Examine.com aims to provide evidence-based guidance on topics of health and fitness, focusing on supplementation and nutrition.
We take science, and try to make sense of all the seemingly conflicting studies and reports. This is a highly nuanced and conservative view on fitness.
MO: How did you come up with the concept for Examine.com?
Sol: I’m a computer engineer (by degree), and as I was losing, the engineer in me wanted to know and how things worked. What was I doing right? What was I doing wrong? Did these supplements really help or was it a placebo effect?
I was part of quite a few forums online, and knew quite a few smart people. There was a dietetics student who was graduating, and we teamed up to form Examine. Our skillsets nicely compliment each other.
MO: Can you talk a bit about the development process of taking the idea for Examine.com and turning it into a reality? What challenges did you encounter in the early days and how did you overcome them?
Sol: Tons. The problem is that fitness is saturated with hyperbolic statements and myths that refuse to die. Myths that are perpetuated by everyone, from fitness stars to celebrities to doctors. Fun fact: most doctors actually take one class in one semester on nutrition. Relying on them for nutritional information is not the best of ideas.
Common myths that are completely unsubstantiated by science?
• Eggs yolks are unhealthy
• Saturated fat is unhealthy
• Eating multiple meals throughout the day increases your metabolism
• Diet soda is bad for you / artificial sweeteners cause cancer
• HFCS is “worse” for you than table sugar
It’s mind boggling how dogmatic people are to the above 5 myths (which are just a small sample). People will trust science to fly in the sky, send telecommunications across the planet, to replace their bones and joints, but think there is some conspiracy when it comes to stuff they “know” about health.
If I was to go to the average person and say: “egg yolks are very healthy, saturated fats are a critical requirement for hormonal function, diet soda is basically water, and HFCS is basically sugar”, I’m confident our mythical user would say I am incorrect somewhere.
MO: You’ve managed to gain an impressive amount of traction since first launching in 2010. What are some marketing strategies that have worked well so far and how do you plan to keep the momentum going?
Sol: No big secret. We are very responsive to everyone who talks to us, be it via email, on twitter, or on facebook. No one ever goes without a response from us (even the most spammy supplement sellers). We stand behind our work, and whenever someone says we are wrong, we politely ask them how. The few times we have been incorrect, we have quickly fixed the issue.
We are on pace to have over 200,000 visitors to our site in February. We treat it as a real responsibility – these people are coming to us to learn about supplements and nutrition. It would be a disservice for us to put our own dogmatic believes over the truth.
Our content speaks for itself. Our page on Creatine has over 13,000 words.
MO: What are some health and fitness trends that you’re excited about?
Sol: There is a definitive move towards an appreciation that science is a useful tool. The appeal-to-authority facet is decreasing, and there is a bigger focus towards evidence.
MO: Can you expand on how you’re helping battle some of the most common myths around nutrition?
Sol: We have an expansive Nutrition FAQ, and people are encouraged to submit questions to us. Beyond the ones I covered above, we’ve tackled questions from “does creatine cause cancer?” (no) to “does hypothyroidism lead to fat gain?” (minimal) to “will my breasts shrink if I lift weights? (no – in fact, they may appear perkier).
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for Examine.com?
Sol: Nothing specific. We recently crossed 13,000 scientific papers cited on our site. Looking forward to seeing that # inch upwards as we continue to research.
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