Tag Archives: CISSN

Brown rice protein: for your digestive and athletic needs

By Scarlett Blandon, MS RDN.  Unless you were a vegan (or a yogi…or maybe a protein powder junky) the chances of you knowing about brown rice protein are slim to none.  Rice protein is a novel source of protein derived from the entire rice grain (including bran layer), and is available as brown-rice-jara concentrate or isolate just like other protein powders.  It offers several benefits that other protein powders do not, but chances are those merits have been drowned out by:  (1) the negative stereotypes surrounding rice protein’s  plant-based origin; (2) the popularity and media-hype of whey protein.  Sure, rice protein might not have all the looks and attractive qualities that whey does, but it’s those unique differences that make it an outstanding alternate protein source for athletes and sports enthusiasts alike.  Here are a few reasons why you might consider brown rice protein:

Easy on the stomach—and the immune system.

Dairy- and soy-derived protein supplements might be wonderful for X number of reasons, but unfortunately, not everyone can digest these proteins, and some might even be highly allergic to them.  The Food Allergy Research & Education organization states that about 15 million Americans have food allergies and this number appears to be on the rise1.  Milk and soy happen to be two of eight foods accounting for 90% of all food allergies1. Aside from dairy allergies, 30-50 million Americans are lactose intolerant2.  And despite lactose-free claims on dairy-derived protein supplements, many still anecdotally experience GI distress which can negatively interfere with training or performance (or number of friends :-) ).

Gluten is another, increasingly common immune-system offender. Some commercial protein supplements may contain ingredients derived from or made with gluten. This can be detrimental to the 3 lowcarb_riceoatsmillion Americans diagnosed with Celiac disease and many more who remain undiagnosed3.  What’s worse is that damage to the microvilli from gluten can actually cause a person to develop lactose-intolerance, rendering them doubly restricted from those food groups4.

On the other hand, brown rice protein is derived from rice, a well-known hypoallergenic food source.  As a staple food in many cultures (for thousands of years!), rice is highly unlikely to elicit an allergic reaction (or intolerance) and is not surprisingly recommended as a first food for babies.  As such, rice protein is expectedly gentle on the GI tract and may offer greater benefit to those athletes or exercise enthusiasts with food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities.

Aids in recovery and builds muscle, much like whey.

Up until recently, nothing was truly known about the ability of rice protein as a sports nutrition supplement.  Despite this, rice protein withheld much criticism from the athletic and scientific community given previous literature on the generally inferior quality of plant-based proteins and other data showing that low doses of plant-based proteins (mainly soy- and wheat-derived) do not increase muscle protein synthesis compared to animal-based proteins5,6.

Yes, rice and thus rice protein is limited in lysine and apparently less digestible than dairy proteins. But do these apparent “weaknesses” in rice protein make it unsuitable for sports nutrition? One study to date, says no.

The study, published in Nutrition Journal in June 2013, found that 24 collegiate athletes were able to obtain significant gains in muscle, power and strength whether they were taking a 48g rice protein or whey protein supplement following resistance training for 8 weeks7. They also experienced similar increases in acute recovery. Despite differences in amino acid profile, digestibility and digestion rate of the proteins, there were no statistical differences between groups.  The authors assert that protein type or composition is of less significance, when key nutrients are adequately provided. In this case, one key nutrient: leucine.  The leucine levels provided by the brown rice protein supplement appeared to be within or above the 2-3g threshold needed to maximize muscle protein synthesis8-11.

Although more research is needed in this arena for rice protein, these results indicate that at 48g, rice protein can serve as a substitute for whey protein for building muscle and strength.  This would be especially beneficial for those athletes who follow a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, are unable to digest dairy-based proteins and/or are looking for an alternate protein source.

Suits vegan or other plant-based lifestyles.

Almost 16 million people consider themselves vegetarian and another 6 million consider themselves vegan in the US alone according to one 2012 survey12.  Motives behind these plant-based lifestyles might include views on animal welfare, religious and cultural beliefs and/or environmental concerns.  However, 47% of vegans indicate that their major reason for following this diet is actually health, followed by animal welfare (40%)13.  While exercise is a health-related activity, it is not unreasonable to consider the inclusion of some athletes or sports enthusiasts in this population.

Although vegans & vegetarians are able to consume all essential nutrients from plant-based foods alone, it can be a challenge for athletes when certain nutrients like protein are needed in higher quantities.  Supplements like rice protein offer a convenient and concentrated source of protein to help meet their needs. Unlike soy, rice protein does not contain phytoestrogens which can potentially interfere with hormones.

Rice protein is also an excellent option for those trending on natural or other plant-based lifestyles.  Unlike many dairy- or soy-based protein supplements, rice proteins are predominantly processed using only water and natural enzymes rather than toxic solvents like hexane. Certain rice proteins may also offer value over other protein sources since it is not from a genetically modified source, does not come from an animal known to be treated with growth hormones (rbST/bGH), anabolic steroids (AAS), estrogens and other hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals known to, suspected of, to affect or have an impact upon human health.

Whether you are looking to rotate your protein source, give your stomach a break, trend on a novel and natural product all while building muscle and gaining strength, rice protein might be the choice for you.

About the Author: Scarlett Blandon is the in-house nutrition scientist for Axiom Foods, the worlds’ leading manufacturer of hexane-free rice protein among other plant proteins, and for Growing Naturals, a consumer brand specializing in hypoallergenic plant proteins and natural lifestyle products. At Axiom and GN she oversees all research-related ventures and nutrition communications. Having worked closely with renowned researchers in the past, she is dedicated to expanding the literature on rice- and other plant proteins while cultivating the knowledge of consumers and manufacturers alike.


  1. Facts and statistics. Food Allergy Research and Education. Available at:  http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
  2. Lactose intolerance. Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University. Available at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/digestive_disorders/lactose_intolerance/Pages/index.aspx
  3. Case S. Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and the gluten-free diet. July 2011. Available at: http://www.nutrition411.com/component/k2/item/28313-celiac-disease-gluten-sensitivity-and-the-gluten-free-diet
  4. Lactose intolerance and celiac disease. Celiac Disease Foundation. Available at: http://www.celiac.org/images/stories/PDF/lactose-intolerance.pdf
  5. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, et al. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 85: 1031-1040.
  6. Norton LE, Layman DK, Bunpo P, et al. The leucine content of a complete meal directs peak activation but not duration of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling in rats. J Nutr. 2009; 139: 1103-1109.
  7. Joy J, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, et al. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutrition J. 2013; 12:86
  8. Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J Nutr. 2006; 136(2): 533S-537S.
  9. Norton L, Wilson GJ. Optimal protein intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Agro Food industry hi-tech. 2009; 20: 54-57.
  10. Paddon-Jones D, Sheffield-Moore M, Zhang XJ, et al. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004; 286: E321-E328.
  11. Tipton KD, Ferrando AA, Phillips SM, et al. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol. 1999; 276: E628-E634.
  12. Newport F. In the US, 5% consider themselves vegetarian. Gallup Wellbeing. 2012. Available at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/156215/consider-themselves-vegetarians.aspx


Do You Have to “Suffer” While Dieting?

Why is it that when it comes to dieting, everybody automatically thinks they have to suffer and deprive themselves from everything in life? Why is it that people think they can’t have the foods they love and crave in moderation? Why does the word “dieting” have to be portrayed as suffering?

We really don’t have a clear cut answer to this, but we feel a big part has to do with the Girl-dietingpersonality of people feeling like they need to suffer as much as possible on a diet to say they did everything in their power to try and accomplish their goal, even if they didn’t accomplish it entirely.

It’s almost like a sneaky excuse to why one didn’t accomplish their goal 100% of the way. Whether it’s losing a few pounds to look good on the beach, dropping some fat for a photo shoot, or dieting down to low body fat levels for a contest, it just seems that people need to endure some sort of agony when it comes to dieting.

We don’t believe in making people suffer when it comes to diets or we would never encourage people to suffer just for the sake of suffering. We believe in suffering for an outcome or for optimization. This is a huge problem, people being intimidated by dieting and they automatically get the assumption that dieting is going to be painful and that they are going to have to suffer so much to where it’s intolerable.

It’s funny how people think this way because there are kids and families in third world countries out there that are suffering from starvation and we want to be scared of going on a diet because we think we are going to have to suffer so mightily?

There are a lot of people at fault for this, such as:

  • The internet
  • Magazines
  • Cheesy infomercials
  • So called ‘nutrition experts’ aka guru’s and Broscientists,
  • Gym know it all’s

The list can go on for days.

We know this because we were victims once to all of this non-sense when it came to dieting. We tried the following:

  • A low carb cookie cutter diet out of a magazine 5 years ago and lost almost all the muscle we put on over the winter
  • We tried eating a so called “clean” diet where it consisted of all the traditional body building foods (lean proteins, sweet potatoes, brown rice, vegetables, etc) and that drove us crazy because we were kicking ourselves in the ass every time we ate something non-traditional aka dirty.
  • We then tried eating basically anything we wanted and that went south of the border because we put on excess fat and couldn’t get lean enough without sacrificing muscle loss when it came to dieting down for summer.

So we were intimidated and manipulated too by the word “dieting” because we thought it solely consisted of eating nothing but “clean” foods and we felt we had to suffer on these strict diets, tumblr_nj7nw2w8vI1snbrkko1_500but we found a middle ground after 5 years of self-experimentation and trial and error. That middle ground being you can still have the foods you like and enjoy, so long as you are hitting your macronutrient numbers and total fiber number. We talked about this in great detail in our blog “Why count your macronutrients.” 

We know everyone won’t agree with us on this, but we feel that it is so essential to count your macros because you can have all the foods you like and you don’t have to suffer by eating traditional dieting foods day in and day out. Some of the following reasons why we’re such huge proponents to counting macros are:

  • It teaches you discipline
  • Allows you to eat the foods you like while still dieting
  • It allows you to experiment with recipes that contain healthy ingredients
  • It gives you less of a tendency to go out and cheat
  • You will be amazed at how much you learn from tracking your food
  • You will learn a lot about nutrition and what your body responds well to

Basically, cookie cutter diets out of books, magazines, and websites will eventually be a recipe for disaster. Who the hell wants to eat the same thing every single day? For more info on why cookie cutters just don’t work, see our video here.

Now please don’t get us wrong here, we don’t recommend going out and eating pizza or cheese burgers and fries to hit your macros, we still believe in whole and minimally refined foods will build quality muscle and you can see that here on our video “Macronutrient recommendations.”

You can still include the foods you like into your diet, as long as you hit your macro and fiber numbers and the reason being that the muscle only sees amino acids, carbs, lipids, and some short chain fatty acid fermentation from fiber. The muscle doesn’t see specific types of foods. So, as long as you’re hitting your protein, carbs, fat and fiber numbers, everything else will become secondary.

We had a couple of our clients eating baked lays and low-fat popcorn for their carbohydrate source after their workouts along with a protein shake. This is perfectly fine to have as long as you are hitting your post workout macro numbers and your fiber number at the end of the day.

Obviously popcorn has like 4 times the amount of fiber content than baked lays, but it’s okay to have baked lays for your carb source as long as you are in range of your target fiber number at the end of the day.

Evidently, someone that eats baked lays for all their carb sources in their meals will not hit their fiber number, so they would be hurting themselves there, unless they got it through fiber supplementation.

Choosing a mix of lower glycemic carbs for your meals which are higher in fiber along with other non-traditional foods is perfectly fine in our opinions and it’s a happy medium. So, our point being, normally people would freak out if you told them they could eat popcorn, baked lays, or even low-fat ice cream in moderation on a diet and that’s because of all the BS out there and because it’s looked at as a non-traditional style of dieting and because people tend to over eat.

There’s times where we have our clients make healthy burritos (shredded chicken, low-fat cheese, black beans, and whole wheat tortillas) or breakfast sandwiches (eggs, low-fat cheese, turkey bacon, and ezekial bread) and it’s perfectly fine because they hit all their macronutrient numbers at each meal. Another thing people really have to understand and consider is that plenty of people get results in spite of what they do, not because what they do is optimal.

It’s important to recognize that everybody has different methods when it comes to dieting and it’s important to not look down on anyone, especially if they are trying to make a change in their health and life. We’re not saying our method is the only one out there and it’s certainly not for everybody. But we’ve seen, experienced, experimented, been mentored, and done a lot of trial and error to lead us to be huge advocates to counting our macros daily and it’s been a very efficient method for us and our clients to be able to diet without suffering and sustain a long term flexible diet.

