Saturday, December 1, 2012

5-10% Weight Reduction From Set to Set For Hypertrophy, Heavy Leg Workouts for Cyclists, Garlic For 400% Higher Test/Cortisol Ratios & Max(!) 1g Vitamin C for Muscle Gains

7% increase in breast cancer risk for every 500g above "normal" birthweight for Scandinavian women. Weight is yet not all that counts, mommy's gestational diabetes and even a large body size also precipitate to later disease.
7% per 500g that's the increase in breast cancer risk, the female offspring of Scandinavian women will have, if they are born heavier than normal. This figure is the SuppVersity Figure of the Week and comes from a study I came across a couple of days ago (Troisi. 2012). The statistics are based on birth register data of women from Norway, Sweden or Denmark who were subsequently diagnosed with primary, invasive breast cancer (n=51419) and 10 controls for each case from the birth registries matched by country and year of birth (n = 514,190).

Contrary to what you may think, the birth weight does yet not pose as much of a risk to become obese later in life as being larger than "appropriate" for your gestational age does (Eyzaguirre. 2012). If you also consider that gestational diabetes has been linked with increased risk of metabolic syndrome in the offspring (Davis. 2012) and that obesity in itself is an independent risk factor for breast cancer (Patterson. 2012), these should be more than enough good arguments not to surrender to your occasional food cravings and laziness - pregnant or not.

It's not all in your genes, but most in your hands

Although some people would love, if this was the case, because they could blame their own misery on the mistakes other  may have made, our lives and health are not fully determined by our genes and/or the mistakes our mothers may or may not have made. As Poston and Foreyt wrote in 1999, already: "Obesity is an environmental issue." And we are lucky: It is in our hands to change the environment we are exposing ourselves to and thus influence which of our genetic disposals will become active and are  promoted and which of them won't. Now that's obviously not just the case for obesity, muscular hypertrophy would be another example. Irrespective of your genetic make-up your strength and muscle gains stand and fall with the way you train, eat and supplement... and guess what, all of these points will be addressed in today's installment of On Short Notice.

  • Experimentally validated: 5-10% drop in weights per set is "optimal" for hypertrophy training (Medeiros. 2012) -- Scientists from the Laboratory of Physiology and Biokinetic at the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Health on the UNIG Campus V at Itaperuna in Brazil find: The average resistance trainee - in this case a young man aged 24.0±4.5 years with a body mass of 78.3±10.2 kg and a height of 177±7 cm - can remain in the hypertrophy range (10-12 reps to failure) for most of his sets, when he reduces the weight by 5-10% after each set.

    Whether this will also yield optimal gains was yet not within the scope of this 5-week study. What these results do however tell you is that you are not training hard enough if you perform all your sets with the exact same weight in the exact same rep range - well, unless you don't just like to listen to Super Human Radio, but are actually related to Superman himself ;-)

  • Sir Chris Hoy's legs are not as hilarious as those of the German Robert Forstemann (Robert is the right guy), but I am pretty certain their size and strength played a very important part in becoming the most successful Olympic track cyclist of all times (six gold and one silver Olympic Medal + 11 times world champion)
    Heavy leg training could make the difference between victory or defeat at the end of a cycling race (Hansen. 2012) -- In a soon-to-be-published paper, Ernst A. Hansen et al. report that the addition of 12-weeks of heavy resistance training in the form of 4 lower body exercises (3 × 4–10 repetition maximum) which had to be performed twice a week enhanced the cycling performance of highly trained cyclists by 7% compared to the training outcome of the subjects in a control group who simply followed their regular endurance-only, protocols:
    "Performance was determined as average power output in a 5-min all-out trial performed subsequent to 185 min of submaximal cycling. The performance enhancement, which has been reported previously, was here shown to be accompanied by improved pedaling efficacy during the all-out cycling. Thus, E+S shortened the phase where negative crank torque occurs by ~16°, corresponding to ~14%, which was more than in E (P = .002)" (Hansen. 2012)
    Since the test was conducted at the end of a 3h cycling session, it should be plain obvious that those 15% increases in torque will catapult the strength trained endurance athlete to the forefront on every final sprint.

