By Chris and Eric Martinez
Please view this short introduction
In case you missed the First installment on 15 Nutrition Myths You Want to Know…Allow the Experts to Tell…
Question: What do you feel is the biggest nutrition myth out there today? (Choose 1 myth and depending on the myth, please state why and how it affects people and what can they do to stray away from it?)
Dr. Mike T Nelson-
One of the biggest myths in the fitness area is that you have to choose between fat metabolism or carbohydrate metabolism.
Fat loss is the goal for most and thus the emphasis is on fat metabolism. However, if you’re on an extremely low carbohydrate diet to enhance fat metabolism, your performance in the gym is going to decrease. This not good since you are decreasing the overload to your muscles in addition to literally doing less work.
On the flip side, many talk about carbohydrate metabolism since you need carbohydrates in order to fuel exercise. The downside is that a high carb diet can lead to fat gain.
Which one do you pick then?
I say you pick both! Train your body to switch back and forth between fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism, and you get the best of both worlds. The fancy word for this is metabolic flexibility (Kelley DE).
Metabolic flexibility allows us to do both. If you are going to do some high intensity exercise, which is good because it definitely helps fat loss, increases muscle, and helps metabolic health, you want to use carbohydrates.
The rest of the time, if you’re just hanging out and not being active you primarily want to use fat.
Metabolic flexibility allows your body to switch back and forth to pick the right fuel at the right time You will not compromise the overload applied to your muscle by lifting in the gym (using carbs) and switching to use more fat when you are outside of the gym. You can have the best of both worlds –performance and a better body composition.
David E. Kelley “Skeletal muscle fat oxidation: timing and flexibility are everything” J Clin Invest. Jul 1, 2005; 115(7): 1699–1702. doi: 10.1172/JCI25758
Mike T. Nelson has spent more than a decade of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier. He has a PhD in Exercise Physiology. He holds a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanics).
He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine.
He’s been called in to share his techniques with top government agencies like DARPA.
The techniques he’s developed, and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.
Get more information on him at http://www.miketnelson.com
It’s difficult to single out a “biggest” nutritional myth; so many to choose from. One myth that I’ve recently been involved in debunking is the claim of a narrow “anabolic window of opportunity” whereby protein must be consumed within an hour post-workout; waiting any longer impairs gains. Some have even asserted that if you wait 3 hours then you basically lose out on any benefit of the resistance training session. To evaluate whether such an “anabolic window” does in fact exist, I recently collaborated with my colleagues Alan Aragon and James Krieger to carry out a meta-analysis of existing data on the topic. We included any study that compared a protein intake (minimum 6 g EAAs) given 1 hour pre- and/or post-exercise versus protein consumption at least 2 hour or more outside of the bout. A total of 23 studies encompassing over 500 subjects met inclusion criteria for muscle hypertrophy. Results showed no significant differences regardless of the timing of protein intake. What was shown to be supremely important was the amount of protein consumed: those who consumed higher intakes (~1.7 g/kg) showed significantly greater muscle growth than those who consumed lower amounts (~1.3 g/kg). Here’s the take home message. The timing of protein intake in and around a resistance training has at best a small impact on muscular gains. It certainly is not going to make or break your results. For those who are recreational lifters, it really shouldn’t matter when you take in protein, at least within fairly wide limits. Rather, the focus should be on meeting your daily protein requirements (i.e. at least 1.6 g/kg/day). On the other hand, those who are competitive bodybuilders or strength athletes would be best advised to consume protein relatively quickly following training. In this case, it’s best to err on the side of caution as even a small effect can be the difference between winning or losing a competition.
Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Dec 3;10(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-53.
Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, CSCS, CSPS, FNSCA
My book: The MAX Muscle Plan
Since most of the mainstream myths have been covered, I’ll focus on bodybuilding and go with the myth that you need 1 g/lb (2.2 g/kg) of bodyweight of protein to maximize muscle gain. Since there are so many studies and anecdotes showing the benefits of high protein intakes, it is not surprising that many people think more is even better. What many people don’t realize, is that there is an extensive scientific literature on the optimal protein intake. Studies have been done on competitive bodybuilders on a cutting diet, elite athletes in contest season, males, females, the young, the old and many more populations. Not a single study has found benefits of consuming more than 0.64 g/lb of protein. Not even an outlier with a sketchy methodology, not one!
In fact, the research indicates that protein needs decrease as a result of weight training for two reasons. One, your body adapts to the breakdown of protein during training. And two, as you become more advanced you won’t be able to build as much muscle per training session anymore.
Now you might ask: what’s the harm in consuming too much protein? Excessive protein isn’t harmful per se, but I see many bodybuilders who cut their carb or, more frequently, their fat intake far below healthy levels while still consuming excessive levels of protein. Protein is also generally expensive. Most importantly though, I see this knowledge as liberating. You don’t have to consume 1 g/lb of protein every day to build muscle as fast as humanly possible.
If you’re interested in the scientific details of how much protein you need, I recommend you read my review on the optimal protein intake for bodybuilders.
Bayesian bodybuilder, popular science author and online personal trainer, Menno Henselmans helps serious trainees attain their ideal physique using scientific and Bayesian methods. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter and check out his free articles on bodybuilding.
Want to know what else Menno has to say about fat loss and muscle growth? Check out his upcoming seminars http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/seminar/ in Miami.
Gabriel Wilson, PhD Nutritional Sciences-
When the Martinez brothers asked me to contribute to a nutrition Myth round table, I responded that there are so many myths out there, where do I begin? We can talk about the myth that you can’t absorb more than 10 grams of protein at once – in fact your body is quite efficient at absorbing protein and absorbs ~90% of it even when you exceed 10 grams. Or the creatine myth that creatine increases risk of injuries and causes cramping – in fact research has shown creatine increases hydration status of muscle and reduces risk of cramping and injury. So I decided to instead focus on the root of the problem – where do myths come from?
