Protein does not turn into chocolate cake

From (The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 86, Issue 3, 1 March 2001, Pages 1040–1047, Effect of Protein Ingestion on the Glucose Appearance Rate in People with Type 2 Diabetes. M. C. Gannon J. A. Nuttall G. Damberg V. Gupta F. Q. Nuttall.):

Amino acids derived from ingested protein are potential substrates for gluconeogenesis. However, several laboratories have reported that protein ingestion does not result in an increase in the circulating glucose concentration in people with or without type 2 diabetes. The reason for this has remained unclear. In people without diabetes it seems to be due to less glucose being produced and entering the circulation than the calculated theoretical amount. Therefore, we were interested in determining whether this also was the case in people with type 2 diabetes. Ten male subjects with untreated type 2 diabetes were given, in random sequence, 50 g protein in the form of very lean beef or only water at 0800 h and studied over the subsequent 8 h.

Protein ingestion resulted in an increase in circulating insulin, C-peptide, glucagon, α amino and urea nitrogen, and triglycerides; a decrease in nonesterified fatty acids; and a modest increase in respiratory quotient.

The total amount of protein deaminated and the amino groups incorporated into urea was calculated to be ∼20–23 g. The net amount of glucose estimated to be produced, based on the quantity of amino acids deaminated, was ∼11–13 g. However, the amount of glucose appearing in the circulation was only ∼2 g. The peripheral plasma glucose concentration decreased by ∼1 mM after ingestion of either protein or water, confirming that ingested protein does not result in a net increase in glucose concentration, and results in only a modest increase in the rate of glucose disappearance.


Robb Wolf – Split from CrossFit

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar

–Greg Glassman

I’ve been asked about the CrossFit split from Robb Wolf (Paleo Diet) and how/why CrossFit embraced the Zone Diet. After all they are vastly different approaches to eating. I have opined on the Zone Diet here.

Robb wrote about the split here.

Robb also was in a podcast where he talked about CrossFit:

Here’s another related video where Robb talks about Paleo and training.


Calories In Calories Out – Revisited Again

Here’s some thoughts I have on the Calories In/Calories Out (CICO) model.

The CICO perspective has value but I think where Fung’s contribution worked for me and others was the role of Insulin in weight gain and carbs being the driving force in Insulin Resistance. Combining Low Carb with Intermittent Fasting made for easy compliance. The reduction of Insulin levels over extended periods of time frees the body to release body fat. The release of body fat reduces the need for calories from the diet since part of the fuel that body needs comes from the body rather than meals.

I see Fung’s advice as focused on his patient population which as a kidney doctors is many older diabetic patients. He found that his patients were compliant with Intermittent Fasting and Low Carbohydrate diets. Probably much more so than the standard population because they were seeing a kidney doctor to begin with. Faced with the possibility of failing kidneys or eating OMAD/Low Carb the alternative seems pretty bad.

Also, there are differences in body composition between various diets. Some are more effective than others at shifting the lean mass/fat mass proportions.

I think they do matter but not so much at the start of the diet. Eventually we have to pay attention to them when we stall with lazy keto. But I got from 285 to around 220 with being completely lazy keto. Never would have reached goal weight, though.

Put another way when we have 100 lbs of body fat that’s 3100 calories a day of fat we can easily pull from our fat stores. Easy to do a caloric “deficit” since we have plenty of surplus to draw from in our bodies.

I’ve been looking into the three compartment theory of diabetes and it seems to have legs to me. First our body’s fat cells fill up. Then our liver fills up with fat. Last our pancreas gets choked with fat which keeps us from making enough Insulin. When that happens our fat backs up into our blood in the form of very high triglycerides. When I was Dx with T2D my triglycerides were over 5000. In fact, they couldn’t get an assay on the number since it was too high. Putting someone on Insulin gets them over that by allowing the fat cells to get even fatter. I gained 50 lbs when the doctor put me on Insulin and my diet was not any different.

