Category Archives: diet

Poor sleep, “dietary disinhibition,” and weight gain

“Dietary disinhibition”

In school, the concept was taught like this: recruit a bunch of people and tell them it’s for a cookie taste-testing project. Give them a form with a bunch of questions about cookie quality (taste, texture, sweetness, etc.) and a plate of cookies.

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SWITCHAROO!

They aren’t there for a cookie taste-test. It turns out that some people experience “dietary disinhibition” wherein if they eat one cookie, they think something like “well, I’ve blown my diet for the day, so might as well just eat the whole plate of cookies” (actually, I’m pretty sure it’s way more complicated than that, but I learned it in a nutrition class, not a psychology class).

It’s not a lot of people — most would just take a bite and fill out the questionnaire — but it’s been replicated in enough settings that it’s probably a real phenomenon.

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Brain Health: Intermittent Fasting or Caloric Restriction

Brief note: the definitions of IF and CR vary widely. For the sake of simplicity, in this article, if IF results in weight loss, then it’s also CR. CR, by definition, results in weight loss and typically includes ~3 meals a day. Neither diet specifies macros. Weight loss is a confounder to keep in mind.

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For example, in this 3 month-long study, 30% CR was compared to an increased unsaturated fatty acid group and a control group (Witte et al., 2009). CR group lost weight whereas the other two groups actually gained weight (unintended). In this study, 30% CR resulted in an apparently pretty impressive improvement in memory:

 

 

HOWEVER: The actual dietary changes in each group were… interesting (see Table S1) — the control group ended up doing dietarily almost exactly what the CR group did… so why didn’t their memory score improve? Why didn’t they lose weight? I don’t know, but something seems fishy.

CR garners zero points for this.

 

 

Next on the docket is a systematic review (Benau et al., 2014), which concluded: “The combined results are equivocal: several studies report no observable differences as a result of fasting and others show specific deficits on tasks designed to test psychomotor speed, executive function, and mental rotation.” That was based on 10 studies. Given the nature of human biology, “no effects of IF” would not have been unexpected. Kinda surprised at all of those negatives.

The ice age fairy tales go something like this: no food for a day or two improves your cognitive capacity, makes you sharper so you can get your next meal (be it via hunting, gathering, or whatever).

I’m not anti-IF; in fact, I think everyone in weight maintenance should be able to go through the night without the need to wake-up to eat. I’m just commenting on the available studies by people who aren’t selling books on the topic.

For the rest of this article or if you just like what I do and want to support it, head over to Patreon! Five bucks a month for full access. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks 🙂

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 HERETrueDark is running a pretty big sale 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. (I recommend Lion’s Mane for the brain and Reishi for everything else). 

 

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Intermittent fasting is nothingsauce

So Twitter got supermad when I said the human studies on intermittent fasting are not compelling. Not the anecdotes or n=1’s. The actual human studies.
And instead of “not compelling,”
I may have said “nothingsauce.”

Hilarity ensued. I was bombarded with
ALL.
THE.
ANECDOTES.

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Someone was kind enough to send me all the proof that I was wrong. Here are the 5 non-Varady studies, reviewed.

Tl;dr: as long as you’re not eating like a child, “Eating > not eating. QED.”

 

 

Alternate day calorie restriction (ADCR) improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma (Johnson et al., 2006)

Study design: n=10, 8 weeks, NO CONTROL GROUP. Every other day they ate 20% of normal and ad lib the other days. This would’ve been much cooler if they included a 40% caloric restriction and weight maintenance (WM) control groups. The former to see if ADCR was superior to a similar reduction in energy intake and the latter because people behave differently when their being observed (regardless of which group they’re in) (few studies include a WM control group).

Result: body weight declined by 8%. Is that worth having nothing but a snack every other day? How about compared to 40% CR? Nothingsauce?

Oh yeah, uric acid increased and BDNF decreased. So, gout, kidney stones, and cognitive deterioration. Yummy nothingsauce.

