Whey Too Much Protein

Chris Sparling of That’s Fit takes a look at protein and all the hype surrounding whey supplements. Chris is thinking, “Yes whey!” Check it out:
Whey protein is incontrovertibly one of the most widely used and accepted forms of protein available in supplement form. While some people avoid whey because it is a derivative of milk and/or milk products, others make a whey protein shake or two part of their daily diet. But, enter into any GNC or Vitamin Shoppe store and you'll immediately feel a wave of whey protein confusion roll right over you. There are so many brands and types of protein to choose from…

…Starting first with whey protein concentrate, this form of whey protein is not as potent as isolate. It can contain anywhere between 29 and 89 percent protein. And, as the amount of protein in concentrate decreases, the amount of fat and/or lactose usually increases. As for whey protein isolate, this purer version contains at least 90 percent protein and little to no fat and lactose.
The whey fad is way overdone. Go to any gym and you’ll see dozens of people sucking down protein shakes and, like Chris says, there are so many brands and types, but according to Dr. Fuhrman, they’re all equally worthless:
Consider that the maximum muscle mass the human body can typically add in one week is about one pound. That is the upper limit of the muscle fiber’s capacity to make protein into muscle; any protein beyond that is simply converted to fat. It also is not necessarily advisable to gain a pound of muscle per week. Although athletes have a greater protein requirement than sedentary individuals, this is easily obtained through the diet. The use of protein supplements is not merely a waste of money, it is unhealthy.

Studies on supplemental amino acid consumption have not supported claims that such supplementation increases growth hormone or provides other touted benefits. In fact, increased whey protein added to the diet of rats increased tumors and cancers.
Frankly, protein shakes and diet drinks strike me as unnatural. And the hoopla over protein is even more overblown. Maybe that’s why, in another post, Chris wants to know if you’ve got enough protein in your diet. Take a look:
Every body is different, just as everyone's lifestyles are different. To that end, the amount of protein one person may require may be vastly different than another. Fortunately, there has been research done on this very topic, producing some semblance of an answer.

According to a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, people who train at least 12 hours per week for at least five years need 1.37 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to maintain their nitrogen balance. Sedentary individuals, according to the study, require only 0.73 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is not to say that you'll shrivel up and die if you fail to get this amount of protein every day. This is merely the amount suggested to maintain muscle mass over a longer period of time.
Dr. Fuhrman insists if you’re eating a healthy diet, you’re getting plenty of protein. There’s no need worry. He explains:
The average American consumes about fifty percent more protein than the recommended daily amount. Yet we often see—in addition to misinformed athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders—businessmen and women, homemakers, and those seeking to lose weight turning to protein powders, drinks, and nutritional bars in their quest for even more protein.

It is true that resistance training and endurance workouts can break down muscle protein and increase our need for protein to fuel repair and growth. But the increased need of protein is proportional to the increased need for calories burned with the exercise. As your appetite increases, you increase your caloric intake accordingly, and your protein intake increases proportionally. If you meet those increased caloric demands from heavy exercise with an ordinary assortment of natural plant foods—vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts, which contain more than 50 grams of protein per 1000 calories—you will get the precise amount of extra protein you need.
Personally, I don’t worry about my protein intake. Like Dr. Fuhrman says, focus on the micronutrient quality of your diet, not the macronutrient density—protein is a macronutrient.

100 Calorie Dumb-Dumb Packs

“100 Calorie Packs” like the ones you see here are silly. Instead of a GIANT bag of junk food—try a mini-pack! Just silly, processed junk foods like these are bad at any size. From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health:
Foods that are refined, including chips, cookies, bread, and pasta, lose a dramatic amount of their nutrients in the refinement process. Plus, the process that browns foods and turns a grain into a baked flake or chip creates acrylamides—carcinogens that make these foods even more harmful. These processed foods are not only nutrient-poor, but they also contain elements that contribute to our health problems. They are typically high in salt, chemical food additives, trans fats, MSG, sodium nitrate, and other unhealthy ingredients.
So, ignore the hype surrounding this latest marketing fad, and, ignore the snacking advice of this loopy dietician:

