Category Archives: Diet

High protein diet is protective for older people, but may be unhealthy for others

We’ve written several articles on the apparent benefits of a higher protein diet for the older athlete.  Loss of muscle mass starts fairly early and loss of strength is often apparent by middle age.  We do not know how much protein intake is ideal for humans.  High protein diets for older people have been geared towards controlling sarcopenia.  Sarcopenia is the term used to describe the muscle loss that happens as people age.  Sarcopenia is a major cause of frailty.  Osteoporosis, where loss of calcium from bones leads to brittleness and fractures, is the other big problem.   Sarcopenia and osteoporosis can be worse for women who have less bone mass and less muscle mass to start with.  A number of studies have shown that older people preserve more muscle if their protein intake is increased.  If older people can preserve more muscle that should mean fewer people needing assisted-living.  Exercise, including resistance exercise also helps preserve muscle.  Exercise also strengthens bone and protects against osteoporosis.  As for the older athlete, preservation of muscle mass may provide a competitive edge.  For more easy-going people, preservation of muscle mass may mean:

  • less of the sinking feeling you get when you realize you know exactly where your body should have been when you took that flying leap for a frisbee.
  • fewer pained expressions on the faces of children when you fail a back flip
  • less aggravation opening jars
woman masters crossfit athlete high protein diet
Masters Crossfit Athlete competes in the Crossfit Games Open 14.1 in the 50-54 age category.

A new study by a team of researchers from the US and Italy examined protein intake in adults over age 50 compared with rates of Cancer, Diabetes, Mortality in general and IGF-1 (a growth hormone) levels.  Study subjects were divided into two groups: ages 50 to 65 and those over 65.  For people ages 50 to 65 a high protein diet increased risk of cancer, diabetes and death in general.  IGF-1 levels were also higher in these adults.  IGF-1is a growth hormone that may preserve muscle mass, but may also increase risk of cancer.  Middle-age users of deer antler velvet, which contains IGF-1, beware.  Researchers also found that people who ate more plant protein had lower death rates than people who ate more animal protein.  In bullet points:

High protein diet for people age 50 to 65

  • High animal protein diet increased risk of cancer by 400% in adults 50-65
  • High animal protein diet Increased risk of death by 75%
  • High animal protein diet increased risk of death from diabetes-related causes by 500%
  • High plant-based protein diet showed little to no increase in death or cancer risk

High protein diet for people over age 65

  • high protein diet reduced risk of cancer and death in people over age 65
  • Risk of death from diabetes-related causes was the same as it was for adults 50-65

Conclusions for dietary protein intake:

The researchers in this case also compared epidemiological findings with data derived from mice, which is unusual.  One of their conclusions was that a low protein intake diet during middle age followed by a high protein intake in later age may “optimize healthspan and longevity.”  I would add some considerations to that:

  1. It didn’t seem to be protein in itself thatwas the main culprit in the study, although there was some interesting data on ifg-1 levels and protein intake.  One of the problems with some forms of animal protein (meat) is that carcinogents (cancer causers) may form during high heat cooking. 
  2. Animal fat will contain more lipophilic chemicals than vegetable fats.  Some lipophilic chemicals build up in humans over time. 
  3. It seems likely that something besides protein is causing the problem. 
  4. There may be other considerations for post-menopausal women, who seem to weather aging (functionally) better when protein intake is higher.
  5. People age 50-65 are different than people 65 and older.  The 65 and older group may already have weeded out people who were vulnerable to heart disease.  (This would probably not hold for cancer).

High protein diets have been popular for a number of years now.  High protein diets, especially meat based high protein diets, have been especially popular in the Crossfit Community.  Unless you are a middle aged adult, a high animal protein diet may be bad for your long-term health.    It would be nice to know what the results would be if high-fat/high protein/poor lifestyle/obesity was separated from high protein/healthy lifestyle/healthy weight.  Hopefully the researchers will continue this line of inquiry. 

