Tag Archives: ISSN

1 vs 3 vs 5 vs 100 sets


By Jose Antonio PhD.  How many sets and reps are best for strength? Size? Exercise performance? I’ll get to that.  First a quick note.

The single best scientific journal in the field of strength and conditioning is the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research or JSCR.  It’s the official journal of the world’s largest academic organization dedicated to the science of strength and conditioning, the National Strength and Conditioning Association or NSCA.  Now if they had any brand/marketing know-how, they should have named the journal the JNSCA.  But that debate is for another time over a mug of beer and peanuts while watching a football game.JSCR

The latest issue had an intriguing article entitled the “Dose Response of 1, 3 and 5 Sets of Resistance Exercise on Strength, Local Muscular Endurance and Hypertrophy [1].”  The reason the investigators performed the study was because there was a lack of studies comparing the effects of multiple sets (greater than 3 sets) on strength and size.  And then the thought struck me as I was reading this paper.  Who trains like this?  And then I had neurons firing like crazy.  Does ANYONE remember the work done 50 years ago by Dr. Richard Berger?  Do we really need another study looking at the number of sets, number of reps, blah blah blah.  Anyhow, be like Dorothy and follow me down the yellow brick road.  To wit:

Some studies show that there’s no difference between 1 and 3 sets [2][3, 4].

Others show that 3 sets is better [5-7].

Are these really the pressing questions in the world of strength and condition science?  Ok. That sounds a bit flippant.  Let me rephrase.  The study that looked at 1, 3 and 5 sets [1] had some good things and some things that reminded me of why nickel and dime science is needed (i.e. grad students need a project to graduate).  The good part?  It was a six month treatment period.  Wow. Getting anyone to do anything for six months is tough.  You’d have a better chance of finding a Parisian runway model at Lane Bryant than getting folks to Christian+Dior+Runway+Paris+Fashion+Week+Womenswear+S7vT5zvt0Pxlvolunteer for a six month study.  However, the subjects in the study weren’t resistance-trained per se.  They did have prior workout experience with body weight exercises.  So they weren’t the ideal subject pool (i.e. have extensive experience with heavy resistance training), but then again, they weren’t lazy college students whose idea of exercise is flexion of the 1st digit while holding an iPhone.

The bad part?  Nobody trains like this. Oh. Except subjects in a study. richard_simmons-exercise-energy

The study volunteers did either 1, 3, or 5 sets (and there was a control that did traditional military calisthenic exercises) for 6 months (three times per week).  I’m telling you.  I’d be frickin’ bored after a couple weeks.  You’d be hard pressed to find any athlete who does the same training program (i.e. same intensity, volume, exercise selection, rest interval, yada yada) for two weeks.  Heck, following a basic periodization scheme you’d likely change it at LEAST every 3 weeks.  Heck, I’d suggest changing it workout to workout.

So who trains like this?  Nobody.  Oh. Except subjects in a study.

And the 1 set versus multiple set debate?  I’m baffled this is even a debate.  Doing just one set to failure (or no failure) super-slow or super-fast or super-duper in-between speed makes absolutely no f’in sense.  It would be like telling sprinters that all they’d need to do is one maximal sprint for their workout.  Or tell the world-class miler that every workout consists of doing a 1-mile run at race pace.  Have the 1-set proponents ever heard of training “volume?” Sprinter Schippers

Changes in training volume (as well as a myriad of other factors) are key to sustained improvements in exercise performance.  Heck, even skinny runners figured out nearly a century ago that you needed to change training distance (i.e. volume) and intensity (i.e. speed, hill work etc) in order to improve.  Only in the world of resistance training are there folks who actually think one set is all you need.  Oh.  Back up a sec.  If you’re untrained, one set will suffice.  And if you hate weight-training and have no concrete goals, then one set will suffice.  But then again, untrained people will pretty much get a training effect from chewing on ice and watching grass grow.

I constantly chastise my students that they need to learn the history of exercise science.  Otherwise, you’ll keep repeating the same shit over and over again.  If you like this 1 set vs 3 sets versus 100 sets, go back and read the landmark work of Richard Berger [8][9].  We’re talking the 1960s for chrissakes.  Flower power, free sex, doobies passed around like candy, and those oh-so-short mini-skirts.  What a decade.  Anyhow, Dr. Berger did a lot of initial mini skirtswork comparing the number of sets and reps.  Back then it was landmark.  Doing this type of research today is like landing your dinghy on Plymouth Rock and saying you’ve discovered America.

Now getting back to the recent JSCR study [1], in a nutshell here’s what they found.  Multiple sets was better than a single set (for strength, size and endurance).  Though did you notice that the control group gained fat-free mass (FFM)?  In fact, the FFM increased from pre to post for all groups with no difference between groups.  The control did traditional military calisthenics (i.e. body weight exercises).  So does that mean zero sets of traditional weight training works too?

Also, will the next study feature 6 sets?  10 sets?  Hey let’s go crazy and have a 20 set group.  Where does the nickel and dime science end?  Sorry.  Grad students need projects to graduate.

If you are a strength and conditioning professional, it should be as clear as the big blue ocean that there are many programs that elicit gains in strength, size, and athletic performance.  In a way, all programs work for a bit, but none work forever.  If you know the basic principles of exercise training (i.e. overload, progression, specificity, detraining, variation etc), then you’ll be able to provide a safe and effective training program without boring the heck out of your athletes or clients.  Let’s face it.  If you ‘lose’ your athletes’/clients’ attention, then it doesn’t matter if you’re the best strength coach in the world.  At that point, you’d have a better chance of getting them to memorize Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Thus, I’d highly recommend that you do not have them follow the same training program for six months (i.e. the current study at hand [1]).

mosquito-illustration_360x286Bottom line for those with the attention span of a mosquito:

  1.  Read the early studies of Dr. Richard Berger.  Yeah yeah. I know it’s old.  But just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it is no longer relevant.
  2. It would be wise to vary the # of sets (i.e. training volume), load (i.e. weight), exercise selection, exercise order, rest intervals, etc.  Of course make sure that you tailor the program to the needs of the athlete. Heavy resistance training for bodybuilding is entirely different than other sports:  MMA, sprinting, synchronized swimming, beach volleyball, etc.
  3. If you’re a grad student, I’ll forgive you for doing another sets/reps study.
  4. Given the choice between asking an experienced strength coach and a scientist for a JC Santanatraining program, choose the strength coach (sorry my science-nerd friends!).  They know the ins and outs and day to day trials and tribulations of what athletes go through.  The best strength coaches are the ones that take what is learned in the lab and marry it to what they learn in the trenches.
  5. Happy 2015.  Hope you have a kick ass year. 

Read these while sipping cocktails on the beach

1.            Radaelli R, Fleck SJ, Leite T, Leite RD, Pinto RS, Fernandes L, Simao R: Dose Response of 1, 3 and 5 Sets of Resistance Exercise on Strength, Local Muscular Endurance and Hypertrophy. J Strength Cond Res 2014.

2.            Bottaro, M et al. Resistance training for strength and muscle thickness:  effect of number of sets and muscle group trained. Science and Sports 26: 259-264, 2011.

3.            Hass CJ, Garzarella L, de Hoyos D, Pollock ML: Single versus multiple sets in long-term recreational weightlifters. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000, 32:235-242.

4.            Rhea MR: Determining the magnitude of treatment effects in strength training research through the use of the effect size. J Strength Cond Res 2004, 18:918-920.

5.            Kraemer WJ, Ratamess N, Fry AC, Triplett-McBride T, Koziris LP, Bauer JA, Lynch JM, Fleck SJ: Influence of resistance training volume and periodization on physiological and performance adaptations in collegiate women tennis players. Am J Sports Med 2000, 28:626-633.

6.            Paulsen G, Myklestad D, Raastad T: The influence of volume of exercise on early adaptations to strength training. J Strength Cond Res 2003, 17:115-120.

7.            Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Ball SD, Burkett LN: Three sets of weight training superior to 1 set with equal intensity for eliciting strength. J Strength Cond Res 2002, 16:525-529.

8.            Berger, R. Optimum repetitions for developing strength. Res. Q. 33:334-338. 1962.

9.            Berger, R. Effect of varied weight training programs on strength. Res. Q.  33:168-181. 1962.

BIO – Jose Antonio earned his PhD at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas Texas.  HOW ‘BOUT DEM COWBOYS! 

Cowboys bout dem

Sweet Surprise

by Dr. Chantal Isabela Charo.  Oh no! Artificial sweeteners are destroying my gut microbiota!! Wait, what’s a microbiota??Gut health 2

Before you blindly cast your verdict on artificial sweeteners read my article below. I explain everything you need to know about artificial sweeteners, your gut health, the study that went viral and what you need to do to keep your gut healthy without having to give up your diet coke.

Every month or two, we watch the emergence of a new health trend that goes viral, whether it’s the gluten free diet hype, oil pulling, Chia seeds, Detox diets, the list goes on and on. Feeling out of date? Log on Instagram or Facebook and look at some model’s profile, you’ll find the latest pseudo-scientific findings guaranteed to catch your attention and sell you their product. You know what I am talking about; we have all been guilty of following a health fad for one reason or another. This is one of my biggest frustrations as a research scientist, also involved in the clinic with patients.  Some diet trends are a “cute” way to keep us motivated when we feel like we are about to fall off the diet wagon. There are the diet trends that people follow when they want to find an excuse to why they are not losing weight or reaching their fitness goals, “ I am bloated after eating a huge bowl of pasta, cheese preceded by Olive Garden’s bread basket, darn it! It’s the gluten. I am going to go on a gluten free diet tomorrow”. Whilst the majority of diet trends simply don’t work. Trendy diets are just a trend, I try to remind my patients and friends that all the time. Now, this last category of diet trends is my biggest pet peeve. It’s the type of trend Dr. Mercola and his ilk spread like soft butter on hot French bread.