The Origin of Nutrition Myths
I remember when my bro Dr. Jacob Wilson and I were growing up – who is also in this round table – we were competitive athletes in a variety of sports as kids and would rely on information from so called experts in the field that we found on websites or high class fitness magazines. But the information was so extreme, and so variable and conflicting we did not know where to turn…so we ended up testing a bunch of stupid methods in our training of course. But at the end of the experience, we decided to become scientists for the very purpose of bridging the gap between science and sport. I just wish I could go back in time and educate the young Wilson’s on how dumb the advice they received was! Unfortunately I can’t, but we both have dedicated our careers to educating the next generation on science myths so they can avoid making dumb mistakes.
As a trained scientist, it is quite easy for me to distinguish myth from fact. The remainder of this article will be spent educating the reader on some simple ways to do this, so you can avoid falling prey to common nutrition myths.
Anecdotal evidence (bro science)
One of the biggest propagators of myths is personal experience – whether it be novices or from pro athletes. People are full of opinions based on their own personal experience. “Oh bro, I ate 500 grams of protein daily and eliminated carbs and got huge AND cut! I’m telling you, carbs are evil!!” Now, I don’t want to alienate anecdotal evidence – in fact, the first step in the scientific method is observation! There are many groups of scientists who dedicate their lives studying what elite athletes do, and what separates them from the average human. But this research takes meticulous details, controlling variables, and attaining large sample sizes. While any single athlete may succeed in spite of poor diet, or poor mechanics. But it does not mean they would not get better results if they changed their eating habits and mechanics.
As we learned from watching the movie “wally” technology is not always a good thing. These people became so dependent on technology, that they became immobile and obese. We have seen a similar trend in our own society today with obesity rates skyrocketing – in large part due to technology and the convenience it takes to obtain food and avoid exercise. Indeed, technology can be a blessing and a curse.
Today possibly more than ever, athletes are starting to read science papers. But a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing…the lay public is often not educated to read papers. So all they do is read the “title” or “abstract” and so little information is obtained in this. And unfortunately, some titles and abstracts are poorly written and lead them to spreading myths. I strongly encourage reading science papers. But you need to know how. Here are a few tips:
- What is the target population? Results will vary according to age, disease state, experimental model, etc. Point in case, lets say you see a study that says whey protein does not increase muscle growth….but the population is 70 year olds, and they gave a typical dose they would give to young people (10-15 grams lets say). Well in fact, the elderly have been shown to be “anabolic resistant” and do not respond as well to amino acids as young people so they need more to get the same result. So always ask yourself, does this study apply to everyone?
- What is the dose given? I have commonly seen studies, which conclude that you don’t need fast digesting carbs post workout to optimize glycogen replenishment. Then people post on face book “see bro, told you I could have apples and replenish glycogen!” but consider the dose…many of these studies are giving 100 grams of carbs at a single dose or 500 grams daily. Well no kidding! The key for athletes is nutrient efficiency. You want to get the most, for the least amount of calories.
- What’s the outcome measure? I remember about a decade ago, there was a huge rage about casein being more anabolic than whey based on a few studies. The science was not wrong. The interpretation was. These studies were measuring whole body protein turnover, which is not necessarily a reflection of what is occurring in muscle. Years later, scientists discovered that whey protein is more anabolic than casein in muscle, and results in 3 X the amount of muscle growth when compared to giving casein during a resistance training program. So look closely – what is actually being measured?
I could go on about this for a long time, but I’ve already far exceeded the word count afforded to me by the Martinez bros. I will conclude by stating: be meticulous in your studies; ask educated experts in the field of study you are interested in; and of course I encourage all to pursue education. Hopefully this roundtable will get you one step closer to reaching your goals and avoiding mistakes and myths previous athletes have succumb to.
Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. – Proverbs 8:11
Gabriel Has his PhD from the University of Illinois in Nutritional Sciences where he studied optimal protein intakes for muscle health and body composition. He has written and contributed to numerous sport and bodybuilding magazines including Ironman Magazine and abcbodybuilding.com. Currently he is a Nutrition Coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida. He also is the co-owner of ABCBodybuilding.com
JACOB M. WILSON, Ph.D, Ryan P. Lowery, B.S-
Human Performance and Sport Nutrition Laboratory, University of Tampa, Tampa FL
If it fits your macros is one of the fastest rising nutrition techniques used by bodybuilders, athletes, and everyday individuals. The central tenant of the IIFYM conjecture is that as long as it fits within your daily macronutrients you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want and still optimize your body composition. However, we feel that the literature disagrees with this conjecture, particularly as it concerns optimizing body composition and performance. Granted, for the average individual looking to stay fit and generally healthy, or just lose weight IIFYM may be a solid selection. While a number of non-laboratory, isolated examples have demonstrated the usefulness of IIFYM we contend, that scientific literature strongly indicates that IIFYM does not optimize body composition. The following paragraphs we will give three primary reasons why IIFYM is not ideal.
Protein Quality and Digestion Rate
The first shortcoming of IIFYM is that it assumes that all proteins are equal. This could not be further from the truth. For example Tang and colleagues (2009) investigated the effects of administering 22 g of whey and casein (10 g of EAAs) both at rest and following a resistance training protocol in young males. Results 200% greater increases in plasma leucine in the whey than casein condition. Moreover, these researchers found that whey stimulated greater muscle protein synthesis both at rest and following exercise than casein. In addition research from Dr. Cribb (2006) has demonstrated that 10 weeks of whey protein supplementation in trained bodybuilders resulted in greater gains in lean mass (5.0 vs. 0.8 kg), decrease in fat mass (-1.5 vs .2) and strength than casein. Finally numerous studies demonstrate that animal based proteins result in greater increases in muscle protein synthesis, hypertrophy, and strength as compared to plant based proteins (Hartman et al 2007, Norton et al. 2012). Collectively these findings strongly make it clear that both the quality and digestion rate of a protein source impact body composition.
