Tag Archives: Jose Antonio

Paddling and Corenography

coreby Jose Antonio PhD FISSN. Not to be confused with Pornography, Corenography instead refers to the proliferation of books, websites, and blogs dedicated to ‘Core Training.’ Nevertheless, do a search on Amazon.com and faster than you can download that goofya$$ video of the fake Kardashian wedding video, you’ll find scores of fitness books dedicated to training the ‘Core.’  Sort of like the ‘core’ of an apple, you can define ‘core training’ as training the muscles attached to your torso (i.e. the abdominal muscles and lower back).  This includes all the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus and intercostals), the spine (the erector spinae group) and the hip flexors (iliacus and psoas, together known as the iliopsoas).  Basically these muscles stabilize and move the center or core of your body.  All this anatomy talk is making me sleepy.  Back to my point.  Apparently core training can do lots of things.  If you look at various book titles, you have “The Complete Book of Core Training: The Definitive Resource for Shaping and Strengthening the “Core” — the Muscles of the Abdomen, Butt, Hips, and Lower Back.”  That pretty much explains it.   But then you have a ‘revolutionary’ type of program (sort of like the American or French Revolution I guess) in “The Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body & Your Life.”  And of course, if your IQ doesn’t exceed a banana, then “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Core Conditioning Illustrated” is for you.You’d think with a plethora of books on core training that nobody figured out before that training your abs, back, and hip flexors/extensors was important.  But as with many things in exercise, it’s basically a ‘different way’ of looking at the same thing.  If you do a full squat, you are training the core.  If you do heavy curls using an EZ curl bar, believe me, you’re training the ‘core.’  Heck, doing a friggin’ push-up trains the ‘core.’  But if you’re tired of the gym and doing silly exercises on Swiss Balls, BOSU, and assorted plastic contraptions, why not do ‘core’ work that also serves to increase muscle strength and endurance.  And it’s a helluva lot more fun that balancing on a stinkin’ Swiss ball.  What is it? Outrigger paddling my friends.  What exactly is outrigger paddling?  Well way back when, ole Captain Cook arrived in Kealakekua Bay in the year 1779, he reported seeing at least 1500 canoes. Purportedly, Hawaii must have numbered between 6,000 and 12,000 canoes for a population of 175,000 to 225,000. (http://www.coffeetimes.com/july97.htm) Here was a culture that was dependent on the ocean and used ancient canoes to get from the beach to 7-11.  Okay, maybe not 7-11, but when you’re in need of coconut water, the island next door might be your best bet. Polynesians actually have used the outrigger canoe as a mode of travel dating back thousands of years.  Paddling, specifically outrigger canoe paddling, utilize all the core muscles, as well as the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.  The rotation, flexion, and extension of the torso while paddling is a much better core workout than all the latest fad of the day exercises that you see at your local gym.  In fact, the paddling sports are unique as a strength-endurance sport in that you train your cardiovascular system intensely but in addition, you can gain quite a bit of muscle mass, especially in the back and shoulders.  Think of each paddling stroke as weight training using water as resistance.  For instance, an ‘easy’ workout would consist of a one hour paddle in which your stroke cadence is 60 per minute (15 strokes left then right, alternating); if you do a rep count, that’s 1,800 reps on the left and right side respectively.  That to me, is a helluva lot better than getting on some newfangled plastic ball and doing an exercise that you’ll never encounter in real life.  But that’s just me.

So do yourself a favor, take a break from the gym and workout on the water.  There are paddling clubs all over the world.  Check out http://www.y2kanu.com/ (the pictures here are courtesy of them), www.kanaluimiami.com and www.ocpaddler.com. Believe me; It is more fun getting a hard workout on the open ocean doing strength-endurance work for the upper body and ‘core’ while working the lower extremity muscles as stabilizers.  And besides, how often can you workout and see dolphins all at the same time?



Idiots in the Mist – The Lowdown on Creatine

by Jose Antonio PhD.  For those of you who know me, you’re well aware that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to bs’ing you.  It takes too much work and frankly, it’s just a waste of time.  If you want a straight answer, I’ll give it.  If you want a sugar-coated answer that’ll make you feel better, go ask your Mommy.  So what’s with the sardonic prelude?  is-creatine-safe-how-the-king-of-supps-affects-your-organs-1

First a little edification.  I teach at Nova Southeastern University in Davie FL.  I try like a madman to instill lessons in critical thinking.  Any monkey can memorize and regurgitate information.  But true learning occurs when you can think critically and independently.  Sometimes the mark of a good thinker is when you realize the more you learn, the more questions you have.  Often, those who are uneducated don’t know enough to know what they don’t know.  Hence, they succumb to ‘bro-science.’

I implore students to think for themselves, look up the data, and not just believe what your buddy at the gym says.  When I read just plain stupid sh#* like “creatine supplementation is bad for your kidneys,” it would be like a rocket scientist at NASA reading “the Earth really is flat.”  Ask yourself, “is there data to support the statement?”  Certainly, if you are looking for 100% agreement on anything scientific, then you my friend are in the wrong field.  The only guarantees are death and taxes.  So how does one come to a reasonable and smart conclusion about sports nutrition? 

As they say on one of my favorite TV Shows “CSI,”  ‘just follow the data; the data will tell you the answer.’  So in essence you’re a sleuth looking at the evidence, the clues, and the data.  With regards to creatine, the data are so voluminous, so robust, so convincing that it would be idiotic to believe otherwise.  Unless of course you’re so skeptical that you think apples might rise tomorrow.

So here’s the lowdown on creatine. 

To wit:  I gave my two-cents worth of supplement advice vis a vis “The Creatine Report” by Nick Tumminello and Lou Schuler.  It is a nice, informative, and consumer-friendly piece on the most widely researched sports supplement in the history of mankind.  For a copy of the report, go to http://www.freecreatinereport.com/.  Nick and Lou did an excellent job outlining the facts and dispelling the myths associated with creatine.  One would think that with the HUNDREDS of randomized clinical trials on creatine the myths promulgated by the educated and uneducated would cease.  But alas, I am mistaken.

Apparently, one must never underestimate the stupidity of the general public (or the learned medical professional).  Nick was kind enough to share with me some of the questions/comments that he received regarding creatine.  To say some were just god-awful idiotic would be an insult to idiots.  Moreover, the gross ignorance demonstrated by so-called experts (i.e. the Mayo Clinic) is just plain embarrassing.  Below are some of the questions he received.  For me to answer each of them in detail would be like asking a physicist to explain why apples fall from a tree rather than rise.  Yep, we still have flat-earthers out there.  My response is easy to see.  It’s after my initials.

Questions from readers who slept through Biology 101.

– Is there any quality research showing Creatine doesn’t work? If so, should these results affect our decision to take creatine?

