Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Ice Cream: The Magic Mass Food for Athletes?

Ice Cream Sushi!

Ice Cream Sushi!

Great news for Athletes trying to pack on muscle mass.  A new study has shown that eating saturated fat can increase your appetite and trick you into thinking you need more food.

Since THE major factor holding back athletes who are looking to add large amounts of muscle (or even to maintain what they have–marathon runners, I’m looking at you!) is their inability to eat enough, this fact may come in handy.

My suggestion? Eat ice cream.  It’s high calorie and loaded with saturated fat which will apparently make you hungrier.  You get two for the price of one!

Of course, the article I found this tid-bit on was most worried about the implications of saturated fat on our overall health profiles.  But, that isn’t your problem.  You’re too skinny, and you need to muscle up.  That takes more calories than you can eat comfortably.   Science (and Ice Cream) to the rescue!

Below is the abstract to the  actual study (I hate that most articles don’t do this, especially when they are on the web).

Insulin signaling can be modulated by several isoforms of PKC in peripheral tissues. Here, we assessed whether one specific isoform, PKC-θ, was expressed in critical CNS regions that regulate energy balance and whether it mediated the deleterious effects of diets high in fat, specifically palmitic acid, on hypothalamic insulin activity in rats and mice. Using a combination of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we found that PKC-θ was expressed in discrete neuronal populations of the arcuate nucleus, specifically the neuropeptide Y/agouti-related protein neurons and the dorsal medial nucleus in the hypothalamus. CNS exposure to palmitic acid via direct infusion or by oral gavage increased the localization of PKC-θ to cell membranes in the hypothalamus, which was associated with impaired hypothalamic insulin and leptin signaling. This finding was specific for palmitic acid, as the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, neither increased membrane localization of PKC-θ nor induced insulin resistance. Finally, arcuate-specific knockdown of PKC-θ attenuated diet-induced obesity and improved insulin signaling. These results suggest that many of the deleterious effects of high-fat diets, specifically those enriched with palmitic acid, are CNS mediated via PKC-θ activation, resulting in reduced insulin activity.

Normally your bodies cells are told to stop demanding food by a couple of hormones, leptin and insulin. This study suggests that certain saturated fats, particularly palmitic acid tell your brain to send signals to your bodies cells instructing them to ignore leptin and insulin.  And therefore, you can be “objectively” full, but not feel like you are.  So, you keep eating.

Clearly, if you want to lose weight, this is bad news.  Keep your saturated fats down, and stick to unsaturated fats if you can like fish oils and olive oil.

But, if you are trying to gain size, this is GREAT.  More ice cream, fried chicken, bacon, and even more ice cream!

(The image above is from  Very cool.)


Benoit, Stephen C, Christopher J Kemp, Carol F Elias, William Abplanalp, James P Herman, Stephanie Migrenne, Anne-Laure Lefevre, et al. 2009. Palmitic acid mediates hypothalamic insulin resistance by altering PKC-theta subcellular localization in rodents. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 119, no. 9 (September): 2577-2589. doi:10.1172/JCI36714.

Glucose Spikes Increase Memory Loss

John Hawks reviews an article by Roni Caryn Rabin on the connection with glucose metabolism and age related cognitive decline.

The original authors made clear that we remember:

Previous observational studies have shown that physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive decline, and studies have also found that diabetes increases the risk of dementia. Earlier studies had also found a link between Type 2 diabetes and dysfunction in the dentate gyrus.

But John Hawks worries:

Here the causality is not necessarily clear. Maybe people who have healthy metabolic profiles are more likely to be active and less likely to exhibit cognitive declines. In that scenario, you wouldn’t necessarily benefit from changing your activity pattern.

I disagree with him here.  In our society people do not (generally) exercise because they find it fun, or because it’s something they are naturally good at.  People exercise because they believe the have to.  There is a strong cultural pressure that leads people to feel like they should work out regardless of how natural it feels.

Nearly all of my clients come to me wanting to change how they look.  They know they need help from me, a trainer, precisely because they don’t find exercise natural.

Because of this, I think that the causal link is more robust.  Most exercising Americans are far from athletes with great natural metabolic profiles.  But, exercising does improve their metabolic profiles, and can bring them up to the level of those lucky few (very few) who have it naturally without working out.

Junk Food Increases Lung Cancer Risk

Research at the Seoul National University has suggested that the inorganic phosphates in a whole host of processed foods can increase the growth of lung cancer tumors.

According to Dr. Myung-Haing Cho, D.V.M., Ph.D who (along with his colleagues) conducted the research:

“Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell proliferation in lung tissue, and disruption of signaling pathways in those tissues can confer a normal cell with malignant properties,” Dr. Cho explained. “Deregulation of only a small set of pathways can confer a normal cell with malignant properties, and these pathways are regulated in response to nutrient availability and, consequently, cell proliferation and growth.

