This is a collection of useful whey information you can use to make smart choices when purchasing whey and learn what makes whey a unique protein source, both for active people/athlete, as well as health minded individuals.
Whey protein is one of the most popular protein supplements sold. It’s used by athletes of all kinds and those looking to benefit from this protein, that has literally been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years. However, much confusion over whey abounds. What types are best? Isolates or concentrates? Grass fed organic whey best? Can it help with weight loss? What about cancer and immunity? Where does whey come from and what about compounds within whey (such as lactoferrin) that have their own potential benefits?
Fifty Shades Of Whey will clear up the confusion – using objective science based information vs. marketing and hyperbole so common – to help users of this food supplement make smart decisions on whey proteins.
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This is a topic so large it could take stacks of text books (and it does!) and many semesters in college and years of research afterward, so an exhaustive review is both beyond the scope of this article and my brain!
There’s a few key areas however I plan to address in this article people will find helpful to making smart decisions the over hyped ads for protein, amino acids, and peptides don’t cover. For the most part, I recommend whole protein sources, such as whey, eggs, lean meats, fish etc. in terms of dietary protein* intakes, but some individual amino acids can be of benefit in specific applications. Those applications may be sports performance related, general health, or medical, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back In The Day…
Back in the day when I was taking my first nutrition courses and reading what research existed - right after the Pleistocene era – the mantra of nutrition was that digested proteins were broken down into individual amino acids during digestion and absorbed, and that was that. As with virtually all overly simplified models generated from the early research examining human nutrition and physiology, it was wrong. To this day however, there are still those who believe it, but I digress. However, most know that ingested proteins are broken down primarily into small peptides and individual amino acids. The fact is, to this day, human digestion, absorption, and utilization of nutrients we ingest is still being elucidated with more discoveries being made than most people realize or appreciate. It’s amazing to me however the number of people – some educated enough in the sciences to know better – who think digestion, absorption, and utilization of the food we eat can be summarized as “it get’s dumped into the acid in your stomach, then absorbed via voodoo, the end.” Human digestion, absorption, and utilization of the nutrients we ingest, is an incredibly complex process, that as previously mentioned, still being elucidated. If you want to get a glimpse of how complex, the Encyclopedia Britannica site has a nice write up on that, and remember: digestion, absorption, and utilization of protein is but one very small aspect of it.
As mentioned previously, there are benefits and potentially unique effects to using individual amino acids, but studies indicate peptides are better absorbed and or utilized than individual amino acids. What that suggests is, even if the goal is to derive benefits from a singe amino acid (e.g., Leucine, Glutamine, etc.), it’s likely best to get it in peptide form. For example, instead of taking L-leucine alone as the free amino acid, to increase intakes of L-leucine, ingesting a leucine rich peptide is likely to be the superior approach. The science and understanding of the value of peptides in human nutrition, be it for health, performance, increased muscle mass, etc., is an evolving area of research yielding useful findings, and still in it’s early stages in fact. Because this is such a wide-open and extensive topic, I’m going to stay focused on a few key issues, such as the value of using individual amino acids or “free” amino acids vs. peptides even if the goal is to increase levels of a specific amino acid.
Creatine is one of the few dietary supplements that have a very solid scientific support for its efficacy in increasing strength, explosive performance and muscle mass. So the question in not whether it is effective, but rather how to supplement it to reap maximal effectiveness?
There are several theories on how to take creatine; some say your should load and then lower the dose, while others say you can get good results by a low dosage regimen without loading. Yet others say you should cycle the creatine and take breaks from it in between cycles. And then we have the issue of dosages and how to ingest it. In addition there is a lot of confusion about the myriad for creatine forms that claim to be superior over the golden standard creatine monohydrate. Are the new fancy creatine-super-duper formulations really worth their price? Let’s review it all here and see what the research is saying.
“The human body is an infinitely complex, but wholly logical system” – Will Brink
Back in the day I wrote the first article on the value of omega-3 fatty acids (via fax oil) for health and fat loss in the major bodybuilding publications. In fact, my first article on the value of flax oil – a source of the Omega 3 lipid LNA – was rejected because the very idea of intentionally adding fat to lose fat and improve health was such a foreign concept at that time. Yes, we are talking pre Internet here! Lucky for me, another magazine – MuscleMag International – ran the article, and the rest is history. It’s safe to say I have been researching and writing about Essential fatty acids (EFA’s), the value of omega-3 fats, the importance of balancing fatty acid intakes, and so forth, for a extensive amount of time. I am also partially to blame for the overly simplistic view of these fatty acids that followed and hope to atone for that with this article.
Much of what we understood at that time, and is still being pushed to this day by some, was an overly simple and generalized view of the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and their effects on human physiology. As time progressed, and additional research was published, the picture has become much more refined and accurate.
The old paradigm could be essentially summarized as “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” and that was about it. Other than a few who have really taken the time to research the topic, a position that remains to this day. Per usual, such entrenched views tend to change very slowly.
How did that start? Early research found the Standard American diet (SAD) provides excessive intakes of omega-6 lipids and minimal omega-3 lipids which resulted in an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio. As science writer Monica Mollica put it so accurately in her recent article on BrinkZone.com, “In turn, an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio has been linked to a number of common chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer, and certain psychiatric diseases such as depression. The omega-6 fatty acid that has been vilified and blamed to give rise to these detrimental health outcomes is arachidonic acid (ARA).” Hence, we ended up with an “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” model that attributed most of the negatives to ARA, with advice people should avoid ARA. Those concerned with their health increased their intake of omega-3 fats via fish, flax, supplements, etc., and reduced their intake of omega-6, to improve their 03/06 ratios.
All well and good, but it’s just not that simple as life rarely is, much less human biology. As Candice Pert Ph.D., discoverer of the opiate receptor said “Whenever something does not fit the reigning paradigm, the initial response in the mainstream is to deny the facts.” Such is the case with the “Omega-3 good, Omega-6 bad” model that some cling to in spite of the ever mounting data showing it to be an outdated model not supported by the modern data.
Someone once said “there’s no sunshine without coffee.” I tend to agree. However, there’s a great deal more to understand regarding the benefits of caffeine – the central nervous system stimulant most people associate with coffee – and its effects on mental acuity, performance, etc. In this article I’m going to cover what people really need to know about this topic, and suggest a way to get the most bang for your money when it comes to this highly popular beverage and supplement.
Caffeine – a compound in the methylxanthine family – has its effects through various mechanisms on the central nervous system, and to be honest, I doubt those mechanisms are of great interest to most readers, so I won’t bother with an extensive discussion on it here. Suffice to say, caffeine positively impacts memory, performance, endurance, coordination and increases arousal, vigilance, while reducing fatigue, to name a few effects. Anyone who has used straight caffeine knows the stuff works, which is why the military, for example, adds it to gum as well as other things like bars and such. We all know the “energy drink/shot” category is all the rage these days even outside the gym setting. Although caffeine is not for everyone to be sure, it’s amazingly non-toxic. OK, so users of caffeine either know all this, or have at least experienced it, and don’t need much convincing it’s effective stuff for its intended uses. Let’s move into the more interesting info of this article, shall we?
In this vid I cover the (seemingly) never ending debate regarding the old advice that “protein intakes above your requirements will just be converted to bodyfat” that is the mantra of traditional nutrition advice. Is it true?
More Protein Myths Covered HERE
This is the study discussed in this video:
The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals
Jose Antonio*, Corey A Peacock, Anya Ellerbroek, Brandon Fromhoff and Tobin Silver
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:19 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-19
EDITORS NOTE: I (Will) recently did a video on ARA which discusses a recent study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass readers will want to check out. The results of this study will be covered HERE and in a future article by Monica. This excellent article below by Monica discusses the safety of ARA supplements and possible health benefits that set the record straight on this fatty acid…
In part 1 I outlined the background to the “ARA is bad” theory, and presented studies that have refuted this notion. Part 1 also explains the importance of distinguishing the different omega-6 fatty acids, LA and ARA, and describes the bell-shaped relationship between ARA and EPA + DHA in cell membranes.
In this part you will learn about safety aspects and potential health benefits (!) of ARA supplementation…
Safety and Health Effects of ARA supplementation
With the bad reputation that ARA has, let’s start by looking at safety data. On a typical modern diet (that includes meat, eggs and fish) the average intake of ARA is approximately 100–200 mg ARA per day.[1-5] Several studies have investigated safety aspects of ARA supplementation in different populations.
When healthy volunteers were given over 7 times the usual intake of ARA (i.e. 1500 to 1700 g ARA per day, compared to usual intake of 200 mg ARA per day) in a 7 week controlled feeding study, no effects on platelet aggregation, bleeding times, the balance of vasoactive metabolites, serum lipid levels, or immune response were observed.[6-10] Likewise, in a recent study on healthy men aged 26-60 years, supplementation with 840 mg ARA per day for 4 weeks had no effect on any metabolic parameter or platelet function.
A study in healthy Japanese men and women aged 55-70 investigated whether ARA supplementation affects clinical parameters involved in cardiovascular, inflammatory, and allergic diseases. Subjects were supplemented with ARA-enriched oil (240 or 720 mg ARA per day) or placebo for 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout period. The fatty acid contents of plasma phospholipids, clinical parameters, and AA metabolites were determined at baseline, 2, 4, and 8 weeks. It was found that ARA content in plasma phospholipids in the ARA supplemented groups increased dose-dependently and was almost the same at 2 weeks and at 4 weeks. The elevated ARA content decreased to nearly baseline during a 4-week washout period. Contrary to expectations, during the supplementation and washout periods, no changes were observed in plasma phospholipid EPA and DHA content. There were no changes in clinical blood parameters related to cardiovascular, inflammatory and allergic diseases.
“Bulletproof coffee” has become a popular addition to some people’s diets, but is it all its claimed to be? I answer that Q in this vid!
EDITORS NOTE: I (Will) recently did a video on ARA which discusses a recent study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass readers will want to check out. The results of this study will be covered in a future article by Monica when the study is published. This excellent article below by Monica discusses the long held belief this fatty acid is a negative for health and well being. As usual, the truth turns out to be more complex and a read of this article will cover the studies to demonstrate that. Part II of this article can be found HERE.
It is well known that the typical American diet provides too little omega-3 and too much omega-6, and thus has an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio. In turn, an elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio has been linked to a number of common chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer, and certain psychiatric diseases such as depression.[1-3] The omega-6 fatty acid that has been vilified and blamed to give rise to these detrimental health outcomes is arachidonic acid (ARA).
However, a deeper look at the research data reveals that the association between omega-6 fats, especially ARA, with detrimental health outcomes isn’t as clear-cut as previously thought. Prominent lipid researchers are even questioning the value of the conceptually entrenched omega-6/omega-3 ratio. And there are indications that ARA, previously thought to be the omega-6 villain, actually may confer health benefits and even increase muscle mass and strength when combined with resistance training…in this 3-part series you will find out about it all…
“You are what you eat” is an old expression your grandmother’s grandmother probably used, but it’s not actually correct technically speaking. Putting on my nerd hat to be a stickler for the details, it’s more accurate to say “you are what you absorb.” Grandma’s sage advice does a good job of illustrating that what we ingest is obviously essential to our health, but what we ingest that actually gets absorbed and utilized by the body is the crux of the issue truth be told.
The piles of studies that have been growing in recent years showing all manner of potential benefits of various nutrients has been very encouraging. We are experiencing an exciting time in nutritional science where new compounds are being discovered – and tested for their potential benefits – almost daily. Compounds that may help prevent cancer, improve immunity, improve weight loss, improve brain function, or improve athletic performance, to name just the tip of the iceberg of where science is currently looking to isolate and test various nutrients for their bio active properties.
How the process works:
Once a compound is discovered, it tends to get isolated, and then tested in either animal models and or in vitro (test tube) to test what positive or negative properties may exist as well as elucidate how they work. That is, understand not just what system they may impact (such as increase an animal’s ability to resist cancer causing chemicals for example) but also examine the isolated compounds’ “mechanism of action” which shows how it achieves the effect. How does that work? Let’s say some spice has been used for generations to reduce infections or improve immunity. Scientists might then feed, or inject, large amounts to lab animals (e.g., mice, rats, rabbits, etc.) and see if it does indeed have activity; perhaps testing how that spice reduces the size of tumors when the mice are exposed to known carcinogens, or bacteria known to cause infections and so forth. If that spice shows biological activity, scientists will often look deeper into that spice to see which specific constituent(s) in the spice are having the “active” compounds, and once found, will concentrate and isolate that active compound and further tests on animals, or humans, or in vitro (test tube) will continue. Foods and spices for example, are highly complex and can have hundreds or even thousands of biologically active compounds in them.