Archive for January, 2016

The Whey To Weight Loss (Part II)

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

 

Effects on serotonin, blood sugar regulation, and more!

maxresdefault (3)Although the above would probably be the major mechanisms by which whey could help the dieter, there are several secondary effects of whey that may assist in weight loss. For example, whey’s effects on serotonin levels. Serotonin is probably the most studied neurotransmitter since it has been found to be involved in a wide range of psychological and biological functions. Serotonin ( also called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) is involved with mood, anxiety, and appetite.

Elevated levels of serotonin can cause relaxation and reduced anxiety. Low serotonin levels are associated with low mood, increased anxiety (hence the current popularity of the SSRI drugs such as Prozac and others), and poor appetite control. This is an extremely abbreviated description of all the functions serotonin performs in the human body – many of which have yet to be fully elucidated – but a full explanation is beyond the scope of this article.

Muscletech-Plat-Whey-1Needless to say, Increased brain serotonin levels are associated with an improved ability of people to cope with stress, whereas a decline in serotonin activity is associated with depression and anxiety. Elevated levels of serotonin in the body often result in the relief of depression, as well as substantial reduction in pain sensitivity, anxiety and stress. It has also been theorized that a diet-induced increase in tryptophan will increase brain serotonin levels, while a diet designed for weight loss (e.g., a diet that reduces calories) may lead to a reduction of brain serotonin levels due to reduced substrate for production and a reduction in carbohydrates.

Many people on a reduced calorie intake in an attempt to lose weight find they are often ill tempered and more anxious. Reductions in serotonin may be partially to blame here. One recent study (The bovine protein alpha-lactalbumin increases the plasma ratio of tryptophan to the other large neutral amino acids, and in vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin activity, reduces cortisol concentration, and improves mood under stress. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Jun;71(6):1536-1544) examined whether alpha-lactalbumin – a major sub fraction found in whey which has an especially high tryptophan content – would increase plasma Tryptophan levels as well reduce depression and cortisol concentrations in subjects under acute stress considered to be vulnerable to stress.

The researchers examined twenty-nine “highly stress-vulnerable subjects” and 29 “relatively stress-invulnerable” subjects using a double blind, placebo-controlled study design. The study participants were exposed to experimental stress after eating a diet enriched with either alpha-lactalbumin (found in whey) or sodium-caseinate, another milk based protein.

They researchers looked at:

* Diet-induced changes in the plasma Tryptophan and its ratio to other large neutral amino acids.

* Prolactin levels.

* Changes in mood and pulse rate.

* Cortisol levels (which were assessed before and after the stressor).

shutterstock_100258562Amazingly, the ratio of plasma Tryptophan to the other amino acids tested was 48% higher after the alpha-lactalbumin diet than after the casein diet! This was accompanied by a decrease in cortisol levels and higher prolactin concentration. Perhaps most important and relevant to the average person reading this article, they found “reduced depressive feelings” when test subjects were put under stress.

They concluded that the “Consumption of a dietary protein enriched in tryptophan increased the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and, in stress-vulnerable subjects, improved coping ability, probably through alterations in brain serotonin.” This effect was not seen in the sodium-caseinate group. If other studies can confirm these findings, whey may turn out to be yet another safe and effective supplement in the battle against depression and stress, as well as reduced serotonin levels due to dieting.

Although there is a long list of hormones involved in appetite regulation, some of which have been mentioned above, serotonin appears to be a key player in the game. In general, experiments find increased serotonin availability or activity = reduced food consumption and decreased serotonin = increase food consumption. If whey can selectively increase serotonin levels above that of other proteins, it could be very helpful to the dieter.

Other possible advantages whey may confer to the dieter is improved blood sugar regulation (Frid AH, Nilsson M, Holst JJ, Bjorck IM. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type 2 diabetic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):69-75.) which is yet another key area in controlling appetite and metabolism.

Finally, calcium from dairy products has been found to be associated with a reduction in bodyweight and fat mass. Calcium is thought to influence energy metabolism as intracellular calcium regulates fat cell (adipocyte) lipid metabolism as well as triglyceride storage. It’s been demonstrated in several studies the superiority of dairy versus non-dairy sources of calcium for improving body composition, and the whey fraction of dairy maybe the key.

The mechanism responsible for increased fat loss found with dairy-based calcium versus nondairy calcium has not is not fully understood but researchers looking at the issue theorized “… dairy sources of calcium markedly attenuate weight and fat gain and accelerate fat loss to a greater degree than do supplemental sources of calcium. This augmented effect of dairy products relative to supplemental calcium is likely due to additional bioactive compounds, including the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and the rich concentration of branched-chain amino acids in whey, which act synergistically with calcium to attenuate adiposity.”