This has application in this situation since the fat cells stay locked closed due to high Insulin. There are studies which show CICO doesn’t exactly apply in these cases. Diabetics take more Insulin and eat less calories but still gain weight. There’s a strong relationship with Insulin and body fat.

Intermittent fasting and Low Carb break that relationship by lowering basal Insulin levels and allow the liver to begin dumping the fat. That only takes about a week. The pancreas gets less fatty within 2 weeks and the body’s fat cells drop thereafter.

To me the key is the role of Insulin and that’s Fung’s “contribution”. He’s not a researcher but applied what he learned in the clinical setting.

Bottom line is that if someone is Type 2 Diabetic they can get off meds very quickly by following Fung’s approach of Intermittent Fasting and Low Carb. They can learn to count calories/macros later on when they stall if they want to get lower in weight (and some of them may not care about their weight, they just want to be no longer diabetic).

The reason I think CICO matters later on is that our hormones, particularly Insulin, get in order and then the standard model applies.

There are studies which also show CICO is not matched by the data. For example:

The mechanism of the enhanced weight loss in the very low carbohydrate diet group relative to the low fat diet group is not clear. Based on dietary records, the reduction in daily caloric intake was similar in the two groups. For the greater weight loss in the very low carbohydrate group to be strictly a result of decreased caloric consumption, they would have had to consume approximately 300 fewer calories/d over the first 3 months relative to the low fat diet group.

I think Protein is the power multiplier between Low Carb and SAD. In part it has something to do with the Thermic Effect of Food with Protein using about 25% of the calories to process and fat and carbs being much less. So Calories in and Calories out need to take into account the source of the calories.

I’m eating about 2800 calories a day now on Carnivore diet with around 280g of Protein a day. Far in excess of my “Needs”. Some of that we just eliminate as Urea – again outside of the CICO model.

Or maybe the CICO model is just really, really complicated compared to what we see on the standard calculators?

My guess is that the standard calculations for BMR and TDEE are inherently based on the SAD macro ratios. They don’t correct for overconsumption of protein nor do they correct for underconsumption of carbohydrates. They don’t take into account hormonal factors either nor medications such as Insulin.

They are good first order approximations. Eat and track macros and by extension calories. Watch the scale. If you are gaining you need to cut back. If you are maintaining then things are set pretty close. If you want to lose you need to cut.

In my case my methodology is:
Less than 20 g of carbs
At least 1 gram of protein per lb of Lean Body Mass
Enough fat to fill the gap between the first 2 and what I want to lose.

Here’s the calculator I wrote to calculate macros.


Carbs After Workouts – Study #2

Here’s a second study on the effects of post-workout carbs (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 201512:48. The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Juha J. Hulmi, Mia Laakso, Antti A. Mero, Keijo Häkkinen, Juha P. Ahtiainen and Heikki Peltonen.) This study carefully compared three post-workout nutritions:

  • Whey Protein Alone
  • Carbohydrate Alone
  • Whey Protein plus carbohydrates

All three groups in this study had gains in strength from the resistance training (RT). However, only the Whey Protein Alone had a decrease in fat mass. The study concluded:


This first long-term study supports the acute protein balance studies showing that adding carbohydrates to postexercise protein ingestion may not have large effect on the RT adaptations. Whey proteins, however, increased abdominal fat loss and relative fat-free mass adaptations in response to resistance training when compared to fast-acting carbohydrates. Therefore, if the main goal is to maximize fat loss responses to RT especially from abdominal area without compromising increases in muscle hypertrophy, whey protein instead of carbohydrates can be recommended for the postexercise nutrition.

Bottom line is that if you want to get leaner from resistance training, don’t eat carbs post-workout.


