I have put the articles “We Are What We Absorb” Part I & II into a PDF doc people can down load free (hit the cover picture below to download) for those who want them as a single doc to share. etc. Enjoy!
After my review of the popular coffee concoction making the rounds with generally unsupported claims, I was asked what would I recommend for a “bio active” coffee that really delivered as promised. The result is Bomb Proof Coffee. Part I covers what’s in Bomb Proof Coffee and why those ingredients used, and Part II covers how to make it, doses, sources, etc. If you try it, make sure to report back with your experience! If you want to know the science behind Bomb Proof Coffee, the full write up is HERE.
Part I, what’s in BombProof Coffee and why:
Part II, how to make BombProof Coffee, doses, and sources:
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 you should load and then lower the dose to maintenance, while others say you can get good results by a constant 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 gold standard creatine monohydrate – the form that was used in research which proved its efficacy. Are the new fancy creatine-super-duper formulations really worth their price? Let’s tackle all theses creatine issues here…
“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.
Book Review: The Skinny On Diet Supplements
By Rick Silverman M.D.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to have the inside scoop, the real deal, the down and dirty on any given issue, then Will Brink’s book, “The Skinny on Diet Supplements,” should be on your required reading list for nutritional supplement information. This book is an encyclopedia of dietary
supplements and their role in weight loss, looking at each item in an in-depth and organized way.
Each chapter focuses on a single supplement, cites what it’s supposed to do, and provides details of the science behind the product, including some dissection of that science. The next section looks at the “real world” chatter about the supplement, and that’s followed by the best feature of the book, Will Brink’s recommendations. This last feature is my favorite section in each chapter, because Will is not shy about saying what works and what doesn’t work. He isn’t beholden to any particular supplement or supplement company, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being sold a bill of goods. Rather, he cuts through the falsehoods put forth by the supplement industry, and where evidence supports the use of a product and that product has proven real world results, he tells you so. Where evidence or the real world comes up short, he tells you that.
EDITORS NOTE: I (Will) recently did a video on ARA which discusses a study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass, but was not able to give details on the study at that time as it had yet to be published as an abstract or full paper. Finally, Monica now covers the meat of what most people really want to know about ARA: Can it increase strength and muscle mass as a supplement? The answer appears to be a solid yes. This excellent article below covers the recent study mentioned in my vid and write up on the study and gives the details, as well as a prior study. This is the must read article of the ARA series of articles on BrinkZone!
EDITORS NOTE II: The brand of ARA used in the studies covered in this article – the brand with longest track record and most extensive feedback by users – is X Factor by Molecular Nutrition. For supplement companies looking to carry ARA, the manufacturer of ARA is Cargill and the contact (wholesale inquiries only) is email@example.com
In part 1 I outlined the background on ARA and why it traditionally has been, and still is in certain circles is, deemed the “bad guy” fatty acid. Part 2 covered its safety aspects and presented research findings indicating, to the contrary of the “ARA is bad dogma”, potential health benefits of ARA supplementation. In this part I will present new research showing potential beneficial effects of ARA supplementation, in conjunction with resistance training, on physical performance, muscle growth and strength gains…
The impetus for human studies on the effect of ARA supplementation on muscle growth and strength gains came from early studies on isolated animal muscle and muscle cell culture.[1-6] It was found that an increase in ARA flux through the COX enzyme (either induced by stretch or ARA supplementation) promotes production of the prostaglandins PGF2-alpha and PGE2 in muscle tissue, and that PGF2-alpha potently stimulates muscle protein synthesis [2, 5, 6] while PGE2 stimulates muscle degradation.[1, 2]
NOTE: The brand of ARA used in the study covered in this article – the brand with longest track record and most extensive feedback by users – is X Factor by Molecular Nutrition. For companies looking to carry ARA, the manufacturer of ARA is Cargill and the contact (wholesale inquiries only) is firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently did a video on ARA which discusses this study that found ARA had positive effects on strength and muscle mass, but was not able to give details because it had yet to be published as an abstract or full paper. The study results are now public and I cover them below. Two previous articles on ARA ( Part I), by Monica M cover why ARA is a generally misunderstood fatty acid and not a a negative to health, (part II ) covered the safety of ARA as a supplement. Finally, Part III, cuts through the hype and bro-science to give details on ARA and it’s use as a supplement for increasing strength and muscle mass! My understanding is a full paper is in process that will also examine the specific mechanisms of ARA and its impact on strength, muscle mass, and performance.
This study looked at the effects of 1.5g per day of ARA for 8 weeks on muscle hypertrophy, body composition, strength, and power, compared to a placebo matched control. For those who don’t enjoy reading abstracts and studies, here’s the cliffs notes followed by the full details:
• The group receiving 1.5g of ARA had in increase in lean body mass (LBM) of approx 3%, corresponding to 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) compared to no changes in the placebo group
• Muscle thickness increased in the group receiving ARA (+9.5%) vs. the placebo group (+4.7%).
• There was an improvement in anaerobic power (via Wingate test which measures 30 second maximal output), which increased in the group getting ARA (+10.7%) vs. the placebo group (+3.8%).
• The group receiving ARA increased their bench press and leg press strength to a greater degree than the placebo group.
In this vid I give quick look at some technologies that greatly enhance solubility of compounds known for their poor solubility. Such a technology applied to various supplements could greatly improve their bioavailability. The link in the vid also takes you to another vid and article with additional info on the topic BTW.
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.