A recent article in Science published by Burke and Hawley has made quite a splash in the sports nutrition world. However well it is written, a few key points are well worth looking at and how this really applies (or not) to the real world. You can find more about Barry Murray on the OFM site on his website. 
Barry is one of the few guys who are dedicated to “Connecting the Dots” in how the body taps into it’s own potential. He also recently helped publish an e-book called “Beyond Keto
Barry Murray Article

When the science says something you first have to question two things :1. The actual validity of the science and the context

2. Who wrote the science

Just recently, this report came out in a very well respected science publication…

“Swifter , Higher, Stronger.. Whats on the Menu?”


Okay, firstly, there is lots of good science in this and Prof Hawley is a guy I have been following for years as his research on training adaptation/glycogen depletion has taught me a lot.

Ironically, he is married to Prof Louise Burke, who basically is pro carb and anti fat. Here paper in 2006 (I think) called “Is it the final nail in the coffin” for high fat diets… is what actually initially sparked my interest in the whole area.

But just first getting back to me first two questions

1 – I have written an post recently on Low Carb v High Carb… and have clearly stated how the research is not valid and not contextual when it comes to fat adaptation studies. They are not long enough, 5 days/3 wks, they are not connecting the dots, they are not looking at health parameters, they are not looking at the indirect performance benefits, they are too low carb in my terms – i.e. I state that you can be fat adapted on a 20% CHO diet, not 5-10%, in addition they are not looking at upgrading all the energy systems (which I have written an extensive post on already too).

2. As mentioned, who wrote this are Hawley and Burke… Burke has worked for Australian Institute of Sport for many years…. and I can’t remember exactly where I saw it.. but a lot of her research has been linking to Gatorade Sports Science Institute (correct me if I’m wrong here). If you listen to any podcast she has recorded, or even some or her writing… it is clear that she has almost a conscious and subconscious bias towards low carb diets.

A few more things to add that I have been thinking about :

“absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence”…. it just means that they haven’t carried out the right studies yet

” I have little patience for scientists, that take a board of wood, look for the thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where the drilling is easy” … this pretty much explains low carb for athlete research

I have had a few people on to me since this article was released. It was patron Niall who recently posted it up on the community section of this site. So I am going to just copy and paste our discussion:


‘The bottom line is that when elite athletes train for and compete in most sporting events, CHO fuels are the predominant and critical substrate for the working muscles, and the availability of CHO, rather than fat, wins gold medals. ‘

We’re not used to this perspective here! It’d be good to hear people’s thoughts on this.


“Just remember who this is written by, Louise Burke, one of the most biased Gatorade sponsored researchers around ”

“None of the studies she or her group have done have been on fully fat adapted athletes/connecting the dots… they have been 5 day or max 3 day “LCHF” diets.. and the CHO is usually 10% ”

“A massive overlooked and misconstrued statement is the whole “elite” and “gold medals” reference. If you read the full article , there is a line about “subelite” which states that this group could/would benefit from more fat adaptation and basically not need a high carb intake. What this could be written as in more honest wording is this … “The elite athletes, e.g. marathon winners, sub 2.10hr, constitute <0.5% of the marathon field. Therefore, 99.5% of athletes are better off fat adapting and restricting their CHO intake”…. and the big piece of the puzzle that the always seem to miss is that this way of eating for 99.5% of the athlete population will improve their health


“Thanks for the response Barry.

I suppose I find it a bit jarring reading the official science and it’s so at odds with (if not outright hostile to) more emergent trends that people like you would represent. The other article on fat in this special issue seems a bit more sympathetic to these emergent perspectives, making a case for the importance of dietary fat quality.  As healthy people from wealthy parts of the world, we are in a privileged position to even have the opportunity to reflect on how we construct our diets. But if we got sick, with heart disease, for example, what would we do–revert to the guidelines or resist?

That would put us in a more difficult situation, in which it would be difficult to reconcile our beliefs, especially if it entails going against medical advice and the authority of medical professionals.  It’s difficult terrain to navigate for the layman not trained/educated in these fields (and evidently for those within them also, judging by the fieriness ongoing debates). I know science cannot be relied on for everything–for instance, that there is no substitute for individual experience or ‘skin in the game'”

Just to add more fuel to the fire –

The podcast below linked by Gavin reminds me of the huge influence the pharmaceutical industry has on medicine and scientific studies. If you look at the GSSI (Gatorade Sports Science Institute) … and all the academics they have paid… they are essentially the pharmaceutical arm in the sports nutrition research and studies. One of the most well known researchers and academics is Asker Juenkendrup, paid and funded by GSSI for years, and his papers are what a lot of the sports nutrition recommendations are based on. Its crazy when you think about it logically… a multi-million dollar industry, that sells sugar in a drink and gel, employs guys like Jeunkedrup to do studies and write papers… and the public then follow these recommendations !?

There is an academic, Prof John Ioannidis,  who has done huge meta-analysis of medical studies and has shown how the evidence in most clinical studies is false. You can listen to an interview with him here: https://player.fm/series/stem-talk/episode-77-john-ioannidis-discusses-why-most-published-research-findings-are-false

He has a famous paper, in 2005, https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124 …. which literally proves that the way in which doctors and all the health authorities acquire their knowledge is flawed, completely flawed.

So our nutrition “recommendations” come from commercial biases, paid doctors and academics, vested interests, conformation bias and then simply a lack of correctly carried out studies.

There is one other way they get us. By making the black sheep blacker and discrediting and falsely accusing his or her work. Look recently at the Prof Tim Noakes trial : https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/health/2018-06-08-tim-noakes-is-finally-free-and-clear-after-winning-banting-diet-advice-case/

There is a great book that shows how the corporate institutions will go to every length in order to make sure that their profit is not affected. Back in the 60’s, some researchers started to show the harmful affects of electricity from power lines. It was quite clear how the electromagnetic radiation caused diseases. This is even worse today with the electromagnetic radiation produced by wifi and various other electrical devices. But if all this is known and proven…. then you are talking about bringing down some of the most powerful corporations in the world. They don’t want that to happen. The book actually shows how they have set up huge research laboratories , funded the research, discredited the real research… in order to prevent the truth from ever being known or heard. The book is called “Going Somewhere” by Andrew Marino.

Where does this bring us ? Am I just one of those “all science and research” is garbage , I don’t believe any of it ?

Well no, not of all of it of course, I’ve learnt a lot from studies and research. You really need to know what is independent research without any biases, and then you need to understand how they are carrying out the research , the measures and the context.

But the bottom line is that it needs to be related to real life and have skin in the game. A study of low carb for athletes, in a lab, on a bike, for 1hr, after 2 weeks of a poor LCHF diet, is not real life and not skin in the game.

Another way to look at things is based on time and harm. If something has existed for a long time, hundreds of years, and has not caused harm, then you can take it as being genuine. Have we been running long distances for hundreds of years without eating much ? yes. Have we been running long distances, for hundreds of years, consuming 60-90g CHO per hour ? no.

Have we been eating smallish amounts of carbohydrates for hundreds of years (back in hunter gatherer days, and even just >100yrs ago.. we did not not have much refined grains, cereals, juices etc) without much diabetes or obesity ? yes. Have we been eating high amounts of carbohydrates for hundreds of years without diabetes or obesity ? no, the opposite.

I could go on. Put simply… look at the ancients, do what is natural, listen to yourself, and go on feel.