JA:  Of course there is good research out there that shows creatine does not have an ergogenic effect.  If you’re looking for 100% agreement in science, then you’re a fool.  Imagine giving aspirin to 100 individuals with a headache.  Ninety of them respond favorably and 10 do not.  And let’s say that’s the general pattern throughout the scientific literature.  So does that mean aspirin works (for treating headaches)?  Or not?  Scientific conclusions are based on the PREPONDERANCE of the evidence.  And it is clear that the preponderance of the evidence points to a robust ergogenic response from creatine supplementation.  Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone.  But then again what does?  For a scientific summary of creatine, please read the ISSN’s Position paper on creatine.[1http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/6  

– Some people say creatine made them bloated. Is there any scientific evidence behind these claims? What do you say to people when they make (or repeat) this type of claim?

JA:  The problem with the word ‘bloated’ is that it has no scientific meaning.  How do you measure bloatedness?  If someone says they are bloated, how can you even argue against it?  If someone says they weigh more, that’s easy to measure.  If you ‘feel’ bloated (whatever that means to you) and that feeling bothers you, then by all means quit taking creatine. 

– There are also claims from people that creatine made them poop more often.  Any scientific validation to this claim? What do you say to folks who make (or repeat) this kind of claim?

JA:  What?  You gotta be kidding me.  Inasmuch as there hasn’t been a single study measuring ‘poop frequency’ and creatine use, it’s impossible to give a remotely scientific answer.  However, if you like pooping more, then by all means keep taking it (if that’s what creatine does to you).  If you don’t like it, then for chrissakes quit taking it.

Here are quotes verbatim from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/creatine/NS_patient-creatine/METHOD=print; Sigh…

Mayo Clinic: Creatine has been associated with asthmatic symptoms. People should avoid creatine if they have known allergies to this supplement. Signs of allergy may include rash, itching, or shortness of breath.

JA:  There is animal data which suggests this.[2, 3]  However, with the hundreds of clinical trials in humans, there’s no evidence that creatine causes an allergic reaction in us bipeds. Hence, if you have a pet rodent, by all means don’t give it creatine.

Mayo Clinic:  There is limited systematic study of the safety, pharmacology, or toxicology of creatine. Individuals using creatine, including athletes, should be monitored by a healthcare professional. Users are advised to inform their physicians or other qualified healthcare professionals.

JA:  This is a bit of a straw man argument.  First of all, the data is ALWAYS LIMITED (i.e. ‘limited systematic study…’).  But my question is this.  How much data is sufficient to satisfy the naysayers?  If you do a NIH database search of ‘Creatine and Exercise,’ it turns up 597 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  If you search ‘Creatine and Health,’ it turns up 107 publications.  According to the hundreds of RCTs (randomized clinical trials), there is no evidence of harmful side effects vis a vis creatine supplementation.  And please, do not cite anecdotes or case studies as evidence to the contrary.  Physicians love using case studies.  But with hundreds of RCTs, it would be perverse to ignore the plethora of evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation.  Again, read these papers for a good review of the literature.[1, 4http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21424716 and http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/6  .

Mayo Clinic: Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or nausea.

JA:  Really?  And the double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that show this are published where exactly?  Now it is entirely possible that there are those who have idiosyncratic responses to creatine ingestion.  Is it within the realm of possibilities that some may experience GI distress?  Of course.  But then again, folks get that eating nachos and cheese, hot dogs, or white bread too. 

Mayo Clinic: Creatine may cause muscle cramps or muscle breakdown, leading to muscle tears or discomfort.

JA: This is one is just sheer fabrication.  Wouldn’t the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that examined the effects of creatine supplementation on exercise performance have already shown this?  According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Recent reports now suggest that creatine may enhance performance in hot and/or humid conditions by maintaining haematocrit, aiding thermoregulation and reducing exercising heart rate and sweat rate. Creatine may also positively influence plasma volume during the onset of dehydration. Considering these new published findings, little evidence exists that creatine supplementation in the heat presents additional risk, and this should be taken into consideration as position statements and other related documents are published.”[5] Another study found that “the incidence of cramping or injury in Division IA football players was significantly lower or proportional for creatine users compared with nonusers.”[6]  For the Mayo Clinic to post this on their website is at best irresponsible and at worst, just plain moronic.

Mayo Clinic: Strains and sprains have been reported due to enthusiastic increases in workout regimens once starting creatine. Weight gain and increased body mass may occur. Heat intolerance, fever, dehydration, reduced blood volume, or electrolyte imbalances (and resulting seizures) may occur.

JA: What?  Really?  Did the author of this Mayo Clinic piece fall asleep during ‘Science 101?’ Again as stated in the previous answer: “Recent reports now suggest that creatine may enhance performance in hot and/or humid conditions by maintaining haematocrit, aiding thermoregulation and reducing exercising heart rate and sweat rate. Creatine may also positively influence plasma volume during the onset of dehydration. Considering these new published findings, little evidence exists that creatine supplementation in the heat presents additional risk, and this should be taken into consideration as position statements and other related documents are published.”[5] Another study found that “the incidence of cramping or injury in Division IA football players was significantly lower or proportional for creatine users compared with nonusers.”[6]  I feel like a broken record at times (yes, that dates me huh?). 

Here’s another excerpt from a study:  “The incidence of cramping (37/96, 39%), heat/dehydration (8/28, 36%), muscle tightness (18/42, 43%), muscle pulls/strains (25/51, 49%), non-contact joint injuries (44/132, 33%), contact injuries (39/104, 44%), illness (12/27, 44%), number of missed practices due to injury (19/41, 46%), players lost for the season (3/8, 38%), and total injuries/missed practices (205/529, 39%) were generally lower or proportional to the creatine use rate among players. Creatine supplementation does not appear to increase the incidence of injury or cramping in Division IA college football players.”[7]  Hey Mayo Clinic, did you bother to read any of this? 

Mayo Clinic: Long-term administration of large quantities of creatine is reported to increase the production of formaldehyde, which may potentially cause serious unwanted side effects.

JA: One study from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise states: Low-dose creatine combined with protein supplementation increases lean tissue mass and… reduces muscle protein degradation and bone resorption without increasing formaldehyde production.[8]  A publication in the journal ‘Amino Acids’ states: “Even if there is a slight increase (within the normal range) of urinary methylamine and formaldehyde excretion after a heavy load of creatine (20 g/day) this is without effect on kidney function. The search for the excretion of heterocyclic amines remains a future task to definitively exclude the unproved allegation made by some national agencies. We advise that high-dose (>3-5 g/day) creatine supplementation should not be used by individuals with pre-existing renal disease or those with a potential risk for renal dysfunction (diabetes, hypertension, reduced glomerular filtration rate). A pre-supplementation investigation of kidney function might be considered for reasons of safety, but in normal healthy subjects appears unnecessary.”  Thus, if you are a normal healthy exercising individual (and that pretty much describes the demo of those who consume creatine), then you are perfectly okay taking it.

Mayo Clinic: Creatine may increase the risk of compartment syndrome of the lower leg, a condition characterized by pain in the lower leg associated with inflammation and ischemia (diminished blood flow), which is a potential surgical emergency.

JA: “A 7-day loading dose of CrM increased anterior compartment pressures after dehydration and immediately after the heat tolerance tests, but the changes did not induce symptoms and the pressure changes were transient.”[9]  Is it possible that in rare instances, creatine supplementation might increase the risk of compartment syndrome?  Well, in the realm of possibilities, anything is possible.  And you might get struck by lightning and bitten by a shark too.

Mayo Clinic: Reports of other side effects include thirst, mild headache, anxiety, irritability, aggression, nervousness, sleepiness, depression, abnormal heart rhythm, fainting or dizziness, blood clots in the legs (called deep vein thrombosis), seizure, or swollen limbs.

JA:  Depression?  With the millions of creatine users in North America alone, one would think you’d have the offices of clinical psychologists lined up with depressed patients.  Again, this is entirely taken out of context.  Here is an excerpt from the report in which this ‘depression’ is based:  “Eight unipolar and two bipolar patients with treatment-resistant depression were treated for four weeks with 3-5 g/day of creatine monohydrate in an open add-on design. Outcome measures were the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and Clinical Global Impression scores, recorded at baseline and at weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4. One patient improved considerably after one week and withdrew. Both bipolar patients developed hypomania/mania. For the remaining seven patients, all scale scores significantly improved. Adverse reactions were mild and transitory.  This small, preliminary, open study of creatine monohydrate suggests a beneficial effect of creatine augmentation in unipolar depression, but possible precipitation of a manic switch in bipolar depression.”  Did you read that?  They gave creatine to unipolar and bipolar patients!  Not exactly the demographic that walks into Vitamin Shoppe and buys creatine is it?   And this passes for ‘evidence’ that it may cause depression.  Now all the other nonsense listed by the Mayo Clinic is just that, nonsense.  Again, sounding like a broken record; please read these papers which give you a broad overview of the creatine literature.[1, 4

The Moral of the Story

Be smart; don’t be lazy; look up the data.  And please don’t believe all the silly comments you hear from your friends or read on the internet.  If you have questions about any sports nutrition topic, then for chrissakes, go to the original source.  Read the science!

Remember, if you eat a lot of fish, you are eating a fair amount of creatine.  Last time I checked, fish was one of the healthiest foods to consume on the planet.  So for the naysayers, if you’re going to condemn creatine, you might as well put fish (and other meats) in that category. 

Nonetheless, the data supporting creatine’s safety and efficacy is as clear as the Montana sky.  Do yourself a favor.  Read the peer-reviewed science on creatine.  Don’t succumb to the Google-induced idiocy when you do searches like “creatine and poop frequency,” or “creatine and repetitive TiVo watching of The View.”  Yep, you can pretty much find anything on the web.  If you’re convinced creatine supplementation causes a third eye to pop out in the middle of your forehead, then there’s no hope for you.

I’ll end this story with a quote by Dalbo et al:  “Creatine is one of the most popular athletic supplements with sales surpassing 400 million dollars in 2004. Due to the popularity and efficacy of creatine supplementation over 200 studies have examined the effects of creatine on athletic performance. Despite the abundance of research suggesting the effectiveness and safety of creatine, a fallacy appears to exist among the general public, driven by media claims and anecdotal reports, that creatine supplementation can result in muscle cramps and dehydration. Although a number of published studies have refuted these claims, a recent position statement by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in 2000 advised individuals who are managing their weight and exercising intensely or in hot environments to avoid creatine supplementation. Recent reports now suggest that creatine may enhance performance in hot and/or humid conditions by maintaining haematocrit, aiding thermoregulation and reducing exercising heart rate and sweat rate. Creatine may also positively influence plasma volume during the onset of dehydration. Considering these new published findings, little evidence exists that creatine supplementation in the heat presents additional risk, and this should be taken into consideration as position statements and other related documents are published.[5]”


1.            Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007, 4:6.

2.            Ferreira SC, Toledo AC, Hage M, Santos AB, Medeiros MC, Martins MA, Carvalho CR, Dolhnikoff M, Vieira RP: Creatine activates airway epithelium in asthma. Int J Sports Med 2010, 31:906-912.

3.            Vieira RP, Duarte AC, Claudino RC, Perini A, Santos AB, Moriya HT, Arantes-Costa FM, Martins MA, Carvalho CR, Dolhnikoff M: Creatine supplementation exacerbates allergic lung inflammation and airway remodeling in mice. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2007, 37:660-667.

4.            Jager R, Purpura M, Shao A, Inoue T, Kreider RB: Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids 2011, 40:1369-1383.

5.            Dalbo VJ, Roberts MD, Stout JR, Kerksick CM: Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration. Br J Sports Med 2008, 42:567-573.

6.            Greenwood M, Kreider RB, Greenwood L, Byars A: Cramping and Injury Incidence in Collegiate Football Players Are Reduced by Creatine Supplementation. J Athl Train 2003, 38:216-219.

7.            Greenwood M, Kreider RB, Melton C, Rasmussen C, Lancaster S, Cantler E, Milnor P, Almada A: Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. Mol Cell Biochem 2003, 244:83-88.

8.            Candow DG, Little JP, Chilibeck PD, Abeysekara S, Zello GA, Kazachkov M, Cornish SM, Yu PH: Low-dose creatine combined with protein during resistance training in older men. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008, 40:1645-1652.

9.            Hile AM, Anderson JM, Fiala KA, Stevenson JH, Casa DJ, Maresh CM: Creatine supplementation and anterior compartment pressure during exercise in the heat in dehydrated men. J Athl Train 2006, 41:30-35.



The Best Damn Protein Book Ever!

Dietary supplement companies and the food industry spend millions to reach resistance trainers—often with exaggerated 51Uiq-KGCNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_marketing messages—while health practitioners continue to counsel athletes that their interest in protein is misguided and even dangerous. There appears to be a disconnect between scientists and almost everyone else in sports nutrition. With so much conflicting information, it’s difficult to know who to believe. With contributions from the world’s foremost experts, Dietary Protein and Resistance Exercise delivers the uncut scientific truth about the role of dietary protein in the well-being of athletes.

