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Dr. Eades' Mistake


Posted on April 30th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

On April 12th, around 9:45 Dr. Eades, co-author of Protein Power tweeted this:

Muscle inflammation after resistance exercise is greater with high-carb recovery diet. Lift, eat carbs, hurt. http://bit.ly/a9RZwU

It caught my attention so I checked it out. I always like links to research. I’m a nerd.

If you haven’t already clicked the link above, the study Dr. Eades referred us to is “Enhanced inflammation with high carbohydrate intake during recovery from eccentric exercise” published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Dr. Eades’ should have read the study more closely. His short synopsis is not only incomplete, it’s incorrect.

The study breaks down like this. Two diets, dubbed high and low carbohydrate (CHO), were tested for their ability to affect the immune response to eccentric exercise when ingested during the recovery period. The researches measured glucose, insulin, tumor necrosis factor-a, IL-1B, IL-6, and C-reactive protein as well as perceived muscle soreness. The high CHO diet elicited higher perceived muscle soreness, hence Dr. Eades’ proclamation “Lift. Eat Carbs. Hurt.”, although soreness was elevated with both diets compared to pre-exercise values.

At this point it would seem obvious that the high CHO diet resulted in more soreness post-exercise and you could draw the conclusion that carbohydrates induce muscle soreness, right? Wrong. In order to keep the diets at the same calorie level while manipulating CHO, protein and fat were adjusted as well. While the high CHO diet contained, as a percentage of total calories, 75/15/10, the low CHO diet contained of 6/70/24 as carbohydrates/protein/fat.

Whoops!

Do you see the difference in the amount of protein? You know, the stuff that’s been shown to REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS when increased in the diet. (Chen) In other words, the high CHO diet didn’t induce muscle soreness, it was merely inferior at blunting muscle soreness because of its low protein content.

Now, take into account not just the macronutrient quality of the diet, but the quality of the foods consumed.

Low CHO meal – Turkey, cheese and nuts

High CHO meal – Corn flakes, 2% milk, apple juice and CLIF bars.

Ouch. So the low carb diet provides not only more protein, but better quality protein with a better amino acid profile! You know, amino acids, the other things shown to reduce DOMS with supplementation during the post-exercise period? (Jackman)

Now, please understand. I’ve only pointed to a few studies. I’m not making a recommendation that BCAAs or protein will diminish DOMS because much more research with similar design needs to be completed. Frankly, the inconsistency between study design and the variability of the outcomes I found while looking into this render the research inconclusive.

And what can we all learn from this? We learn that even the great doctors we’ve come to trust can jump to conclusions when they get excited about a study that helps support ideas they’re passionate about. When this starts happening, find a different source for information.

-Matt

References

Depner CM, Kirwan RD, Frederickson SJ, Miles MP. Enhanced inflammation with high carbohydrate intake during recovery from eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010

Chen SC, Davis MJ, Mahoney S, et al. Carboydrate-protein beverage improves recovery from muscle damage induced by downhill running. Med Sci Sports Ex. 2009:41(5);509

Jackman SR, Witard OC, Jeukendrup AE, Tipton KD. Branched-chain amino acid ingestion can ameliorate soreness from eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Ex. 2010

How to get a toned midsection


Posted on April 26th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

We don’t like using the word toned, and I explain why in the video above. Let’s all try to avoid this word and say more specifically what we mean.

Do I use my HR monitor or the elliptical to tell how many calories I'm burning?


Posted on April 15th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

We received this question from one of our readers:

So today I have been on the Elliptical machine for 30 minutes and according to the machine, I burnt 310 calories. According to my HRM, I burnt 384 calories.

Which one is the most accurate?

Is the HRM alone more accurate because it takes into account sitting Heart Rate?

Is the Heart Rate Monitor with the HRM ready cardio machine more accurate because it takes into account your Heart Rate plus actual speeds and levels worked?

Working out on LifeStride Ellipticals.

Good question. I’m assuming your goal is weight loss, since you’re counting calories, so I’ll answer the question from a weight loss perspective.