Your body does not metabolize all fats the same way
A major misconception of the IIFYM paradigm is that it assumes that the body treats all fats the same. However this is unequivocally false. For example the chain length of a fatty acid strongly dictates its metabolism. Long chain fatty acids (LCFA) require complex transport mechanisms in order to make it into the mitochondria. These transport mechanisms are heavily impacted by the hormone insulin, with higher levels inhibiting fatty acid transport into the mitochondria. In contrast medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) can directly diffuse into the blood stream and into the mitochondria, irrespective of the carbohydrate and insulin load introduced into the system. In hepatocytes as well as in other cells, storage of MCFAs is limited (Papamandjaris, MacDougall, & Jones, 1998). Thus, research demonstrates that consumption of MCFAs results in greater fat oxidation, greater fat loss during a caloric deficit, and in cases energy expenditure than LCFAs (St. Onge et al. 2003; Babayan, 1987; Tsuji et al. 2001). Finally research has demonstrated that supplementation of fish oil relative to corn oil results in less subcutaneous and visceral fat even though total macronutrient content was matched for (Hainault et al. 1993).
Distribution of Nutrients
The final flaw of IIFYM, is that it doesn’t matter when you consume your macros, how they are distributed, or how many meals they are consumed over. A recent study by Areta et al. (2013) investigated the effects of consuming 80 grams of whey protein following exercise in eight, 10 gram servings, four 20 gram servings, and two 40 gram servings on protein synthesis in young men. These researchers found that 20 grams distributed over 4 meals resulted in the greatest overall increase in protein synthesis. For those of you who are familiar with the literature, you know that 20 grams of quality protein raises protein synthesis to near maximal levels, with decreasing returns following (Moore 2009). Moreover smaller boluses of protein result in little to no protein synthesis (Areta 2013). Thus, even with an equal macronutrient profile, the distribution clearly impacted the outcome. Additionally long term research published in 2014 out of Paddon-Jones Lab clearly demonstrates that equally dividing your protein over 3 meals resulted in greater daily protein synthesis than concentrating most of your protein with dinner (Paddon-Jones et al. 2014). Another example comes from Molly Bray’s lab, which indicates the time you consume certain nutrients such as fats and carbohydrates can impact your metabolism and body composition. In fact Bray et al found that consuming a low carbohydrate, higher fat breakfast resulted in greater fat metabolism in a 24-hour period, greater metabolic flexibility and lower body fat mass over several weeks than consuming higher carbs earlier in the day. This is despite the fact that this study had absolutely no differences in the types or amounts of each macronutrient consumed! This strongly suggests that in a 24 hour period it would be smarter to have an omelet with cheese for breakfast, rather than saving your fats for a large cheesecake with dinner, irrespective of your total fat intake for the day!
As scientists who specialize in the body composition and performance of strength and power athletes our job is not to tell you what is easiest to follow. Rather it is to exclaim and educate you on what the data tells us is optimal for your physique. What you do with that information is your decision. While we certainly believe that the IIFYM paradigm can be advantageous, we do not feel science supports its use for those interested in OPTIMIZING their body composition.
Areta, J. L., Burke, L. M., Ross, M. L., Camera, D. M., West, D. W., Broad, E. M., … & Coffey, V. G. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. The Journal of physiology, 591(9), 2319-2331.
Babayan, V. K. (1987). Medium chain triglycerides and structured lipids. Lipids, 22(6), 417-420.
Cribb, P. J., Williams, A. D., Carey, M. F., & Hayes, A. (2006). The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16(5), 494. Chicago
Conlee, R. K., Lawler, R. M., & Ross, P. E. (1987). Effects of glucose or fructose feeding on glycogen repletion in muscle and liver after exercise or fasting. Annals of nutrition and metabolism, 31(2), 126-132.
Hartman, J. W., Tang, J. E., Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Lawrence, R. L., Fullerton, A. V., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(2), 373-381.
Hainault, I., Carlotti, M., Hajduch, E., Guichard, C., & Lavau, M. (1993). Fish oil in a high lard diet prevents obesity, hyperlipemia, and adipocyte insulin resistance in rats. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 683(1), 98-101.
Lustig, R. H. (2013). Fructose: It’s “Alcohol Without the Buzz”. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(2), 226-235.
Moore, D. R., Robinson, M. J., Fry, J. L., Tang, J. E., Glover, E. I., Wilkinson, S. B., … & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 89(1), 161-168.
Norton, L. E., Wilson, G. J., Layman, D. K., Moulton, C. J., & Garlick, P. J. (2012). Leucine content of dietary proteins is a determinant of postprandial skeletal muscle protein synthesis in adult rats. Nutrition & metabolism, 9(1), 67.
Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107(3), 987-992. Chicago
St-Onge, M. P., Bourque, C., Jones, P. J. H., Ross, R., & Parsons, W. E. (2003). Medium-versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women. International journal of obesity, 27(1), 95-102. Chicago
Tsuji, Hiroaki, et al. “Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women.” The Journal of nutrition. 131.11 (2001): 2853-2859.
Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults Madonna et al. 2014 The Journal of Nutrition In Press
Papamandjaris, A. A., Macdougall, D. E., & Jones, P. J. (1998). Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications. Life sciences, 62(14), 1203-1215.
Volek, J. S., Sharman, M. J., Love, D. M., Avery, N. G., Scheett, T. P., & Kraemer, W. J. (2002). Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Metabolism, 51(7), 864-870.Chicago
Dr. Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS*D is a professor and director of the exercise & sports nutrition laboratory in the department of health sciences and human performance at the University of Tampa, Tampa Fl. Jacob has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers, and abstracts on sports nutrition, supplementation, and resistance training in athletic and clinical situations. His research has covered both the cellular and molecular responses to supplementation and nutrition, as well as the whole body changes in muscle size, strength, and power. Dr. Wilson is also a proud member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and National Strength and Conditioning Association, and President of the website Abcbodybuilding.com
I’m sure I won’t be the only person asked to contribute who doesn’t start with, “Singular? One myth; how could I choose?” I’ll randomly pull one out of a hat…here we go…ah; the myth of meal spacing. I always raise my eyebrows and cock my head to the left just a little when I read statements like you have to eat every two or three hours or you’ll lose muscle. Kind of like hearing phrases such as God loves you so much that he has the hair on your head numbered, but then he makes Russell Crowe the captain of the S.S. Arkasaurous, sits back with a bowl of popcorn, and drowns twenty million people. Huh? How is a muscle fiber lost? If it takes a chicken breast several hours to digest, and even casein proves amino uptake can still occur more than six hours after ingestion, how is muscle lost if I don’t eat every three hours? How can I grow muscle back if it’s a genetic/DNA/satellite cell kind of thing? And why did Noah keep mosquitos and bed bugs on the ark?