 

Levine, M., Suarez, J., Brandhorst, S., Balasubramanian, P., Cheng, C., Madia, F., Fontana, L., Mirisola, M., Guevara-Aguirre, J., Wan, J., Passarino, G., Kennedy, B., Wei, M., Cohen, P., Crimmins, E., & Longo, V. (2014). Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population Cell Metabolism, 19 (3), 407-417 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.02.006

Gregorio L, Brindisi J, Kleppinger A, Sullivan R, Mangano KM, Bihuniak JD, Kenny AM, Kerstetter JE, & Insogna KL (2014). Adequate Dietary Protein is Associated with Better Physical Performance among Post-Menopausal Women 60-90 Years. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 18 (2), 155-60 PMID: 24522467

Beasley JM, Wertheim BC, LaCroix AZ, Prentice RL, Neuhouser ML, Tinker LF, Kritchevsky S, Shikany JM, Eaton C, Chen Z, & Thomson CA (2013). Biomarker-calibrated protein intake and physical function in the Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61 (11), 1863-71 PMID: 24219187

Timing of protein intake: 20 grams of protein within 2 hours of exercise builds muscle with max efficiency

Timing of Protein intake builds muscles after resistance training.

Timing of protein intake matters.
Timing of protein intake can matter. Before or shortly after exercise seems to work best.

Today’s topic is an overview of dietary protein and amino acids and how these help build muscle and prevent muscle loss.  First, just a tiny bit about proteins and amino acids.  Proteins are made of amino acids.  Proteins are (for the most part) broken down into amino acids during digestion.  Once that happens they can be reassembled into whatever proteins your body needs.  Amino acids are hugely important to physiology.  They are needed for enzymes, hormones, hair and other things.  For most people, the first thoughts of protein and amino acids are muscle.

There is good evidence that consuming protein directly before or after resistance training reduces muscle breakdown and increases muscle mass accumulation.  The fine points of how much, which amino acids and exactly when they should be taken are under investigation.  Here are a few highlights.  Bear in mind that these may change as research continues:

  • Timing of intake: so far it looks like protein has its best protective effect when taken just before or soon after resistance training.  Consuming protein as late as two hours after exercise doesn’t seem to work as well as consuming proteins within five minutes of an exercise session.  Keep in mind that this timing difference may not matter functionally.  Even without extra protein, muscles are in active building mode for about 48 hours after exercise.
  • Which amino acids: How different amino acids stack up against each other is unknown to date.  Studies conflict.  One study is not necessarily wrong.  Two studies can conflict and still provide valuable information.  Results that seem to contradict one another may be caused by differences in how the study was done.  How old were the subjects; were they all men, or men and women?  What was the timing?  What training protocol was followed?   How much protein was given?  What else were the subjects eating or doing in their real lives?
  • How much: 20 grams of amino acids (or protein in a meal) seems to induce maximal results for young adults.  Older adults and elderly people may need more to get the same benefit.  This is probably because they (we) aren’t as efficient as we used to be.  Bummer.  But there you go.  Elderly people taking 35 grams of amino acids after exercise have had better results than elderly people taking 20 grams of amino acids. Elderly people in one study needed 40 grams of protein to reach maximal rate of muscle protein synthesis.

Timing of Protein Intake and Amino Acids can help prevent muscle loss during dieting.

Protein intake is important body builders and hyper-jacked crossfit nuts.  But it is also important to people on weight loss programs.  Increasing protein while dieting can help preserve muscle mass.  Preserving muscle mass matters to many people for aesthetic reasons.  Muscle gives form and definition.  Having well-developed muscle may also help people keep weight off.  That is pretty well accepted.  Less attention is given to the importance of preserving muscle mass during aging.  People who are constantly dieting and losing muscle mass may end up with even less when they are older.  Loss of muscle with aging is a major cause of frailty and loss of independence.   People with no interest in sporting huge muscles should still pay attention to this aspect of health.