Can you believe that Mercola’s latest posts are that artificial sweeteners are doing more harm than sugar to diabetics? Now that makes about as much sense as putting lipstick on a pig and having the little oinker enter a beauty contest. These falsehoods gives a patient the false hope that by radically changing what has been medically shown for years to work, and replacing it with a hypothesis that has no scientific data, they are cured. That, I cannot deal with. This can cause serious health issues including death.

This month’s latest health trend is a scientific study by Dr. Eran Elinav’s research group, published in a top tier journal called Nature. The study suggested a correlation between artificial sweeteners and gut health. They found that mice who were fed a diet high in artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and sweet n’ low were more likely to suffer from a disequilibrium in intestinal flora. Did you know? There are about 100 trillion bacteria in our intestines. Some are good bacteria, aiding in our digestive health and metabolism, while others are bad bacteria secreting harmful metabolite. The ratio of good gut bacteria to bad gut bacteria is very important to our digestive health; however, there is no definite connection between gut health and diabetes. Sadly, the media over extrapolated the results of this scientific study to generate inaccurate exaggerated and catchy titles in a desperate attempt to get your attention.healthy-gut

Here’s what you need to know about artificial sweeteners, Dr. Eran Elinav’s Study, your gut bacteria and diabetes. First, let me break down the results of the study. What the Weitzmann group actually did was as follows;  they studied the effect of a diet rich in sucralose (Splenda), aspartame, saccharin (Sweet n’ Low) and glucose on metabolic abnormalities on microbiota and the resultant effects on glucose metabolism. They found that artificial sweetener consumption alters the good to bad bacteria balance and the effect caused by saccharin (sweet n’ low) was the most pronounced. Data was generated over a period of 10 weeks. I would like to emphasize this point. They measured the effect of a normal, FDA approved dose of a diet that contains artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and sweet n’ low, over a short period of 10 weeks, and found a correlation between glucose intolerance, gut bacteria balance and diabetes. Based on their study, the majority of the population that has consumed artificial sweeteners over a period of 10 weeks or more should have glucose intolerance, a lack of good bacteria, or worse diabetes, which is not quite the case. Without looking at the paper or having any science background, simply stop for a second and think. How well do those scientific lab findings coming a from a top notch lab apply to real life? Note that preliminary findings done in mice are important.  But we ultimately need confirmation in well done human clinical trials.

Please read this over and over. This study does not prove that if you are adding artificial or zero calorie sweeteners to your diet you will get diabetes. There are thousands of studies done over decades and decades clearly showing that too much sugar, lack of exercise, and a corpulent lifestyle contributes mightily to diabetes. There are thousands of studies who have shown the beneficial effects of substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. Diabetics are now able to add to their diet foods that are artificially sweetened and enjoy the sweet taste of foods they couldn’t before. The problem we are facing with obese and overweight patients is not consumption of Splenda or sweet n’ low, or even diet coke. The problem we are facing is gluttony. The “oh, it’s only 0 calories? Then, Let me have 10 diet cokes today, and a whole jar of sugar free jam” syndrome.  The “I want everything I can have and more” syndrome. The “I am fat because something is going on inside of me and not because I overeat”. This is what we need to work on curing first, food overconsumption, before jumping to the conclusion that to get rid of obesity we need to replace diet coke with a regular coke.

Are you worried about your intestinal health? The good thing is that you can reset your gut bacteria, without giving up artificial sweeteners.

Here are some of my tips to improve your gut health

1-     Eat food based probiotics.  They increase the number of good bacteria.

2-     Add dairy to your diet. Milk and yogurt are rich in bifidobacteria , a type of bacteria that releases acidic substances, bad bacteria cannot survive in.

3-     Eat food based prebiotics. Those foods contain non digestible carbohydrates such as asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic and whole grains.

4-     Reduce fatty food consumption. Fatty foods can damage gut lining which allows harmful metabolites secreted by bad gut bacteria to be leaked into the blood stream and cause inflammation.

5-     Get rid of stress. Stress increases inflammation and reduces your immunity making your body more prone to foreign invasion by bacteria and viruses.

6-     Beware of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria. When good bacteria are killed, you risk having yeast infections, skin rashes and allergic reactions. So if you are taking an antibiotic course, add a live probiotic supplement after consulting with your physician.

Biography – Dr. Chantal Charo is a metabolism expert and sports nutritionist based in ChantalMiami, FL.  She received her PhD from the prestigious University of Texas Houston Health Science Center and has spent years researching metabolic disturbances and inflammation at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Charo did her post-doctoral studies on the metabolic functions of estrogen receptor and adipose tissue regulation. And is an assistant professor who teaches undergraduate and graduate medical physiology and anatomy courses. Aside from being actively involved in both research and academics, Dr. Chantal Charo has dedicated herself to promoting scientific nutrition and fitness by being a full time writer and a clinical sports nutritionist. As a clinical sports nutritionist, Dr. Chantal Charo has worked with numerous celebrities and athletes ranging from NBA players, body building competitors and casual individuals wanting to lose weight and get healthy. Dr. Chantal Charo has also launched www.DrCharo.com, a virtual online sports nutrition clinic with a team of highly trained nutritionists, celebrity trainers and chefs to answer all your diet, fitness and supplement questions.

Fish Oil and Athletic Performance


Athletes are always looking for a competitive edge to improve athletic performance. Whether the end result is a 5- to 10-lb. increase in muscle mass, less muscle soreness, or a reduction in body fat, athletes will go the extra mile to find that edge. Gaining an paddling picadvantage over the opponent could mean winning a gold medal, making the final shot, or having the energy to outlast a competitor on the mat or in the ring. In addition to a balanced diet, athletes are turning to dietary supplements to gain that advantage. Popular supplements such as creatine, branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s), HMB, beta-alanine, and caffeine have been widely used throughout the athletic community.  One supplement that has gained the attention of athletes is fish oil.

The growth of fish oil use among consumers has been quite impressive, as sales have risen from $425 million in 2007 to $1 billion dollars in 2012. Widely touted for its beneficial effects for cardiovascular health, fish oil has not been considered an essential piece in an athlete’s supplement regimen. In this article, I will discuss why fish oil is a critical piece to help athletes gain that competitive edge and stay in the game.

Healthy Joints, Range of Motion – Whether you’re participating in a year-round strength and conditioning program, playing multiple sports, or training at a high intensity, your muscles, joints, and tissues will experience inflammation (i.e. swelling, soreness, and redness). Inflammation is not necessarily a bad thing as this is a critical component of the recovery process. At the same time, acute and chronic inflammation may augment muscle soreness which can limit range of motion and potentially impair athletic performance. In addition, the American diet is saturated with omega-6 rich foods (fried foods, vegetable and soybean oils, salad dressings, potato chips, etc.) that promote inflammation. A diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, anchovies) and/or from fish oil supplementation, can balance the effects of a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids. A study by Bloomer et al. demonstrated 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (2224 mg EPA + 2208 mg DHA) reduces markers of inflammation (i.e. CRP and TNF-alpha) after an intense exercise session (i.e. 60 min treadmill climb with weighted backpack). (1)girlsprint

Improve Body Composition – Most people don’t expect to read about consuming fat and losing body fat in the same sentence. The essential fatty acids in fish oil (EPA and DHA) were studied in numerous animal models throughout the 80s and 90s and demonstrated a reduction in body fat (2,3) and a prevention of adipose tissue growth (4-6). Does fish oil have the same effect in humans? A study was conducted in which young, non-obese males were given 6 grams of fish oil (1100 mg EPA and 700 mg DHA) in place of 6 grams of butter, olive oil, peanut oil, or sunflower oil. After three weeks, subjects experienced a significant increase in fat oxidation and a 1.94 lb decrease in body fat (7).  In a more recent study, young men and women were give 4 grams of fish oil per day (1600 mg EPA and 800 mg DHA) for six weeks vs. 4 grams of safflower oil in the placebo group. The fish oil group lost 0.5 kg of fat mass and gained 0.5 g of lean mass whereas the safflower oil group showed a tendency to gain fat mass. (8).  The mechanism of action between fish oil and fat loss seems to be related to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity which improves fat burning and inhibits fat storage (9,10). Furthermore, studies have also shown fish oil supplementation can reduce the stress hormone cortisol (11), which when elevated, can result in a significant increase in fat mass (12).

Muscle Growth – Creatine, beta-alanine, HMB, and the amino acid leucine have held the title as the most popular supplements used by athletes to improve muscle strength, size, and endurance.  It’s time to include omega-3 fish oil supplementation in that discussion as new science has emerged examining its anabolic potential. A recent study demonstrated 4 grams of fish oil supplementation (1.86 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA) increased protein synthesis, mTOR signaling pathway (key for muscle growth), and the muscle/protein DNA ratio (i.e. muscle cell size) (13). A similar protocol was used by the same research team to see if these effects were the same in adults over 65. Remarkably, 4 grams of fish oil supplementation increased the muscle protein synthesis response in elderly adults. (14).arnold-big-arms

How Much to Take? – The levels of omega-3 fats in your body will vary depending on the amount of omega-3 rich fish you eat or the amount of fish oil you take as a supplement. Based on the scientific evidence reported in this article, it seems 3-4 grams per day (1.5 to 2 grams of EPA and 1.5 to 2 grams of DHA) is the ideal dosage to improve joint mobility, improve body composition, and augment muscle growth.

