Jim Stoppani claims to use science when giving workout, fitness and weight loss advice. He does, but perhaps not in the way you expect.
Jim Stoppani, Ph. D.If you haven't heard about Jim Stoppani, sorry, Dr. Jim Stoppani before, you should know that in bodybuilding circles he is an authority. Beside being very fit, he can also point at numerous TV appearances, celebrity clients, articles for fitness magazines and books he co-authored.Furthermore he even has a real Ph. D. in exercise physiology, which is stressed whenever and wherever he appears or writes fitness articles. Sure enough he also includes long lists of scientific references in those articles.
He Uses Science. But How?If you read what I said about why bodybuilding needs science you may come to the conclusion that nothing could keep me from applauding his angle. After all it seems that with Stoppani we have a man who properly studied what he is writing about and in his articles makes sure to point at the science that backs his words. The claim at the top his website, "using real science to design real programs for unreal results," should have me rejoice.Then again Dr. Oz is a real doctor, too, and that doesn't keep him from making some, shall we say, questionable statements. It does pay to have a look at how one really uses science to back positions. Especially when those positions come in articles with dozens of references that give them an extra aura of legitimacy.As an example for how Stoppani operates I picked an article of his I recently came across at bodybuilding.com, where he states that using a mixture of various supplements can help you lose weight. Analyzing it in its entirety would make this article very long and most of his references also aren't available without charge, so I picked two of his claims where you can read the important papers for free: those about caffeine and capsaicin.
CaffeineLet's start with the caffeine, about which Stoppani writes the following:
When you ingest caffeine, it binds to receptors on your fat cells. Normally the nucleotide adenosine binds to these receptors, and when it does, it puts a halt on fat release from the cells. With caffeine sitting on the receptors, adenosine can't attach, and fat release is maximized. This is particularly effective when taking caffeine before workouts, several studies have confirmed.Receptors, nucleotide, adenosine - sounds impressive, doesn't it? What is less impressive is that we have no idea about what "fat release is maximized" really means. Do I suddenly drop all my body fat and sit in a squishy puddle in front of my desk? Just from an extra strong cup of coffee?We need to know how much fat is really lost thanks to caffeine and the second study in Stoppani's references, available right here (PDF), can easily clarify this. On its page 4 we find the following figure:
CapsaicinCapsaicin, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, we find under the heading "fat burners":
[Capsaicin] increases the amount of calories your body burns, thanks to its ability to raise epinephrine levels. One study from Japanese researchers found that consuming capsaicin with a meal raised calorie expenditure by more than 30 percent. A study from the University of Oklahoma likewise found that subjects who took a supplement containing both capsaicin and caffeine burned more calories during and after exercise than those who didn't.Once more Stoppani doesn't give us any concrete numbers, but here we actually don't need any. His most reliable reference concerning capsaicin is the meta-study (a review of other studies) he lists as No. 13, which has the following to say and makes things quite clear:
Collectively, the studies reviewed provide supportive evidence for roles of capsaicin and capsiate in weight management. However, the magnitude of these thermogenic and appetitive effects is small and their long-term sustainability is uncertain.So yes, the effects exist. But that they are "small" and long-term usability "uncertain" we sure we didn't get to read in Stoppani's article.