Protein after exercise

If you are a young adult you can get your 20 grams of protein by using a protein bar or shake.  Powerbar makes a bar containing 20 grams of protein at a cost of about $2.00.  You could also have a glass of milk and a whole wheat peanut butter sandwich at a cost of about $0.60.  The milk and peanut butter sandwich would have about 23 grams of protein.  You could save $1.40 each time.  Please consider donating that money to research.  Many of our Paleo Diet readers will consider milk, bread and peanuts as horrors of the dark.  Its OK to eat these things.  Especially if the alternative is refined snacks, processed food or junk food.

If you are a masters athlete or older adult you may need to think about the extra calories you might get from two glasses of milk and two peanut butter sandwiches.  Timing meals with exercise may help.

Take away:

Twenty grams of protein within 2 hours of exercise helps build muscles with maximal efficiency.  Older adults may need 35 to 40 grams to get the same effect.

ResearchBlogging.org

Churchward-Venne TA, Murphy CH, Longland TM, & Phillips SM (2013). Role of protein and amino acids in promoting lean mass accretion with resistance exercise and attenuating lean mass loss during energy deficit in humans. Amino acids, 45 (2), 231-40 PMID: 23645387

Crossfit Paleo Diet: Low-carb high-fat diets may impair glucose tolerance

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Low  Low carb diets may work better when people wear WODMASTERS workout shirts.

Low carb diets are very popular now.  This post is about a new research finding on the effects of low carb diets on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.  The finding is that Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets may impair glucose tolerance (Biehohuby et al. 2013).  This was unexpected.  While, low carb/ high fat diets are used by many people for weight loss programs, some diet books and health advocates have been promoting low carb/high fat diets as a means of  improving insulin sensitvity.  And protecting people from developing diabetes.  In fact, improvement of insulin sensitivity is often listed as one of the reasons why the general public should follow low carb/high fat diets.

Crossfit Paleo Diet: Benefits of low-carb high-fat diets?

So far research has been inconclusive.  Some studies support the hypothesis that low carb/high fat diets help improve insulin sensitivity but others don’t.  Some have found that low carb/high fat diets make insulin sensitivity worse.  The study by Biehohuby et al. (2013) was undertaken to see how low carb/high fat diets change glucose and insulin handling.  Subjects were male rats.

Study Synopsis:

Four groups of rats were fed one of four different diets:

  • a low carb/high fat with normal amount of calories for a rat or
  • a low calorie low carb/high fat diet or
  • a high protein low carb/high fat diet, or
  • a low protein ketogenic low carb high/fat diet.

Sensitivity to glucose and insulin was tested.  Results were as follows:

  • Animals had lower fasting glucose and insulin levels (generally thought to be good)
  • the low carb/high fat diets impaired glucose tolerance (generally thought to be bad)
  • low carb/high fat diets impaired insulin sensitivity (generally thought to be bad)

Research Conclusions

Here are the scientists conclusion about their study in their own words:

“Taken together, these data show that lack of dietary carbohydrates leads to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in rats despite causing a reduction in fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. Our results argue against a beneficial effect of LC-HF diets on glucose and insulin metabolism, at least under physiological conditions. Therefore, use of LC-HF diets for weight loss or other therapeutic purposes should be balanced against potentially harmful metabolic side effects.”

Many, if not most, people have heard or been told that a low carb diet is health protective. It may be a good strategy for weight loss.  Diabetics may also do well or better on a low carb diet.  However, it may not be good for otherwise healthy people to stay on low carb/high fat diets for long periods of time.