To optimize your omega-3 levels in your blood, while also focusing on improving markers of athletic performance, take 2 grams of fish oil before and after an intense training session. For athletes participating at the collegiate, professional, or Olympic level, to reduce your risk of testing positive for a banned substance, you want a fish oil that has been tested for Sport by NSF (www.nsfsport.com), such as Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega-D3 Sport®.

BIO: One of the leading sports nutritionist in the industry, Tavis Piattoly is the Sports Tavis photoDietitian for Tulane Athletics and the NFLPA Brain and Body Trust Program. He served as the Nutritionist for the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2013. He works with athletes at all levels, designing nutrition programs for peak performance. An expert on sports supplements, Tavis speaks on supplement safety for young athletes. www.mysportsdconnect.com


  1. Bloomer RJ, Larson DE, Fisher-Wellmann KH, Galpin AJ, Schilling BK, Effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid on resting and exercise-induced inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers: a randomized, placebo controlled, cross-over study. Lipids Health Disease 2009; 19:8:36.
  2. Hill JO, Peters JC, Lin D, Yakubu F, Greene H, Swift L, Lipid accumulation and body fat distribution is influenced by type to dietary fat fed to rats. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 1993; 17:223-236.
  3. Ikemoto S, Takahashi M, Tsunoda N, Maruyama K, Itakura H, Ezaki O, High Fat Diet induced hyperglycemia and obesity in mice: differential effects of dietary oils. Metabolism 1996; 45: 1539-1546.
  4. Belzung F, Raclot T, Groscolas R, Fish Oil n-3 fatty acids selectively limit the hypertrophy of abdominal fat depots in growing rats fed high-fat diets. The American Journal of Physiology 1993; 264: R1111-1118.
  5. Parish CC, Pathy DA, Angel A, Dietary Fish Oils limit adipose tissue hypertrophy in rats. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental 1990; 39: 217-219.
  6. Ruzickova J, Rossmeisl M, Prazak T, Flachs P, Sponarova J, Veck M, Tvrzicka E, Bryhn M, Kopecky J, Omega-3 PUFA of marine origin limit diet induced obesity in mice by reducing cellularity of adipose tissue. Lipids 2004; 39:1177-1185.
  7. Couet C, Delarue J, Ritz P, Antoine JM, Lamisse F, Effect of dietary fish oil on body mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 1997; 21:637-643.
  8. Noreen EE, Sass MJ, Crowe ML, Pabon VA, Brandauer J, Averill LK, Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010; 7:31.
  9. Kim HJ, Takahashi M, Ezaki O, Fish Oil feeding decreases mature sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP-1) by down regulation of SREBP-1c mRNA in mouse liver. A possible mechanism for down-regulation of lipogenic enzyme mRNAs. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 1999; 274: 25892-25898.
  10. Natatani T, Kim HJ, Kaburagi Y, Yasuda K, Ezaki O, A low fish oil inhibits SREBP-1 proteolytic cascade, while a high-fish oil feeding decreases SREBP-1 mRNA in mice liver: relationship to anti-obesity. Journal of Lipid Research 2003; 44: 369-379.
  11. Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneiter P, Chiolero R, Tappy L, Fish Oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Diabetes and Metabolism 2003; 29:289-295.
  12. Bjorntorp P, Rosmond R, Obesity and Cortisol 2000; 16: 924-936.
  13. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperoinsulinemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clinical Science (London) 2011; 121 (6): 267-78.
  14. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 93 (2): 402-12.


HMB Free Acid and The Misunderstood Relationship Between Training and Supplements


By Jacob M. Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS*D and Ryan Lowery, B.S., CSCS.   Ryan Lowery and I are speaking at this years ISSN, and we have to admit that the lineup is stellar.  Our discussion will focus on novel methods to enhance fat metabolism on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM.  Prior to our discussion at 9:00 AM on Saturday, Dr. Gabe Wilson and Shawn Wells  will be talking about one of the most heated, and highly debated subjects in sports nutrition for the last decade.  The title of their talk is “Leucine, HMB, and Amino Acid Metabolites Support Muscle Growth and Athletic Performance.”  One of the key controversial components is in bold letters – that’s right, HMB.MT-HMB3

Part of the controversy stems from how the companies marketed the product years ago and mis-portrayed the practicality of the supplement at hand.  For instance, advertisers claiming that HMB “feels like DECA” or works like testosterone. Additional issues lie in contradictory results between studies, with some showing improvements in performance markers, and others showing no benefit from HMB. This subject is of great interest to us, which is why we have spent literally the last decade studying this topic.  In fact, we have studied HMB in trained (6, 13, 14) and untrained humans (12); the elderly (8); rats and mice (3, 11), and yes, even hamsters! There is certainly a complicated history to this supplement…so sit back and get ready to hear the full story.

HMB was first introduced to the market in the early 90s by EAS.  Fast forward a few decades later, and the supplement has been studied in virtually every condition possible.  What has been demonstrated from our research and others is that HMB works by improving protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown that occurs within the muscle following intense exercise; thereby, accelerating the recovery process.  Adel from Suppversity suggests that often times the anabolic effects of HMB are mistaken for its anti-catabolic properties, which are fully realized under novel conditions.  The major problem, from people who misinterpret the HMB literature, is that they view supplements as independent from the training stimulus itself.  HOWEVER, this is a major flaw and misconception.  In reality, the field of sports nutrition is all about how the supplement interacts with the training stimulus.  Take HMB for example, it has anti-catabolic and recovery properties.  We can virtually guarantee that if you are taking HMB as a sedentary young, healthy individual, or as someone who does not train hard that you will see virtually no benefits (10).  In fact, it is these people who are most likely to state that “they didn’t feel anything” while taking HMB. Considering that HMB is not a stimulant and they had no muscle damage to recover from, we are not surprised at this comment.

Before we can delve deeper into HMB supplementation, we need to discuss the training stimulus itself. As eluded too, HMB works ideally under novel training conditions.  Most people view gains in muscle and strength as a linear process over time.  However when examining long-term training studies, it is clear that people do not make linear gains –  rather, they make large gains in short bursts of time with the remainder of time spent in maintenance(2).  What triggers these growth spurts is the introduction of novel training variables.  Periodization is defined as programed variation and rest to reach a physiological peak.  Research indicates that periodized training, regardless of the form results in greater neuromuscular gains than non periodized protocols.

Intriguingly enough HMB has been studied in both untrained and trained individuals using periodized as well non periodized training programs.  In the 90s, it was demonstrated that untrained individuals attained greater muscle and strength gains while taking HMB (7), but this should be expected because even looking at a squat rack in an untrained population provides a novel stimulus for growth! However, early studies on HMB in trained individuals failed to find a beneficial result (5).  If you carefully examine the landmark papers on this topic, the reason for a lack of benefit from HMB, may be that the novelty of the training stimulus was inadequate.  In fact, in these studies, investigators told subjects to not alter their training programs (5).  This is great research because it led us to the understanding that HMB likely interacts with the training stimulus itself (10).  Our hypothesis was supported by William Kraemer’s lab, which demonstrated that HMB given during a 12-week periodized training program resulted in ~ 9 kg gains in lean body mass compared to only ~ 2 kg in the placebo group (4). In this scenario where the training stimulus is altered continually, HMB’s regenerative and anti-catabolic properties are able to improve neuromuscular adaptations.  It is important to emphasize here that it is the interaction between optimal training variables and HMB supplementation that triggers the growth and strength adaptations (4).  In so much as, HMB will support recovery so that the athlete is better prepared to workout during each successive bout compared to their non-supplemented counterparts.

HMB-Free-AcidModern research has sought to improve the delivery of HMB supplementation (1).  Specifically, HMB has historically been administered as calcium bound to HMB, which results in peak plasma concentrations in 90 to 120 minutes (9).  However, recent research has used an HMB free acid (HMB separated from calcium) which peaks in as little as 30 minutes and results in a 100% greater total increases in plasma HMB than the HMB-calcium bound supplement (1).  Theoretically, HMB free acid (trademarked BetaTOR) may result in improved anabolic effects relative to the calcium salt. Therefore, our lab recently published a paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, which investigated HMB free acid’s impact on skeletal muscle recovery following a strenuous training session, in advanced resistance trained individuals (14). Results showed that BetaTOR was able to cut muscle damage and soreness in half relative to placebo as well as lower protein breakdown. To follow up on these findings, our lab published work in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, using a long-term periodization program (13). In this experiment, we sought to use advanced athletes, as this is one of the most controversial populations in terms of HMB’s effectiveness.  Indeed, our criteria were quite stringent, and in fact took a full school semester to recruit the desired population. In the end, elite athletes – many of which were able to squat over 500 lbs, and deadlift over 600 lbs – were identified, and put through a rigorous 12-week training program, while taking BetaTOR or a placebo.

To elaborate, we used a 3-phase training protocol.  Phase one (weeks 1-8) consisted of periodization in which subjects trained each body part 3 times weekly, while varying the repetitions, intensity, and rest period lengths daily. We also provided slight variations in the way in which the exercise was executed every 4 weeks (e.g. overhand vs. underhand bent over rows).  Results demonstrated that this training stimulus was enough to maintain muscle damage for a period of 8 weeks, suggesting that the training load was novel to these athletes.  However, at week 8, the athletes began to adapt to the training stimulus.  At this point, we had them train every body part 5 days a week for 2 weeks straight (phase 2).  In fact, some subjects lifted over 200, 000 lbs of total volume in a given week! Lastly, we decreased volume by 60% (tapered – phase 3), while maintaining training intensity and frequency, in order to allow them to recover before final testing.  We found that during weeks 1-8, both groups made improvements; however, the BetaTOR group made greater gains (5 vs. 3 kg of lean mass). However, phase two is where separation really occurred between groups.  In fact, the placebo group regressed in performance and lean mass from weeks 8-12, while the BetaTOR group continued to increase!  Thus, a training load, which was catabolic in nature, became stimulatory when consuming BetaTOR.  For this reason, we would argue that HMB is not necessarily making individuals huge by itself.  Rather, HMB is allowing an individual to train at higher intensities more frequently.  Thus, allowing for a greater training stimulus and improved recovery! It is the ability to train more, and recover faster that allows individuals to make greater gains with HMB. Clearly, if you are not pushing yourself to this limit, HMB will not be an effective supplement.

In conclusion, we hope to educate the consumer of what it truly takes in order to optimize HMB’s and BetaTOR’s effects.  Research indicates that HMB has little benefit for the everyday individual just looking to go in the gym and train their arms and calves every other workout. Rather, HMB is most effective for athletes undergoing difficult and novel training demands.  For more information on this exciting and controversial topic, as well as leucine and other metabolites of the amino acid leucine, we suggest that you attend Dr. Gabe Wilson and Shawn Wells lecture at the annual ISSN conference on Saturday morning at 9:00 AM.


1.           Fuller JC, Jr., Sharp RL, Angus HF, Baier SM, and Rathmacher JA. Free acid gel form of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) improves HMB clearance from plasma in human subjects compared with the calcium HMB salt. The British journal of nutrition 105: 367-372, 2011.

2.           Hakkinen K, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kauhanen H, and Komi PV. Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations in athletes to strength training in two years. J Appl Physiol 65: 2406-2412, 1988.

3.           Henning PC, Park B-S, Lee S-R, Wilson JM, Park Y-M, Arjmandi BH, Grant SC, and Kim J-S. β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) Improves Muscle Mass And Protein Turnover In Male Mice During A 6-week Catabolic Condition.  , in: American College of Sports Medicine. Washington D.C.: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2011, p 137.

4.           Kraemer WJ, Hatfield DL, Volek JS, Fragala MS, Vingren JL, Anderson JM, Spiering BA, Thomas GA, Ho JY, Quann EE, Izquierdo M, Hakkinen K, and Maresh CM. Effects of amino acids supplement on physiological adaptations to resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41: 1111-1121, 2009.

5.           Kreider RB, Ferreira M, Wilson M, and Almada AL. Effects of calcium beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation during resistance-training on markers of catabolism, body composition and strength. Int J Sports Med 20: 503-509, 1999.

6.           Lowery RP, Joy JM, Rathmacher JA, Baier SM, Fuller J, Jr., Shelley MC, 2nd, Jaeger R, Purpura M, Wilson SM, and Wilson JM. Interaction of Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate Free Acid (HMB-FA) and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Power in Resistance Trained Individuals. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 2014.

7.           Nissen S, Sharp R, Ray M, Rathmacher JA, Rice D, Fuller JC, Jr., Connelly AS, and Abumrad N. Effect of leucine metabolite beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. Journal of applied physiology 81: 2095-2104, 1996.

8.           Stout JR, Smith-Ryan AE, Fukuda DH, Kendall KL, Moon JR, Hoffman JR, Wilson JM, Oliver JS, and Mustad VA. Effect of calcium beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (CaHMB) with and without resistance training in men and women 65+yrs: a randomized, double-blind pilot trial. Experimental gerontology 48: 1303-1310, 2013.

9.           Vukovich MD, Slater G, Macchi MB, Turner MJ, Fallon K, Boston T, and Rathmacher J. beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) kinetics and the influence of glucose ingestion in humans. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 12: 631-639, 2001.

10.         Wilson JM, Fitschen PJ, Campbell B, Wilson GJ, Zanchi N, Taylor L, Wilborn C, Kalman DS, Stout JR, Hoffman JR, Ziegenfuss TN, Lopez HL, Kreider RB, Smith-Ryan AE, and Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10: 6, 2013.

11.         Wilson JM, Grant SC, Lee SR, Masad IS, Park YM, Henning PC, Stout JR, Loenneke JP, Arjmandi BH, Panton LB, and Kim JS. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl-butyrate blunts negative age-related changes in body composition, functionality and myofiber dimensions in rats. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9: 18, 2012.

12.         Wilson JM, Kim JS, Lee SR, Rathmacher JA, Dalmau B, Kingsley JD, Koch H, Manninen AH, Saadat R, and Panton LB. Acute and timing effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on indirect markers of skeletal muscle damage. Nutrition & metabolism 6: 6, 2009.

13.         Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Joy JM, Andersen JC, Wilson SM, Stout JR, Duncan N, Fuller JC, Baier SM, Naimo MA, and Rathmacher J. The effects of 12 weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate free acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength, and power in resistance-trained individuals: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Appl Physiol 114: 1217-1227, 2014.

14.         Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Joy JM, Walters JA, Baier SM, Fuller JC, Jr., Stout JR, Norton LE, Sikorski EM, Wilson SM, Duncan NM, Zanchi NE, and Rathmacher J. beta-Hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate free acid reduces markers of exercise-induced muscle damage and improves recovery in resistance-trained men. The British journal of nutrition 110: 538-544, 2013.

About the authors:

Jacob WJacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS*D is an assistant professor and runs the strength & sports nutrition laboratory at the University of Tampa.  Dr. Wilson’s research has covered the cellular, molecular, and whole body changes in muscle size, strength, and power in response to resistance training and nutritional supplementation interventions.  On these topics he has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and abstracts.  He has recently established a new graduate program at University of Tampa dedicated to Sports Nutrition and has previously been awarded the NSCA’s Terry J. Housh young investigator of the year award.

Ryan LRyan P. Lowery, B.S., CSCS is completing his masters degree in sports nutrition at the University of Tampa.  In 2013, Ryan won the National Championship in baseball with the University of Tampa Spartans. Ryan lowery has served as the senior researcher in Dr. Jacob Wilson’s lab the past four years.  Ryan currently has 22 published manuscripts, 3 book chapters, and over 60 published abstracts, and serves as a reviewer for JISSN.  He has received the Exercise Science Student of the Year Award, NSCA Award for Outstanding Presentation, and most recently the National AAHPERD Exercise Science Major of the Year Award.  Ryan’s main areas of focus are sports nutrition and supplementation.




Vynna: Performance Nutrition by Women for Women! A Manifesto

VynnaVynna is a brand – and a movement: It’s time for a performance nutrition movement by women, for women, with active women owners, decision-makers, scientists, leaders, and support for a vision that lifts women up. It is time that active women have research and evidence-based products that support our strength, power and performance. Let’s build our bodies up rather than tear our bodies down. Let us dominate the world of nutrition for active women.  It’s time for us to feel free to feed and nourish our bodies and our brains for excellence, to be the most that we can be, not the least.  It’s time that the negative messages of restriction take a back seat to the science-based messages of fueling our training, so that beauty and aesthetics become the sustainable outcomes of beating the challenge and achieving peak performance at all levels, for all of us.

We have made incredible achievements in women’s athletics since the passage and institution of Title IX, and research has found that girls who play team sports are more likely to graduate from college, find a job, and be employed in male-dominated industries. According to data collected on the impact of Title IX legislation, “there is a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a bigger salary as an adult”. Even so, girls are still six-times as likely as boys to drop out of sports during adolescence.We_Can_Do_It-540x700

We fill the void of research on the performance nutrition needs of women. Until now, diet world advice has masqueraded as sports nutrition for women, with dire consequences. The failed and harmful diet strategies promoted to girls and women to become leaner and sexually desirable lead to a loss of mental and physical energy and metabolic stability, lowering performance in the classroom and on the field. In time girls lose confidence, self-esteem and ambition.

Vynna is an homage to the Swedish heritage of our first product, born out of research from the esteemed Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Vynna (adapted from vinna) means “winning”, and we are a movement about winning women. Our mission is to support the health, well-being and performance of active women and girls.

We are proud to introduce a pioneering, bona-fide, and evidence-based female-centric performance nutrition brand. It’s time for active women scientists to do the research, active women executives to own and run the company, and active women visionaries to drive their own brand. It’s time for Vynna!

Dr. Sue Kleiner and Ms. Bernie Wooster-Wong

  • Co-founders & Co-CEOs
  • Vynna, LLC

HIIT vs LISS – A Better Way to Lose Fat?

by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN – First let’s get the acronyms out of the way.  HIIT stands for Helga paddling SUPhigh-intensity interval training; LISS stands for low intensity steady state cardio.  HIIT is sometimes abbreviated HIT.  One form of training is hard and painful (HIIT) but doesn’t last as long whereas the other is not quite so painful (depending on how long you do it) but takes a longer amount of time.  Is one better than the other for losing fat?

