Are you a real T-MAN?
WARNING: This article contains links to a website whose images might be a little too hardcore for your workplace.
In my daily stroll through the internetz, I stumbled upon this article by fitness journalist/dating expert Nate Green who interviews fellow staff writer Dr. Lonnie Lowery. Before I get into this, let me first thank the good fellas at Tmuscle for providing a relentless source of entertainment. Not to mention, they always come through with great pics & vids of super-enhanced fleshiness. Nate’s article embodies so much of the Tmuscle ideals in a single swoop, that it deserves a little shine here on my Super Secret Blog™. Here are some key quotes from the article, followed by my two cents.
“If guys would simply load up on carbs and protein before their training sessions, take in high-quality amino acids during their workouts, and have another solid meal post-workout, they’d take advantage of the most anabolic time of the day and build serious muscle.”
The above isn’t a counterproductive recommendation. In fact, for most trainees, it’s a good idea to sandwich the training bout with protein & carbs. However, if a protein-rich meal or shake was consumed near the start of the training bout, intraworkout amino acid intake is redundant, especially for typical-length sessions lasting about an hour. The preworkout meal is already being digested, and amino acids are already being absorbed into circulation. One little wrinkle: if what you’re drinking during the bout can improve your mood, this can potentially drive better performance. But most of all, nothing screams “I’m hardcore!” like walking around the gym with your chest puffed and lats flared, clutching a jug of bright pink fluid.
“Well, when it comes to protein synthesis — the necessary reaction that must happen to build muscle — the hormone insulin plays a huge role. Simply, the higher you spike insulin, the more protein synthesis will occur, and the more muscle you can build.”
The above statement is a combo of oversimplification and exaggeration. Even when amino acid levels are kept elevated, insulin’s ability to max-out net muscle protein balance has a ceiling that’s easily reached by a normal-size protein/carb meal or shake. A large mixed meal or shake can cause insulin levels to far surpass this limit. This is why researchers have alluded to insulin’s role in furthering net protein balance as more permissive than it is stimulatory . On a sidenote of trivia, insulin has been seen to cause protein synthesis on its own when intravenously raised to 1000 times normal basal levels . But alas, we’re talking about orally ingested/nutrient-mediated insulin elevations, not intravenous super-dosing for pharmacological effects.
Think of it this way: if you buckle down for two hours, feed your body high-quality protein and carbs, spike insulin, train hard, and re-feed your body afterward, you’re almost guaranteeing that every amino acid is getting pumped straight into your muscles. You’ve created the ultimate anabolic environment, and, if you’re following the super-effective Anaconda Protocol, you’re taking in a whopping 1,157 calories of muscle-building nutrients and 167 grams of protein.
This is where Tmuscle takes the more-is-better principle and exploits it to an explosive end, literally. Linked in the quote above, the Anaconda Protocol is a true test of maximal human stomach capacity, which isn’t the best test to run during a hard training session. If the user feedback in this thread means anything, we should all hope that stain-free versions of the supplements are in development. There’s really no technical criticism needed here; just picture consuming a half-day’s worth of calories plus an entire day’s worth of fluid within a couple of hours. And somewhere within that timeframe, you must complete an intense workout before having to run to the sink or the toilet.
“I have no idea where that notion came from,” says Lowery. “My guess is that they took a 180-pound guy, gave him one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and divided that by six meals to get 30 grams per meal. And for some reason, people seem to think that it’s the ‘magic’ number. It’s just not correct.”
Well, its refreshing to see them get something right. The problem is, Lowery appears to be contradicting the more-is-better mantra in a fairly recent article where he says, “I’ve actually cut back on the amount of protein I eat at any given time. I just make sure I spike it with leucine. I usually put a scoop and a half, about 7 or 8 grams, of leucine in just 20 grams of protein. But I’ve stopped sucking down 50 or 60 grams of protein at a time. I just don’t do that anymore; I don’t think it has that much benefit. Plus this prevents me from becoming a protein oxidizer or burner.” This makes you wonder just how genuinely supportive Lowery is of the 167-gram protein dose in the Anaconda Protocol.
The Perfect Carbs: According to Lowery, the perfect blend of carbs to consume before a workout should be insulinogenic (spikes insulin), but not anything containing straight sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. “I’m all for special dextrins [like the rice oligodextrin found in FINiBAR™ that will support high-level performance,” he says. “You can’t just sit down and have a giant bowl of Applejacks.”
The above passage contradicts itself. Finibars have been marketed as a product that provides a steady release of carbs. “Fuel for the finish” is the product’s tag line. The bar’s primary ingredient is isomaltulose (also called palatinose), which has been demonstrated to elicit a low-glycemic, low-insulinemic response . With all their hype surrounding the prodigious spiking of insulin, it seems they chose the wrong carb to drive their point. Personally, I’d rather have a bowl of Applejacks in milk over a Finibar.
The Perfect Protein: For protein, Lowery’s a fan of hydrolysates [like the casein hydrolysate found in ANACONDA™, which are proteins that enter the blood stream quickly and significantly increase the rate of protein synthesis. “Remember, the faster the amino acids hit the bloodstream and more protein synthesis you create, the better off you’ll be,” says Lowery.
Like the erroneous use of Finibars as an example of the “perfect carb” for spiking insulin, touting casein hydrolysate as the “perfect protein” has its own caveats. While one study showed that casein hydrolysate is more quickly digested and absorbed than intact casein , another study found that the faster absorption of casein hydrolysate isn’t necessarily superior for muscle anabolism . Compared to intact casein, its hydrolyzed form was preferentially incorporated into the intestinal tissue instead of skeletal muscle (more discussion here). Given this sparse and equivocal data set, calling casein hydrolysate “perfect” is a perfect example of unsubstantiated hype.
And, you can’t drink chocolate milk and eat sugary cereal to get the same effect. That’s not the 3rd Law of Muscle. That’s eating crappy food. You need quality nutrients from specialized carbs like rice oligodextrin, and specialized proteins like casein hydrolysate.
So, what does it mean when the crappy food is more micronutrient-dense, and has equal or more supporting research than the perfect stuff?
- Phillips SM. Insulin and muscle protein turnover in humans: stimulatory, permissive, inhibitory, or all of the above? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;295(4):E731. [Medline]
- Hillier TA, et al. Extreme hyperinsulinemia unmasks insulin’s effect to stimulate protein synthesis in the human forearm. Am J Physiol. 1998 Jun;274(6 Pt 1):E1067-74. [Medline]
- van Can JG, et al. Reduced glycaemic and insulinaemic responses following isomaltulose ingestion: implications for postprandial substrate use. Br J Nutr. 2009 Nov;102(10):1408-13. [Medline]
- Koopman R, et al. Ingestion of a protein hydrolysate is accompanied by an accelerated in vivo digestion and absorption rate when compared with its intact protein. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):106-15. [Medline]
- Deglaire A, et al. Hydrolyzed dietary casein as compared with the intact protein reduces postprandial peripheral, but not whole-body, uptake of nitrogen in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Oct;90(4):1011-22. [Medline]