wolf comes on to discuss the failures of the paleo diet, cholesterol myths and performance nutrition.Give the podcast a listen and do me a solid, click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
That would be SUPER helpful. I'll give you a hug when I see you.
Let's double up on the education, shale we? Here's a recap Robb Wolf wrote of a Charles Poliquon Biosignature seminar. Some good gems in here.
I recently attended the Charles Poliquin biosignature seminar (with Scotty Hagnas of CrossFit Portland) in Scottsdale, AZ. With the recent developments of Charles’ thoughts on CrossFit this has left me in an interesting position given my place in CrossFit. This review is my best effort at an objective assessment not only of Charles’ technology, but also my experience implementing it in a thriving CrossFit practice. I have sought guidance and fact checking from Scotty, James Fitzgerald (OPT) and Ido Portal. This was to discuss theory, compare notes and make sure I’m doing things “right” and to verify if these other folks were observing the same things as I. That said, this final analysis is solely mine and therefore any errors, stupidity or other goofiness is mine and mine alone. This first section will describe the content of the seminar, the second will look at my experiences implementing the technology the past few months, the third section will look at Coach Poliquin’s position on CrossFit and some thoughts I have in response.
Biosignature Seminar: Scottsdale AZ.
Scotty and I attended the Biosignature Seminar a few months ago in the still toasty, Scottsdale AZ. The format was a 5 day seminar with a mixture of lecture, hands on training in body-fat measurement using calipers and Q&A.
Biosignature: The premise
Disclaimer: I will not discuss any of the specific protocols. Please do not ask me questions about how these measurements are made.
The premise of the biosignature technology is that different hormone states lead to different patterns of fat deposition around the body. This can indicate pending disease states and can offer insight into potential training, supplementation and lifestyle changes to address hormone imbalance and restore optimum health and performance.
The sites we learned to measure were assumed to indicate relative levels of the following hormones: Cortisol, insulin, testosterone, estrogen, hGH, thyroid, and progesterone. Most people are now familiar with the notion that an “apple” fat deposition pattern (thick midsection) is consistent with insulin resistance and thus higher rates of many associated diseases. The biosignature program is an outgrowth of this type of epidemiological work.
The caliper measurements require a great deal of practice to achieve a decent level of accuracy and precision. One of the measures in particular, the hamstring is so prone to error I have abandoned tracking it (this was confirmed by OPT).
Coach Poliquin provided detailed protocols for specific situations: Insulin protocol, cortisol protocol etc. Most of the conditions in fact have several different protocols; there is the potential of managing various conditions simultaneously and thus achieving some level of synergistic action. The protocols involve lifestyle factors to change, nutrition support/alterations and heavy use of supplements.
Dietary recommendations consisted of a paleo diet (gluten free) and carbs up to one’s insulin tolerance. Coach Poliquin uses the cyclic low carb approach with most clients, folks who have very high glycogen demands make good use of post WO carb feedings. Charles uses of shakes extensively, although he recommends the bulk of food should come from whole sources.
The protocols are heavily supplement oriented and Charles offers an extensive line of supplements to support the biosignature practitioners. Charles was very balanced about offering products outside of his line if he felt it was a better product. There is no MLM element to the supplements (I’ve received this questions several times).
Charles was solid in presenting the need for sleep, adequate rest and recovery and how all this fits into cortisol and insulin management.
Charles has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of everything health, fitness and training related. I really liked the content of the seminar from a geek standpoint but Charles’ frequent digressions into experiences he has had with clients and experiences of other coaches he respects (Mauro Di Pasquale for example) was just as good as his foundational information. He certainly has a passion for what he is doing and he is a good public speaker. He was good about citing sources other than himself for various techniques, protocols and information that he uses or presents.
Q&A was good but sometimes tough as Coach Poliquin has a very brusque style…there was not an opportunity for “discussion”, you asked a question, he answered it…if you did not get it, agree, or wanted to delve into minutiae that was not well received…this can be attributed in part to keeping things on a fairly strict timetable AND some of the folks were just in over their heads with regards to the information. I took 36 pages of hand written notes and had a far better background than anyone else in attendance. I am still working my way through those notes and there are some gems.