I’ve always found this question a bit odd.  It’s like asking which wheel of the bicycle is more important. The front or the back one?  Uhhhh…they’re both important.

Now before I give you the punch line, what’s the data say?  With so many HIIT fanatics out there, one would think that doing LISS is a total waste of time.  First of all, let’s change the definition for a second.  I instead would call it SSC (stands for steady-state cardio).  Why?  Because there is this misguided impression that SSC has to be low intensity.  Try training with a collegiate distance runner on their ‘easy’ days.  SSC in that case could be a sub-6 min per mile pace for several miles.  You think that’s easy?  Low intensity?  Bwwaaaaah….You’re a fool if you think that’s easy.

So part of the answering the debate of SSC (LISS) vs HIIT is one of redefining SSC.  SSC can be quite difficult and painful.  If it is not, then you’re a jolly jogger and not a runner.  Or a jolly biker, paddler, swimmer, etc. You get the picture. :-)

What’s the data say on SSC?

Let’s check out a few studies.   A long-term supervised aerobic exercise training program was administered to 41 obese children (21 boys, 20 girls; 11 years old). The 2-year training program was performed during the daily school life. Lean body mass increased throughout the 2 year study while the total body weight decreased; the weight loss is attributed to a ultraendurancedecrease in fat.(1)  What?  You can lose fat doing SSC? :-)

What if we directly compared high intensity interval training (HIIT) versus continuous aerobic exercise training (CONT)?  In 38 previously inactive overweight adults there was a significant reduction in android fat percentage in CONT but not HIIT. Wait.  I thought HIIT was soooo much better?  The authors stated that “HIIT may be advocated as a time-efficient strategy for eliciting comparable fitness benefits to traditional continuous exercise in inactive, overweight adults. However, in this population HIIT does not confer the same benefit to body fat levels as continuous exercise training.(2)”  Furthermore, aerobic exercise is an effective approach to reduce visceral fat besides in overweight male CKD patients.(3)

Certainly other studies confirm the benefits of traditional aerobic (i.e. SSC) training.  Two months of aerobic cycling training improves body composition in young women.(4)  Also, daily moderate intensity aerobic exercise is effective at reducing abdominal fat mass, while high intensity exercise improves cardiopulmonary function.(5)

HIIT better?HIIT1

First of all, let’s get one thing clear.  HIIT is not a new way of training.  You can go back 70 years ago and find that famed distance runner, Emil Zatopek, was one of the first to utilize the interval training method.  HIIT has been used by endurance athletes for decades.  I find it somewhat amusing that folks in the ‘fitness industry’ feel like they’ve discovered some novel form of training.  It’s the greatest thing ever some exclaim.  Better than sliced bread, the zipper, and penicillin combined!  So what’s the deal with HIIT?  Does it burn fat fast?

Uh yeah.

You can do both, darling.In a recent study, HIIT was found to be more effective than SSC.  The HIIT folks are saying “See, I told you so!”   In this study, 54 people with intellectual disabilities (not your typical sample) were trained via: sprint interval training (n = 17), continuous aerobic training (n = 15) or control (n = 14). “Compared with continuous aerobic training, sprint interval training seems to result in better outcome.(6)”  Also, short-term low-volume HIT is a time-efficient strategy to improve body composition and muscle oxidative capacity in overweight/obese women.(7)  In a fairly large study, 60 female university students were randomly assigned to either a HIIT group, the moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) group or a non-training control group.  After 12 weeks of training, both type of training produced significant improvements in the subjects’ body composition, left ventricular ejection fraction, heart rate at rest, maximal oxygen uptake and ventilatory threshold. However, the HIIT group achieved better results than those in the MICT group, as it was evaluated by the amount of the effect size.(8)

I think the HIIT vs SSC (or LISS) debate is somewhat misguided.  If your goal is losing body fat and you don’t really give a shit about anything else, then by all means, you should do both.  They BOTH work.  Very few if any studies are performed on highly trained individuals.  So what we are left with is a smattering of studies on fat and/or out-of-shape people.  Heck, in that population, pretty much anything will work.  But if you’re a fitness maniac, then it’s a bit more difficult to lose fat to begin with.

But honestly, changing your diet is probably as important (if not more important) then either.  Doing HIIT is a great time-efficient way to train.  Doing HIIT too often will likely result in some degree of overtraining.  Let’s face it; to do HIIT correctly requires a high pain threshold.  It should hurt.  It should hurt a lot in fact!  SSC is good in that you can do it quite frequently without too great a risk of injury and/or overtraining.

So how much of each can or should you do?

Dr. Stephen Seiler wrote a great article on interval training and long slow distance (SSC). http://www.sportsci.org/2009/ss.htm

Think of the 80:20 rule.  Elite endurance athletes perform 80% or more of their training as SSC (i.e. intensities below the lactate threshold) with the remaining 20% being interval training (i.e. HIIT).  It is intriguing in that when you look across a wide variety of endurance sports (i.e. cycling, running, rowing, cross-country skiing, etc), they all follow this distribution of training.  Coaches (and athletes) have somehow figured out that if HIIT exceeds more than 20% of your training volume, it would likely have a diminishing or detrimental effect.  Thus, if we were to borrow from the lessons of elite endurance athletes, I’d suggest that you limit your HIIT to no more than twice per week.  Any other cardio you do beyond that should be SSC.


Also, keep in mind that ‘cardio’ (i.e. SSC) doesn’t have to be that boring shit you see at the gym.  Does anyone actually like riding a stationary bike for an hour?  Doing the stairstepper?  Get your butt outside and try some non-traditional ‘cardio’ work.  You’ll be having so much fun that you won’t think twice about the HIIT vs SSC (or LISS) debate.


1.            Sasaki J, Shindo M, Tanaka H, Ando M, Arakawa K. A long-term aerobic exercise program decreases the obesity index and increases the high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration in obese children. Int J Obes 1987;11(4):339-45.

2.            Keating SE, Machan EA, O’Connor HT, Gerofi JA, Sainsbury A, Caterson ID, et al. Continuous exercise but not high intensity interval training improves fat distribution in overweight adults. J Obes 2014;2014:834865.

3.            Baria F, Kamimura MA, Aoike DT, Ammirati A, Leister Rocha M, de Mello MT, et al. Randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of aerobic exercise on visceral fat in overweight chronic kidney disease patients. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2014;29(4):857-64.

4.            Stasiulis A, Mockiene A, Vizbaraite D, Mockus P. Aerobic exercise-induced changes in body composition and blood lipids in young women. Medicina (Kaunas) 2010;46(2):129-34.

5.            Kwon HR, Min KW, Ahn HJ, Seok HG, Koo BK, Kim HC, et al. Effects of aerobic exercise on abdominal fat, thigh muscle mass and muscle strength in type 2 diabetic subject. Korean Diabetes J 2010;34(1):23-31.

6.            Boer PH, Meeus M, Terblanche E, Rombaut L, Wandele ID, Hermans L, et al. The influence of sprint interval training on body composition, physical and metabolic fitness in adolescents and young adults with intellectual disability: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil 2014;28(3):221-31.

7.            Gillen JB, Percival ME, Ludzki A, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ. Interval training in the fed or fasted state improves body composition and muscle oxidative capacity in overweight women. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2013;21(11):2249-55.

8.            Sijie T, Hainai Y, Fengying Y, Jianxiong W. High intensity interval exercise training in overweight young women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2012;52(3):255-62.


Good to the Last Drop

by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN FNSCA.  There’s some silly shit (albeit funny) you can find on coffee cartoonFacebook.  One of the more common themes are health-conscious individuals who are going on their latest ‘detox’ kick.  Now this article isn’t going to beat the proverbial crap out of ‘detoxing’ (even though there’s plenty to beat up on).  Hint:  it’s why we have a liver and kidneys.  What’s funny/ironic/inane/vapid (you get my drift) is that for many of these individuals, they will stop drinking coffee because as we all know, coffee is bad bad bad; you know, that whole detox thing.  To show you how I feel about that, I quote Ebenezer Scrooge (“A Christmas Carol”): Bah Humbug.

Now how do I know refraining from coffee is absurd, particularly from the standpoint of health?  Or to rephrase, how would YOU come up with reasonable and well-thought out conclusions regarding coffee or anything nutrition-related thing for that matter?  Voodoo?  The Magic of David Copperfield?  Witchcraft?  Bro-Science? Schmo-Science? My-Momma-Told-Me-So? Because you saw it on Pinterest?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re a complete moron.  If the folks who ‘detoxed’ by not drinking coffee bothered to get at least semi-educated on the science of coffee, then perhaps they wouldn’t be hoodwinked by the nonsense that pervades the internet.  Yes, there is a plethora of science to show that coffee drinking is pretty damn good for you.caffeine

Now before you think I make this stuff up, here’s some food for thought.  Or better yet, facts to chew on.  It’s in bullet point form for those of you with the attention span of a mosquito.

