Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pick it Up. Again. Research poses correlation of resistance training reps to motivation type. Do you think someone who is extrinsically motivated (i want to win a gold medal) vs intrinsically motivated (i want to be the best i can be) is more or less likely to do more or less resistance work?

Yes, that's a question that's been asked in a recently published study on who uses fitness centers. The authors' abstract reads:

There is a need to better understand the behavior and sense of motivation of fitness center participants. The purpose of this study was to assess whether or not demographic characteristics and health self-determinism (intrinsic or extrinsic motivation) of fitness center participants were predictive of their levels of resistance training. A cross-sectional design was used; participants were recruited via the Internet to complete an online survey. There were 185 participants (age = 39.1 ± 11.3 years) in the study. The majority of respondents reported having carried out levels of resistance training that met national health organization recommendations. Regression analysis of the data revealed that health self-determinism predicted quantity of resistance training reported (p = 0.014), whereas demographics did not. Being intrinsically motivated to health self-determinism predicted meeting national resistance training recommendations compared to participants extrinsically motivated (p = 0.007). For those who work with fitness center participants, our findings are useful by identifying participants as a predominantly intrinsically motivated group of people that performs adequate quantities of resistance training; the methodology employed in this study can be used to identify participants in need of increased levels of resistance training and heightened sense of motivation to do so.
THe study was entirely based on self-reporting both of participation in lifting and attitudes. So using the Health Self-Determinism Index and calculating resistance activity based on input from Paffenbarger's Physical Activity Questionnaire with the following:
From responses to the 4 resistance training questions, we extracted the total resistance training carried out in units of total repetition-muscle groups per week. Total repetition-muscle groups per week was calculated as a product of the following: type (number of different muscle groups exercised per week); duration (number of repetitions of each different muscle group exercised per day); frequency (number of days per week for each muscle group exercised). We based our determination of whether or not participants met national recommendations for resistance training upon a calculation of total repetition-muscle groups per week. We considered participants to have met national recommendations for resistance training if they carried out a minimum total of 128 repetition-muscle groups per week (8 muscle groups per day × 8 repetitions per muscle group × 2 d·wk−1).
Here's an amazing finding: people who self-reported about using the gym for 3 months (or at least had been members for that long) and met the guidance for sufficient exercise were the MAJORITY of the respondents: "The majority of subjects met national resistance training recommendations." Amazing. 185 self-selected participants who self-reported about their participation met the benchmark.

So what does that tell us? Well, not much. Except that self-reporting is notoriously inaccurate as a measure of actual actions, so it's rather a surprise that the authors say that the participants DO this amount of training rather than "report doing" this amount of training.

Does that mean the data's useless? Not necessarily. When the authors start doing gnarly stats on amount of self-reported work, some interesting differences emerge.

Key finding? According to the authors it's that demographic information tells us nothing about who's going to work out more.  I'd only say it may tell us nothing about how self-reporting of workouts is expressed. Until there's a measure to validate the accuracy of the self-reports, who knows?

But what the claim means is that age, gender, years of working out - none of that is indicative of amount of (reported) resistance training.This idea of motivation type, however, does correlate. There are likewise some interesting correlations about who is likely to show up as "intrinsically motivated"
Those participants extrinsically motivated to health self-determinism tended to be younger (age = 34.1 ± 12.5 years) than those intrinsically motivated to health self-determinism (age = 39.7 ± 11.1 years) (t(183) = −1.974, p = 0.050). Intrinsically motivated participants tended to have a higher level of education than those extrinsically motivated (Mann-Whitney U, U = 907.000, p = 0.008) and reported having lower annual income than those intrinsically motivated (Mann-Whitney U, U = 930.000, p = 0.014). Having an education level of high-school diploma or less was only slightly, but significantly, predictive of the likelihood that a study participant would be extrinsically motivated toward health self-determinism (OR = 0.286, 95% confidence interval = 0.110-0.747, p = 0.011).
The authors however acknowledge, that despite being their biggie determinant - the difference in motivation type - the difference between ex and in motivators is pretty small. So what else is at play?
Because health self-determinism only accounted for a small proportion of the variance in resistance training in our study, other factors may contribute to why fitness center participants tend to be motivated or unmotivated to engage in resistance training. For example, Trost et al. (12) suggested that social influence, satisfaction with the facility, and time for exercise may all be relevant factors for predicting aerobic physical activity (31) and may also be relevant factors for resistance training.
Other limitations?
There are various other possible explanations as to why fitness center participants tend to carry out varying levels of resistance training that we did not measure in our study. For example, fitness center participants who work out with a personal trainer may tend to carry out higher levels of resistance training compared to their counterparts who do not work out with a personal trainer.
Right - so if someone has a trainer, maybe that's why they're showing up as working out more. Maybe. And we have no comparison with folks who work out at home, either.