 

The effects of modified alternate-day fasting diet on weight loss and CAD risk factors in overweight and obese women (Eshghinia et al., 2013)

Study design: similar to the above, and also lacking a control group.

Result: BW declined by 7%.

Critique: same. No control group. Would this have been better than CR or anything else? They basically just say “it’s relatively safe;” but it’s not, really… and some forms of intermittent fasting can have harmful side effects.

 

For the rest of this article (including some LOLZ & facepalming), head over to Patreon! It gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it): metabolic mayhem, rebound hyperglycemia, some circadian chicanery #eTRF, and much more.

And stay tuned: since BDNF actually declined in the Johnson study, I’m following up with a review of intermittent fasting vs. various aspects of cognition, memory, mood, sleep, etc.

On Patreon, five bucks a month gets you full access. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks 🙂

UPDATED Affiliate links: still looking for a pair of hot blue blockers? Carbonshade and TrueDark are 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. I recommend Lion’s Mane for the brain and Reishi for everything else.

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Brain health: more easy steps

When describing the length of one of his students’ fingers, the great classical guitarist Andres Segovia said “she has more long fingers than anyone else” — he meant longer fingers… English wasn’t his strong suit haha

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Maximize sunlight exposure, minimize artificial light (or at least get some hot blue blockers). Get at least some physical activity. Those are the basics. Moving on…

Tl;dr: Beef heart, calf liver, and maybe some supps 🙂

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 isn’t approved for the treatment of anything, but hear me out.

We have about a gram of CoQ10 in our entire body, concentrated in the mitochondria of highly oxidative tissues (Saini, 2011). It is found at around 60-110 ug/g in heart (eg, Ercan and El, 2011Aberg et al., 1992).

 

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I’m not anti-keto, but I’m not anti-science.

The ketogenic diet inhibits mTOR but spares muscle. Wait, wut?

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mTOR is a key mediator of skeletal muscle growth. Primarily via stimulating protein synthesis, although some researchers are even looking for ways to activate it to prevent atrophy (eg, Dyle et al., 2014) (eg, ursolic acid & tomatidine).

Role of skeletal muscle mTOR in mechanical load-induced growth (Goodman et al., 2011)

Signaling pathways mediating muscle mass in aging skeletal muscle: role of mTOR (Sandri et al., 2013)

Mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle growth and atrophy (Schiaffino et al., 2013)

mTOR is necessary for proper satelite cell activity and skeletal muscle regeneration (Zhang et al., 2015)

 

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Funded by Big ‘Shrooma

Reishi, the mushroom of longevity.

“The goal is to maintain or improve brain function and physical performance. And not get cancer.”

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‘Shrooms-every-day is part of my long-term anti-cancer plan. It’s not always a lot per serving, but I try to do the whole variety thing as much as possible, whatever’s available.

Maybe it’s one of those ice-age fairy tales fallacies, but cultures around the world have attributed a large number of health benefits to ‘shrooms for literally, thousands of years:

Ganoderma [reishi] has a very long history in East Asia as a medicinal mushroom dating back to the Chinese materia medica ‘Shen Nung Ben Cao Jing,’ written between 206 BC and 8 AD. It was considered a superior tonic for prolonging life, preventing aging, and boosting qi.”

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Brain Health, Easy Steps

Open to everyone at Patreon! <- link

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.

Tl;dr: sleep, sunlight, seafood, and exercise. Maybe some others. No industrial foods.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) comes up a lot, so I’ll just tell you now, it’s like brain-fertilizer.

Sunlight promotes dopamine synthesis in your brain (eg, de Lima et al., 2011). Dopamine, via D5 receptor, has a lot of direct effects on memory and learning, but also stimulates BDNF (Perreault et al., 2013). Take a walk outside after breakfast and/or lunch. Bonus: vitamin D is also good for the brain and exercise after meals promotes +nutrient partitioning.

