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For June 24, 2018

  • The Role Of Pyruvate In Weight Loss
    The Role Of Pyruvate In Weight Loss

    By DENNIS R. SPARKMAN, PH.D.

    Pyruvate is the last metabolite in the breakdown of glucose (glycolysis). In the past several years it has become available as a dietary supplement and nine well-controlled human studies have not only demonstrated that it is a safe dietary supplement, but that it has a host of functions that are beneficial to the human body. Among these are enhanced weight loss and fat loss, reduced weight and fat regain following a calorie restricted diet, increased exercise endurance, decreased perceived exertion. The problem with these studies was that they used pyruvate in amounts that ranged from 31 to 100 grams per day, which are impractical outside of a research setting. Now a study has looked at what the minimum amount of pyruvate that is necessary to achieve these results.

    Fifty-three individuals took part in a study where one group took 6 grams of pyruvate per day for six weeks and two other groups took either a placebo or nothing, respectively. Each group exercised for 30 minutes five times per week. Although there was no change in their absolute bodyweight, those who supplemented with pyruvate had a 12% decrease in percent bodyfat, lost 4.8 pounds of fat, gained 3.4 pounds of muscle, and had a 2.2% increase in basal metabolic rates. Additionally, they reported a 17.7% increase in vigor and 71% decrease in fatigue.

    According to previous studies in animals, scientists have been able to estimate that the minimum effective daily dose of pyruvate in humans is between three and six grams. Although the six grams per day used in this study is far less that the amounts used in previous studies, it is effective in helping to reduce bodyfat, increase lean muscle mass, as well as increasing vigor and decreasing fatigue during exercise.

    Colker C, Stark R, Kaiman D, et al. The effects of a pyruvate based dietary supplement on weight loss, body composition, and perceived vigor and fatigue levels in mildly overfat individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 (in press).

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  • Wonder Drug Reduces Body Fat and Increases Lean Muscle Mass?
    Wonder Drug Reduces Body Fat and Increases Lean Muscle Mass?

    (From "Ask Dr. Weil", August 1999) Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid that's been receiving all sorts of attention lately due to claims of miraculous weight loss, increased muscle mass and protection against cancer and heart disease, as well as improved immune function in people who take it. I usually write off most of these supplement-of-the-month phenomena as just hype, but a review of the medical literature turned up some compelling, albeit limited, studies.

    Specifically, a single small study in Norway showed that research subjects who took 3,000 mg of CLA daily experienced a 20 percent reduction in body fat and a five percent increase in lean muscle. Another study at Kent State University in Ohio found that taking 7,200 mg of CLA per day increased muscle mass by five percent among beginning body builders compared with only 0.5 percent among beginners who trained without CLA. CLA supposedly prevents fat from being deposited into cells by speeding fat metabolism, but no one knows if taking it long term would have any negative side effects. Also, there's no reason to suppose that you will lose weight with CLA if you don't also change your diet and exercise habits.

    I'm more skeptical of CLA's reputation for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. Supposedly CLA slows the abnormal rate of cell division that is characteristic of cancer, but I've seen no hard evidence that confirms this. Regarding heart disease, there's only one relevant study: Cholesterol levels and arterial fat deposits in rabbits dropped after they were given CLA for 12 weeks. The notion that CLA boosts immune function also comes from a single study showing that immune function improved among mice fed CLA for eight weeks.

    All this is very preliminary data so I wouldn't be too quick to leap on the CLA bandwagon. We do know that CLA is found in fatty meat and dairy products, and if you're avoiding high-fat foods and dairy as most nutritionists recommend, you can't get much through your diet. And if you opt for CLA supplements, be aware that those on the market, made from sunflower and safflower oils, are notorious for causing flatulence and gastrointestinal discomfort.

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  • A High-Protein Diet May Increase Need For Calcium
    A High-Protein Diet May Increase Need For Calcium

    From Musclemag.com, by Edmund R. Burke, PH.D.

    A Japanese study confirms earlier reports that a high-protein diet, especially from meat, may lead to an increased rate of calcium excretion in the urine, according to a study of 755 Japanese men and women. This means that those who eat diets high in protein, especially animal protein, may need to consume more calcium than those who eat less protein-rich diets, study author Roichi Itoh of the Tokyo Kasei Gakuin University in Tokyo reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    If individuals with a high meat intake do not also receive enough calcium, they may be at increased risk of developing osteoporosis, Itoh noted. The study confirms the results of previous studies indicating that diets high in protein, especially animal protein, adversely affect calcium retention, she said. It has been hypothesized that calcium is lost with high-protein intake because of the increase in the glomerular filtration rate and the decrease in renal reabsorption of calcium, according to the study authors.

    Oatmeal for Energy Studies show momma's stick-to-your-ribs breakfast powers your workout. Many mothers have given their children hot oatmeal before sending them off to school because they know that the oatmeal would stick to their ribs and keep them warm and alert till lunch. Well, chalk up another point for mother's wisdom. The latest study has shown that oatmeal can boost exercise capacity, increase endurance and extend workout time. Women who ate oatmeal 45 minutes before exercising on a stationary bike were able to maintain a designated speed for 15 minutes longer than those who ate a sweetened breakfast cereal. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber and thus its carbohydrate energy is released into the body slowly.

    Carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed into the blood will cause insulin levels to rise quickly and result in hypoglycemia when the sugar is cleared from the blood. Because oatmeal is slowly broken down into carbohydrate, this slow release prevents a rapid rise in insulin and the accompanying hypoglycemia.The high concentration of protein in the oatmeal may also help slow the breakdown of the carbohydrate. So for anyone who needs long-lasting fuel for prolonged exercise and endurance sports, oatmeal may be the breakfast of choice. This natural wholesome food kept you going strong as a child and it will do the same thing for you now.

    The fact that protein increases glycogen storage to get a more dramatic insulin response protein intake during the post-exercise phase has received more attention recently in a article published in Training and Conditioning. Jean Storlie, R. D. states that combining protein with carbohydrate in the post-exercise meal increased glycogen synthesis. The maximum response from carbohydrates is between 0.55 - 0.68 grams per pound. By adding protein, you get a more dramatic insulin response which, in turn, stimulates glycogen synthesis. Consequently, the article now recommends including a protein source at 40 percent of the carbohydrate dose immediately post-exercise and at two-hour intervals to enhance glycogen repletion.

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  • Exercise As An Antidepressant
    Exercise As An Antidepressant

    Exercise is being touted as a viable component for treating depression, schizophrenia and alcohol addiction, according to a report published in the American Psychological Association.

    This is a review of studies going back to 1981, so it�s not new research. One thing that�s interesting is this review finds non-aerobic exercises such as weight lifting to be just as effective in treating psychological ailments as aerobics.

    The researchers say most regular exercises, including simply going for a 20-minute walk three times a week, is apparently more effective than placebo pills in reducing symptoms of anxiety in some patients.

    In my view, this study almost nailed it, but not quite. In my book, drawing on the best research, I contend exercise is a placebo. And while it makes you feel better, let�s not give it more curative power than it deserves.

    Just taking the time off to go exercise is something that can be psychologically good for you � because you�re taking a break from what�s bothering you.

    If you enjoy exercising, do it, and you�ll probably feel better. But this isn�t true if you hate it. The main point in my book, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry," is to embrace those activities that you have fun doing because, ultimately, they�ll be the most beneficial.

    Source: Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, June 1999.

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  • Treating Overuse Injuries
    Treating Overuse Injuries

    Johns Hopkins Health

    You will usually feel the discomfort of an overuse injury within 24 hours. The main symptoms are a dull ache, a twinge when the joint is moved a certain way, or a burning or shooting pain when the injured area is touched or weight is put on it. Swelling may occur and you will find that exercise causes discomfort or pain.

    Because overuse injuries are caused by repeated stressing of the same tissue over and over, the most important treatment is to immediately stop whatever activity caused the irritation in the first place. You should then see your doctor about further treatment. Often, 2 or 3 weeks of rest will allow the inflammation to subside, but your doctor might also want to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, like NSAIDS (which include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen), cortisone or other drugs.