Take home message is to find a dieting method that works for you and that you will be consistent with day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Dietary programs need to be tailored to you based on your body type, activity levels, current metabolism, metabolic/hormonal variances, psychology factors, cultural influence, food preferences, and more. So don’t fall for BS mainstream fad diets or cookie cutter diets from your local Guru’s. You don’t have to fear dieting anymore or suffer with only traditional foods. Just make sure to do your homework before hand, be patient, and always keep in mind that if a diet sounds too good to be true and promises to deliver quick results, then it’s probably BS.

Do you still think you have to suffer while dieting?


Baechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning/ National Strength and Conditioning Association. USA: 2008 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association

Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of Sports nutrition and Supplements.” 2008

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel




Choosing the right “Cardio Modality” for pre and post workouts?

By Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA.  The lovely world of cardio, we have to love it right? Cardio has countless benefits for the human body, so it must be good for us, right? How else do you think all the celebrities stay so skinny and “toned?”cardio-on-empty-stomach1

How many times have you seen people get to the gym and hop on a cardio machine and just gas themselves, and not to mention go do some resistance training right after. Or what about when someone gets done from an intense lifting session, then goes off and does an intense cardio session?

We know you’ve seen this before and we are not going to get into the psychology of why people do this because that could be a whole other article itself. We are more focused on is it optimal to perform cardio pre and post workout? With a specific focus on which cardio modality (type of cardio you do) is the best to perform to avoid the interference effect of strength, power, and hypertrophy gains? But before we give you the answer, it’s vital that we always have to take people’s goals, activity level, overall health, and training experience into consideration before anything. So please read this with an open mind and a non-black and white answer, all or nothing approach.

What’s This Interference Effect Thing?

When we refer to the interference effect, we are talking about the interference of strength, power, and hypertrophy gains (muscle growth) when doing cardio pre or post workout. This topic of discussion has been floating around for quite some time now, whether concurrent training is optimal or not.

We all have our biased opinions, but what is the correct cardio modality to do pre and post workout and should we even be doing cardio pre or post workouts? That is the million dollar question that many of us would like to know.

Why continue to keep robbing your hard earned gains and progress if you don’t need to. Instead, why not continue to maximize your overall potential the correct way instead of shooting yourself in the foot? As always, we bring scientific based evidence to the table to get to the bottom of these popular topics, because the research doesn’t lie folks.

Before we delve into the research, we want to quote what Brad Schoenfeld said:

“There is no one cookie-cutter recommendation I can provide that will be ideal for everyone. People have varying responses to exercise programs. Large inter-individual differences are seen in any research protocol. Thus, in giving advice on a topic such as this, I can only provide general recommendations that must be individualized based on a variety of genetic and environmental factors. This is the essence of evidence-based practice, which should form the basis of every fitness professional’s decision making process.” (1)

We can’t agree more with this statement and we truly feel this statement is a legitimate and valid way of viewing such a topic like this one.

Cardio Modalities

We are certain we can all agree that there are numerous different cardio modalities out there today. To name a few modalities that have more ground-reaction force with higher impact are:

Pretty much all the badass cardio workouts that we look forward to doing.

Cardio modalities that minimize ground-reaction forces are:

  • Cycling bikes
  • Treadmillscardio-gym2
  • Ellipticals
  • Various machine based equipment

The stuff we like to watch TV on or read magazines 😉

These are all great choices whether you use them in the form of HIIT or LISS, but which modality is more optimal to prevent the interference effect and when should you do these you ask? Let’s delve into some research shall we.

Should you do cardio pre or post workout?

Layne Norton and Jacob Wilson claim that when you choose a cardio modality such as running or sprinting after a resistance training bout, the ground-reaction force (think sprints) and distance causes more muscle damage as opposed to a modality with less impact such as cycling instead. Cycling seems to be more similar to hip and knee flexion as opposed to running because it’s biomechanically interfering with squat and leg press patterns. This muscle damage seems to be coming from the eccentric components when running and sprinting (2).

Norton and Wilson make a valid point in the essence that if you are going to do cardio post workout, make sure you do it in the form of an opposing muscle group. Let’s say you did a grueling lower body workout, you would then want to do cardio in the form of using your upper body, something like rope slams because otherwise if you go and run or do sprints you are going to get a complete interference effect and possibly get injured.

After resistance training you have mTOR (cell growth) being ramped up and protein synthesis (making of new proteins) being turned on and when you do cardio after resistance training you get such high drastic rises in AMP kinase (signaling cascade for ATP production) that it ends up shutting off protein synthesis. In easier terms, cardio after weights interferes with the muscle growth phase and a good analogy is after training you turn the faucet on for muscle growth and when too much cardio is being done or after training, it shuts the faucet off.

As for pre workout cardio, this tends to be a little trickier than post workout cardio and we say this because it really depends on a lot of factors such as: What muscle groups are you training that day? What form of cardio are you doing pre workout (low, moderate, or high intensity)? What modality will you use? Are you in a low calorie and glycogen depleted state?

A Study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows 30 minutes of jogging pre workout decreases volume of spinal discs and leads to a reduction in the amount of weight you can load on your back (3). For example, if you did a moderate-high intensity cardio bout such as jogging before squats it’s probably not a good idea because it will lead to decrements in strength and negatively affect your squats. Jogging shows to have a lot of muscle damage in the quads, hams, and glutes, so this will definitely affect your squat game.

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition showed extended periods of moderate volume concurrent strength, power, and endurance training interferes with explosive strength development (4). This is not something you want if you’re trying to increase your 1 rep max on squats and deadlifts.

The data is pretty clear that performing moderate-high intensity cardio pre workout will lead to decrements in strength and power with your resistance training. Perhaps doing cardio earlier in the day and performing resistance training later in the day will not have a negative impact on either the performance or the measured markers of the exercise induced growth stimulus the resistance training session will have. However, we highly encourage doing resistance training and cardio on separate days as this would be the most optimal route to go.

Is there really an interference effect?

            In a study by Wilson et al. a large body of research indicates that combining aerobic and resistance exercise (concurrent training) has a negative effect on gains in muscular strength and size (5). There is credence to the underlying concept that catabolic processes predominate to a greater extent in aerobic training, and concurrent exercise therefore has the potential to impair muscular gains. There is even evidence that cardio can blunt the satellite cell response (helps with muscle growth) to a bout of resistance exercise and therefore potentially impair the protein-producing capacity of muscle (6). With that said, why are people still considering doing cardio pre or post workout if clearly the evidence indicates that it can potentially inhibit muscular gains, strength, and power?

What if you could avoid the interference effect?

            Burn more calories, increase muscle, and acutely increase your metabolic rate, sounds good, right? This is where the famous HIIT cardio would come into play. When you think of HIIT, high intensity and high stress should be taken into consideration. What we have to keep in mind is that stress has to be recovered from, just like the stress from weight training. Last time we checked HIIT cardio is done during the week along with resistance training. If you are still recovering from a HIIT cardio session to the point that it affects your ability to lift weights, then it can be detrimental to your gains. If there is a significant eccentric component (sprinting and running), or high level of impact, HIIT can cause problems in your overall training and potentially lead to chronic overuse injuries. You have to be cautious and smart when incorporating HIIT into your training protocol because it seems that the work to rest ratios in HIIT intervals are very similar to resistance training sets and your number one focus should be on progressive resistance training.

Here are some ways to avoid the interference effect.

  • Schedule your cardio around your resistance training, especially HIIT cardio
  • If your number one priority is resistance training, then perform cardio modalities that minimize ground-reaction forces
  • Perform a cardio modality that is opposite of the muscle group your training. For example, if you do train legs then do an upper body dominate form of cardio and vice versa
  • If you absolutely have to do cardio the same day as your resistance training and you can’t find a cardio modality opposite of the body part you trained then make sure to keep the intensity to low-moderate

Wrapping this up

We believe that the research is pretty clear here when it comes to this particular topic. Clearly there is no black and white answer, sorry to disappoint, but at least we have a great indication of what to do and when not to do it. It’s tough to predict that anyone can avoid any interference effect when it comes to aerobic or anaerobic training. Just like anything else you have to compensate something. We are not all built like machines and able to handle the same workload as others. Genetics always play a vital role in how someone responds to training. Other factors such as nutrition, stress, sleep, occupational activity, ect. All must be taken into account. Refer back to Brad Schoenfeld’s quote if needed, it pretty much tells you there are only general recommendations that can be given here. The best thing to do is choose the correct cardio modality that suits your training and goals. Always train hard, think logically, and but most importantly train smart.


(1)  Schoenfeld, AARR Research Review. Cardio Roundtable Discussion. February and March 2013.

(2)  Norton, L & Wilson J. Muscle college radio with Dr. Layne Norton & Dr. Jake Wilson. http://www.rxmuscle.com/2013-01-11-01-57-36/muscle-college/7694-muscle-college-3-12-13.html

(3)   Kingsley, MI., et al., Moderate-Intensity Running Causes Intervertebral Disc Compression in young adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2012.

(4)  Mikkola, et al., Neuromuscular and cardiovascular adaptations during concurrent strength and endurance training in untrained men. Int J Sports Med. 2012.

(5)  Babcock, L, Escano, M, D’Lugos, A, Todd, K, Murach, K, and Luden, N. Concurrent aerobic exercise interferes with the satellite cell response to acute resistance exercise. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 302: 2012.

(6)  Wilson, J.M., et al., Concurrent Training: A Meta Analysis Examining Interference if Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. J Strength Cond Res, 2011.

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel 

Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Friend or Foe to Prostate?

Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Friend or Foe to Prostate?

There’s more than meets the eye regarding the recent controversy over omega-3 levels and prostate cancer risk — Lets take a closer look.  Hector Lopez, MD, CSCS, FAAPMRA large-scale prospective case-cohort study evaluating plasma fatty acid levels and prostate cancer risk, published in JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) online ahead of print on July 10th, 2013 has created quite the stir amongst media, health care professionals, nutrition researchers, and the dietary supplement industry…Again! To quote the great Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu, all over again.” 


This recent study was led by Drs. Alan Kristal from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Theodore Brasky of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in the USA as a follow up to their 2011 study.  This new study analyzed data and blood plasma phospholipid status from men who participated in the SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) trial from 427 participating sites across Europe, USA, Canada and Puerto Rico. Blood was analyzed for 834 “cases” diagnosed with prostate cancer (156 of which were high-grade), and an age-matched subcohort, comparison group of 1,393 all of which were selected from the 35,533 participants.

Without going into an in-depth review of the study (beyond the scope or goal of this post), the men with the highest blood plasma levels of the long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (EPA, DPA, and DHA) were associated with increased risk for low-grade, high-grade and total prostate cancer (44%, 71% and 43% increased risk, respectively).  Intriguingly, a higher omega-6 level (Linoleic acid) was associated with reduced risk of low-grade and total prostate cancer, but there was no dose response relationship. prostatecancercompare

A few salient points to consider here:

1) Within the prostate cancer cases, their plasma phospholipid fatty acid profile was divided into quartiles. The lowest risk group had < 3.68% tissue levels (plasma phospholipids) VS. highest prostate CA risk group being at > 5.3%. This is quite a narrow range of plasma phospholipid fatty acid concentration to draw conclusions from.  Moreover, the mean EPA + DPA + DPA fatty acid % in plasma phospholipids was only 4.48% in controls (non-cancer group), and 4.66% in the total cancer case group. Again, an even narrower range–caution must be taken before drawing sweeping or extreme conclusions and interpretation of this data. So, what does that mean for individuals who are supplementing actively with fish oil and simultaneously keeping vegetable oil LA (omega-6) intake down that typically walk around at 7-15% (who incidentally have lowest sudden cardiac death risk and lowest 25-year mortality rates)?

It is possible, that some biochemical scenario plays out where, with respect to prostate CA, you are better off either being real low (at which point your risk for cardiovascular morbidity & mortality goes up), or at the higher goal range of >8%?  There is some interesting preclinical, mechanistic data showing that high levels of DHA increases expression of SDC-1 (a transmembrane proteoglycan) in prostate tissue.  SDC-1 may help with mediating apoptosis (programmed cell death) of prostate cancer cells, by suppressing proto-oncogene (a normal gene that when mutated can cause cancer by deranging cell growth and differentiation mechanisms) signaling.

2) This is NOT a (RDBCT)…it isn’t even an open label “intervention-based” trial. Simply an epidemiologic, nested case-cohort based association.  The SELECT study was not designed specifically to look at omega-3 fatty acid associations, a priori (from earlier knowledge). That simply means the original SELECT randomized, placebo-cotrolled clinical trial was not originally set up to answer the question of whether “Increased intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids lead to increased rates of prostate cancer development.”  Hence, that limits the “robustness” and “strength of causality assessment” of the data. Further, there was no mention in the study of dietary fish intake or fish oil supplementation.  Is it possible that the sicker individuals began taking fish oil or increasing their fish intake in an attempt to improve their health? Again, it does not allow us to discern whether the “association” exists with fish oil supplementation vs. fish from food sources vs. particular type of fish [Salmon vs. Mackerel vs. Sardine vs. Cooked (Grilled, Baked or Fried) or Raw as in Sushi]. Could there be some xenobiotic or persistent organic pollutants acting as a carcinogen in one of these sources?  After all, it is well established that certain heavy metals (e.g., cadmium, mercury), dioxins and PCBs are mutagenic and carcinogenic.

A few things stand out about the methods used to evaluate fatty acid status.  First, the plasma phospholipid fatty acid assay is considered to be more representative of ACUTE and dynamic biomarker of omega-3 fatty acid intake by many experts in the biochemical analysis of fatty acids.  Short-term factors such as a single meal or supplemental fish oil dose can increase plasma phospholipid omega-3 levels by over 2-fold within 6-10 hours. That is because this assay includes lipids found in the lipoprotein fraction of blood (such as chylomicrons, LDL subtypes, VLDL, etc.), not just in cell plasma membranes such as the omega-3 index (% of omega-3 fatty acids in RBC membrane).  Erythrocyte (or Red Blood Cell) membrane fatty acid analysis is a more reliable biomarker of SUBACUTE omega-3 fatty acid intake, with stable values reflecting dietary intake over a 2-3 month period.

Let’s admit that this study utilized data mined from a very large, prospective study, with a large number of prostate cancer cases—this is a strength. The SELECT trial that this study was based on had a very good follow up and small amount of attrition.  This minimizes the potential for a phenomenon we observe in research known as attrition bias (a kind of selection bias, where the subjects who dropout are discounted, effectively changing the characteristics of one comparison group vs. another that may lead to drawing inappropriate conclusions from the data/results).

3) Then, we do need to consider the question of whether there is “fire at the heart of this smoke” that could be attributable to some as yet undetermined mechanism?  After all, there are at least 3 more large studies that support the findings of this study.  However, there are also at least 3 other studies that conflicts with the current study showing an inverse relationship between long-chain n-3 PUFA tissue levels and prostate cancer risk.  Keep in mind that cancer biology is incredibly complex with, not only many factors that contribute to risk, progression, etc., but also many of these very factors interact to create even more layers of complexity.

Having said that,  I have a few theories, including:

** In the case of prostate biology, immune “surveillance” of cellular oncoproteins play a much larger role in identifying and creating cytotoxicity and apoptosis (programmed cell death pathways) to keep these precancerous cells at bay.

** At certain levels of tissue n-3 concentration, there may be a physiologic/molecular environment whereby mitogenic/ oncogenic and cellular proliferative pathways are driven forward and, while tumor suppressive and differentiation pathways are inhibited. This scenario could promote tumorigenesis/ carcinogensis, especially in a scenario where there is just enough immune suppression to allow for this cellular activity to spiral out of control, without the typical safety mechanism and breaks that would limit DNA mutagenesis & damage.

** Lipid peroxides generated at the local prostatic tissue level may, in certain individuals, overwhelm their capacity to neutralize this oxidative stress.  This scenario could theoretically lead to increased DNA damage, that increases potential to outpace DNA repair mechanisms and transform cells to loose cell growth/proliferation regulation.

** Could there be certain genotypes (nutrigenetic & epigenetic mechanisms) that increase susceptibility to the above theories? Given what we have learned from genome wide association studies (GWAS) in the last decade, this is certainly a possibility.

4) Interestingly, this association appears to be tissue specific. As opposite association (inverse relationships) exist for omega-3 status and other cancers, e.g., breast, colon, and possibly pancreatic.

5) There is interesting data that demonstrates what I would refer to as a “metabolic dissonance” in energy metabolism of prostate cancer cells.  In stark contrast to cancers of other tissues, where metabolism becomes more heavily glycolytic (strong preference to using glucose for fuel during energy metabolism), prostate adenocarcinoma cells appear to switch toward greater beta-oxidation of fatty acids to drive its bioenergetic needs! This “metabolic dissonance” with respect to the unique physiology of prostate cancer could very well be a major factor leading to the observed association between long-chain omega-3 PUFA and prostate tumorigenesis in Brasky et al study.

6) Prostate cancer detection has increased dramatically over the last 10-15 years, not only due to the prevalence of PSA screening, but also lower threshold to biopsy has lead to increased diagnosis.  This is particularly the case with detection of microfoci of prostate malignant cells in smaller (lower volume) prostates…Hence, there is a greater probability of sampling malignant microfoci in smaller prostates.  This is an aspect that was not controlled for (Hazard ratios in the study were not adjusted for this variable) in the Brasky et al study.

7) There is also robust evidence that contradicts and opposes the conclusions and interpretation of the Brasky et al data.  For example, the work of Chua et al. (2013), Sorongon-Legaspi et al. (2013), Torfadottir et al. (2013), Chavarro et al (2008), Terry et al. (2001), Harvei et al (1997), and others show a protective effect of higher levels of tissue omega-3 fatty acid status, with lower prostate cancer risk and prostate cancer mortality.

8) It is also imperative to try adding context and maintaining perspective whenever faced with new information that may change behavior; or in this case, information that may change clinical management and dietary advice.  Lets keep the following numbers in mind to add some more perspective, color and light to this data from a public health, and risk assessment standpoint. (from National Cancer Institute-Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results, and National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute-NIH):

Prostate Cancer- U.S. :

  • Age-adjusted incidence rates (for all races) from 2006-2010: ~152/ per 100,000 men
  • Age-adjusted death rates (for all races) from 2006-2010:  ~23/ per 100,000 men
  • Prevalence of prostate cancer diagnosis: ~2.6 million men on January 1, 2010
  • Direct cost burden from prostate cancer in U.S. in 2010:  ~$14 Billion

Cardiovascular Disease- U.S.

  • Age-adjusted death rates (for all races) from in 2008:  ~244/ per 100,000 population (both men and women)
  • Prevalence of cardiovascular disease diagnosis: ~82.6 million men in 2006
  • Direct cost burden from CVD in U.S. in 2008: ~$218 Billion

9) Although the jury is still not out with respect to the relationship long-chain omega-3 PUFAs found in fatty fish and fish oil and prostate cancer risk, progression or severity, I believe the sheer numbers tell us what the lowest hanging fruit is relative to public health focus and resources.  I do agree with the authors that prostate health history should be taken at least be taken into consideration, when weighing potential risk to benefit ratio of increasing long-chain n-3 PUFA intake.

10) As with so much in science, medicine, health and nutrition, the more data we have access to, the more questions arise.  One burning question this study raises that is of interest to consumers, industry and health care providers—How would these findings change when evaluating specific dietary sources of long-chain n-3 PUFA (e.g., concentrated fish oil supplements vs. Sushi vs. Baked, Grilled or Fried fish)?

Overall, the benefits of increasing omega-3 status (and decreasing omega-6 overabudnance) for most people FAR outweigh potential risks.  Stay tuned…but as always keep a cool head and try to avoid being drawn into dramatic, emotionally-charged and sensational headlines. These observational, case-control cohort studies may be useful for generating hypotheses to test in well-controlled prospective clinical trials, but far from establishing causality. So, what am I doing with this information you ask?  Well…I’m still taking my fish oil, eating a variety of fish while we await for stronger evidence (which I seriously doubt we’ll ever see :)). Oh, and by the way, NO…I am not going to intentionally increase my omega-6 vegetable oil intake—despite the fact that this study revealed that elevated plasma omega-6 fatty acid levels were associated with decreased risk of low-grade and total prostate cancer. Remember to take your fish oil and call me in the morning! J

BIO – Hector Lopez, MD, CSCS, FAAPMR

Dr. Lopez is a board-certified specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, with a concentration in spine, sports and musculoskeletal medicine. He also has post-graduate training in nutritional biochemistry. An active researcher, speaker, author, and clinician, he is recognized for uniquely integrating the best available methods in the fields of musculoskeletal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, regenerative medicine, exercise and nutritional science. Dr. Lopez has been a founding partner and director of several integrative orthopedic, spine, and sports medicine facilities, and he is a principal and chief medical officer of the Center for Applied Health Sciences (CAHS), a leading multidisciplinary clinical research institute. Dr. Lopez is also co-founder of Supplement Safety Solutions (SSS), a NutravigilanceTM, quality assurance, medical monitoring, and regulatory consulting company. In addition, he is a consultant to professional athletes and to the nutritional supplement industry as product developer, research advocate, and safety and regulatory expert.


  • Brasky T, Darke A, Song X, Tangen C, Goodman P, Thompson I, Meyskens F, Goodman G, Minasian L, Parnes H, Klein E, Kristal AR. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Jul 10 [Epub ahead of print].
  • Chua ME, Sio MC, Sorongon MC, Morales ML Jr. The relevance of serum levels of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and prostate cancer risk: A meta-analysis. Can Urol Assoc J. 2013 May;7(5-6):E333-43.
  • Harris WS, Pottala JV, Varvel SA, Borowski JJ, Ward JN, McConnell JP. Erythrocyte omega-3 fatty acids increase and linoleic acid decreases with age: observations from 160,000 patients. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Apr;88(4):257-63.
  • Harris WS, Thomas RM. Biological variability of blood omega-3 biomarkers. Clin Biochem. 2010 Feb;43(3):338-40.
  • Harvei S, Bjerve KS, Tretli S, et al. Prediagnostic level of fatty acids in serum phospholipids: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. Int J Cancer. 1997;71(4):545–551.
  • Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Neyman N, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Cho H, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2010, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2010/, based on November 2012 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2013.
  • Hu Y, Sun H, Owens RT, Gu Z, Wu J, Chen YQ, O’Flaherty JT, Edwards IJ. Syndecan-1-dependent suppression of PDK1/Akt/bad signaling by docosahexaenoic acid induces apoptosis in prostate cancer. Neoplasia. 2010 Oct;12(10):826-36.
  • Liu Y. Fatty acid oxidation is a dominant bioenergetic pathway in prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2006;9(3):230-4.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Unpublished Tabulations of the National Health Interview Survey, 2010. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_2010_data_release.htm.
  • O’Flaherty JT, Hu Y, Wooten RE, Horita DA, Samuel MP, Thomas MJ, Sun H, Edwards IJ. 15-lipoxygenase metabolites of docosahexaenoic acid inhibit prostate cancer cell proliferation and survival. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45480.
  • Sorongon-Legaspi MK, Chua M, Sio MC, Morales M Jr. Blood level omega-3 Fatty acids as risk determinant molecular biomarker for prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer. 2013;2013:875615.
  • Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Wolk A. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet. 2001 Jun 2;357(9270):1764-6.
  • Torfadottir JE, Valdimarsdottir UA, Mucci LA, Kasperzyk JL, Fall K,Tryggvadottir L, Aspelund T, Olafsson O, Harris TB, Jonsson E, Tulinius H, Gudnason V, Adami HO, Stampfer M, Steingrimsdottir L. Consumption of fish products across the lifespan and prostate cancer risk. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e59799.
  • Zha S, Ferdinandusse S, Hicks JL, Denis S, Dunn TA, Wanders RJ, Luo J, De Marzo AM, Isaacs WB. Peroxisomal branched chain fatty acid beta-oxidation pathway is upregulated in prostate cancer. Prostate. 2005 Jun 1;63(4):316-23.


Nutritional Counseling and Free Speech Update

By Rick Collins, JD, FISSN

Does nutritional advice raise an issue of Free Speech?  A recent Fourth Circuit case from North Carolina should be of interest to the nutrition community as it moves forward through the court system [Cooksey v. Futrell, et al, http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/first_amendment/paleo/paleo-4th-opinion.pdf].  The relevant facts and Court’s holding follow.


In 2009, Steve Cooksey was rushed to the hospital in a diabetic coma.  Diagnosed with Type II diabetes, he was advised by licensed dietitians to eat a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat.  Instead, he adopted a “Paleolithic diet” high in fat and low in carbohydrates.  On this regimen, he purportedly dropped 78 pounds, ceased need for medications, and regained his health.  The following year, he launched a website now called “Diabetes Warrior.”   The site contained a disclaimer that Cooksey was not a licensed medical professional and did not have any formal medical education or special dietary qualifications.  The site promoted the high fat/low carbohydrate diet and Paleo lifestyle to combat obesity and diabetes.

