Category Archives: chocolate

Discordant insulin sensitivity on a high protein diet

So, we have another “high protein” weight loss study (Smith et al., 2016).  Or really, a “low (0.8 g/kg) vs. moderate (1.2 g/kg) protein weight loss study.”  In brief, it took ’em about 6 months to lose 10% of their starting body weight, then were given 4 weeks of weight stability before “after” measurements were taken.

Important: this was not a contest to see who would lose more weight; they kept going and adjusting food intake until both groups lost 10%.  Not really ad lib, but otherwise a good study design imo.  The intervention was relatively weak (eg, protein 0.8 vs. 1.2 g/kg), but on the plus side, that’s realistic and very “do-able.”  If you’re interested in super-high protein diets (3-4 g/kg), check out research by Jose Antonio.

 




 

Big yet not unexpected finding: the low protein group lost about twice as much muscle than the normal protein group.

 

fat-free-mass

 

The isocaloric normal protein group lost more fat and less muscle than the low protein group.

But then everyone freaked out because the low protein group experienced a significant improvement in muscle/liver insulin sensitivity whereas the normal protein group didn’t:

 

glucose-rate-of-disappearance

 

-The headlines were hilarious, like, “high protein makes weight loss not work anymore.”

-Then some critics jumped the shark and blamed it on “liquid calories,” because whey protein shakes are totes non-Paleo, and #JERF.

-TBH, I found more interesting the changes in adipose insulin sensitivity

The normal protein group had the most insulin sensitive adipose of all groups… yet they lost more fat mass despite eating just as much or even slightly more than the other groups.

 

adipose-insulin-sensitivity

 

Does this mean they’re doomed to regain the weight?  I don’t think so, as high dietary protein is one of the strongest predictors of weight loss success long-term.

HERESY!  the low protein group had: 1) lower basal insulin than the normal protein group; 2) lower adipose insulin sensitivity; 3) ate less (NS); yet lost less fat mass.

 




 

In other words, the normal protein group had higher basal insulin, more insulin sensitive adipose tissue, and slightly higher food intake (NS).  According to the insulin model, they should’ve lost less fat mass than the low protein group, but they didn’t.

Is this another chink in the armor of the insulin model?

The truth seems to be: people lose weight on both LC and LF diets by giving up junk food.  On LC, this is accomplished by giving up carbs; on LF, this is accomplished by switching to better carbs.  Some people adhere better to one diet or the other.  Maybe insulin sensitivity has something to do with it.

Insulin from high protein: not bad?
Insulin from good carbs: not bad?
Junk food: no bueno.
So maybe just maybe it’s not just ze insulin…

 




 

Back to the protein…

This was not sorcery; it’s been seen before in a variety of different paradigms: dietary protein has a profound impact on nutrient partitioning.

Yes, even when it’s liquid calorie insulinogenic whey protein isolate bro-shakes.

Yes, even when it’s not crazy-high levels of protein…  seriously, 1.2 g/kg is not “high”

 

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Past blog posts on [the non-sorcery of] dietary protein:

Holiday feasts, the freshman 15, and damage control

Dietary protein, ketosis, and appetite control.

Nutrient Partitioning: …a *very* high protein diet.

Protein “requirements,” carbs, and nutrient partitioning

Cyclical ketosis, glycogen depletion, and nutrient partitioning

Meal frequency, intermittent fasting, and dietary protein

Muscle growth sans carbs

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Alcohol on keto

This article isn’t about alcohol tolerance.  It’s about your liver.

Tl;dr: with a basic knowledge about alcohol metabolism and ketoadaptation, drinking on keto gives me pause.

It might be nothing, but it gives me pause.

Alcohol is metabolized primarily by alcohol dehydrogenase, producing acetaldehyde and reducing equivalents as NADH.  This pathway produces energy.

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Personalized Nutrition II

More on Zeevi et al. (2015) (this is a follow-up to part 1)

I like this study a lot, or at least the fundamentals… or new tools that it might bring to the table.  Like, we know sleep and physical activity are important, and we know all calories aren’t created equal.  This study is the next level, showing there are even big differences in specific carb-rich foods depending on who’s eating them.

And more interestingly, if I’m interpreting the results of the intervention study correctly (which may not be the case), gut microbial responses to specific foods were very individualized… and predictable!

But first, the main part of the study — standardized meals (after overnight fast): 50g carbs from glucose, white bread, bread and butter, bread and dark chocolate, and fructose.  All repeated at least once (except fructose).  Everyone responded pretty similarly to fructose (little to no blood glucose spike), but a wide range of responses to glucose.