Many diet trends have roots in science and research. The Paleo diet is just one.  However, of these roots get tangled with dogma, loyalties, financial interests and personal reputations. It is not uncommon to hear disdain or contempt for people who do not follow low carb diets, as well as concern for the health of people who continue to eat carbohydrates.  At least among my crossfit paleo diet associates.  I As a scientist, I often wonder where dogmatic thinking comes from.  As a professor I wonder how best to teach people to use other approaches to figuring out the order of the universe.  Its not always easy.  It may be simply part of human nature to

  1. build little compartments
  2. stick things in the compartments
  3. put them back in the compartments if they get out
The WODMASTERS Rhino Design ruminates on Vitamin K
WODMASTERS Rhino thinks about low carb diets

The problem with taking this approach to health and nutrition information is that we are learning so much, so fast and more is pouring in every day.  Its awesomely incredible.  Really.  But with all these little bits floating around and new bits being added to the pile its hard to find permanent homes for everything.  A high fat diet may not belong in the “avoid” pile.  Maybe it should be taken out and placed into the “go for it” pile.  Better yet, keep it on the table and see what it fits into.

For Medical and Research People:

Might glucose challenge test results from people on low-carb/high fat diets lead to their classification as pre-diabetic?  What is the clinical significance of low-carb diet induced changes in glucose and insulin handling anyway?

ResearchBlogging.org

Bielohuby M, Sisley S, Sandoval D, Herbach N, Zengin A, Fischereder M, Menhofer D, Stoehr BJ, Stemmer K, Wanke R, Tschöp MH, Seeley RJ, & Bidlingmaier M (2013). Impaired glucose tolerance in rats fed low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 305 (9) PMID: 23982154

Vitamin K may keep your brain from falling apart

Keeping your brain from falling apart is serious business.  Tape and twine have their places, but we are writing to report on some other . . . . “stuff.”   Today’s stuff is Vitamin K.

Vitamin K, Health and Research

Research is indicating that Vitamin K may be important in protecting brain function. Researchers recently measured vitamin K levels in blood (as serum phylloquinone) and compared them with how well people did on several tests of cognitive function. People with higher levels of Vitamin K did better on tests of verbal memory and recall.   320 men and women between the ages of 70 and 85 participated in the study. This is good news because we do have some control over our vitamin K intake. The study has its limitations of course.  A blood test measures only what is currently in a person’s system.    The blood test used in this study was not able to measure people’s Vitamin K intake over a long period of time.

What is Vitamin K?

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WODMASTERS designs for the ultimate in awesome. Workout style for men and women. Will design for kids too on request. Ask about our CrossFit Box group orders.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin.  There are two common forms K1 and K2.  K1 comes from plants.   K1 was the form of vitamin K evaluated on the study of cognitive function.

Animals (like us) use K1 to make K2.  K2 is also synthesized by bacteria in the gut.   People may have many different kinds of gut bacteria.  Your gut bacteria will be influenced by your diet and medical history.

Vitamin K is best known as the vitamin the helps blood clot.  Good dietary sources of Vitamin K include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli
  • Grains (minor sources)
  • Liver, eggs, meat, fish

Vitamin K may be important for maintaining bone health as well as brain health.  Vitamin K is being evaluated as a possible treatment for osteoporosis.  Until we hear more on that it is probably best to eat real food and plenty of vegetables rather rely on supplements.  Vitamins in vegetables come “packaged” with many other biologically important molecules.  You may need the entire package (by which we mean vegetable not multivitamin).  A dose of one particular molecule may not be particularly helpful.

Presse N, Belleville S, Gaudreau P, Greenwood CE, Kergoat MJ, Morais JA, Payette H, Shatenstein B, & Ferland G (2013). Vitamin K status and cognitive function in healthy older adults. Neurobiology of aging, 34 (12), 2777-83 PMID: 23850343

Knapen MH, Drummen NE, Smit E, Vermeer C, & Theuwissen E (2013). Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 24 (9), 2499-507 PMID: 23525894

Vitamin C may help reduce pain of exertion during intense exercise

The Pain of CrossFit WODs

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Knowing you look awesome can help make workouts easier too.