So why limit the study to fitness center members?  Putatively, the goals are to help fitnesses centers identify those less likely to move it move it by administering the same questionnaire as the study used. Also, it's a guide for writing ads: if you're gearing to a population that's correlated with extrinsic motivation cues, does a center's ads connect with those cues? Help up participants' motivation so they'll workout more.

Summary - interesting study; some nice ideas. It would be interesting to see how well the self-reporting correlates with actual fact. It may be that there's also under and not just over-reporting of activities as well, or that actual action vs self-reporting is so out of alignment that the proposed strategies are not sufficient to make a break through.

Kathrins BP, & Turbow DJ (2010). Motivation of fitness center participants toward resistance training. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 24 (9), 2483-90 PMID: 20802286

&NA;, . (1997). Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire Medicine& Science in Sports & Exercise, 29 (Supplement), 83-88 DOI: 10.1097/00005768-199706001-00017

Cox CL (1985). The Health Self-Determinism Index. Nursing research, 34 (3), 177-83 PMID: 3846926

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kill the Big Pill: Body Comp Change is Complex, not Single Factor

What does body comp change take to succeed? There's a UK surgeon, Nick Finer, who says it's too hard for seriously fat people to lose weight because we just keep adjusting homeostatically to the weight we're at. Now i've seriously questioned this before (see: set point theory is crap). But Finer's solution for body comp success? Gastric Bypass. One gets the impression that he'd like roaming NHS trucks to pull the overweight over into the vans and gut clamp 'em on the spot.  Cheap fix. Consequences? A few. Enduring effectiveness? Maybe not so much (interesting discussion of this report on obesity discussion). No successful, enduring change it seems, is so simple.  We must, it seems, be willing to get a bit more complex.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler
- attributed to Einstein 

Indeed,  as other professionals, like Susan Roberts of Tufts, suggest from actually working with people when they're conscious rather than innert and knocked out on an operating table as so much plumbing, our engagement with food is complex - involving yes homeostatic components (the physiological us), but also hedonic components (the social/psychological us)  - and the multiple factors of the one can and do affect the multiple factors of the other (discussed here in change is pain).
The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep it Off
So if we are such complex systems (and we are) how likely is *ANY* single factor solution - whether Pill or Clamp or Diet - to succeed?  As complex systems, the body comp solutions that last and endure and have positive long term effects seem to be the ones that respect this complexity. And they are the ones that take work, and a readiness to engage what it takes to change.

Consider Arnold's advice (yesterday's post) that a champion will want to do "anything it takes" to achieve their vision (or goal). Ok, one might say, great to talk about bodybuilding - the hotbed of drug use. Sure. Let's say that's so. But one still cannot *just* pop a pill and, ta da, succeed. Arnie describes spent five hours in the gym a day, one of which was posing practice, another flexibility work, the rest, working working working. Success takes reps - lots of them - to succeed. And success means also practice on a variety of levels. For arnie, he had a head game, posing, movement, weights work, training plans. All of that took reps. Multi-factor.

And success also takes a willingness to confront failure, learn from mistakes and keep going. Arnie notes it in his video, but so do all the writers on talent of late like the Talent Code and Talent is Overrated: the neurological role of making mistakes and figuring out what went wrong and correcting those errors is a key factor in getting better, improving performance. Enter the Coach to help figure these things out. Pat Summitt, below, is just one example of a great coach who, in her case, helps her athletes succeed as scholars and bball players.

Learning from mistakes,  by the bye, in body comp is we can see very different than so-called yo-yo dieting where one keeps doing the same thing - sticking to a diet, losing weight, and then as soon as off the diet, regaining the weight, so pick another diet - and getting nowhere. That doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results has often been given as the definition of insanity.

So, given that enduring success (a) takes practice, (b) using errors for feedback on refining prcess and (c) in particular is Multi Factor, what are the components of  success in body comp? 

If someone asked me "hey mc, newly precision nutrition level 1 certified person, taking Arnie's Champion attitude, i'll do anything it takes to change my body comp. What does it take? Just tell me," i might be inclined to say:

Ok, it the key factors are time, patience, perseverance,  some ongoing self-love, social support,  and coaching/knowledge (food later: we have to plan for success first).

Strategies for Enduring Change

Time is probably the biggie. Why? well, we can get that one pretty easily: physical change takes time to affect. But more than that,  the biggie about enduring change is behavioural as well as physiological, and that means changing habits. IT takes both time and lots of reps to create new habits; we're rewiring the brain. Literally. Especially if what we're doing around food is often already habituated as a stress response, i'll say again: change is pain on the brain.

How Prep for Time: Once up for this notion of Taking Time, then having strategies to support new practice of change, and having support to persist with these changes is pretty key. Are strategies in place? Is the social support system in place?

The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner PeaceStrategies for Time Change: Approaches like Precision Nutrition has several strategies for change: the precision nutrition system, overviewed here; their lean eating program with daily support, discussed here, and their certified coaches for one on one support. Martha Beck's Four Day Win has step by step strategies for building up food practice habits and supporting some self-love in the process. Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat has very simple strategies: stop eating once a week.

Body comp change does take a pretty constant level of commitment - that's the patience and perseverance - where, as arnie says, his happiness is that every rep was one more leading to his goal. So what are the reps in body comp? In a way we get to count the done and the note done. Here, the reps are often as much what one does do - eat right, exercise - as what one doesn't do - skip the multiple cookies for just one; skip the extra helping.

Prep & Strategies for Committment: Celebrating the Reps of the Done and the Not Done: how about keeping a log as one might for exercising to track not calories, but all the times we've said Yes to the right things, and One Less to the "wrong"? 

Self-Care and Support
It will take some self-love and self-support - to care about and for oneself and be as gentle with oneself as one would with a best friend - to see the scale weight fluctuate up and down, but to trust the trend to be heading down. If it's not heading down after two weeks of New Practice, awesome to have an expert in your corner for guidance and support.

Prep for self-love: Do we celebrate the Wins of Change, let's call them? whose your buddy who's there for you? where's your on-call expert to reality check what you're doing?

Strategies for self-love and support: Finding a friend can be hard, since one's current posee might not feel one with a person's committment to change. There are however quite a few diet forums on the web for folks in similar situations to oneself. Again, this is why i dig precision nutrition: the forum is a huge asset since not only experts but folks in exactly the same place as ourselves who have been through it, are going through it, are there. 

A note on Threat Reduction and Diet: In z-health Sustenance, we also talk about change as being percieved as a threat. Being in a threat place is not an optimal place to support performance change. Threat means our nervous system, responsible for all sorts of hormonal interactions, perceives a threat to our very survival.  Interest in shedding calories is the antithesis of being in a threat place. So we need strategies to help support change that lets us reduce the threat response so we can get to a place to work on performance. Without that, how likely are performance oriented strategies like diet change going to be?