Protein RDA Values

A metabolic unit study was performed to determine the effects of eating higher protein levels than the RDA and weight loss. (Pasiakos, S. M., Cao, J. J., Margolis, L. M., Sauter, E. R., Whigham, L. D., McClung, J. P., Rood, J. C., Carbone, J. W., Combs, G. F., Jr., Young, A. J. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 27, 3837–3847 (2013).) The study:

…assessed body composition and muscle protein synthesis responses to controlled diets manipulating protein intake over a range that spans the current acceptable macronutrient distribution range during short-term Energy Deficit (ED).

The study concluded:

…determined that consuming dietary protein at levels exceeding the RDA may protect fat-free mass (FFM) during short-term weight loss.

In summary, consuming twice the amount of dietary
protein than current recommendations measurably
protects FFM and promotes the loss of body fat during
short-term weight loss, likely through the maintenance
of muscle anabolic sensitivity to protein ingestion.
However, consuming dietary protein at 3 times the
RDA does not appear to confer any additional protective



Overfeeding Protein – Carnivore Diet

I’ve been doing the carnivore diet for the past 9 days. My weight dropped a couple of pounds and has stayed low in spite of eating a large excess of calories.

I am eating almost twice my protein macro and my blood sugars have been doing fine.

High Protein Stimulates Metabolism and Fat Doesn’t

That raises the question of whether eating too much protein results in a weight gain. Somebody actually studied the effect of overeating protein on 24-hour Energy Expenditure. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar;101(3):496-505. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.091769. Epub 2015 Jan 14. Effect of protein overfeeding on energy expenditure measured in a metabolic chamber.
Bray GA, Redman LM, de Jonge L, Covington J, Rood J, Brock C, Mancuso S1, Martin CK, Smith SR.). The objective was to quantify the effects of excess energy from fat or protein on energy expenditure of men and women living in a metabolic chamber.

The study reached the conclusion:

Excess energy, as fat, does not acutely increase 24EE, which rises slowly as body weight increases. Excess energy as protein acutely stimulates 24EE and SleepEE. The strongest relation with change in 24EE was the change in energy expenditure in tissue other than muscle or fat-free mass.



STRRIDE-AT/RT – Exercise Study

I was considering dropping CrossFit in favor of a strength program when I came across an interesting study which compared Aerobic Training (AT) to Resistance Training (RT) for impact on Metabolic Syndrome (MS). (September 15, 2011, Volume 108, Issue 6, Pages 838–844. Comparison of Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise Training Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from the Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention Through Defined Exercise – STRRIDE-AT/RT. Lori A. Bateman, Cris A. Slentz, PhD, Leslie H. Willis, MS, A. Tamlyn Shields, MS, Lucy W. Piner, MS, Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD, Joseph A. Houmard, PhD, William E. Kraus, MD.)

AT/RT induced a significant improvement in the MS z score (p = 0.004) and AT alone exhibited a trend toward improvement (p <0.07). However, RT alone failed to significantly alter the MS z score.

My conclusion is to stick with CrossFit and work in the resistance training as often as reasonable as an accessory to CrossFit.

Another view of the same data (J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Jun 15;118(12):1474-82. The effects of aerobic, resistance, and combination training on insulin sensitivity and secretion in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT: a randomized trial. Abou Assi H, Slentz CA, Mikus CR, Tanner CJ, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Piner LW, Penry LE, Kraus EA, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.). Conclusion:

AT/RT resulted in greater improvements in insulin sensitivity, β-cell function (disposition index), and glucose effectiveness than either AT or RT alone (all P < 0.05). Approximately 52% of the improvement in insulin sensitivity by AT/RT was retained 14 days after the last exercise training bout. Neither AT or RT led to acute or chronic improvement in sensitivity index. In summary, only AT/RT (which required twice as much time as either alone) led to significant acute and sustained benefits in insulin sensitivity.

