So here at the #REPT family headquarters we were lucky enough to get the chance to meet with Dr Emil Goliath, to find out a little more about who he is, where he comes from, what he knows and what his opinions are on some of the most controversial topics within the fitness industry.
They don’t call him Goliath for nothing so let’s just start by saying he certainly debunks the myth that gym heads/bodybuilders lack intelligence. Bodybuilder by day, doctor by night (and with a hot-off-the-press book under his belt) - we think it’s fair to say this is a guy with some serious smarts, personal and professional experience of different fields within the industry and a scientific approach to training and nutrition. From our perspective you can’t say much fairer than that – because let’s face it, whoever you are, you can’t (logically and reasonably) argue with science!
So Emil, it would be really great to start off with if you could tell any #REPT family readers that don’t yet know, who you are.
My name is Emil and I go by Project Goliath or Emil Goliath in the fitness world. This is a throwback to my strongman days when I did a blog about literally my Project to become Goliath, but also as an emergency doctor it allows me to practice without every patient being able to Google me instantly and find a picture of me in my pants within seconds. Don’t get me wrong, none of the stuff I put out in the public domain is inappropriate - but a tiny amount of anonymity from my medical work can be nice.
Well that’s perfectly understandable! So what is it that you do at the moment then?
I am a currently practicing Emergency Doctor. I also have an extensive background in fitness, having worked for years in a gym, completed a sports science degree as well as my medical degree and done various fitness and nutrition qualifications. I am currently pursuing a number of projects within the fitness industry including a recent book release (search ‘High Intensity Functional Training’ on Amazon) and my own nutrition business as well as competing as a physique athlete. My goal is to become established in the fitness industry while working as a doctor alongside it, allowing me to pursue my passions and sustain my lifestyle.
So let’s go straight in here with a controversial one… not that we’ve heard you have an opinion on this or anything (haha) but what are your views on aspartame?
(For any readers that don’t know, aspartame is a chemical found in zero sugar carbonated drinks. There’s A LOT of scientific debate about whether aspartame is a cause of many negative health outcomes including obesity and cancer – so what does Dr Emil think?)
Now I know why you ask this. I’ve had a number of ‘arguments’ online with people about diet coke and whether it’s bad for you or not. In short – it’s not. People have this ridiculous misconception that ‘artificial’ things are bad for you. Also there was a single study on rats a while back where they infused the rats with mega doses of intravenous aspartame (injected it directly into the blood stream) and I think their insulin went up a bit. This has led people to assume that the relatively negligible doses that you DRINK in a diet soft drink causes insulin to spike and this, alongside various misconceptions about insulin - including that it causes fat gain regardless of calories, means that aspartame along with diet drinks are the devil. Now I appreciate we don’t necessarily have long term data for the safety of aspartame HOWEVER, given the current evidence both in the literature and anecdotally, the best guess of the scientific community is that it is safe. And as with any good scientist, IF the evidence were to change then my view would shift but that’s the current evidence. So pass me a diet coke and drink up.
Well at the very least we can say you have some clarity in terms of your own opinions on that one (and the #REPT family do love a bit of scientific fact, as opposed to the vast number of opinions that fly around in various forms and on various platforms).
This leads us on nicely to our next question, what is the (other) biggest myth within the fitness industry that seriously needs to be addressed and gotten rid of?
Continuing my rant from above. What is ‘clean’ food? What is ‘processed’ food? These terms are all a load of crap. This is scaremongering, used by people who are either trying to sell something or are just ignorant of science.
(P.S. you can’t ‘not believe in science’, it’s not possible. You veto the right to have a discussion/opinion if you ‘don’t believe in science’ K.) (Note: don’t beat about the bush will you Emil, say what you really feel!)