And start eating healthy, wholesome, unprocessed food. DIY Life offers up some sensible 100 calorie snacks. Take a look:
The 100-Calorie Healthy Snacks
  • 7 baby carrots (five calories each)
  • 2 tsp. all-natural almond butter or peanut butter (about 66 calories)
  • Small fruit salad
  • 1 TB slivered almonds (33 calories)
  • 2 TB hummus (50 calories)
  • 5 baby carrots
  • As many cucumber and celery sticks as you'd like
  • 1/2 medium banana (55 calories)
  • 1-2 TB shredded coconut (for dipping!) (30 calories)
Sure, these all sound like good options, but personally, I don’t count calories. I just eat lots and lots of healthy food. Like today, for lunch I had an entire bag of baby spinach again—yes, an entire bag!

Low-Fat Food, Not Always Healthy!

The low-fat food craze is almost as perverse as the low-carb craze. Most low-fat foods are hardly the healthy alternatives they are marketed to be. Jacki Donaldson of That’s Fit explores the issue in, “Low-fat foods are not free foods.” Here’s a bit:
Visions of low-fat Wheat Thins are swimming through my head right now -- I've been known to demolish a whole box of these treats.

I remember during my sweet-tooth days enjoying an occasional package of fat-free Twizzlers. Fat-free. Smart choice, right? Nope.

No matter how low-fat the food, calories still matter most. Eating low-calorie foods such as veggies means you can eat larger amounts. But starchy foods, like rice, bread, and yes, Wheat Thins, are higher in calories. Which makes them bad for weight loss and management.
Jacki’s right. These low-fat foods are bupkis! Just take a look at the nutrition facts for Low-Fat Wheat Thins and Strawberry Twizzlers:

What the heck? Salt, flour, high-fructose corn syrup, and ALL the sugar that goes into Twizzlers. Now, if you’re looking for REAL low-fat health foods—one word—vegetables! For example, my “low-fat” lunch yesterday was an entire bag of baby spinach—NICE!

Dr. Fuhrman on Vitamin D Criticism

DiseaseProof regular, Llouise—funny spelling, for a funny lady—read yesterday’s Health Points and was intrigued by The New York Times report dealing with vitamin D and sunlight. Here’s the excerpt I pulled:

Complete cloud cover halves the energy of ultraviolet rays, and shade reduces it by 60 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health…

…To strike a balance between useful exposure and protection, the N.I.H. recommends an initial exposure of 10 to 15 minutes, followed by application of a sunscreen with an S.P.F. of at least 15. The institutes say this much exposure, at least two times a week, is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D, though some researchers suggest it may not be enough. At the earth’s northern latitudes for much of the year, and at the midlatitudes in winter, the sun does not stay far enough above the horizon (45 degrees) for the angle of the sun’s rays to guarantee an efficient ultraviolet-B bath. Northerners may have to rely on the vitamin D synthesized in the summer or on foods and supplements.
After reading this, she was curious to get Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on this study; suggesting that vitamin D supplementation might be overrated and needs to be reconsidered. The report is over at PR Web:
Low blood levels of vitamin D have long been associated with disease, and the assumption has been made that vitamin D supplements may protect against disease. In the light of new knowledge that hundreds of genes are dependent on vitamin D, this assumption needs to be reconsidered.

In a report published in the current issue of the journal BioEssays, Trevor Marshall, Ph.D., professor at Australia's Murdoch University School of Biological Medicine and Biotechnology, explains how increased vitamin D intake affects much more than just nutrition or bone health. The paper explains how the Vitamin D Nuclear Receptor (VDR) acts in the repression or transcription of hundreds of genes, including genes associated with diseases ranging from cancers to multiple sclerosis.

