Interview – Paul Cribb PhD FISSN

SNI:  What is the single MOST important dietary/supplement strategy that you would recommend to clients interested in improving body composition?

Dr. Cribb: A lot of my research focused on nutrition timing and in particular, supplement combinations close to resistance training workouts. For people looking to optimize body composition changes, the combination of whey protein with carbs and creatine just immediately before and after resistance exercise, is a strategy that seems to amplify the molecular mechanisms responsible for anabolism and recovery.  Even better, in the work we completed, the lifters experienced much greater improvements in strength and body composition – more muscle, less body fat!  For athletes using supplements such as proteins and creatine, taking at least one dose in the immediate pre-post workout phase is a good way to ensure more of it gets delivered to muscle. For instance, in one nutrient timing study we completed, the group taking creatine close to workouts finished the study with significantly higher muscle creatine and glycogen along side significantly greater muscle hypertrophy.

protein_memeSNI: Is there a finite amount of protein that you can/should consume in one meal?

Dr. Cribb: That’s quite a difficult question to answer accurately as protein digestion kinetics of various foods can be very different. For instance, we know that whey proteins; even when consumed in a mixed macro-nutrient meal are absorbed rapidly and flood the blood stream with essential amino acids. Whereas whole foods and other supplements can take longer, sometimes several hours for their amino acids to appear in the blood stream.  I think the exciting thing is, when you have knowledge of the digestion kinetics of various protein sources you have the ability to structure meal patterns that create and maintain high levels of essential amino acids in the blood. We know that this environment is a prerequisite for stimulating the mechanisms that underline muscle recovery and adaptation from exercise. Particularly as recent research has confirmed that muscle is in fact “sensitized” to protein for at least 24 hours after a workout, that means every protein-containing meal is an opportunity to enhance adaptations from training. This is what we look at in Metabolic Precision – using the science to structure meal and training patterns to optimize training adaptations.

SNI: What’s the most important ‘meal’ of the day?

Dr. Cribb: Probably the most interesting information that’s emerged recently is there are several key time points over the course of 24 hours that can influence adaptations. For instance, nutrient timing just before exercise enhances the anabolic response and so does post-workout supplementation. Outside this, we’re starting to gain insights on refractory periods – the re-activation of peak muscle protein synthesis rates that can occur with repeat meal consumption. This information wasn’t particularly clear until only recently. Another important finding this year is the confirmation that supplementation with a slower acting protein source (casein) prior to sleep will improve post-exercise overnight protein balance. That is, despite adequate post-exercise feeding, the consumption of a protein supplementation prior to sleep increased whole-body protein synthesis rates and protein balance over night.  In light of these recent developments, the window of opportunity to optimize the training response may in fact be “open” for at least 24 hours, particularly after a workout. ‘

SNI: What’s the best part of living in Australia? The worst part?

Dr. Cribb: The best? Definitely the lifestyle. Aussies are a laid-back bunch – we don’t seem to stress about too much, unless we lose in the cricket or Rugby – then things get serious!! I’ve travelled a lot and I definitely think our climate, the beaches and easily accessible great surf is the best in the world. Where I live, I have at least 4 world-class reef breaks literally at my doorstep.  The worst part about living in Australia? – we also have the worlds biggest sharks!

SNI:  Who do you think are the top 3 most influential scientists/industry experts in sports nutrition today?

Dr. Cribb: I think we can all be thankful for living at a time when there are so many wonderful advancements and contributors in the field of exercise science. It’s really tough to be selective. Firstly, I think all fitness professionals owe big Bill Kraemer immense gratitude for his perpetual contributions in such diverse and contemporary areas of strength training research. The guy’s energy and enthusiasm is inspirational. I definitely think Rick Kreider should be acknowledged not only for the volume of information he’s coordinated over the years, but also his pioneering abilities to bring industry and academia together to accelerate our knowledge base in sports nutrition research. The work that Stu Phillips and his team have been producing in recent years is fantastic – they’ve been proving data that helps answer the important questions we face daily as fitness professionals. Research by Stu and his team will shape the prescription of resistance training in the future.  Big Darryn Willoughby has been pivotal in bringing the molecular responses from training and nutrition to the forefront of sports nutrition research. The quality of his research designs is something I’ve always marveled at. Years ago, as a young sports scientist, Darryn was the one for me that made molecular biochemistry very cool and exciting, it really shaped the course I took with my research. The seminal work Darryn and his team have completed over the years on resistance training, creatine monohydrate, myostatin, creatine ethyl-ester etc. have added much needed depth to our knowledge base that contributes tremendously to the credibility of our industry.  

SNI: If a genie could grant you one wish to attain superhero powers, what powers would that be?

Dr. Cribb: The ability to control natures forces such as the weather; including of course surf conditions! When you’re out in a crowded line-up I think it would be cool to alter conditions to suit and have the capacity to summon the perfect wave delivered directly to you! I’m sure Anthony Almada would agree!

 Bio – Paul Cribb, PhD. CSCS. FTAS

In my doctorial studies, I examined extensively the physiological and biochemical aspects that underline adaptations (results)  – more importantly, how to influence results via intervention with nutrition and various types of exercise. I not only designed my own PhD program, my research has been published in top peer-reviewed journals and magazines such as New Scientist and received awards/fellowships from organizations such as The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (AATSE), The Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science (AAESS) as well as the Australian Government through the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. I’ve been privileged to be an invited presenter or key speaker by organizations such as The American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The United States Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). In 2006, I was honoured to be recognized as one of Australia’s leading scientists.  Dr Cribb also serves on the Advisory Board for the ISSN.  For more information, please check Dr. Cribb’s site: