19 July 2012

An Absurdist Monologue on Physiology and Endocrinology

This post is reference-free. Due to the speculative nature of this 'stream of consciousness' piece, please refer to this site's disclaimer. What a good way to usher in the looming London Summer Olympics.

A shredded 155 pounds is my goal, which I plan to achieve by way of IF coupled with coffee and 2x/day sessions.

My single-meal IF scheme more closely reflects Ori Hofmekler's Warrior Diet than Martin's Leangains protocol, but I apply principles from both.

Former Mr. Olympia Franco
Columbu, the "Sardinian Strongman"
A small 20-minute fasted morning cardio session on the treadmill will take care of insulin's inhibitory effect on hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), leverage high morning cortisol levels as well as lower alpha-2 adrenergic receptor activity toward the goal of fat oxidation, and, while inconvenient (inasmuch as it requires waking up earlier in the morning to allow for shower time before class), improve general mood throughout the day thanks to the opponent-process theory of emotion. To reinforce execution of the cardio session a la Premack's principle, the pace of the cardio will start out at 6.5 mph and progressively decrease at regular time intervals. Furthermore, the training scheme for each week will reflect the Premack principle: the cardio will be front-loaded during the first half of the week and decrease as the week progresses. Concurrently, in order to progressively reward myself for getting through the week, intake of carbs and dirty food will gradually increase. The dual purpose of better lipolysis and oxidation (first half of the week) as well as acute leptin, dopamine, and serotonin restoration (latter half of the week) will thus be served.

For breakfast, coffee and green tea. Not just for their appetite-suppressing properties, but also for their myriad of other benefits. To wit, coffee consumption is associated with lower skin, breast, and prostate cancer risk, lower risk of developing dementia (most notably, Alzheimer's, via its effect of increasing plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, GCSF, which suppresses beta-amyloid deposition in the brain), type-2 diabetes prevention, and lower incidences of cardiac arrythmias. The caffeine in coffee is also a phosphodiesterase inhibitor (PDE); PDE inhibition leads to less degradation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which phosphorylates HSL, the activity of which was preserved owing to the morning cardio session's insulin-lowering effect. Lastly, coffee increases non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and potentially induces borderline hyperpraxia, which is fancy for fidgeting. As for green tea, the anti-amyloidogenic properties of the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) present in the tea are enhanced by fish oil supplementation (in mice, at least). Fish oil also increases the bioavailability of EGCG in the body.

The fast continues after the dismissal of class at 3PM, at which time I perform my second session. On cardio days, it's simply an identical 20-minute session. On heavy training days, it's, well, heavy training. I generally follow Martin's rest-pause scheme. I include heavy training at least twice a week, and I execute it according to the Premack principle: the least enjoyable exercises first, the most decadent ones last. And while Martin strongly advises in favor of having a pre-workout hit of BCAAs, EAAs, or at least some whey for the purposes of halting fasting-exacerbated peri-workout proteolysis and increasing p70s6k and mammalian target of rapamyacin (mTOR) phosphorylation, for personal behavioral reasons, I prefer to wait until after I have completed my second session of training for that day. Only then do I deserve my 'reward': feeding. And while a study showed that exercise acutely suppresses regional brain reactivity to enticing meals, the goal of classical conditioning is more important here: the only time to feast is after a hard day's work.

Food choices will include clean and dirty food. I don't shirk microwaveable foods, ice cream, and the like because I feel these to be tantamount to a sustainable eating lifestyle that does not neurotically demonize any category of food and possibly contribute to an eating disorder. Just take a look at pre-contest dieters; I do wonder if they truly mean to bulk up that quickly upon exiting the stage, or if some other underlying problem exists. That's what 12 weeks of eating bland chicken and brown rice does to you.

For supplementation, a daily intake of 13 USP-verified omega-3 fish oil capsules by Nature Made, amounting to 2340mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1560mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These amounts satisfy the conditions necessary for subchronic omega-3 supplementation to ameliorate leucine resistance and improve muscle protein synthesis (MPS) following aminoacidemia. They also more than replicate the methodological conditions of a study that found that administration of at least 8mg of fish oil per kg of body weight (again, in mice) allowed EGCG to do a better job of suppressing cerebral beta-amyloid deposition. Furthermore, fish oil boasts a host of other perks that Martin discusses: suppression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), which lowers atherosclerosis risk, lower incidence of depression (epidemiological link, mind you), and lower cancer risk.

Calcium consumption has been shown to influence regional adiposity (the trunk region, namely), though I would say the phenomenon is still contested. It will be be taken in the form of a calcium-magnesium-zinc pill.
Dieting in general lowers tryptophan availability to the large neutral amino acid transporter (LAT1), and low-carb dieting moreso. Not good for those having trouble sleeping as the BCAAs leucine, valine, and isoleucine can then better compete for LAT1, blocking out tryptophan and consequently lowering serotonin production. Bad implications for both mood and sleep, and it explains why both dieting and the high protein intake that it entails have led some dieters to complain about their sleep.

On that note, given that a bolus of intact casein protein will continue to yield metabolites in the blood at even the 8-hour mark, it would be prudent for me to separate my protein-heavy and carb-heavy meals in order to direct traffic at the LAT1. In fact, another individual with stellar results follows a similar protocol (his 2 meals are a giant, 100g protein shake and a normal meal). Barring supplemental L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a likely scheme for maximizing serotonin synthesis and avoiding diet-induced insomnia, then, would be to follow up 100 grams of alpha-lactalbumin (LALBA), a rapidly digestible whey protein derivative high in tryptophan, with a carb-heavy (with some fat) meal around 4 hours before bed (in accordance with a study that found that a high-glycemic-index carb meal 4 hours prior to bedtime shortened sleep onset). PeptoPro's hydrolyzed caseinate has an astonishing 8 grams of tryptophan per 100g of protein material (Lyle has stated that most protein brands contain 1-2g of tryptophan per 100g of protein material). The blend happens to be near-optimal for the purposes of providing more dietary tryptophan as well as preserving peri-exercise fat oxidation (however negligible). Plus, owing to its faster absorption kinetics, hydrolyzed protein has a better chance of bypassing splanchnic extraction. First-pass portal-drained visceral (PDV) and hepatic metabolism utilize the majority of amino acids before the remainder is passed on to the peripheral tissues (and, relevant to our purposes, muscle). That's a long-winded way of suggesting that total daily dietary protein requirements may be lowered if more of it is reaching the muscles. Anyway, better sleep equals better appetite control equals better diet adherence. And besides, the two-a-day sessions should ensure that I sleep like a rock.

On the topic of sleep and ensuring its quality, carb-centric refeeds will be incorporated, though still done on training days after sufficient whole-body metabolic work is done to stress the energetic components of the muscle (especially adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, or AMPk) and divert calories to the lean tissue compartment. Anecdotally, my sleep begins to deteriorate 3-4 days into the diet week probably for the reasons discussed above. Not surprisingly, pre-contest dieters have complained about sleep issues, at times having as low as 4 hours of sleep each night. For this reason, progressively re-introducing carbs throughout the week, supplementing with alpha-lactalbumin, and having bi-weekly refeeds will be the measures taken to fix the problem. At least then, the higher-tryptophan conditions of a eucaloric or hypercaloric diet can be simulated.

All things said, I don't want it to appear that an over-reliance on supplements is a requisite for success. Insofar as drugs cannot conceivably correct any behavioral problems associated with diet and weight control, the myriad of pharmaceutical 'solutions' being released to the public will fail as usual. People tend to believe that the drugs will chronically facilitate their weight loss goals. For some, use of the drugs may only serve to bring their behavioral problems to the surface. Some examples of drugs (both approved and withdrawn) and drug components: Belviq (lorcaserin), Qsymia (formerly Qnexa and containing extended-release phentermine and topiramate), Alli and Xenical (orlistat, also known as tetrahydrolipstatin), Hoodia gordonii and XR, bitter orange (citrus aurantium, active compound synephrine), Sensa, chitosan, Meridia (sibutramine), rimonabant, and raspberry ketones.

Let's begin, shall we?