  1. Both caffeine (5 mg/kg/BW) and coffee (5 mg/kg/BW) consumed 1 h prior to exercise can improve endurance exercise performance.(1)
  2. Coffee treatment attenuated the decrease in the muscle weight and grip strength, increased the regenerating capacity of injured muscles, and decreased the serum pro-inflammatory mediator levels compared to controls.(2)
  3. Coffee treatment had a beneficial effect on age-related sarcopenia.(2)
  4. Increasing coffee consumption over a 4 year period is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while decreasing coffee consumption is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in subsequent years.(3)
  5. Coffee consumption may be protective against periodontal bone loss in adult men.(4)
  6. Coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total mortality.(5)
  7. Daily coffee consumption may reduce the risk of gastric cancer in high-risk populations, especially among women.(6)
  8. In patients with chronic liver disease, daily coffee consumption should be encouraged.(7)
  9. Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.(8)
  10. This study does not support the idea that coffee is a risk factor for impaired bone health in Korean premenopausal women.(9)
  11. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may be protective against deterioration of glucose tolerance.(10)
  12. We found no statistically significant association between coffee consumption and the risk of overall, advanced, or fatal prostate cancer.(11)
  13. In this large prospective study, caffeinated coffee intake was inversely associated with oral/pharyngeal cancer mortality.(12)
  14. Coffee may reduce both motor and cognitive deficits in aging.(13)
  15. These results from three large cohorts support an association between caffeine consumption and lower risk of suicide.(14)

Take Home Message – The question that YOU need to ask yourself is this.  What is the compelling reason to NOT consume coffee?  Okay, to some it tastes like mud. But hey, put some cream and sugar in it, and that’ll make it dance on your taste buds.  Or the other reason might be this: “I really don’t want to be healthier.”  I’ve heard sillier things.caffeinated_cities_small

Can you drink too much?  Well of course you can.  There are rare cases of folks overdosing on caffeine (not coffee).  But just to give you an example of how difficult it is to overdose on caffeine, here are some numbers for you.

  • One guy ingested 24 grams in a suicide attempt; he suffered complications of severe rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure requiring subsequent hemodialysis.(15)
  • Another guy died after consuming 12 grams.(16)
  • A woman went into cardiac arrest after a 10 gram dose.(17)

Now if we stick to the 10 gram dose as being ‘too much,’ heck that’s equal to 100 cups of coffee!  Even the most maniacal coffee addicts that I know of aren’t that crazy!

Bottom line:  drink coffee.  It does the body good.


1.            Hodgson AB, Randell RK, Jeukendrup AE. The metabolic and performance effects of caffeine compared to coffee during endurance exercise. PLoS One 2013;8(4):e59561.

2.            Guo Y, Niu K, Okazaki T, Wu H, Yoshikawa T, Ohrui T, et al. Coffee treatment prevents the progression of sarcopenia in aged mice in vivo and in vitro. Exp Gerontol 2014;50:1-8.

3.            Bhupathiraju SN, Pan A, Manson JE, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Changes in coffee intake and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes: three large cohorts of US men and women. Diabetologia 2014.

4.            Ng N, Kaye EK, Garcia RI. Coffee Consumption and Periodontal Disease in Men. J Periodontol 2013.

5.            Je Y, Giovannucci E. Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr 2014;111(7):1162-73.

6.            Ainslie-Waldman CE, Koh WP, Jin A, Yeoh KG, Zhu F, Wang R, et al. Coffee intake and gastric cancer risk: the singapore chinese health study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2014;23(4):638-47.

7.            Saab S, Mallam D, Cox GA, 2nd, Tong MJ. Impact of coffee on liver diseases: a systematic review. Liver Int 2014;34(4):495-504.

8.            Natella F, Scaccini C. Role of coffee in modulation of diabetes risk. Nutr Rev 2012;70(4):207-17.

9.            Choi EJ, Kim KH, Koh YJ, Lee JS, Lee DR, Park SM. Coffee consumption and bone mineral density in korean premenopausal women. Korean J Fam Med 2014;35(1):11-8.

10.         Ohnaka K, Ikeda M, Maki T, Okada T, Shimazoe T, Adachi M, et al. Effects of 16-week consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated instant coffee on glucose metabolism in a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr Metab 2012;2012:207426.

11.         Bosire C, Stampfer MJ, Subar AF, Wilson KM, Park Y, Sinha R. Coffee consumption and the risk of overall and fatal prostate cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Cancer Causes Control 2013;24(8):1527-34.

12.         Hildebrand JS, Patel AV, McCullough ML, Gaudet MM, Chen AY, Hayes RB, et al. Coffee, tea, and fatal oral/pharyngeal cancer in a large prospective US cohort. Am J Epidemiol 2013;177(1):50-8.

13.         Shukitt-Hale B, Miller MG, Chu YF, Lyle BJ, Joseph JA. Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age (Dordr) 2013;35(6):2183-92.

14.         Lucas M, O’Reilly EJ, Pan A, Mirzaei F, Willett WC, Okereke OI, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: Results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry 2013.

15.         Campana C, Griffin PL, Simon EL. Caffeine overdose resulting in severe rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure. Am J Emerg Med 2014;32(1):111 e3-4.

16.         Jabbar SB, Hanly MG. Fatal caffeine overdose: a case report and review of literature. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2013;34(4):321-4.

17.         Rudolph T, Knudsen K. A case of fatal caffeine poisoning. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 2010;54(4):521-3.


ISSN Europa University Workshops

Attend Europa UniversityEU in Orlando pic and learn to school your customers!  The sports nutrition industry changes daily. Products come and go. Trends spread quickly in our hyper-connected world. But the real challenge is that your customers expect you to have your finger on the pulse of it all. Here at Europa Sports, we’re committed to equipping you with the knowledge that fuels your business success. Enter Europa University.

What is Europa University? – Do you have time to go back to school? Probably not. We know you’re busy. That’s why Europa University is a one-day accredited conference for retailers, gym owners and personal trainers. You need the best information delivered in the shortest amount of time. And you deserve to learn from leading experts who blend academia with real-world application.

Why Europa University? – There’s nothing like it. Europa University is the definitive seminar presented by The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). The ISSN is the only non-profit academic society dedicated to promoting the science and application of evidence-based sports nutrition and supplementation. That means you will accelerate your knowledge base by learning from industry pioneers who have been pivotal in bringing sports nutrition research to the forefront.

What Will You Learn? – Can you explain to your customers the evidence-based research behind the effectiveness of whey? Do you understand the science behind nutrient timing cycles? Feel comfortable deciphering nutrition labels? Attend Europa University and you’ll learn how to turn scientific proof into sales power.  Our goal is to help you work at the top of your game, so your customers can thrive at the top of theirs. Come to Europa University and dedicate six hours to improving your career and your life. It will forever change the way you think about sports nutrition and supplementation.

Europa University At A Glance:

•  One-day accredited conference held at Europa Games Get Fit & Sports Expos

•  Earn CEU’s: NSCA 0.6, NATA 6, ACE 0.6, NASM 0.6

•  Learn real-world topics taught by sports nutrition leaders

Ready To Register?  Check out the upcoming conferences in a city near you. Europa University is held at various Europa Games Get Fit & Sports Expos across the nation.

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Rice Rice Baby

by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN.  I really like white rice.  You know the sticky kind that you can pick up with your fingers and throw down the gullet.  I mean 1.4 billion Chinese eatingricecouldn’t all be wong.  I’ve heard a million times how brown rice, which tastes like tree bark mixed with bread crust dipped in dog food, is soooo much better than the white variety.  Growing up eating rice the way most families consume potatoes and bread, I rarely go a day without consuming some white stuff.  So is the white stuff so bad?  Is it like eating fried Twinkies or Oreos?  Well grasshopper, empty your cup of tea and follow me down the path of truth and enlightenment.  LOL.  Actually, just read the rest of this silly article and let’s hope you’re entertained as well as edified.

One study stated that “higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations.”1 Yikes, that’s me!  Does being a ‘Pacific Islander’ count?  Also, “consumption of brown rice in place of white can help reduce 24-h glucose and fasting insulin responses among overweight Asian Indians.”2  Shitfire I’m glad I’m not an overweight Asian Indian.  Either way, that study was an acute one.  And then we have this extensive  case-control study which looked at the association between white rice-based food consumption and the risk of ischemic stroke in a southern Chinese population. Information on diet and lifestyle was obtained from 374 incident ischemic stroke patients and 464 hospital-based controls. They found that the average weekly intake of rice foods appeared to be significantly higher in cases than in controls. Increased consumption of cooked rice, congee, and rice noodle were associated with a higher risk for ischemic stroke after controlling for confounding factors. So is this evidence of a link between habitual rice food consumption and the risk of ischemic stroke in Chinese adults?3 Maybe.

Now keep in mind what exactly a case control study is.  It is a design used in epidemiological research.  Basically what scientists do is compare subjects who have a certain condition (e.g. high blood pressure) with those who do not (e.g. are normal blood pressure) and then identify the factors that may lead to that condition.  Folks aren’t given a treatment per se.  The categories are statistical ones, not biological ones.  This study design is far inferior to the gold standard of science, the randomized controlled trial in which subjects are randomized to a ‘treatment’ or ‘placebo/control’ group.  Thus, there is an actual intervention to see if a ‘treatment’ has an effect and minimizes bias.white rice

So indeed it is true that epidemiologic studies have suggested that higher consumption of white rice (WR) is associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus.  And short term data shows that the glucose and insulin response is lower with brown vs white rice.  What if you actually substitute white rice with brown rice, should we not then see a benefit?  Especially if done over a period of several months?