The agony of a CrossFit WOD may be worse than the agony of any other sport. There are many little voices to that big voice telling you to slow down. Let’s not dwell on that voice. Let’s dissect it a little. Two things pushing you to ring the quit bell are core temperature and insufficient oxygen. Read this article for more information. Another thing is pain. Some research has been done on the discomfort side of exercise. Researchers measure “perceived level of exertion.” Research on intake of Vitamin C and “perceived level of exertion” indicates taking vitamin C supplements (500 mg/day) results in a lower rating of how hard the workout was. Taking vitamin C once a day also lowered heart rates compared to people who took a placebo during a 4 week exercise program. That is interesting.

Should I take Vitamin C before a CrossFit WOD?

Crossfit back squat during a crossfit wod .  Lots of crossfit pain here
Encouragement improves performance possibly by making it too embarrassing to slow down.  Our friend and model would look better in a WODMASTERS Shirt.  Check out shop.

It might be worth trying during CrossFit WOD competitions. Low vitamin C intake is associated with higher levels of fatigue. Taking a supplement if your vitamin C intake from diet is good might not help. It hasn’t been studied yet. Vitamin C has a history of being touted as a cure-all. Cure-alls are things we should be suspicious of. Along with writers who don’t know that a preposition is not something one ends a sentence with.  There is also some evidence that taking vitamin C before a challenging workout can block the body’s production of its own anti-oxidants, which might not be good.

In the meantime Vitamin C may be helpful for CrossFit WOD competitors for whom every rep counts. It should not be taken before every workout. Exercise causes the body to produce its own anti-oxidants. And these may be very important in the falling dominos of our physiology. Tweaking one thing may tweak that which is better left untweaked. As an example, taking vitamin C may result in your body synthesizing less of its own anti-oxidants.  Best to eat a good diet with lots of vegetables and fruit.

Huck CJ, Johnston CS, Beezhold BL, & Swan PD (2013). Vitamin C status and perception of effort during exercise in obese adults adhering to a calorie-reduced diet. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 29 (1), 42-5 PMID: 22677357

 

CrossFit Calorie Restriction Diet and Longevity.

Crossfit calorie restriction . . . Maureen Dowd, the famous political columnist, predicts a dystopian future, with few survivors . . .

“The year is 2084, in the capital of the land formerly called North America . . . The Navy-Air Force game goes on, somehow, and there are annual CrossFit games on the Mall, led by flesh-eating Dark Seeker Paul Ryan, now 114 years old. CrossFit is still fighting the Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid, even though there’s no Department of Agriculture and no food.”

CrossFit HQ is currently advocating a fairly high protein diet.  But at the same time they recommend 30% of calories come from protein, 40% from carbohydrates and 30% from fat.  If you search for CrossFit calorie nutrition on the CrossFit website you will see that they also suggest that people look into calorie restriction to prolong life and preserve health.

Calorie restriction diet

A calorie restriction diet is a term used to describe a diet that is low in calories, but sufficient in nutrients.  The calorie restriction diet that is associated with life extension research is more tightly defined.   Laboratory animals (usually rats) are often kept on an ad libitum diet.  This means that food is available and the animal may eat whenever it feels like it.   A lab animal on a calorie restricted diet receives a percentage of what an average rat eats ad libitum.   For example, an animal may be fed 60% or 80% of an ad libitum diet.

Longevity and a Calorie Restriction Diet

Research using a number of different species shows that calorie restriction seems to prolong life.  Nematodes are remarkable in this respect.   Why animals on calorie restriction diets live longer is still uncertain.   Scientists continue to investigate the reasons.   Many believe that life extension is a reproductive strategy.  If times are bad a nematode (or other organism) may shift into low gear and  conserve resources in the hope that things will get better in the future.  If things get better the animal would then shift back into normal gear and get on with the business of reproduction.

Calorie restriction produces some interesting physiological and behavioral changes. In animals, calorie restriction

  • Increases activity levels (possibly because food seeking behavior increases)
  • Improves blood lipid profile
  • Results in fewer tumors
  • Improves memory and cognitive function (Ha!  I know exactly where to find that sunflower seed I hid last week!)

Short-term Calorie Restriction.