While we do need a few rounds of protein every day, it’s best to think in terms of situational need and metabolic need. An ectomorph metabolizes everything faster—protein included—so eating every three or four hours might be necessary, especially in the couple of meal cycles after a training session. If enough protein is consumed—or slower-digesting varieties—it’s okay to go longer. You really won’t lose muscle. I promise. You’re loved so much that the number of your muscle fibers are counted too. Considering that current recommendations for protein are closer to half a gram per pound of lean body mass—thank you, USRDA for the increase—I have no problem rounding up to a full gram due to dieting, goals of maximum muscle gain, paranoia, and, hey; we’re Americans, dammit: if a little is good, more is better! If you choose to eat more, you’ll slide up the continuum of risk versus return and I think you should know those risks.
No, I don’t care about your kidneys. Unless, of course, you’re a hard-working, contributing member of society, then I wouldn’t mind if you stayed around a little longer, but the real risk is that you’ll be using up more calories than necessary on useless excessive protein instead of metabolic and anabolic carbs. When you have minimum protein requirements met, more protein isn’t helpful. Carbs are. Seriously, that part is true. If 150 grams of protein does the trick, 300 won’t make you bigger. Sucks, I know, but you’ll save money on groceries just cause we’re pals, your urine won’t smell like a tin can, and your dental hygienist won’t have to use a jack hammer to chisel the calculus from behind your lower incisors. I know that’s a weird one, but just ask her.
So, consider that you need protein in three or four meals per day, maybe five if you’re an ecto, and feel free to extend meal times out longer than three hours. Live on the edge and even try five or six hours some weekend that you’re feeling crazy after a large meal. Get busy out of the house and out of the gym doing…oh, I don’t know…life? Let yourself get hungry before you eat again.
In your spare time check out research on the benefits of cycling food intake outside of a routine, letting liver amino acid pools deplete once in a while, resensitizing insulin receptor sites, and fun things like that. I’m not advocating intermittent fasting or anything bizarre; I’m more a fan of logic. Eat based on what your body needs, what your goals are, and understand a little of the science behind it. Be careful who you trust. Whether a blogger in his underwear eating doughnuts or an apocalyptic nomad scratching on 3,500-year-old parchment, are you sure? Maybe a quick double-check with prevailing science?
Joe Klemczewski, PhD, MS, MFA(c), BS, LPT, CSCS, CISSN
Founder: The Diet Doc, LLC, ALPHAmagonline.com, and Inspire-TheMovement.org
Licensed Physical Therapist
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Drug-free Pro Bodybuilder
Founder, The Diet Doc LLC
Jeremy Loenneke PhD-
If a healthy person takes a multivitamin does it substantially enhance health? This has been a hot topic as of late when 3 papers in the Annals of Internal Medicine failed to support the efficacy of multivitamin supplementation. This of course caused quite a ruckus in the fitness industry where supplements are routinely promoted as necessary for optimal health and fitness. I saw post after post about how flawed those studies were and how those studies over interpreted their findings. This shouldn’t be surprising since the industry certainly wouldn’t want results coming out to the public telling them that spending money on that ‘special pill’ probably isn’t doing that much. I decided to take a closer look at the studies in question and found that the authors certainly didn’t over interpret their findings. In fact, they were consistently offering caveats for why the results may have not supported the use of a multivitamin (e.g. sample size, compliance, nutritional status, etc.). Of course this wasn’t known to the vast majority of people who had a problem with the studies because they probably didn’t even read them. A brief conclusion of each study is found below
Fortmann et al. “We found no consistent evidence that the included supplements affected cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, or all-cause mortality in healthy individuals without known nutritional deficiencies.”
Lamas et al. “TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) found that a 28-component, high-dose oral multivitamin and multimineral regimen used as a secondary prevention in patients who have had MI (myocardial infarction) did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events.”
Grodstein et al. “In this long-term, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with more than a decade of treatment among 5947 men aged 65 years or older, those assigned to a daily multivitamin had similar overall cognitive performance as those receiving a placebo.”
Several layman articles came out in defense of multivitamin supplementation and cited several articles (found below) as good evidence for supplementation. These articles were cited and circulated by people who thought that these studies were overlooked. I provide those citations below and provide my response to those papers in bold.
- Li, K., et al. Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality in a German prospective cohort (EPIC-Heidelberg). Eur J Nutr. 2012 Jun;51(4):407-13.
Not double blind placebo controlled.
- Arul, A. B., et al. Multivitamin and mineral supplementation in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine induced experimental colon carcinogenesis and evaluation of free radical status, antioxidant potential, and incidence of ACF. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 90(1):45-54, 2012.
Animal model, experimentally induced cancer (not a model of a healthy person).
- Pocobelli, G., et al. Use of supplements of multivitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E in relation to mortality. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2009.
Not double blind placebo controlled. In addition, there was no relationship between multivitamin supplementation and mortality.
- Peters, U., et al. Serum selenium and risk of prostate cancer-nested case-control study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 85(1):209-217, 2007.
Not double blind placebo controlled.
- Barringer, T. A., et al. Effect of a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement on Infection and Quality of Life: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 138(5):365-371, 2003.
Subjects had a high prevalence of subclinical micronutrient deficiency. The correction of deficiencies provides the best explanation for the benefits observed.
- Macpherson, H. et al. Memory improvements in elderly women following 16 weeks treatment with a combined multivitamin, mineral and herbal supplement—A randomized controlled trial. Psychopharmacology 220(2): 351-365, 2012.
Improved spatial working memory in elderly women with subjective complaints of memory loss.
- Haskell, C. F., et al. Effects of a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement on cognitive function and fatigue during extended multi-tasking. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;25(6):448-61.
Small improvement in cognition, however, it is unknown if the participants were deficient at baseline.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that those articles cited as being left out of the discussion provide little compelling evidence for population wide supplementation with multivitamins. I think the majority of evidence suggests that if you aren’t deficient, you will not see any measurable effect from supplementation. The idea that you need to supplement with a multivitamin for optimal or enhanced health appears to have little evidence to support it.
