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Interview with the Expert: Adel Moussa - Part III

Quick Hit Summary

In the 3rd, and final installment of our interview together, Adel Moussa takes a philosophical approach in sharing his thoughts with us regarding the "adrenal fatigue" pandemic as well as his thoughts in regards to the Paleo diet. In addition, I share with you my "Top 5 SuppVersity Article Countdown".

Interview With Adel Moussa Series

Adel and I covered a lot of ground in our interview together. Thus, I split it up into three parts. Part I covers his personal backgound and myths associated with kcal needs, the effects of exercise induced hormone fluctuations as well as his thoughts on intermittent fasting. In Part II Adel shares his thoughts on periworkout nutrition and supplementation in general. Special attention is given to supplements such as dairy protein, creatine, caffeine, sodium bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda… yes, that same stuff that is found in your kitchen!), and taurine. In addition, Adel explains why he feels megadoses of fish oil and Vitamin D is way overrated. In the 3rd, and final installment of our interview together, Adel Moussa takes a philosophical approach in sharing his thoughts with us regarding the "adrenal fatigue" pandemic as well as his thoughts in regards to the Paleo diet. In addition, I share with you my "Top 5 SuppVersity Article Countdown".

Part III

Figure 1. Adel Moussa of SuppVersity. Picture reposted with permission.

I realize that you didn’t pay the big bucks to listen to me ramble… oh wait a minute, this site is 100% completely free of cost to the end user… but we do humbly accept donations of any amount to help offset the cost to run an ADVERTISEMENT FREE, MEMBERSHIP FREE website ;-)! Thus, let's get back to the interview where Adel takes a philosophical look at two of the most popular issues in the fitness and nutrition industry today… The Paleo Diet & Adrenal Fatigue.

And Now Back To Our Interview…

Figure 1. Ah yes, the origins of the Paleo Diet! Word captions by Sean Casey who adapted the image from original source.1

The Paleo diet is quite the rage these days. What's your thought on the movement?

To me, “Paleo” means big money these days and is, if this trend continues, soon following in the footsteps of the protesters of the 1970s who are now financial sharks working as Wall Street brokers and bankers: All about commerce and thus in and out of itself hardly “paleo”.

If we do yet discard the “Paleo” evolution, skip on the interim stage, where it was a hippie-ish “cult”, and focus solely on where it came from, things become interesting. In that, we do yet have to draw a distinction between the scientist’s and the layman’s understanding of the role the way our ancestors supposedly lived, ate and how that should play in our lives today… I sometimes got to laugh when I read arguments on how flawed and inaccurate the latest epidemiological study was, because "we all knew that we were / were not meant to [insert whatever you want here] in our daily lives" from surefire anthropological evidence. Let's be honest here; relying on that is like putting more faith into what the cousin of your niece's brother has heard from his neighbor about who's going to win the upcoming election more than the results of the latest polls from an opinion research center.

Contrary to how the (real) scientist will regard his/her research into what Paleolithic human beings ate, how they lived, how much “exercise” they got etc. as a highly productive resource for hypothesis formation, the layman will abuse the scarce and by no means very reliable information about what our great-great-great […] grandparents ate and how they lived as a blueprint – a blueprint, he/she will then claim to follow “to the T”, while he/she’s shoveling down some “ready-made non-gluten paleo snacks” and submits his/her “important” message to the rest of the neopaleolithic world which is already eagerly waiting for their iPhones® to tell them that they are not as alone as the emptiness of their “(wo)man caves” would suggest.

Don’t get me wrong, I myself often refer to a “paleo-ish” diet, when I am talking about a healthy way of eating. This is because the original message of the beneficial health effects that are associated with eating a whole-food based diet happens to be at the heart of one of the few scientific hypotheses, which have – as the philosopher of science Karl Popper would have it – hitherto withstood each and every assault of the proponents of (dys-)functional foods, food fortification programs and the necessity of taking a multi-vitamin in a world, where even “healthy foods” (whatever that may be) are supposed to be totally nutrient deprived.

