Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ 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.


Mega-Mass Gain Diet for Skinny High School Athletes


When I was in High School there were 90 year old women who were bigger, stronger, and taller than I was.   I’ve since gained 60 pounds of muscle–though, I haven’t gotten any taller.  I’ve helped a lot of other skinny kids (and adults) pack on pounds of muscle over the years, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not as impossible as you’d think to gain upwards of 20 pounds of muscle a year throughout your High School and College career.  If you’re determined to be as big and muscular as you can possibly be, read on.

You’re in High School.  So, right now, your metabolism is fast–blindingly fast.  You’re constantly busy with a lot of home  and school work (you may even have a job).  And, up till now, you’ve let your parents do all the thinking for you regarding your diet.  I can’t do anything about the first two problems.  But, I can help you with the third.

I’m going to take a (not so) wild guess that you are making one (or more) of the following diet mistakes right now:

  1. You don’t eat breakfast
  2. You don’t eat right after your workouts
  3. You don’t eat right before bed
  4. You don’t eat more than 2 meals a day
  5. You do eat at these time, but you are following the diet of your favorite Bodybuilder.

The first 4 of these are cardinal sins if you ever want to get big.  You can have the perfect weight training routine, but you’ll still be skinny if you don’t eat a lot. You have to eat a ton of food.  Period.  There is no breaking of that rule–ever.  Eat breakfast, eat post-workout, eat before bed. Those are the 3 most important meals of the day.

The last mistake (number 5) is more of a problem than you might think.  The trouble with bodybuilding diets is that they are too healthy.  I’ll repeat that.  They are TOO HEALTHY.

While bodybuilders are a frequent source of laughter among us strength coaches because of their ridiculous training programs that only work if you’re on steroids, they HAVE figured out diets that are great at getting you leaner and more ripped.  Bodybuilders are very good at that.  But, that is not your goal!!  You have to get big before you can diet down and show off your muscles.  I don’t mean you should get fat, of course, but you have to give up on your abs for at least a  year.

You need massive amounts of calories if you are going to put on 20 to 50 pounds of muscle.  You CAN do this.  I was a skinny kid too, and I did it.  And the way to do it is actually quite simple and enjoyable.

The Trick?  Eat crap all the time–yes, crap.  Mac and Cheese, ice cream, burgers and fries, fried chicken, pizza, etc.  Fun, right?  Get only as much protein as you need to feed the muscle rebuilding process (about 3/4 to 1 gram per pound of body weight), and focus the rest of your eating on carbs and fat (mostly carbs).   You see, your problem isn’t that you aren’t building muscle fast enough, it’s that your body is eating away all the muscle that you’ve build!!  But, if you give it enough calories (carbs) to fuel itself, then you’re protecting your newly built muscles from being devoured by your freaky-fast metabolism.

OK, OK, so what’s the diet already!  Below is a simple 5 meal a day diet (4 meals and 1 shake) that has worked for many skinny kids (including me).

The Diet

4 whole eggs
2 pieces of toast, each with peanut butter and jelly on them
16 oz of whole milk

You could instead eat Pancakes and eggs, or steak and eggs.  I used to eat a whole can of ready-make buiscuits with 4 eggs, syrup, butter, and a large glass of milk.

(you can easily pack this in tupperware and bring it to school)
1 whole box of mac and cheese, mixed with
1 whole can of tuna

You could use ground beef instead of tuna.  Mac and Cheese is great because it’s easy to make before school, easy to carry around, cheap as dirt, and very high in calories (one box has  over 1000).

Snack (an hour before working out):

Bagel and Cream cheese or cookies and milk (or both!)

During Workout:


Shake with the following
1 scoop whey protein powder (~25 grams of protein)
12-16 oz whole milk
1 cup+ of ice-cream

Another option is simply to drink one full quart of chocolate milk.  Fast, simple, relatively cheap.  I’ve heard that’s what the University of Washington football players do.  Those guys are not small!

Whatever Mom makes (eat 2 servings), this is a good time to get vegetables.

Things like Burgers, pizza, etc are perfect.  But, it’s hard to say no to meat loaf, or Teriyaki chicken and rice!  Even better, YOU should start cooking dinner for your family (give your Mom a break, man!).  Some day you’ll be on your own, and if you don’t know how to cook, you’ll never reach your strength goals.

Before bed:
Large Bowl of ice-cream, or large bowl of cereal (always, always, always eat carbs before bed)

Now just workout with weights 3-4 days a week on compound movements (squats, cleans, snatches, deadlifts), and do 2 days a week of cardio (cardio makes you hungry, this is very helpful–I hate cardio, too).  What are you waiting for?  Go eat!

Parents: I know that the above looks very unhealthy.  It is.  Especially for us adults.  WE can’t eat like that.  But, a young High School kid who is actively working out a lot and has a naturally high metabolism will thrive on the calories.  These kids are like aliens compared to us.

What you can do to mitigate any potentially negative effects would be to make sure they eat vegetables at dinner time, take a multi-vitamin every day, take extra vitamin C and E, and take Fish Oil capsules.

Vegan Bodybuilding Meet Vegan Arm Wrestling

It’s a vegan revolution in the world of iron.   My friend Robert Cheeke, of Vegan Bodybuilding, has been pushing the boundaries of what people thought possible for a while now all while living a Vegan lifestyle.  He’s really started a movement.

I just got an email from Rob Bigwood (his blog is here), a New York based Professional Arm Wrestler, who is also vegan, about some tournaments coming up.

Here’s a vid of him in competition.   No joke, he takes the first guy out in less than a second!

Sweet!  Arm Wrestling rocks.

[Full disclosure:  I’m not a vegan.  But, I live in Portland, the vegan capital of the world, and I train many people who are.  It’s very possible to meet your goals while sticking to your principles.   Don’t let something as silly as a lack of meat eating keep you from reaching your potential.  These guys are doing it.  So can you!]

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.”

2 Most Important Diet Rules

Lyle Mcdonald writes:

The problem in modern society is both

  1. Getting people to eat that way in the first place.
  2. Getting them to keep eating that way in the long-term.

And, in a lot of ways, ‘b’ is probably the more important of the two. Everybody knows that all diets will work in the short-term. Where dieting invariably fails for most people is in long-term adherence. People fall off the bandwagon for a variety of reasons.

He’s dead right.  The most important rules are the most basic.  Eat a good diet, and be consistent about it.

What constitutes a “good” diet?  Just about anything, as Lyle points out.  So long as you are exercising, and your calories are sufficiently low, you’re OK.  But, only if you stay with it.

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.

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!