Essentially there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ food out of context of an entire diet (medical issues aside). By this I mean if your diet is balanced for macro- (proteins, carbs and fats) and micro- (vitamins and minerals) nutrients, as well as fibre and water and is taking into account your personal requirements (medical, taste etc.) then it is a good diet. If that diet contains chocolate alongside everything else then chocolate is NOT a bad food. If that diet contains fish and chips then they are not bad foods. If that diet contains deep fried burgers smothered in nutella then that is NOT a bad food. Similarly, with ‘processed’ food. What does this even mean? Processing is the act of changing food. The most common form of processing is heating food. Cooking it. I’ll just leave that there.
I see the point that these people are making. If the majority of your diet is made up of ready meals (‘processed’) and chocolate (‘dirty’) then yes you are in a pickle. But it is naïve and uninformed to go around preaching the opposite extreme. One part of the equation that these people miss out is “real life”. Will you die if you have a biscuit in work? No. So why demonise it and associate feelings of guilt with it? Mental health or ‘headspace’ is just as important as physical health and all of these negative connotations and relationships associated with eating and food have to be considered as well. What’s the point in prescribing a ‘perfect’ diet that no one will stick to? If a daily dose of chocolate means you stick to a healthy, balanced diet tailored towards your goals then CHOCOLATE IS THE BEST FREAKING FOOD IN THE WORLD.
That’s a really positive message that you’ve managed to get across really nicely there. We wholeheartedly agree that there is no such thing as good or bad food. In fact, one of the common things that the #REPT family clients find themselves having to contend with when they come to us is a poor relationship with food – something which is almost certainly exacerbated by the attitudes that you’ve just described above and something that we work very hard to help our clients to overcome. Sustainability is our middle name after all!
So now you’re on the bodybuilding scene. A lot of the ‘old school’ bodybuilding lovers can be heard nowadays crying out that “bodybuilding just isn’t what it used to be!”. As an insider, what’s your opinion on the bodybuilding scene? Has it changed in recent years and if so, how?
Bodybuilding is bodybuilding. In competition there has always been a balance between “who has the best physique” and “other factors”. In the modern day of social media, the “other factors” are much more obvious as people are more vocal about them but they have always been there - since the days of Arnie and ‘Pumping Iron’, to the modern day post-comp Facebook furore. There is always talk of judging scandal or people winning because of who they associate (prep, pose, train) with and this is par for the course. To pretend these don’t exist is naïve, you just have to go into comps knowing and accepting it. If you want to be sure fire and not leave anything to chance then do powerlifting.
The other perceived big ‘issue’ in current bodybuilding is the shift towards more attainable physiques with the board shorts and model classes. This can be considered a toning down of bodybuilding but arguably it’s also a shift back to its roots or the golden age. Is it a bad thing to tone down the freaky look? There IS a place for being the biggest and most ripped/vascular/freaky/monstrous and that is ‘bodybuilding’ but NOW alongside that there is also a place for being the most aesthetic and marketable and this is a legitimate area and one that a lot of people want to see. It has opened the sport up to a much wider audience and although on one hand it seems like everyone and anyone can enter a show with just 6 weeks of dieting, it also means a huge number of people are getting involved and getting into training and fitness etc. Undeniably, the top physique athletes look incredible and there is a similar amount of hard work and dedication gone into those physiques as the top bodybuilders put in. Apart from the effort, the top physique athletes look a lot like the bodybuilders from back in the day and this is a much more desirable and attainable shape to the general public. For me, I don’t consider myself a bodybuilder. I compete in the sport but it’s just another step in my journey, I love learning and going through the process and for me the marketable look is much more relevant which is why I compete in the classes I do.
All fair comments and very diplomatically put Emil!
Another thing that’s flying around the fitness industry at the moment is “broscience” (For anyone who doesn’t know - typically this is advice on training that comes from a potentially poorly advised source. Often, the evidence from “broscience” is anecdotal or comes from personal experience with little or no scientific backing). What’s your opinion on it all?
