The Next Big Thing in Training & Nutrition

What The Experts Are Predicting

How will people lose fat and build muscle in the near future? Here’s what the experts are expecting to see.

The Question

What’s the next big thing in training or nutrition?

Bret Contreras, PhD – Strength Coach and Performance Expert

Without a doubt it’ll be genomics related.

Genomics is the study of genomes, and genomes are the material present in your cells. They determine a lot about your physical characteristics. And the areas of nutrigenomics (nutrition as it relates to your genetics) and training-related genomics are growing rapidly.

We’re figuring out that there are genes related to athletic performance, how much volume you should do for strength gains, how much muscle damage you experience, how quickly you can recover, how best to eat given your genetics, and more. Problem is, we’re a ways off.

In 20 years, we’ll probably enter a lab and leave with a virtual guide showing us precisely how we should eat and train for our goals. I wish this information was available to us now, as this will make a very big difference in helping people see results much more rapidly.

TC Luoma – T Nation Editor

Protein powder made from insects.

I don’t know if it’ll be the next big thing, but someday relatively soon we’ll be consuming protein powder made from insects. I know you’re making a scrunched-up little disgusted-Yoda face right now, but everything points to this eventuality.

Current proteins derived from dairy are hugely expensive and the price is ever escalating. Caseins and wheys cost protein companies upwards of 6 dollars a pound, which is about 500 to 600 percent more than what they cost in the 90’s. And that’s just the basic stuff. Very high-quality proteins can cost as much as 20 dollars a pound.

Then, on top of that, companies have to make a profit, and they determine a price point that rewards the store that sells it, the middlemen that got it into the store, and of course, themselves.

Oftentimes, to cut costs, disreputable companies “spike” their protein with keratin from hair, feathers, fur, and who knows what else. (Now you can make your scrunched-up Yoda face.) It all registers as protein, but by no means does it contain all the amino acids you need to grow muscle (or any other tissue). However, it lets these scoundrels shave a few dollars off their production costs.

Costs will likely continue to rise, though. That’s why companies, reputable and disreputable alike, will eventually have to consider a less expensive alternative to casein and whey. Enter insect protein. Aside from their exoskeletons, which are made of indigestible chitin, insects are nothing but protein and unsaturated fats. Even that indigestible chitin is potentially useful as it makes each insect a bite-sized combination of protein and Metamucil.

Insects are cold-blooded, so they’re really efficient at converting feed into protein. Consider crickets. They need 12 times less feed than cattle, 4 times less than sheep, and only half as much as chickens and pigs. And they (with the exception of cockroaches, termites, and a few others) do it without producing greenhouse gases.

Think of how easy it would be to mass-produce insects for consumption or conversion into protein powders. You don’t need to clear land, you don’t need a lot of feed, and many can live off of organic waste. In other words, if you poop, you’re halfway there to becoming an insect farmer who sells his mini-livestock to insect processing plants! Keep them dogies movin’, cowboy, or should I say, bugboy?

Just think, you could have a crowd of cockroaches, a muster of meal worms, a litter of louse, a drove of dung beetles, or a pack of pillbugs. All of these are edible insects that are eaten somewhere around the world, as are ants, bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, grubs, midge flies, walking sticks, water bugs, and waxworms. Some, like bees, allegedly taste like “mushroomy bacon,” while some of the larger versions of cockroach are said to taste like greasy chicken.

It doesn’t matter, though, a theoretical insect protein powder would look and taste totally benign, probably flavored the same way current protein powders are. Protein companies would even wage advertising wars, claiming that their grub protein powder has a better PER (protein efficiency ratio) than waxworm protein powder.

Sure it sounds repugnant, but all food like and dislikes are cultural; you eat what you grew up eating. Things like Jell-O (from boiled down animal parts), hot dogs (do I even need to detail their ingredients?) and even dairy products, things we take for granted in the Western World, are disgusting to various cultures.

But we’ll get there. Consider that Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, now sells toasted grasshoppers inside the park, right next to the brats, dogs, burgers, and Cracker Jacks, and they sold out of them this past opening day.

Besides, some of those spiked protein powders from China? They’re probably loaded with bug protein already. You just don’t know it.

Chris Shugart – T Nation CCO

Diet autoregulation.

Many people have an internal switch when it comes to their eating habits. They either flip the diet switch on and eat less, choose healthier foods etc., or they flip that switch off and eat anything within reach that doesn’t fight back.

It’s not just a lack of willpower or lack of nutrition knowledge. The root problem is they can’t autoregulate their eating habits. So the next big thing is an eating and lifestyle approach that takes care of all the underlying issues that sabotage the ability to autoregulate. Luckily, science is helping us find all the pieces to this puzzle.

So, are you able to autoregulate? Well, if you have to count every calorie and every macronutrient every damn day, then you can’t. Not yet at least. You’re externally regulating, which is okay if you’re trying to get unnaturally shredded, but it shouldn’t have to be a way of life. And if you’re always alternating periods of micromanagement and gluttonous binging then you have a problem.

