Saturday, February 26, 2011

Everything Is Useful (Stepping Out Of The Box), Creatine x 1, & Fish Oil Squared

Strongest Guy I Know Doing Curls?  You Should, Too.
Jump back one year; two enthusiastic strength and conditioning coaches, armed with nothing more than a Toyota Yaris, an eclectic iPod bursting with music, and a Chris Spealler look-a-like hooked on metcon so bad he was mute, walked through the doors of Catalyst Athletics.  Things would never be the same again.

I'm reminiscing for a good reason; the lessons learned at the seminar are still fresh in my mind today, and I apply them everyday.  It was an awesome conglomeration of ideas from OUTSIDE the box.   I wrote briefly about it here.

Still, to this day, one of the best lectures I've attended was from Gant Grimes; he instilled the value that everything has a purpose.  He specifically used the example of WHY someone SHOULD do LSD (long slow distance---and I agree, 100%).  The quote "Everything works...up to a point" cannot be understated.

After a phenomenal training session just this last Tuesday, it got me to thinking:  Why do people pigeon-hole themselves into training a certain way, when, technically, EVERYTHING works?  And especially when stuff they DON'T do would even have a higher degree of efficacy?

The great thing about Crossfit is that there's such a vast variety and diversity of skills involved that we are technically always making linear progression.  That being said, folks still confine themselves to, at most, a dozen different movements on a regular basis.  For most people, these are things they 1) like, 2) are relatively good at, and 3) want to get better at.

Now, this isn't a crime by any means; an essential part of training is doing it because it's fun.  But when progress stalls, we need to look at why.  There's always a bazillion variables involved in this.  Without ranting on and on and making little sense, let me leave you with this:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"
   ---Albert Einstein 

J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Oct;28(5):525-42.

EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Academy of Nutritional Medicine, 80 Commercial End, Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridge CB25 0NE, UK.


BACKGROUND: Epidemiologic and case-control data suggest that increased dietary intake of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega3 LC-PUFAs) may be of benefit in depression. However, the results of randomized controlled trials are mixed and controversy exists as to whether either eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or both are responsible for the reported benefits.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the current study was to provide an updated meta-analysis of all double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trials examining the effect of omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation in which depressive symptoms were a reported outcome. The study also aimed to specifically test the differential effectiveness of EPA versus DHA through meta-regression and subgroup analyses.
DESIGN: Studies were selected using the PubMed database on the basis of the following criteria: (1) randomized design; (2) placebo controlled; (3) use of an omega3 LC-PUFA preparation containing DHA, EPA, or both where the relative amounts of each fatty acid could be quantified; and (4) reporting sufficient statistics on scores of a recognizable measure of depressive symptoms.
RESULTS: Two hundred forty-one studies were identified, of which 28 met the above inclusion criteria and were therefore included in the subsequent meta-analysis. Using a random effects model, overall standardized mean depression scores were reduced in response to omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation as compared with placebo (standardized mean difference = -0.291, 95% CI = -0.463 to -0.120, z = -3.327, p = 0.001). However, significant heterogeneity and evidence of publication bias were present. Meta-regression studies showed a significant effect of higher levels of baseline depression and lower supplement DHA/EPA ratio on therapeutic efficacy. Subgroup analyses showed significant effects for: (1) diagnostic category (bipolar disorder and major depression showing significant improvement with omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation versus mild-to-moderate depression, chronic fatigue and non-clinical populations not showing significant improvement); (2) therapeutic as opposed to preventive intervention; (3) adjunctive treatment as opposed to monotherapy; and (4) supplement type. Symptoms of depression were not significantly reduced in 3 studies using pure DHA (standardized mean difference 0.001, 95% CI -0.330 to 0.332, z = 0.004, p = 0.997) or in 4 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% DHA (standardized mean difference = 0.141, 95% CI = -0.195 to 0.477, z = 0.821, p = 0.417). In contrast, symptoms of depression were significantly reduced in 13 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% EPA (standardized mean difference = -0.446, 95% CI = -0.753 to -0.138, z = -2.843, p = 0.005) and in 8 studies using pure ethyl-EPA (standardized mean difference = -0.396, 95% CI = -0.650 to -0.141, z = -3.051, p = 0.002). However, further meta-regression studies showed significant inverse associations between efficacy and study methodological quality, study sample size, and duration, thus limiting the confidence of these findings.
CONCLUSIONS: The current meta-analysis provides evidence that EPA may be more efficacious than DHA in treating depression. However, owing to the identified limitations of the included studies, larger, well-designed, randomized controlled trials of sufficient duration are needed to confirm these findings.
PMID: 20439549 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