Likewise, each stage of change, too, may take slightly different strategies. Finding support/expertise for those changes may be key.

All the Time in the World; With a little (self) Love in Your Heart
The main message here is time, patience, self-love, support and balanced guidance: when engaging in body comp change, that's a long term committment - even if one only has the proverbial five pounds to lose - and that that's ok. It's like a long term relationship - there are the ups and the not so ups. But being in for the long haul with ourselves is ok: we have the rest of our lives.

After all, if something takes months rather than weeks or a year rather than a month, presumably we have a few more years after that to enjoy the fruits of our labours? That so sounds like it kinda sucks that it's not now and today, or "in just 60 days" and it's not that one can't do extreme programs and get some results acceleration (and be exhausted), but our bodies do kind need the long view.

We're cyclical
Another thing i've been learning about is another "well that's obvious" - is that body comp is cyclical, and our own cycles are different from each others' There are times when we have more energy to give to change and maintenance than others. The winter when it's colder we may put on more fat to stay warm, or that may be the time we really peel it off - working out to stay warm. This is another reason to say it takes time to do body comp work: part of the process is learning our cycles, and by learning them we can tune them.

Ever considered an energy log? When do workouts feel great? when is energy more up or more down than usual? does it correlate to anything else in our days? 

I've been finding sleep is a great indicator/corelator of differences, and being lazy about logging it's why i like things like Zeo for logging those subtle differences in quality of sleep, or occasionally monitoring my heart for HRV to see if i'm more pooped than not?

So where's the food in all this? 
In Defense of Food: An Eater's ManifestoIntriguingly, with all this talk of commitment, "getting on a diet" may be less important than heuristics about food and some basic food knowledge. Michael Pollan puts it well in Defence of Food: eat less; mostly plants.

Precision Nutrition has a few more heuristics: eat protein at each feeding; get veggie variety at each feeding; get good fats in during the day; skip useless calories drinks of all kinds like juice and pop; save starchy fast carbs till you deserve them - post workout. Eat Stop Eat says eat less daily, and stop eating once or twice a week for about 24 hours. There's also the "change one thing diet" - commit to one less meal in front of the tv for a week, then maybe two less - it's part of the long haul: pick *one* thing to change, commit to that and build up success from there. As Martha Beck suggests, develop strategies that you believe will be successful, and then make that one even easier. Build successes.

Yes but what about the Food?
Folks like Georgie Fear have created recipe books that make following these heuristics delicious and fun. Hers is called Dig In and it's great. Georgie's site also has TONS of free recipes, too.

Gourmet Nutrition vol. 2 is a lovely book of recipes (hit the free sample download) likewise tested for flavour and sitting well with good eating habits.  And once we know what to look for in good food, we can start to assess food recipes for ourselves. If you find another source you like, please post it in the comments.

Take Home: We need MultiFactor Strategies for the Long View.
Arnie's view of success is that each rep takes the champs closer to their goals. Implicit in each rep is that it's part of a  plan for success, and that plan is multi-factorial, complex (not complicated). Arnie got that winning is not just about lifting big, but moving well, attitude, balance, timing, etc. Why would our own body comp change goals be less complicated?

So how can we help each other to take the long view, and celebrate that anrie-esque joy that each rep is one step closer to the vision we have of ourselves?

Part of that success is getting that taking a single factor approach is likely doomed. I once read that the reason that most small businesses fail is that they don't plan for success. Martha Beck in the Four Day Win concentrates vigerously on planning each action for diet success ahead of time; Precision Nutrition likewise takes pains to emphasis progressive practice of habits before thinking about individualization. Good coaches likewise work with a us based on where we're at with stages of change. But in each case, there's respect for the fact that we're talking about change, and that's a multifactorial thing that requires DYNAMIC multifactorial approaches.

So when considering a new practice - and body comp change is just such a practice - ask: does that thing i'm looking at respect the complexity that is me? does it recognize the physiological, social and psychological parts of the process? Does it have plans to address each of those parts? If not, change that one thing?

