Several years ago, when I was a fledgling in the fitness world, I first heard Charles Poliquin mention Biosignature Modulation at a seminar and I was completely blown away by the concept. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, Charles explained that he’d done caliper measurements on 12 skinfold sites with loads of athletes and discovered a relationship between certain hormones and the location of fat storage.
Moreover, he suggested that these hormones could be affected by food, supplements, and training such that we could actually remove fat from exactly where we wanted to remove it. Charles Poliquin had discovered the secret to spot reduction!!!
I was so enamored with the idea that when Charles came to Toronto for a Biosignature seminar I was all over it. I spent a few days learning the protocol and brought it back to experiment with my clients.
In the end, it worked. My clients’ skinfolds went down, they lost fat, and looked better. But since the program is pretty heavy on the supplements it could also get very costly. What I eventually noticed was the clients I had that couldn’t or wouldn’t use the supplement protocols got exactly the same results at the same rate.
Over time I found myself disenchanted with the system and phased it out. Below are my thoughts on the Biosignature Modulation system after having had several years to reflect on the protocol and its effectiveness.
Note that these thoughts are not meant to attack or belittle Charles Poliquin, but to express my opinion of the system itself. It is important to note that there is a difference between disagree and dislike.
My Restrospective thoughts on Biosignature Modulation
As I see it, Biosignature Modulation relies on three central assumptions:
1. Body fat storage is correlated with specific hormones
While this may certainly be true, a correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because the hormones and fat storage are related does not mean that hormones CAUSE the fat to be deposited in certain areas. There may be an association, but one may have absolutely nothing to do with the cause of the other.
For example, there is a very strong relationship between global temperature and the decreasing number of pirates. While related, the decreasing number of pirates probably has little to do with global warming.
2 – Changing those hormones will cause changes in the location of fat storage
Even if these hormones do cause fat storage in specific locations, evidence would have to support the notion that changing them would alter fat storage. In the Biosigature system estrogen is reported to be the primary cause of excess fat store in the glutes and thighs. If this was the case and it could be altered by changing the hormone, then estrogen blocking medications would decrease fat storage in this area. I don’t believe that any research supports this claim.
3 – Changes to the hormones references above can be brought about by manipulation of hormones with nutrition, supplementation, and training.
This assumption is based on the fact that the two previous ones are true. And while I can’t attest to the fact that there is no evidence for any of the strategies provided by coach Poliquin, one of the most popular seems to be the use of fish oils for accelerated fat loss in those with extra fat at the insulin sites (love handles being one of these sites). I can say without a doubt that there is currently no scientific evidence to support this and even some to discredit the idea that using fish oils causes fat loss at all.
Frankly, the research evidence just isn’t there at to support the claims made about this protocol.
But proponents say it works…
With any popular system you will always get hard line proponents that are completely inflexible when it comes to questioning of their methods.
In terms of those using Biosignature Modulation specifically, it can also contribute a rather sizable revenue stream to their business so letting it go can be economically challenging. As Upton Sinclair once wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Of course, there are also those who are just afraid to question the protocol because it comes from Charles Poliquin. (This is a logical fallacy called appeal to authority by the way)
Personally, I’m not about to argue that those using Biosignature aren’t getting results. What I would argue is that those results could just as easily be had with an appropriate diet and training strategy. Moreover, when using Biosignature I never did see the specificity of fat loss that was suggested. People lost fat, but it was pretty much what I would have expected with a good diet and training and there were no differences between the clients using it and those who weren’t.
In the end, if you’re considering taking a Biosignature course or using the protocol yourself, I’d suggest keeping your money in your pocket. Stick to the time honored classics like nutrition, training, and consistency.
There is no substitute for hard work. There are no shortcuts. If someone tells you differently they are selling something.