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Dietary Protein 101: What Is Protein, And Why Do We Need To Eat It Every Day?
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September 19, 2012
2:56 pm
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eddie:

I agree with your restatement of the problem.

However, there are some people who can maintain huge muscle mass on IF (e.g. Martin Berkhan).  I can report that it doesn't work for me, though!

johnnyv:

I agree that shorter IFs maintain muscle mass for most.  However, a 24-hour IF still involves eating every day...if you skip an entire day of eating, you're at 36 hours or more!

Tiago:

Yes, I'll definitely return to it...though I'm not sure when, as it requires a lot of research and reading.

Jamie:

I'm glad you find it useful.  It's easy to forget that most people don't even understand the basics, like "What foods contain protein?" -- let alone key details like "Is this protein complete and digestible?"

However, it's also important to remember that this isn't because people are dumb -- it's because of the lamentable state of nutrition education.

Meanwhile, if you have any topics or questions you think I should cover in future installments, please let me know!

JS

September 19, 2012
6:41 pm
anand srivastava
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I agree JS, that building muscles is an energy intensive process. That is why I think weight lifting helps a lot in losing weight. As it causes muscle wear and tear, which requires muscle rebuilding.

I do think that building new muscles takes a lot of time, but building muscles that were there before is a lot easier.

But yes you need to use them to build them. So if you are weight lifting, have enough carbs in the diet for an insulin response, and are in energy surplus, you will rebuild muscles efficiently.

Martin Berkham optimizes several things to avoid adding more fat, by controlling meal times, macronutrients, and supplements like BCAA and whey. With real food it would be difficult (impossible?), at his fat levels.

I also think that very low body fat levels would not be healthy from an evolutionary perspective.

September 19, 2012
7:20 pm
Walter
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Is there any truth to the idea that when in ketosis junk protein in cells is recycled to meet our protein needs? I've seen this stated a lot, but never a reference. If true this could eliminate some of the downside to fasting.

September 20, 2012
4:11 am
Jozef
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I'm starting to think that Martin Berkhan's nordic genetic heritage has a lot to do with his "enhanced" or "evolved" ability to "leangain". I would like to test that on, say, a Hadza hunter, a Kitawan, Italian Toreador, Persian decendant, or Masai warrior (or anyone else whose genetic history is marked by larger ratio of carbs in his diet).

September 20, 2012
7:11 am
neal matheson
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Jozef,
Plenty of carbs have been eaten in scandinavia for several thousand years (by the nordic cultures at least). That said I ma northern European and carbs in excess really make me gain weight.

September 20, 2012
9:17 am
vacexempt
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Thanks for responding. I indeed was trying to cause the anabolic signaling by consuming the extra whey PWO, such as recommended by Ori Hofmekler. I kept simplifying the drink to the point that it's just plain non-flavored in water, with some cinnamon and vanilla I add, but the high amounts still cause borderline diarrea and frequent trips, not so much gas. Anyhow, it ain't worth it, I can take the 30 grams without problems. Like I said, at 57, I just want to avoid loosing muscle in a way that's maintainable as I enter my golden years. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

September 20, 2012
10:00 am
Marilyn
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JS, Vacexempt mentions his "golden years." I've read that people in their golden years process protein less efficiently. Assuming a person is taking no medications that interfere with protein processing, are there other systems that start to fail as one ages? Is eating more protein useful?

Thanks!

September 20, 2012
5:26 pm
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anand:

It's unfortunate that muscle synthesis is slow, in addition to being energy-intensive: gaining 20 pounds of lean mass often takes a year of intense training, and is usually only possible for newbies.  In contrast, it's easy to gain 20 pounds of fat mass in 2-3 months, simply by stuffing one's face with lots of linoleic acid, gluten grains, and sucrose/HFCS.

I agree that very low bodyfat levels are not a survival trait: fat gives you the ability to survive periods of hunger.  There's a reason it's so hard to get under 12% bodyfat (for men): the fat tissue on the belly and "love handles" actually has a slightly different adrenergic receptor, if I recall correctly, and is therefore retained by the body except in extremis.  In other words, it's the body's reserve tank, and persuading your body to give it up, while it may get you that coveted "six-pack", isn't necessarily healthy.

Walter:

You're thinking of autophagy, and it occurs continually.  I'll talk more about that subject in future installment(s).

Jozef, neal matheson:

Leangains isn't a VLC protocol, to my knowledge: it involves substantial carb intake on workout days.  What I do know is that Martin has is a genetic ability to gain muscle quickly, most likely due to a predominance of Type II muscle fibers.  Yes, there are a lot of people who claim to be "hardgainers" because they're lazy: however, nothing will make a person with a predominance of Type I fibers gain muscle the way someone like Martin can.  There's a reason the Kalenjin are distance runners, not powerlifters!

vacexempt:

Leucine is the important AA for anabolic signaling: the others just compete for absorption and diminish the impact of leucine, so I think Hofmekler is off base with his recommendation. There are some interesting leucine protocols out there, but you have to be willing to ingest something that tastes like powdered drywall and doesn't mix in water.