PPGR = PostPrandial Glucose Response

 

glucose and fructose

 

Bread:

 

bread

 

The range of PPGR to bread was ~15 to 79!

Again, here are some of the findings I found most interesting (besides the huge range in glycemic response to bread):

 

 

banana and cookie

 

Participant #468 has a consistently higher response to glucose than to white bread.  Participant #663 is the opposite.  And participant #445 is still winning.

I truly wonder if there’s a gut microbe (or something) that’s involved here…

 

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Ketone bodies as signaling metabolites

*non sequiter*

One of the ways dietary carbohydrate contributes to liver fat is via ChREBP: “carbohydrate-response element binding protein.”  It responds to a glucose metabolite and activates transcription of lipogenic genes.  Insulin helps.  Ketones do the opposite (Nakagawa et al., 2013), by inhibiting the translocation of ChREBP into the nucleus where it does it’s dirty work:

 

ChREBP

 

More interestingly, ketones are histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi)… this leads to more histone acetylation.  Benefits of fasting sans fasting?  Modulating of acetylation is a MAJOR regulator of circadian rhythmicity.

Butyrate is another HDACi, so have some fibrous plant foods with your red wine and dark chocolate.  Anti-aging (mostly worm studies, but still).

 

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Because chocolate

To improve a memory, consider chocolate –NYT

Dark chocolate could improve memory by 25%, but you’d have to eat 7 bars a day –PBS

Dietary flavanols reverse age-related memory decline –Columbia University Medical Centre

dark chocolate

 

The actual study: Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults (Brickman et al., 2014)

High flavanol group: 900 mg cocoa flavanols and 138 mg epicatechin (that’d be a LOT of dark chocolate).

Control: 10 mg cocoa flavanols and 2 mg epicatechin

Study duration: 3 months

Funding: NIH & Mars lol

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Paleo Plants and Carnivory

From what I gather, it’s been difficult to pinpoint the role of plants in the diet of our ancestors for a variety of reasons.  For example, evidence of plants on cooking tools and dental remains is suggestive but doesn’t disprove the possibility that said evidence came from preparing the plants for some other purpose (eg, tools, weapons, or medicine), or that the stomach contents of an herbivore was ingested (which gets partial credit).

That said, after reviewing a few studies on the topic (see below), it’s safe to say that plants were eaten, probably frequently, and the types & quantities varied seasonally & geographically.  Collectively, the data suggest we aren’t carnivores.

…you had to have something to hold you over until the next fish fell prey to your deadly hunting spear…

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Lipid Hypothesis 2.0: Eat Butter

The original lipid hypothesis stated, more or less, that lowering blood cholesterol would reduce premature mortality from heart disease.  At the time, it was thought that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat increased the ‘bad’ type of blood cholesterol, so the advice was to restrict those foods.  All of that was wrong.

Time

Lipid Hypothesis 2.0: Eat Butter

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Animal fibre

Fruits and veggies, fermented or otherwise, aren’t the only source of prebiotics in your diet.  Eat a whole sardine and some of the ligaments, tendons, bones, and cartilage will surely escape digestion to reach the distal intestine where they will be fermented by the resident microbes.  

sardines

Salmon skin and the collagen in its flesh, the tendons that hold rib meat to the bone, and maybe even some of the ligaments between chicken bones.  All of these are potential prebiotics or “animal fibres.”  And it may explain why fermented sausages are such good vessels for probiotics.

“Animal prebiotic” may be a more appropriate term because the food matrix is quite different from that of non-digestible plant polysaccharides.  And while I doubt those following carnivorous diets are dining exclusively on steak, these studies suggest it might be particularly important to eat a variety of animal products (as well as greens, nuts, dark chocolate, fermented foods, etc.) in order to optimize gut health.

almonds

These studies are about the prebiotics in a cheetah’s diet.  Cheetah’s are carnivores, and as such, they dine on rabbits, not rabbit food.

cheetah

As somewhat of a proof of concept study, Depauw and colleagues tried fermenting a variety of relatively non-digestible animal parts with cheetah fecal microbes (2012).  Many of the substrates are things that are likely present in our diet (whether we know it or not).

Cartilage

Collagen (tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, bones, etc.)

Glucosamine-chondroitin (cartilage)

Glucosamine (chitin from shrimp exoskeleton? exo bars made with cricket flour?)

Rabbit bone, hair, and skin (Chicken McNuggets?)

Depauw ferments

The positive control, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), was clearly the most fermentable substrate; however, glucosamine and chondroitin weren’t too far behind.  Chicken cartilage and collagen were also well above the negative control (cellulose).  Rabbit skin, hair, and bone weren’t particularly good substrates.

