Category Archives: Protein

Need vs. Optimization: Omnivores & Carnivores.

Humans are omnivores but does that mean we need to eat plants AND animals?

To address this, we first need to ask 2 questions:
1) need for what?
2) need vs. optimization?

STORY TIME

Scientists were determining the amino acid requirements of cats by feeding them semi-synthetic diets with various levels of each amino acid, one at a time. Tedious. A lot of cats x a lot of amino acids x a lot of levels of each amino acid = a lot of work. What made it even more difficult (and equally more interesting) was that they didn’t know what they were looking for — this was long before we knew what we know now about biology.

Tyrosine

Funny thing, when they got to tyrosine: below a certain level and their black cats started turning red! At an even lower level, certain neuroloogical abnormalities set in. So, how much tyrosine do cats need? Enough to maintain their beautiful black coats? I think we can all agree that the level which induced neurological abnormalities was too low. What about fur color?

 

What if female cats prefer males with beautiful black coats? So the males have a better chance at reproducing if their diet is at the higher level of tyrosine. I’d say fur color is pretty important in this #context! [how ya like ‘dem apples]

Need vs. Optimization

Note: this occurred over the course of weeks-to-months, not hours-to-days.

Note (2): unlike humans, cats are obligate carnivores. Real, actual, carnivores.

 

 

Arginine

Below a certain level of arginine and the cats looked dizzy, wobbled around, and some of them died.

Not weeks-to-months. Hours-to-days. This is what it’s like to be a carnivore. They NEED to eat meat or die rapidly (this is one of the few examples of an acute nutritional deficiency causing severe toxicity in the entire animal kingdom).

Cats have an inability to downregulate protein degradation and need arginine to dispose of the nitrogens via urea cycle. Humans just reduce burning proteins when protein intake is low.

 

 

Part 2Lobsters are omnivores and arginine is weird.

Lobster tail is rich in arginine (this might be what gives it a bit of a sweet-like flavor). If lobsters are fed an arginine-deficient diet, they go cannibal and eat other lobsters’ tails!

What does this say about lobster arginine requirements?

Need vs. optimization: they’re perfectly healthy, but is preventing cannibalism a “need?”

. .  .   .     .        .             .                     .

 

 

So, I ask again: Humans are omnivores but does that mean we need to eat plants and animals?

One retrospective study showed stroke victims who had consumed blueberries the day before showed significantly less cognitive decline post-stroke than those who hadn’t. Blueberries. Not green tea, blackberries, or dark chocolate. Blueberries. Do humans need to eat blueberries?

What if this was confirmed in a double-blind RCT? Is preventing post-stroke cognitive decline a need or an optimization?

Which is more important to you?

I didn’t have it in me to put this behind a paywall because while I think the answer is getting simpler & simpler (eg, SunlightHunger-Free Diet[s] and DietFitshot Blue-Blockers, etc.), fad diets are getting weirder & weirder. Just eat like an adult.

If you like my style and would like to see my paywalled stuff (or if you just want to show some support) head over to Patreon! Full access for a five bucks a month and there are many other options. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks 🙂

Also, I’m open to suggestions, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly at drlagakos@gmail.com.

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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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Is gluconeogenesis demand-driven? answer: it depends (#context strikes again!)

Context #1. The easiest way to explain gluconeogenesis (GNG) is how it relates to starvation. If you’re not eating food, your brain still needs a steady supply of fuel. Mostly glucose at first (ketones come later), but since you’re not eating anything, glucose comes from hepatic GNG (huge potential supply*) or glycogenolysis (limited supply). *One of the precursors for GNG, glycerol, comes from stored fat (which you’ll die of something else before you run out of stored fat bc GNG).

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In this case, it is mostly true that GNG is demand-driven.

 

If you’re interested in this, more HERE.

 

Context #2. Protein (which also contains GNG precursors) doesn’t acutely increase glucose. But you might think protein does convert to glucose via GNG but protein also induces a splash of insulin which is why blood glucose doesn’t rise. Read this blog post at least up to the awesome Fromentin study: “8% of the blood glucose produced under optimal gluconeogenic conditions came from dietary protein.” But also check out the Conn & Newburgh studies. And Gannon.

 

 

This is usually the reason recreational keto dieters say they can be high protein, which either ends up looking like PSMF or it’s probably not very ketogenic (which doesn’t really matter in this #context; protein is restricted in therapeutic ketogenic diets).

#BenignDietaryKetosis #BDK

 

 

For the rest of this article (or if you just like what I do and want to support it) head over to Patreon! Full access for a measly five bucks a month and there are many other options. It’s ad-free and you can cancel if it sucks 🙂

Also, I’m open to suggestions, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly at drlagakos@gmail.com.

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 HERETrueDark is running a pretty big sale HERE.  BLUblox just upped their game with their 550‘s.
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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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Context #3. the mouse doctor is in 🙂

Context #3b. Chronic high protein.

Context #4. Random thoughts on animal foods.

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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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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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Isocaloric MCT-supplemented ketogenic diet may improve cognition in Alzheimer’s patients

Two-thirds of the time, it works half of the time 🙂

Yes, we all pretend to know the mechanism how ketones may improve cognition in MCI/Alzheimer’s, but we don’t. Nobody does.

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-Preferred fuel? kinda meaningless

-Niacin receptor? if so, where are the studies on niacins or even nicotinamide riboside (the latter is kind of unrelated, but should yield some niacin in vivo) (P.S. blog post on NR in the works).

-Epigenetics? Idk. Of those, I’d say probably all contribute somehow.

Ketogenic Diet Retention and Feasibility Trial #KDRAFT (Taylor et al., 2017)

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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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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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Fixing your rhythms makes everything better. Here’s how.

Full article open to everyone over at Patreon! <- link

What’s more anti-cancer than ‘shrooms and isothiocyanates?

CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS

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.

Caffeine, large meals, and bright light in the evening induce circadian misalignment. That’s why these are better suited earlier in the day.

Caffeine reduces sleep pressure (which is supposed to start low in the morning and peak shortly after sunset) and delays melatonin onset (Burke et al., 2015). After dinner, make it a decaf or just pass.

 

Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, and the accumulation of adenosine in the brain throughout the day is thought to be a chemical mediator of sleep pressure. Caffeine also delays and reduces melatonin, which increases your sleep needs, or at least time in bed/darkness.

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Light & melatonin: timing is everything

This is kinda like circadian rhythms’ second Nobel Prize. Technically it was LED lights back in 2014, but if you don’t see the connection, I have failed.

Suggest pre-readings: Melatonin sensitizes the system and LIGHT timing for circadian entrainment

Melatonin plays a pivitol role in circadian entrainment. Literally thousands of papers published about it every year.

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THIS IS WHY YOU NEED BLUE BLOCKERS: A single night light exposure acutely alters hormonal and metabolic responses in healthy participants (Albreiki et al., 2017)

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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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