If you need a hand, the above are some great starting points. If you'd like some one on one guidance beyond the PN forum for instance, a list of coaches certified in multifactorial nutrition coaching is here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Arnold's Spirit of Success

We've talked before about motivation, and how it's possible to see motivation as a skill to be practiced rather than a rather vague emotion. We've also talked about the requirement for lots of reps towards expertise. And likewise, we've talked about the 9S model of the athlete, where Spirit is one of those key skills of an athlete - that quality of mind that helps keep going - with gusto - on things that are moving us towards what we want to achieve, and that the best athletes have this skill (among the others) in spades.

In this recent Arnold clip on youtube, Schwarzenegger  talks about his model of success across his three careers of bodybuilding, acting and politics: figuring out that you want to be a champ and "doing whatever it takes" to get there. While that sentiment may feel a little dubious, the thing that Arnie reiterates is that the Mind is more important than the Body in achieving these goals. And that the same template that worked for success in body building - finding out what it takes to be great and doing it - was applied to both his acting and his political careers.  That's a lot of spirit.

One of the other notes i find compelling here? The notion of joy in doing what he's doing "in the gym for five hours a day" - one hour of which was dedicated to posing, another to flexibility, by the way. Lots of reps in all aspects of performance. It's cool to see that the best of the best work hard AND have fun doing it.

Thanks to Mike T Nelson of extreme human performance for pointing out this vid.

Happy Friday - and now, back to proposal writing, jazzed by Arnie.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Protein the Magnificent: not just about muscles.

Ask someone - particularly someone into working out - what protein is for - eating it; having it - and most of the time we'll hear "muscle building." And yes sure, skeletal muscle is the largest single source of protein in the body (50% of the lean mass of our bods is skeletal muscle) but that is just TOTALLY INCOMPLETE.

The Bigger Picture. Indeed, you may be as surprised as i was on first learning a more accurate answer to "what is protein for" is really "everything." - Just consider this list of what requires protein or just IS protein.
  • collagen, hair, skin, bone middles  - all big huge protein components
  • every cell in the body EVERY cell requires protein to be replenished or replaced
  • muscles for sure, but organs too:  protein protein protein.
  • the instructions for our dna, which inhabit cells, are proteins. The genetic code in the the ribosome (beside-ish the cell nucleus) for which all the recent research about "gene expression" comes, is protein.
  • hormones like insulin  - the messengers of what to do in terms of chemical processes to stop and start - are proteins
  • enzymes that are essential to metabolism and respond to hormone messages, yes, protein. Indeed there are 6 types of enzymatic reactions for moving, rearranging, breaking for reforming, joining, oxidizing. All proteins. Some are also faster others slower for limiting the rate of change. Amazing proteins.
  • antibodies for defending our cells against infection- more proteins. 
  • energy - yes, sometimes we need/use proteins to produce the ATP we need (usually refered to as "energy" ) to be able to move our muscles. 
Isn't that amazing? Are you amazed? I'm so amazed. But wait! There's more if we want to look at protein as macronutrient and how we get it out of food sources to join this functional dance - of which muscle building seems to be quite a ways down the stack of protein's things to do.
The Primacy of Protein
Like fat and carbs, protein has carbon and hydrogen. Unlike fats and carbs, protein has Nitrogen (part of their amino group). And here we get to the interesting bits. Just a reminder, nitrogen is fundamental to life (overview of nitrogen's role). This without nitrogen no life, and protein being in everything kinda hints at the reason perhaps for protein being called PROTEIN. As per this definition:

1844, from Fr. protéine, coined 1838 by Du. chemist Gerhard Johan Mulder (1802-1880), perhaps on suggestion of Berzelius, from Gk. proteios "the first quality," from protos "first." Originally a theoretical substance thought to be essential to life, the modern use is from Ger. Protein, borrowed in Eng. 1907.
Proteins are constructed things:
The smallest protein is an Amino Acid.  When little groups get together to make bigger groups we get Peptides, which form up as peptide chains

these in turn are bended and folded and twisted into various shapes that make it usable for whatever role these proteins have before they begin their new life as food.