Marilyn:

That's too broad a question for me to answer!  But yes, more protein can be helpful as one ages...coupled with weightlifting, which will maintain muscle mass as well as bone density (bones wax and wane in proportion to the loads we regularly place on them).  The extra protein won't help if your body isn't using it for anything.

JS

September 22, 2012
2:44 pm
Fmgd
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I just thought I might point out that for some reason when I type "gnolls.org" at the address bar the page that loads isn't the newest entry but the "back from AHS" one. I was gonna tell you that after first reading this article yesterday but then I tried it again and it worked normally. Then I tried again today and again it went to the older post, so maybe it's something on my side but I just thought I'd let you know.

Btw, it's nice to have you back on these sorts of topics, it's been a while.

September 22, 2012
2:50 pm
Fmgd
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I did some quick testing just now, after accessing this article visiting gnolls.org does take me to it, but clearing the cache reverts it to the AHS post. It's not really an issue to me, I'm just reporting in case it might not be a problem on my side.

September 24, 2012
2:12 pm
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Fmgd:

It probably has to do with my caching plugin...apparently it (sometimes) forgets to reload the front page when I update.  Perhaps I'll switch plugins and see if it helps.

JS

September 25, 2012
2:26 pm
Jeffrey of Troy
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How much protein do we need? The CW -> paleo amount (50 -> 90 g, depending on gender/size) is probably good for maintenance. The pro need goes way up post- weight-lifting, as the skeletal muscles recover ("recovery's where you make your gains"). I explain it more here

http://www.jeffreybrauer.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-sync-diet-with-exercise.html

@JS
I look forward to more of your take on it, as I look forward to every article in every series here at Gnolls.org.. but then you've mind-controlled me with yer subliminal etc. 😛

@vacexempt
"extra" doesn't necessarily mean 100 g from whey all at once. I find a whey shake of about 50 g is all I can do post-w/o, then a 40 g pro chicken breast w/ romaine lettuce 1-2 hrs after that. So, its 90 g pro, but two meals over 4 hours. HTH..

September 25, 2012
10:50 pm
Fmgd
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@JS:

Yup, it seems to be working now.

September 26, 2012
7:30 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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Hi there,

 

I'm a newbie.  Found the site via Free the Animal and have been following ever since.  Have not read TGC in whole yet, but have read the preview for free.Already have been Paleo (or mostly Paleo) for over 2 years (going on 3).  I've lost and maintained for the most part a 96 pound weight reduction, had no need for allergy medication and reduced my seizure medication by 3/4 in doing so. 

I'm still working on the amount of protein I need as well, because I'm beginning to understand that excess protein turns into sugar, which I am trying to avoid, unless it's an Aikido training day.

 

Thanks again for the great and easy to understand articles and I look forward to the next installment.

 

Jen W.

"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks

September 26, 2012
12:00 pm
vacexempt
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@JS:
You are describing the 'non-instantized' plain powder I drink. hard to mix, but it's not so bad with a little vanilla and cinnamon. I'm going to try the 30 g PWO with a meal within 4 hours for the next few workouts. Thanks.

@Jeffery of Troy:
Interesting site; will investigate it more. I was spreading the whey out over the 4 hours PWO, but it was still too much. If I work up to more intense workouts, maybe more will be called for. Taking it slow for now.

September 27, 2012
2:45 pm
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Jen W:

Welcome!  I wouldn't worry too much about "excess protein turns into sugar"...only a few amino acids are efficient substrates for gluconeogenesis (a topic I'll explore in the future).  AFAIK most "excess" aminos tend to be oxidized directly for energy...which is generally ignored in most calculations because it's difficult to measure specifically, but it's a significant route of disposal.

vacexempt:

Plain whey is fine: I have no problem mixing or drinking it straight (just shake it well).  Leucine is MUCH worse.  Trust me on this.

One of the problems with whey is that it's absorbed VERY quickly...more quickly than your body can absorb or use it if you eat a lot of it.  Thus: gas.  However, you can eat the equivalent amount of protein in the form of meat with no problem, because it takes much longer to digest and absorb the meat.

I usually only use whey protein immediately PWO.  By the time the whey wears off, I've had the time to prepare and eat real food.

JS

September 28, 2012
5:38 am
neal matheson
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Sorry to add this to the comments but I thought you (J) might know the answer to this. I am trying to get hold of bison fat. The Bison farm told me that bison is very lean and contains little fat, visceral or otherwise. Do older bison contain more fat like rabits and deer?
I am painfully aware that virtually all farmed wild meats are marketed as being low fat and wonder whether the low fatness of bison is to do with rearing or slaughter practices.
cheers!

September 28, 2012
5:41 pm
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neal:

Bison is leaner on average than beef, but if it's properly raised it'll most definitely accumulate some fat, both subcutaneous and visceral.  See this series of pictures

Fat content depends primarily on the season: assuming they're grazing on native grasses, bison slaughtered in the fall, just before first frost, will be at their fattest because they've been grazing on fresh grass all summer.

JS

September 29, 2012
9:57 pm
neal matheson
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Okay thanks for that J

September 30, 2012
6:37 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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That makes the most sense JS.  I've also read(straight from the farm handout at the grocery store) that the same is true of grass-fed cows.

"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks

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