At night, you need melatonin, and for that, you need darkness. In my experience, it’s harder to control sleep onset & duration than time in darkness. T.S. Wiley recommends 9.5 hours of darkness. That’s a lot, I know, but I have a lot of respect for Wiley and she explains it well in Lights Out!

The studies on melatonin supps are mixed (eg, 1, 2, 3, 4) but those on crappy sleep aren’t (eg, 1, 2, 3), so come on fam, at least get some blue blockers (if you choose Carbonshade or Spectra479, use coupon code LAGAKOS for 15% off).

The positive influence of exercise on brain health seems to have many mechanisms, BDNF being one of them (Seifert et al., 2010). Myokines from exercising muscles have a part in this (Philips et al., 2014), so does beta-hydroxybutyrate (eg, Sleiman et al., 2016 and Marosi et al., 2016). Possible role for exogenous bHB supps?

 

 

Niacin boosts BDNF (eg, Fu et al., 2014). Fortunately, it’s fairly abundant in the diet, but if you wanna try something new, nutritional yeast can add cheesy deliciousness to just about anything.

Niacin is also a precursor to NAD+, and this company really REALLY thinks NAD+ is the bomb (see their website for a round-up of the science). Rodent studies have suggested nicotinamide riboside is better at boosting brain NAD+ than niacin (eg, Collins and Chaykin, 1972), but as mentioned above, niacin isn’t hard to find via diet.

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 the taste, Real Mushrooms makes great extracts. 10% off with coupon code LAGAKOS.

For the rest of this article (which includes advise on foods & supps), or if you just like what I do and want to support it, head over to Patreon! Three bucks a month for access to all content and there are many other options. Sign up soon as the number of spots at the $3 level is limited. It’s ad-free and you can cancel at any time.

 

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Yet another study showing low carb doesn’t impair performance +

and by some metrics, at least in this study, might even improve it.

Ketoadaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes (McSwiney et al., 2017)

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Advantage of this study over previous ones: 12 weeks. I believe the choice to opt for self-selection over randomization was to improve adherence (which was pretty good for this 12 week-long study). Downside is, well, it’s not randomized. Crossover RCT is best but it’s always a trade-off: sample size, duration, tools, etc., everything has a price. Literally.

Tl;dr: Ketoadaptation doesn’t diminish performance at high intensity even after “draining the tank.”

The study: we aren’t told much about the diets, just high carb vs. ketogenic. And keto group was advised to drink broths for salts, mins, electrolytes, etc.* Speaking of which 🙂 Kettle & Fire is offering 20% off their delish broths/stock HERE.

*I don’t think this qualifies as cheating in this #context.

Before and after the 12-week dietary intervention, a battery of tests were performed: a six second all-out bicycle sprint (SS), immediately followed by a 100 km time trial (TT), immediately followed by a 3-minute sprint (CPT).

These were well-trained, healthy individuals who continued their training throughout the study. This & duration are two important nuances of this study (more on this below).

The biggest finding …*drumroll* … significantly greater fat loss in the keto group and this wasn’t even a weight loss study. They also jacked up protein intake so they didn’t lose muscle mass. Protein declined in the high carb group, but they were able to maintain muscle because carbs increased.

 

WHERE HAVE WE SEEN THIS BEFORE

HINT: HERE

 

 

Whether they knew it or not, this study was designed to test peak power output before (SS) and after (CPT) exhaustively draining the tank (TT). The theory is that ketoadaptation: 1) spares glycogen so there’s some juice left in the tank for the second peak power test, although racing 100 km is pretty tough so there couldn’t have been much juice left in either group; and 2) ketoadaptation relies more on fatty acids at every level of output, as evidenced by the RER figure (below). Fuel usage comes close at high levels of output (both groups rely more heavily on glucose), but ketoadapted is always a little lower (eg, see the right-most point in the figure below). And fat stores are basically limitless whereas glycogen is not. This may or may not have been a factor here.