Updating and clarifying the issues surrounding purposeful protein intake and resistance trainers, this volume:

  • Reviews the science-related history of protein and its consumption among strength athletes
  • Analyzes the mechanisms behind what proteins do in muscle cells
  • Describes protein’s effect on performance, recovery, and body composition
  • Explores various populations that actively employ resistance training and dietary protein
  • Discusses timing, type, and safety data regarding liberal protein diets and related supplements
  • Includes sidebars, practical examples, and case studies—translating the science into a practical understanding of various protein-related topics

Separating fact from fiction and providing the hard science behind the numbers, this volume demonstrates how changes in dietary protein intake may lead to measurable improvements in body composition, energy levels, and athletic performance.

Save 20% + Free Shipping when you order directly from CRC Press:  Discount Code 888FX at checkout.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Dietary Protein and Strength Exercise: Historical Perspectives

Peter W. R. Lemon

Chapter 2 Protein Metabolism: Synthesis and Breakdown on a Cellular Level

Layne E. Norton, Gabriel J. Wilson, and Jacob M. Wilson

Chapter 3 The Safety Debate Regarding Dietary Protein in Strength Athletes

Lonnie M. Lowery

Chapter 4 Dietary Protein Efficacy: Dose and Peri-Exercise Timing

Joshua Cotter and David Barr

Chapter 5 Dietary Protein Efficacy: Dietary Protein Types

Bill Campbell

Chapter 6 Weight Control with Dietary Protein

Ronald Mendel

Chapter 7 Protein, Resistance Training, and Women

Dawn Anderson and Christin Dietz-Seher

Chapter 8 Protein’s Effects on Rehabilitation and the Sarcopenia of Aging

Troy Smurawa

Chapter 9 Nitrogenous Compounds and Supplements

Jamie Landis, Tim N. Ziegenfuss, and Hector L. Lopez

Chapter 10 Case Studies and Sports Application

Michael T. Nelson, Jonathan N. Mike, and David Barr

Editor BIOs

Lonnie M. Lowery, PhD, RD, is a professor of nutrition and exercise physiology of 11 years, currently at Winona State University, and president of Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness Associates Ltd. With formal training in both exercise physiology and nutrition he has published in academic and research settings on various sports nutrition topics such as dietary proteins, fats, antioxidants, dietary supplements, and overtraining. Dr. Lowery has also served as an educational, scientific, and product development consultant for a number of large dietary supplement companies such as Met Rx, Bodyonics-Pinnacle, and Biotest Laboratories. As an award-winning mentor and educator, he has written hundreds of lay articles for the strength and fitness communities and co-hosts www.IronRadio.org, a free educational and consumer advocacy podcast on iTunes.

Jose Antonio, PhD, is the chief executive officer and cofounder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (www.theissn.org); furthermore, he is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He was the 2005 recipient of the NSCA Research Achievement Award and the 2009 NSCA Educator of the Year.  Dr. Antonio is the editor-in-chief of Sports Nutrition Insider, and Inside Fitness magazine, and has contributed to Ironman, Muscular Development, Muscle and Fitness, and Fitness Rx Men/Women. He is an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Coffee Rocks!

by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN.  Has your doctor told you to lay off the coffee? Well if he or she did, then clearly they’re dummies.  Coffee is one of the best drinks for you! Drink more coffee and the risk of death from heart disease goes down.  And besides, that caffeine fix in the morning is better than bad sex or a good donut.  Okay, maybe not.  But you get my drift.

Here’s the super cool study.

BACKGROUND: Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central nervous system stimulant, with approximately 80% consumed in the form of coffee. However, studies that analyze prospectively the relationship between coffee or caffeine consumption and depression risk are scarce.
METHODS:  A total of 50 739 US women (mean age, 63 years) free of depressive symptoms at baseline (in 1996) were prospectively followed up through June 1, 2006. Consumption of caffeine was measured from validated questionnaires completed from May 1, 1980, through April 1, 2004, and computed as cumulative mean consumption with a 2-year latency period applied. Clinical depression was defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and antidepressant use. Relative risks of clinical depression were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
RESULTS:  During 10 years of follow-up (1996-2006), 2607 incident cases of depression were identified. Compared with women consuming 1 or less cup of caffeinated coffee per week, the multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.95) for those consuming 2 to 3 cups per day and 0.80 (0.64-0.99; P for trend <.001) for those consuming 4 cups per day or more. Multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.80 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.95; P for trend = .02) for women in the highest (≥550 mg/d) vs lowest (<100 mg/d) of the 5 caffeine consumption categories. Decaffeinated coffee was not associated with depression risk.
CONCLUSIONS: In this large longitudinal study, we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption can contribute to depression prevention.

The moral of the story:  Coffee is good for you.

Arch Intern Med. 2011 Sep 26;171(17):1571-8.
Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women.
Lucas M, Mirzaei F, Pan A, Okereke OI, Willett WC, O’Reilly EJ, Koenen K, Ascherio A.


Creatine and Kid’s Brains

By: Jose Antonio PhD

Date Published: October 2011

Do your kids play football?  Compete in MMA (mixed martial arts) or boxing?  Then you definitely need to protect those vulnerable little brains of theirs.  Did you know that besides helping you gain muscle mass and improve exercise performance, regular creatine supplementation can also protect your head from TBI or traumatic brain injury?  Is Siberia cold?  Is the Pope Catholic?

Here’s the proof.  Scientists conducted a study looking at the neuroprotective effects of creatine in 39 children and adolescents, aged between 1 and 18 years of age, with TBI.  Did you notice the age range?  One year to 18 years of age!  The creatine (Cr) was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day.   Just to compare, that dose is equal to 36.4 grams daily for a 200 pound individual.  That’s a whopping dose mi amigo.

What did they find?  Glad you asked.  The administration of Cr to children and adolescents with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, and intensive care unit stay. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of headache, dizziness and fatigue, aspects in all patients. And the punch line?  They found no side effects from the Cr administration.1

So let’s get this straight. You can give a boatload of creatine to kids with TBI and it helps with a whole host of issues and it’s safe.  Amen brotha.

Jose Antonio, PhD is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.  www.theissn.org





1. 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. Jan 2008;97(1):31-34.




Creatine monohydrate vs ethyl ester

By: Jose Antonio PhD

Date Published: July 2011
In the ongoing debate between which is better, creatine monohydrate versus creatine ethyl ester, the winner is? Creatine monohydrate!1 What’s odd about this debate is folks claiming CEE (creatine ethyl ester) as being superior to creatine monohydrate have NEVER produced evidence to show that it is even equal to CrMono (creatine monohydrate). NEVER. It’s like claiming to be the best team in pro football during the Pre-season. Folks, it just doesn’t work that way. So after years of waiting for a head-to-head comparison, science confirms what many have thought all along. CEE isn’t even on par with CrMono. In a study lead by one of the leading sports nutrition scientists West of the Mississippi, Dr. Darryn Willoughby and his band of merry men studied how a seven-week supplementation regimen combined with resistance training affected body composition, muscle mass, muscle strength and power, serum (blood) and muscle creatine levels, and serum creatinine levels in 30 non-resistance-trained males. Subjects were randomly assigned to a maltodextrose placebo (PLA), creatine monohydrate (CrMono), or creatine ethyl ester (CEE) group. The supplements were taken at a dose of 0.30 g/kg fat-free body mass (which is approximately 20 g/day) for five days followed by ingestion at 0.075 g/kg fat free mass (approximately 5 g/day) for 42 days. So it is your basic loading phase followed by a maintenance phase. By Day 6 and Day 48, CrMono produced higher levels of serum creatine than CEE. And interestingly, by Day 6 and Day 27, CrMono produced higher muscle creatne levels than CEE although by Day 48, CrMono was still higher (but it wasn’t statistically significant over CEE). One of the more telling results is the fact that CEE results in a much greater conversion to creatinine. Say it isn’t so! OMG! Yes, science has determined that by Day 6, 27 and 48, CEE produced 2 to 3 times more creatinine than CrMono. According to these eggheads, when compared to creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester was not as effective at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power.

Thus, one can reasonably conclude that CEE is not superior to CrMono. In fact, many of the markers of creatine metabolism suggest that CEE is in fact inferior to CrMono. Because the subjects in this study were untrained, this explains why there weren’t great differences in the training adaptations. One might reasonably conclude that in trained folks, you’re better off sticking to CrMono than CEE.

**One final comment: the beauty of science is in its ability to resolve disputes. For those of you on the CEE bandwagon, perhaps it’s time to jump off that ship.

Jose Antonio PhD is an avid outrigger paddler and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (www.theissn.org).




1. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, et al. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:6.

The Ménage à trois of Amino Acids – the BCAAs

By: Jose Antonio, PhD

Date Published: May 2011


The BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) leucine, valine, and isoleucine can help improve muscle recovery and even enhance performance in endurance events. Yes, that’s right. We have science to prove it. But first, let’s go back to school.

Trivia Question: Which of the following macronutrients are ‘essential’ in the human diet? (The word ‘essential’ as it refers to our diet means that we need to consume that food or nutrient because our bodies do not make that nutrient endogenously).

Your choices are:

A. Carbohydrate

B. Protein

C. Fat

D. All of the above

E. Two of the above

Did you figure out the answer?

The Answer is: ‘E

That’s right. Only two of the three are essential. And they are protein (with amino acids as the building blocks) and fat (i.e. the essential fatty acids).

In the protein category, there are amino acids which are unique in their own right. They’re the branched-chain amino acids (valine, leucine, and isoleucine). And of the three BCAA, leucine is very important. Here’s why.

One study looked at the effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance of outrigger canoeists (i.e. paddlers). Thirteen (ten female, three male) competitive outrigger canoeists underwent testing before and after 6-week supplementation with either capsulated L-leucine (45 mg/kg.d) [that’s equal to 3.15 grams of leucine for a 154 lb individual] or placebo (corn flour). Testing included anthropometry, 10 second upper body power and work and a row to exhaustion at 70-75% maximal aerobic power where perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate (HR) and plasma BCAA and tryptophan concentrations were assessed. What happened?

Leucine supplementation resulted in significant increases in plasma leucine and total BCAA concentrations. Upper body power and work significantly increased in both groups after supplementation but power was significantly greater after leucine supplementation compared to the placebo. Rowing time significantly increased and average RPE significantly decreased with leucine supplementation while these variables were unchanged with the placebo. Leucine supplementation had no effect on the plasma tryptophan to BCAA ratio, HR or anthropometric variables. Six weeks’ dietary leucine supplementation significantly improved endurance performance and upper body power in outrigger canoeists.(1)

During exercise, muscle protein synthesis decreases together with a net increase in protein degradation and stimulation of BCAA oxidation (the BCAAs are of course leucine, valine and isoleucine). Thus, both insulin and leucine are key regulators in muscle protein synthesis!(2) In other words, they’re critically important.

Another interesting tidbit is that leucine by itself increases muscle protein synthesis.(3) By combing leucine with protein and carbohydrate, you get quite the anabolic effect. For example, in one study eight male subjects were randomly assigned to three trials in which they consumed drinks containing either carbohydrate (CHO), carbohydrate and protein (CHO+PRO), or carbohydrate, protein, and free leucine (CHO+PRO+Leu) following 45 min of resistance exercise. They discovered that plasma insulin response was higher in the CHO+PRO+Leu compared with the CHO and CHO+PRO trials. Whole body protein breakdown rates were lower, and whole body protein synthesis rates were higher, in the CHO+PRO and CHO+PRO+Leu trials compared with the CHO trial; moreover, the addition of leucine in the CHO+PRO+Leu trial resulted in a lower protein oxidation rate compared with the CHO+PRO trial. And to top it off, muscle protein synthesis, measured over a 6-h period of post-exercise recovery, was significantly greater in the CHO+PRO+Leu trial compared with the CHO trial with intermediate values observed in the CHO+PRO trial.(4) Another study discovered that 2 grams of the BCAA with some arginine actually lessened the amount of muscle breakdown during endurance exercise.(5) And more recently, BCAA supplementation lessened subject’s rating of perceived exertion.(6)

The moral of the story is, when you consume this terrific trio of amino acids, exercise will feel easier and you will gain or maintain lean body mass. So when reaching for a pre-workout cocktail, make sure it includes this Ménage à trois of amino acids.


About the Author:

Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.  www.theissn.org






1. Crowe MJ, Weatherson JN, Bowden BF. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 2005:1-9.

2. Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr 2006;136:533S-537S.

3. Lang CH. Elevated Plasma Free Fatty Acids Decrease Basal Protein Synthesis but Not the Anabolic Effect of Leucine in Skeletal Muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2006.

4. Koopman R, Wagenmakers AJ, Manders RJ, et al. Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2005;288:E645-53.

5. Matsumoto K, Mizuno M, Mizuno T, et al. Branched-chain amino acids and arginine supplementation attenuates skeletal muscle proteolysis induced by moderate exercise in young individuals. Int J Sports Med 2007;28:531-8.

6. Greer BK et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation lowers perceived exertion but does not affect performance in untrained males. JSCR. 2011; 25:539-44.


Love Affair with Caffeine


By: Jose Antonio PhD, CSCS, FACSM

The Ubiquitous Pick Me Up!

We love caffeine ‘cause it gives your brain a kick start! Let’s face it. You could be moving slower than a fat chick on Xanax, but with a little help from your trimethylxanthine friend (i.e. caffeine), you’ll have more energy than Paris Hilton’s videographer. Here’s the proof!