Cooksey’s website had three relevant components: (1) a free advice column of visitor questions and his answers; (2) a free “Personal Dietary Mentoring” section, in which visitors would post questions or share stories and he would respond; and (3) a fee-based diabetes coaching service, in which Cooksey provided individualized advice on the Paleo diet.

Cooksey came to the attention of the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition when he attended a nutritional seminar on diabetes and expressed dissenting opinions during the question-and-answer segment of the seminar.  Someone present at the seminar reported Cooksey to the Board, which is charged with administering North Carolina’s Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act, claiming that Cooksey was engaging in the unlicensed practice of dietetics – a Class 1 misdemeanor.  The Executive Director of the Board called Cooksey and told him that “he and his website were under investigation.”  He was told to take down the fee-based portion of his website and make other changes.  Cooksey reluctantly complied “because he feared civil and criminal action against him . . . .”  The State Board subsequently sent Cooksey documents with a red-pen review of his site, noting areas of “concern” with large red “X’s.”  He was told not to address “specific questions” or give specific advice (e.g., suggesting to a site visitor to introduce “whipping cream” into her diet).  He was told that having a meal plan on the site was permissible, but that “recommending it directly to people you speak to or who write you” requires a license.   Cooksey did not contact the Board further, but instead altered his website and “ceased expressing opinions in the form of personal dietary advice based on his fear of civil and criminal action against him by the State of North Carolina.”

Cooksey thereafter filed suit in the Western District of North Carolina, alleging the Board violated his First Amendment rights.  He claimed that restricting his speech in the advice freedomofspeechcolumn, personal dietary mentoring, and the fee-based coaching sections of his site was an unconstitutional restriction and “chilling” of free speech.  The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Cooksey’s support.  The Board filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing and ripeness, and for failure to state a First Amendment claim.  Essentially, they argued that because they had issued no formal decision and Cooksey had voluntarily taken down the relevant sections of his site, Cooksey had suffered no actual injury – that he had no standing to raise a First Amendment claim and that such claim was premature.  The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint.

However, the three-judge appellate panel, which included retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor, held that the district court erred in not analyzing Cooksey’s claims under the First Amendment standing framework.  The appellate court held that Cooksey had sufficiently satisfied the First Amendment injury requirement by showing that the State Board’s actions had an “objectively reasonable chilling effect on the advice and commentary he posted on his website.”   Thus, the district court’s order dismissing Cooksey’s complaint was vacated and the case was sent back to be considered on the merits.

What happens from here forward could have big implications not only for the nutritional community but for millions of other people who give free or paid advice over the Internet, as the court will now need to decide the case on First Amendment grounds.  How far can a licensing board or other government authority go in regulating or censoring speech?  And what is the proper balance between protecting the public and ensuring protected free speech?  Stay tuned for further proceedings in Cooksey’s case…

[© Rick Collins, 2013.  All rights reserved.  For informational purposes only, not to be construed as legal or medical advice. Rick Collins is Legal Counsel to the ISSN; visit Rick at www.rickcollins.com.]

BIO – Rick Collins, Esq., FISSN is a popular personality in the bodybuilding, health, fitness and nutrition communities. A successful lawyer, author, lecturer and magazine columnist, he is a partner in the law firm of Collins, McDonald & Gann, PC, in Mineola, New York. He was formerly a criminal prosecutor, personal trainer and film actor. As an attorney, he has been awarded the highest accolades for legal abilities and ethical standards (AV-rating) from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell directory of lawyers, and he is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.  Rick serves on the Advisory Board of the ISSN, www.theissn.org.

Is Dieting and Being Bikini Ready Year Around Safe?

By Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN.  We’ve always thought it was funny when women would tell us that they can stay in bikini shape year-around and still make gains in their physiques. We would sit there and ask them, “So how exactly do you plan on doing this?” They would always how-to-get-a-better-and-perfect-beach-body-188reply with, “Oh just be strict on my diet and ‘eat clean,’ low calories, low carb it, lots of cardio, and stick to my high rep training to stay toned.”

We kid you not, every answer was something along those lines and we wouldn’t critique their responses because we knew that these were A) The type that got their info from Gwyneth Paltrow out of a magazine and B) The type of women that would not listen to a word that came out of our mouths and would just nod their pretty little faces and go on about their business in their Lululemon yoga pants.

We decided to do some research on this, ask some fellow experts in the field, use our real world practice, experience, and results from our female clients, and write this article. We want to inform you if being in bikini shape year-round is safe, smart, realistic, healthy, and then some. You ready to find out if you can stay in bikini shape year-around and still make progress in your body?

Crashing Your Metabolism

Let’s start this off with crashing your metabolism or a more appropriate word would be ‘Metabolic Adaptation’ through excessive calorie restriction and excessive aerobic training volumes. What’s metabolic adaptation you ask? The way we define this is your metabolism is permitted from losing body fat unless you starve yourself. It’s a lack of weight loss disproportionate to your calorie intake.

A common example of this would be a bikini or figure competitor. They would be on an 15370_83_1extremely low calorie diet, anywhere form 600-1,000 calories and doing a high volume of low intensity aerobic exercise, anywhere from 2-3 hours a day and up to 5-6 times a week, and eventually they would end up not being able to drop body fat.

“The reason they can’t drop body fat is because their body adapts to the low calorie intake and the high calorie output so much to where they don’t get any caloric burn from exercise. They also have very little thermogenic effect from foods and low basal metabolic rates. Their metabolism is blunted, so they don’t have any type of metabolic cushion to work with and thus they can’t lose adipose tissue.” says Layne Norton.

(Note: For more info on Metabolic Adaptation click here)

When you’re in a severe caloric restriction and doing high volumes of aerobic training, which 99% of the time means trying to attain low body fat levels so you can fit in that poke a dot bikini, you have to understand that maintaining this shape is very difficult, unhealthy, and most of the times unrealistic.

Is it Possible to be in Bikini Shape Year-Round?

In our opinions, there are four ways that you can realistically stay in bikini shape and still improve your physique, more on that in a moment. We went ahead and asked expert Alan Aragon what ways he thought someone could stay bikini ready year-around:

Whether or not it’s realistic to stay in bikini shape all year-round depends on just how ‘in-shape’ we’re talking about. beach-body1_45While hard work and dedication is obviously involved, the look of women on fitness magazine covers is largely based on genetics. In many cases, it’s a matter of having won the genetic lottery, plus getting some extra help from drugs.”

We agree with some of Alan’s points; however we feel there are some other ways that you can realistically stay in bikini shape and still improve your physique:

  1. You are genetically gifted and have all the right things going for you
  2. Having an ectomorphic body type with a greyhound type (very fast) metabolism
  3. Extra help from drugs
  4. Implement Reverse dieting

Since we all aren’t genetic freaks, don’t have sky rocketing metabolisms, and last time we checked drugs were illegal, let’s focus on the last one, implementing reverse dieting.

Enter Reverse Dieting

When you implement reverse dieting you want to focus on improving your metabolic capacity so that you can handle a higher level of calories for gaining muscle mass, without putting on excessive body fat. When you can fully maximize your metabolic capacity, this will play a key role in dropping body fat when you’re in a caloric restriction aka dieting for that bikini.

For example, who’s going to have an easier time losing fat?

Subject A) Person who maintains their body weight on 3000 calories or

Subject B) Person who maintains their body weight on 1500 calories

It’s subject ‘A’ because they have a higher metabolic capacity. Subject ‘A’ has more caloric cushion to work with when it comes to dropping calories over the course of time.

Reverse dieting will also help with re-storing your metabolism to a more suitable rate to your body. In order to do this you must slowly, deliberately, and in a controlled fashion add in calories to your diet.

Reverse dieting could also possibly help lose body fat because your metabolism becomes stimulated. If you want to drop fat, you have to have the metabolic capacity to do so and if you’re constantly maintaining your weight in bikini shape around 1,000 calories then you aren’t going to have the metabolic cushion to lose fat nor will you have the caloric intake to gain muscle mass and make improvements in your physique.

Is It Safe To Be In Bikini Shape Year-Round?

Prolonged dieting and severe calorie restriction isn’t a very smart thing to do and if you want us to be frank, it’s pretty damn stupid just to sit there and attempt this just to say you can fit into a sexy leopard bikini all year around or hop on a red eye to Vegas any time of the year.

We know this is a big deal for some of you ladies, some others it’s not, but there are serious psychological and physiological health implications from doing this. Allow us:

  • The high volume of training, low energy intake (calories), and stress hormones produced by psychological stress, may lead to a physiological alteration in the endocrinological control of the menstrual cycle (loss of periods).
  • Low energy levels over a period of time can cause higher concentrations of growth hormone, cortisol, and lower concentrations of leptin, insulin, and triiodothyronine. These are all hormones related to metabolism, and thus to nutritional and metabolic status.
  • Some female athletes have a classic eating disorder, potentially driven by a need to maintain a low body mass for performance (i.e., bikini body).
  • You could potentially develop osteoporosis (thin and weak bones) from malnutrition and low energy intake.
  • Your mental health state can become a real issue when it comes to relationships, social events, work, etc.

That sexy leopard bikini and Vegas trip with the girls can wait until summer.

Plumping Up That Booty

Now, we know you don’t want to have a flat booty in your sexy bikini year after year right? So how do you expect to get your booty to improve if you’re constantly low calorie dieting with tons of cardio? The answer is you can’t. You will have a flat behind in your sexy bikini year-around, year after year, unless you do some of the things we discussed in the earlier part of this article. You also have to target your glutes directly when you train and use movements such as: Barbell hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, single leg hip thrusts, etc.

(For more info on direct glute training click here). 

You just can’t make improvements to your physique if you’re low calorie dieting all year around. You simply won’t have the calories or energy to build muscle or even train hard. On the contrary, if you have more calories in your diet, then you’ll have more energy, more strength, increased glycogen in the muscle, you’ll train harder, you’ll recover better, and thus you’ll make more gains in your physique, especially the booty.

Wrap Up

As you can see, it was very hard to sit there and critique these pretty ladies responses to staying bikini ready all year-around in a quick conversation. Hopefully we’ve informed you on why it’s just not safe and smart to try and stay bikini ready all-year around. Some take home points are:

  • Don’t eat extreme low calorie diets and do excessive amounts of low intensity aerobic exercise, this is a recipe for Metabolic Adaptation.
  • Metabolic Adaptation does occur, although there’s not much data on this yet, the anecdotal evidence is very clear and should not be taken lightly.
  • Implement reverse dieting to build your caloric and metabolic capacity.
  • Understand that maintaining this type of shape is very difficult, unhealthy, and most of the times unrealistic.
  • If you want to improve your physique, you should reverse diet and slowly add in calories over time along with a proper training protocol.

It may look cute and feel good to stay bikini ready year-around, but the cons out weigh the pros and we personally would never want to be complacent and look the same year after year. So, unless you’re one of the rare and gifted ones out there, don’t think you can just stay in bikini shape year-around and still make improvements in your physique. Put in the work senoritas.  :-)

Special Thanks To:

Layne Norton and Alan Aragon for their thoughts and comments on this subject.


  1. Johannsen et al. Metabolic Slowing with Massive Weight Loss Despite Preservation of Fat-Free Mass. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012
  2. Wong et al. Caloric Restriction Induces Changes in Insulin and Body Weight Measurements That Are Inversely Associated with Subsequent Weight regain. PLoS one. 2012
  3. Sports and Women Athletes: The Female Triad Athlete. Am Fam Physician. 2004. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0401/p1734.html
  4. Karen Birch. Female Triad Athlete. BMJ. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546077/
  5. Layne Norton. Metabolic Damage. 2012 Dec. http://youtu.be/QHHzie6XRGk

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel


Gain Weight the Right Way

by Jenna Stranzl RD CISSN.  This article was originally posted at http://jennastranzl.com

Pizza.  Burgers.  Candy bars.  Cheesesteaks.  Whole milk.  Have you ever tried any of these strategies to gain weight?  Some of you may want to throw darts at this post because you would do anything to have this problem – gaining weight.  For many athletes or even those with simply a furnace metabolism, this can truly be an aggravating experience.

Thing is, gaining weight can be done two ways – by either eating every thing in sight, or by training smart and eating higher calorie *smart* foods that have better nutrient profiles than a, let’s say, pork roll sandwich.  When people just eat to gain weight, they often whattoeat_lunch_pizzaburgerselect fatty foods and those that lack any nutritional value.  This makes an individual more likely to have increased risk for things such as heart disease, hypertension, disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, and especially with athletics – a decrease in performance.

Just like losing weight, the same applies to weight gain – patience and a healthy way of life.  Eating lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and limiting added fats, sugar, and sodium.  Remember, to gain one pound per week, one must eat an additional 500 calories per day.  This could be as simple as 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, banana, and honey on your AM breakfast toast, an extra drizzle of olive oil on your salad, and a large glass of low-fat or skim milk before bed.

Easy calorie boost to toast — PB, banana, & drizzle honey

Need some additional ideas?  Look no further.  Here are 25 suggestions to help put on the pounds.

  1. Add calcium-rich cheese when making mashed potatoes (keep the skin in the mash to add a boost of fiber)
  2. Opt for light dressings – fat free dressings add minimal calories, but non-creamy dressings like balsamic, Italian, or oil and vinegar add healthy fats.  The healthy fats in the dressing actually help absorb the fat-soluable vitamins in the salad’s nutrients
  3. Use hearty complex carbohydrates like bulgar and wheatberry when making a pasta salad – great amount of calories in a small portion and packed with good for you nutrients
  4. Opt for quinoa over white rice.  Quinoa is a complete protein – who knew?  Use it with some tomatoes, garlic, and toss in some lean chicken or shrimp for a nice balanced dish
  5. Simply use thicker 100% whole-wheat bread slices versus thin sliced.  Many bakeries can cut the bread to a thicker slice, so speak up when at the counter.

Just a handful of almonds can add 100+ calories and heart-healthy fatsomega_6_fatty_acids

  1. Don’t go too long without eating!  Solution?  Carry around 100-calorie packs of foods.  Stock them in your car, duffle bag, locker, desk drawer, purse – wherever you can sneak a bag.  Even almonds come in 100-calorie packs (thank you Emeralds!!)
  2. High calorie snack?  Munch on trail mix!  Heart healthy nuts, fiber-rich dried fruits, and even toss in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Limit the dried banana chips though, as they tend to be fried before packaging.
  3. Opt for a hefty bagel with cream cheese versus a bagel.  When you pick a whole-wheat bagel, you’re getting a better dose of the right type of carbohydrate, minimal fats.  They pretty much have the same amount of calories, but the bagel offers a better nutrient profile.  Or, add an egg to the bagel for a dose of protein.
  4. Pesto sauce!  Pesto sauce is heavy on the olive oil and heart healthy pine nuts so you can eat small amounts and gain calories quickly.  Toss into your pasta with a side of hearty bread and a salad drizzled with some olive oil and your calories are adding up!
  5. Pizza?  Opt for thick crust or Sicilian versus thin crust pizza.  Thick crust has more carbohydrate (our bodies prime source of fuel as athletes!) and calories.  You can also opt to add some lean proteins like shrimp and crabmeat or roasted turkey or chicken breast.
  6. Only use mustard on your sandwich?  Spread on some hummus!  Hummus boosts healthy fats, protein, and some fiber (chickpeas, lemon, and olive oil) and can create a fun alternative.  Just 2 tablespoons can boost the sandwich with an additional 50-100 calories.
  7. Avoid diet foods that might be in the house.  Steer away from mom’s Special K bars and Crystal Light.  Stick to heartier granola bars like Nature Valley and Cliff Bars.
  8. Toss the sodas as a means of added calories.  The sub?  Make your own!  Use 2 liters of seltzer water or club soda PLUS one tub of 100% fruit juice concentrate.  Mix and drink!

Why go skim? Skim milk lacks the artery clogging saturated fats whole milk provides but contains the same protein content.milk-500_0

  1. Drink 2% milk versus whole milk.  Whole milk just has additional saturated fats (a thumbs down for the heart).  Get your calories elsewhere from healthy calorie boosters like peanut butter, olive oils, dried fruits, etc.  The protein content of all milks (skim, low-fat, whole) are the exact same.
  2. Protein shakes are fine – just stick to those that are NSF approved.  Meaning, they are approved for sport.  If you take a drug test, you are knowing you are taking a protein supplement that has been tested and safe for use.  A lot of products out there may create a positive drug test, simply because there are components that fall into it during production or you do not know about.  EAS Myoplex and Muscle Milk Collegiate are GREAT options.
  3. Snack on dried fruits!  Dried fruits come in many types: peach rinds, apple slices, raisins, prunes (LOVE THEM!), cranberries, etc.  While there is sugar added during the drying process, they still contain a fiber boost and added calories.  Toss in your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, trail mix, and salads.  Prunes for example are high in antioxidants, which reduce free radical damage.  This can ultimately reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
  4. Skip creamy alfredo.  Why?  High in saturated fats and low in nutrients.  A simple substitution with a matching calorie content?  Penne pasta with grilled chicken, sautéed vegetables (in olive oil), and marinara sauce.  See, it is about the meal composition – selecting healthier options, with similar caloric content.
  5. Chocolate?  Dark chocolate!  It packs a punch in terms of antioxidants.  Make sure to select dark chocolates that offer over 65% cacao – meaning, the higher the percentage, the better the antioxidant level in the chocolate.
  6. Chomp on olives.  Heart healthy and can add calories without feeling like you ate a ton.

Fatty fish like salmon, mackarel, or trout provide anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for an athletes training regime and recovery.

  1. Opt for lean meats or healthy fatty meats.  What is a healthy fatty meat?  Salmon, for example.  Salmon boosts more calories per ounce than tuna, but why?  Simply because of its oils and we know that fish oil does wonders for athletes.  Tuna is also a great choice though – because it boosts quality protein.  Select white meats versus dark to lower fat content (turkey and chicken).  Pork tenderloin is another great low-fat, hearty protein option.
  1. Making eggs?  Boost calories by wrapping those eggs into a whole-wheat tortilla!  Then add some cheese, peppers, onions, and mushrooms for an added veggie and calcium boost!
  2. Soups on!  Avoid creamy soups and select hearty bean soups like turkey chili, vegetarian chili, or lentil soups.  These soups have a high fiber, high protein profile with a similar amount of calories.
  3. Re-create your bland salad.  A salad can add healthy calories quickly.  How?  Add some of the following: sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts, feta cheese, soybeans, and lean proteins like turkey, fish, or chicken.
  4. Munch on nuts!  A small dose packs a heavy calorie punch (20 almonds or 12-13 walnuts is a serving).  Snack on these throughout the day to add up your numbers.
  5. Save room for your appetite.  Don’t always fill up on liquids – instead, focus on foods with a hearty nutrient profile.  Beef up your oatmeal or cereals by adding nuts, honey, fruits (dried or fresh), and a dash of granola

Most importantly, learn that weight gain is not an easy process and takes time.  Keep positive and understand that in order to gain, you must acknowledge that you may need to try foods you may not have thought to.  Step outside of the box and eventually, you will see these foods can make you become better, stronger, and healthier.


Jenna is a registered dietitian (RD) and sports nutritionist (CISSN).  She currently serves as the consulting sports nutritionist for The PGA Tour 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Trenton Titans (ECHL)Velocity Sports Peformance – Cherry Hill and Allentown/Lehigh Valley. Jenna has experience with athletes of all ages including recreational, elite, and professional athletes. She has worked for IMG Academies as a sports nutritionist to high-school and professional athletes in Bradenton, FL – including the US Men’s Soccer U17 National Team, the Penn State Sports Nutrition Clinic, and development of dietary supplements and pediatric nutrition research for Wyeth Nutrition/Pharmaceuticals. Additional experience includes a professional development at Athletes’ Performance, contributions for MLB’s RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), Major League Strength, the Taylor Hooton Foundation, STACK Media, and ShowcaseU.  Additional clients include athletes’ within professional and collegiate baseball, basketball, gymnastic, football, horse racing, and track & field.  Jenna is also currently the Program Coordinator of Nutrition at Drexel University, in conjuction with the Eat.Right.Now Program for the city of Philadelphia. As an avid runner, Jenna has participated in several marathons; therefore, ensuring sports nutrition is a part of her daily training and lifestyle.  If you really love this article, check out the rest at http://jennastranzl.com/about/

Sprint on the Beach for HIIT Cardio!

Calling all athletes, what kind of surfaces are you sprinting on these days? We truly hope you are not sprinting on Running-Virginia-Beachconcrete surfaces, unless you are sprinting away from your girlfriend because you forgot it was her birthday. Otherwise sprinting on concrete is a big no no and could cause a potential injury and are tough on your joints overall.

We remember when we were kids and we used to have sprint competitions against our friends on concrete surfaces, boy those were fun until one of us took a hard spill. After thinking about that hard spill, we think other surfaces would be more optimal to sprint on. All kidding aside, one of the best surfaces to do some all out sprints or HIIT cardio is on sand. Yes, sand, as in beaches, beautiful weather, and hot babes all around. Now, we know everyone doesn’t have access to sand surfaces, but for those that do it’s time to try doing your sprints on them.

Sand surfaces are harder to walk and run on than other surfaces because the feet slip and sink, which requires the leg muscles to stabilize the feet during the application of force. We promise you will not be disappointed with how grueling and tough sprinting on sand surfaces are. Oh and your joints will thank you in the long run, along with the rest of your body.

Where’s the proof in all this mumbo jumbo sprinting in sand talk, you ask? Before we discuss the study, we would like to give researcher Chris Beardsley a round of applause for discovering this study. A 2012 study conducted in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, tested the biomechanics and predicted energetics of sprinting on sand surfaces. Previous researchers have observed that the energy cost of walking on sand is 1.8 – 2.7 times that of walking on from ground, while the energy cost of running on sand is 1.2– 1.6 times that of running on from ground. If you think about it, that is a pretty significant difference and could really be beneficial in everyone’s favor, especially athletes training in pre-season or possibly for rehabilitation purposes.

So what did the researcher’s do?

running-surfaces-pros-and-consThe researchers wanted to compare short sprints with or without changes in direction on sand, grass, and artificial turf. So they recruited 29 male professional soccer players

(7 defenders, 15 mid- fielders and 7 forwards). After a standardized 12-minute warm up, the researchers asked the athletes to perform a 12m maximum speed sprint and a 24m maximum speed shuttle sprint (with a 180 degree change of direction). The athletes performed both of these sprints on sand, grass, and artificial turf. Not concrete surfaces as we mentioned earlier, could be disadvantageous.

So what happened?

Measurement decreases on sand: The researchers observed significant decreases in average speed, maximum speed, average acceleration, maximum acceleration, average stride length, flight time, mechanical power, and stiffness on sand than on grass or artificial turf.

Measurement increases on sand:  The researchers also noted that average energy cost, average metabolic power, and contact time were highest during sprinting on sand.

Changes in efficiency in sand: The researchers found that efficiency values (i.e., the ratio between mechanical power and metabolic power) of the sprints were 0.17 on natural grass and artificial turf, while the ratio was only 0.12 for sand.

Similarity in stride frequency across all surfaces: The researchers were surprised by the lack of variation in stride frequency between the various surfaces.

So what did the researchers conclude in all of this?

This can’t be a study if there’s no conclusion right? Well, the researchers concluded that running on sand could be a useful tool for the following: training, injury prevention, and recovery. Pretty darn good benefits if you ask us. The main reasons they came to this conclusion was due to the stiffness values and how maximal speeds become lower on sand surfaces. Not to mention as we said earlier, this could serve your body well over time from possible joint issues or even the famous “shin splints” which can be pretty painful. The researchers also noted that “it is possible to carry out maximal intensity sprints on sand without reaching maximum speed, with lower stiffness, while also maintaining the same stride frequency but by reducing stride length, which represent less injury risk.” At the end of the day we are pretty sure everyone wants to stay injury free in order to maximize their full potential.

Wrapping this up

So we have some pretty cool data here to support the notion that sand is indeed a great and beneficial surface to do sprints on. Now, we are not saying that sprinting on grass, turf, or tracks are bad. We sprint on those surfaces all the time and have no pain what so ever. We are simply saying that sprinting on sand has its valid benefits and are very tough due to how your feet slip and sink in the sand to create the leg muscles to stabilize the feet during the application of force. Oh yes, not to mention if you have access to a beach then why the hell not take advantage of some awesome weather and do some sprints while flexing your guns and glutes. Overall you can’t go wrong with sprinting on sand, it’s great on your body, great for rehabilitation, great scenery, and whether you’re an athlete or not, just get out there and do some damn sprints!


(1)Gaudino, Gaudino, Albertia, and Minetti, Biomechanics and predicted energetic of sprinting on sand, Journal of science and medicine in sport, 2012.

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel   

Exercise in a Pill: Not so Fast

exercise-pill-for-insomnia1By Brad Dieter, MS, CSCS, CISSN.  I just returned from the American College of Sports Medicine conference in which the theme was “Exercise is Medicine”.  I would argue that exercise is indeed medicine and that diet and exercise are the most powerful “medicines” to combat the current epidemic of modern chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, Robert H. Butler stated, “If exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation”. The advances of modern science have reached a point where they can mimic the effects of exercise through pharmacological agents at a cellular level. The purpose of this article is to review some of these pharmacological agents and provide a comparison of them to actual real exercise in regards to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.  Unfortunately, in order to fully grasp the concept of “exercise in a pill” I have to explain some rather technical concepts.

Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Heart Disease

It is quite clear that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are the biggest health issues in America. While this is an oversimplification, I believe these three diseases are connected and are related to metabolic dysfunction. Additionally, I argue that this metabolic dysfunction can be attributed to lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction for when we examine the data regarding of these three diseases, we observe both lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Exercise and Muscle Adaptation

Exercise induces physiological changes in every system of our body with our muscle tissue undergoing the most dramatic and metabolically significant changes.  The adaptations in muscle that arise from exercise are both acute and chronic, with each type impacting metabolic processes and function. The most salient adaptations to this discussion include non-insulin dependent glucose transport, increased intramuscular fatty-acid oxidation, increased insulin sensitivity, and enhanced mitochondrial function. Furthermore, each of these adaptations aid in attenuating and reversing lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction. There are currently several hypotheses on the pathogenesis of these diseased states with lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction serving as a uniting factor in each of them. Taken together, this suggests the cellular adaptations to muscle tissue that arise from exercise are beneficial to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.  Therefore, inducing these adaptations or activating the same signaling pathways through pharmacological interventions may produce benefits similar to exercise. Two main signaling processes involved in exercise that are currently being targeted with pharmacological agents are AMPK and the PGC1/PPAR co-activator/transcription factor.


One of the best understood metabolic enzymes is AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a master regulator of cellular and organism metabolism whose function is conserved in all eukaryotes (1).  AMPK is involved in glucose homeostasis and is direct impacted through exercise. Briefly, AMPK is activated in response to an increase in the AMP/ATP ratio which increases during exercise with ATP is utilized for fuel (See Figure 1). This indicates that during exercise, AMPK signals GLUT4 translocation and non-insulin dependent glucose disposal.F3.large

A brilliant paper by Fryer et al. (2002) demonstrated all of the necessary components to indicate the critical role AMPK plays in the beneficial adaptations of exercise in glucose homeostasis and how pharmacological therapy can mimic cellular conditions present during exercise (2).  In the paper, the authors successfully demonstrated that AMPK does indeed stimulate glucose uptake into cells. More importantly, they demonstrated that pharmacological agents can mimic the effect of exercise by “activating” AMPK.  In their study they demonstrated that AICAR, a synthetic analogue of AMP, effectively increased AMPK signaling and glucose transport in skeletal muscle tissue.  These results are not unique, another study in 2002 demonstrated that AICAR increased glucose transport (3).  Put simply, AICAR mimics muscle contraction and AMPK activation by increasing the AMP/ATP ratio (Figure 2).  Furthermore, it has been shown that the anti-diabetic drugs Rosiglitazone and Metformin improve glucose control through the AMPK pathway (4). Taken together, this indicates that AICAR, and other pharmacological agents, can mimic the acute effects exercise has on glucose disposal through activating AMPK and GLUT4 translocation.

PPAR- γ and PGC-1 Agonists

Exercise can induce adaptations in genetic expression in muscle tissue which result in the manufacturing of certain proteins that alter muscle cell function. Many of these adaptations occur via Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) and its co-activator PGC-1. Briefly, PPAR is a  nuclear receptor that regulates glucose and fatty acid metabolism and PGC-1 effects biologic responses that equip the cell to meet the energy demands of a changing environment, including augmentation of mitochondrial biogenesis, cellular respiration rates, and energy substrate uptake and utilization (5). While we can discuss PGC-1 and PPAR-γ separate from AMPK, they can also be discussed together as AMPK influences PGC-1 and PPAR (6, 7). This discussion is interesting but is outside the scope of this article. A brief explanation is depicted in figure 3, and while there are additional AMPK independent pathways (i.e. p38 MAPK) I feel this figure shows the concept easily enough.

Put simply, type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease in which we observe dysfunction in the metabolism of both carbohydrate and fat.  As metabolism is initially controlled at a cellular level we observed differences in gene expression and nuclear receptor activation between type 2 diabetics and normal, healthy individuals. One key difference is a lower expression of PGC1-α in type 2 diabetics (8).  This down of PGC1-α is concurrent with decreased oxidative phosphorylation, indicating mitochondrial dysfunction (9).  Exercise has been shown to upregulate transcription of PGC-1.  This upregulation leads to enhanced lipid metabolism, improved mitochondrial function, and mitochondrial biogenesis (10, 11).  Taken together, this indicates that exercise improves lipid accumulation and mitochondrial function through PGC-1α

PGC-1 agonist drugs have been shown to mimic the cellular adaptations of exercise through PGC-1 and that the adaptations are functional as enhance exercise endurance in rats (12)

While it is clear that PGC-1 is a key player in exercise-induced skeletal muscle adaptations, specifically mitochondrial biogenesis, it is not the only player.  Researchers have demonstrated that there are other mechanisms that contribute to this exercise induced adaptations with PGC-1α knockout mice (13).  This appears to indicate that while PGC-1 agonists can have a beneficial effect on skeletal muscle, there are other mechanisms through which exercise induces beneficial adaptions. Taken together, I would conclude that while these drug therapies may be beneficial, the specific targets of these drugs (PGC-1 agonists) do not mimic the full extent of exercise as I will touch on next.

Both PPAR-γ and its co-activator, PGC-1, have been targets for pharmacological therapy to treat type 2 diabetes, specifically thiazolidinediones (TZD’s) (14).  These agents have shown to be efficacious for glucose control in diabetes even though the mechanisms were not fully explained at the time.  Additionally, PPAR-γ agonists do not specifically target the muscle cells, they also interact with adipocytes and promote lipid storage (Figure 4). Taken together, it appears these pharmacological agents may mimic exercise and are effective in improving lipid metabolism (PPAR-γ) and improving mitochondrial function and biogenesis (PGC-1) in muscle cells; however, they are not muscle cell specific, indicating they may also increase body fat which has negative consequences on inflammation and metabolism.

In Summary

As evidenced in this article, pharmacological therapy can mimic many of the effects of exercise at a cellular level and may indeed have a place in treating obesity. These therapies may be powerful tools in the initial treatment to help “kick start” an eexercise-pillxercise regimen and begin to shift our metabolic engine in a better direction. That being said, I do not believe we have truly replaced exercise. As witnessed with these drugs, many of their positive effects at the muscle tissue may be counteracted in the adipose tissue (i.e. TZDs). Furthermore, they do not confer the same benefits in regards to psychological health or skeletal health. As with all drugs they ought to be a tool to augment the role of a healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet and exercise.

BIO – Brad is a Ph.D. student at the University of Idaho. He is in a joint program studying exercise physiology and ethics. He received his M.S. degree in biomechanics and has a passion for evolutionary nutrition and the potential it has to combat the current declining state of health. Brad has a background as an athlete, basketball coach, and strength and conditioning coach. He loves learning about the human body, how it functions, and how we can optimally nourish it. He is focusing his doctoral work on how diet and exercise influence metabolism and health in relation to chronic, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.



Soccer Players: To Squat or Not To Squat?

GOOOOAAAALLL! We’ve got one question for all of you soccer players…Do you SQUAT? Although we are not expecting any answers back at the moment, we do hope you are saying yes to your computer screen while reading this. It’s not a coincidence if you are reading this and questioning, “Well, why should I squat if I do indeed play soccer?” In all honesty, we could sit here and explain all the great benefits of squats, but that could take a whole other article itself to school everyone on. Instead, we would like to breakdown a study that the great Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras discovered. The study is about strength training increasing power and speed for elite soccer players. So, if you are a soccer player or coach soccer players we highly recommend you sit back, relax, turn off the soccer on the flat screen for a bit and take some notes.

england_warm_upIf you are a current soccer player or former soccer player, you should know that the sport involves movements that involve speed and power. Ask any Strength and Conditioning coach how important those two elements are for athletic performance. We promise they will tell you it is very damn important for sports performance. If you want to be the best, you have to train like the best!

Back to our original question, if you play soccer do you squat? We asked this question because the study we are about to break down by Keiner et al. shows strong correlations that sprint performance and leg strength can improve by doing both back squats and front squats. Man, if only we knew this back in our days when playing futbol, aka soccer. We probably would have been bending it like Beckham 😉


The researchers wanted to track the development of 30m sprint performance in youth soccer players over a 2-year strength training intervention. So, they recruited 134 elite soccer players, not world cup stars ladies and gents. The players were

subdivided into three age-groups (A, B and C cohorts) and the average ages of each group were 17, 15 and 13, respectively. To be very clear here, the participants in each cohort were divided into two groups. One group (Strength training group [STG]) was subjected to regular soccer training in addition to strength training twice a week for 2 years. The other group (Control group [CG]) completed only the regular soccer training.

The strength training group performed their workouts on non-consecutive days and the exercises varied between the parallel front and back squats during the week and also performed bench presses, deadlifts, neck presses, and exercises for the trunk muscles as well as the standing row.

Squat training for the strength-training group was periodized such that following initial technique training, the subjects started with a hypertrophy training block, which comprised 5 sets of 10 repetitions with 3-minutes rest between each set.

The next training block comprised a strength period of 5 sets of 6 repetitions with 3-minutes rest between each set followed by an additional training block of 5 sets of 4 repetitions with 5-minutes rest between each set. The researchers measured 30m sprint times, including splits every 5m, and maximum 1RM front and back squat strength after two years of training.


For Maximum Strength, the researchers reported that the strength-training subgroups of all three age-groups displayed greater improvements in the front and back squat 1RMs than the control sub-groups.

For 30m Sprinting Performance, the researchers found that in the A and C groups, the strength-training sub-group displayed significantly better reductions in sprint time than the control sub-group at each 5m split time between 5m and 30m. They found that in the B group, there was a significant difference between the strength-training and control sub-groups at the 5m, 20m and 25m splits.

Correlations: the researchers performed a correlation analysis and found that there was a significantly positive but moderate relationship between strength gains in 1RM expressed relative to body weight and improvement in sprint performance in all age groups. The correlations were highest for the first 15m of sprinting, indicating the greater importance of squat strength for accelerating rather than maximal speed sprinting.


The researchers concluded that a strength training program involving front and back squats led to a positive improvement in the sprinting performances of young soccer players. Pretty cool. Right?


As you can see the research doesn’t lie. Of course there were limitations, but all studies have limitations. And, at the end of the day if those do not agree with these findings, that’s ok too because science is always open to debate. We can definitely tell you from anecdotal experience that squats and front squats will 99.9% of the time increase speed, power, hypertrophy, strength, and overall athletic performance. In other words, we highly agree and approve of this study by Keiner et al.   So, just too briefly recap, if you are a soccer player, coach, or just an overall jock, we highly recommend you implement some sort of squat variations into your training regimen to maximize your full potential. Don’t get us wrong here ladies and gents, we are not asking you to go load up a squat bar and max out for 500 lbs. We are simply saying whether its conventional back squats or front squats that you chose to do, do them with proper precautions, make sure you squat deep, and don’t be afraid to progressively overload. And hey, if you squat more often, maybe you will score more GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLSSSS than the famous “Pele” did.

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel  


1). Influence of a 2-year strength training programme on power performance in elite youth soccer players, by Sander Keiner, Wirth and Schmidtbleicher, in European Journal of Sport Science, 2012.

2.) Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras, 2012.  

Way More to Whey than Big Muscles

By Brad Dieter MS CISSN CSCS. Optimum-Nutrition-Gold-Standard-100-Whey-Protein-Cake-Batter-748927026450

Whey protein (WP) supplementation has recently gained popularity amongst athletes as it is reported to improve athletic performance. WP is a popular dietary protein supplement purported to provide improved muscle strength and body composition due to greater a compliment of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids and to result in greater biological value (1-4). Additionally, WP supplementation has shown to reduce oxidative stress through increasing endogenous glutathione production and improve compromised gut health associated with intense exercise (5-8). While the a majority of the research and topics covered in this post are WP supplementation specific, I want to remind everyone that whole foods sources of whey protein may be superior in terms of nutrient synergy than WP supplementation; however, the research surrounding that issue is not well established.

Increase Strength and LBM – Most athletic events are reliant upon force production of muscles, with greater ability to produce force associated with improved performance. As force is equal to mass x acceleration (F=M*A), increasing the muscle mass is the most common way athletes aim to increase force production. Skeletal muscle hypertrophy requires proper resistance training and nutritional status in which muscle protein synthesis (MPS) exceeds muscle protein breakdown (MPB). One of the major concepts in the literature surrounding skeletal muscle hypertrophy is the idea of net protein balance (NPB).  NPB is defined as MPS minus MPB (NPB = MPS – MPB). Thus, if MPS is greater than MBP, skeletal muscle hypertrophy will occur (9).  One of the critical factors influencing MPS and MBP is the availability of amino acids (10, 11). WP supplementation is a source of high biological value amino acids and has been purported to increase muscle mass and strength.

There is an extensive body of research surrounding the efficacy of WP supplementation in increasing strength and muscle mass.  The results of the research are not entirely unequivocal; however, a significant amount of evidence suggests that WP increases both strength and muscle mass (12-15).  Additionally, researchers have recently shown that the constituents of whey protein upregulate the cell signaling pathways responsible for muscle protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy, specifically the mTOR pathway (16).

Whey Protein and Glutathione – Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance between antioxidant defense systems and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (17).  Oxygen consumption during heavy exercise can increase up to 100 times normal resting levels, thus increasing the production of free radicals and resulting in oxidative stress. Although the data are not unequivocal, evidence exists showing increased free radical production and cellular damage following heavy exercise (18).  Athletes are at a higher risk of elevated oxidative stress due to the increased pro-oxidative process they expose themselves to than their non-athletes counterparts (19). The increased levels of ROS produced during heavy exercise must removed by the body’s endogenous antioxidant system in order to maintain oxidative balance

Glutathione, the most abundant and important antioxidant, is a tripeptide synthesized from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine (20). It is the most important redox couple and plays crucial roles in antioxidant defense, nutrient metabolism, and the regulation of pathways essential for whole body homeostasis (21). Additionally, glutathione serves as a regulatory compound in the activation of the circulation agents of the immune system, lymphocytes (22).  It is apparent that glutathione is a critical compound in maintaining health and glutathione deficiency has been linked to numerous pathological conditions including, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, cystic fibrosis, HIV and aging (23). Glutathione is of particular interest in the athletic population as the concentration of glutathione varies considerably as a result of nutritional limitation, exercise, and oxidative stress.

The intense physical demands of athletics places athletes’ bodies under high levels of physiological stress.  Glutathione plays a critical role in maintaining normal redox status during exercise (24, 25). Furthermore, exhaustive exercise has been shown to reduce glutathione status (24, 25, 26), thus indicating the need for bolstered levels of glutathione in athletes.  Researchers have shown that the amino acid cysteine is the rate-limiting factor in glutathione synthesis (27, 28). Therefore, the inclusion of cysteine rich protein sources may prove efficacious in increasing glutathione synthesis rates by providing ample amounts of cysteine to the amino acid pool.  Supplementation with free cysteine is not advised however as it spontaneously oxidized and has shown to be toxic (29). Dietary sources of cysteine present as cystine (two cysteines linked by a disulfide bond) are more stable than free cysteine and properly digested.  WP supplements, including WP isolate and WP concentrate are protein sources rich in cysteine and deliver cysteine to the cells via normal metabolic pathways (30,31).  By providing abundant cysteine, WP supplementation allows cells to replenish and synthesize glutathione without adverse effects (31) (Figure 1.). Thus, WP supplementation may serve to bolster the endogenous production of glutathione and improve oxidative stress in athletes.


The use of WP supplementation to mitigate a training-induced decline in blood glutathione levels has been studied extensively. Researchers have shown that WP supplement is beneficial in maintaining normal physiological levels of glutathione in athletic and non-athletic populations in response to exercise (32-34).  Furthermore, researchers have shown that WP improves the athlete’s ability to deal with acute oxidative stress and WP may serve as a safe and effective alternative source of antioxidants for prevention of athletic injuries and sickness caused by excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) (35).  The research regarding WP supplements and glutathione status supports the use of WP in athletics to improve health status in athletes by augmenting the endogenous antioxidant system.

Whey Protein and Immune Function – Strenuous exercise and heavy training regimens are associated with depressed immune cell function (36-40). Furthermore, inadequate or inappropriate nutrition can compound the negative influence of heavy exertion on immunocompetence. Suppression of the immune predisposes the individual to an increased risk of infection.

Athletes increase both the volume and intensity of their training a certain stages of the season that may result in a state of overreaching or overtraining. Recent evidence has emerged indicating that immune function is indeed sensitive to increases in training volume and intensity. Although the research has not shown that athletes are clinically immunocompromised during these periods of depressed immune function, it may be sufficient to increase the risk of contracting common infections.

As the components of the immune system are highly dependent on amino acids, endogenous and dietary amino acids can impact the state of the immune system. In comparison to other protein sources, research shows that whey proteins are unique in their ability to promote strong immunity through several beneficial compounds including: glutamine, α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin, and minor fractions such as serum proteins, lactoferrin, as well as a series of immunoglobulins (41-43).

Whey Protein and Gut Health – Intense physical exercise leads to reduced splanchic blood flow, hypoperfusion of the gut, and increased intestinal temperatures (44). Reduced intestinal blood flow and high intestinal temperatures during intense exercise can lead to intestinal barrier dysfunction through increased permeability of the tight junctions (5, 8). The increased permeability of the intestinal wall leads to invasion of Gram-negative intestinal bacteria and/or their toxic constituents (endotoxins) into the blood circulation (45-47). Endotoxins are highly toxic lipopolysaccharides (LPS) of the outer cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria. LPS are a major trigger in vivo for the host immune response via induction of the cytokine network (45). (Jeukendrup, et al., 2000). This process, endotoxemia, can result in increased susceptibility to infectious- and autoimmune diseases, due to absorption of pathogens/toxins into tissue and blood stream (48).

The field of intestinal permeability is relatively and long-term prospective studies have yet to clearly identify the potential hazards of chronic, low-grade levels of intestinal permeability. However, recent research has established a link between intestinal permeability and a host of autoimmune diseases including Chron’s disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroditis, lupus erythmatosis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis (49-53). Additionally, intestinal permeability has been associated with mental illness including schizophrenia and depression (54,55).

As previously mentioned, tight junctions constitute the major component of gut barrier function and acts as physical and functional barrier against the paracellular penetration of macromolecules from the lumen (56,57). Therefore, the regulation of tight junction permeability is critical in maintaining gut integrity and reducing the exposure of the body to endotoxins. The amino acid glutamine is critical in maintaining the integrity of these tight junctions (56). Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the blood, is considered a “conditionally essential” amino acid (Figure 2.) (56). Under normal conditions glutamine is produced in sufficient quantities in the body to maintain the normal physiological functions. However, under stressful situations, such as exercise, endogenous production of glutamine insufficient and the body must rely on exogenous sources of glutamine to meet its requirements.


Glutamine supplementation has been shown to improve gut permeability through restoration of tight junction integrity caused by a variety of physiological stressors through multiple molecular mechanisms (58-60).  Additionally, glutamine supplementation has proven effective in reducing exercise induced intestinal permeability (61). WP is a rich source of glutamine and researchers have shown that WP supplementation is capable of reducing intestinal permeability (62,63). Therefore, WP may be beneficial in reducing exercise induced intestinal permeability and the risk of endotoxemia and autoimmune disorders.


Whey protein is an excellent source of a wide range of amino acids and additional nutrients that are beneficial to health. Whey protein has been shown to increase lean body mass in conjunction with resistance training, bolster glutathione status, have immunomodulatory effects and improve gut health. A healthy, well balanced diet may be enhanced with whey protein through either whole food sources or occasional whey protein supplements.


1)    Burke, D. G., Chilibeck, P., Davison, K., & Candow, D. (2001). The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combine with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism , 11, 349-364.

2)    Coburn, J. W., Housh, D., Malek, M., Beck, T., Cramer, J., Johnson, G., et al. (2006). Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during eight weeks of unilateral resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 20 (2), 284-291.

3)    Frestedt, J. L., Zenk, J., Kuskowski, M., Ward, L., & Bastian, E. (2008). A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: A randomized human clinical study . Nutrition & Metabolism , 5 (8), 1-7.

4)    Willoughby, D. S., Stout, J., & Wilborn, C. (2007). Effects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength. Amino Acids , 32 (4), 467-477.

5)    Lambert, G. P. (2009). Stress-induced gastrointestinal barrier dysfunction and its inflammatory effects. Journal of Animal Science , 87 (E. Supplement), E101-E108.

6)    Low, P. L., Rutherfurd, K., Gill, H., & Cross, M. (2003). Effect of dietary whey protein concentrate on primary and secondary antibody responses in immunized BALB/c mice . International Immunopharmacology , 3 (3), 393-401.

7)    Micke, P., Beeh, K., Schlaak, J., & Buhl, R. (2001). Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients. European Journal of Clinical Investigation , 31 (2), 171-178.

8)    Pals, K. L., Chang, R., Ryan, A., & Gisolfi, C. (1997). Effect of running intensity on intesttinal permeability. Journal of Applied Physiology , 82, 571-576.

9)    Hulmi, J. J., Lockwood, C., & Stout, J. (2010). Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein . Nutrition & Metabolism , 7 (51).

10) Dickinson, J. M., & Rasmussen, B. (2011). Essential amino acid sensing, signaling, and transport in the regulation of human muscle protein metabolism. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care , 14 (1), 83-88.

11) Li, J. B., & Jefferson, L. (1978). Influence of amino acid availability on protein turnover in perfused skeletal muscle . Biochimica et Biophysica Acta , 544 (2), 351-359.

12) Esmarck, B., Andersen, J., Olsen, S., Richter, E., Mizuno, M., & Kjaer, M. (2001). 18. Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. Journal of Physiology , 535, 301-311.

13) Cribb, P. J., Williams, A., Carey, M., & Hayes, A. (2006). The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism , 16 (5), 494-509.

14) Buckley, J. D., Thomson, R., Coates, A., Howe, P., DeNichilo, M., & Rowney, M. (2010). Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise . Journal of Science in Medicine and Sport , 13, 178-181.

15) Tipton, K. D., Elliot, T., Cree, M., Wolf, S., Sanford, A., & Wolf, R. (2004). Ingestions of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise , 36, 2073-2081.

16) Hulmi, J. J., Tannerstedt, J., Selanne, H., Kainulainen, H., Kovanen, V., & Mero, A. (2009). Resistance exercise with whey protein ingestion affects mTOR signaling pathway and myostatin in men. Journal of Applied Physiology , 106, 1720-1729.

17) Sachdev, S., & Davies, K. (2008). Production, detection, and adaptive responses to free radicals during exercise. Free Radical Biology & Medicine , 44 (2), 215-223.

18) Adams, A. K., & Best, T. (2002). The role of antioxidant in exercise and disease prevention. The Physician and Sports Medicine , 30 (5), 2002.

19) Lowery, L. (2001). Antioxidants supplements and exercise. In J. Antonio, & J. Stout (Eds.), Sport Supplements (pp. 260-278). Philidelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

20) Thomas, J. A. (1999). Oxidative stress and oxidant defense. In M. Shils, J. Olson, M. Shike, & A. Ross (Eds.), Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (pp. 751-782). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

21) Wu, G., Fang, Y., Yan, S., Lupton, J., & Turner, N. (2004). Glutathione metabolism and its implications for health. Journal of Nutrition , 134, 489-492.

22) Droge, W. (1996). Modulation of the immune response by cysteine and cysteine derivatives. Italian Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition , 14, 1-4.

23) Townsend, D. M., Tew, K., & Tapiero, H. (2003). The importance of glutathione in human disease. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy , 57, 145-155.

24) Li, J. J., & Fu, R. (1992). Responses of glutahtione system and antioxidant enzymes to exhaustive exercise and hydroperoxide. Journal of Applied Physiology , 72 (2), 549-554.

25) Kerksick, C., & Willoughby, D. (2005). The antioxidant role of glutathione and n-acetyl-cysteine supplements and exercise-induced oxidative stress. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition , 2 (2), 38-44.

26) Gohil, K., Viguie, C., Stanley, W., Brooks, G., & Packer, L. (1988). Blood glutathione oxidation during human exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology , 64 (1), 115-119.

27) Lyons, J., Rauh-Pfeiffer, A., Yu, Y., Lu, X., Zurakowski, D., Tompkins, R., et al. (2000). Glood glutathione synthesis rates in health adults receiving a sulfur amino acid-free diet. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 97 (10), 5071-5076.

28) Rathbun, W. B., & Murray, D. (1991). Age-related cysteine uptake as rate-limiting in glutathione synthesis and glutathione half-life in the cultured human lens. Experimental Eye Research , 53 (2), 205-212.

