Monday, July 22, 2013

Examine's Supplement Goals Reference Guide

This post is a short interview with Sol Orwell.  Sol is the mastermind behind the amazing resource that is  He has just launched a new product, a Supplement Goals Reference Guide, so I took the opportunity to ask him about Examine and the new Guide.

Can you tell my readers something about your background in health and fitness?

My journey is a bit different than most :) I "retired" a while ago - my internet businesses ran themselves, and I wasn't interested in the rat race. I'd rather travel, walk with my dog, and so forth. 
So after traveling and moving for a few years, I came back to Toronto in 2009. Out of shape (way too much delicious ice cream in NYC and Argentina). As I started fixing up my physical body, I also started reading and learning as much as I could. Im a notorious notes-taker, and slowly and surely the pieces started to come together.

What were you trying to achieve with the website?

A lot of the knowledge I learned was from various forums. Forums always have their idiots, but some have some really smart people. People who have doctorates, people who compete, etc. And I noticed a lot of smart information was basically lost over time - we could have a really interesting conversation, but then one month later, that thread was (for all intents and purposes), gone. 
I wanted to build as a repository of said information. I'll be honest - I knew a lot, but compared to some of these guys, I was a five year old. I found a great partner in Kurtis, who was just finishing up his dietetics degree. So he got to focus on the research, and I took care of everything else.
What does The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide add to the great information at
The site is more geared towards the supplement->health goal relationship. It goes into pharmacology, interactions, etc. Basically, it's nerd heaven. I will eat a hat if anyone can find a page that goes more in-depth on supplements like fish oil, creatine, vitamin D, vitamin K, and so forth. 
The reference is meant for two purposes: 
1. Fast access. Open up the PDF, "search", and done. You instantly have the most pertinent info right in front of you - in vivo trials (animal and in-vitro studies excluded). 
2. The opposite view: health goals->supplements. We are mostly anti-supplements in a bandaid fashion (eg if you eat fatty fish a few times a week, drop the fish oil). But targeted supplementation is brilliant. Berberine for diabetics. Spirulina for middle-aged people. Creatine for vegetarians. You can drill into your specific health goals (over 180), and find supplements that work (and even potentially supplements that can cause problems - eg someone with high blood pressure can find which supplements could increase his or her BP).

Who is the Guide aimed at?
People who take their health and fitness seriously. This includes coaches, naturopaths, teachers, nutritionists (all with clients), and also includes biohackers and quantified-selfers. People who appreciate their bodies and realize potential limitations (and potential areas to improve).

Increasingly I have become disillusioned with a lot of the fitness information on the internet.  There are dodgy gurus out there promoting all sorts of secret knowledge to deliver muscle gain and fat loss.  Does the guide help to keep us on solid ground safe from the excesses of the marketing experts?
You know it :-) We've been around for 2.5 years. We never recommend any brands nor any products. Our advisory board is not only chock full of pedantic people who take us to task for a misplaced word, but you can see on our testimonials that we have a host of MDs and PhDs who are willing to attach their name to what we do. And these are people from all over the fitness and health industry.
The Guide
Could the Guide save me money through stopping me buying useless pills?
100%. Trib (for testosterone-boosting). Glutamine (for muscle building). Glucosamine for joint health? Black cohosh for monopausal symptoms? I could go on and on.

Is there anything else you would want to tell the readers?

We personally believe supplements are both over-rated and under-rated. As I broached before, one should not take supplements willy-nilly because it may have some undefined health benefits. Find out what your health goals, look up which supplements impact those goals (both positively and negatively), and supplement accordingly. Your health *and* your wallet will thank you.
Thanks for that Sol! is a superb resource which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in health and diet.  The Guide is adding something new and impressive to their toolkit.


Nigel Kinbrum said...

Nerds rule! 'Nuff said.

Cheers, another nerd.

elhnad said...

is this a really useful resource for practical people if they don't know what brands to trust?

secondly i feel it seems from their examine site another useful feature they should implement is a variance column which would indicate that even if they concluded that a supplement had no effect, if there's high variance, that would tell people that some people actually had a big positive effect while some ppl had a big negative effect. I think there's a lot of use in knowing that.