The following was presented by Eric Rawson at the 2013 ACSM Conference. It is my pleasure to share it with you.
1.) Creatine monohydrate
Doses: 0.3 g/kg/day for 5 days or 0.03 g/kg/day for 30 days is sufficient to increase the concentration of creatine by 20-25%.
Washout period: 6 weeks is usually recommended
Performance factor: Increase performance of high intensity exercise of durations less than 30 seconds
Safety profile: Excellent
Doses: 3-6g for 4-8 weeks can elicit 40-50% increases. Acts as a buffer
Washout period: 10-15 weeks
Performance factor: Good for H.I.I.T. or sprinting. High intensity exercise (1-6min duration). Overall 2.58% increase in performance
Safety profile: Safe but may cause a niacin flush (paresthesia)
3.) Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3)
Doses: 300mg/kg taken 1-3 hours pre-exercise can act as an extracellular buffer
Washout period: None. Some suggest as a chronic dietary supplement.
Performance factor: 1-2% increase in body mass. Increase in high intensity exercise (1-5min). Shown previously to take 0.8s off of a 1 min race.
Dose: 0.4 g/kg/hour of exercise (Milk is the best bang for your buck) 1.6-1.7 g/kg/day.
I think it also important to not neglect your carbohydrates. In exercises lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute, a lot of people think that most of the energy is coming from creatine. In actuality, 10% is coming from creatine whereas 47-60% is coming from carbohydrate stores. 1.2 g/kg/hour of carbohydrates post-exercise is sufficient for muscle glycogen resynthesis.
Several physiological factors have been proposed that could relate to overtraining syndrome. It seems the most plausible one is a reduced maximal heart rate but studies suggest this is not a valid tool to measure OTS due to inconsistent results.
Sustained periods of intense training leads to decreases in innate and adaptive immunity. Depressed immunity typically is said to occur for athletes at the end of the season or during the most intensive periods of their training. The only evidence that exists for a decrease in immune function in athletes experiencing OTS is anecdotal.
In regards to resistance training, when excessive volumes of max loads are used, maximal muscular strength is one of the last performance measures to be negatively affected. Rather, high speed (ie. sprinting) and power are the first types of performance to be affected.
There is no evidence that OTS can be treated. Rest and very light training seem to be the only agents capable of effecting recovery. It is generally recommended that athletes should have one passive rest day each week. Trying to prescribe an exact amount of hours of sleep per night is difficult. Therefore, a good starting point is to advise athletes to sleep for the amount of time required to feel wakeful during the day.
When scientists use psychological questionnaires about athletes’ moods there was a consistent reporting of an increase in negative mood states (tension, depression, anger) and a decrease in vigor during periods of vigorous training. This is shown in a dose-response relationship, meaning that the longer the periods of intense training the more the athlete will report these negative mood states. As little as 2 days of intense training can increase these negative moods and currently there are no differences in the mood responses reported between male and female athletes.
Of course it is difficult to decipher whether these negative moods are a result of the training or hardships from social situations. Therefore, some researchers have developed a sport specific scale to use rather than the typical psychological questionnaires called a Training Distress Scale (TDS). You can find a spreadsheet of this scale here. The TDS was shown to be more accurate in identifying overtraining than the typical psychological scale.
A new tool that researchers are using to diagnosis overtraining syndrome is a psychomotor speed test, which measures the cognitive factors of the athlete (memory & concentration). This test could simply be a reaction time test. Reaction times have been reported to decrease in athletes when they increase the intensity of their training for several weeks. These studies lead us to believe that central fatigue (a tired brain) is possibly the most early predictor of overtraining.
The most consistent overall finding in endurance and strength-trained athletes who have OTS is a decrease in the maximal lactate concentration while submaximal values are unaffected or only slightly reduced. Glutamine levels are often toted as another possible marker to indicate excessive training stress. However, several problems exist with biochemical testing of overtraining:
Lactate differences can be subtle and depend on the type of exercise test used.
No lactate changes are reported in strength athletes.
Glutamine may decrease with excessive training but low levels are not a consistent finding in OTS.
At first, scientists tried to measure the testosterone/cortisol ratio as a marker of overtraining. This is not possible because this ratio only indicates the actual physiological strain of training. Furthermore, during rest days in endurance-trained athletes, 24 hour cortisol secretion is normal and even comparable to levels of sedentary individuals. Problems exist with hormonal testing as well:
Many factors other than exercise affect blood hormone concentrations such as stress or food intake.
In females, it depends also on the menstrual cycle.
Different hormones are released depending on the modes of training (endurance vs. resistance).
It is noted that there is no definitive way to identify overtraining syndrome (OTS). The only way a coach can do so is by eliminating all other factors that could be causing these symptoms. Once all of the other factors are eliminated, one can then diagnose OTS. The only clear sign is a decrease in performance during competition or training.Currently, there are no simple diagnostic tests to diagnose overtraining and the theories regarding what triggers it are speculative at best.