"The VDR is at the heart of innate immunity, being responsible for expression of most of the antimicrobial peptides, which are the body's ultimate response to infection," Marshall said. "Molecular biology is now forcing us to re-think the idea that a low measured value of vitamin D means we simply must add more to our diet. Supplemental vitamin D has been used for decades, and yet the epidemics of chronic disease, such as heart disease and obesity, are just getting worse."
Well, fearing the wrath of a Llouise scorned, I quickly emailed the article over to Dr. Fuhrman and here’s what he had to say about it:
You can always find someone who will take the opposite stance to the main thrust of research in the world and the press is always quick to jump on it, even if it is one person's opinion without significant research to prove anything. Lots of this (anti vitamin D supplementation) article is not correct. Vitamin D deficiency does cause rickets. Taking Vitamin D supplement have a long proven history to reduce incidence of rickets. That does not mean that severe calcium deficiency can't contribute to rickets as well.

Evidence is emerging that more than 17 different types of cancer are likely to be vitamin D sensitive. A recent meta-analysis concluded that 1,000 IU of oral vitamin D per day is associated with a 50% reduction in colorectal cancer incidence. That is taking the supplements result in dramatic benefits.

In general, the most critical outcome related to any intervention is mortality, and a recently published meta-analysis examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation is the most important information we have. The authors of this study evaluated 18 randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation for any indication. The mean daily dose of vitamin D was 528 IU, and the mean follow-up period was 5.7 years. Vitamin D supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality compared with placebo.
Here's the study Dr. Fuhrman is talking about. From the Archives of Internal Medicine:
Background: Ecological and observational studies suggest that low vitamin D status could be associated with higher mortality from life-threatening conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus that account for 60% to 70% of total mortality in high-income countries. We examined the risk of dying from any cause in subjects who participated in randomized trials testing the impact of vitamin D supplementation (ergocalciferol [vitamin D2] or cholecalciferol [vitamin D3]) on any health condition.

Methods: The literature up to November 2006 was searched without language restriction using the following databases: PubMed, ISI Web of Science (Science Citation Index Expanded), EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library.

Results: We identified 18 independent randomized controlled trials, including 57 311 participants. A total of 4777 deaths from any cause occurred during a trial size–adjusted mean of 5.7 years. Daily doses of vitamin D supplements varied from 300 to 2000 IU. The trial size–adjusted mean daily vitamin D dose was 528 IU. In 9 trials, there was a 1.4- to 5.2-fold difference in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D between the intervention and control groups. The summary relative risk for mortality from any cause was 0.93 (95% confidence interval, 0.87-0.99). There was neither indication for heterogeneity nor indication for publication biases. The summary relative risk did not change according to the addition of calcium supplements in the intervention.

Conclusions: Intake of ordinary doses of vitamin D supplements seems to be associated with decreases in total mortality rates. The relationship between baseline vitamin D status, dose of vitamin D supplements, and total mortality rates remains to be investigated. Population-based, placebo-controlled randomized trials with total mortality as the main end point should be organized for confirming these findings.
So Llouise, does that answer your questions? And Llouise, keep the comments coming. You rock!

Iron, No Meat Needed

Most nutritarians only eat meat once a week or less, so, are they getting enough iron? Yup, they certainly are. Veggies are loaded with iron. Take a look at this:

Now, Sally Squires of The Washington Post examines the issue of iron without the meat. Here’s some of her article from The Lean Plate Club:
Dietary iron comes in two forms. One is in red meat, poultry, seafood and other animal products. Known as heme iron, it's absorbed more efficiently and more easily than the iron found in plants, from dried beans to spinach.

So what can you do?

Eat cereal fortified with iron. One cup of instant fortified oatmeal has 10 milligrams of iron -- about 60 percent of the daily value. Eat a half-grapefruit or sip a half-cup of orange juice with it, since Vitamin C helps boost absorption of iron.

If you are a pesce vegetarian -- that is, you eat some seafood -- then you've got a lot of options, including oysters and clams. Just six oysters provide more iron than three ounces of chuck steak. And six ounces of clams -- about three-quarters of a cup -- have more iron than three ounces of beef tenderloin.