Let’s see what this particular study showed.  A total of 202 middle-aged adults with diabetes or a high risk for diabetes were randomly assigned to a white rice (WR) or brown rice (BR) group and consumed the rice ad libitum (free access to rice) for 4 months. Metabolic risk markers were measured.  So what happened?  Did the WR group get ill?  Did the BR group become healthier than a triathlete?  They basically found no between-group differences for any markers.  However, blood LDL cholesterol concentration decreased more in the WR group compared to the BR group; this effect was observed only among participants with diabetes.  On the other hand, diabetics had a greater reduction in diastolic blood pressure in the BR group compared to the WR group.  So what’s the net-net?  Nothing!  There’s in essence no difference.4

jennifer-lopez-bikini1Most non-Asians consume rice about as frequently as a homeless man in Miami takes long bubble baths.  I mean have you ever seen a Chinese guy ask for brown rice?  When an Asian orders brown rice instead of white, it would be like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders cheering for the Washington Redskins.  Ain’t gonna happen.  So for my brothas and sistas who are of the ‘Asian’ denomination (hey, that rhymes), go ahead and eat plenty of white rice. But, and this is a big but, not the J-Lo big butt, but the but with just one ‘t.’ Exercise like you’re being chased by an angry Doberman Pinscher! If you exercise hard enough, long enough and frequently enough, I seriously doubt that eating brown or white rice will make a helluva difference.

So next time you’re at PF Changs, go for the white stuff:-)

References for the Science Nerds

[1] Hu EA, Pan A, Malik V, Sun Q: White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. Bmj 2012, 344:e1454.

[2] Mohan V, Spiegelman D, Sudha V, Gayathri R, Hong B, Praseena K, Anjana RM, Wedick NM, Arumugam K, Malik V, Ramachandran S, Bai MR, Henry JK, Hu FB, Willett W, Krishnaswamy K: Effect of Brown Rice, White Rice, and Brown Rice with Legumes on Blood Glucose and Insulin Responses in Overweight Asian Indians: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes technology & therapeutics 2014.

[3] Liang W, Lee AH, Binns CW: White rice-based food consumption and ischemic stroke risk: a case-control study in southern China. Journal of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases : the official journal of National Stroke Association 2010, 19:480-4.

[4] Zhang G, Pan A, Zong G, Yu Z, Wu H, Chen X, Tang L, Feng Y, Zhou H, Li H, Hong B, Malik VS, Willett WC, Spiegelman D, Hu FB, Lin X: Substituting white rice with brown rice for 16 weeks does not substantially affect metabolic risk factors in middle-aged Chinese men and women with diabetes or a high risk for diabetes. The Journal of nutrition 2011, 141:1685-90.

Bio –  Jose Antonio PhD – Science guy, paddler, avid MMA fan, www.theissn.org

Creatine and Kids

Essentials of Creatine cover 165 x 220 pixels (2)By Jose Antonio, Ph.D. – Random Note:  A question came up regarding the effects of creatine supplementation on blood pressure.  For the life of me I could not figure out why anyone would think creatine would adversely affect blood pressure.  Nevertheless, here is a reference that I’d suggest you read (Med Sci Sports Exerc.  2000.  Mihic et al.)

But enough of that.  Here’s my question.  If creatine is safe for kids who might be ill or sick, then why on Earth would it be harmful to a healthy adult?  To wit:  Walk around any mall in the heartland of America and you’ll find this common site.  Kids sitting at a brightly colored table in a Food Court peppered with all sorts of different fast foods.  Parents are more than willing to buy their kids French fries, donuts, fried chicken, cheeseburgers and other assorted Junk foodnot-so-good for you foods.  Let’s face it; it’s tough to get kids to eat salmon and broccoli right?  Nonetheless, it is socially acceptable to eat like sh#$ and therefore look like sh$%.  Though looking like sh$% seems to be less tolerated despite the fact that the two often go hand in hand.  However, the mere mention that kids should be consuming dietary supplements, in this case creatine, brings gasps of horror!  Creatine!  What about the kids?  Will it harm them?  Will their kidneys peeter out and die?  Egads!

Never has a supplement been studied so much yet misunderstood entirely by the general public.  Folks are often surprised to hear that creatine is naturally found in meats, especially fish.  So if you’re afraid of creatine, I’d suggest you avoid the sushi bar like a sailor avoids the confessional.  In a nutshell, creatine is probably the most studied dietary supplement in the history of mankind.  Out of the hundreds of studies performed on creatine, there is no evidence to show that it causes any harm.  In fact, there are studies in kids (even infants) showing no side effects.  So what are folks so scared?  Two reasons: they’re either idiots or they’re uninformed.   We fear what we don’t understand, right?

Background on CreatineCreatine plays an important role in energy metabolism and is synthesized or made in the liver, kidney and pancreas. It is stored mainly in skeletal muscles, heart and brain.  There is scientific evidence which show a short and long-term therapeutic benefit of creatine supplementation in children and adults with gyrate atrophy (a result of the inborn error of metabolism with ornithine delta- aminotransferase activity), muscular dystrophy (facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, Becker dystrophy, Duchenne dystrophy and sarcoglycan deficient limb girdle muscular dystrophy), McArdle’s disease, Huntington’s disease and mitochondria-related diseases. Hypoxia and energy related brain pathologies (brain trauma, cerebral ischemia, prematurity) might benefit from creatine supplementation.[1]

Studies of Creatine in Kids

Creatine and Kids with Cancer – Nine children with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer) in the maintenance phase of treatment on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) protocol 2000-2001 were treated with creatine monohydrate (CrM) (0.1 g/kg/day; equal to 6.8 grams for a 150 lb person) for two sequential periods of 16 weeks (16 weeks treat > 6 weeks wash-out > 16 weeks treat). A cohort of 50 children who were receiving the same chemotherapy at the same time served as controls. Despite the long course of corticosteroid treatment for ALL, children showed significant increases in height, bone mineral density, and fat free mass (i.e. muscle) over approximately 38 weeks during the study. There was an increase in body mass index over time, but children taking CrM had a reduction, while the control group showed an increase in % body fat.  Thus, children with ALL treated with corticosteroids as part of a maintenance protocol of chemotherapy showed an increase in % body fat; however, those consuming CrM demonstrated lesser body fat accumulation.[2]  No side effects were reported.

Creatine and Kids with Muscular Dystrophy – In another study, 30 boys with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystropy (DD) (50% were taking corticosteroids) completed a double-blind, randomized, cross-over trial with 4 months of CrM (about 0.10 g/kg/day), 6-week wash-out, and 4 months of placebo. Four months of CrM supplementation led to increases in fat free mass and handgrip strength in the dominant hand and a reduction in a marker of bone breakdown; furthermore, the supplement was well tolerated in children with this muscle disease.[3]

Creatine and Kids with Traumatic Brain Injury – In perhaps one of the more intriguing studies, creatine was given to kids with traumatic brain injury or TBI.  The effect of creatine was determined on 39 children and adolescents, aged between 1 to 18 years old, with TBI. The creatine was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day.  That’s a huge dose which is equal to 27 grams for a 150 lb person.  The administration of creatine to children with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, intensive care unit (ICU) stay, disability, good recovery, self care, communication, locomotion, sociability, personality/behavior and neurophysical, and cognitive function. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of Cognitive, personality/behavior, Self Care, and communication aspects in all patients. No side effects were seen because of creatine administration.  Thus, there is evidence that creatine supplementation is beneficial to pediatric patients with traumatic brain injury.[4][5]Batman slaps Robin over Creatine

Creatine and Exercising Kids – Sixteen male fin swimmers (age:15.9 years) were randomly and evenly assigned to either a creatine (CR, 4×5 g/day creatine monohydrate for 5 days) or placebo group (P, same dose of a dextrose-ascorbic acid placebo) in a double-blind research. Before and after creatine supplementation, the average power output was determined by a Bosco-test and the swimming time was measured in two maximal 100 m fin swims. After five days of supplementation the average power of one minute continuous rebound jumps increased by 20.2%. The swimming time was significantly reduced in both first and second sessions of swimming in the CR group, but remained almost unchanged in the P group.  Thus, creatine supplementation enhances the dynamic strength and may increase anaerobic metabolism in the lower extremity muscles, and improves performance in consecutive maximal swims in highly trained adolescent fin swimmers.[6]  In another study, four weeks of creatine supplementation enhanced swim bench test performance.[7]

Creatine and Infants – According to researchers, hypoxic ventilatory depression in mice and muscle fatigue in adult humans are improved by creatine supplementation (CS).   However, a study in human infants found that creatine supplementation did not improve symptoms of apnea of prematurity in infants.  Interestingly though, no side effects were seen with creatine supplementation (equal to a 13.6 gram daily dose in a 150 lb person). [8]  In an  interesting case report, scientists studied and treated an infant with an inborn deficiency of guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT). Long-term oral administration of creatine-monohydrate (4-8 g per day) to this patient resulted in substantial clinical improvement, disappearance of magnetic resonance (MRI) signal abnormalities in the globus pallidus, and normalisation of slow background activity on the electroencephalogram (EEG). During the 25-month treatment period, both brain and total body creatine concentrations became normal.  Accordingly, oral creatine replacement has proved to be effective in one child with an inborn error of GAMT. It may well be effective in the treatment of other disorders of creatine synthesis.[9]  It is interesting that a dose of 4-8 grams per day in an infant would be equal to over 100 grams daily in an adult.