So how do you autoregulate? Here’s the quick and dirty:

  1. Ditch all cheat meals. This includes the typical weaponized faux foods made from the addictive fat/salt/sugar combo. In short, junk foods override your ability to autoregulate your eating. Most pre-packaged foods are purposefully made to trigger overeating without causing you to feel full. Really, they test this stuff on rats, and if the rats display addictive behaviors then the products are sent to the snack food aisle.
  2. You need a long period of cold turkey. You literally need to go through withdrawal to rewire your brain and short circuit the cravings. This won’t happen when you have cheat meals. Sorry.
  3. Take sleep as seriously as you do training. Here’s the deal: If you can’t wake up on time, without an alarm, every day, then your sleep habits are out of whack. And the problem with sucky sleep is that it alters your hunger-regulating hormones, like leptin and ghrelin. When these hormones are screwed up, you’re wracked with cravings and basically your body is sending you false “feed me” signals. More here: The Bad Habit That Makes You Overeat
  4. Take care of your gut health. When the bad bacteria in your gut dominates the good bacteria, you get hit with (you guessed it) junk food cravings. It’s literally like a drug addiction. Unfortunately, cheat meals, even once a week, can fertilize the bad bugs. More info here: Is Gut Bacteria Making You Fat?

There’s more to it than that, but those four are at the foundation. Remember, an auto-regulated eater doesn’t have to diet. His body is free to signal when he needs to eat more or less. These signals are no longer blunted or altered by biochemical misfires. Sure, he’ll need to whip out the food log and get super strict if he decides to do a physique competition, but generally his “walking around weight” is healthy and looks good.

You can call this “instinctive eating” but that only applies if your natural instincts haven’t been hijacked. Hopefully, taking care of these root issues will become the next big trend, and not another fasted-raw-paleo-juice-cleanse diet.

Tom Morrison – Weightlifting Coach, Martial Artist, CrossFit Trainer

Hybrid training.

A lot of bodybuilders are trying to powerlift, all the Olympic lifters are using bodybuilding exercises, all the CrossFitters are using rehab exercises, and the whole lot of them are using deconstructed gymnastics moves called calisthenics. This isn’t a bad thing. The only time it becomes a problem is when some moron decides that he’s the only one that’s got it all figured out.

There will always be specialists. Work with them if you want to excel in one particular discipline. But you must be willing to take the tradeoff. If you’re going to worry about the health of your spine, while at the same time try to break squat and deadlift records, then you simply won’t be the most groundbreaking athlete.

There’s a fine line between being too cautious and giving everything to the bar. The amazing thing about crosstraining is that EVERY generalist has to experience being a newcomer again. You can’t learn a new discipline without being a newb. And there are ways to get the desired benefits without the injuries.

So what’s one way to avoid injury? Deliberately warming up in order to keep injury risk low and gains high. Like this:

The focus with this warm-up is to work on opening the hips and sustaining that range of motion with a strength exercise which, in this case, is the banded glute bridge.

In the rest period I’m making use of an exercise I used to struggle with, which was the full back bridge, so this was one of the scaling methods for it. The bottom-up press in the couch stretch position was purely to keep me honest in the position and not cut the stretch short. And having to do a certain number of reps rather than hold for time is a lot more entertaining.

This is my vision for the future of training: Maintaining a healthy body that can withstand the demands you place on it – rather than becoming a tangled mess of imbalances and injuries. That way you can keep doing the heavy stuff that brings the most adaptation, improve the shortcomings, balance the imbalances, strengthen the weaknesses, and relegate body fat goals purely to nutrition instead of resorting to overtraining.

Mark Dugdale – IFBB Pro Bodybuilder

Insulin management.

I firmly believe that our health, body composition and muscle-building goals hinge on the management, efficiency, and sensitivity of it. The supplements, dietary alterations, and training protocols that optimize the insulin our bodies make naturally is the future of training and nutrition. It needs to be at least.

Full-blown diabetes plagues over 29 million Americans due in large part to a sedentary lifestyle and copious amounts of processed carbs and added sugar. Even if insulin resistance isn’t hunting you down and killing your health, insulin optimization will only help the goals of serious athletes and lifters. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Intermittent fasting will prove beneficial, but the key will be reaping the rewards without cannibalizing muscle. This is where Mag-10 comes in handy as a way in which to fast for insulin optimization without losing hard earned muscle.
  2. HIIT-style cardio improves insulin efficiency and it’s great for those short on time. I prefer 8 minutes of intervals on an Assault Air Bike.
  3. Supplementation such as prescription Metformin appears to show promise for the pre-diabetic, but a possibly safer OTC option is berberine or my personal favorite, Indigo-3G (on Amazon).
  4. Explosive, concentric-focused training also optimizes insulin. Set aside a couple days a week to train with a speed vs. pounds focus.
  5. Infrared saunas or hot yoga (my favorite), activates heat shock proteins to improve the efficiency of your insulin response. I get my hot hatha on three days a week. Namaste.
  6. Timing your carbs to coincide with your training when your body is primed and ready to put those carbs to best use. Carb grazing before bed is off limits!


Joel Seedman, PhD – Strength Coach and Performance Expert

A rebirth of the barefoot and minimalist trend.

A decade ago barefoot and minimalist footwear training was one of the most popular trends in the fitness industry. While you’ll still periodically see some gym fanatics going full-on barefoot, this trend has largely disappeared. Most lifters and athletes have returned to traditional footwear. However, I believe we’re going to see a large rebirth of barefoot and minimalist training within the next several years.

Here’s why: Initially when the trend began everyone was sold on the idea because the research was, and still is, largely conclusive that barefoot mechanics are not only ideal for optimizing performance but also for reducing risk of injury and joint pain. Unfortunately, a few years into the barefoot trend, injuries began mounting quickly as users tried to jump into training barefoot without any physical adaptation or foot and ankle preparation.

As a result, the minimalist trend faded among buyers and many shoe companies reverted back to traditional footwear. But many strength coaches, trainers, and therapists believe that the barefoot trend wasn’t the issue at all but rather the lack of physical preparation.

We’re going to see a shift back to the trend, only this time it will be applied in a more strategic fashion as coaches understand that their athletes need to be physically prepared and trained to reap the benefits. They’ll likely begin programming exercises to target the muscles around the feet and ankles.

Here’s an example of my collegiate and NFL athletes performing a simple single-leg swap exercise that targets every component of proper foot and ankle mechanics.

I’ll have my athletes do drills like this for several minutes at the beginning of each workout. This prepares the feet and ankles for the workout and actually teaches the lifter to brace his core and produce full body tension, ultimately allowing greater loads to be handled throughout the workout.

During any ground-based activity or lower body movement, activation starts with the feet and ankles. When these muscles are doing their job it affects all other muscles throughout the kinetic chain. Unfortunately, shoes blunt this response.

Lee Boyce – Strength Coach and Performance Expert

Online coaching.

It’s a bit of a blessing and a curse. Because we live in the digital age, online coaches are flourishing and gaining traction via social media. It’s good because it encourages self-reliance in training, and it also makes coaches accessible for those in remote places or those who have irregular schedules.

The drawback is the fact that quality control can go out the window. Credentials aside, it’s hard to gauge a trainer’s abilities when you’re working with them via correspondence and they can’t really see everything you’re doing. Plus, if the coach is managing dozens of clients at the same time, there’s a chance you may not be working with that coach directly, or that your programming may not be individualized at all. In these cases, the quality of the program suffers and results may be suboptimal.

Online coaching has plenty of potential. But certain prerequisites should be established for it to work well. A lifter interested in hiring the services of an online coach needs to be self-motivated, disciplined, and ideally have a reasonable background of general exercise experience. Someone who doesn’t possess these traits will be difficult to work with remotely. They need in-person coaching first.

And the coaches aren’t in the clear either. An online coach should be offering his clients the same level of commitment that he shows his in-person clientele, if not more. That means customized programming, open correspondence and attention to questions or concerns in order to make modifications along the way.

Even if it’s well intended, it can be a bit of a cash grab to make a generic template for mass consumption. This is what will make a great coach no different from an inexperienced gimmicky coach who’s doing the same thing.

Paul Carter – Strength and Bodybuilding Coach

Exogenous ketones.

I was the biggest skeptic in the world about these and only tried them initially to prove they were bogus. But I was actually surprised at the results that they gave me. And my mind continued to change as I kept implementing them into people’s diets and getting the same feedback. Conversations went kind of like this…

  • Them: What the hell did you send me?
  • Me: Why?
  • Them: Because I feel amazing, my appetite is under control, and I keep crushing my workouts.

This was especially the case with highly-depleted physique athletes, whose glycogen was tapped out near the end of contest prep, and among competitors who felt like zombies.

Ketones down-regulate glucose metabolism, so they’re glucose sparing. And for someone who’s trying to increase the rate of muscle retention in a very depleted state, this also means that muscle protein is spared as well. The body isn’t having to convert amino acids to glucose (gluconeogenesis) for fuel because the exogenous ketones offered up an alternative fuel to use instead.

Since my early observations, there’s been peer reviewed work that has shown promise for improving performance among endurance athletes, and also for athletes that need to achieve super-compensation for carb loading.

I’ve also seen them help people with autoimmune disorders like Lyme disease. This will make sense to you if you research beta-hydroxy buyterate (BHB) and look at the mountains of studies on it. BHB blocks this thing called inflammasome NLRP3. And that’s good stuff, since chronic inflammation can be linked back to the majority of health problems.

The exciting thing about ketones is that they’re likely going be used for a myriad of health benefits, not just body composition or performance enhancement.




  1. Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cox, Pete J. et al. Cell Metabolism , Volume 24 , Issue 2 , 256 - 268.
  2. A Ketone Ester Drink Increases Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis in Humans. Holdsworth, David A. et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2017): n. pag. Ovid Insights: Journals. 10 Apr. 2017. Web.