My Thoughts:  I thought this was an interesting and timely meta-analysis (a big-assed study studying a bunch of studies.  Got that?) on fish oil and depression.  Supplement manufacturers are always looking for the "edge" to market their product, and there's been a  lot of variation in EPA and DHA ratios, with some claiming to have more "cognitive" benefits.  In my opinion, this is just reason to stick to a basic brand yielding more EPA than DHA.

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;65(2):247-54. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Enhanced increase of omega-3 index in response to long-term n-3 fatty acid supplementation from triacylglycerides versus ethyl esters.

Institute of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Am Kleinen Felde 30, Hannover, Germany.


Background:There is a debate currently about whether different chemical forms of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are absorbed in an identical way. The objective of this study was to investigate the response of the omega-3 index, the percentage of EPA+DHA in red blood cell membranes, to supplementation with two different omega-3 fatty acid (n-3 FA) formulations in humans.Design:The study was conducted as a double-blinded placebo-controlled trial. A total of 150 volunteers was randomly assigned to one of the three groups: (1) fish oil concentrate with EPA+DHA (1.01 g+0.67 g) given as reesterified triacylglycerides (rTAG group); (2) corn oil (placebo group) or (3) fish oil concentrate with EPA+DHA (1.01 g+0.67 g) given as ethyl ester (EE group). Volunteers consumed four gelatine-coated soft capsules daily over a period of six months. The omega-3 index was determined at baseline (t(0)) after three months (t(3)) and at the end of the intervention period (t(6)).Results:The omega-3 index increased significantly in both groups treated with n-3 FAs from baseline to t(3) and t(6) (P<0.001). The omega-3 index increased to a greater extent in the rTAG group than in the EE group (t(3): 186 versus 161% (P<0.001); t(6): 197 versus 171% (P<0.01)).Conclusion:A six-month supplementation of identical doses of EPA+DHA led to a faster and higher increase in the omega-3 index when consumed as triacylglycerides than when consumed as ethyl esters.
PMID: 21063431 [PubMed - in process]

 My Thoughts: Once again, reason to stick to the basics.  Ethyl ester formulations have been, up until now, what pharmaceutical companies have used in their obscenely-overpriced fish oil prescriptions.  This can cost up over $3000/year---completely unnecessary.  Once again, a basic formulation is better than what science could make it.

For the record:  Do I advise eating fish?  Sure.  Find me a wild caught salmon from a pristine body of water unpolluted by toxins, and I'll eat it, because whole food always trumps supplements.  BUT, until I find that fish, I'll continue taking a supplement that's been molecularly distilled.

2011 Feb 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Beneficial Effect of Creatine Supplementation in Knee Osteoarthritis.

1 School of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology - University of Sáo Paulo; 2 School of Physical Education and Sport, Department of Byodinamics - University of Sáo Paulo.


INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of creatine (CR) supplementation combined with strengthening exercises inknee osteoarthritis (OA).
METHODS: A randomized, double-blind,placebo-controlled trial was performed.Postmenopausal women with knee OA were allocated to receive either CR (20 g/dfor one week and 5 g/dthereafter) or placebo (PL) and were enrolled in a lower limb resistance training program. They were assessed at baseline (PRE) and after 12 weeks (POST). The primary outcome was the physical function as measured by the timed-stands test. Secondary outcomes included lean mass, quality of life, pain, stiffness, and muscle strength.
RESULTS: Physical function was significantly improved only in the CR group (p=0.006). Additionally, a significant between-group difference was observed (CR-PRE: 15.7 ± 1.4, POST: 18.1 ± 1.8; PL-PRE: 15.0 ± 1.8, POST: 15.2 ± 1.2; p=0.004). The CR group also presented improvements in physical function and stiffness subscales as evaluated by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) (p=0.005 and p=0.024, respectively), whereas the PL group did not show any significant changes in these parameters (p>0.05). Additionally, only the CR group presented a significant improvement in lower limb lean mass (p=0.04) as well as in quality of life (p=0.01). Both CR and PL groups demonstrated significant reductions in pain (p<0.05). Similarly, a main effect for time revealed an increase in leg-press 1-RM (p=0.005) with no significant differences between groups (p=0.81).
CONCLUSION: CR supplementation improves physical function, lower limb lean mass and quality of life in postmenopausal women with knee OA undergoing strengthening exercises. number: NCT00992043.
PMID: 21311365 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

My Thoughts:  Ok, I can hear the screaming now, and 100% of the people I know using creatine AREN'T post-menopausal women, with OA.  But I like the secondary outcomes, as far as lean mass, and subjective measures like pain and stiffness.  For the most part, any form of activity will improve mobility, stability, and strength in seniors, as well as lean muscle mass, especially if sedentary.  What did creatine do here that training only doesn't, from a joint-health angle??  I don't know, but it's promising for those that suffer from OA.  Perhaps there will be some follow up using younger athletes with exercise-induced OA.

Various Training

Feb 15th, CFLA, 1PM
4 Rounds For Time:
10 DB Thrusters, 35#
10 Pushups
10 Plank Rows

4:30 PM, Westside
Run x 20minutes  No coffee beans on board, RPE(rate of perceived exertion) much higher, not surprisingly! Ha!

Feb 16th, CFLA, 12 PM
700m row
35 WBS, 20#, 10'
35 Clean Pulls, 95#
35 Ring Dips
35 Front Squats, 95#
700m row
Had the chance to jump in on nooner WOD with a couple of members; despite feeling great in the ring dips, I had my ass handed to me in the front squats.  Tough WOD, but something like this I need to do more.

Feb 19th, Firehall#2, 3:30PM
20 Rep Back Squat
Only had time to squeeze in a few sets, as we were doing annual physical testing of the members.  

Feb 21st, CFLA, 12:30
A) Bench Press superset w/ weighted pullups, 5x5
135-155-165-175-165, pullups x5 w/ 1.5pd (53#) kettlebell

B) 20m Shuttle Runs
Warmup@75%, 20.47s, 20.83s, 22.00s  Wow.  These smoked me.

Feb 22nds, CFLA, 1PM
Reverse Grip Bench Press 5x5
135x5x5.  Chest was fatigued from yesterday, and never having done these before, stayed at 135#.  Cool movement
Weighted Dips 7-5-2
Straight Bar Curl
Zottman Curl
25# DB x10 x5

This was the inspirational workout for this post, done with owner/coach Cory G; One of the coolest workouts I've done in a while---I learned, I lifted, I laughed and I progressed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enough with the "Paleo" already: Dynamic Methodology is king, Segue to Quinoa and Lectins

  "Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." 

  • Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress  
  • The systematic study of methods that are, can be, or have been applied within a discipline
Forwarned:  Counter-Contrarian Multi-Tangent Rant Ahead.  

  I'm really, REALLY sick of Paleo.  There.  I said it.  And I'm going to explain why.