The difference between the two different readings you have is 74 calories, about as much as one of those little yogurts that are supposedly great for weight loss (they’re not). The difference is pretty much negligible and here’s why:

Let’s say you’re burning 350 calories in a workout like this and let’s assume you need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. It would take you ten workouts like this to burn 1 pound of fat, all other things being equal. If you use the numbers you provided, it would take you about 11 and 9 workouts to burn 3500 calories for the 310 and 384 calorie workouts, respectively.

“But Matt, that’s not negligible at all! I’d need to do 2 extra workouts to lose 1 pound of fat!”

True, but you must keep in mind that those 74 calories can be blasted by a few extra nuts, one more bite of steak, a tablespoon more cream in your coffee… you get the idea. The amount of calories you burn during exercise is not something that is worth focusing on as an absolute measurement. However, I do feel that if you pick one method of measurement and use that as a tool of progress, it may be productive. In other words, if you choose the HRM and you burned 384 today, try to burn 400 tomorrow, and 415 the day after, and so on, regardless of what the absolute number is.

Overall, I think the HRM compatible machine will probably give you a more accurate number, but caloric estimations are not all that accurate even in tightly controlled settings. It’s a great question and sometimes these number games are fun to focus on because they increase motivation. Unfortunately, the calories in/calories out equation is so complex, I don’t feel a 74 calorie difference is worth sweating over. Remember, exercise to maintain muscle while dieting and then to reap the overall health benefits. If weight loss is your goal, focus on counting the calories that are going in… they’re far more important.

Dr. Mercola’s Muscle Metabolism Mistake


Posted on April 14th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Dr. Mercola recently published this article on his site. He starts by discussing new research regarding meal frequency and metabolism. The general sentiment of his article is that eating more often does not increase metabolism, but eating more frequently might help some people control hunger and, in turn, lead to weight loss.

Great! I agree.

Here’s where we part ways. Dr. Mercola goes on to state that exercise has been proven to raise metabolic rate and he continues by saying each pound of muscle burns 50-70 calories/day while fat burns nothing!

We discuss the science regarding his latter claim in our previous post
, Muscle Metabolism Myth

As for exercise raising the metabolism, Stiegler and Cunliffe wrote…

On combined aerobic and resistance training:

“However, considerable controversy remains about the degree of the influence of exercise on RMR [resting metabolic rate].”

On aerobic training alone:

“The impact of exercise intensity on FFM [fat free mass] and RMR [resting metabolic rate] warrants further evaluation.”

On exercise in general:

“Nonetheless, with regard to RMR [resting metabolic rate], the literature to date is still inconclusive, as exercise training has also been associated with reductions in RMR [resting metabolic rate].”

This hardly supports Dr. Mercola’s view that exercise raises the metabolism. Intensity and duration of exercise seem to be tied to its ability to affect metabolism, and most common exercisers are probably not reaching a level of either that would elicit a noticeable metabolism boost. When you take into consideration the other effects being studied, like an adaptive decrease in thermogenesis due to caloric restriction (metabolism slowing down when you eat less) and a reduction in spontaneous physical activity after exercise, the picture becomes less clear.

Our understanding of the calories in calories out equation is minimal, except for the basics. We know that if we’re not losing weight, then our calories in equal our calories out, plain and simple. Many things, it seems, can affect the ‘calories out’ side of the equation but people overlook the most obvious and most easily controllable variables in pursuit of other, less impactful ones.

Focus on what we do know. Eat a calorie-restricted, nutrient-dense diet. Use resistance training to maintain muscle. Perform other enjoyable forms of exercise for overall health.

-Matt

References:

Stiegler P, Cunliffe A. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Medicine 2006; 36(3):239-262.

A compelling vision for weight loss goals


Posted on April 13th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Having a compelling vision is vital to success in any endeavor. Spend time with your vision by deciding what you really want to become and visualizing that in great detail.
Don’t be mistaken, this is not “The Secret” or some law of attraction mumbo-jumbo. Actually achieving what you see in your vision is going to take hard work and follow-through. Having a vision and using it often is just one more way to keep yourself motivated and on the right track.

