[ Q ] I read an article by a well thought of IFBB pro who is selling his own line of supplements. In this article, he claims that casein protein is an inferior protein and is used as "filler" by most companies. He contends that whey is a slow-releasing protein, that the hype over casein is unwarranted. I'd like your thoughts on this.
[ A ] You know, there's a lot of hype in the magazines and online, and if you're really lucky you might even find a smidge of truth in the heap of mis-information, prevarications and outright lies that pervade our industry.
Occasionally, well-known personalities will emerge and espouse convincing sounding arguments that seem to fly in the face of accepted convention. Not surprisingly, these people get a lot of attention - and sometimes they're telling the truth (ala Mike Mentzer). Well, today isn't one of those times.
This "well respected IFBB pro" that you cite has an agenda and he is perverting the science to make a buck. Sadly, he's not alone: industry conditions have degenerated to the point where many people will say ANYTHING to make a buck, and if they can't distort the facts, they'll try to make new ones - and then hope like h*ll that you won't notice or dig for the truth.
I'm glad you wrote to me for the truth about our "well respected IFBB pro" friend.
Here are excerpts from an article I wrote a while back titled "USING PROTEIN CORRECTLY IS YOUR KEY TO BUILDING MUSCLE" that quickly covers basic protein science.
Each of these proteins (the different protein types) act differently and vary in amino acid, profile... Research shows that protein digestion correlates with the release rate of protein amino acids into blood. Understanding amino acid release rates is essential for understanding what protein type should be used, when it should be used, and for what purpose.
About Whey Protein:
Whey protein comes from milk... Whey protein is fast acting with a high biological value. Within minutes of consumption, whey protein floods the body with amino acids that are quickly absorbed and used for muscular repair.
The rate of amino acid release into the bloodstream and its small molecule size make whey protein quick acting and easily digested - and this is ideal for quickly repairing muscle tissue, encouraging muscle growth, and taking advantage of the post-workout "anabolic window."
Studies show that consuming whey protein post-workout promotes greater gains in lean muscle mass then consuming the same amount of casein protein during the same time period.
Whey protein is limited because it is quickly oxidized by the liver. The liver quickly breaks whey protein down to manufacture glucose. Consuming a small amount of carbohydrate in conjunction with whey protein post-workout is believed to spare whey protein from liver oxidization.
So, while whey protein stimulates protein synthesis1 and enhances immune system function2, its ability to prevent long-term catabolism is limited.
Whey protein digests in approximately two hours.
View Top Selling Whey Products Here.
Pretty interesting. Now, here are some excerpts on casein protein from the same article.
About Casein Protein:
Casein is also a milk protein... unlike whey protein, casein clumps in the stomach and is released slowly. This clumping results in slower amino acid release3, and makes casein ideal for use in between meals and during sleeping periods.4 Current research supports casein use according to this protocol.5
Casein protein digests in approximately five to seven hours.
The bottom line on protein types is this: the science is clear, and because proteins are functional nutrients, no proteins are "superior" to other protein types, and no protein type should be used while totally excluding others.
The best approach is to select a product that is a protein blend. This will give you the best of all worlds - fast acting proteins, and slow acting proteins, so that you can get immediate amino acid release rates, and long-term amino acid release coverage that promotes positive nitrogen balance and keeps you in a constant muscle building state.
As you can see from these excerpts and the scientific studies that support them, the "well respected IFBB pro" in question is lying. I suggest disregarding the false information you've been given and instead stick with the science - and a product that's made by honest people.
View Top Selling Casein Products Here.
[ Q ] I want to lose weight and I've tried everything. I've struggled with my weight all of my life, trying every diet I can think of. Nothing works. What can I do to finally lose weight?
[ A ] Thanks for writing in. Know this first: you're not alone. Millions of other people - just like you - have struggled with their weight all of their lives. And, sadly, millions - just like you - are still struggling every day without success.
The good news is that you're overweight because of bad science - not bad genetics. And, as a result, your weight loss and your new body are just around the corner.
There are three areas that you must focus on to lose weight and keep it off for good. These areas are:
- Change your thoughts.
- Get moving.
- Eat right.
1. Change Your Thoughts...
We've heard it before: thoughts are powerful. Your every day thoughts determine your feelings and, ultimately, your actions.
To change your thoughts, you must be aware of them, and know that your thoughts aren't isolated events - every thought that you have is one small part of a SYSTEM OF THINKING that affects your entire life.
Most people don't bother to actively monitor their thinking or train their minds for success, but all successful people do - especially those we call "successful weight managers" - those that lose weight and keep it off for two years or more.
Successful weight managers train their minds for weight loss success by taking the day one thought at a time. They also tap into the power of others by establishing a network of supportive people that they can use when self-motivation is running low. This way, they ensure that they reach the finish line smiling - no matter what.
Begin to notice your thoughts every day. Notice your behavior around food and situations that could potentially involve eating. Take notice of how you feel, emotionally and physically. Discover your thoughts and you will discover the conditions that create your eating patterns.
Changing your thoughts so that you lose weight and keep it off also involves learning to recognize mental challenges that stand in the way of you being active. Start training your mind now by noticing your thoughts and aligning them with your ultimate purpose - to lose weight and keep it off.
And remember this fact: Change happens within you - and nowhere else.
2. Get Moving...
Physical activity is key for weight loss and successful weight maintenance. Being active raises your metabolism and keeps it elevated so that you can burn calories all day and all night long.
But, activity does so much more than just burning calories - exercise makes us feel good and improves our hormone profile. Many of the most common health problems that exist today are the result of a sedentary lifestyle. Spine problems, muscle aches, obesity, depression and diabetes are all conditions that are caused by, or made worse because of lack of activity.
If you dislike exercising or think that exercising involves "living in the gym," then I suggest doing natural activities that you enjoy. Walking, for example, is great activity and it can be even more fun when done with a friend or spouse.
Your game or activity of choice doesn't really matter, and you may or may not end up on a formal, regimented activity plan - just get moving and do what's good for your body.
3. Eat Right...
Finally, it's critical that you eat right. When I say "eat right" I mean getting rid, or phasing out, junk foods, cakes, pastries and other sugar, fat and sodium loaded foods. Having said that, don't deprive yourself suddenly - if you do eat junk foods, gradually phase them out and substitute other healthy foods in their place by making small changes every week. Reducing portion sizes is a great place to start.
If you think that hunger will be an issue for you when you reduce serving sizes, try drinking a glass of water or two about ten minutes before your meal - you'll be able to eat less and still feel satisfied.
Finally, just remember that you've spent your entire life struggling with your weight - it's not going to come off overnight. The good news is that there is a way to lose your weight and keep it off - and I've given you the places to start. Don't rush. Make small changes consistently and you'll not only lose your weight and keep it off, but you'll also feel better and more alive.
[ Q ] I'm writing because I'm concerned about my dad. He's 54, and he's getting a lot of pains in his body. He's always been fit by lifting weights and running.
Sadly, he's obsessed with working out, and he overdoes everything. He'll exercise for 4 hours or more - pretty much every day. When he lifts weights he uses poor form, so his shoulder joints are shot. He also has gout and his limbs swell.
We can't seem to stop him, because without excessive exercise, he gets really depressed. Unfortunately, even when he exercises this much he's still depressed. He's always tried to be strong for us, but now he's desperate to maintain whatever strength he has left.
I know there is nothing he we can tell him to make him stop exercising, but I was wondering if you could help me out with some questions I had:
- Can you recommend any particular articles or books that deal with over-training (specifically cardio) and how to prevent it?
- Can you recommend any particular articles or books (or personal advice) about how to stay in shape even with injuries?
- Do you have any ideas for good products/therapy to buy that might ease his pains?
- I told you that he tends to be depressed a lot, and was wondering what (mainly in terms of nutrition) would be the best way to deal with this? Are there some foods/drinks that provide people with the right chemicals for easing the pain of depression?
[ A ] Thanks for your courage in writing in - and for caring about your father. He's lucky to have you, and from the sounds of it, he needs you now more than ever.
When people are facing challenges, I usually recommend that exercise and proper nutrition. Not this time.
When I read your question, it was clear to me that your father doesn't need books on over-training - the cause of his suffering isn't over-training. He also doesn't need nutritional measures that ease his pain of depression - he's probably eating really well if he's driven to behave this way. And, your father also doesn't need resources on how to cope with injuries - those injuries are self-inflicted.
Please, make no mistake: Your father is in a crisis - he needs psychiatric and behavioral counseling intervention from a trained doctor - and fast!
As someone who promotes a natural food and exercise based approach to most problems, I'm also the first to admit that diet and exercise alone are limited - food and exercise is not a blanket solution for every sickness or disease - especially perplexing psychiatric and psychological conditions.
I'm not a psychiatrist - my academic background is in psychology and behavioral counseling - but your father is a man on the run - a man on the run that's using exercise as a way to avoid dealing with some long-lasting emotional issues.
I saw countless cases like your fathers when I was a behavioral counselor who did crisis interventions - and although the people I counseled didn't use exercise to self-medicate, they did exhibit patterns of self-destructive extreme behavior just like your father - and that's why I recommend he be screened and treated by a competent psychiatrist or psychologist.
Although you didn't provide me with his medical history, his behavior may be rooted in the way his body uses and responds to the brain chemical dopamine. His obsession with exercise supports this hypothesis. To make my train of thought clear, let's look at hyperactive children.
When we look at children that can't sit still or focus, we call them "hyper-active" because they're constantly in motion. However, the term "hyper-active" is misleading because the areas of the brain that involve emotion, motivation, attention and behavior control are really UNDERACTIVE in these subjects. As a result, these children are almost FORCED to move their bodies, which results in the release of dopamine and subsequent improvements in mood and focus.
This is why hyper-active kids can't seem to sit still - they're chemically addicted to continual movement because their emotional and behavior control centers are under active. Without continual activity, their moods can become depressed.
In your fathers case, I suspect that his dopamine levels may not be where they should be, so he's self-medicating with exercise and excessive movement to elevate his levels as far as he can naturally. You mentioned that although he's still depressed after exercise, his depression does lessen - this would be consistent with the dopamine theory.
Often, people in your fathers situation respond well to stimulant medications - but over the counter stimulants like caffeine and ephedrine only further disturb the brains function and the subject's emotional states. In many cases, prescription stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin) work so well that the compulsive self-destructive behaviors cease within hours of the first dose.
Please get your father assessed by a competent psychologist to see if he requires antidepressant or stimulant medications. In the mean time, support him, encourage balance and let him know how important he is to you.
[ Q ] I read your article on L-arginine and I have several questions about L-arginine.
1. If L-arginine is the precursor to the gas nitric oxide, is it necessary to take a nitric oxide boosting supplement?2. I heard that citrulline malate has similar properties to L-arginine. Should I also be supplementing citrulline malate along with a nitric oxide supplement?
[ A ] L-arginine is a precursor to the short-lived gas nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced from L-arginine through a process called Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) and nitric oxide plays a key role in muscular contractions, blood pressure regulation and smooth muscle tissue relaxation.
As a gas, nitric oxide induces vasodilation - an expansion the blood vessels - resulting in increased oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscle tissue.
Despite claims by critics that nitric oxide boosting supplements don't build muscle or improve athletic performance, science proves that they do work - they increase oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscle tissue, they improve athletic performance, and they increase protein synthesis and the growth of new muscle tissue.6
So, to answer your question, L-arginine based dietary supplements do boost nitric oxide levels. Because nitric oxide is produced from the amino acid L-arginine, it is not possible to supplement with straight nitric oxide gas.
