Monday, January 25, 2010

Client Questions

Got Questions?  I got answers.  With facts!

So I had a couple of good questions from clients pop up over the last few days; I love when this happens, because 1) I really enjoy helping folks understand stuff, and 2) it let's me know what my clients are thinking and where they are at, in terms of nutrition.  So, without further ado:


1) Should I Throw Away My Egg Yolk and Eat Only The White???

Answer: My GAWD no. No! NononononononNOOO!

This question is a fairly common one, and based on a couple of myths; the first being that all the protein is in the white of the yolk, and the second being that whole egg consumption causes high cholesterol. Let's tackle the first myth, which is fairly black and white:
  • Egg whites contain only HALF of an egg's protein
  • Egg whites contain practically nothing else.
  • Egg yolks contain Vit D, E, K, Folate, Selenium
  • Egg yolks contain saturated and monounsaturated fats, and a lil' bit o' polyunsaturated
Whole eggs are practically a mini-white nutritional BOMB.  Why anyone in this day and age would consume only whites is beyond me.  The only area I would even consider it would be a bodybuilder/figure competitor looking to reduced calories in some form.  It still doesn't make sense in that regard, but neither does slathering your dehydrated body with self tanner and wandering around on stage in an electrolyte-depleted haze.

There is issues with just consuming whites as far as lysozyme, biotin, and avadin goes, but that's really neither here nor there.  Just eat the damn yolks.

Ok, cholesterol and eggs.  This one is a bit more complex, but it's essentially another non-issue.  The myth of eggs causing high cholesterol comes from the fact a single egg contains 200mg of cholesterol; if you follow the Recommended Daily Intake values (which you shouldn't, because they're crap), a single egg contains 70% of the RDI for cholesterol.  Hence the "doctor approved" limitation.

But take pause, dear reader, and dwell on this: These are the same folks that state fat makes you fat, PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids, like corn oil) are good, and diabetics would eat a 60% carb diet.

Some facts about cholesterol:
  • Your Body Makes Cholesterol. Your liver makes 3-6x more cholesterol than you can get eating eggs and other animal products.
  • Cholesterol is Vital To Your Body. You need it for the production of steroid hormones like testosterone and to build & repair cells.
  • Dietary Cholesterol Isn’t Bound to Blood Cholesterol. There's no correlation between dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels.
And now for some Sciencey Goodness!

Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Extensive research has not clearly established a link between egg consumption and risk for coronary heart disease. The effects of egg intake on plasma lipids and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) atherogenicity in healthy populations need to be addressed. RECENT FINDINGS: The lack of connection between heart disease and egg intake could partially be explained by the fact that dietary cholesterol increases the concentrations of both circulating LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in those individuals who experience an increase in plasma cholesterol following egg consumption (hyperresponders). It is also important to note that 70% of the population experiences a mild increase or no alterations in plasma cholesterol concentrations when challenged with high amounts of dietary cholesterol (hyporesponders). Egg intake has been shown to promote the formation of large LDL, in addition to shifting individuals from the LDL pattern B to pattern A, which is less atherogenic. Eggs are also good sources of antioxidants known to protect the eye; therefore, increased plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in individuals consuming eggs are also of interest, especially in those populations susceptible to developing macular degeneration and eye cataracts. SUMMARY: For these reasons, dietary recommendations aimed at restricting egg consumption should not be generalized to include all individuals. We need to acknowledge that diverse healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet.
PMID: 16340654 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

methyl guanidine-acetic acid.  Or, simply, creatine.

2) Should I Take Creatine?

Whoa there, hoss.  If you're asking me if you should take something, dontcha think you should know WHAT it is, and WHAT it does, and HOW it works?  I'd say yes.  But, once again, this is a fairly common question.  Let's take a quick look at creatine:

What Is It?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound derived from glycine and arginine and found primarily in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscle.  Through dietary sources like chicken, beef, and eggs, we intake roughly 1 gram a day.  Researchers have been aware of creatine in skeletal muscles and the effects of exercise and diet on creatine since the late 1800, but it wasn't until the early 1990's that it went mainstream.  Several Olympic athletes at the 1992 games had supplemented (legally) with creatine, and after that, it was GAME ON.  A US-based supplement company, Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) brought the first OTC (over-the counter) creatine supplement, Phosagen.

What Does It Do and How Does It Work?

Creatine has a few of positive benefits for the aspiring athlete:
  • Modulation of energy metabolism - Creatine operates as an energy and pH buffer during exercise. Creatine kinase catalyzes a reaction between free creatine and phosphor ions (from the breakdown of ATP to ADP), resulting in phosphocreatine (PCr), which is locked into the muscle cell due to its strong negative charge. The PCr can then react with ADP to form ATP during exercise, and during rest periods more PCr is generated. All of this equates to more energy during sets and faster recovery between sets, specifically in the short duration/max effort energy system.
  • Increased protein synthesis - Supplementing with creatine has been shown to increase intracellular water retention. Not only does this have the benefit of making the muscles appear larger, it may have an anabolic effect as well. Hyperhydration stimulates protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown, and cell volume has a correlation with catabolism in a variety of ailments . Numerous studies have confirmed that creatine supplementation prevents protein catabolism . 
  • Buffering acidosis - this is theorized to happen through two mechanisms: one is from creatine bonded with H+ (acid) ions, and through skeletal muscle cell volumization (hyperhydration), therefore diluting, or delaying, acidosis of myocytes.
What Kind?

  There's a crapload of various types and brands on the shelves out there, but keep this in mind:  All well controlled studies NOT funded my supplement companies have use the form of creatine monohydrate.  Don't waste your cash on Ticreatine Malate, Creatine Ethyl Ester (which has significant health drawbacks), liquid creatine (highly unstable), or any other god-forsaken form.  Just stick with monohydrate.  Micronized is fine, it's just a "finer" (as in, smaller particle size) or monohydrate.  A German company has a patented brand called Creapure that is sold under popular brands like Champion Nutrition, Optimum Nutrition, and Ultimate Nutrition labels.

How Much Should I Take?

 Most labeling will tell you to take 20g x5 days, then 5g thereafter.  The sole reason for this would be to reach "saturation" (your muscle cells can only hold so much) faster.  It's also a damn good way to experience side effects, as limited as they are.  Just take 5g (generally one tiny scoop that'll be in the container, or a level teaspoon) a day, optimally in the PWO (post-workout) period.

There's also this weird myth that you have to take creatine with a high glycemic carb, like grape juice.  Why grape juice, and why a high glycemic carb, I don't know.  It makes my brain f-ing cramp as to why these myths pop up, but they do.  While high GI carbs cause an insulin spike, and in the PWO period  our insulin receptors are sensitized, this really has nothing to do with creatine transport into myocytes.  The transporter, CreaT, is sodium dependent, so all those other reasons can GFTS.  *I think you guys can figure out THAT acronym.  There's other reasons as to why high GI carbs are fine PWO, so throwing 5g of creatine into a shake isn't a bad thing.  It's just good science to know why you're doing something.

Some Common FAQ on creatine:
Will it wreck my kidneys?  No.  It's the most studied OTC supplement in history.  It's safe.  Your kidneys will be fine.
Doesn't it cause water retention?  No.  It causes skeletal muscle hyperhydration.  There's a difference.
Does it cause muscle and tendon injury?  No.  Not warming up, training stupid, and being dehydrated causes that.
Don't I need to cycle it? No.  "Cycling" is a another bodybuilder-perpetrated myth based on the cycling of AAS due to down-regulation of hormones from exogenous sources; creatine intake, either from food or supplements, doesn't do this. 

Key point:  Since it causes intracellular hyperhydration, it *does* draw fluid from extracelluar space to intracelluar space.  What does that mean?  That means you need to stay hydrated.  Be diligent about this, unless you want to turn into a pile of dust while doing a burpee.  99.9% of side effect associated with creatine are due to bone-heads not drinking enough H20.  Don't be a bone head.

Do I Need To Take It?

Hell no!  Only roughly 70% of folks are actually responders, and those that ARE responders are only getting a MAX of a few pounds on their 1RM, or shaving off a few tenths of a second on a 100m sprint.  As far as pH buffering, that's pretty hard to quantify, and the same goes for increased protein synthesis.

Unless you have your diet dialed in so tight that it would make Robb Wolf squeal like a little girl, a person has no business taking this.  That's *MY* stance.  There's a million uber-low brow teenaged boys taking it, and there's NOT a million uber-teenaged athletes out there, so you do the math.  It ain't a silver bullets, as musch as MuscleTech and the like would have you believe.

There's a LOT more info out there on both these topics; for the curious, I urge you to dig around, and find out more. Be educated.