Take home message
- Put your emphasis on eating FOOD not popping pills.
- If you aren’t deficient you probably won’t see anything positive.
- The thought process “well if I do take it, it probably won’t hurt me” is not a good reason to do something. (in fact some evidence actually suggests mega dosing vitamins may hurt you)
Grodstein, F., et al. Long-Term multivitamin supplementation and cognitive function in men: A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 159 (12):806-814, 2013.
Lamas, G. A., et al. Oral high-dose multivitamins and minerals after myocardial infarction: A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 159 (12):797-805, 2013.
Fortmann, S. P., et al. Vitamin and mineral supplements in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: An updated systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of Internal Medicine 159 (12):824-834, 2013.
Jeremy Loenneke has a PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Oklahoma. He has previously earned a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Southeast Missouri State University. He is also a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter and proud member of Team Norton. Follow him on Twitter@jploenneke
There are so many nutrition myths out there, and I know you have already covered a number of them on your website. One that I would like to add is the myth that grains are contributing to the prevalence of obesity and other diseases in Western society. It seems that everyone always wants that single “evil” nutrient that they want to point a finger at for causing health problems. For a long time it was fat. Then it was carbohydrate. Then it was artificial sweeteners. Then it was high fructose corn syrup. Now people want to point fingers at gluten and grains, with doctors writing books like “Grain Brain” and trying to implicate grains as a cause of dementia. The people making such claims are making huge leaps in logic based on very flimsy evidence. In fact, when you take a good look at the research on grains, the data overwhelmingly shows either positive or neutral health effects.
Just to give you some examples, one recent meta-analysis (1) showed that grains did not have any detrimental effect on body weight. Another recent research review (2) showed that wheat does not make us “fat and sick” as some would have us believe. For centuries, there have been populations who consume wheat-based breads and other wheat products as the main source of their calorie intake, such as in Turkey, without health issues such as weight gain. Also, consumption of whole grain products in the U.S. and Europe is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. Thus, anyone who claims that wheat makes us “sick and fat” better have pretty strong evidence to support those claims. In fact, the vast majority of studies show that wheat is not harmful to the vast majority of the population. Small segments of the population (5-10%) who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy can benefit from reducing wheat in their diets, but that’s about it.
1. Pol, K., et al. Whole grain and body weight changes in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Am J Clin Nutr. Aug 14, 2013 [Epub ahead of print]
2. Brouns, F., et al. Does wheat make us fat and sick? J Cereal Sci. 58(2):209-215, 2013.
James Krieger is the founder ofWeightology, LLC. He has a Master’s degree in Nutrition from the University of Florida and a second Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Washington State University. He is the former research director for a corporate weight management program that treated over 400 people per year, with an average weight loss of 40 pounds in 3 months. His former weight loss clients include the founder of Sylvan Learning Centers and The Little Gym, the vice president of Costco, and a former vice president of MSN. He has given over 75 lectures on weight loss-related topics to physicians, dietitians, and other professionals.
The biggest nutrition myth is that you need to eat 6-7 meals/day to gain optimal strength and fat burning. This pattern of eating is time consuming, impractical and is not supported by science. I have seen several elite level athletes (including an IFBB pro bodybuilder) improve considerably after reducing meal frequency to 2-3 meals/day, especially when performance and fat loss was the goal. Personally, I have been able to maintain the same level of mental energy, physical energy and strength after reducing meal frequency from 6-7 meals/day to 2 meals/day. Eating less often is liberating because it reduces preoccupation with food, preparation, cleaning up, carrying food around or stressing out in situations where you can’t eat every 2 hours. Shifting the macronutrient ratio of your diet to lower carbohydrate and much higher fat has a profound satiating effect and protein sparing effect, especially under periods of calorie restriction. The work of Jeff Volek and several others have shown that eating a low carb/high fat diet forces a physiological shift towards greater fat oxidation and produces greater strength and muscle retention during periods of high intensity training.
As an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida since 2008, Dominic D’Agostino teaches students of the Morsani College of Medicine and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, with a focus on such topics as Biochemistry, Neuropharmacology and Nutrition. His research is focused on developing and testing nutritional strategies for promoting healthy weight loss and enhancing cognitive and physical performance. In addition, his research focuses on specific metabolic therapies and supplements for neurological diseases and cancer. His research is supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense (DoD) and private foundations.
The fact that gluten is the root of all nutrition evil. It’s the newest low carb mantra with a different spin.
Sure, some — a small amount — of people truly have a gluten allergy. Others may be “sensitive” without a true allergy, but blaming gluten on obesity, disease and everything else is nothing more than jumping on a popular fad. Now, there certainly are some gluten filled products that are junk. Is it the gluten or is it all the other associated ingredients with gluten (sugar, food colorings, fiber free carbs, etc). There are also some amazingly health, naturally gluten free grains/carbs and these are usually higher in fiber, but again, the popular myth to blame gluten on all health issues is jumping on a bandwagon.
Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, CSSD
Mohr Results, Inc
Adel Moussa (Professor Andro)-
Nutrition myth: Fat burns in the fire of carbohydrates
www.suppversity.com — Despite the fact that this myth has become less prevalent in these days of “low carb enthusiasm”, I’ve only heard it being mentioned by a trainer at my gym recently:
“It goes without saying that you need energy to kindle the fire in which the fatty acids get oxidized.” – Trainer at a local gym
For you it may be obvious that this guy just made a fool of himself, for his client, on the other hand, it was not. This, as well as the fact, that I doubt that anyone else will still think of this no longer that common nutrition myth makes it my “nutrition myth of the day” – a myth that has been dispelled more than 15 years ago Coyle, Jeukendrup, Wagenmakers and Saris investigated the rate of fatty acid oxidation in trained cyclist after (a) an overnight fast (8h without food), and (b) the ingestion of 1.4g/kg glucose 60min and 10min before a standardized 40min exercise test in six endurance trained men.
The glucose-induced insulin surge reduced the availability of free fatty acids by ~36% at the expense of an increase of the glycolytic flux. As Coyle et al. point out, these observations confirm that “carbohydrate availability can directly regulate fat oxidation during exercise” (Coyle. 1997) – unfortunately not in the direction the aforementioned trainer had in mind.