  • Human dose equivalent of ~0.1g/kg garlic per day could not just boost your testosterone and lower the high protein diet induced increases in cortisol, it could also improve the way your body utilizes dietary protein (Oi. 2012)-- Actually this is not a new study, but since Maxim was not happy with things "so yesterday" as the increases in HDL and LDL the Arabian scientists observed in the garlic study I have been talking about at the end of Thursday's SuppVersity Science Round-Up on SHR, I thought others may be as happy as Maxim will hopefully be to hear that there is more to garlic than "just" its beneficial effects on your heart.

    Figure 1: Higher testosterone levels, an amelioration of the high protein induced increase in corticosteroids and a 40% increase in net protein balance are unquestionably impressive results given the fact that the all those differences were brought about within 28 days and by no more than 0.1g/kg (HED) of "supplemental" garlic in form of heat dried powder that was added to the chow (Oi. 2001)
    In fact, I am almost sure that the >400% increase in the testosterone to cortisol ratio you will see if you take a closer look at the data in figure 1, is probably rather what Maxim would have liked to hear me talk about. Especially in view of the fact that this endocrine effects went hand in hand with a highly significant +60% increase in protein retention (figure 1, top right). Think about it, if only part of he protein that was now no longer excreted in the urine / feces would be used for protein synthesis this would entail exactly those hypertrophy effects you don't see with your average "scientifically proven" herb-based testosterone booster.

    Unfortunately, the scientists did only measure the body weight and visceral fat pads, not the actual muscle mass of the rodents,. But if you go by their ratios it is obvious that the high protein + garlic group were not just the heaviest, but also the leanest.

    With +11 % vs. +5% in both the medium and high protein diets, the animals on the low protein did yet exhibit the most profound benefits as far as the body weight / visceral fat ratio goes. Against the background that their net protein balance remained the same, this observation does actually suggest that the pro-anabolic effects of garlic are not solely a result of a decreased protein excretion (see figure 1).
    Table 1: Principal sulphur compounds of garlic preparations (Hammami. 2012)
    Warning: Don't live on garlic alone! While the provision of 0.8% garlic powder did have beneficial effects on testosterone production in the study at hand, there are a couple of studies which suggest that a diet with 15-30% of crude garlic (Hammami. 2008 & 2009), as well as the administration of Diallyl trisulphide in isolation (Qian. 1986) and raw garlic juice (e.g. 600mg/kg per day for 21 days in Fehri. 1991) can compromise testosterone production and/or testicular function. In view of the difference between 0.8% garlic powder in the diet of the rodents in study at hand and 15-30% of pure garlic in the diet of the animals in the Hamami studies, it is most likely that the effects were dose-depended, but in case you are interested in health benefits of specific sulfor compounds in garlic, the data in table 1 on the left may still come handy to pick "your" preferred form of garlic.
    Rather than that, it appears as if the human equivalent of 0.1g/kg body weight of heat dried garlic powder that contained a total amount of 5.05 mg/g of total diallylsulfide (0.05 mg of monosulfide, 1.0 mg of disulfide, 3.4 mg of trisulfide, 0.6 mg tetrasulfide) had the ability to improve the incorporation of dietary protein into muscles (and other organs).
  • Study shows: Vitamin C supplementation does reduce skeletal muscle hypertrophy in response to chronic overload (Makanae. 2012) -- Despite the fact that it has not even been published yet, the paper by Yuhei Makanae et al. actually only confirms what more and more scientists have been speculating about within the last couple of years. The provision of high does of active antioxidants, and as it seems in particular vitamin C, blunts the hypertrophy response to skeletal muscle overload.

