Category Archives: Energy balance

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.

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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.

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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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On the impact of diet on circadian phase setting

We’ve seen that meal size and frequency can influence circadian rhythms, but here are some examples of how nutrients can, too.

Circadian phase advance: going to bed earlier, waking up earlier.  Blue blockers at sunset, bright light at sunrise.  Flying east.  Autumn.

Circadian phase delay: staying up late, sleeping in.  Flying west.  Spring.  Using smart phones, tablets, and iPads in bed at night.  Light pollution.

Relative to adolescents, infants and children are circadian phase advanced.  This is part of what is fueling the movement to delay high school start times.  Kids are mentally better prepared to work later in the day.  With early school start times, performance is down in the morning, but they kill it on video games after school.  Delaying start time by an hour won’t totally fix this, but could help.

 

 

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Low carb, low glycemic index, or something else entirely

Why Low Carb?

OmniCarb (Sacks et al., 2014)

Study design & results in a nutshell:

5 weeks, low(ish) vs. high carb (40 vs. 58%) with the calorie difference split between protein (23 vs. 16%) and fat (37 vs. 27%).  In other words, the low(ish) carb diet was higher in protein and fat.  And there was 2 versions of each diet —  a high and low glycemic index.  Lots of crossing over; all in all, weak intervention but decent study design & execution.

Aaaand nothingsauce nothingburger.  Goal was insulin sensitivity, not weight loss.

 

glucose and insulin

 

 

 

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Allu-lujah: the new Quest Hero bars

On that sweetener in the new Quest Hero bars: allulose (formerly known as D-Psicose).

1. I’m sure they were quick to adopt the alternate nomenclature because it’s hard not so say Piss-cose lol

2. Nutrition-wise, Hero bars are basically Quest Lite. A bit less fibre. But I really think they’re getting much better at texture.

3. On to allulose. It’s not really like sugar – even though the FDA says it must be labeled as such – because it carries virtually no calories and actually blunts the blood glucose spike from a meal.

 

Exhibit A. n=20 healthy peole: 7.5 g D-psicose alone, 75 g maltodextrin alone, 75 g maltodextrin + 2.5, 5, or 7.5 g D-psicose (Iida et al., 2008)

amazeballs

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit B. n=26, zero or 5g psicose with a standardized meal (Hayashi et al., 2010). Note: there are ~12 grams of allulose in a Hero bar.

It works better in diabetics.

 

 

They did a 12-week study where psicose was dosed 3 times a day, 5 grams each time, and showed it was perfectly healthy. Some markers even improved.

 

Exhibit C. Psicose metabolism (Iida et al., 2010)

In doses ranging from 5 to 30 grams, up to 70% is excreted intact and the rest does not go to farts.

It’s virtually calorie-free:

 

 

and is barely fermentable (compared to FOS):

 

 

compare to other low carb protein bars here, get the new Quest bars here, or just buy some straight allulose and experiment with it!

Mechanisms? 1) it’s not sugar, but it still enhances glucose disposal; and 2) some animal studies show it enhances liver glucose uptake. Idk.

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That’s SOME olive oil!

Extra-virgin olive oil ameliorates cognition and neuropathology of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy (Lauretti et al., 2017)

I think the whole point of this study was to show-off their swanky EVOO.

“The EVOO was from the olive growing area of Apulia region (Torremaggiore, Foggia, Italy). Olive fruits from the cultivar “Peranzana” were processed immediately after harvesting and EVOO obtained by crushing the olives under mechanical cold pressure to preserve all the nutritional components, and meet the stringent criteria of the premium quality level (free acid content < 0.3 g%, peroxide value < 7 mEq/Kg, K232 < 1.85).”

 

 

Which may or may not be from this company.

Peranzana: it’s a single varietal olive oil, meaning it’s made from only one type of olive – similar to buying varietal wines, eg, malbec – it specifies the grape, but not the location, producer, wine’s name, etc., etc. You can actually get a Peranzana EVOO or olives online.

 

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Mushrooms are awesome AND GOOD CALORIES

I have a somewhat specific definition of “Good Calories.”  Foods that, when added to your diet, cause a spontaneous reduction in intake of something else.   Like nuts.

The opposite of soda.

And more recently, mushrooms!

 

 

Side note: ‘Mushrooms Every Day’ is part of my long-term anti-cancer strategy.

 

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Light and food in the morning

Suggested pre-reading: Metabolism at night

 

 

Recently, when the topic of breakfast came up, I got something like this: “correlation isn’t causation, and anyway, it’s because people aren’t eating bacon & eggs at night, they’re having cake & alcohol.”

OK, you can’t say “correlation isn’t causation” and then suggest a cause, literally, in the same sentence.

But anyway, yeah, that actually is a plausible cause. Cake & alcohol are mainly consumed at night.

Also, metabolism is gimped in the evening: 1) skeletal muscle insulin resistance; 2) adipose tissue insulin sensitivity; and 3) impaired diet-induced thermogenesis.

 

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Conserved lean body mass? O_o

Alternative title: keto isn’t muscle-sparing if you compare it to any remotely sensible control group.

Exhibit A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat (Jabekk et al., 2010)

The exercise intervention was resistance and progressive.  The diet was ketogenic, confirmed by urinary ketones… of note, presence of urinary ketones is a better indicator of ketosis than any information about diet (although they were advised to start at <20g carb/d).

 

 

As per usual, the LC diet was higher in protein… but that wasn’t enough to induce skeletal muscle growth, even when combined with resistance exercise… worded another way, resistance exercise and more protein prevented ketogenic diet-induced muscle loss:

 

 

Neither group was instructed to restrict energy intake, but from the above graph it’s relatively safe to assume the LC diet counteracted exercise-induced hunger.

Confirmed:

 

 

However, exercise-induced hunger isn’t conducive to fattening because the cause is exercise.  I think.

Ketones may spare muscle during starvation, but not in the context of regular people eating a ketogenic diet.  Otherwise, muscle mass would’ve increased in that study relative to the control group.  Confounded by negative energy balance?  Perhaps, but from where I’m standing, the LC diet did almost exactly what we expected: reduced food intake and induced a selective loss of fat mass.  And exercise also performed as expected: increased muscle mass.  In other words, if you want to gain muscle, you need calories, protein, and exercise.  Keto provides no advantages in this context.

 




 

Exhibit B. The effect of weight loss by ketogenic diet on the body composition, performance-related physical fitness factors, and cytokines of Taekwondo athletes (Rhyu and Cho, 2014)

Keto dieters got 33% more protein (40% vs. 30%), and still managed to lose almost twice as much lean mass as non-ketogenic dieters.

 

(figure from Suppversity)

 

The participants were physically active, and thus likely fairly insulin sensitive, so this may be why those assigned to a ketogenic diet lost less body fat…

 




 

Exhibit C. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women (Volek et al., 2004)

And in this study on sedentary insulin resistant folk, keto still wasted muscle (NS) despite more protein and calories:

 

 

If you’ve been paying attention, this wasn’t unexpected.

Sedentary and overweight: more fat loss on keto.

Keto and sedentary: muscle loss.

Sleep well, get your circadian rhythms entrained proper — otherwise these efforts will give you a mere fraction of the benefits.

 




 

Other~

Protein + exercise works: Interactive effects of an isocaloric high-protein diet and resistance exercise on body composition, ghrelin, and metabolic and hormonal parameters in untrained young men: A randomized clinical trial (Kim et al., 2014)

Simply replacing carbs with fat, or resisting food for as long as possible after waking up and staring at your smart phone all night: doesn’t work.

#context

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Affiliate links: 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. I recommend Lion’s Mane for the brain and Reishi for everything else.

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Cyclical ketogenic diet and carb refeeds

Potential conclusion (pending full texts): “if you’re gonna keto, no need to carb”

I think these three abstracts are all referring to the same studies.  I haven’t seen the full texts.  My takes are in italics, after each abstract.

Exhibit A. The Effects of an Eight Week Ketogenic Diet vs. a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet on Performance and Testosterone in a Resistance Training Program (Lane, Lowery, Volek, D’Agostino, Wilson, et al., 2015)

Introduction: Our lab recently examined the effects of the ketogenic diet (KD) compared to a western diet regarding strength related performance; additionally, free and total testosterone was evaluated. Individuals on the KD saw similar adaptations in strength and similar changes testosterone. Comparisons of the KD against a cyclic (CKD) in strength, endurance, and testosterone have not been previously demonstrated in literature.

Purpose: Therefore the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the KD versus a CKD on performance and testosterone in resistance-trained males.

Methods: Sixteen resistance trained males participated in the study (age: 23.5 ± 3.3; weight: 187.6 ± 32.6). Participants on the KD consumed 5% carbohydrate, 25% protein, and 70% fat for 8 weeks. The CKD group applied the same macronutrient ratio to their diet Monday through Friday, while altering the ratio on weekends (50% carbohydrate, 25% protein, 25% fat). A periodized resistance training program was strictly followed 3 days per week throughout the duration of the study with high intensity interval training implemented on intermittent days 2 times per week by all participants. Participants were placed on a 500 kcal deficit derived from basal metabolic rate determined by the Mifflin St. Jeor equation. One repetition maximum (1RM) strength was assessed on deadlift, bench press, and leg press at baseline with a repeat assessment performed Week 8. Strength endurance was assessed on the leg press at baseline and re-assessed at Week 8. Free and total testosterone was evaluated at baseline and at Week 8. An ANOVA with repeated-measures was used to scrutinize the effects of KD and CKD on dependent variables assuming group (KD and CKD) and time (pre and post) as fixed factors. The significance level was set at p ? 0.05.

Results: There were no differences between groups in the performance tests or testosterone levels detected at baseline (p > 0.05). A time effect was observed for bench press and deadlift 1RM (p < 0.01). There was a trend towards a group by time interaction (p = 0.07) which favored an increase in the leg press 1RM in the KD group. There were no significant differences for leg press strength endurance in both groups. For free testosterone, there were no group or group × time interactions (p > 0.05). For total testosterone, there was a group × time interaction following the diet treatment (p < 0.02). The pairwise comparisons revealed that only the cyclic group decreased in total testosterone (10.3%, p < 0.02).

Conclusions: In regards to performance, a strict KD seems to augment positive strength related adaptations when compared to a CKD. These responses may be explained by sustained total testosterone levels seen in the KD group compared to reductions in total testosterone as a result of the fluctuations in macronutrient intake.

Practical Applications: Individuals attempting to optimize adaptations in strength performance while maintaining testosterone levels should perform a KD compared to a CKD.

My take: no difference between KD & CKD, despite testosterone declining in CKD.  This isn’t surprising because small fluctuations within the physiological range are not expected to affect these outcomes.

When protein and calories are controlled, and the #context is a 500 kcal deficit, not really sure what they were expecting.  Because of the constant deficit, insulin will be low even on the carb-up days, and those carbs are more likely to be burned off than replenish glycogen.

 

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