Short term calorie restriction produces a lot of the same effects.  This might be good.  Calorie restriction for life is probably unappealing to most.   Short term or intermittent calorie restriction also up-regulate certain biochemical pathways.  Or down-regulate others.  So far, it looks like short term calorie restriction does a number of interesting things:

  • Decreases inflammatory response (may help with healing and reduce coronary artery disease)
  • Increasing apoptosis (cell death) in tumors (Mukherjee et al. 2004)
  • Slowing growth of blood vessels (which slows tumor growth)
  • Lowering production of growth hormones (which would also slow tumor growth).

These things would extend life.  People who practice intermittent fasting tend to have lower risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes (Horne et al. 2008).  Maybe restricting calories sometimes might be a good idea.  Before surgery, for example.  People who fast before surgery seem to have fewer complications.

Calorie Restriction Diet and Longevity

Would calorie restriction extend life in humans?  That question has not been answered.  The idea that a person could permanently follow the kind of restrictive diet needed to to induce life-prolonging effects without sacrificing quality of life seems unlikely.  It also seems unlikely that, as CrossFit HQ maintains, a person could follow this type of diet and still have all the energy they need to live a healthy active life.    Once of the things observed in animals is that they appear to be “more energetic” than control animals on normal diets. However, it is possible that the “youthful  vigor” exhibited by animals on highly restrictive diets is not youthful vigor, but agitation, anxiety and restlessness.  These are the kinds of behaviors we expect in starving people.  Calorie restriction may be an adaptive change to stress.

Calorie restriction can have some undesirable side effects

  • Reduced Growth Hormone levels
  • Ovarian atrophy
  • Reduced Thyroid hormone levels
  • Loss of Muscle mass
  • Loss of Bone Mass

And some other probably unwanted effects as well:

  • Increased Aggression
  • Hoarding behavior
  • Voracious eating patterns
  • Throwing feces at researchers
  • Throwing whatever else you can get your little paws on at researchers

An important thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between following an ad libitum diet when you are locked alone in a small cage with nothing but a pile of kibble and living a free life.    Animals in the wild live through good times and bad.  Having 20 – 40% less calories than you would eat if you were stuck in your room with a big bag of chips is a far cry from leading an active life.  Restricting calories in an otherwise free-living wild animal who works for a living may have very different effects.  Don’t be in a huge hurry to do this to your self.

A probably well-meaning lunatic  talked about putting his infant daughter on a calorie restriction diet so she would live a very long, healthy life.  (I must be a nut magnet.)  To all who are considering doing this to their children remember those news stories about kids found starving in locked closets.  The kids did not do well in there.   If you are considering doing it to yourself, understand that the point to reach is not starvation.  Calorie restriction may result in beneficial changes in physiology by causing mild stress.  That might mean just enough stress to increase activity levels, and alter physiology to produce some health benefits.  Huge food stress may not give the same results.  Huge stress in general has little going for it.

 

Robertson LT, & Mitchell JR (2013). Benefits of short-term dietary restriction in mammals. Experimental gerontology, 48 (10), 1043-8 PMID: 23376627

Mukherjee P, Abate LE, & Seyfried TN (2004). Antiangiogenic and proapoptotic effects of dietary restriction on experimental mouse and human brain tumors. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 10 (16), 5622-9 PMID: 15328205

Research, Fads, Nutrition and Science

CrossFit Science or maybe Paleo Diet Science.

Pain is a frequent topic of conversation among people who do CrossFit.   Hip pain seems to be fairly common.   My hip hurts.  Its been hurting for several years.  It might be tendonitis.  It might be years of cumulative damage from back packing, portaging, backsquats, back country skiing, kettlebells, or rowing.  Or maybe the series of cycling accidents of my youth.  One of my crossfit friends told me that if I followed the paleo diet my hip would stop hurting.

  • I don’t follow the Paleo Diet and I have hip pain.
  • I don’t wear a beanie with a propeller on it and I have hip pain
  • There are probably other things that I don’t do.  But right now that’s all I can think of.

Why would someone think that hip pain is caused by diet?  How much of what we know comes from somewhere we don’t know?  A lot of the time we know things because they have been repeated a lot. Or because they have been stated authoritatively. Or because the people we hang out with believe something is true. Often, we believe to belong. Or we believe because we think we have the whole story.  Check out this video on media and science.   I believe this guy (Ben Goldacre) really has to pee.  But, he’s done a good job clarifying a lot of nonsense.

Exercise Diet and Recovery: High Protein Intake Before Bed Increases Rate of Muscle Synthesis.

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Over the last few years a number of studies have looked at the importance of timing for nutrient intake.  A number of studies have looked at the timing of carbohydrate intake and recovery from intense exercise.  Others have looked at timing of carbohydrate intake and performance.   And of carbohydrate intake and recovery.  At least two research groups are now working on the effect of protein intake on protein synthesis while people are asleep.  This is important because:

A group of researchers from the UK and the Netherlands investigated the effect of protein consumption just before sleep and the rate of protein synthesis.

Protein intake and exercise study protocol (very brief)

  • Two groups of eight recreational athletes (All young men.  Total = 16)
  • Subjects did leg extensions and leg presses at weights close to each individual’s limit of ability
  • All subjects received same diet during the study
  • 8 were given 40 grams of protein just before bed.  Eight were not.
  • Muscle biopsies were taken at the time of protein intake, and 7.5 hours later.  After sleeping.

Protein intake and exercise study results

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Rate of protein synthesis was higher in subjects who received protein just before sleeping.  This is an important finding because:

  • It confirms that protein ingested just before sleep is digested and used to make muscle in humans.
  • Throws doubt on that old adage that you shouldn’t eat for several hours before bed
  • Protein intake before bed may may mean faster recovery for athletes
  • Protein intake before bed may help slow or prevent natural loss of strength and muscle mass in middle aged adults.
  • Protein intake before bed may help the elderly avoid muscle wasting.  This is a major factor limiting quality of life for the elderly.

Taking it to the next level

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Stiff, Inflexible, Invincible WODMasters shirt for the Masters CrossFit Athlete. And for other people who may also be stiff and inflexible.

The second research group (Groen et al. 2012) also looked at the effect of night time protein intake on muscle synthesis.  The gave a group of elderly men protein at night, directly to the stomach, while they were actually asleep.  Protein synthesis increased in this group too.   Few athletes, even devoted CrossFit men (or CrossFit women) will want to go to this extreme.  You never know.  It may be a very good news for elderly people with muscle wasting.

Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B, Beelen M, Wallis GA, Gijsen AP, Senden JM, & VAN Loon LJ (2012). Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 44 (8), 1560-9 PMID: 22330017

Groen BB, Res PT, Pennings B, Hertle E, Senden JM, Saris WH, & van Loon LJ (2012). Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 302 (1) PMID: 21917635

Arsenic in Rice and Long-Term Health Risks

Arsenic in rice has been reported as being of no immediate health risk.  But the major concern with arsenic is that it is a long-term health risk.  Arsenic may be best known as a tool of poisoners.  But arsenic poses greater risk as a slow, quiet inducer of cancer.  In that way, arsenic is like most carcinogens.  The problem is not that someone would eat a bite of rice and then fall face first into his or her plate.  The problem is that arsenic causes skin and bladder cancer.  It also does other unpleasant things to people who are exposed to relatively low levels over long periods of time.

Arsenic in Rice and Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic in rice and drinking water
Arsenic in rice may add to cancer risk.  Photo by Reuters

The current limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts arsenic for every billion parts of water.  If you are an average adult drinking two liters of water you could get about 20 micrograms of arsenic.  As long as your drinking water meets federal standards.  If you drink more than two liters of water your will probably be just fine.  If you get more than 20 micrograms of arsenic every day you will probably be fine too.  Federal standards have built in safety factors.  These protect people who are not average 160 pound adults. Who drink two liters of water a day.  If people are exposed to additional arsenic in rice on a regular basis in addition to arsenic in water they may face increased risk of cancer.  The man in the photo on the right lives in an area where arsenic in drinking water greatly exceeds World Health Organization standards.