29) Meister, A. (1984). New aspects of glutathione biochemisty and transport selective alterations of glutathione metabolism. Nutrition Reviews , 42, 397-410.

30) Chitapanarux, T., Tienboon, P., Pojchamarnwiputh, S., & Leelarungrayub, D. (2009). Open-labeled pilot study of cysteine-rich whey protein isolate supplementation for nonalchoic steatohepatitis patients. Hepatology , 24, 1045-1050.

31) Sindayikengera, S., & Xia, W. (2006). Nutritional evaluation of caseins and whey proteins and their hydrolysates from Protamex. Journal of Zhejian University Science B , 7 (2), 90-98.

32) Mariotti, F., Simbelie, K., Makarious-Lahham, L., Huneau, J., Laplaize, B., Tome, D., et al. (2004). Acute ingestion of dietary proteins improves post-exercise liver glutathione in rats in a dose-dependent relationship with their cysteine content. Journal of Nutrition , 134, 128-131.

33) Middleton, N., Jelen, P., & Bell, G. (2004). Whole blood and mononuclear cell glutathione response to dietary whey protein supplementation and trained male subjects. International Journal of Food Science Nutrition , 55 (2), 131-141.

34) Vatani, D. S., & Golzar, F. (2012). Changes in antioxidant status and cardiovascular risk factors of overweight young men after six weeks supplementation of whey protein isolate and resistance training. Appetite , 59, 673-678.

35) Xu, R., Liu, N., Xu, X., & Kong, B. (2011). Antioxidative effects of whey protein on peroxide-induced cytotoxicity. Journal of Dairy Science , 94 (8), 3739-3746.

36) Gleeson, M. (2007). Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology , 103, 693-699.

37) Gleeson, M., McDonald, W., Cripps, A., Pyne, D., Clancy, R., & Fricker, P. (1995). The effect on immunity of long-term intensive training in elite swimmers . Clinical & Experimental Immunology , 102 (1), 210-216.

38) Baj, Z., Kantorski, J., Majewska, E., Zeman, K., Pokoca, L., Fornalczyk, E., et al. (1994). Immunological status of competitive cyclists before and after the training season. International Journal of Sports Medicine , 15 (6), 319-324.

39) Bury, T., Marechal, R., Mahieu, P., & Pirnay, F. (1998). Immunological status of competitive football players during the training season. International Journal of Sports Medicine , 19 (5), 364-368.

40) Shepard, R. J., Rhind, S., & Shek, P. (1994). Exercise and the immune system. Natural killer cells, interleukins and related responses. Sports Medicine , 18 (5), 340-369.

41) Cribb, P. J. (2005). U.S. whey proteins in sports nutrition. U.S. Dairy Export Council.

42) Cribbs, P. J. (2004). Whey proteins and immunity. U.S. Dairy Export Council.

43) Walzem, R. M., Dillard, C., & German, J. (2002). Whey components: millennia of evoluation create functionalities for mammalian nutrition: What we know and what we may be overlooking. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition , 42 (4), 353-375.

44) Qarnar, M. I., & Read, A. (1987). Effects of exercise on mesenteric blood flow in man. Gut , 28, 583-587.

45) Jeukendrup, A. E., Vet-Joop, K., Sturk, A., Stegen, J., Senden, J., Saris, W., et al. (2000). Relationship between gastro-intestinal complaints and endotoxaemia, cytokine release and the acute-phase reaction during and after a long-distance triathlon in highly trained men. Clinical Science , 98, 47-55.

46) Lambert, G. P. (2008). Intestinal barrier dysfunction, endotoxemiz, and gastrointestinal symptons: the ‘canart in the coal mine’ during exercise-heat stress? Medicine and Sport Science , 53, 61-73.

47) Van Deventer, S. J., & Gouma, D. (1994). Bacterial translocation and endotoxin transmigration in intestinal ischaemia and reperfusion. Current Opinions in Anaesthiology , 7, 126-130.

48) Lamprecht, M., Bogner, S., Schippinger, G., Steinbauer, K., Fankhauser, F., Hallstroem, S., et al. (2012). Probiotic supplementation affects markers of intestinal barrier, oxidation, and inflammation in trained men; a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial . Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition , 9 (45), 1-13.

49) Sasso, F. C., Carbonara, O., Torella, R., Mezzogiomo, A., Esposito, V., deMagistris, L., et al. (2004). Ultrastructural changes in enterocytes in subjects with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis . Gut , 53 (12), 1878-1880.

50) Caradonna, L., Amati, L., Magrone, T., Pellegrino, N., Jirillo, E., & Cacavvo, D. (2000). Invited review: Enteric bacteria, lipopolysaccharides and related cytokines in inflammatory bowel disease: biological and clinical significance . Journal of the International Endotoxin Innate Immunity , 6 (3), 205-214 .

51) Apperloo-Renkema, H. Z., Bootsma, H., Mulder, B., Kallenberg, C., & van der Waajj, D. (1994). Host-microflora interaction in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): colonization resistance of the indigenous bacteria of the intestinal tract. . Epidemiiology and Infection , 112 (2), 367-373.

52) Hamilton, I., Fairris, G., Rothwell, J., Cunliffe, W., Dixon, M., & Axon, A. (1985). Small intestinal permeability in dermatological disease. QJM , 56, 559-567.

53) Smith, M. D., Gibson, R., & Brooks, P. (1985). Abnormal bowel permeability in ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. The Journal of Rheumatology , 12 (2), 299-305.

54) Wood, N. C., Hamilton, I., Axon, A., Khan, S., Quirke, P., Mindham, R., et al. (1987). Abnormal intestinal permeability. An aetiological factor in chronic psychiatric disorders? . The British Journal of Psychiatry , 150, 853-856.

55) Maes, M., Kubera, M., & Leunis, J. (2008). The gut-brain barrier in major depression: Intestinal mucosal dysfunction with an increased translocation of LPS from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) plays a role in the inflammatory pathophysiology of depression. Neuroendocrinology Letters , 29 (1), 117-124.

56) Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2012). Role of glutamine in protection of intestinal epithelial tight junctions. Journal of epithelial biology and pharmacology , 5, 47-54.

57) Mitic, L. L., & Anderson, I. (1998). Molecular architecture of tight junctions. Annual Review of Physiology , 60, 121-142.

58) Wilmore, D. W., Smith, R., O’Dwyer, S., Jacobs, D., Ziegler, T., & Wang, X. (1988). The gut: A central organ after surgical stress. Surgery , 104, 917-923.

59) Peng, X., Yan, H., You, Z., Wang, P., & Wang, S. (2004). Effects of enteral supplementation with glutamine granules on intesinal mucosal barrier function in severe burned patients. Burns , 30, 135-139.

60) Kozar, R. A., Schultz, S., Bick, R., Poindexter, B., DeSoignie, R., & Moore, F. (2004). Enteral glutamine not but alanine maintains small bowel barrier function after ischemia/reperfusion injury in rates. Shock , 21, 433-437.

61) Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Rashti, S., KElly, N., Gonzalez, M., et al. (2010). Examination of the efficacy of acute L-alanyl-L- glutamine ingestion during hydration stress in endurance exercise . Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition , 7 (8).

62) Kotler, B. M., Kerstetter, J., & Insogna, K. (2013). Claudins, dietary milk proteins, and intestinal barrier regulation. Nutrition Reviews , 71 (1), 60-65.

63) Benjamin, J., Makharia, G., Ahuja, V., Rajan, K. D., Kalaivani, M., Gupta, S. D., et al. (2012). Glutamine and whey protein improve intestinal permeability and morphology in patients with Chron’s disease: A randomized controlled trial. Digestive Diseases and Sciences , 57 (4), 1000-1012.


Keeping Track of Rest Period – Is It Worth It?

“Time is the most precious commodity out there. It’s the one thing you can’t buy or ever buy back. Give it your absolute all to whatever task it is your doing, no matter how big or small it is.” – Muscle Prodigy

This is a deep quote that hits home every time we read it. Ultimately, this has brought us to writing this article on rest periods. Why is it that we are constantly feeling pressed for time? Why do we always keep track of time whether it’s with our cell phones, watches, or clocks? Why do we always look at the time to see if it’s 5 pm yet at work? We are always keeping track of time, but why is it that we don’t keep track of time when we are training, as in our rest periods? We’ve found that a lot of people don’t do it simply because they are always in a rush, too lazy to keep track of it, or they don’t understand the benefits of it. So, before we get down-right nasty with this article, just remember that this might not be your cup of tea, but trust us, we will make you think twice about going to buy a stop watch or busting out your I Pod’s stop watch during training.

How Much Time Should You Rest?

(1) The position statement of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that rest periods should be 2-3 minutes for multi-joint exercises (i.e., squats, deadlifts, bench press) and 1-2 minutes for single-joint exercises (i.e., leg extensions, bicep curls).slow-gains-267x300

(2) The National Academy of Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) recommends 2-5 minutes for strength, 2-5 minutes for power, 30 seconds-1.5 minutes for hypertrophy (muscle growth), and less than 30 seconds for muscular endurance.

(3,4) A 2007 study, showed the influence of different rest interval lengths in multi-joint and single-joint exercises. This was reviewed in the November Strength and Conditioning Research Review  by Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley.  They came away with the following key points:

  • When subjects performed both the multi-joint bench press and the single-joint machine chest fly, they performed a reduced number of repetitions when short rest periods (1-3 minute) were used than when longer rest periods (3 minutes) were used.
  • There was a progressive reduction in the number of repetitions performed for both the bench press and the machine chest fly across all sets.
  • The reduction in the number of repetitions was less when longer rest periods were used, irrespective of whether the exercise was a single-joint or a multi-joint exercise.

Be Specific With Your Rest Periods

After looking at these 2 highly accredited organizations recommendations and this interesting study, it comes down to the principle of specificity and let us explain that a little more. For example, let’s say you have 2 subjects: Subject A) is training for a powerlifting meet and subject B) is training for a marathon.

These 2 subjects training loads are going to be very different. As the powerlifter will be training in the 1-5 rep max range and will need at least 5 minutes of rest if not more between sets and the marathon runner will be training in the 20-30 rep range trying to build muscular endurance and will need approximately 30 seconds of rest between sets.

So as you can see the length of the rest period between sets and exercises is highly dependent on the goal of training, the amount of weight being lifted, and the athlete or person’s training status. You have to know what you’re training for and use specificity. Are you training to be a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, an endurance athlete, a sport, or are you simply just trying to look good naked? You have to ask yourself all of these questions and be specific as to what your goals are.

So Exactly How Long Should You Rest Now?

We know a lot of you are looking for a black and white answer as to what’s the optimal rest period to get the best results. But to be honest there is no one exact rest period for optimal results. You have to see how your body adapts to different rest periods. You have to experiment with all of the energy systems your body uses during training. You have to test how long it will take to be mentally and physically prepared for the next set. You have to be specific about your goals like we discussed earlier and then you have to use trial and error and see what works for your body. Try using some of the rest period lengths from the above recommendations as a starting point and track it.

The Benefits of Tracking Rest Periods

Okay so if you are still not convinced on the importance of tracking your rest periods, let us get out our sexy list of benefits for you:

  • Keeping track of rest periods is another measurement for progress
  • It’s another data point on the stat sheet to have
  • It helps keep you more focused during your workouts
  • It gives you a chance to experiment with all three of the energy systems (phosphogen system, glycolitic and the oxidative system) fast, medium, and slow.
  • It gives you a good indication of how fast or slow your body recovers with different rep schemes and loads (weight)

If you still aren’t buying this, then just help us twins out and give it a try.

Wrapping It Up

We always want to keep track of the weight, reps, and sets, so why neglect rest period lengths? We aren’t going to go as far as saying that this will make a 50% difference in your training and overall progress but over time it will make at least a 5-10% difference. Funny thing is people will sit there and say “well 5-10% just isn’t worth keeping track and recording my rest periods.” Truth is if you keep finding tricks that will make a 5-10% difference and go that extra mile to do it, over time you’re going to eventually make more progress than that other person. So, remember to know your goals first, use the principle of specificity, use some of the rest period lengths from the above recommendations as a starting point, use trial and error, and record the damn rest periods in your training logs. So is recording your rest periods worth it? Hmmm… We’d say just give it a go. What do you have to lose by trying it?


  1. The position statement of the American College of Sports Medicine
  2. Baechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning/ National Strength and Conditioning Association. USA: 2008 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association
  3. Simao et al. Influence of exercise order on the number of repetitions performed and perceived exertion during resistance exercise in women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 2007
  4. Contreras, Bret. Beardsley, Chris. Strength and Conditioning Research Review. November 2012. Pg 16


About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”


Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel