Thursday, September 16, 2010

Morrison's Take on Nutrition, Ketogenic Diets & Cancer, and a Mini Protein Review

Being Anywhere Fit.

Blair Morrison, 2010 European Regional winner and 23rd in the 2010 CF Games, has just put up a great post on how he fuels himself. I'm always saying you can make it as complex as you want, or as simple as you want.  I urge you to read the post in it's entirety, but here's some take-away bullets:
  • First off, we must acknowledge that different aims require different approaches.If one person wants to lose 30 pounds and the other wants to gain 30 pounds, their methods will be necessarily distinct.What most can agree on, however, is that this distinction typically hinges on quantity not quality.
  • I think it is important to mention here that the predominant benefit one gets from fruits and vegetables go unnoticed.Micronutrients are all the rave these days in anti-cancer circles and I am on the bandwagon.  Give me all the green I can get.
  • For one, I eat a ton of potatoes. Mostly sweet potatoes and yams because they have a milder effect on blood sugar, but plenty of the regular brand as well.  As far as I’m concerned, potatoes are still high quality food.  
  • And, before you say it, I’m not one of those cases where anything will work.  Flour knocks me out cold.  If I eat pizza, pasta, or garlic bread I’ll be horizontal on the couch before my grandparents finish their desert wine.
  • Point is, some developments are positive and not using them is plain stupid; those include post workout supplements like protein and creatine.  I know this because of how I feel after a workout when I take them compared to when I don’t. (Not to mention the overwhelming majority of scientific research). It’s night and day.  The only other supplement I take is fish oil, simply because I don’t eat enough fish and the human diet is wildly out of its Omega 3/Omega 6 balance.
My Thoughts:  Blair's take on nutrition is solid.  While one could split hairs on certain topics, the key here is that it's simple, and it works for him.  I like it.

The Ketogenic Diet Reverses Gene Expression Patterns and Reduces Reactive Oxygen Species Levels When Used as an Adjuvant Therapy for Glioma

Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:74doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-74
Published: 10 September 2010

Abstract (provisional)


Malignant brain tumors affect people of all ages and are the second leading cause of cancer deaths in children. While current treatments are effective and improve survival, there remains a substantial need for more efficacious therapeutic modalities. The ketogenic diet (KD) - a high-fat, low-carbohydrate treatment for medically refractory epilepsy - has been suggested as an alternative strategy to inhibit tumor growth by altering intrinsic metabolism, especially by inducing glycopenia.


Here, we examined the effects of an experimental KD on a mouse model of glioma, and compared patterns of gene expression in tumors vs. normal brain from animals fed either a KD or a standard diet.


Animals received intracranial injections of bioluminescent GL261-luc cells and tumor growth was followed in vivo. KD treatment significantly reduced the rate of tumor growth and prolonged survival. Further, the KD reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in tumor cells. Gene expression profiling demonstrated that the KD induces an overall reversion to expression patterns seen in non-tumor specimens. Notably, genes involved in modulating ROS levels and oxidative stress were altered, including those encoding cyclooxygenase 2, glutathione peroxidases 3 and 7, and periredoxin 4.


Our data demonstrate that the KD improves survivability in our mouse model of glioma, and suggests that the mechanisms accounting for this protective effect likely involve complex alterations in cellular metabolism beyond simply a reduction in glucose.

My Thoughts: This is a bit of a deviation away from the typical studies I post, but it's a topic that's had my interest for quite some time. For a long, long time we have known about the Warburg Effect; in a nutshell, the fact that cancer cells run almost solely on glucose, even in the presence of oxygen. The conclusion of this study points to a mechanism outside of this effect; one involving an anti-angiogenesis effect secondary to reduced ROS formation.

My question is this:  If we know how to treat cancers effectively from a nutritional standpoint, WHY AREN'T WE DOING IT???  I'll leave you with that (high fat) food for thought.

Protein Review

I've had the chance to try a fair number of different protein powders over the years; what I've done here is just thrown down my thoughts on each.  There's nothing scientific or quantitative, just my opinion.  If there's a brand here you cherish and love and I've pissed all over it, well, all I can say is it ain't religion, it's just protein.

First off, a mini-primer on different proteins:
Whey Protein Concentrate: The lowest grade. Think of it like crude oil. I make this metaphor because- like crude oil- the isolates and hydrolysates are derived from WPC. They all start as concentrate. It has the lowest % of protein per gram, so it's more difficult to increase your protein ratio by supplementing WPC as compared to isolates.
Whey Protein Isolate: Refined concentrate. There are varying degrees of refinement. Think of it like gas- there is a range from basic to premium.
Hydrolyzed Protein: Usually from whey, this is processed to break up the protein chains (of amino acids) into shorter chains. The shorter the chain, the more readily it can be absorbed by your body, making this the ideal post-workout protein.
Casein Protein: The primary protein found in milk (whey is secondary). Casein clots in the stomach meaning it is digested over a longer period of time.
Milk Protein Isolate: MPI is simply an isolate of milk protein, so it mirrors the ratio of casein to whey (80:20) found in milk.

Note: All brands tested are the "vanilla" flavor, or a similar facsimile of; I generally only use it in my coffee preWO, or PWO in my staple shake.

Biotest's GROW Bioactive Whey - Recently just tried this for the first time; It's a WPC, so the serving size only offers 20g PRO per scoop, and the damn thing is huge.  Really sweet-tasting vanilla.  Sweetened with sucralose.  Pretty damn cheap, but you get what you pay for.  I won't buy this again. Mixes like crap in my coffee, which I do everyday when coaching.

Dream Whey - This is thee fuckin' Cadillac of proteins: made from whey from hormone free New Zealand cows---and all they feed 'em over there is grass. It's a combo of WPI/WPC, and sweetened with stevia. Mixes well, tastes damn good, and lightens your wallet like no other: nearly 50 bucks for a pathetically small 1.5lb container. I like it, but hey, I have my name embroidered on my shirt and I get paid by the hour. I'd love to use this all the time, but I need to stock the fridge with real food.

Jarrow Whey  - A shitty knock-off of the above, plus it's sweetened with fructose. Knowing what we know about fructose, I think I'd rather take the Ace-K and Splenda. Crappiest vanilla flavor I've had to date, plus it's a pure WPC.  Not impressed.

MuscleMed's Carnivor - This was one of those Damn-I-Regret-It-But-I-Did-It impulse buys. Carnivor is...wait for it...a BPI (beef protein isolate); I should have done my homework here, as the BPV (biological value of protein) and PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score) of beef vs whey is a no-brainer.  Plus, it's hard to hide the fact it's DRIED AND POWDERED beef.  Well, they try to hide it, with a brutal "blue raspberry" flavor. WTF, Mike. Seriously. Needless to say this one ONLY has been tested in my PWO shake. 

Ultimate Nutrition's IsoSentation93 - This, by far, has been my standard go-to protein; microfiltered, cold temp processed high-quality isolate with a shwackload of other goodies thrown in, like protease, lactase, and alpha lipoic acid.  The vanilla bean rocks, there's a whopping 30g of protein per scoop, and it dissolves in coffee quite well.  And, at 45 bucks for a FIVE pound tub (where I get it online), it's totally affordable.

True Nutrition Custom Blend - Currently, I'm using a WPI sweetened with Stevia in a vanilla flavor.  5lbs for 58 bucks.  There's a bazillion different options to design your own.  Probably the cheapest way to get away from stuff like sucralose and Ace-K.

Extra STUFF: 
  • Don't be a fool---buy online.  You'll get raked over the coals if you buy from a health food store or some juice monkey establishment.  Some stuff, like the Dream, you have no option.  
  • Whey is a byproduct of dairy processing; much like your fish oil (you take fish oil right?  Right.), the more processed the better.  Why?  It REMOVES impurities, namely because it's devoid of fat, and in the case of hydrolyzed whey, it's processed even further by denaturing.  So, that top dollar you just paid for organic, grass-fed, hormone free cattle raised by 1000 flaxen-haired virgin Kiwis?  Yeah.
  • Don't get your panties in a knot over the fact it states "Contains Soy and Wheat".  The soy is from soy lecithin, a fatty emulsifier, which is devoid of xenoestrogens.  Plus, lecithin contains phosphatidylcholine, which is needed for the production of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  S-M-R-T, yo.  The "wheat" could be glutamine peptides, which are usually manufactured from hydrolyzed wheat gluten.  Yup.  If you are seriously gluten intolerant, test it out first.  Chances are, it'll be fine: glutamine, while being nearly completely fucking useless as an oral supplement for recovery/muscle mass/yada yada yada, is an EXCELLENT supplement for GI health and reducing gluten-mediated inflammation.  Yay science!