    During the first 48 hours after the injury, an ice pack (applied every few hours) is particularly helpful in reducing swelling. Sports medicine specialists now think ice application is the best treatment for an inflamed joint or area. It should be applied daily for 30 minutes and after workouts. Ice should be applied everyday at least once and preferably twice, for as many days as needed for the pain to resolve. Heat is now recommended only for stretching, especially muscle strains.

    It's also important to identify exactly what caused the inflammation and learn how to avoid it in the future. Sometimes this may mean cutting back on a certain activity, or switching to one that is less stressful on your joints (for example, substituting swimming or cycling for running or walking). Equipment should be checked carefully as well: A tennis racket that is too heavy or tightly strung can contribute to elbow inflammation (tennis elbow), while shoes that are too stiff can strain the tendons in the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis). Changing techniques with a coach or trainer can also be helpful.

    Improving the strength and mobility of an affected joint, along with related muscles, can also help prevent a recurrence. A physical therapist or other trained professional can work with you to identify your weaknesses, and also teach you exercises that will increase your range of motion.

    Strains and sprains are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are not synonymous. When you strain or "pull" a muscle, you have over-stretched or torn the muscle itself. You've strained yourself when you push yourself harder than usual--for example, you decide to sprint down the street to the mailbox when you are not used to running. A sprain is a torn or over-stretched ligament (the tough, flexible cord that links bone to bone). You can sprain a joint--like your ankle--but you can't sprain a muscle. Two of the most commonly strained muscles, the hamstrings (rear thigh muscles) and inner thigh (groin) muscles, pull because they are stretched when placed under high demand such as sprinting. Strained muscles should be treated with ice for at least 72 hours. Heat can be used to allow stretching, but they should still be treated with ice after exercise. Before working out, you should take 5 minutes to warm up, and loosen these muscles. If you strain yourself, you should stop doing that particular exercise for several days, until the muscle repairs itself. To speed the healing process, you can apply ice to the injured area. The RICE treatment may also be used for sprains, most likely for a sprained ankle.

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  • Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press
    Dan Wirth - Lower Back Pain and the Standing Military Press

    Dan wrote this advice in response to a Fitrex member's question. It has been edited for use as an article.

    The problem of having lower back pain or stress while lifting weights, particularly with exercises such as the standing military press, can be fairly common. This is generally caused by hyperextending or "over-arching" your back when you are pressing the weight overhead. Actually, this particular lift (standing military press) was used in Olympic weight lifting competitions in the 1950's. The competitors would arch or lean back so far that their torso's were almost parallel to the ground!!! You can imagine the back stress those poor guys felt.

    Ideally, you would want to perform this free weight exercise in a standing position. Why do I say ideally you may ask? This is because the standing position allows your body to benefit by enhancing balance, coordination, and stabalization as well as the synergistic involvement of the smaller muscle groups surrounding the shoulder joint. However, you should not do this lift if it hurts! Here are four things to do:

    • First Thing: Perform the exercise seated or switch to dumbbell military presses. The dumbbells can help keep the weight in a better plane of movement (positioned above your center of mass). With a barbell you have to move the weight around your head and if you don't have the proper flexibility in your shoulders you will compensate with movement in your back. Or, use a machine shoulder press instead, and start implementing these next three things!
    • Second Thing: Use perfect technique. Look at the videos and read the extensive explanations on the exercises in your program. Watch yourself in the mirror when you perform these exercises. This will help keep you in the right "groove"
    • Third Thing: Lower the weight. More weight is not always better. It might be more fun, but it magnifies any smaller problems! :-) I have found that for many people simply lowering the weight is all it takes to be able to perform the exercises correctly and without pain. And, the best thing about it is many of the free weight exercises are very positive to do even with no weight, just an empty bar or a broomstick, etc. Then it's simple, as your body gets stronger, you can slowly increase the weights and still keep perfect technique so that injury and pain are a thing of the past.
    • Fourth Thing: Continue to work on your abdominal and lower back strength. If you are relatively new to free weight training, you are probably lacking in the areas of balance, coordination and stabilization that I mentioned earlier. You may also have some flexibility problems in your shoulders. All of my programs have exercises for your abs and for your back muscles. And you can check out a ton of flexibility exercises and videos.

    It just takes a little time and consistent training but your body will develop and you will be able to perform more of the advanced exercises without pain.

    Always Stay Positive!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona
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