What Happens to Protein in Digestion and Beyond?
What happens when we eat protein? First, most of the time we eat food that has protein in it, right as opposed to just "protein"? So, chew chew chew, masticate, get food into bits with saliva; then food into stomach.

Stomach As food hits the stomach, hydrocholoric acid gets dumped on it, which does interesting things to all food, but to protein it has the special process of denaturing the folded bendy structures of the proteins. While these structures are important for proteins to do what they do when in living cells, for use as food, these structures need to be, well, unpacked.

So, for the purposes of getting at the amino acids, denaturing starts hiving off the other bits of the protein structures that can be used for other things. (By the way, cooking and salting can also denature parts of proteins' stuctures in food).

So acid in the stomach is one part of the stomach process. But in the amazing life of proteins as doers of everything, other proteins-as-enzymes (pepsinogen into pepsin) get happening in the stomach to break the chains of amino acids that have been unpacked from the folds and bends. The remaining "polypeptides" and single amino acids head to the small intestine.

Small Intestine I dunno about you, but the way i've imagined the small intestine is just food getting pushed through a pipe. The stomach's a tank and the intestine's a pipe. Well, no. It turns out the small intestine is more like a conveyor belt where mechanisms operate at each stage on food that keeps processing and changing (metabolizing) the stuff that's in it.

If we're taking stuff apart, we're using enzymes (more proteins), and the small intestine is, in part, doing more disassembling. The pancreas kicks proenzymes into the small intestine, these get going with other enzymes that together act as the un-superglue of peptides.  Now we get smallers peptides and free amino acids heading for absorption.

Absorption and Over Crowding at the Border
Ok, i admit it, this next bit seems extremely cool to me and may even have practical implications for those of us who like to experiment with supplements. The small intestine has linings and stuff has to move through the linings to get to the blood stream. Before the proteins get into the next phase of processing (into the blood stream and most thence to the liver), they need to be transported. We won't go into it, but there are four types of transport processes, and each require energy - ATP (the stuff also used for things like muscle contraction) to do the job. So right there is an example of why just staying alive burns calories: moving amino acids out of the gut takes energy.

And by now, you guessed it, those transporters are also proteins. So here's the situation: there's proteins in the gut waiting to get moved to the blood supply. Peptides, branch chain amino acids, individual free form amino acids. They need transporters to take them there. There's a limited number of transporters at any one time and of any one type. We literally can get into a state of cuing up and overcrowding. Which peptides/amino acids go first? It ain't free form amino acids. Nope. It's the branch chain amino acids - these bigger groups take different transporters which seem to head out first.  Which is better than being caught in traffic. So next time someone talks about using bcaa's to get to their muscles fast after a hard workout, you know they're not kidding: bcaas it seem can get on the bus out of the gut quite effectively. The ones that get out, that is.

The Liver A lot of the absorbed amino acids (like glutamine) get used right there for energy and intestinal cell growth. If an amino acid makes it past being used for energy or local (non skeletal muscle ) cell building  (and only about a fifth of proteins ingested do), it heads into the blood stream into the amino acid pool.

Amino Acid Pool: Resources on Call for Just in Time Service.

The amino acid pool has about 100g of proteins ready and wating to be called into service at any time. That's not a lot but it's not a little. It's just getting turned over frequently as proteins are constantly being used and rebuilt.

Proteins are so important, and so versatile. Many can be constructed on the fly from available protein resources in the bloodstream, or the "amino acid pool." Part of the process of metabolism (changing stuff) is to take the proteins we ingest and convert them as needed by the demands of our bodies into the proteins we need. They can be converted into non-protein compounds (to be used in lieu of carbs in glyconeogenisis) and catabolized for ATP/energy conversion. Indeed, here's a shocker (to me): about 5% of the energy from longer duration activities comes from BCAAs.