Taking into account the overlap and still unclear guidelines of overreaching/overtraining, I will now list for you some of the statistics on the prevalence of OTS.
One survey listed a rate of approximately 10% in collegiate swimmers and other endurance athletes.
For elite runners, 60% of females and 64% of males indicated experiencing OTS with numbers being 33% in non-elite adult runners
A recent longitudinal study reported a rate of 29% in age-group swimmers
91% of US collegiate swimmers that reported OTS a first time went on to experience it a second time or more.
To assess OTS, several studies have listed it as being the sum of multiple life stressors, such as training, sleep deprivation, environmental stress, work pressure, and interpersonal problems. Scientists are still looking for a biomaker (in the blood) to measure and determine the existence of OTS.
We know that there must be a balance between appropriate training stress and adequate recovery. Otherwise, this leads to what exercise scientists define as overreaching. Overreaching is an accumulation of training and/or non-training stress resulting in short-term decreases in that capability to perform with or without related physiological and psychological signs and symptoms of maladaptation. Restoration of performance capacity could take several days to several weeks. The difference between this and overtraining is that overtraining is long-term,in which restoration of performance capacity can take several weeks or months. We are looking at solely a time difference between the two.
An example of an athlete who is overreaching would be one that goes to a training camp. The intensity level of the camp is normally very vigorous, which would lead to a temporary decline in performance accompanied later by overall improvement of performance. This can also be noted as functional overreaching. When it gets to the extent of not helping the athlete improve their performance capacity, it then can be described as non-functional overreaching because it leads to stagnation or decreases in performance which will require several weeks or even months to recover.
Overtraining syndrome is considered a syndrome because it takes in to account not just exercise as the main factor but also inadequate nutrition, illness, psychosocial stressors, and sleep disorders.
Below is an example of the difference stages of training and how they relate to overreaching and/or overtraining.
Joint Consensus Statement of the European College of Sport Science & the American College of Sports Medicine on Overtraining Syndrome
For training to be successful, it must involve an overload on the body but also avoid the negative outcomes of this overload. For the upcoming month up until I leave for the 2013 ACSM conference in Indianapolis (holla atcha boy if you’re going), I will outline for you the mutual American and European “consensus statement” on the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Overtraining Syndrome. This will consist of the following sections:
Assessment of overtraining
Immune system response
I hope to make clear for you the true scientific evidence on how to diagnosis overtraining and what actually is happening molecularly in the body to bring about these symptoms. If you are a performance coach hoping to better your athletes or someone who wishes to have all the myths surrounding overtraining debunked I promise you the next several posts will be good reads. Until then, all the best!
Breakfast skipping compared to high protein breakfast: effect of appetite control in girls.
Are you a girl who regularly skips breakfast? Read on because this well-controlled study is for you.
Introduction: Breakfast skipping is strongly associated with a greater chance of weight gain. Furthermore, this trend is also linked to poorer food choices. Higher protein meals are becoming more popular as a way to improve satiety and appetite control. The purpose of this study was to examine if it is better to skip breakfast or eat one higher in protein in regards to appetite control throughout the remainder of the day.
Methods: Twenty overweight or obese girls between the age of 15-20 who normally skip breakfast were recruited for this study. They were tracked for 7 consecutive days and randomized to one of 3 groups: breakfast skipping (BS), a normal cereal meal for breakfast (NP), or a high-protein breakfast (HP) consisting of beef and eggs for breakfast. Breakfast and lunch were controlled but the rest of the day they were free to eat as much as they wanted.
NP & HP led to a 60% reduction in daily hunger.
HP lead to a greater increase in total fullness.
NP & HP led to a 30% reduction in daily desire to eat.
HP breakfast but not the others suppressed an important hunger stimulating hormone (ghrelin) by 20%.
HP breakfast but not the others increased an important satiety-stimulating hormone (PYY) by 250%.
BS & NP led to greater evening snacking than HP.
Discussion/Conclusion: A small breakfast of merely 350kcal led to reductions in perceived hunger, the desire to eat, and prospective food consumption. In addition, it also increased fullness. What is even more interesting is that the high-protein breakfast group had additional benefits of a reduction in the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, increases in PYY (a hormone that makes you feel fuller), and decreases in evening snacking, particularly of high-fat foods. The authors note that a limitation of this study was that the breakfast skipping group and the high-protein group had similar total amounts of calories consumed during the day. Although this study looked at 1-week of food consumption, it is not certain if eating a high-protein meal for longer periods of time (a year or more) would prevent weight gain.
My input: The most obvious inferences that the authors draw come from the simple fact that the breakfast skipping group is fasted. Of course, their perceived hunger/fulness, desire to eat, and prospective food consumption will be higher in the morning because they just woke up. I think the most powerful part of the study came from the blood draws and the actual measurable physiological significance that a high-protein breakfast did decrease a hormone responsible for making you want to eat and increase a hormone that tells your brain that you are full.That is what truly stands out as powerful rather than all the other results based solely on questionnaires. For that reason, I’d suggest trying out the high-protein diet over your standard cereal-based breakfast and seeing how it works with your own feelings of satiety throughout the day.