Bottom line: If you’re working out to burn fat (which is in itself a very questionable undertaking (learn more), you better avoid falling for the “fat burns in the fire of carbohydrates myth” and refrain from the ingestion of high GI carbs in the vacinity of your workouts.
There is one thing you should keep in mind, though, Coyle et al. have also been able to show that the time to exhaustion increases by a whopping 33%, i.e. from 3-4h, if you consume a glucose containing intra-workout beverage (Coyle. 1986). Needless to say that you’d “burn” a significantly higher total amount of fat in those 4h than in the 3h “on empty”.
- Coyle, EDWARD F., et al. “Muscle glycogen utilization during prolonged strenuous exercise when fed carbohydrate.” Journal of Applied Physiology 61.1 (1986): 165-172.
- Coyle, EDWARD F., et al. “Fatty acid oxidation is directly regulated by carbohydrate metabolism during exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 273.2 (1997): E268-E275.
Adel Moussa, www.suppversity.com
The Strength Guys-
The Alkaline Diet is Asinine, here’s why: The acid-ash hypothesis states that a diet rich in grains, protein (especially dairy protein), and acidic ions such as phosphate will lead to a decrease in pH (more acidic) in one’s body, increased calcium excretion, and eventually, osteoporosis. This hypothesis is the basis behind many that push “alkaline foods”, such as vegetables, for the purposes of increasing systemic pH.
What does the research say, you ask? Luckily, there are several studies and systematic reviews out there.
- Findings not only debunked the acid-ash hypothesis, but were contrary to the acid-ash hypothesis. Researchers found that increased protein and phosphate intakes were associated with increased calcium retention and may even be conductive to bone loss attenuation. (Fenton et al., 2009)
- There is no evidence that acid load promotes bone loss or induces osteoporosis. (Fenton et al., 2009)
- Dairy does not produce acid upon metabolism, nor is systemic pH affected by diet. (Fenton & Lyon, 2011)
- High protein, high dairy diets may help to attenuate bone loss. (Tang et al., 2013)
- High protein diets do not disturb calcium homeostasis, nor are they detrimental to bone health. (Cao et al., 2013)
What does this mean? Well, this means that the idea of consuming foods that are more alkaline for the purpose of pH management is off base. The body has it’s own ways of regulating pH.
The Strength Guys are a group of evidence based performance coaches specializing in powerlifting, bodybuilding, and athlete development.
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One of the most common myths perpetuated on the internet is that carbohydrates cause insulin resistance/diabetes. The thought is that eating carbohydrates all day causes insulin spikes which then causes the body to become resistant to its effects. Insulin resistance is a multifactorial phenomenon. It is much more complex than stating carbohydrates as a whole macronutrient category cause insulin resistance.
For example, lean healthy folks might improve their insulin sensitivity while on a high carb / low fat diet. However, this can change depending on hypo vs hypercaloric states, low vs. high glycemic index, and fiber/protein/fat content in the diet. Even more than this, visceral fat (fat surrounding your organs), sleep deprivation, and a sedentary lifestyle play likely a larger role in terms of insulin resistance. As you can tell it isn’t so simple as carbs = diabetes.
Wolever TM. Dietary carbohydrates and insulin action in humans. Br J Nutr.2000;83 Suppl 1:S97–102
Adochio RL, Leitner JW, Gray K, Draznin B, Cornier MA. Early responses of insulin signaling to high-carbohydrate and high-fat overfeeding. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:37.
McClenaghan NH. Determining the relationship between dietary carbohydrate intake and insulin resistance. Nutr Res Rev. 2005;18:222–40
Daly ME, Vale C, Walker M, Alberti KG, Mathers JC. Dietary carbohydrates and insulin sensitivity: a review of the evidence and clinical implications. Am J Clin Nutr.1997;66:1072–85.
Bessesen DH. The role of carbohydrates in insulin resistance. J Nutr.2001;131:S2782–6.
Dr. Spencer Nadolsky is a practicing physician in Virginia, and is the Director of Examine.com, the largest independent and neutral website for information on supplementation.
The Detox Diet
There’s a quality to some Facebook posting that is akin to watching a car wreck, pigs flying, and monkey’s typing out Shakespeare-like prose on a PC. One of the funnier ones go something like this: “Been on a 2-week detox diet and I’ve lost 5 lbs! I feel like a million Euros.” Or bucks if you live in the US. Of course, these status updates are then followed up with well-wishers who write: “Aw gee, can you tell me the secrets of detoxing?” Or “what foods do you to eat to cleanse your body of all those pesky poisons?” I swear. It’s like watching an episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” You feel like your IQ just dropped 10 points.
Okay, enough of the slapstick. Is there really anything to these Detox Diets? First of all, WTH is a Detox Diet? From what I can gather, the general premise of these diets is that your body has ‘toxins’ and other pesky harmful substances that need removal. And by gradually eliminating or severely limiting foods that increase ‘toxic buildup,’ you’ll be toxin-free. Woo hoo! Sound the trumpets. I think a Nobel Prize in Medicine awaits the Detox Diet Inventors.
So you ask, what’s the problem with Detox Diets? Well, the biggest problem is that there’s NO EVIDENCE THAT THEY DETOXIFY ANYTHING! And when you ask folks what ‘toxins’ they’re removing from their bodies, there’s a stupefying silence. Ummm. Ummm. Sort of how your dog looks at you when you ask it to roll over and play dead; meanwhile your dog thinks you’re saying “what’s the square root of 81?”
If you’re confused about all these diets and what to do, there’s an ‘easy’ way to determine if you’re being scammed or if someone is being rock solid truthful to you. You know that pesky thing. It’s called science. You know. Data. Data. Where’s the data? I dare you look under a rock and a hard place for detox data. All you’ll find is…well…a rock and a hard place. Why? Because there is no data.