This processing is where essential and non-essential proteins come into play. The essentials are the ones we need to ingest because we can't synthesize them.

It's a Wading Poo: No Deep End
That said, our bloodstream it seems is already pretty full with other stuff besides proteins cuing up for use. So we don't store a lot. Therefore, we need to ingest protein regularly. This need doesn't mean go nuts on protein. More doesn't always mean better, right? But it does mean that our bodies need a pretty consistent flow of them. And if it doesn't get those proteins from our diet? Our bodies will start taking proteins from other sources. Like muscle. And repurpose them. We're wired for survival not performance or prettiness.

Amino Acids: eat your veggies
This is just an aside to remind us that we can get the amino acids we need from plant based diets. And likewise if we rely on veggies, we will also be getting more than just protein. One of the advantages of a more plant based (i didn't say vegetarian) diet is that well, you get a lot of protein from eating a range of veggies, we also get lots of other nutrients not found just in meats/dairy, and they are less energy and calorically dense. So we can eat rather a lot, volume wise. If we get a good mix of veggies and legumes, we don't need to worry too much either about whether or not we're getting whole proteins and all the essential amino acids we need.

Protein turnover, though, means that likely the worst thing to compromise in one's diet IS protein
a) because we're mainly organisms made up of protein and water.
b) because we don't store a lot of protein for re-use in the amino acid pools and
c) because the proteins in all parts of us are constantly being replenished

Muscle is still Protein, right?
Muscle is just one of the tissues in our body that requires and turns over protein regularly. If all tissue cells have protein as a part of them, then presumably sufficient protein needs to be available for all the metabolic signalling (hormones and enzymes) and new tissue building (more amino acids), and sufficient energy stores need to be available to support the building process (ATP).

Protein synthesis is, as best i understand, cells' DNA signalling to say there's a need to create more protein of some kind for a particular requirement - whether that's a requirement to generate more hormones or muscle tissue or antibodies.  Muscle use - when pushed to adapt to new stresses causes existing protein to breakdown in normal turn over and to be rebuilt, and rebuild more tissue as needed. The tissue is largely protein based. But so are the cells in our body.

Protein turnover (catabolism and anabolism) is happening all the time in all parts of the body, not just muscle, as cells die, get flushed and replaced. In muscle building we usually focus on protein synthesis - the generation of new protein - and crave anabolism and fear catabolism. We want MORE not less. But protein turnover, it seems from all the above, is important, and part of staying healthy, and effects more or less everything in our bodies.

How much protein to eat?
I'm not going to get into how much protein do we need. The 1g to 1lb of body weight is a pretty grounded heuristic for two reasons:
  • it's very difficult to go toxic on protein (discussed here), so potentially overeating protein in the mix of other nutrients  is likely ok if one's going to err on a given macronutrient.
  • but, lets remember that overeating ANY food pushing into caloric surplus means what's not needed goes to fat.
For more, also checking out Brad Pilon of Eat Stop Eat on protein research (for muscle building) is a very interesting read.
    The point of this piece is less about hypertrophy - of which we know so little - and more to share or to raise awareness that muscle building for our body is just one job that protein has to support in the organisms that are us. For me, kinda puts muscle building in perspective and no wonder we know so little about it, since it's a part of such an integrated protein dance.

    News note: I understand b2d buddy Mike T Nelson is doing a chapter of a book on Protein with Lonnie Lowery (of a neat theory on the Pump, discussed here)  - so will look forward to that.

    In the meantime, i sing the body electric may well be replaced with i sing the protein electric, from the smallest signal to cell to the building of that cell, protein is involved. How 'bout that?

    Beyond the links in this post, the Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nurtition (certification manual) by Berardi and Andrews along with  Exercise Physiology and Advanced Nutritionhelped inform this presentation. Any errors in presentation are mine.

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