If fact, I've kinda hated on the tag from the start.  Seems everything with a "tag" has some serious flaw, from The Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Okinawan, Tokelaun, Kitavian. (those last two are exempt, but you get my drift)  Nutrition aside, the same can be said for Crossfit, PX90, Wendler's 5/3/1, LSD, HIIT, etc etc.   Paleo is no different.

   One of the biggest, and most serious roadblocks in progress regarding nutrition, performance, training, and athletics is cognitive dissonance.  If the term is a little murky, think of the perpetration of the lipid hypothesis, of the belief that saturated fat causes heart disease.  Even in the light of solid science, people will just stare at you like you're from another planet. 

  Folks often want to embrace one idea as being THEE way, the ONLY way, and that it's far superior than ANY other way.  Personal bias is often at play here, as well as other variables like naivety, ignorance, and herd mentality.  I'd explain this from a religious point of view, but I should probably only piss off a few groups at a time.

  If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know my thoughts on Crossfit; while it's a successful and attractive system, it has it's serious flaws, and it also has legions of followers willing to throw themselves madly into the flame of metcon without nary a thought on self-preservation.  This is an oft discussed scenario amongst trainers, and it's easily dealt with.  <---Keep that last point in mind

Enter my dislike for...Paleo.  Much like Crossfit, my introduction to paleolithic nutrition vastly changed my life for the better.  While I had been interested in all things from an athletic nutrition standpoint my whole life, Paleo put such a common-sense spin saturated in science that it couldn't be ignored.  BUT---it too, has it's flaws.  The whole "eat like a caveman" dealio.

While this is the most simplistic way to explain it, it is NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL.  Just like your individualized training regime (pure chaotic group programming, with 100% dependence on general adaptation syndrome, will only take linear progress so far), nutrition needs to be personally tailored.

  • Crossfit is glycolytically demanding.  Hence, the preferential need for carbohydrates as fuel.  For optimal performance.
  • Endurance athletes require high glycemic carbs during race events for optimal performance.
  • Patients on the IBS spectrum require the addition or exclusion of specific FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides).  Some require the prebiotic inulin, while others will only suffer at it's inclusion.
These are merely the tip of the iceberg; my point is, nutrition is just as individual as training is.  What is positive stimulus for one person is overtraining or potential injury for another.

--->The definition of Dynamic Methodology, and the quote from Bruce Lee, align perfectly with my view on both training and nutrition---take what is useful, discard what is not, apply positive biases, and constantly change and adapt.

Needs meat, but it ain't a fail.
Saponins, phytic acid, tannins and protease inhibitors in quinoa
Jenny Rualesa, b and Baboo M. Naira
aDepartment of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Chemical Centre, University of Lund, PO Box 124, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden
bInstituto de Investigaciones Tecnológicas, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado Postal 17 01 2759, Quito, Ecuador
Received 1 July 1992; 
accepted 5 January 1993. 
Available online 2 October 2003.


The seeds of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, Willd), a food crop of the Andean region of Latin America, contain protein of good quality and high amounts of carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. An industrial process for manufacturing infant food using quinoa as a basic raw material is being developed. The presence of antinutrients are of importance in this context, and this paper deals with saponins, phytic acid, tannins and protease inhibitors in quinoa seeds.
The samples of quinoa analysed in this experiment contained two main types of saponins. The amount of saponin A (β-d-glucopyranosyl-[β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1 → 3)-α-l-arabino-pyranosyl-(1 → 3)]-3-β-23-dihydroxy-12-en-28-oate methyl ester) was 0·7% of the dry weight and that of the saponin B (β-d-glucopyranosyl-[β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1 → 3)-α-l-arabino-pyranosyl-(1 → 3)]-3-β-23-dihydroxyolcan-12-en-28-oate was 0·2% of the dry weight. These were the major saponins found in the quinoa bran collected while polishing the seeds.
After scrubbing and washing, the level of saponin-A remaining in the seeds decreased to 0·31% of the dry weight, and saponin-B was completely removed by this process.
The content of phytic acid in the quinoa seeds was about 1% of the dry matter, and scrubbing and washing reduced the phytic acid content of the seeds by about 30%. Neither protease inhibitor nor tannins were detected in the quinoa seeds.

