Thursday, September 1, 2016

SearchResearch Challenge (9/1/16): How do you make sense of obscure technobabble?

Generally speaking,
I'm fairly easy-to-get-along kind of guy... 

Not much really irritates me.  

But one thing that DOES irritate me is when people needlessly make something simple into something that's purposefully obfuscated and hard to understand.  This is technobabble at its worst.  

Here's an example of what I mean: 

Sign in  a local gym.  
Why do they write like that?  

The idea here is simple--the gym now stocks chocolate milk in the fridge.  Great!  That's fine, and maybe even a good idea. What look what happens next... 

"It offers an ideal 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and includes branched chain amino acids that accelerate recovery."  

I think I'm a fairly literate person, and yet when I read this, I have no idea if it's true, or just bafflegab.  

What makes a "2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio" ideal?  Ideal for what?  Why does including "branched chain amino acids" accelerate recovery?  

The thing is, we all see texts like this all the time. We see them in advertising, in op-ed pieces in the news media, we hear people saying stuff that sounds wonderfully technical ("branched chain amino acids") but that we have no way to evaluate it.  

You know that 99 people out of 100 will read this and start to believe that "chocolate milk really does accelerate recovery" and that a "2:1 ratio of carbos to protein is an ideal ratio."  

But of course, SearchResearch readers are not just anyone--we tend to check these things out, we try to dig into the topic and understand what's really going on. This is what reporters, scholars, and people-who-read-critically do all the time.  Here's a chance for us to dig behind the scenes and understand the background.  

So this week's Challenge is in two parts:  

1.  What does that sign really mean?  (Is a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio really good?  If so, for what?  What do "branched chain amino acids" have to do with accelerating recovery? And are they really something special in chocolate milk?  Would it be the same if I ate a chocolate bar and drank a glass of milk??)   
2.  Do you have any examples of signs like this?  (That is, ones that make grand claims, but are not understandable without a Master's degree in chemistry, or biology, or some other field?  If so, share them with us!) 

I suspect that you'll start seeing examples of signage like this everywhere (now that you're attuned to it).  I hope I won't make you continuously irritated by these signs!  

On the other hand, it's totally possible that this makes complete sense.  This is what we want to determine.  Is all of this sign true?  (And I just didn't have enough background to understand it?)  Or is this just plan technobabble?   

As always, tell us the path you used to figure out the carbs/protein ratio goodness factor, and what you did to understand the relationship between branched amino acids and chocolate milk!  

Share and enjoy. 

Search on! 

P.S.  Gentle Readers:  This month, (September, 2016) is a time when I'll be in and out of internet connectivity.  I know I'll be offline next Monday, so expect my answer next Wednesday or so.  The next several weeks will be like this--don't panic--it's just vacation travel in Wifi-free zones.    


  1. 2. Verbogeny is one of the pleasurettes of a creatific thinkeriser.

  2. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    1. What does that sign really mean? (Is a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio really good? If so, for what? What do "branched chain amino acids" have to do with accelerating recovery? And are they really something special in chocolate milk? Would it be the same if I ate a chocolate bar and drank a glass of milk??)

    [" carbohydrate to protein ratio" ]

    Ask the Dietitian: What’s the Best Carb, Protein and Fat Breakdown for Weight Loss?

    [carb to protein ratio webmd]

    [carb to protein ratio after exercise] in All and in books

    At present, there is no evidence to support the claim that post-workout carbs in any ratio are needed for protein synthesis. Protein seems to be enough on its own.

    Post Workout Carb-Protein Ratio

    [carb to protein ratio International Society of Sports Nutrition ]

    Even more so than with protein, carbohydrate dosage and timing relative to resistance training is a gray area lacking cohesive data to form concrete recommendations (2013)

    [branched chain amino acids health benefits]

    BCAA supplementation may be useful for gaining mass

    Web MD; Studies suggest that BCAAs may prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. But they are not likely to help with athletic performance.


    Is good but not evidence of help recovery. "Branched chain amino acids" also help to prevent injuries as an extra in body building. After reading, I think the sign is trying to sell more chocoalte milk and giving people some benefits in health with the plus that many love that kind of milk. The ratio is mentioned in body building but not evidence that actually helps

    About milk Milk has low GI (glycemic Index) and not maximise recovery after exercise.

    2. Do you have any examples of signs like this? (That is, ones that make grand claims, but are not understandable without a Master's degree in chemistry, or biology, or some other field? If so, share them with us!)

    A: I'll search some.

    Thanks for telling us about your offline time. I hope you have fantastic moments.

    1. Hello Remmij and Dr. Russell. I just found this new lie on G+ thanks to Coach Moore.

      Antibacterial soap is a lie, just like everything else in your life

      He also shares some days ago this new for me SearchReSearch tool


      Have you tried it? Thoughts?

    2. Ramón… don't know what to make of the whirling digits - kinda ballpark numbers without foundation or context…
      regarding "Goonies" moniker —
      "When albatross return to their breeding colonies, they are not quite as graceful. They approach the island at high speed, pulling up only at the last moment, often times skidding to a stop on their chests. These "crash" landings combined with their strange and elaborate courtship dances, and their lack of fear of people has resulted in them being called "gooney birds" and aho-dori or "fool birds" in Japanese. Anyone who has closely observed these majestic birds on land or watched them at sea, knows how unfair these names are."

      Laysan Albatrosses
      "The oldest known breeding, banded bird in the wild, a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom – at least 65 years old – is a mother again at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge"
      "Shortly after Wisdom arrived, Wisdom’s mate (Akeakamai, a Hawaiian word that means a love of wisdom, seeker after knowledge, philosopher, scientist, scholar) was on the march towards the shoreline and immediately took flight in search of food."
      Summer 2016 pdf — Wisdom featured

      Gooney Gazette
      friends of Midway
      reuters video

    3. Hello Remmij! Thanks for the "Goonies" information. And for always sharing amazing photos, links and knowledge.

    4. Dr. Russell, Remmij. I was reading and trying to find more data for this week Challenge when saw this: Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake in Oklahoma and of course that made me remember this Challenge : Answer: Earthquake data?

  3. Disclaimer: The comment does not provide medical or legal advice, nor should be used to… yada, yada, yada…

    the secret seems to be "super natural" cows… should pair nicely with my supernormal, spectral fitness bacon… gen-moded to be anti-angiolipoleiomyomas stimulating…
    or my Hawai‛ian Kona-roasted, liquified Spam super calcium casseinate whey protein beverage…
    I actually brake while I'm driving past the gym now - the aromatics are recuperative and endorphin enhancing.

    could it be academia, marketing (GNC), social media hype, histrionics)… at least in part? if it's overly complicated and esoteric it must be serious and possess beneficial gravitas…
    Fifth Quarter Fresh
    the levitating cow visual
    Dairy Maid Dairy 259 East 7th Street Frederick, MD 21701
    it is date April 1
    the UoM also studies aromatherapy…
    they seem to have become twitterles
    more text
    built with choco moojuice
    aroma therapy while consuming C-milk…
    Black Bamboo
    University of Maryland Medical System

    [health benefits of chocolate milk]
    [health benefits of chocolate milk after workout]
    I'm off to enjoy the recuperative enhancements of some Strawberry Quik elixir…
    OH no, even Quik?

    don't see any 'branched amino acids' mention

    "Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) refers to three amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. BCAA supplementation, for people with low dietary protein intake, can promote muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth over time. It can also be used to prevent fatigue in novice athletes."

    btw, good luck with the month long "wifi-less vacation travel" rehab program - if anyone can kick the chocolat au lait habit, it's you. >=•)

    A New York Magazine site

  4. Started a search < carbs protein workout> which led to this article
    In this article, the author casts doubt and cites this source
    To find a more recent source I used a cited by search in Google Scholar- the first hit was

    Daily chocolate milk consumption does not enhance the effect of resistance training in young and old men: a randomized controlled trial

  5. [branched chain amino acids] This is National Library of Medicine:
    Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system.


    But where does chocky milk come in? [Branched chain amino acid in chocolate milk] finds many citations for the article and

    Chocolate milk’s protein is no different than that of regular milk. but no mention of BCAA
    Involved only 7 subjects

    At this point there is so much chatter that I am convinced now that, if, there is any difference its not significant in any way.

    Your sign: Who is testing what and how. Why chocolate? Previous studies mentioned say no advantege over white milk. Seems to be casual self reporting. Milk ratio is ideal at 4:1.
    Are gyms known for running closely designed long term studies on anything at all?

    So its not as 'Sciencey' as it purports to be.

    2. Nearby big city newspaper ran a half-page ad for a car dealership sale to run only for the weekend. It said: "Our Sale won't last, and neither will our cars." I sent them a little congratulatory note on what is now this weeks topic. They even replied--Oh Dear.

    Cheers, jon

  6. a prior sRs subject (MUPUS harpoon) update… location now known, but terminal –
    not even deluxe choco milko could save.
    Philæ, sadly, another victim of crack…
    Rosetta/Philae update
    should have used Google CometSurface view…
    exactly not as I imagined
    bonus… perhaps another mystery solved in the saga – kudos to ESA (Elvis Search Alliance?) for the enhanced image processing…
    where he went after leaving the building…
    E+P… ♫Philæ me tender, Philæ me sweet, Never let me go…♪♩
    in L.A.
    final countdown
    Rosetta playlist
    background musika
    NY - aus dem blau und in das schwarze
    Moby - The Last Day
    the travails of travel
    knockin' time & distance