Conclusion – Supplementation of kids of varying ages with creatine has been shown to improve exercise performance, promote recovery post traumatic brain injury, help infants with inborn errors of metabolism, and ameliorate body fat gain secondary to corticosteroid treatment.  No side effects are reported in these investigations.  Thus, the preponderance of the evidence clearly shows that creatine supplementation may indeed be beneficial for kids with no side effects.

BIO – Jose Antonio Ph.D. is the CEO of the ISSN (www.theissn.org)


[1]         Evangeliou A, Vasilaki K, Karagianni P, Nikolaidis N. Clinical applications of creatine supplementation on paediatrics. Curr Pharm Biotechnol 2009;10 (7):683-90.

[2]         Bourgeois JM, Nagel K, Pearce E, Wright M, Barr RD, Tarnopolsky MA. Creatine monohydrate attenuates body fat accumulation in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during maintenance chemotherapy. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2008;51 (2):183-7.

[3]         Tarnopolsky MA, Mahoney DJ, Vajsar J, Rodriguez C, Doherty TJ, Roy BD, Biggar D. Creatine monohydrate enhances strength and body composition in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology 2004;62 (10):1771-7.

[4]         Sakellaris G, Kotsiou M, Tamiolaki M, Kalostos G, Tsapaki E, Spanaki M, Spilioti M, Charissis G, Evangeliou A. Prevention of complications related to traumatic brain injury in children and adolescents with creatine administration: an open label randomized pilot study. J Trauma 2006;61 (2):322-9.

[5]         Sakellaris G, Nasis G, Kotsiou M, Tamiolaki M, Charissis G, Evangeliou A. Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study. Acta Paediatr 2008;97 (1):31-4.

[6]         Juhasz I, Gyore I, Csende Z, Racz L, Tihanyi J. Creatine supplementation improves the anaerobic performance of elite junior fin swimmers. Acta Physiol Hung 2009;96 (3):325-36.

[7]         Dawson B, Vladich T, Blanksby BA. Effects of 4 weeks of creatine supplementation in junior swimmers on freestyle sprint and swim bench performance. J Strength Cond Res 2002;16 (4):485-90.

[8]         Bohnhorst B, Geuting T, Peter CS, Dordelmann M, Wilken B, Poets CF. Randomized, controlled trial of oral creatine supplementation (not effective) for apnea of prematurity. Pediatrics 2004;113 (4):e303-7.

[9]         Stockler S, Hanefeld F, Frahm J. Creatine replacement therapy in guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, a novel inborn error of metabolism. Lancet 1996;348 (9030):789-90.




Where’s the Beef?

By Jose Antonio PhD FISSN (www.theissn.org) –  We all love protein.  I tell my students to eat as much of it as they can.  What’s the downside?  Losing fat.  Gaining muscle.  Hardly a downside right?  Now for a little lesson for all of you.  Sarcopenia.  You’ve probably heard the term somewhere.  Scientists have defined sarcopenia is as an age-related decrease in muscle mass and performance.   We know that short-term randomized controlled trials of muscle protein synthesis have demonstrated that whey protein increases synthesis more so than casein or soy isolates. Studies also suggest that essential amino acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than nonessential amino acids.[1So if you don’t want to be some Frail Freddy or Farrah, you better eat protein.

And as much as you might love whey protein, sometimes you just want to have a big fat juicy steak.  So where’s the data on beef?  It turns out there are some interesting bits of science on beef.  For instance, scientists figured out the dose-response of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) with and without resistance exercise to graded doses of beef ingestion. Thirty-five middle-aged men (59 years) ingested 0 g, 57 g (2 oz; 12 g protein), 113 g (4 oz; 24 g protein), or 170 g (6 oz; 36 g protein) of (15% fat) ground beef. Subjects performed a bout of unilateral (i.e. only one side of Where's-the-Beefthe body exercised) resistance exercise to allow measurement of the fed state and the fed plus resistance exercise state within each dose.  MPS was increased with ingestion of 170 g of beef to a greater extent than all other doses at rest and after resistance exercise.  That is equal to 36 grams of actual protein.  Also, resistance exercise was strong in stimulating myofibrillar MPS, and acted additively with feeding.[2So lift weights and eat some beef.

Another study examined the relationship of beef and protein intake to nutrition status, body composition, and other variables in older adults 60-88 years of age.  Beef intake (g/d) was positively correlated to muscle mass measured by mid-arm muscle area. Also, protein intake was positively associated with nutrition status, calf circumference, and body mass index in older adults.  Thus, consuming lean cuts of beef in moderation may be a healthy way in which older adults can increase protein intake, preserve muscle mass and improve nutritional status.[3]

What about a head to head comparison of chicken versus beef?  Let’s face it.  How many meals of white meat chicken breast and broccoli can you possibly eat?  How about some beef?  Scientists examined changes in body weight and lipid profiles in a 12-wk, randomized, controlled trial, in which overweight women followed a lower calorie diet with lean beef or chicken as the primary protein source, while participating in a fitness walking program. Sedentary non-smoking middle-aged females followed calculated-deficit diets (-500 kcal daily) and were randomly assigned to the beef-consumption or chicken-consumption dietary group, while following a fitness walking program. After 12 weeks, weight loss was similar between the protein_beefbeef-consumption (5.6 kg) and the chicken-consumption (6.0 kg) groups. Both groups showed significant reductions in body fat percentage and total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with no differences between groups. This studied indeed proves that weight loss and improved lipid profile can be accomplished through diet and exercise, whether the dietary protein source is lean beef or chicken.[4]

Top Sirloin Please!?


1.         Beasley JM, Shikany JM, Thomson CA: The role of dietary protein intake in the prevention of sarcopenia of aging. Nutr Clin Pract 2013, 28:684-690.

2.         Robinson MJ, Burd NA, Breen L, Rerecich T, Yang Y, Hector AJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM: Dose-dependent responses of myofibrillar protein synthesis with beef ingestion are enhanced with resistance exercise in middle-aged men. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2013, 38:120-125.

3.         Asp ML, Richardson JR, Collene AL, Droll KR, Belury MA: Dietary protein and beef consumption predict for markers of muscle mass and nutrition status in older adults. J Nutr Health Aging 2012, 16:784-790.

4.         Melanson K, Gootman J, Myrdal A, Kline G, Rippe JM: Weight loss and total lipid profile changes in overweight women consuming beef or chicken as the primary protein source. Nutrition 2003, 19:409-414.

Even Steven – Spread Those Protein Calories

K11977_coverby Jose Antonio PhD FISSN FNSCA.  Should you spread your calories throughout the day or eat more of them at a certain meal?  That’s the million dollar question, right? We all know that there are many factors that affect body composition.  You want to gain muscle and lose fat, right?  So what should you do?  There are six key strategies that you should consider when your goal is to look purrrrty.  1) The simplest though least effective over the long run is just eat fewer calories.  Sure you’ll lose weight, but it’ll be fat and muscle.  2) Eat more protein.  That’s a no brainer.  3)  Change the macronutrient ratio of your diet. That is, eat less carbs and more protein/healthy fat.  4)  Choose different kinds of protein. For instance, cod protein has been shown to improve fat loss.  5)  Nutrient timing strategies have been shown to improve body composition and muscle protein synthesis.  And last but not least 6) Supplements.  Just taking creatine alone will enhance body composition.  Today’s lesson for you gym nerds involves #5.  In this case, what happens when you shift your calories (and therefore protein) from an even distribution over breakfast, lunch and dinner to one in which most of your calories are consumed at dinner?  A study from the Journal of Nutrition just hot off the press answered that question (authors: Mamerow MM et al. J of Nutr Jan 29 2014).

The study was nice in its elegant simplicity.  They took healthy subjects and they consumed an isocaloric (same calories) and isonitrogenous (same protein) meal in two different ways.  The first way involved what referred to as an EVEN pattern; the second way involved what they called a SKEW pattern.  The EVEN pattern of eating had them eating the following calories and protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner: About 800 kcals and 30 grams of protein at each meal.  The SKEW pattern had them eating in the following pattern:  537, 683 and 1100 kcals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, respectively.   And 11, 16 and 64 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, respectively.

So remember, they ate the same total calories but they distributed the calories and protein differently depending on whether it was an EVEN or SKEW feeding pattern.  Overall, they consumed about 2400 kcals, 94 g protein, 312 g of carbs and 85 g of fat.  What they found was quite interesting.  Eating in an EVEN pattern resulted in a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis than eating in a SKEW pattern.  Thus, the common practice of eating most of your calories during dinner is not an efficient means of promoting gains in muscle mass.

One might posit that the low level of protein consumed at breakfast and lunch in the SKEW group failed to meet the minimal amount of protein needed to hit a ‘leucine threshold’ and thus stimulate muscle protein synthesis.  It would be interesting to see what would have happened if the SKEW group had supplemented with leucine at breakfast and lunch to make up for the insufficient consumption of this important amino acid.

I would suggest that you consume a minimum of 20 grams of protein in each meal.  And better yet, the more the better.  Although muscle protein synthesis may level off at 20-40 grams per meal, it is likely that you will still get a greater anabolic effect with even more protein via the inhibition of protein degradation.  However, you will rarely see protein degradation measured concurrently with synthesis in these studies due to the difficult technical nature of this measure.  Nonetheless, what would really answer the question is whether body composition, and more specifically lean body mass, would increase when following a very high protein diet.  Certainly, if the human body is limited in how much protein is needed to stimulate muscle mass gain, then there must be a ceiling upon which any further increase in protein intake does not result in further gains in lean body mass.