 My Thoughts:
Quinoa is an interesting "pseudo-grain" that has been pretty much shunned by anyone that's been indoctrinated into Paleo-land---which is a bit unfortunate. It has a great nutritional profile as far as a carbohydrate goes, being one of the few that has a complete protein profile. If used in the PWO period, is an excellent source for glycogen repletion. I normally recommend starchy carbs like potatoes, yams, and white rice, but quinoa can be substituted nicely.

Assessment of Lectin Inactivation by Heat and Digestion

Proteins/glycoproteins from plants, particularly lectins, are more resistant to heat denaturation than animal proteins (1, 2). With legume seeds, whose lectin content is appreciable, this presents potentially serious problems in nutritional practice. Therefore, before they can be used safely, legume-based food/ feeds usually require thorough and expensive heat processing to inactivate antinutritive components. Indeed, dry or moist heating of seeds at 70°C for several h has little or no effect on their lectin activity (Fig. 1) and treatment at much higher temperatures is needed to inactivate the biological and antinutritional effects of legume lectins (1, 2). The safety aspect is even more serious with some monocot lectins, such as wheatgerm agglutinin or a number of oilseed lectins, such as peanut agglutinin and many others because they are extremely heat stable and normal cooking or other conventional heat treatments may fail to inactivate them (3) Thus, the best way to avoid potential harmful effects of these heat-resistant lectins is to limit their dietary intake to a minimum.

My Thoughts, Take 2: While I'm definitely NOT a bean fan, and I generally agree with the recommendation NOT to include them in one's diet, the whole point of lectins and anti-nutrients is moot one proper preparation and cooking takes place. Neolithic? Yes. But not entirely the devil it's made out to be.  If you take a close look at the chart, cooking at 100 degree C. for a mere 10 minutes deactivates any lectins present.  Boiling water, anyone?  This doesn't even include the traditional preparation of soaking and/or sprouting.

Just a couple of reasons to always look at the "Why" with a skeptical eye.

Various Training

Jan 28th, 1PM, CFLA
20 Rep Squat
Kept it light, as my back was still a mess from the tempo front squats earlier.  Felt good though, I see more of these in my future.

Jan 31st, 2PM, south of Lethbridge
Ice Climb x 2hr
First time out, and even at -25 Celsius, had an absolute blast.  Still partial to technical sport climbing, but fun, nonetheless.
Yoga x 1.5hr, 7:30PM

Feb 1st, CFLA, 2PM
Snatch Balance 5-5-3-3-1-1-1
Got slow as I hit the singles, but felt solid in the hole.

Death By Kettlebell Swing (KBS), 1.5pd/53lbs
Started  at 7 reps, ended at 20 when my back started twitching.  Uncool.

Feb 4th, CFLA, 1PM
Split Jerk 3-3-3-1-1-1
Been a while, but felt good to do these again.  Gotta hit that 225# goal this year.

Feb 10th, CFLA, noon
AMRAP 20 Minutes of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats
25 rounds + 27 reps.
Previous PR from Sept was 26 rounds, so I'm pretty happy hitting this.

Feb 14th, CFLA, 1PM
Barbell Split Squat, 5/side x 3 sets, worked up to 135#

25-20-15-10-5 of Toes-to-bar (T2B) and walking lunges
5:50.  Major form breakdown on T2B after the 25s...I'm talking total hip flexor/low ab fail.  It was ugly!

3:30PM, West Lethbridge
Run x 20 minutes.  I ate a complete container of chocolate covered coffee beans.  Running was NOT an option, it just happened.

7:30PM, Yoga x 1.5 hr.  Caffeine worn off by this time, wow.