Adipose Tissue Resting Energy Expenditure Higher in Women than Men
Apologies for the period of dormancy. I’m back and I’m bringing you new articles every Wednesday. With that said, here we go.
Introduction: Men and women store fat on different areas of the body. Women store fat in larger amounts of subcutaneous adipose tissue (the fat under the skin) and men store more visceral fat (the fat around the organs). In general, women have more body fat than men. How much adipose tissue contributes to whole body metabolism is not well known; therefore, this was the aim of the study.
Methods: This was a large cohort coming from hundreds of men and women. The researchers looked at adipose tissue gene expression as well as expression of genes involved in mitochondrial function.
For the two sexes, fat mass and fat free mass positively correlated with resting metabolic rate (when one went up, the other went up).
Women have a higher metabolic rate per kilogram adipose tissue than men.
Women have a higher expression of genes related to mitochondrial function than men.
Women have a higher number of brown adipocytes in subcutaneous adipose tissue than men.
Discussion: Just to give you an idea of the relative contributions of tissue to basal metabolic rate (BMR), the brain and internal organs account for 70-80% but only make up 5% of the body weight. Skeletal muscle, which everyone in your gym says influences BMR the most, is 20 times lower than the internal organs. Skeletal muscle accounts for about 15% of a person’s BMR. Adipose tissue falls in at around 6% of BMR so we can say it is not that active of a tissue.
From the lab to the gym: So what’s the main takeaway of this study? The practical message is from bullet point 4 of the results and particularly a molecule found in those brown adipocytes known as UCP1. UCP1 is a protein that allows the mitochondria to create heat in the brown adipocytes. Women have a higher amount of UCP1 in their subcutaneous adipose tissue (the fat you want to lose under your skin). Therefore, this study suggests that women have a higher capacity to burn calories by converting energy to heat. Of course the internal organs and muscle are going to contribute the most to your BMR, but the higher metabolic rate of adipose tissue in women gives them an advantage to burn more calories in a resting state than men.
I believe in BCAA’s, particularly leucine for its ability to promote protein synthesis. As far as a performance advantage I believe you’re looking at a 1-3% increase in performance, which is actually around the typical performance increase you get from caffeine ingestion prior to exercise. It doesn’t seem like a lot but if you’re an athlete looking for that small edge that 1% can matter.
Hey Nick! So happy that I ran across your blog. I myself have a BA in Exercise Science and am currently working on my Masters. There is something that I have been researching on my own for quit awhile as I have been trying to find the best formula for weight loss and more specifically cutting quit a bit of fat weight in the shortest amount of time while preserving muscle. What is your opinion on how much cardio is too much? and what is the best form of cardio in your opinion? HIIT, fasted, LSD
Is an ice bath (or any cold therapy) or a hot tub (or any heat therapy) ideal post workout, particularly post weight lifting? What are the pros and cons of both? And are air compression devices (like pro athletes use) really worth the money or should I just stick to hot and cold therapies?
Hi Nick! Excellent blog. I always love your info. Have you heard of hypertrophy-specific training? There seems to be a lot of research backing up the protocol but I can never be sure. Any thoughts on what type of routine is really the most effective for inducing hypertrophy?
Nick’s three keys to hypertrophy:
1.) Time under tension (emphasizing eccentric training and slow repetitions)
2.) Cell swelling (da pump)
3.) Altering the metabolic milieu of the muscle (resting shorter periods between sets)
What is your opinion, on of one of my clients is looking to see hypertrophy but stay lean. I don't know if I want to have my client do cardio before our workout, after our workout or in two completely separate workouts. What do you suggest?
Two completely separate workouts. The reason being they are two completely different energy systems, resistance training and endurance training, and because of this I’ve always been an advocate of separating them as to not get mixed cellular signals.
A fresh article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday that looks at the most common myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity. What really makes this paper intriguing is that the authors used internet searches to find these. Since some of you might not have assess to the full text, or not have the time to read the entire article, I’ll highlight some of them for you below.
The myths (the authors define myths as “beliefs held true despite substantial evidence refuting them”)
Small sustained changes in energy intake or expenditure will produce more substantial long-term weight changes.
Setting realistic goals for weight loss is important; otherwise, people will become frustrated and likely lose less weight.
Slower gradual weight loss is better than large rapid weight loss in regards to long-term outcomes.
PE classes in school play an important role in reducing or preventing childhood obesity.
A bout of sexual activity burns 100-300 kcal for each participant. (The authors state the actual numbers are more like 14-21 kcal considering the average sexual experience lasts 6 minutes, ouch).
The presumptions (the authors define presumptions as “unproved yet commonly espoused propositions”)
Eating breakfast each day as opposed to skipping it is protective against obesity.
Eating more fruits and vegetables will result in weight loss or less weight gain, regardless of any other behavioral or environmental modifications.
Weight cycling (yo-yo dieting), is associated with increased mortality.
Snacking contributes to weight gain and obesity.
An individual’s environment (parks, recreational playgrounds, etc.) influence the incidence and prevalence of obesity.
THE FACTS (“sufficient evidence to be considered empirically proved”)
Nighttime snacking reduces whole body fat oxidation and increases LDL cholesterol in healthy young women.
This one is for the night-eaters. The ones who find themselves diving into some snacks before bed. You know who you are. Did you know they actually consider this a syndrome though?
Introduction: Night eating syndrome is classified as a delay in the circadian timing for food intake which can alter metabolism and eventually lead to obesity. This syndrome is diagnosed as ingesting a quarter of your total energy for the day after an evening meal up to three times per week. The aim of this study was to see how two weeks of snacking either during the day or at night, without changing meal frequency, would alter energy metabolism in lean young women.
Methods: 13 lean healthy women were recruited with 7 of them being randomly assigned to the snacking during the day group (10:00am) and the other 6 to the snacking at night group (11:00pm). After the two weeks, their energy expenditure and substrate utilization were measured in a whole-room respiratory chamber for one day. The snack consisted of merely 200kcal. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were given at 9:00am, 2:00pm, and 7:00pm for each group during the two weeks.
During the afternoon, the group that snacked at night had a significantly higher RQ (using more carbohydrates instead of lipids for energy) and significantly lower fat oxidation. There was a small decrease in 24-hour fat oxidation with the group that snacked at night but this was not statistically significant. LDL cholesterol levels significantly increased as well in the group that snacked at night.
My input: A major strength of this study was the strict control of meal frequency during the two weeks. However, the groups were small and likely underpowered when it came to statistical significance, particularly with the slight decrease in 24-hour fat oxidation which could have been significant had they recruited more volunteers. Regardless, this study shows the importance of nutrient timing and how eating at specific hours of the day can alter our metabolism due to the hormones naturally controlled by circadian rhythms at those hours. It is a necessity for the nutritional science field to step away from calories in versus calories out and start looking more towards nutrient timing at different hours of the day under different conditions (rest versus pre/post-exercise).
Hi Nick, very I'm glad I found your blog. It's extremely refreshing to see someone propagating legitimate, science based fitness information. Could you explain the chemical process by which the body can store protein as fat (ie caloric surplus but calories are coming from protein)? I understand the pathways for carbohydrates and fats but I was never totally clear on the protein. Thanks, Adam
Good question. Proteins would have to first be converted into glucose to be stored as fat through a process called gluconeogenesis. To my knowledge, it is highly unlikely for amino acids to be turned directly into fatty acids. What I’m saying is, if you’re an active person eating large amounts of protein it is almost impossible for it to be stored as fat. Some amino acids can be turned into ketones as well, but these energy substrates would be cleared relatively quickly, particularly by the brain. I like science questions so thank you for this one.
Effects of Dehydration during Cycling on Skeletal Muscle Metabolism in Females
Exercising in a dehydrated state can hurt performance. That really is nothing new. However, what is not known is how dehydration can effect substrates being used by the muscle during exercise, particularly in women. So, this one is for you ladies.
Introduction: Did you know that a 2% loss in body mass because of dehydration can elevate HR, core temperature, and the osmolarity of blood plasma? Did you also know that it is said that women thermoregulate less effectively because of a higher core temperature during the same exercise load as men? In fact, females usually experience a quicker rise in core temperature during exercise. Depending on core temperature during exercise, the body can switch between using muscle glycogen or fat. Therefore, you could say that depending on hydration status (which effects core temperature) the body will switch between these two fuel sources as well. But which one? The hypothesis in this study states that women will rely more heavily on whole body carbohydrate oxidation as well as the breakdown of glycogen from muscle during dehydrated exercise.
Methods: Nine women underwent cycling at 65% VO2peak for 120 min. Some received fluids during the exercise and the others did not. It is important to note that before the exercise trial, both groups were properly hydrated. Thus, this study is just examining the consequences of not drinking water during prolonged endurance exercise.
Results: One way to measure whether or not you are using carbohydrates or fat during exercise is by a method called indirect calorimetry, which can provide you with a RER. RER, as I’ve described before, is the respiratory exchange ratio. A RER of 1 means you are using primarily carbohydrates and a RER closer to 0.75 means you are using primarily fat. With that said, the RER of the dehydrated group was significantly higher than the hydrated group, meaning that they were using more carbohydrates during exercise. Likewise, carbohydrate oxidation and total body carbohydrate oxidation was higher in the dehydrated group whereas fat oxidation was lower. The dehydrated group had a significantly higher core temperature and heart rate as well.
Discussion: At this point you would probably like to know why being dehydrated makes the body rely more on carbohydrates rather than fat. There currently is no answer to that; however, the authors suggest three theories behind it.
An augmented nervous system response from the adrenal glands leading to activation of an enzyme that uses glycogen.
Low energy levels that are sensed in cells
Higher intramuscular temperature (which appears to be the primary mechanism)
My input: It is now being understood a little more why dehydration causes performance deficits. Clearly, if you are going to tap into your muscle glycogen faster, you will not be able to perform as long as if you were using primarily fat, which is very energy rich. Still, more needs to be done to understand the exact mechanism for the switch.
Nutritional regulation of muscle protein synthesis with resistance exercise: strategies to enhance anabolism.
Maximize your muscle protein synthesis after weight training, bros. I’ll highlight for you a recent review, which the scientist nerds can read entirely for free here, from Dr. Stuart M. Phillips. I encourage you to take the time to read this one.
Introuction: When scientists talk about muscle protein synthesis they are referring to accruing muscle proteins in an overall net positive balance. That is to say, taking the most basic form of proteins, amino acids, and eventually creating structural muscle (aka hypertrophy). Normally, this is done by adding to already existing contractile machinery of the muscle cells. Researchers suggest that muscle protein synthesis (MPS for now on) is controlled by certain factors including dose, food source, and timing. Let’s see what Dr. Phillips has to say about each of these areas.
"The anabolic window" -Timing
It’s like the holy grail of muscle growth for bros. ”You can’t miss the window or you ruined the entire workout.” Well, that’s a bit exaggerated. Phillips states that, "It is now unequivocal that immediate post-exercise amino acid provision is an effective nutrition based strategy to enhance MPS above rates observed with exercise alone.”Early post-exercise ingestion of amino acids or protein comes from studies that showed that exercise induced increases in rates of MPS are greatest right after exercise; approximately 100-150% above basal rates. However, it may not be that big of a deal if you miss this window. If you look at the figure below, the increase in MPS is in fact greater after exercise but can remain elevated for up to 48 hours. Phillips suggests that consuming protein during these later times as well can be just as beneficial as ingesting protein directly after exercise.
More importantly, Philips discusses the importance of actual exercise intensity and how it relates to muscle failure. This is in lines with a study I touched upon in the past. Looking at yet again another figure below, you can see that groups that take resistance exercise to failure, regardless if they’re using heavy load and low volume, or a light load and high volume had an enhanced amino acid sensitivity to muscle protein synthesis. Let me say that again, IRREGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH WEIGHT YOU USE, as long as you are taking the muscle to failure, you will increase your rates of muscle protein synthesis more than loads not till failure.
Let it be noted that whey, egg albumin, soy, casein, and beef have all been shown scientifically to be able to stimulate MPS. However, the Philips group has shown in the past that whey and milk can increase MPS greater than soy products following resistance exercise (this could be due to differences in amino acid profiles and/or digestion kinetics). Why is whey fast-digesting and casein slow-digesting? Every one knows that or will tell you that but do they even have an explanation why? Phillips drops a knowledge bomb with one sentence, “Whey protein is acid soluble and is associated with a very rapid, large, but transient increase in postprandial amino acid availability, while casein coagulates and precipitates when exposed to stomach acid and the resultant dairy curd is slowly released from the stomach resulting in a much more moderate but sustained rise in plasma amino acids.” I love knowledge bombs.
It is still accepted that in young healthy individuals, approximately 20-25g (which corresponds to approximately 8-10g of essential amino acids) of a rapid digesting protein source (whey or milk) can help maximize stimulation of MPS after resistance exercise.
Can you post more often? I really enjoy the fact that your blog is backed by real science. Something that bothers me about Tumblr is the fact that there is so much bro-science out there and very little facts supporting popular posts. While it's fancy to put up pretty pictures and all, some of us do really appreciate a good study or finding and would appreciate it if you shared more with us. Thanks.
Thanks for the support, brother. I post when I find some down time from the lab. But let it be known I always preach quality over quantity in all aspects of life. If you’re around Tumblr today, you’re in for a treat. One you’ll specifically love.
Aerobic Exercise Alters Skeletal Muscle Molecular Responses to Resistance Exercise
Weight training and some form of aerobic in the same session. Does it hurt or help?
Introduction: Exercise scientists use the term concurrent exercise when referring to resistance training and aerobic exercise being performed in the same session. These two modes of exercise are different in regards to skeletal muscle profiles and therefore may not be compatible with one another on the cellular level. This is noted as an “interference effect” between the different signals occurring in the muscle. The purpose of this study was to see the effects of a short bout of aerobic exercise on the molecular responses that are supposed to control exercise-specific muscle adaptations to resistance exercise.
Methods: The subjects (9 men) underwent one-legged aerobic exercise in the morning followed by four sets of resistance exercise six hours later. One leg received both aerobic and resistance exercise while the other volunteer’s leg served as a control and only received resistance exercise. Standardized meals were given the day before and the day of to each person and muscle biopsies were taken.
Results: The leg that underwent both aerobic and resistance exercise decreased in muscle glycogen more than the leg that just did resistance (makes sense). A well-known marker of mitochondrial biogenesis was higher in the leg that underwent both training modes. Another marker or muscle size regulation (myostatin) was significantly lower in both the resistance trained leg and in the leg that underwent both modes. Finally, a marker of protein synthesis was higher in the leg that underwent aerobic plus resistance training than the other leg.
Discussion/conclusion: From this study, the authors conclude that concurrent exercise may in fact enhance the skeletal muscle anabolic environment although it is important to note that these differences between legs were modest. An interesting finding is that the well-known marker of mitochondrial biogenesis which is usually increased from endurance training also increased from the resistance trained leg as well. Myostatin inhibits muscle hypertrophy and the finding that both legs decreased myostatin levels shows that both training modes could be effective at increasing muscle mass (although both legs did resistance and this very well may be the main reason for that). In conclusion, the authors state that both exercise types can be scheduled on the same day without compromising important molecular signals in the muscle.
My input: I’ve written about this previously on my blog. This study has similar results to the other in that they conclude resistance training after aerobic training may in fact enhance muscle machinery and subsequently help with performance. Although, the two studies are truly hard to compare due to the fact that this current one waited 7 hours later to do the resistance training, while the previous one I wrote about hit the weights immediately after. A great strength of this study was using one leg for aerobic and resistance exercise and using the person’s other leg as the control that just received resistance exercise. As far as a doing weights after cardio on the same day in the gym, there seems to be no immediate inference effect but this can not yet be extrapolated to more long-term sessions.
Hey Nick, first of all, I just wanted to say that your blog is fantastic and insightful and I love reading it. Secondly, I was wondering if you could possibly point me in the direction of authors whose work centers around exercise and cognition or anything to do with or any sort of exercise/neuro mix? I'm not exactly sure where to look. Thanks so much, I appreciate your time.
Thank you so much for the support. As for the exercise/neuro mix. I got you covered:
OMG, this blog is exactly what I was looking for :) I'm going to read through it on the weekend. What are your main sources of information? Are there any books you can recommend? I kinda trust books more than the internet ;)
Thank you for the kind words. I greatly appreciate it. My main sources of information come from peer-reviewed journal articles. As far as books, I use mainly all my textbooks from courses (which would be way too expensive for just leisure reading). However, I do find this book worth having if you love human metabolism and have somewhat of a biology/biochemistry background. It’s well written.
I had a question from your July 21 post about the link "How to get the numbers on your side". I was wondering where the metabolic changes that cause weightloss to plateau mainly occurs. In the example of restricting 100 calories a day, would your metabolism eventually slow and cause weightloss to halt because of a loss of muscle?
Good question. I’ve touched upon this in a previous post last September. You can read it here. If this doesn’t answer your question feel free to ask me more.
P.S. Being a mitochondrial specialist I must say, awesome blog name.
Protein Ingestion before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery
"Yo, you gotta take your casein before bed so you stay anabolic. Steady flow of amino acids while I sleep." How many times have you heard that? How many people have showed you a study validating it? Finally, one exists.
Introduction: It is hypothesized that ingesting protein before sleep could be beneficial to increase plasma amino acid availability, stimulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis and increase whole-body protein balance during sleep. Thus, this group took 16 recreationally active young men and after a single bout of resistance training gave them either casein protein or a placebo before bed. This is the first study to look at the effect of ingesting casein protein immediately before sleep and subsequently seeing how it effects protein synthesis and protein balance overnight.
Methods: All subjects received a standard meal the evening before the test and a standardized diet throughout the experimental day. Tracers were implemented in this study which allows for measurements of certain molecule in the blood. A tracer is a molecular that contains radioactive isotopes that can be measured by machines to see the overall flux of the molecule throughout the body. In this study, the researchers traced radioactive amino acids (it’s safe because they are stable isotopes, trust me)throughout the night following the exercise protocol. The protocol consisted of leg extensions and leg press and was performed three hours before bed.
Results: After ingestion of protein before sleep, the total essential amino acid concentrations in the plasma increased rapidly and stayed higher throughout the night as compared to the placebo group. For the tracer, the amount of protein available from the plasma-derived amino acids was 50% higher in the protein ingestion group at time 7.5hrs after sleep compared to the placebo. Finally, whole-body protein synthesis rates were higher in the protein group versus the placebo group.
Discussion: It is evident that the casein protein was in fact digested and absorbed normally throughout the night because the tracer used in this case came directly from the casein protein shake. Not only did they observe and increase in whole-body protein synthesis with the blood plasma samples, but the group also showed an increase in synthetic rate by taking muscle biopsies as well. Of course this could not be confirmed throughout the night but only before bed otherwise the person would not be able to sleep when the biopsy was being performed. Also, it is important to keep in mind that this is an acute (one-time) bout of resistance training and not chronic (long-term).
Casein protein at bedtime is effectively digested and absorbed which would lead to an increase in available amino acids from blood plasma overnight
Casein protein at bedtime stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates which would increase overnight protein balance.
My input: This study highlights the practicality and necessity of using tracers. Without labeling the amino acid in the casein drink, it would be difficult to tell whether or not the amino acids in the plasma are coming from inside the body (endogenous) or what was ingested (exogenous). The authors clearly show in the figures that the rise in the amino acids come from the isotope labelled casein source that they provided. Now for the first time, you can all finally tell your friends it is a good idea to supplement with casein before bed because science suggested it.
1kg (2.2lbs) of skeletal muscle contains approximately 650g of intracellular water. Representing normally around 40% of body weight, skeletal muscle in the whole body contains 80 grams of amino acids in the intracellular pool. The amino acids glutamine, glutamic acid, and alanine contribute approximately 80% to this pool.
Apologies for the continuous lack of posts on articles. When MSSE is putting out articles on breast kinematics during bare-breasted running it is kind of hard to have something worth posting to you all. Yes ladies, the larger your cup size the more acceleration and velocity your breasts will have. Surprising, isn’t it?
Would you be able to give any links to scientific articles about the benefits of aerobic exercise? I am trying to convince a friend of mine that anaerobic and weights are not the only types of exercise needed for a healthy lifestyle. I'd really appreciate it!
My favorite scientist for this is definitely Dr. Blair. I’ve linked tons and tons and tons of articles from him for you here. If you see one you like and you want to know more about it let me know.
Resistance training in a low muscle glycogen state does not have any negative effects on anabolic signals necessary for muscle protein synthesis to occur during recovery. That is to say, whether or not you are depleted of carbohydrates before training does not hinder your recovery.
I read three articles this week solely for the purpose of posting on here but it turned out I didn’t like any of them. So I apologize for not giving you all a new article. Instead, I suggest checking out this week’s ACSM sports medicine brief written by my doctoral adviser on how much exercise is necessary to improve insulin resistance.
Sex-based comparison of protein synthesis following resistance exercise.
The title says it all. Who is better able to recover following resistance training? The results may surprise you (or even motivate you).
Introduction: Researchers sought out to see whether men or women have higher rates of protein synthesis during the early (1-5) and late (24-48) hour recovery periods. In addition to the resistance training, they also gave a dose of whey protein (25g) that is expected to induce maximal muscle protein synthesis. A secondary aim of this study was to see if the large amount of testosterone released by men post-exercise (10 to 15 times higher in men than women) would have an additive effect on muscle protein synthesis that women would not be able to obtain.
Methods: Eight men and eight women who were participating in regular physical activity took part in this study. The bout of exercise was an intense bout with 5 sets of 10 reps at 90% of a persons 10 rep maximum on the leg press as well as 3 sets of 12 reps of leg extensions/leg curls supersets. Upon finishing this workout, subjects were given 25g of whey protein.
Results: Starting rates of protein synthesis were similar between men and women. After exercise, protein synthesis increased in men and women at 1-3 hours and remained elevated at 26-28 hours after with no difference between the sexes.Testosterone was approximately 45 times greater in men than women fifteen minutes after exercise but did not have an effect on muscle protein synthesis more than that of women.
Discussion/Conclusion: This study shows that there are similar rates of muscle protein synthesis as well as anabolic cellular signaling events between men and women following resistance training plus a 25g dose of whey protein in the earl and late phases of post-exercise recovery. Even though men had a far greater increase in testosterone than women post-exercise, it was not enough to increase protein synthesis more than women. Therefore, the anabolic effect of resistance exercise clearly is working through some other mechanism other than spikes in testosterone levels.
My input: So, men do not have it easier when it comes to weight training anabolic responses. Both sexes are primed equally for muscle recovery. The fact that they looked at testosterone comparisons really added to the quality of this study. It is important to note that the authors are referring to muscle protein synthesis during a recovery phase and not muscle protein synthesis in a long-term muscle building sense. However, recovery is the first step to adding muscle.
Strap up, homies. Experimenting with Blood Flow Occlusion Training
It seems every month there is a new article published on blood flow occlusion training. I’ve written on this once back in January but thought I’d revisit it again. Instead of presenting an article on it this time, I’m proposing something new to all of you. Someone once asked me if I “experiment” with my own training and to that I answered that I very much experiment with my own training to see what works best for me. Each person should take that approach in route to achieving your goals.
With that said, I decided I’m going to try this blood flow occlusion principle for the next 9 weeks. However, instead of going to the extreme and using a cuff or a rubber band similar to that they place on your arm to draw blood, I’m going to simply use an iPod armband. The beauty of this setup is not only I have my gym bangers closer for me to navigate, but I am setting it up the same way a lot of researchers do in their studies; using one arm for control and the other (the strapped one) for experimentation. That way I can compare between the two arms to see if the one strapped up has more growth or similar growth to the one not strapped up.
The hypotheses are the following:
The arm that is strapped will grow more than the arm that is not strapped.
The arm that is strapped will grow less than the arm that is not strapped.
The arm that is strapped will grow the same as the arm that is not strapped.
If you would like to participate and try it out for yourself you choose a hypothesis and then choose your arm. Now that’s how you go from the lab to the gym and an example of how you should see what works best for you.
Tomorrow I will have an excellent article lined up for you on the comparisons between men and women in regards to muscle protein synthetic rates following resistance training.
I'm in California for the ACSM 2012 (and vacation)
Some of you may have been wondering why I have not been posting. Well the reason for that is I’m currently taking a break from the lab, reading journal articles, and life as a PhD student in general and am in San Francisco on vacation and afterwards heading down to San Diego. I’m not here solely for vacation but will also be attending the American College of Sports Medicine national conference next week from May 29th to June 2nd. I’ll make up for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks by highlighting the top research in exercise science from this event day by day.
Until then, if any of you live in the area and would like to hang out, get lunch, get a coffee, go for a run, pump iron, or anything people from San Francisco normally do (eat clam chowder?) you can message me on here or Tweet me. I’ll try to make it happen. If any of you are actually going to the ACSM conference I would love to meet you.
On to the gym banger for the week and this week I have a mixtape for you to download. Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 is vicious. His delivery is raw. It’ll make you wanna eat 45lb plates for breakfast. It’ll make you wanna throw 25lb plates like a Frisbee at anyone who glances at you the wrong way in the gym. Just listen to this intro and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I think I broke 4 PRs due solely to this mixtape blaring in my ears.
The 10-20-30 Training Concept Improves Performance & Health Profile in Moderately Trained Runners
Have a 5K coming up or a race in a track meet? Would you like to improve your time in the event (wow, it sounds like I’m trying to sell something)? Well, a group from Denmark just published a paper with an interesting endurance training method to help you reach your new time goal. This one is for the runners and I assure you I’m not selling anything but exercise.
Introduction: It is known that people who are already trained need to intensify their training protocols to continue to improve. Training at maximal or near maximal intensities creates the muscular adaptations necessary for these improvements. A popular method to do this is introducing 30 second sprint intervals into your training coupled with a short recovery period. Normally, this is repeated 4-5 times. However, it is uncertain whether training using just 10 second near maximal sprints has the same effect as the 30 second intervals. In addition, it is unclear whether training at this high of an intensity can affect the health profile of people who are previously trained. Therefore, the 10-20-30 training concept is introduced and tested to see whether or not it can lead to endurance performance, increases in cardiovascular fitness, as well as health.
Methods: Eighteen moderately trained individuals (12 males and 6 females) were divided into 2 groups, the 10-20-30 group or a control group. For a period of 7-weeks, the 10-20-30 group trained with this method whereas the control group continued with their normal weekly training sessions (2-4 times per week, 27km and 137min total). The 10-20-30 training concept consists of 3-4 x 5 min running interspersed with 2 min of rest. During the 5 min running period, a person would run 1 min of an interval divided into 30, 20, and 10 seconds at an intensity related to <30%, <60%, and >90-100% of maximal intensity. They performed this 3 times per week with a volume of 14 km per week. To test differences in the training methods, the groups performed a 1500m race, a 5-K run, and a running test to exhaustion.
Results (after 7 weeks):
The 10-20-30 group improved performance by 6% in the 1500m and 4% in the 5-K run with no difference in the control group.
The 10-20-30 group increased their VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake) by 4% with no changes in the control group.
The 10-20-30 group lowered their total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol with no changes in the control group.
The 10-20-30 group’s systolic blood pressure was lower with no changes in the control group.
Discussion: After a 7-week period, the 10-20-30 training method, lead to an increase in VO2max of 4% and decreased times on the 1500m by 21 seconds and on the 5-K by 48 seconds. In regards to health, this training concept also decreased LDL cholesterol as well as resting systolic blood pressure. This all occurred even though the volume of training reduced by 54%. One explanation for this by the authors is that high cardiac stress (the max effort 10 second sprints) coupled with a reduction in training volume is sufficient enough to increase VO2max because the group that did the 10-20-30 spent approximately 40% of training time spent above 90% of maximal heart rate whereas the control group spent 0% of training at this level. For health parameters, the authors also state that the 5 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure is of clinically significant because a decrease such as this can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by 10-15%.
Practicality: If you were wondering approximate running speeds in case you want to try this out on the treadmill, the 10 second intervals were at speeds >20 km/h, the 20 second intervals were between 10-14 km/h, and the 30 second intervals were <10 km/h. For those still having trouble understanding the 10-20-30 principle I will give an example: You would run a warm-up of 5 min at a very low intensity, following this you would begin the 5 minutes interval which is divided into 10-20-30 seconds for each minute. You run <10 km/h for 30 seconds then right away increase the speed to 10-14 km/h for 20 seconds then again immediately increase the speed to >20 km/h (or as fast as you can run for 10 seconds). After repeating this another 4 (to make 5 minutes) times you would then have a recovery period of 2 min at a low intensity before repeating the 5 minute intervals 2 or 3 more times. For those who have tight time schedules, this is practical because all of these improvements with this technique can be accomplished in just 30 minutes. The authors also state that 10-20-30 is also applicable for anyone who is sedentary up to elite running levels.