Secondly, if you stayed awake in high school biology class, you’d know that you have these wonderful organs called the LIVER and the KIDNEYS. Guess what their primary function is? If you answered to ‘detoxify’ you, then go to the head of the class. Your kidneys eliminate waste via the urinary system. That’s #1 for you non-science majors. Your liver on the other hand is one hell of an amazing organ. It definitely detoxifies you. Ask anyone who likes to drink a 12 pack of beer every night. But it also is a storage site for glycogen, produces clotting factors, and processes most of the nutrients you absorb after eating. Your LIVER is the king of detoxification. And you’d also have to put your COLON there as well as a detoxifier. Your colon is where water and other nutrients are absorbed. What is leftover is eliminated via a bowel movement. That’s #2 for those who flunked anatomy class.
Now I’ve read what folks actually consume during their ‘Detox Diet’ phase. And to be honest, all they’ve done is eliminate junk (e.g. processed carbs) and eat less processed foods (e.g. more veggies, fruits, fish, etc). Heck, ANYONE who does that will feel better. I guarantee that if your typical diet is high in processed carbs (i.e. breads, pasta, cookies, cakes, etc…you know, all the fun foods), and you replace it fibrous vegetables, brightly colored fruits, fish, lean meats, and add proper supplements, you’ll feel better than a pig in mud.
So if you want to just feel better, here’s my simple advice:
- Exercise more days than you don’t. If you can’t do the math, that’s at least 4 times per week.
- Make one of those workouts so hard that your eyeball sweat.
- Eat well about 3 out of every 4 times – choose mainly unprocessed carbs, lean meats (except make room for fatty fish), and healthy fats (e.g. nuts of all kinds, olives, etc).
- Stop falling for these scams.
Jose Antonio, PhD – CEO of the ISSN
Looking at what you have covered so far with the other folks, you have covered many of the big ones.
Another myth that deserves to be looked at more closely is that consumption of dietary cholesterol is somehow hazardous to your health. This cholesterol stuff is gooey, and yucky, and then will get in your blood and muck up your blood vessels, so don’t eat things like egg yolks, or so goes the story. The entire war on cholesterol is as Dr. George Mann former Vanderbilt professor of Medicine and Biochemistry puts it, “the greatest scientific deception of the century”. If you do some cursory research you will find more than enough data that will cause you to at least question the damning work done by Ancel Keys (cherry picked data), and the misinterpretation of data from the famed Framingham study that really served as the backbones for the war on saturated fat and cholesterol.
One should first understand what cholesterol is, and the value of it. You think it takes a lot of cholesterol to make a chicken, well imagine how much it takes to make a full fledged humanoid 🙂
Cholesterol is needed to maintain brain synapses. These connections are largely made of cholesterol. Vit D is needed for us to be healthy, and is synthesized from cholesterol through sunlight. How about cell membranes? Even at the most basic level our cell membranes would turn to mush without the structural integrity that cholesterol gives them. We could go on, manufacture of bile, sex hormones, etc. Just know that your body needs cholesterol, so ask yourself what sense does it make to try and eliminate it from the body.
Furthermore, if you don’t consume cholesterol, your liver will also make more. You eat more and the liver will make less. Yep, your body is pretty freaking smart. Nothing like a little basic down regulation to keep homeostasis.
Now if you want to really get into some fun stuff. What if I told you that lower cholesterol is associated with increased death rates in 35-74 year olds. Many studies have found this such as Harris, T et al. “The low cholesterol-mortality association in a national cohort:. Journal of Clinical Epideiology. 1992. It found that women whose levels fell below 158 mg/dl had a 70% increased risk of death. in comparison with women who were at 197 mg/dl. Men were at 40% increased risk with these same numbers.
There is much data to also support that those with higher cholesterol have lower death rates. Chen, Z et al. “Serum cholesterol concentration and coronary heart disease in population with low cholesterol concentrations:. British Medical Journal found just that. Over 9,000 men and women aged 35-64 were followed for 13 years. They found that those with the highest cholesterol had a 13% lower death rate than those with the lowest.
Professor James Neaton also ran a study that examined over 350,000 people aged 35-57. They found that those with a level of 200-239 mg/dl had a 12% lower death rate than those with levels below 160 mg/dl.
Believe it or not there are literally hundreds of studies like this out there.
My advice to you, eat your egg yolks!
John Meadows C.S.C.S, C.I.S.S.N.
Creator of Mountain Dog training and nutrition
The myth of “eating to grow”
As bodybuilders we’ve all heard it: “bodybuilding is 80% nutrition” I used to repeat this before I knew better. Before you cock an eyebrow, wondering how I could possibly dispute the importance of nutrition for bodybuilders, let me explain. Nutrition is important but, the statement “bodybuilding is 80% nutrition” ignores important context and this mindset leads to common bodybuilding mistakes.
To be clear, during contest preparation or a cut, you won’t get into the condition you want without a focus on nutrition. You can train any way you please, but no matter what you do, without a caloric deficit the best you can hope for is a bit of recomposition. Beginners might see their body composition improve the most, but only because they can put on more muscle, not because they have a training plan that chews through body fat regardless of energy balance. Now that I’ve made that clear, let’s get into the meat of what I’m talking about.
Bodybuilders focus intently on nutrition (especially competitive bodybuilders) and understandably this influences our perception of what nutrition can and cannot do. It is important that we realize that muscular adaptations such as hypertrophy are caused by training. Training is the root cause of getting bigger or stronger. You can put a protein shake on a bench press but that barbell will stay racked. For further proof consider this question: In situation 1 a young bodybuilder begins a bodybuilding training program, but does nothing to change his diet. In situation 2 a young bodybuilder sets up an off season diet to put on size, but doesn’t train. In which situation is our young bodybuilder going to gain more muscle? The answer is obvious, of course only the situation in which the young man lifts weights is he going to grow. Sitting on the couch putting down enough food to gain weight without training certainly results in growth…but it won’t be muscle.
Of course the ideal situation for growth would be that our young bodybuilder followed the eating and training plan. However, nutrition needs to be put into context. Training is the actual stimulus while nutrition is only permissive to muscle growth. What do I mean by permissive? I mean that nutrition can permit the growth of muscle tissue but it is not the root cause. That is the function of training. “Eating to grow” is a misnomer. All you can do is eat to provide the ideal environment to permit growth. You can train to grow, but you cannot truly eat to grow. The reason I’m harping on this semantic difference is because this misunderstanding has led many down the path of putting on unnecessary body fat way too fast.