Lies, lies, lies


Posted on April 7th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Sometimes, a little white lie is good for everybody!

Whole Body Vibration – the jury is still out


Posted on April 5th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Review: mikhael et al. and Cardinale

Vibration devices like these http://www.wholebodyvibrationmachine.com have been studied for their effects on various measurements (muscle strength/power, bone density) for over a decade. I’ve been asked about it recently by a few clients and a practitioner I work closely with, so I decided to dig around a little and find out what researchers are saying about it.

I found many studies, two of which were recent reviews. I’ll start with Cardinale and Wakeling from the British Medical Journal in 2005.

“…current knowledge on appropriate safe and effective exercise protocols is very milited, and claims made by companies and pseudo-experts can be misleading”

I was happy to see that quote, getting right to the bottom-line in one of the opening paragraphs. The authors go on to explain why vibration training may work in different populations, but repeat that much more research is needed to arrive at any conclusive answers. The basic jist from this paper is vibration training is probably not worth it for athletes (trained subjects) but may provide a benefit for older or special populations (improved vertical jumping ability, increase in muslce strength, increase in fat free mass), especially since almost no technique or effort is required.

Mikhael et al.

Interestingly enough, after the positive words for elderly populations by Cardinale and Wakeling, this paper dives into WBV for elderly populations specifically. After a literature search, only 6 papers meet their criteria for review. The authors state:

“There appears to be no consensus as to the efficacy of WBV for bone and muscle outcomes in older adults.”

While the authors are encouraged by the few studies that show a positive result, much more research is needed before we can draw conclusions about WBV training in the elderly population. In rehabilitation situations, it is likely these wouldn’t be used by the individual consumer anyway, due to cost. So, they would most likely be prescribed by a therapist and use in their office or clinic.

These conclusions aren’t all that surprising. Something like WBV training is hard to study. When you have a few different variables, like amplitude and frequency, of the device in addition to the usual variables of exercise research, you end up with a big mess of maybes and what ifs. Some of the studies I’ve looked over in addition to these reviews are pathetic in terms of design, which basically makes them worthless. But, we can rely on the quality information we do have and hold out for some better evidence!

Of course, if any of you are willing to shell out a few thousand dollars and try one, a little anecdotal evidence might be fun!

-Matt

References:

Cardinale M, Wakeling J. Whole body vibration exercise: are vibrations good for you? Br J Sports Med. 2005;39:585–589

Mikhaela M, Orra R, Fiatarone Singha MA.The effect of whole body vibration exposure on muscle or bone morphology and function in older adults: A systematic review of the literature. Maturitas. 2010 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Saturated fat and insulin function; should low-carbers be concerned?


Posted on April 1st, 2010 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

There have been some recent rumblings about the ingestion of saturated fat, particularly butter, having a negative effect on insulin sensitivity. The study demonstrating this affect is discussed in the Lopez et al paper.

I think there are some aspects of this study and its conclusions that should be kept in mind.

There are a number of things about this study that can reduce its external validity. First, this was a very short-term study, 5 separate test meals. Therefore, the results may not be the same when this type of eating style is followed long-term. There does seem to be 1-4 week time lag/adaptation phase to a high fat/low carb diet and most likely vice versa (Phinney). Related to this aspect is the fact that low carb and keto type diets, compared to low fat/high carb diets, have far better results on indices of lipids and blood sugar control (Westman et al; Reaven; Sharman et al). Also related to this aspect is the evidence of extraordinary health from a number of groups, such as the Masai and the Pukapuka/Tokelau (high fat diet mostly from coconuts, therefore high saturated diet) that eat a high fat diet. Therefore, over the long-term, a high fat diet, including a high saturated fat diet, is not likely to be pathological. Another shortcoming of this study is that there were only male subjects; therefore this may not apply to females. The macro ratios were not what are typically recommended for many low carb or keto diets, particularly the protein. Typically the fat intake is closer to 60% (72% in this study), protein is 20-30% (6% here, big difference) and carbs are 10-20% (22% here) and usually the carbs are derived from non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, not pasta, bread and sugary yogurt (Westman et al; Volek et al). Therefore, this diet does not represent what is typically recommended. Interestingly, ALL of the fat-enriched challenge meals produced negative results. The authors (Lopez et al) state; “All the indexes [which include the insulin sensitivity ones] were significantly higher after the high-fat meals [high poly, MUFA & SAT] than after the control meal” (p.640). The saturated fat (butter) did do the worst, but they all did poorly. This conclusion seems to be in opposition to the evidence of high fat diets not causing insulin resistance and actually improving glycemic control (Westman et al). For instance, Cordain et al stated “…fat alone and under isocaloric conditions, unlike refined sugars, does not cause insulin resistance in humans…a range of isocaloric diets containing up to 83% fat did not directly cause insulin resistance, and the 83% fat diet actually improved certain aspects of glucose homeostasis” (p.100). Is this the difference between short-term verses long-term metabolic processes?