“Phosphate is an essential nutrient to living organisms, and can activate some signals,” he added. “This study demonstrates that high intake of inorganic phosphates may strongly stimulate lung cancer development by altering those (signaling) pathways.”

PaleoDiet, Sugar, and the History of Carbohydrates

(cross-posted @ Good Tithings)

Dr. Lam has a post on the link between sugar and all the ills of humanity. While I’m certainly for a low sugar diet (and the proscriptions in the post are largely fine), he brings up some points that are patently false (and therefor irk me something fierce).

In particular, he quotes (favorably) Robert Crayhon, the dude who created the “Paleo Diet”, in his distinction between what Crayhon calls paleocarbs and neocarbs (no, neocarbs are not a description of Karl Rove and his cronies):

Paleocarbs are carbohydrates that have existed since the beginning of time. They include fruits, seeds, and vegetables that primarily grow above the ground. Generally speaking, these are “good” carbohydrates as they provide the body with needed antioxidants, fiber, nutrients, and calories in a slow-release fashion.

Neocarbs are carbohydrates introduced within the last 10,000 years when modern agriculture first started. These include grains, legumes and flour products. Some neocarbs like legumes are grown above the ground and are nutritious. Others are grown under the ground. These include potato, yam and carrots, which are high in sugar and therefore not optimum for heath.

Ridiculous! “… have existed since the beginning of time.” No they didn’t! The most paleo of carbs are BY FAR simple sugars. Glucose, a very simple sugar. The earliest life forms (that had any sort of complexity) on earth were most certainly bacteria, and they use simple sugars all the time for cellular respiration as well as other processes.

True ‘neocarbs’ are anything at all having to do with plants, like cellulose. These wonderful complex carbohydrates that we are all so fond of eating for our health (a good thing) didn’t pop onto the scene for quite some time. And the newest of them all are fruits and vegetables! They are, in fact, a ridiculously recent invention.

Fruits and veggies come from flowering plants. Up until the Cretaceous period, there were no such thing as flowering plants. That means that early herbivore dinosaurs (like the Brontosaurus) didn’t eat fruit, they probably ate pine needles and other hard to digest foods (partially explaining the VERY large gut needed to ferment, digest, the food). That’s fiber, baby!

Fruits and vegetables actually constitute a relatively simple sugar in comparison.

The next complaint is about the idea that his neocarbs are all recent inventions. Many of them are new varieties, but we have to be careful. Wheat existed previously in the wild. We didn’t engineer it in the lab. We just selected for the right versions for long enough that the domesticated variety is now far easier for us to harvest and process.

Simple sugars are not good for you (except during a workout). But the reason is NOT because they are “newer” inventions in the history of life. Simple sugars are the ‘oldest’ of all sugars (still misleading). That isn’t the point. The point is that your body doesn’t do well when inundated with that much sugar.

We humans are a new ‘invention’, and as such we require a NEW kind of diet. Leave the sugar to paleo-creatures like bacteria and yeast.

Is Barrack Obama Too Skinny to be President?

That’s the (joke) premise of an article in the WSJ.

These days he stays away from junk food and instead snacks on MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and drinks Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, a healthy organic brew. (Sen. McCain is said to have a weakness for Butterfinger candy bars, jelly beans, and coffee and doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.)

Inflate your chest with Met-Rx.

Eco-Friendly Gym-Rat

If the Hulk can go green, so can we.

If the Hulk can go green, so can we.

(cross-posted at Good Tithings)

it looks like even gym-rats are going green. Here’s Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition being interviewed about what he does to stay green and still stay lean. Hey, if the Hulk can do it …

Bodybuilders and athletes usually eat lots of meat, chicken and other meats. It takes an incredible amount of energy to first bring up all this beef, then the whole process to get it to our table. Have you thought about cutting down on it for the environmental benefits?

Dr Berardi
For me, that’s too extreme…especially since some meat production does tend to be more eco-unfriendly than other meats.

Most of the meat I get is raised locally. Some of it is free range and some of it is grain fed. I also get quite a bit of wild game meat – stuff like venison, elk, etc.

The truth is – I’ve gotta have my lean protein. So cutting down isn’t going to happen any time soon. If we’re keeping score, though, it’s important to note that less energy goes into locally farmed meat vs. factory farmed meat. Remember, not all meat is so costly to bring to our tables.


Bad Research, Bad Results

Eric Cressey gets angry with bad research and its effect on the public’s perception of how they should diet and exercise.

They claim that the results show that low-fat, higher carb diets outperform low-carb, higher fat diets when both diets are low in fat and total calories. In other words, the implication is that they are calorically equal – when in fact, the higher carb group received 155 calories more per day (14.3% higher caloric intake). Over the course of the four month study, the low-carb group averaged five pounds more (28 vs. 23) in body weight reductions. At eight months, however, they had regained 18 pounds while the low-fat, higher-carb group had continued to lose weight. It must be the carbs, right? Wrong!

Go get ’em!