Should I worry about Arsenic in Rice?

Maybe.  Arsenic in rice may increase your risk of cancer.  Especially if you live in an area where arsenic levels in drinking water are high.   Or if you are feeding rice to infants or very young children.   Infants and young children tend to rely on only a few types of food.  If you are a heavy rice eater you should add some other grains to your diet.  The best way to protect yourself from contaminants in food is to eat a varied diet.  And not depend too heavily on any one food type.  To find out if you live in an area where arsenic in drinking water is a high take a look at the map below.  Keep in mind that if you live in a high-arsenic area your community drinking water may be less if it is treated.   If you live outside the US you can probably find a map for your country online.  Keep in mind too that arsenic levels in rice will vary.  The amount of arsenic in rice will depend on how much arsenic was in the ground and water at the growing site.

Arsenic in Rice Arsenic in Drinking water
USGS Map of Arsenic Concentrations in drinking water.

 

What does the Eastman-Certichem Lawsuit mean for old tough guys?

The Eastman Certichem Lawsuit:

Eastman Certichem Lawsuit
“Buy into it or your head goes in the toilet.”

Eastman Chemical company has filed a lawsuit against a tiny company (Certichem, see earlier post) that tests chemicals for estrogen activity.  Eastman was one of the first companies to produce and market Bisphenol A-free (BPA-free) water bottles.  The problem is that BPA-free is not the same thing as Estrogen-Activity Free.  As bad luck would have it, Eastman’s product  seems to have tested positive for Estrogen activity.  That is a bad news for Eastman and other producers of plastic products.   One would hope that Eastman would go back to the lab and change their formula.  They still have a huge market advantage and people would appreciate their continued efforts to produce safe, high quality materials.  People respect those who can recognize their own weaknesses and admire those who persist in their efforts.  I tell my students this all the time.

Eastman vs. Certichem: will research be squelched?

Certichem Eastman Lawsuit and Man Boobs
What does the Eastman-Certichem Lawsuit mean for old tough guys?  Are man-boobs inevitable?  Or can Certichem stay alive in the face of the Eastman onslaught?

Maybe they are working on this privately, but are embarrassed, or fearful that people might lose faith in them.  What they have done is sue Certichem for publishing the results of their tests.  Certichem is headed by Dr. George Bittner a neuroscientist at the University of Texas.  Academics publish stuff.  That’s how we rack up points, status and look hot to one another.   Articles published in scientific journals undergo (usually) rigorous peer review.  See video for an historical look at peer-review.  Competition to publish in top-ranked journals like Environmental Health Perspectives is intense and only top quality work will make it to publication.  Certichem published in Environmental health Perspectives.

 

Word in the hallways is that Eastman may be trying to shut Certichem down.  As a multi-billion dollar company Eastman can probably do that.  It would be a shame to lose Certichem’s voice and to lose the contributions a small company can offer to our future.  Perhaps Eastman could work with, instead of against, small businesses.  A lot of innovation, ingenuity and drive come from such places.  It would be to Eastman’s, and everyone’s, advantage to support them.

If Eastman wins the lawsuit, then Plastic with Estrogen Activity will continue to be sold.  What does that mean for old tough guys?  Future research may tell.

Below are links to the Certichem paper and to the American Chemical Council’s response.   Yang et al.’s (Certichem’s) response to criticism can be found here.

Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, & Bittner GD (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental health perspectives, 119 (7), 989-96 PMID: 21367689

Kelce WR, & Borgert CJ (2011). In vitro detection of estrogen activity in plastic products using a sensitive bioassay: failure to acknowledge limitations. Environmental health perspectives, 119 (9) PMID: 21885376