‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Does this Protein Bar Make Me Look Fat pt II

Previously, we pulled out some protein-packed stats about, well, protein. Today, strap yourselves in for a perilous pilgrimage to protein town...

Once upon a time, carbohydrate loading was the thing. Now we've determined protein is preferable. We humans always feel like we've got to load up on something. So listen up you protein-pounding gym-junkies and body-builders, it might be time to ditch your expensive protein powders and chalky protein power bars. 

Why? A few reasons actually:
  • When you consume excess amino acids (AAs), 2 things happen:
    1. Your body breaks them down and uses them for energy (if you're working out)
    2. Your body stores them as fat (like what happens when you eat too many carbohydrates)
AA background: AAs contain a nitrogen group which your body needs to remove in order to use them for energy or store them as fat. Once removed, the nitrogen forms ammonia (which, btw is toxic.) The body then converts the ammonia to urea, which eventually exits the body in urine.

Fun fact: Your body excretes 5-7g of nitrogen per day, which equates to roughly 30-40g of protein... This is why you need to eat protein every day!

Ok, so back to breaking down AAs: The final by-product is urea. Now, it's important to note there is a maximum rate of urea synthesis - meaning your body can only convert so much ammonia into urea per unit of time... Even if you consume a large amount of protein.

Given this piece of information, 2.5g/kg/day of protein is the maximum amount of protein a person should consume, lest dangerous amounts of ammonia (toxic - remember?) accumulate in your blood.

Refresher: The average person needs ~0.8g/kg/day*.
Special populations: 
  • Research shows older adults need more to maintain muscle mass (don't get excited, it's ~1.0g/kg/day), and resistance exercise is also highly recommended to maintain muscles
  • High level athletes also need extra protein
    • Needs vary depending on the sport, hours spent training, age and gender
    • Usually needs are 1-1.8g/kg/day
    • Reality check: Athlete is a broad term, but the guy who goes to the gym for an hour 2-3 times a week, doesn't need copious amount of extra protein... Truly
Another noteworthy fact is your body's ability to absorb protein is limited to ~5-8g/hour (whey protein isolate is a little higher at 8-10g/hour). A meal with ~25-30g of protein is optimal. So your post workout protein power bar with 30g of protein, followed by 30g more from your post workout meal means half of that protein is toilet-bound.

For the gym-junkies and bro-science body-builders, here's another fun fact: Consuming protein post-workout is fairly useless unless you've got adequate carbs as well.

Tip: Medium to high glycemic index (GI) carbs are recommended after a workout. This not only promotes glycogen re-synthesis, it causes the release of insulin which helps your body take up carbs and amino acids, and simultaneously inhibits muscle breakdown.

Lastly, a note for my vegetarian and vegan friends. You guys are recommended to eat an additional 10% of your calories from protein to compensate for the lower digestibility associated with plant proteins. This is not difficult if you're getting adequate calories.

And very lastly, if you did need even more reasons to chill out on your protein... Here you go:
  • New research shows a link between muscle building supplements (including protein powders and power bars) and up to a 65% increased risk of testicular cancer. Goodness, gracious, great balls of cancer!
  • More and more research and testing shows supplements often don't contain the ingredients they advertise, or are contaminated with potentially dangerous substances. At least when you bite into a chicken breast, you don't find grass clippings and it won't cause testicular shrinkage
And perhaps most importantly... Why spend money on highly processed protein powders and a plethora of pointless protein products when you can easily get what you need from actual food?
* You can workout your own protein needs by multiplying your weight in kgs by 0.8g. EG: if you weigh 135lbs, that's 61kgs. 61kgs x 0.8g = 49g of protein needed per day.
Uncited sports related info came from the sports nutrition textbook: Nutrition for Sport and Exercise, 3rd Edition. Marie Dunford and J. Andrew Doyle.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Does this Protein Bar Make Me Look Fat? Pt I

Protein, protein, protein. If you're a gym goer of any kind, you've probably heard some bro-science (translation: not real science) about protein. More than likely, you've overheard conversations about people's protein bar meal replacements, protein snack bars, protein recovery shakes or a protein product promising a pink panther driving a Porsche... Or something. Let's powwow about protein.

A few fun facts to get us started:
  • The building blocks of protein are called amino acids (AAs)
    • There are 20 AAs
    • 9 essential, 11 non-essential
    • Essential means we must get them from food
  • Protein is not stored in the body
    • Body proteins are in a constant state of 'flux' (constantly being broken down and rebuilt)
    • That's why we've got to eat protein daily
  • Protein is important for many things in our bodies 
    • Muscles, cells, enzymes, hormones.. Just to name a few
  • Plant and animal products both contain protein (more on this in pt II)
  • Studies show protein helps us to feel satiated/satisfied
So, if protein is good... More protein must be better, right? Umm, well... No. Happy to burst your bubble here. A little more info? Let's start off with how much protein our bodies actually need:
  • Current guidelines recommend 10-35% of our daily calories come from protein
  • For the average adult, the recommendation is 0.8g/kg (this number may increase for those who are physically active, pregnant, growing or for older adults - much more on this in pt II)
    • Eg: If you weigh 70kg (154lbs) you need roughly 56g of protein daily
  • The average 19-30 year old eats 91grams of protein per day
People lucky enough to live in developed countries are rarely deficient in protein (as you just saw.) 
So, protein supplements... Let me pose you this question: What happens when you eat too many carbohydrates?
Answer: Whatever your body doesn't use immediately to run away from a lion, is stored as glycogen... Until your muscles and liver are filled up and can't store any more glycogen (yes, there's a maximum, kind of like your piggy bank.) The rest gets stored as fat.
Ever wondered what happens when you eat too much protein? Yep, the extra stored as fat, just like extra carbs. Pigging out on protein is pretty pointless.

Digest that and in the next installment of this mind-blowing madness, we'll discuss how your body breaks down protein, the consequences of excess protein, protein needs for active people, vegetarian people and older people.