One study examined one hundred and forty-four volunteers (72 male, 72 female, mean age 21 years) and had them consume breakfast (cereal versus no breakfast) and caffeine (caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee). They found that those who consumed breakfast cereal had a more positive mood at the start of the test sessions, performed better on a spatial memory task, and felt calmer at the end of the test session than those in the no breakfast condition (lesson: don’t skip breakfast.). Consuming caffeine improved the “encoding of new information and counteracted the fatigue that developed over the test session.”(1) Blah blah blah…translation: that means your brain works better. Bottom line: drink coffee as you eat that delicious bowl of oatmeal (or is it Captain Crunch you prefer?).

Fat Blaster!!

Perhaps one of the more idiotic things I’ve ever heard about caffeine is that it helps you gain fat! Listen up now. If anybody (i.e. your trainer, strength coach, nutritionist, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, or any of the above) says that, than I’d suggest you put on your Nikes and run faster than a cheetah on amphetamines. Why? Because anyone who says that is a moron. Anyhow, here’s some data (i.e. evidence) for you.

Scientists studied 18,417 men and 39,740 women from 1986 to 1998. Caffeine intake was assessed repeatedly every 2-4 years. Weight change was calculated as the difference between the self-reported weight in 1986 and in 1998. What did these self-professed science nerds discover? “Age-adjusted models showed a lower mean weight gain in participants who increased their caffeine consumption than in those who decreased their consumption…” In English, that means those who consumed the most caffeine, gained the least amount of weight. That is, an increase in coffee and tea consumption was also associated with less weight gain.(2)


Yes, caffeine can ratchet up your body’s furnace such that you burn more calories.(3-11) And the cool part is that you oxidize or burn more fat in the process. An oft-used technique by fitness competitors is to down a strong cup-a-Joe or a caffeine pill prior to exercise. You’ll exercise harder, longer, and burn more fat in the process. What about consuming caffeine at rest?

A recent study looked at energy expenditure, fat oxidation or burning, and norepinephrine (NE) kinetics (i.e. how ‘adrenaline’ like hormones are metabolized) after caffeine or placebo ingestion using placebo-controlled double-blind conditions. The dose administered was 5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of fat-free mass (note: fat-free mass or FFM is mainly muscle and bone). Translation: For the young men, they consumed about 350 mg while the old men consumed about 295 mg. (Therefore, the young men had more FFM than the old men).

They studied 10 older (65-80 yr) and 10 younger (19-26 yr) men who were moderate consumers of caffeine. Caffeine ingestion resulted in similar increases in both the old and young men for plasma caffeine levels; thus both young and old absorb caffeine equally well. Metabolic rate or energy expenditure increased similarly by 11% in young and 9.5% in the older men. According to the scientists, “older and younger men show a similar thermogenic response to caffeine ingestion…” (6) Bottom line: young and old can benefit from the thermogenic effect of caffeine.

Performance Enhancer

Known to fitness enthusiasts as well as Olympians, caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance).(12-32) A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago! He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max.

(Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well your cardiopulmonary system functions).

Each subject consumed coffee containing 330 mg of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.(32)


Don’t be fooled by the nonsense about caffeine being bad for your health. It is so far from reality that you need the Hubble telescope to see even a kernel of truth in it. Caffeine not only works, it’s one of the safest ingredients in existence. For instance, one study concluded that caffeine consumption is “not associated with adverse effects such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behaviour, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility.”(33) And a study published in May of 2006 found that no evidence that coffee consumption increases the risk of heart disease.(34)

Take home message:

  • Caffeine helps you burn fat.
  • Caffeine helps you lose weight or alleviate weight gain.
  • Caffeine improves athletic performance.
  • Caffeine improves brain function.

About the Author:

Juan and JA at NSCAJose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.  www.theissn.org





Stuff You Should Read But Probably Won’t

1. A. P. Smith, R. Clark, J. Gallagher, Physiol Behav 67, 9-17 (Aug 1, 1999).

2. E. Lopez-Garcia et al., Am J Clin Nutr 83, 674-80 (Mar, 2006).

3. K. J. Acheson et al., Am J Clin Nutr 79, 40-6 (Jan, 2004).

4. S. Ryu et al., J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 47, 139-46 (Apr, 2001).

5. P. J. Arciero, C. L. Bougopoulos, B. C. Nindl, N. L. Benowitz, Metabolism 49, 101-7 (Jan, 2000).

6. P. J. Arciero, A. W. Gardner, J. Calles-Escandon, N. L. Benowitz, E. T. Poehlman, Am J Physiol 268, E1192-8 (Jun, 1995).

7. Y. Zhang, J. N. Wells, J Pharmacol Exp Ther 254, 757-63 (Sep, 1990).

8. R. K. Hetzler, R. G. Knowlton, S. M. Somani, D. D. Brown, R. M. Perkins, 3rd, J Appl Physiol 68, 44-7 (Jan, 1990).

9. A. Astrup et al., Am J Clin Nutr 51, 759-67 (May, 1990).

10. A. G. Dulloo, C. A. Geissler, T. Horton, A. Collins, D. S. Miller, Am J Clin Nutr 49, 44-50 (Jan, 1989).

11. E. T. Poehlman et al., Med Sci Sports Exerc 17, 689-94 (Dec, 1985).

12. L. J. Birnbaum, J. D. Herbst, J Strength Cond Res 18, 463-5 (Aug, 2004).

13. D. G. Bell, T. M. McLellan, Med Sci Sports Exerc 35, 1348-54 (Aug, 2003).

14. M. M. Stine, R. J. O’Connor, B. R. Yatko, N. E. Grunberg, L. C. Klein, Hum Psychopharmacol 17, 361-7 (Oct, 2002).

15. A. M. Hunter, A. St Clair Gibson, M. Collins, M. Lambert, T. D. Noakes, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 12, 438-52 (Dec, 2002).

16. D. G. Bell, T. M. McLellan, J Appl Physiol 93, 1227-34 (Oct, 2002).

17. L. E. Armstrong, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 12, 189-206 (Jun, 2002).

18. K. J. Cole et al., Int J Sport Nutr 6, 14-23 (Mar, 1996).

19. L. L. Spriet, Int J Sport Nutr 5 Suppl, S84-99 (Jun, 1995).

20. T. E. Graham, L. L. Spriet, J Appl Physiol 78, 867-74 (Mar, 1995).

21. A. Chesley, E. Hultman, L. L. Spriet, Am J Physiol 268, E127-34 (Jan, 1995).

22. M. H. Van Soeren, P. Sathasivam, L. L. Spriet, T. E. Graham, J Appl Physiol 75, 805-12 (Aug, 1993).

23. M. I. Lindinger, T. E. Graham, L. L. Spriet, J Appl Physiol 74, 1149-55 (Mar, 1993).

24. L. L. Spriet et al., Am J Physiol 262, E891-8 (Jun, 1992).

25. K. Collomp, S. Ahmaidi, J. C. Chatard, M. Audran, C. Prefaut, Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 64, 377-80 (1992).

26. F. Anselme, K. Collomp, B. Mercier, S. Ahmaidi, C. Prefaut, Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 65, 188-91 (1992).

27. K. Collomp, S. Ahmaidi, M. Audran, J. L. Chanal, C. Prefaut, Int J Sports Med 12, 439-43 (Oct, 1991).

28. K. Collomp et al., Eur J Clin Pharmacol 40, 279-82 (1991).

29. M. A. Erickson, R. J. Schwarzkopf, R. D. McKenzie, Med Sci Sports Exerc 19, 579-83 (Dec, 1987).

30. V. Nassar-Gentina, J. V. Passonneau, S. I. Rapoport, Am J Physiol 241, C160-6 (Sep, 1981).

31. J. L. Ivy, D. L. Costill, W. J. Fink, R. W. Lower, Med Sci Sports 11, 6-11 (Spring, 1979).

32. D. L. Costill, G. P. Dalsky, W. J. Fink, Med Sci Sports 10, 155-8 (Fall, 1978).

33. P. Nawrot et al., Food Addit Contam 20, 1-30 (Jan, 2003).

34. E. Lopez-Garcia et al., Circulation 113, 2045-53 (May 2, 2006).


Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me :)

By: Jose Antonio, PhD

Date Published: April 2011.

Sunshine On My Shoulders- John Denver (YouTube video)

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.

Sunshine almost always makes me high.

–          Lyrics by John Denver –


I’m not sure it makes me high, but damn it sure makes you feel good.  And part of the reason we need sun exposure is so that our bodies can make vitamin D (aka the ‘sun vitamin’).  For you old school music buffs, John Denver’s hit song from way back in the Jurassic period truly is prophetic with regards to the value of sun exposure.

Some scientists now believe vitamin D is the pre-eminent vitamin.  It does so many good things that to not supplement it would be akin to not taking a parachute when you go sky diving.  Not smart, eh.  We know for example that vitamin D deficiency is an increasingly described phenomenon worldwide, with dramatic effects on calcium metabolism and bone health. Vitamin D deficiencies have also been associated with a variety of not so good things. Things that make you want to curl up into a ball, pig out on donuts, and watch TiVo’d reruns of the Sopranos.  For instance, you might have a greater risk of bowel and colonic cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

In recent decades, there has been increased awareness of the impact of vitamin D on muscle morphology and function; In the early part of 20th century, athletes and coaches felt that ultraviolet rays had a positive impact on athletic performance, and abracadabra, that’s why we love the sun. Well sort of.  The bikinis help too.

“Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies allude to a functional role for vitamin D in muscle and more recently the discovery of the vitamin D receptor in muscle tissue provides a mechanistic understanding of the function of vitamin D within muscle.”(1)

Also, vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve tests of muscle performance, reduce falls, and possibly impact on muscle fiber composition and morphology in vitamin D deficient older adults.(2)  Another study found that vitamin D was significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls.(3)

The bottom line is this: the RDA for vitamin D is paltry (200-600IUs daily); that would be like walking across the Sahara desert with bottle of Jack Daniels and expecting it to hydrate you for the long march.  Instead, get out in the sun! Expose your body at least 3 times per week to 30 minutes of good UV light.  And if you live in a cruddy place like Cleveland or Seattle where there are about as many sunny days as there are hairs on a bald man’s head, then supplement my friend.  Take at least 2000-4000IUs per day.


About the Author:

Jose_Antonio_head_shot_2Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.  www.theissn.org






1. Hamilton B. Vitamin D and Human Skeletal Muscle. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2009.

2. Ceglia L. Vitamin D and its role in skeletal muscle. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:628-33.

3. Ward KA, Das G, Berry JL, et al. Vitamin D status and muscle function in post-menarchal adolescent girls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:559-63.



Eggcellent Protein

By: Jose Antonio PhD
Date Published: April 2011.

Yes, eggs are indeed wonderful for your body and brain. We know the harmful effects of eggs have been completely overblown(1). In fact, one study showed that eating eggs more frequently, up to almost daily, was not associated with an increase in coronary heart disease incidence for middle-aged Japanese men and women(2).  And we know that egg yolk has two very important carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been shown to be great for eye health. But there’s also another ‘story’ to eggs. For instance, scientists have known that reduced brain serotonin function is involved in stress-related disturbances and may occur under conditions of chronic stress. We also know that serotonin production depends on the availability of tryptophan (TRP). Recently, an egg protein hydrolysate (EPH) was developed that showed a much greater effect on brain TRP availability than pure TRP and other TRP-food sources. So does that mean EPH might be effective for performance under stressful conditions? Scientists looked at the effects of EPH compared to placebo protein on plasma amino acids, stress coping and performance in subjects with high and low chronic stress “vulnerabilities”. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, 17 volunteers with high and 18 participants with low chronic stress vulnerabilities were monitored for mood and performance under acute stress exposure either following intake of EPH or placebo.

And here is what they found. EPH significantly increased plasma TRP availability for uptake into the brain, decreased depressive mood in all subjects and improved perceptual-motor and vigilance performance only in low chronic stress-vulnerable subjects. The scientists in this study concluded that the acute use of a TRP-rich egg protein hydrolysate (EPH) is an effective way of increasing plasma TRP for uptake into the brain and therefore may be beneficial for perceptual-motor and vigilance performance in healthy volunteers(3).
So this benefits you because for one thing, EPH is an excellent protein source. Heck, whole eggs are a great food. But also, for those of you who are trying to get cut and lean, dropping calories, albeit temporarily is a strategy that you need to do. And to do that most effectively, you need to maintain optimal protein intake. For instance, a recent study looked 20 young healthy resistance-trained athletes were fed fewer calories (but with the same calories but one had higher protein and the other lower protein).

They discovered that about 2.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight or approximately 35% protein was significantly superior to approximately 1 gram per kg or approximately 15% energy protein for maintenance of lean body mass in young healthy athletes during short-term hypoenergetic weight loss(4).  For a 200 lb athlete, that is roughly equal to 209 grams of protein or about 35 eggs or 4-5 chicken breasts. So anytime you try to lose body fat or weight, just make sure to take out some carbs and jack up the protein. And while you’re at it, add an egg or two to your diet.