If you are going to use an L-arginine based nitric oxide boosting supplement, I suggest using a nitric oxide supplement that has Arginine Ethyl Ester - AEE. Arginine Ethyl Ester is the newest form of L-arginine being used in over the counter dietary supplements and it's proving to be the most effective and most cost efficient of the available L-arginine derivatives.
Arginine Ethyl Ester is better than regular L-arginine because it's absorbed better, is stomach friendly, and it works within minutes of your first dose. For even better results, I recommend stacking Arginine Ethyl Ester with Creatine Ethyl Ester. Labrada Nutrition makes a product called ReCharge! that I use religiously, and so far I've seen awesome results.
Citrulline Malate is a compound that's made by joining citrulline and malic acid. Citrulline malate is extremely effective at boosting energy levels and exercise performance because it plays a key role in the krebs energy cycle. There's also evidence to suggest that citrulline malate could lower body fat levels in the right circumstances.
View Top Selling Citrulline Malate Products Here.
Citrulline malate is such a common ingredient now in many products that I don't recommend you buy it individually. Instead, look for products that have it as an ingredient if you really want to include it in your supplementation plan. Otherwise, a solid Arginine Ethyl Ester and Creatine Ethyl Ester combination product like ReCharge! will more than meet your needs.
[ Q ] How much creatine should you take in one day? Can you take too much creatine in one day? Also, can I cook creatine into food? I get tired of protein shakes sometimes, and taking creatine raw is nasty. Also, what are the best ways to deliver creatine?
[ A ] The scientific answer is that there is no established "theoretical limit" or "upper limit" on supplemental creatine monohydrate intake. That being said, you should be careful to dose with only as much creatine as you need to notice beneficial effects.
Creatine monohydrate is present in various red meats and fish, but cooking the meats and fish destroy most of the creatine in these foods because creatine is destroyed at high temperatures. The most efficient and cost-effective way to get enough creatine is to supplement with creatine.
In the early days of dietary supplementation, we used to have to down heaping spoonfuls of regular creatine monohydrate several times a day with grape juice or water. This was known as the "loading phase" and, typically, we'd follow seven days of heavy dosing of creatine with a single dose of creatine monohydrate for the remainder of the creatine cycle.
These days, supplement science has advanced and we now have Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE) - the most advanced form of creatine on the planet. Whereas a dose of regular creatine monohydrate was 5g, a typical dose of CEE is only about 1.5 or 2.0 grams - less than half the amount. Although creatine ethyl ester tastes terrible, almost every CEE product comes in capsules, so you don't even taste the creatine.
Creatine ethyl ester is, by far, the most advanced and bio-available form of creatine ever created - and millions of bodybuilders have made the switch from regular creatine monohydrate to creatine ethyl ester, and their results have been nothing short of miraculous. No more loading and no more bloating - only bigger muscles and a better physique.
- Fruhbeck G: Slow and fast dietary proteins. Nature 391:543-543, 1998.
- Bounous G: Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and glutathione modulation in cancer treatment. Anticancer Res 20:4785-4792., 2000.
- Beaufrere B, Dangin M, Boirie Y: The 'fast' and 'slow' protein concept. In: Furst P, Young V (eds): Protiens, Peptides and Amino Acids in Enteral Nutrition, vol 3 Karger. Basel, Germany, 2000, pp 121-133.
- Di Pasquale M: Proteins and amino acids in exercise and sport. In: Driskell J, Wolinksy I (eds): Energy-Yielding Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism in Sports Nutrition CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL, 2000, pp 119-162.
- Dangin M, Biorie Y, Garcia-Rodenas C, Gachon P, Fauquant J, Callier P, Ballevre O, Beaufrere B: The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 280:E340-348., 2001.
- Reyes AA; Karl IE; Klahr S Role of arginine in health and in renal disease [editorial] American Journal of Physiology, 1994 Sep, 267:3 Pt 2, F331-46.