As to fermentation products, collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin were actually on par with FOS in terms of butyrate production:

Depauw SCFAs

Glycosaminoglycans (glucosamine and chondroitin) are found in cartilage and connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) and may have been mediating some of these effects as they’re some of the carbiest parts of animal products.  Duck Dodgers wrote about this in a guest post at FTA and in the comments of Norm Robillard’s article (probably elsewhere, too); very interesting stuff.

The authors also mentioned that the different fermentation rates in the first few hours suggests an adaptive component (some took a while to get going), or that certain substrates induced the proliferation of specific microbes.  “Animal prebiotics.”

Depauw close up

This is particularly noticeable for FOS (solid line), which is a plant fibre that wouldn’t really be present at high levels in a cheetah’s diet, so the microbes necessary to ferment it were probably not very abundant (initially).  Chicken cartilage (long dashes), on the other hand, started immediately rapidly fermenting, perhaps because this is more abundant in the cheetah’s diet.

Depauw took this a step further and fed cheetahs either exclusively beef or whole rabbit for a month (2013). Presumably, the beef had much less animal fibre than whole rabbit.  When they initially examined fecal short chain fatty acids, there were no major differences between the groups:

SCFAs per gram

However, if you take into consideration that the whole rabbit-fed cheetahs produced over 50% more crap than meat-fed cheetahs, then some other differences become apparent.  For example, the concentration of total SCFAs is actually greater in the feces from whole rabbit-fed cheetahs:

updated table

edit: la Frite pointed out that the table in the original manuscript is incorrect; the total SCFA numbers are reversed. The excel table above is corrected.

Further, the mere fact that there was 50% more fecal mass per day pretty much confirms way more animal fibre in whole rabbits.  And while neither of these studies were accompanied by microbial analysis, a more recent study on cheetahs fed primarily meat, “randomly interspersed with unsupplemented whole rabbits,” showed low levels of Bacteroidetes and Bifidobacteria, two potentially health-promoting groups of microbes (Becker et al., 2014).  I suspect this may have been at least partially due to a relative lack of animal fibre, compared to the Depauw’s exclusive whole rabbit diet.

Human digestive physiology and gut microbes are certainly far different from that of a cheetah, but maybe we too receive some prebiotic benefits from these animal fibres… just something to think about next time you’re eating sardines or pork ribs.

Affiliate discounts: if you’re still looking for a pair of hot blue blockers, Carbonshade  is offering 15% off with the coupon code LAGAKOS and Spectra479 is offering 15% off HERE. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this then this.

20% off some delish stocks and broths from Kettle and Fire HERE

If you want the benefits of  ‘shrooms but don’t like eating them, Real Mushrooms makes great extracts. 10% off with coupon code LAGAKOS.

For full access to all articles (or if you just like what I do and want to support it), head over to Patreon! Three bucks a month and there are many other options. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks ????

 

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— Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone) March 26, 2014

 

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Fermented meat & probiotics

From Slate: “Sausage made with bacteria from baby poop isn’t as gross as it sounds.” 

and my favorite: “Pooperoni? Baby-poop bacteria help make healthy sausages.

Much ado about: Nutritionally enhanced fermented sausages as a vehicle for potential probiotic lactobacilli delivery (Rubio et al., 2014)

The media seems to have missed the ball, but not by far.  They focused on healthy microbes being incorporated into fermented meats, whereas the scientists seemed to want to make a “healthier” low-salt, low-fat sausage.

The low-salt part seems to partially make sense from a fermentation-perspective: using probiotics instead of salt to reduce the potential for pathogenic microbial contamination.  However, I doubt reducing the sodium by 25% will have any appreciable impact on health outcomes.  The effect of adding beneficial microbes, on the other hand, might.

They also mentioned making it lower in fat, but that doesn’t make as much sense; I don’t think there’s a big contamination risk of having a higher fat content.  #lipophobia

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Fish, dark chocolate, and red wine.

Fish oil fatty acids: EPA & DHA.

I’ve read that EPA tends to show slightly better results in outcomes related to mood, whereas DHA tends to be slightly better for cognition.  Not mutually exclusive; probably a lot of overlap.  This meta-analysis by Martins showed EPA fared better than DHA for depressive symptoms (2009); another one here, stressing the high %EPA relative to %DHA necessary for improvements (Sublette et al., 2011).  Whereas the reverse is true for certain cognitive outcomes in this study by Sinn and colleagues (2012).  Very few studies test EPA vs. DHA directly, and their effects on metabolism are relatively similar.  They’re the ball bearings of fatty acids.epa dpa dha

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