THE NUTRI-SPEC LETTER
Volume 15, Number 10
We can refer to these people as “exercise plodders.” They can be found by the millions in gyms, homes, tracks, and streets across America, plodding through workout after workout, day after day. Now that we know a little something about exercise physiology, we can only shake our heads as we ponder the immeasurable waste of human hours and human energy on exercises that yield little more than fatigue and hunger. Among these tired and hungry plodders are some of our friends, family, and patients. While applauding their ambition and discipline, we are now educating these frustrated plodders, directing them to an exercise regimen that puts a bounce in the step, a spark in the spirit, and assures that exercise goals will finally be achieved.
DAINTY DUMBELL DANCERS?
Again, we have a deluded group found in gyms and homes everywhere. You have seen dozens of them yourself, struggling to firm up a little here and take an inch off there. Here, more failure and frustration than even among the plodders can now be saved with our knowledge of proper exercise. Our flingers and plodders all need some variation of the one approach to exercise that yields results every time -- high intensity, short duration workouts.
By now you should be telling all your friends, family, and patients to stop wasting time flinging body parts around; stop wasting energy plodding through mile after meaningless mile. What they need is to exercise productively and with a specific goal in mind, no more than 4 or 5 times weekly. One to three of those workouts should be grizzly bear intervals, and one to three of those workouts should be grunt and growl strength training. Recommending this ideal exercise regimen, we can assure people that:
The laws of exercise physiology are universal. This ideal exercise regimen applies, therefore, to everyone, regardless of current physical condition, from teenagers through geriatrics. [Do understand, however, that exercise success is contingent upon following the Nutri-Spec Fundamental Diet and supplementing with the Diphasic Nutrition Plan, or, when appropriate, supplementing with the intent of restoring metabolic balance.]
The irony in the failure of all the flingers and plodders is that the number one reason people subject themselves to the misery of these ho-hum exercise plans is that they want to lose weight. Weight loss, however, is the number one failure of these approaches to exercise. In contrast, as we learned in last month’s Letter, high intensity strength training and interval training is the guaranteed way to shed maximum fat in minimum time. Why? It is all about building muscle.
We saw that building just a pound of muscle is the equivalent of running miles and miles every day. Never forget, it takes nearly 50,000 extra calories (over and above the caloric needs of daily activities plus working out) to build a pound of muscle. Those calories are simply the energy demand (ATP-ADP exchange) required metabolically to build muscle. A high intensity muscle-building workout regimen can easily demand between 1500 and 3000 extra calories a day, and that is seven days a week, not just on the 4 or 5 days on which we exercise. Meanwhile, the plodders are burning only 100 calories for every tedious mile they jog and a fraction of that for every mile they walk or cycle.
The flingers, of course, are even worse off than the plodders in the weight loss department. Their exercises yield virtually zero metabolic stimulus. Is it any wonder so many millions give up on exercise in disgust, or wander in circles from one exercise myth to another looking for the magic bullet for weight loss? We have got to develop in the workout weary a new winning mindset. We must make them stop thinking in terms of losing 20 pounds of fat and get them thinking in terms of gaining 4 pounds of muscle.
This 50,000 calorie requirement to build a pound of muscle is not only of significance to the average Joe or Jane who wants to drop some weight and improve health and well being. It has particular relevance to athletes in intensive training. Building muscle is an important goal for body builders and weight lifters, of course, but also for football players, basketball players, baseball players, and many other competitive athletes. They all know they need to spend time in the weight room (and it is a shame their coaches don’t know the way to build maximum muscle with the least time and energy invested). What these athletes do not know, is the nutrition required to build muscle. Not knowing anything about the 50,000 calorie per pound muscle building requirement, they believe the key to building muscle protein is to do what? Eat a high-protein diet. This myth has persisted for years, much to the detriment of countless athletes.
The dietary needs of weight lifters, body builders, and other athletes are extraordinary, but extraordinary in ways completely opposed to the muscle head dogma they follow. Their protein needs are definitely increased over those of a sedentary person or even of a reasonably active person. Their protein need, however, does not increase in proportion to the other components of their diet. In fact, their protein intake as a proportion of calories actually decreases. In other words,
ATHLETES NEED A LOW PROTEIN DIET.
What we learned in last month’s Letter is that the energy demands of building muscle, not the protein need, is the major consideration. In other words, caloric intake may itself be the limiting factor in muscle mass gains. The additional protein needed by a competitive athlete is easily obtained with no particular thought or effort just by obtaining requisite calories.
How are competitive athletes to obtain the 50,000 extra calories needed per pound of extra muscle? They have only three choices: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Should they increase all three equally so that they remain in the same proportions as in the standard Nutri-Spec Fundamental Diet? Or, should they increase one of the three food types relative to the other two? Let’s run through a few numbers to find out.