Another aspect related to this study is the flawed view that saturated fat should not be thought of as a single type of fat. There are a number of different types, i.e., carbon chain lengths, of saturated fats each with potentially different biological functions (Enig). This is the same as acknowledging that polyunsaturated fats are not all the same; the omega 6 and omega 3 fats, although they are both poly’s, have very different biological effects. Drilling down a bit further, the different types of omega 3’s, EPA and DHA, can have different effects. Therefore, it would seem important to not lump all types of saturated fats affects into one category. Until research is done on other types of saturated fats, the effects of butter should not represent the affects of all types of saturated fats.

This is not the first study to look at what type of effects different types of fats would produce. In fact, a 2008 review paper looked at this specific question. The authors of the paper concluded “Most studies (twelve of fifteen) found no effect relating to fat quality [relative amounts of saturated, mono, or polyunsaturated types] on insulin sensitivity” (Galgani, p.471). It would seem that the weight-of-the-evidence does not support a deleterious effect of saturated fat on insulin function.

One final thing before concluding; I am assuming that the butter the authors used was not from grass-fed cows. I wonder if the effects would have been different, due to the different fatty acid profile of grass-fed vs. grain-fed, if this type of butter was used?

Based on the recent Lopez et al study and the many other papers on this specific topic (high saturated fat diet and insulin function), and related topics (high fat, low carb diets and long-term health) I would conclude that a person transitioning (metabolically, likely 2 to 4 weeks) to a low-carb, high fat diet should not get a majority of their fats from saturated fats, particularly the long-chain type (palmitic, myristic and stearic acid). From that point forward a high saturated fat intake may be okay, but it would seem wise to get a good amount of monounsaturated fats as well as the proper amount of omega 3’s and the proper ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. This last scenario would typically be the natural result of following a high-quality low-carb diet, i.e., one based on quality meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, some butter and cream (preferably from grass-fed cows), lots of non-starchy veggies and a bit of fruit. Therefore, from a real world perspective, any concern of using butter or other high-saturated fat foods should not be overblown.

References:

Enig, M. (2000). Know your fats: The complete primer for understanding the nutrition of fats, oils, and cholesterol. Bethesda Press. Silver Spring, MD.

Galgain, J. et al (2008). Effect of the dietary fat quality on insulin sensitivity. Br J Nutr; 100: 471-479.

Lopez, S. et al (2008). Distinctive postprandial modulation of b cell function and insulin sensitivity by dietary fats: monounsaturated compared with saturated fatty acids. Am J Clin Nutr; 88: 638-644.

Phinney, S. (2004). Ketogenic diets and physical performance. Nutrition & Metabolism; 1(2).

Reaven, G. (2005). The insulin resistance syndrome: definition and dietary approaches to treatment. Annu Rev Nutr; 25: 17.1-17.6.

Sharman, M. et al (2002). A ketogenic diet favorably affects serum biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in normal-weight men. J Nutr; 132: 1879-1885.

Volek, J. & Westman, E. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic J Med; 69(11): 849-862.

Westman, E. et al (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr; 86: 276-284.