About the Author:

Jose Antonio is an author, speaker, radio show host, sports nutrition scientist, and avid outrigger paddler.  www.theissn.org


  • Egg-cellent news for most, but not those with diabetes. The harmful effects of eggs were overblown, but the studies show that people with diabetes should still limit how many they eat. Harv Health Lett. Jul 2008;33(9):6.
  • Nakamura Y, Iso H, Kita Y, et al. Egg consumption, serum total cholesterol concentrations and coronary heart disease incidence: Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. Br J Nutr. Nov 2006;96(5):921-928.
  • Markus CR, Verschoor E, Firk C, Kloek J, Gerhardt CC. Effect of tryptophan-rich egg protein hydrolysate on brain tryptophan availability, stress and performance. Clin Nutr. Feb 16. 2010.
  • Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Feb;42(2):326-337. 2010.

Useful Idiots

By: Jose Antonio PhD.
Date Published:
Summer 2009

Vladimir Lenin is supposed to have referred to blind defenders and apologists for the former Soviet Union in the Western democracies as “useful idiots” according to noted economist Dr. Thomas Sowell. I guess when the Soviet Union crumbled, these useful idiots scattered like cockroaches when the lights turned on. Nowadays the term “useful idiots” is often used to describe individuals or groups who are so beholden to a blatantly moronic idea, that it only helps those who hold opposing viewpoints. For instance, if you’re the president of the flat earth society, you’re clearly a “useful idiot” for those who believe the Earth is an oval object. Where am I headed with this? Follow me grasshopper.

In what is perhaps the most idiotic story I’ve read in a long time (reference: Father, son say supplement is legal (http://www.vindy.com/news/2009/feb/11/father-son-say-supplement-is-legal/?print ) author: William k. Alcorn; Wednesday, February 11, 2009), a 15-year-old Struthers High School football player (in the Buckeye state; that’s Ohio for my Canadian friends) was suspended for possession of….drum roll please….cocaine? No. Mmm….marijuana? Guess again. Creatine? Bingo my friend. Yes, suspended for possession of creatine. If you’re scratching your head too, join the rest of us who have a modicum of common sense and actually know what creatine is. According to the news story, “School’s Superintendent Robert Rostan said he would not discuss the case of a specific student. But, he did say there is a sign in the school weight training room listing banned substances, which includes creatine.” Another doozy of a quote from the story was from John Patrick, strength and conditioning coach for the Youngstown State University football team. He said “the use of creatine is not banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, he said, as a personal choice the YSU staff does not distribute creatine to its players. He said there are less expensive products that are as effective.” Which products are as effective and less expensive? Beats me. The story goes on to say that the boy’s father, Burke Sr. said his wife, Gina, went to the high school to find out about their son’s suspension and ended up being yelled at by Joseph Fuline, associate high school principal. While his wife was at the school, Burke Sr. said he talked on the telephone to Fuline and he (Fuline) yelled at him too. “I asked what rule my son broke. I said it [creatine] was just like vitamins, and Mr. Fuline said: ‘I’m considering this stuff [creatine] just like cocaine.”

Okay, as you can see, useful idiots abound. But the true winner, err loser, in this is the associate high school principal who likens creatine to cocaine. COCAINE? Has this person bothered to read the hundreds of studies on creatine? If he hasn’t here’s a start. One study looked at the clinical benefit after creatine administration in children and adolescents. Thirty-nine children and adolescents, aged between 1 and 18 years of age, with TBI or traumatic brain injury were studied. Did you read that carefully? Between 1 year and 18 years of age. Creatine was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 g/kg in an oral suspension form every day. For a 100 lb individual, that equals 18 grams daily. A whopper of a dose. They discovered that creatine consumption in children and adolescents with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, intensive care unit stay. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of headache, dizziness and fatigue, aspects in all patients. And most importantly, no side effects were seen due to creatine administration.(1)

Another study found that four months of creatine supplementation led to increases in fat free mass and handgrip strength in the dominant hand and a reduction in a marker of bone breakdown and was well tolerated in children with muscular dystrophy.(2) So according to the evidence, creatine (even in high doses) is well tolerated in children.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a position paper on creatine.(3) In fact, the beauty of this position paper is that the ISSN, the only academic non-profit dedicated to promoting the science of sports nutrition, uses this really cool device known as ‘scientific evidence’ to make its conclusions. You know, ‘science.’ It’s that powerful way of thinking that has come up with cures for diseases, put men on the moon, come up with new ways to blow up objects, and even resulted in the invention of instant replay in the NFL. I’m telling you. Science is super cool.

Back to the position paper, here’s a nice little summary for those with short attention spans.

  1. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.
  2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within re commended guidelines.
  3. There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.
  4. If proper precautions and supervision are provided, supplementation in young athletes is acceptable and may provide a nutritional alternative to potentially dangerous anabolic drugs.
  5. At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective form of creatine for use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.
  6. The addition of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein to a creatine supplement appears to increase muscular retention of creatine, although the effect on performance measures may not be greater than using creatine monohydrate alone.
  7. The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3–5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. Ingesting smaller amounts of creatine monohydrate (e.g., 2–3 g/d) will increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period, however, the performance effects of this method of supplementation are less supported.
  8. Creatine products are readily available as a dietary supplement and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, in 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA allows manufacturers/companies/brands to make structure-function claims; however, the law strictly prohibits disease claims for dietary supplements.
  9. Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical populations, and further research is warranted in these areas.

Holy smokes batman, I think the ISSN forgot to add #10. Creatine is like Cocaine.

The funny (as in ironic or perhaps as in haha) part of this idiotic suspension is that creatine is present in meats, especially fish. I can see it now at Struthers High School. Football players, instead of smuggling in creatine as white powder (ooo…that’s so Miami Vice-ish), they instead sneak it in as big slabs of beef or worse, a big ole fish. Here’s what a conversation might sound like when the creatine police catch another unsuspecting high school kid who just wants to gain muscle and strength.

The creatine police: “Son, stop right there! I have reason to believe that you are in possession of an illegal substance, CREATINE.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “But Mr. Creatine policeman [he really wants to call him a cretin but that will likely up the possible suspension], I swear, I don’t have any creatine on me.”

The creatine police: “I smell something fishy. Open your book bag.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “Oh golly geez, okay.” He proceeds to open it revealing a big ole herring (which is full of creatine).

The creatine police: “Son, you are now in my custody and will be going to the principal’s office for possession of creatine.”

Unsuspecting high school student: “But sir, creatine is stored naturally in your body. Even you have creatine in your muscles, brain and other important organs.”

The creatine police: “Don’t you start going scientific on me son; this stuff is from the devil.”

What’s the moral of the story? Vladimir Lenin is smiling in his grave.


  1. 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;97:31-4.
  2. Tarnopolsky MA, Mahoney DJ, Vajsar J, et al. Creatine monohydrate enhances strength and body composition in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology 2004;62:1771-7.
  3. Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007;4:6.