So, does this necessarily imply that all efforts to make our diets healthier are doomed to failure, as nothing will ever come close to the berries, sweet potatoes and wild-caught salmon “nature” has long stopped offering to us (I mean guess how those berries and sweet potatoes are grown, these days – commercially vs. randomly scattered across the hillside as mother intended, right ;-)? Certainly not! What it does mean is that each and every instance of this “revolutionary” way of eating will have to stand the same tests, its evolutionary counterpart has to undergo, as well.

If we don’t want to move back into our caves we have to accept the fact that the Neolithic lives we are currently leading do not just tempt us with all sorts of Paleolithically non-kosher foods and countless ways to turn the pitch black and quiet nights of our ancestors into bright days. We will also have to come to terms with the idea that evolution means adaptation and that the “original” Paleolithic lifestyle is clearly not adapted to our modern lives.

If we don’t accept the necessity of “Paleo” to evolve beyond the stage of a paradigmatic blueprint copy of the original human diet, it will either remain the sneered at cult of hippies that people still believe it is, or it will turn into another valuable asset to the marketing experts over at the big food companies who are going to create “paleo-friendly” or “paleo-approved” stickers on their food packaging labels to increase their employers’ shareholder value.

One thing that appears to be on the rise in the general fitness community is increased “adrenal fatigue.” With the internet filled with self proclaimed nutrition and exercise “gurus”, how can this possibly be happening?!

Ah, yeah, the "good" old adrenal fatigue, a total misnomer. I mean, what does this name, which is used to describe a loosely defined conglomerate of “everything fatigue”, suggest? Well, it does suggest that the malaise that has befallen you originates from your adrenals, when the real origin of the problem is in 90% of the cases, in your brain. It’s the result of …

  • Endless and inappropriately demanding workouts (following a routine that’s designed for an athlete, while one is still, for the most part, a recovering couch potato with no idea what the word “training” means),
  • Nutritional hypercorrection (e.g. taking tons of fish oil and reducing your omega-6 intake to zero, pretending as if your life was going to end you don’t hit your “macros”, etc.) and
  • Macronutrient deprivation (removing one macronutrient from your diet completely; or – even worse – trying to get the lion’s share of your energy intake from protein alone!)

I’ve seen countless people doing not one, but ALL THREE of these mistakes while spiraling down into the abyss of “adrenal fatigue” in their desperate pursuit of physical fitness; where “Fitness” is referring to the sense of “fitting in”, of complying to the standards of a society; where being "fit" as in physically healthy is not enough; a society, where “fitness” means to be able to show off six-pack abs attached to a wasp waist and where making the transition from fat to fit has long replaced the original “American Dream” of making it from “rags to riches”.

Can you do it? "Yes you can!" At least that's what the countless new eBooks, bazillions of weight loss supplements and fake before vs. after images are telling you. This is not even mentioning the self-proclaimed “experts” whose enormous wisdom about how to reach what they believe should be "your goals" fastest is available twenty-four-seven on the mushrooming health & fitness websites all over the Internet. So, just do as you are bidden by Guru X and turn your spare tire into a “six-pack in six weeks”…

Five weeks later and with only a fraction of the weight lost that one had expected, you will find the same individual sending out a desperate message like "I don’t understand, […] have done everything right […] am 99% paleo […] cut out all sugars and omega-6s […] not feeling better".

However, more often than not, their desperate pleas reveal only half of the truth. In most cases they have blended the advice from two or more experts and their numerous Facebook “friends” who really don’t give a damn about them, into the perfect recipe for adrenal fatigue: Cut back your carb intake. "Right, I’ll make it even better and eat no carbs at all!" Make sure you work out thrice a week. "I guess I better train every day, plus I do crunches in the evening before the TV – yeah, that will work!" … you know the whole spiel, Sean, and we both know who’s the favorite scapegoat to be blamed for the failure: The “fatigued” adrenals. With this self-diagnosis on their minds their quests will take a new direction. The ergogenics in their room-sized supplement cabinet will have to make room for adrenal extracts, adrenal support blends and adrenal revitalizers…

It’s fatiguing just to talk about this and I’ve learned to spend my limited physical and mental resources wisely, therefore I am not willing to waste any more of the former on the discussion of a self-induced pathology, of which I’ve once heard Chris Kresser (the former “Healthy Skeptic”) say that after all “expert advice” had failed, a client of his eventually fell off the wagon and healed more than just his adrenals by eventually abandoning his Don Quixote quest for ultimate health and physical fitness by going out with friends and living off pizza and beer, whenever he felt like doing just that!

As we come to the conclusion of this interview (Sorry CasePerformance readers, I’d love to keep Adel here all day, but I know he has another excellent SuppVersity post to attend too! Don’t worry, he’ll be back though – see below!), Are there any final parting words you’d like to share with the readers here at CasePerformance?

Parting words? Well you usually say those, whenever you know that you won’t return anywhere in the near future. Since I don’t intend to stop putting out regular posts over at the SuppVersity and would hope that this year will hold more opportunities for you and me, Sean, to work together, I’ll simply encourage everyone who’s wo-/man enough to take responsibility for his/her own health; make the transition from a “follower” to a “critical reader” and finally an “independent thinker”. I guess I can tell with some confidence that both Sean and I will always prefer your comments, thoughts and constructive criticism over the blind followership the gurus that we are not take pride in (FYI, the term "gurus we are not" is a reference to one of my favorite CasePerformance articles and a highly suggested read!)

On behalf of the CasePerformance Community, I once again want to thank you Adel for joining us here today and sharing your knowledge; We realize this takes great time and effort on your part. Keep up the great work!

It's also with 100% confidence that I say a portion of that great work will include collaborations for you and I; both now in the present as well as down the road. And for those of you who enjoy the articles on SuppVersity and CasePerformance, I think you'll be excited to know that Adel and I have been establishing some loose frameworks upon which a few of these collaborations will take place (Don't worry, those loose frameworks will become tight ones before they launch!) What will they be? That we can't disclose yet, but both Adel and I are confident you'll enjoy them.

Sean Casey’s Top 5 SuppVersity Articles

As discussed at the end of Part II of our interview together, I promised you that I would have a Top 5 list to share with you in Part III of our interview together and here it is; My "Top 5 SuppVersity Articles." Truth be told, when I told Adel that I was going to do a "Top 5 SuppVersity Articles", I thought it would be a very difficult task. I knew that I'd have >1000 articles to choose from … That's no exaggeration; Adel has written a new post everyday for the past 3 years (and counting). Now that I think about it, I have to take that statement back. One day he got lazy and I had to bail him out with a guest post which I wrote on training for strength . Just kidding on the "laziness" part as he still did the entire formatting, etc, for the article and for anyone who does this type of stuff, they realize that it can be a bear to do at times. Additionally he didn't really "get lazy"; rather, he asked me in advance if I'd be interested in sharing some of my thoughts and experiences on the subject. Furthermore, everyone's favorite body builder, Adelfo Cerame Jr., also contributes to the site as well.

I'm starting to get sidetracked here so back to the subject at hand – my Top 5 SuppVersity Articles. As aforementioned, when I originally told Adel that I'd like to conclude our interview together with a top 5 list, I thought it would be a daunting challenge…. so many excellent articles to choose from; That said, when I actually sat down and thought about it, there were 5 articles that instantly popped into my mind with all of 60 seconds of thought and they are ……

  • Intermittent Thoughts on Building Muscle: A Preliminary Conclusion – Exercise, mTOR/AKT/MAPK, IGF-1, Testosterone, Estrogen, DHT, Nutrition, Supps & Sleep*
  • Figure 2. Hormonal, Sleep, Inflammation, Exercise and their effect on muscle growth. Image re-posted with permission from Adel Moussa. CLICK HERE for full story!

    This article was a favorite of mine simply because it summarized a great series that Adel was writing called "Intermittent Thoughts on Building Muscle." From a science perspective, just about every nook and cranny was covered to the best of current knowledge (at time of publishing). It goes in depth discussing the roles of all major inflammation factors and hormones involved in the process, including estrogen (yes estrogen is required for all you individuals who are doing everything you can to drop it down to 0!). Links are provided to every article in this 8 part series (approximately 2/3 down the article). Some of them may look familiar to you as I referenced them in writing my 2 part series on Tribulus.

    CLICK HERE to read the #5 article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

  • (tie). Ladies and Gentleman, we have a tie that can be blamed solely on the shoulders of 1 individual, Mr. Adelfo Cerame Jr!*
  • Figure 3. Some example meals of Adelfo during the day. Image re-posted with permission from Adel Moussa. CLICK HERE for full story!

    As previously mentioned, Adelfo Cerame Jr has contributed a variety of posts on the article outlining his training and nutrition methods in his pursuit of becoming a professional bodybuilder. Even if you haven't visited Suppversity before, Adelfo's name is likely to sound familiar to those who receive our CasePerformance Newsletter as he was one of our previous CasePerformance Community Members of the Month where he shared his amazing story with us.

    4a) Adelfo Cerame: Intermittent Fasting Done My Way – How I Break My Fast, Plan & Time My Macros and Use Caloric Zigzagging & Re-Feeds on a LeanGains Inspired IF Regimen

    In this article, Adelfo shares a variety of the most common questions he receives….

    • “When should I eat my carbs?”
    • “How should I distribute my carbs?”
    • “What should my carb intake be on training days & rest days?”
    • “What about caloric zigzagging?”

    CLICK HERE to read the #4a article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    4b) Adelfo Cerame – IIFYM Style: Making Your Diet More Flexible & More Effective. This is How it Works for Me!

    I enjoyed reading this article because it provides rationale thought (ie – a bowl of ice cream won't instantly turn me into a fat slob) to those who are still fearful of gaining weight if they eat anything other than 100% organic skinless chicken breast and steamed, but not buttered, broccoli. For those who are not familiar, with the acronym IIFM, it stands for "If it fits your macros". The idea of it is based along the theory of if it fits into whatever macronutrient ratio you're eating at, feel free to eat it without being paranoid that it will wreck all your progress. As Adelfo discuss in the article though, it's not a license to eat like a fat slob; rather, it provides flexibility and rational thought behind making food choices.

    CLICK HERE to read the #4b article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    4c) Adelfo Cerame – 11 Days Out & Looking Back: 2012 vs. 2013, Things I Made Different & Things That Made a Difference

    I always discuss the importance of being able to objectively look at your results, see what did vs. did not go as planned and adjust accordingly. In this article Adelfo demonstrates these principles, comparing his prep leading into the 2012 and 2013 NPC Wheelchair Nationals Body Building Competition.

    CLICK HERE to read the 4c article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    #3) Intermittent Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting – The Switch: Introducing the AMPK vs. mTOR Metabolic Seesaw

    Figure 4. The seesaw balance between mTOR and AMPK. Image re-posted with permission from Adel Moussa. CLICK HERE for full story!

    For anyone who has followed the supplement industry the past 5+ years, it is quite likely that you've come across supplements proclaiming to activate the mTOR pathway. Thus, leading to enhanced protein synthesis and muscle growth. A perfect example of this is Leucine.

    mTor is obviously an important factor in the growth of muscle tissue, etc. However, lost in the hoopla over mTOR, is an important molecule known as AMPK, which is responsible for increasing muscle's sensitivity to carbohydrates, contributes to fat breakdown, etc. As discussed in the #3 article on my list, it's only when mTOR and AMPK are playing nicely with each other that one achieves the body they desire!

    CLICK HERE to read the #3 article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    BONUS ARTICLE: Here was another nice AMPK article that I recall from Adel's discussion on the subject. (FYI, Figure 4 is from the bonus article, NOT article #3 on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list.)

    #2) Carbohydrate Shortage in Paleo Land: New Data for A Scientific Outlook at the Low-to-No Carb Paleo Confusion. Will More Than 125g of Carbs Make You Fat?

    Figure 5. Min/Max Carbohydrate distribution during the year in various paleolithic societies. Image re-posted with permission from Adel Moussa. CLICK HERE for full story.

    In my article, 24-Day Challenge Diets & Common Sense Approaches When Evaluating a Diet's Effectiveness, I poked fun a little bit at the Paleo Diet, especially when it's morphed with the Atkins® diet into a crazy, "any sort of rice grain or white potato will be your doom" type of philosophy. While writing the article, I couldn't help but think of Adel's article discussing how there was great variation in carbohydrate intake for the "Paleo Man & Woman" and the idea that carbohydrates are pure evil is folly in thought. As he points out, there is reason to believe that some of our "Paleo" ancestors may have been eating > 50% of their kcal as carbs during certain times of the year.

    CLICK HERE to read the #2 article SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    And this leads us into my #1 SuppVersity Article (drum roll please!)…………………

    #1) The Female(?) Athlete Triad – Part I/III: How An Evolutionary Advantage Can Turn Its Ugly Face On Both Sexes!

    Figure 6. Factors contributing to the development of the athlete triad. Image re-posted with permission from Adel Moussa. CLICK HERE for full story!

    As I've alluded to, Adel has written many GREAT articles at SuppVersity. However, without a moment's hesitation, when I decided to make a "Top 5 List", I instantly knew that this article was #1. Why you ask? Simple, in my eyes, this is undoubtedly the most important article posted at SuppVersity due to the topic at hand, The Female(?) Athlete Triad. This was the first article of his mini-series covering a topic which unfortunately fails to receive the attention it deserves. As Adel discusses, this issue is not really specific to only females and in all reality, and complication extend FAR BEYOND the common 3 symptoms associated with it – fatigue/disordered eating. amenorrhea and osteoporosis.

    The extent at which this Athlete Triad (staying consistent with Adel's terminology for it) is present in society is truly startling. I am 100% confident that everyone reading this article knows of an individual relatively close to them who has suffered from it. The sad thing is, once the symptoms come to fruition at the surface level, one is unfortunately so "deep" into the problem, correcting it is far from being quick. Furthermore, depending on the severity at which one suffers from it, some of the health issues may be irreversible. I am deeply saddened each time I hear about an individual who is unable to have kids related to the long term consequences brought about by the Athlete Triad.

    I've been fortunate enough to speak to various groups; Regardless of the group and the topic of the day for me, the Athlete Triad is the 1 issue that I make sure to include at least a slide or two in the presentation… even if the main topic of the presentation has little to nothing to do with the Athlete Triad. I can't urge you enough to look at this article and take an active role in increasing its awareness, as I believe, the only way to truly treat the problem, is to do the best one can to prevent it from happening in the first place.

    Another reminder…

    CLICK HERE to read the #1 article on our SuppVersity Top 5 countdown list!

    Honorable Mention…

    Figure 7. One of CasePerformance's prior "SuppVersity Articles of the Week".

    Curious as to see which articles I thought were noteworthy but missed the list? If so, check us out on Facebook where we have a weekly SuppVersity post of the week, highlighting a specific article of interest.

    Bottom Line

    In the bottom line section of every article or interview that I post here at CasePeformance, I always summarize what we have learned in the article at hand. However, as this 3 part interview, which spans > 12,000 words, comes to a conclusion, it's dang near impossible to quickly sum it up. Thus, I'll close this interview by echoing Adel's words which I wholeheartedly agree with…

    "I’ll simply encourage everyone who’s wo-/man enough to take responsibility for his/her own health; make the transition from a “follower” to a “critical reader” and finally an “independent thinker."

    Building off Adel's words, I'll add my own personal thoughts… The world is constantly turning over from one day to the next; bringing forth new research, thoughts, and philosophies in regards to our interpretation of how we can maximize human health and physical performance. Some of these ideas are legit whereas others are made to look legit by those looking to profit off them. It is only when one enters the stage of "independent thinking" that he or she will be able to discern between that which is worth holding onto vs. those which are nothing more than feeble facades, weakly supported by 1/2 truths at very best.


    1 Nk. Prehistoric drawings in the Magura cave, Bulgaria. 17 July 2007. This work has been released into the public domain by its author, I, Nk. This applies worldwide. Image access and adapted on March 9 2013 from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magura_-_drawings.jpg

    Click Here to find out "Why we do, what we do."

    Written on March 13, 2013 by Sean Casey
    Last Updated: June 27, 2013

    This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

    About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
    Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.