Assume the athlete is already at competitive weight. This means that, unlike the plodders and flingers, he is not going to be burning body fat to meet some of his 50,000 calorie per pound requirement. He must therefore obtain between two and four thousand extra calories a day from his diet. Even if only 30% of his caloric intake comes in the form of protein, that represents an increased daily protein intake of 600 to 1200 calories, or 150 to 300 grams of dietary protein. That represents a tremendous amount of protein even on a 30% protein diet. For those who make even a limited attempt to achieve a high protein diet, the protein intake becomes a potentially serious problem. A problem from eating too much protein, you ask? Yes, absolutely. Here are the reasons why:
An excessive protein intake is not only not necessary, it actually works against athletes. One important reason is because when the protein to carbohydrate ratio gets too high it will cause muscle breakdown for gluconeogenisis to supply sugar to the brain. This decreases lean body mass and slows the metabolism, not at all what athletes need. The consequences are:
Catabolism (aging) is accelerated.
The slow metabolism makes it easier to gain weight as soon as they even slightly decrease their amount of exercise.
The high protein diet programs fat cells to store fat as much as 10 times more easily than normal (and this fat cell metabolic aberration can be permanent).
(This is perhaps the biggest consideration of all for athletes.) A high protein to carbohydrate diet causes a decrease in testosterone output by as much as 15 – 20 percent (which is obviously the last thing athletes need), while simultaneously increasing cortisol output. The consequences are decreased anabolic capacity, excess catabolism of lean body mass, decreased athletic performance, decreased exercise tolerance, and increased fluid retention and fat deposition.
The most preposterous victims of the high protein diet are the competitive body builders. I have known body builders who, for example, eat a dozen egg whites for breakfast every morning, and throw away the yolks, the most perfectly anabolic food there is. They also frequently consume 2 or 3 cans of tuna a day (in addition to their high protein regular meals), which is processed at such high temperatures that proteins are denatured and free fatty acids are split off from the fats. This processing gives the tuna a net catabolic effect and pushes the body chemistry in a Dysaerobic direction.
The most typical time body builders go on an ultra high protein diet is as part of their crash diet in preparation for a competition. All this does is accelerate the rate at which they burn up the lean body mass they have worked so hard to build in the prior months. It then also accelerates the rate at which they gain weight once the competition is over, which sets them up for the need for a crash diet before the next competition, and on and on the vicious cycle goes.
So, if a high protein diet destroys both the health and the competitive edge of an athlete, how about going on a high complex carb diet as was popular for well over 20 years from 1980 through just a year or two ago (when “low carb” became fashionable)? If you have been around Nutri-Spec for more than 10 seconds, you know that the high carbohydrate diet is every bit as pernicious as the high protein diet described above. High carbohydrate intake results in high insulin output with increased fat deposition. It also over the long term leads to disinsulinism, insulin resistance, and finally, Type II diabetes. The high carbohydrate diet often results in one of several forms of hypoglycemia, with fatigue, mood swings, mental fog, decreased metabolic rate, fat deposition, food cravings, and so on.
We see that a high protein diet is not the way to get the extra 50,000 calories per pound of new muscle, and that even increasing protein, carbohydrate, and fat in proportion to the basic Nutri-Spec Fundamental Diet puts us in the high protein category. We certainly see that a high starch and sugar diet does nothing but make us fat, depressed, and tired. What is our other alternative? The bottom line is that it is absolutely essential for athletes to maintain the protein to carbohydrate ratio that we talk about over and over again with respect to the Nutri-Spec Fundamental Diet. Think this through. If the protein to carbohydrate ratio must remain the same, and the absolute protein need does not increase that significantly, then where are the extra calories to come from? They must come from fat. Assuming they have no excess body fat to lose,
ATHLETES THRIVE ON A HIGH FAT DIET.
The high fat diet (assuming that the deadly polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils are avoided):
will maintain the proper protein to carbohydrate ratio;
will thus maintain a normal testosterone to cortisol ratio (and actually help increase the testosterone level a bit);
will keep insulin levels down and blood and brain sugar stable;
and, will decrease any tendency to fat deposition.
How, specifically, does an athlete implement the high fat diet? Simply increase protein, carbohydrate, and fat in direct proportion to the basic Nutri-Spec Fundamental Diet. Then, when 6 ounces of meat, fish, poultry, or egg or cheese equivalent per 150 pounds of body weight per each of 3 meals is reached, start supplementing with fat in the form of olive oil, butter, and cream. Simply cover all vegetables and starches eaten at a meal with olive oil and/or butter. If that is still not enough to meet caloric needs, then drink heavy cream between meals. The only additional dietary consideration is the intake of Power Tea, 3 cups (6 packs of Knox gelatin) made in a thermos in the morning, and consumed throughout the day.
The best way to summarize the metabolic needs of exercisers is so:
Plodders, flingers, and chubby athletes, need to consume a tremendous amount of fat --- their own!
Lean athletes need to consume a diet high in fat supplied by meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and cheese, to a point --- then by olive oil, butter, and cream as necessary to meet caloric needs.
The Diphasic Nutrition Plan gives us the edge to cut down the catabolic stress of exercise and aging.
Guy R. Schenker, D.C.