Yet another look at the same data (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Nov;301(5):E1033-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00291.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 16.
Effects of aerobic vs. resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes, and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT. Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Willis LH, Shields AT, Tanner CJ, Piner LW, Hawk VH, Muehlbauer MJ, Samsa GP, Nelson RC, Huffman KM, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE.) concluded:

AT was more effective than RT at improving visceral fat, liver-to-spleen ratio, and total abdominal fat (all P < 0.05) and trended toward a greater reduction in liver fat score (P < 0.10). The effects of AT/RT were statistically indistinguishable from the effects of AT. These data show that, for overweight and obese individuals who want to reduce measures of visceral fat and fatty liver infiltration and improve HOMA and alanine aminotransferase, a moderate amount of aerobic exercise is the most time-efficient and effective exercise mode.

Yet another view (Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jan 12;164(1):31-9. Effects of the amount of exercise on body weight, body composition, and measures of central obesity: STRRIDE–a randomized controlled study. Slentz CA1, Duscha BD, Johnson JL, Ketchum K, Aiken LB, Samsa GP, Houmard JA, Bales CW, Kraus WE.):

In nondieting, overweight subjects, the controls gained weight, both low-amount exercise groups lost weight and fat, and the high-amount group lost more of each in a dose-response manner. These findings strongly suggest that, absent changes in diet, a higher amount of activity is necessary for weight maintenance and that the positive caloric imbalance observed in the overweight controls is small and can be reversed by a modest amount of exercise. Most individuals can accomplish this by walking 30 minutes every day.

Note none of the results were comparable to the effect on the metabolic syndrome from the Low Carb High Fat diet.


Here’s a couple of interesting questions:

  1. What is a refeed?
  2. What are the types of refeeds?
  3. Do I need to refeed?
  4. When do I need to do a refeed?

A refeed is eating more calories. I am going to not talk about the various types of refeeds since some of them involve adding carbohydrates.

The stated purpose of refeeds is to rebalance hormones, ie, “avoid Metabolic Adaptation”. From the page Why Diets Fail – How to use Refeeds & Calorie Cycling to Avoid Metabolic Adaptations!

The Energy Gap: Describing the decrease in your calorie expenditure (how many calories you burn) by going into energy saving mode and the increase in hunger hormones (ghrelin).

Metabolic Adaptations & Adaptive Thermogenesis: The process in which your bodies metabolism, thyroid and key anabolic hormones such as testosterone, IGF-1 and estrogen take a nose dive.

So, what makes a person go into energy saving mode?

Eating at a large caloric deficit can cause a person’s metabolism to drop. My contention is that the only time this is an issue is if you eat at a too much of a deficit where your body fat can’t sustain your loss. This happens in two cases; where the body fat is very low – like a bodybuilder cutting for a physique contest, and where the caloric deficit is larger than the amount of fat your body can mobilize to cover the dietary shortfall.

Both of these involve some pretty simple calculators. First, determine your body fat in lbs. The US Navy Calculator is one way to do this. Then multiply that number by 31 cals/day/lb. This gives you the maximum caloric deficit that your body can provide for from fat stores. Note this is for a sedentary person.

So if you are 200 lbs and the Navy Bodyfat calculator says you have 50 lbs of fat, then you have 50 times 31 = 1550 calories available from your body fat. Note this is a theoretical maximum. The actual may be somewhat less than that amount.

Next calculate your Total Energy Expenditure. For a 200 lb guy that’s probably somewhere around 2600 calories a day. There are plenty of calculators which can show these numbers. In this example, the person expends 2600 calories a day and 1550 can come from body fat so they must eat at least 2600-1550 = 1050 calories a day. Anything less and their metabolism will drop.

It’s a similar situation but much more dire with less body fat. Someone who weights 175 lbs with 10% body fat only has 17.5 lbs of body fat or  542 calories a day available from body fat. They can’t eat at more of a deficit and keep their metabolism firing at that rate.

What should you do to monitor your own metabolism?

Turns out there’s a really easy way to monitor your metabolism. For every 10% drop in metabolism the body temperature drops 1 degree C.