 

PEAK PERFORMANCE

I don’t know why the authors reported peak power relative to body weight. I could understand lean mass, maybe, but keto lost a lot of weight via body fat. If peak power remained the same (as has previously been shown), it would [falsely] appear to increase in this study.

For a more nuanced interpretation of this study (which is good, I promise!), head over to Patreon! Five bucks a month for full access and there are many other options. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks 🙂

Also, I’m open to suggestions so feel free to leave a comment or email me directly at drlagakos@gmail.com.

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 HERETrueDark is running a pretty big sale HEREIf 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. I recommend Lion’s Mane for the brain and Reishi for everything else.

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We don’t want more or less antioxidants. We want balance. #NRF2

“The goal is to maintain or improve brain function and physical performance. And not get cancer.”

Antioxidants

There isn’t a strong case to make for antioxidant supplements. They’ve been shown to do nothing more often than not, and even harm in a few cases when dose & #context were mismatched (eg, ATBC and CARET). This is part of what led to the conclusion that we want an appropriate “reactive oxidative species *tone*” or “antioxidant balance.” Or “landscape.” Or some other catchphrase of the week.

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In line with this, animal models that genetically up- or down-regulate antioxidant pathways are predicted to show negative or no effects because they are, practically by definition, generating a mismatch.

In humans under normal conditions, I believe pro- and anti-oxidants are balanced by our own endogenous processes. If we ingest something that produces a bit too much ROS, they’ll be neutralized. If we ingest something that induces antioxidant processes, they’ll be used if necessary and degraded if not. In other words, as long as you’re not mega-dosing beta-carotene or smoking 2 packs a day, etc., then none of this should matter.

 

 

NRF2

Which brings me to NRF2. I like the concept of periodically inducing our own endogenous detox processes because it seems like they’ll either help or do nothing. Not harm. It’s like, stacking the deck in your favor.

Nrf2: ket target for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases

 

Bioactive Neutraceuticals and Dietary Supplements in Neurological and Brain Disease: Prevention and Therapy

If you ingest something that induces NRF2 and something needs detoxifying (for example, some manifestation of improper ROS tone or inflammation or something), then NRF2 will get it done. Otherwise, NRF2 goes away in about 20 minutes (Kobayashi et al., 2004).

 

Reminders: still looking for a pair of hot blue blockers? Carbonshade and Spectra479 are offering 15% off with the coupon code LAGAKOS. And Kettle & Fire is offering 20% off of their delish broths/stocks HERE.

 

If you like what I do and want to support the show, consider becoming a Patron!

Three bucks a month for access to all articles and there are many other options. And it’s ad-free.

If you’re on the fence considering it, try it out, you can cancel at any time! Also, there is a limited number of positions remaining at the $3 level.

Lastly, I’m open to suggestions; please feel free leave a comment or email me directly at drlagakos@gmail.com.

 

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Pregnancy dieting and #moderation: just don’t be extreme

“If you can’t absorb B12, no amount of steak will help you” (more on this below)

Just like practically everyone in the field, I’m uncomfortable with the word moderation, in part because one person’s moderation can be wildly different from another’s.

Remember the Motherwell studies? In brief, they asked a group of expecting women to ditch carbs and eat a ton of meat instead (about a pound per day), and compared them with a group not given diet advice. It was designed to compare an extreme diet to an average diet (note: they didn’t assess the opposite extreme, ie, high carb vegan).

Tl;dr: babies were healthy at birth but developed a variety of health problems later in life. Perfect study design? No. Better than ALSPAC? Kinda, yeah.

 

 

In the context of today’s topic, I’ll define moderation as “not extreme” (bear with me here) (unless ALSPAC is retracted or something… which is possible given the study design.)

 

Meat consumption during pregnancy and substance misuse among adolescent offspring (Hibbeln et al., 2017) (aka ALSPAC)

 

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