85% of the material I really liked and “bought” right away. 10% I was (and am) unsure of…this pertains specifically to the various protocols centered on insulin management and other conditions i.e.-do the prescribed protocols work? 5% I just could not buy into. Coach Poliquin threw out a few dingers like: right hamstring pulls are a magnesium deficiency and left hamstring pulls are a potassium deficiency and this based on yin/yang theory. I completed 40+ units of Chinese medicine theory and diagnostics and thus feel fairly well steeped in the theory. Coach Poliquin has thrown out some thoughts on training with Chinese medicine principles that I liked, but some of this seems far-fetched. He also did an applied kinesiology/muscle testing demo. I hate that shit. It just reminds of Yuri Geller spoon bending and psychic surgeries…Maybe I’ll take a course in it because I thinks it’s complete crap, but there are a lot of other things I’d rather do with my time. That considered, this represents a very small proportion of the seminar.
Implementation, Results and Interpretations
Upon returning to Chico I started tracking the biosig of several of our trainers. I also embarked upon an insulin management protocol and cortisol protocol for myself. As background, I believe I had severe adrenal fatigue earlier in the year. Travel, bad food on the road and running a CrossFit facility cooked me to a crisp. I talked with Josh Everett, OPT and few other folks about the adrenal fatigue and embarked on a recovery program back in July. The protocol Coach Poliquin laid out for the cortisol was identical to what I was familiar with from previous research.
My biosignature showed high environmental insulin levels and high cortisol. This was consistent with what I had experienced and this was right at the height of my mass gain experiment. I was damn chubby, but nearly all of it right at the love handles (insulin) and umbilicus (cortisol). Coach Poliquin suggested that I switch my mass gain efforts to more of an insulin management protocol (cyclic low carb for the diet). I was to continue with the cortisol management.
The biosignature of our trainers (all female) correlated well with what we knew of their nutritional status and it jived with some issues such as PMS (too much estrogen) and even corroborated a hypothyroid condition. Overall I’m quite impressed with what the biosignature tells us with regards to hormone status.
I have been under-whelmed with regards to the insulin management protocol involving Insulinomix and Fenuplex. I am honestly bummed as I hoped this would be my ticket to solid muscle gain without turning into a fat-ass. I have yet to see anything touch CrossFit, a low carb diet, sleep and fish oil for leaning out. As I mentioned before, the cortisol management protocol seems VERY effective. This was something I used previously and have found good mileage. In fact OPT verified these findings in his own practice and puts the greatest emphasis on cortisol/stress management.
One piece I have found helpful for nearly everyone is a digestive support protocol that involves HCl supplementation with meals plus zinc and magnesium near bedtime. Nothing too controversial there, this is a common and well described protocol.
Our female trainers have had little results with the estrogen management protocol that we do not get from a low carb diet and the endocrine response of CrossFit (see James Fitzgerald’s article in the Performance Menu for more info on this). In essence, if we manage sleep, stress and insulin effectively, we see favorable shifts in estrogen. This is in process so I’ll report any changes if they occur.
I’ve found the biosignature readings to be accurate of hormone status however I have had limited success with the protocols besides the cortisol management. This from the perspective of significant (and pricey) supplement usage. Granted, I may be doing all this wrong, but I’m a reasonably bright guy and have found corroboration with other folks familiar with the Poliquin material. I have yet to implement an androgen protocol for myself, I’ve been holding off on that till my cortisol readings are stellar. No sense in ramping up DHEA-S just to turn it into cortisol. I have begun recommending a methylated-b vitamin due to a HTMFR genotype that benefits from said supplementation…this is a large point for Poliquin in his seminar.
As it stands right now, the biosignature material is interesting, but I cannot say that it influences my coaching much. We will likely use it in our practice to help keep some metrics on our clients. I feel comfortable with recommending a fish oil and methylated b to our folks…this seems like a slam dunk as we have recommended this for some time. At this point I cannot, in good conscience, recommend much beyond that for our clients. I’m reticent to recommend something that cannot be had by simpler (cheaper) means. The totality of the Poliquin seminar for my practice then is reduced to HCl, zinc/magnesium, a multivite and fish oil. In the case of a cortisol situation I feel comfortable recommending some specific supplements for that. I will continue to tinker with this stuff and if I change my mind on something, I’ll post an update. As it stands I guess a good question would be “Do I recommend the biosignature seminar?” That is a “yes”, the information contained is well worth the price of the seminar. The material is, as I said previously, 85% solid. I need to update my biosig status once per year, so, in theory I will be attending this again next year. It’ll be interesting to see where things are in a year.
Comments will be approved before showing up.