And if you don't eat seafood, then load up on dried beans and greens. There are delicious ways to do this. One cup of lentils packs 35 percent of the daily value of iron. Kidney beans are also a rich source of iron.
Okay, here is an interesting tidbit about iron, too much can actually be problematic. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Certain minerals are toxic and if consumed daily with even as little as 5 to 10 times the recommended daily allowances (which is found in some supplements) can have detrimental effects. These minerals with a narrow therapeutic range are primarily chromium, selenium and iron.
This worrying about iron if you don’t eat meat, reminds me of the mindless blathering about protein. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
There is protein in all foods, ESPECIALLY VEGETABLES, not just in animal products. The fact is, protein deficiency is not a concern for anyone in the developed world. It is almost impossible to consume too little protein, no matter what you eat unless your diet is significantly deficient in overall calories. If it is, you’ll deficient in other nutrients as well.
Take me for example. The only animal I eat is some fish a few times a month and here are my protein and iron levels:
Iron: 73
(reference range; 45-175 mcg/dL)

Protein: 7.5
(reference range; 6.2-8.3 g/dL)
Oh! And I bench-press more than my bodyweight, so yeah, I’m not too worried about protein and iron. What do you think?

The Food Pyramid of the Insane

Health-blogging has taught me a lot of things, most notably—misinformation is everywhere! Like this:

I wonder what life is like in la-la land. It’s got to be very cubby, like low-carb devotee Gary Taubes. Remember this:

In fairness, it’s not like the national food pyramid is much better. See for yourself:

One tells you eating a lot of refined grains is healthy and other saturated fat! Both are BAD ideas, more from Dr. Fuhrman:

Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.1

White flour and other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight-promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart attack risk.

Tell you what, ignore both those shaky foundations and get hip to a REAL food pyramid. Check it out:

Works for me, these photos are from my kitchen. Take a look:

Yes, at this point, I eat, sleep, and breathe nutrient-dense vegetable-based eating!

Continue Reading...

Water: Drink, Drink, Drink?

Eight glasses of water a day, good for you or just an urban legend? Discover Magazine investigates:
Balderdash, says a new review of the scientific literature by kidney gurus Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb from the University of Pennsylvania. They found that for the average, healthy individual, there is no evidence that increased water intake benefits organ functioning, appetite, headaches, skin tone, or substance clearance from the kidneys—and the origin of 8×8 is a mystery. The human body didn’t evolve a chronic thirst—it evolved a great capacity for maintaining proper water balance in the face of variable intake.

These findings support an earlier study by Heinz Valtin from Dartmouth, which found no support for 8×8, and debunked a few other myths. He found that dark urine does not mean dehydration, caffeinated beverages “count” as fluid intake, thirst doesn’t mean “it’s too late,” water doesn’t prevent (or help) constipation, cancer, or heart disease.
Dr. Fuhrman actually emailed me this one, here’s what he had to say about all the water hype. Check it out:
If you need all that water, you must be eating an unhealthy diet. A healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt is full of water already.
And you won’t be peeing as much either—yippee!

Portion Control Products--Hunh?

“It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Don’t believe it? Give this experiment a try:

Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?

I mean, look how silly these are. From The Los Angeles Times:

Now, many health experts think portion-control is out of proportion. Karen Ravn of The Los Angeles Times reports:

Portion-control plates are intended to do just what their name says: get portion sizes under control. Most experts agree that portions have run amok.

Starting in the 1970s, portions in all food categories except bread have been growing, according to a 2002 study conducted at New York University. That includes portions served in restaurants, packaged items sold in grocery stores and portion sizes in cookbook recipes.

Some examples: Twenty years ago, an average-sized bagel was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories, according to figures from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Now it's 6 inches across and packs about 350 calories. Twenty years ago, a cheeseburger, order of fries and a soda had 630 calories, fewer than half as many calories as the same 1,450-calorie meal, on average, today, according to the institute.

"People know portions are big, but they have no idea how big, and how much bigger they are than what we should eat," says Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University.

Here’s my portion control. Please, may I have a GIANT portion of fruits and vegetables!