Supplement Savvy - 7/20/05.

Today I will continue sharing information with you from the 'International Society of Sports Nutrition Conferenc'. Get more details right here about protein, beta-alanine, and creatine.
For the last few weeks, I've brought cutting-edge information from leading sports medicine and nutrition conferences. There's no quicker way to report on current research than reporting on the information presented at these types of scientific conferences; abstracts presented at these conferences typically precede peer reviewed journal publications.

The publications, which take much longer to actually come out in print, mean that consumers don't get to hear about the research until long after it was conducted (and often long after a product was even in vogue or release).

However, it's also important to note that very often abstracts do not make it to full publication; either the reviewers do not deem them "worthy" or sometimes they just might not ever be written as a full length manuscript. Therefore, even though abstracts do go through a peer-review process, they are not held to the same standards as full length journal publications.


Blood Markers Of Kidney Function & Dietary Protein Intake Of Resistance Trained Males.

High protein diets are not only popular in the bodybuilding community, but have seen a recent surge with consumers as well. However, many often scoff at a high protein intake because of the concern that such diets are detrimental to kidney function (remember that as protein is metabolized and excess is excreted, the kidneys need to work a bit harder than "normal."

Purpose:

    Therefore the purpose of this study was to provide a descriptive assessment of the nutritional habits of resistance trained males and determine the effects of a higher protein diet on common markers of kidney function and health.

Methods:

    Seventy-seven males (mean age of 26 years of age) who reported resistance training (mean time was 6.5 hours/week) as their primary form of exercise participated in the study. Subjects all recorded a 4-day diet record; all diet records were evaluated by a registered dietitian using an electronic food program that calculates macro- and micronutrient content of the diet.

Results:

    Dietary analysis revealed that total energy consumed was 2,821 ± 900carbohydrate was 47 ± 9%, protein was 19 ± 6%, and fat 34 ± 7%. When calculated in grams, the mean protein intake was 1.67 ± .6 g/kg/day or 2.13 ± .76 g/kg/day when calculated from fat free mass (DEXA was used for assessing body fat levels).

    What is DEXA Scanning?
    Dual Energy X-ray Absortiometry, or DEXA scanning, is currently the most widely used method to measure bone mineral density. It is primarily used as a test for osteoperosis.

    The blood markers used to assess kidney function were serum creatinine (this is the byproduct from the metabolism of creatine-while folks often use them interchangeably, they are two totally different products) and blood urea nitrogen.

    Both markers approached the upper levels of the normal ranges for healthy humans, but both remained within the normal ranges demonstrating that this higher level of protein intake caused no detrimental effects in the very short study.

Discussion:

    This study was more of an observation study with no intervention period where researchers give subjects product xyz or diet xyz. This very short study also demonstrated that the diets these individuals were following were within the recommended ranges for protein intake for strength athletes.

    Many individuals consume much more protein than this; however, studies have demonstrated that higher levels of protein intake are also not detrimental to kidney function if a person has healthy kidneys.

    However, eating protein by the bucketful is also not necessary for gaining mass; overall calories are most important and, yes, while protein plays a crucial role and the needs are increased, there is no need to eat several grams or protein/pound of bodyweight like many individuals do.


Effects Of 28 Days Of Beta-Alanine & Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation On Physical Working Capacity At Neuromuscular Fatigue Threshold.

Some studies have demonstrated that beta-alanine increases carnosine levels in skeletal muscle by approximately 64%. Because carnosine has the potential to buffer hydrogen ions (H+) during high intensity exercise, beta-alanine may be effective in delaying fatigue.

Creatine Super Feature.
This will be an introduction and first of seven parts regarding misinformation surrounding the very well known supplement, Creatine. See what the experts have to say. Can they clear up the confusion?

Keep in mind that H+ increase during exercise as the glycolysis is shifted into overdrive; this is one potential mechanism that causes fatigue. It is also the reason some suggest sodium bicarbonate as a means of delaying fatigue.

The effect of creatine monohydrate has been discussed ad nauseam; just remember that one of the benefits of creatine is to decrease the reliance on glycolysis because of the increase in creatine, which helps fuel the phosphocreatine system (immediate source of energy).

Due to the similarities between the two supplements, researchers have speculated that a combination of the two may be an effective performance enhancing supplement.

Purpose:

    Investigate the effects of 4-weeks of beta-alanine + creatine on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue.

Methods:

    Fifty one men (mean age 24.5 ± 5.3 years) volunteered for this double-blind, placebo controlled study. Subjects were assigned to one of four groups:

    1. placebo
    2. creatine + 34 grams dextrose
    3. beta-alanine (1.6 grams) + creatine + 34 grams dextrose
    4. beta-alanine (1.6 grams)

    All powders were identical in taste and appearance to mask any differences within the ingredient profiles. Subjects consumed their respective supplements four times/day for 6 days and then two times/day for the next 22 days. All subjects went through baseline testing (before supplementation) and post-testing, after the 28 days. Testing included continuous, incremental cycle ergometry to determine the neuromuscular fatigue threshold.

Results:

    The findings in this study demonstrated that the beta-alanine supplemented group delayed the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. However, contrary to the hypothesis of many researchers, there appeared to be no additive effect of the creatine vs. the beta-alanine alone.


Take Home Message

This is only one small study, presented only in abstract form; however, beta-alanine shows promise in delaying fatigue during activity. As alluded to earlier, sodium bicarbonate (e.g., baking soda or "defizzed" alka seltzer, which is commonly used among athletes) has a very strong buffering capacity.

About The Author

Chris Mohr adopted this feature from his Fitness Nutrition Coach program which includes information about a variety of aspects of sports nutrition. This comprehensive program has been described as the "Cliff's Notes" version of nutrition.

It is ideal for trainers attempting to answer confusing questions from their clients, in addition to being useful for those just trying to learn the truth about nutrition to optimize their physiques and health. Act fast, there's currently a major price break going on through July 31!

To learn more about this program, click here.