Where to begin on bro-science. It is essentially the ‘art’ of bodybuilding and it encompasses all the stuff that people have been doing for years and that is passed down from bro to bro. Some of the stuff is literally golden and slowly science is catching up with it and giving it an evidence base (and cries of “I told you so” from the old school bodybuilders). Some of the stuff, the science hasn’t confirmed and perhaps never will as it’s so individual or difficult to prove. Some of the stuff is utter utter crap, has been disproved many times over and was ridiculous even to begin with. This is the beauty of it. It is part of the gym-going culture and in my current position I can look at it fondly and laugh at the ridiculousness of it. However, for people new to training or nutrition it can be an absolute minefield and can trip up even seasoned veterans. Be open-minded and cautious about everything I suppose, if it doesn’t seem right, find out more but don’t necessarily dismiss it straight away. Even science is fallible and changes over time.
Spoken like a true scientist!
So perhaps bearing that in mind, if you could change one thing about the fitness industry what would it be?
The single biggest issue in the industry is under-qualified individuals preaching and spouting information as if they know what they are talking about and have some god given right to talk about it. Having abs is not a qualification. Doing a single comp (where someone else has prepped you) is NOT a qualification. Doing a 6-week PT course IS a qualification but does not give you the right to walk around the internet or gym as if you own the place. If this is the only thing you have to your name in terms of qualifications or experience keep your head down and learn.
The issue is EVERYTHING WORKS (to a degree). Getting someone to blindly eat chicken and broccoli and train (anything in any form) 2-3 times a week will yield some improvement. It may also yield injury and a broken relationship with food though. It will also stop working quite quickly and you may even go backwards. The point is it’s not hard to get results of some sort with stubborn pig headedness and a shotgun approach but there is a lot more to it. Find out about your trainer/nutritionist and ASK ASK ASK questions. If your trainer is getting offended or annoyed with your questions, GET A NEW ONE.
We are strongly against the chicken and broccoli approach here at #REPT family towers (yes, we’re just making these names for our HQ up for fun now) so we’re glad you mentioned that!
As someone who maybe knows what they’re talking about a little, if you could give one piece of advice to new people entering the fitness world what would it be?
Just one piece??? Enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, you need to re-consider.
Oh and don’t take it too seriously. We’re lifting bits of metal up and down while depriving ourselves of food and we may or may not then prance around on stage in our pants or take selfies. This is supposed to be fun and healthy. It’s all well and good doing the ‘motivational’ thing but you’re not grinding or changing the world with your morning cardio. Chill.
I suppose I have to include: “Ask questions” here again as well. It’s so important to learning and embracing the process. So yeah, that’s three pieces of advice. Soz.
Well you didn’t exactly stick to the one piece of advice brief but all good bits of advice that definitely need to be heard so we’ll let you off!
Final question, do guys actually stare at girls in the weights section of the gym? Come on, be honest!
I think people stare at people. It may or may not be in a sexual way. It may just be appreciating the gainz. I think I’m lucky in the gyms I train at as they are proper ‘training’ gyms so people tend to go to train and overt ogling is frowned upon. I suppose it would be worse in commercial gyms where people are there to talk and take selfies. I get it myself as well, especially as I get closer to comp when I get a pump on so it’s not just you girls ;). I trained in a council leisure centre when I was visiting a mate and it was as if I’d grown three heads. Never had a felt more out of place in a stringer vest!!
Well there you have it people. Dr Emil Goliath, from strong man to aesthetic athlete! To briefly summarise the main (and most important) points of discussion:
-Buy Emil’s book, High Intensity Functional Training from Amazon
-Aspartame isn’t bad for you
-There’s no such thing as good food or bad food
-Bodybuilding is bodybuilding
-Broscience is broscience (and should always be taken with a pinch of salt)
-Emil can’t give you just one piece of advice if you ask him to
- If girls want to avoid getting stared at in the gym they’re better off in a spit and sawdust environment
-Sometimes both guy and girls just can’t help but stare at Emil’s gains in the weights area!
Thanks so much for your time Emil, it’s been really great speaking to you and finding out your views on these issues. You’ve done a fantastic job of answering some controversial questions both honestly and diplomatically with some scientific backing. Emil Goliath – we salute you!
Be sure to follow Emil on Instagram: @projectgoliath
iMAGE CREDIT www.rihuphoto.co.uk