It appears components in whey – some of which have been mentioned above – are thought to act synergistically with calcium to improve body composition (Zemel MB. Role of calcium and dairy products in energy partitioning and weight management. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):907S-912S.).

Conclusion

Taken in isolation, none of these studies are so compelling that people should run out and use whey as some form of weight loss nirvana. However, taken as a total picture, the bulk of the research seems to conclude that whey may in fact have some unique effects for weight loss and should be of great use to the dieter. More studies are clearly needed however.

So what is the practical application of all this information and how does the dieter put it to good use? Being the appetite suppressing effects of whey appear to last approximately 2-3 hours, it would seem best to stagger the intake throughout the day. For example, breakfast might be 1-2 scoops of whey and a bowl of oatmeal, and perhaps a few scoops of whey taken between lunch and dinner.

If whey does what the data suggests it does in the above, that should be the most effective method for maximizing the effects of whey on food (calorie) intake on subsequent meals as well as the other metabolic effects covered. If working out, the schedule may be different however and people should follow the pre and post nutrition recommendations made in my ebook “Muscle Building Nutrition” or advice easily found on the ‘net via the many sports nutrition and bodybuilding related web sites.

Is Eating Right All The Time Causing You Stress?

Friday, January 1st, 2016

 

healthy-choicesStress can stop your weight loss goals about as much as eating a family size bag of Nacho chips and a 2-Liter bottle of pop can.

My approach to weight loss was in gaining my health. Losing 300 pounds was not the first thing that occurred to me, but rather “what could I do to get healthy and eat right”. It was a very strange approach given that I was obviously clinically obese and immediately needed some quick weight loss.

I had no idea that our body used food in a very specific manor and that we could improve our energy levels by working with the body, not against it. There were some very specific rules to follow, so being the good student I followed them. It became a religion for me and as I preached it, I made many people quite crazy. I became an outcast because I had to prepare my food differently and would not eat with the gang at meal times. My food was prepared differently, eaten differently and eventually I even came to ask food servers to use different spatulas to flip my “veggie burger” from the grill.

I followed the rules and I increased my energy. I began eating better and my energy levels increased enough that my weight loss began and I started to become lean and healthy.

Then the stuff hit the fan

Well, it hit their fan, not mine.

8-Benefits-to-Eating-RightFriends began to talk behind my back about wanting the old Rob back. In one instance, I was held down on a couch while cola was poured into my mouth against my will. They wanted their
old funny, fat, life of the party friend back, not this health nut with all these food rules.

I think I first became aware of being stressed about food at a birthday party I was asked to attend. It was a time of celebration, but do you want to know what I was thinking?

“Do I or don’t I have a piece of cake?”

“This is totally processed, unnatural food. No fiber, no wholeness and it contained sugars, lard and all kinds of other crap”.

I had a whole bunch of thoughts about how this would affect my weight loss goals, my health and my eating habits.

I was weighing the thoughts of being socially acceptable against the health choice of having this one little piece of cake. I thought about losing them as friends if I did not accept the cake and weighed it against the impact this poor food choice was going to have on my body. I had already lost friends because of my food choices and I really did not want to lose more.

I’m sure you’ve been there yourself, having to make a decision based on your social status vs your health. It’s a very quick thought process, but you notice that your blood pressure goes up, your heart begins to beat faster, you begin to sweat… you know what I mean?

I ate the cake.

I felt like crap.

Nutrition-Tips-to-Eating-Right-and-Staying-HealthyI felt like crap on many levels and I was stressing about this excessively. I felt bad that I had to make that choice in this manner. I felt bad because the sugar was surging into my blood and I felt bad because I “thought about this way too much”

At some point, you need to let go of it all.

There is energy in food; in the love and people around you that prepared the food and the circumstances in which it’s eaten. Never eat a meal when you are upset or sad because you should be enjoying the meal and taking in all the goodness in what the earth has brought to your body. Take in all that goodness and let go of all the stress.

Eat naturally as much as you can and increase the amount of whole foods in your diet. Make a choice to remove processed foods and beverages such as cola’s, fruit juices, coffee and traditional teas. Eat with a smile on your face and give thanks to everyone involved in bringing the meal, the nutrition and that energy into your body.

Then when the time is right, have fun and enjoy the health you’ve created.

There was a very dramatic shift in my life, my health and my weight loss when I made the choice to enjoy some foods again.
I began to break my own rules and live my life. I began to have fun with food and fun came back into my life.

Let go.