Nutrition is permissive; therefore it can be the limiting factor to growth. However, you must consider how much potential for growth exists. A new, young, male trainee starting a sound hypertrophy program has a high potential for growth. A twenty year veteran is much closer to his or her genetic ceiling and the potential for growth is drastically reduced. Therefore the new trainee might find that without focusing on eating a significant calorie surplus, he is in fact limiting his potential for growth. On the other hand, doing the same thing the veteran would steadily increase his body fat. So sure, there is an argument to put down a lot of food for a beginner, but only to a point. Remember, nutrition only permits the growth, you can’t force feed gains!
Eric Helms MS, FNS, CPT, PES, CSCS
Professionally Qualified Natural Bodybuilder, Raw Powerlifter
Team 3DMJ Coach
One of the biggest nutrition myths out there today is that the body can only absorb ~30 grams (g) of protein at a time and the rest is either stored as body fat or is wasted (read: oxidized). This was originally used to support the claims of increased meal frequency as well as help supplement companies sell more protein supplements (notice how all the servings are 20-30g?). Nowadays, more often than not this idea stems from a misunderstanding of the words ‘absorption’ and ‘utilization.’ The two words are not synonymous; let me explain.
Let’s take someone who eats, say, 40g of protein in one meal. If we are to assume only 30g are absorbed at a time, then it’s safe to say that the extra 10g (25%) will be excreted in the feces. This, however, is just plain false. The gut’s ability to absorb protein is somewhere in the ballpark of 95% (i.e. only ~2g aren’t absorbed in our example meal). Nevertheless, based on the initial argument, how are you supposed to store 10g of excess protein as body fat if you can’t even (allegedly) absorb it in the first place? As I stated before, most people don’t realize the difference between utilization and absorption and make this fundamental error. Moreover, assuming we did absorb the full 38-40g of protein, the body’s ability to convert amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into fatty acids is damn near impossible. While humans do possess the metabolic pathways to do so, it just doesn’t happen to any appreciable extent under normal dietary conditions. Only until theoretical extremes are reached will you see any appreciable fat gain due to excess protein consumption.
What about utilization? For the purposes of this discussion, utilization will strictly be limited to the incorporation of amino acids into skeletal muscle. Yes, amino acids are used for other things, too, like synthesizing certain hormones, the immune system, etc., but those functions aren’t relevant to this discussion, not to mention it’s virtually impossible to measure experimentally. Either way, research has shown that ~20-30g of high quality (read: leucine-rich) protein maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) with no further incorporation of amino acids into muscle tissue with intakes greater than ~30g. Therefore, there is (at least in the acute, experimental setting) some truth (emphasis on ‘some’) to the idea that the body can only “use” ~30g of protein at a time – so long as you qualify that statement and define what you mean by the word “use.” However, I would interpret these words with caution; most studies done on the topic are acute in methodology and only look at MPS responses in relatively untrained individuals over a 24-hr (or less) period. Moreover, if weight training is incorporated, it usually involves a couple sets of leg extensions or leg press followed by the protein bolus. This is not representative of most training sessions with vastly greater volumes and intensities. Therefore, until more well-designed research is conducted, it is just plain false to believe that the body can only use 30g of protein at one time – the jury is still out.
Dylan Klein has his B.S. in nutritional sciences and is currently pursuing his doctorate in nutritional biochemistry and physiology at Rutgers University. You can learn more about Dylan and his writings on his website/blog, Calories in Contextnutridylan.com.
Don’t eat past 6pm.
Many people are scared to eat past a certain cut-off time at night because they think it is inherently bad for them – just like Gizmo from the movie Gremlins. But as active people, nutrients can be used at almost every time of the day for a specific purpose. Recently, data has pointed out that a small protein dose of 150 calories before bed actually increases muscle protein synthesis while you are sleeping in both young (Res et al., 2012) and older men (Groen et al, 2012)! Data from my lab just backed this up as we found improved morning metabolism in young fit men following nighttime consumption of 150 calories of whey protein, casein protein, or carbohydrate (Madzima et al. 2013). In obese individuals, Waller et al reported that those people who were allowed to eat a small 150 calorie cereal and milk snack before bed actually lost weight over the course of the 4 week study (Waller et al., 2004). And more recently, we reported that nighttime protein intake improves arterial stiffness in obese women (Figueroa et al., 2014).
Here is what we know:
- eating a small 150 calorie liquid shake appears to improve muscle protein synthesis, overnight metabolism, and cardiovascular hemodynamics.
- At this time, both protein and carbohydrate appear to be useful, although protein (casein or whey) before bed might be best according to the current research for muscle protein synthesis and metabolism.
- We are currently looking into overnight fat use, recovery from intense exercise, and morning endurance performance following nighttime feeding.
In any case, don’t be afraid to eat—just keep it small (less than 150 kcals) and probably a protein source (although more data is needed).
Figueroa A, Wong A, Kinsey A et al. (2013) Effects of Milk Proteins and Combined Exercise Training on Aortic Hemodynamics and Arterial Stiffness in Young Obese Women With High Blood Pressure. Am J Hypertens. 2013 Dec (Epub ahead of print).
Groen BB, Res PT, Pennings B et al. (2012) Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 302(1), E52-60.
Madzima TA, Panton LB, Fretti SK et al. (2013) Night-time consumption of protein or carbohydrate results in increased morning resting energy expenditure in active college-aged men. Br J Nutr, 1-7.
Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B et al. (2012) Protein Ingestion Prior To Sleep Improves Post-Exercise Overnight Recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44(8), 1560-1569.
Waller SM, Vander Wal JS, Klurfeld DM et al. (2004) Evening ready-to-eat cereal consumption contributes to weight management. J Am Coll Nutr 23(4), 316-321.
Michael J. Ormsbee, PhD, CSCS
Florida State University, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food & Exercise Sciences
Human Performance & Sports Nutrition Lab
Be sure to check out these other articles by some of these experts:
- Want to Build Muscle and Lose Fat? Lets Ask the Experts How its Done…
- Want to Learn How to Squat? Lets Ask the Experts How its done…
- 15 Nutrition Myths You Want to Know…Allow the Experts to Tell…
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