    Figure 2: 14-day of 500mg/kg  (HED 0.08g/kg) supplemental vitamin C blunt skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rodents (Makanae. 2012)
    As you can see in figure 2 the effect size was relatively small, but statistically highly significant (p < 0.01) and that despite the fact that the supplementation regimen (500mg/kg body weight; HED: 0.08g/kg body weight) was not even that much higher than what some "vitamin C enthusiasts" are taking on a daily basis in the futile (and useless) effort to boost their serum vitamin C levels to a concentrations your body does - probably not without reason - try to counter by increasing renal vitamin C clearance.

    As the data in figure 2 shows, the same homeostatic mechanism we know from humans worked in the rodents, as well - well, at least with respect to the serum levels. In the plantaris muscle of the supplemented group, on the other hand, there was a significantly higher accumulation of vitamin C than in the placebo group. This increase went hand in hand with an attenuation of the repressive effects the chronic overload of the muscle had on the expression of the catabolic protein atrogin-1 and the increases in the pro-anabolic protein Erk1/2 (p < 0.01) in the non-supplemented animals. Based on this observations and with reference to the results of previous studies and the fact that neither the water content of the muscle, nor a significant reduction in food intake in the vitamin C group could explain the observed differences, Makanae et al. conclude "that oral vitamin C administration attenuates plantaris muscle hypertrophy induced by chronic mechanical load." (Makanae. 2012).

    What the study does not answer, though, is the question whether the effects would be identical in a real-world training scenario, where the temporary, yet more intense wear and tear on the muscle could in fact be sufficient to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy human despite vitamin C supplementation. But let's be honest in view of the fact that scientific evidence for ergogenic benefits of more than 1g of supplemental vitamin C  per day (in humans) is simply non-existent, the take away message from the study at hand should actually read: Do not escalate your vitamin C beyond the 1g per day, if you don't want to risk compromising the results of all the hard work you are investing into your training.

That's is, another installment of On Short Notice and the first day of the weekend approaching it's peak. If you still have some time before whatever your plan for Saturday night may be and feel like you could use some seconds on today's short news, I suggest you head over to the SuppVersity Facebook Wall and check out the latest news on
  • Ever thought about what green tea, grape seed, curcumin, cranberry, and tons of other Super Food have antimicrobial effects? Considering the LPS-influx from the gut turns out to be a major contributor to all sorts of diseases, I am curious about how much of their effects are actually mediated by the gut microbiome.
    The differential role of intramuscular lipids in trained athletes and sedentary slobs and how the difference between performance enhancement and insulin resistance it all comes back to getting your as off the coach (learn more)
  • Metformin 2.0? Scientists have developed a hypolipidemic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-obesity, and glucose lowering agent called ETC-1002 (learn more)
  • Confirmed: Grape seed could be the go-to neuroprotector for diabetics - GSE administration was found to be able to ameliorate most of the biochemical altered parameters in diabetic rats (read more)
  • Fermenting your own dairy? Just add some catechin rich teas and the lactobacilli will strive. Makes you wonder about the 'internal' probiotic effects of green and black teas, as well. Doesn't it? (learn more)
There will be more, don't worry - so feel free to check for updates either directly on the SuppVersity Facebook Wall or simply by taking a look at the navigation in the right under "SuppVersity Facebook Wall" from time to time. Obviously, you can also simply "like" the SuppVersity on facebook to make sure you don't miss anything.

  • Davis JN, Gunderson EP, Gyllenhammer LE, Goran MI. Impact of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus on Pubertal Changes in Adiposity and Metabolic Profiles in Latino Offspring. J Pediatr. 2012 Nov 10.
  • Eyzaguirre F, Bancalari R, Román R, Silva R, Youlton R, Urquidi C, García H, Mericq V. Prevalence of components of the metabolic syndrome according to birthweight among overweight and obese children and adolescents. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2012;25(1-2):51-6. 
  • Fehri B, Aiache JM, Korbi S, Monkni M, Ben Said M, Memmi A, Hizaoui B, Boukef K (1991) Toxic effects induced by the repeat administration of Allium sativum L. J Pharm Belg 46:363–374.
  • Hammami I, Nahdi A, Mauduit C, Benahmed M, Amri M, Ben Amar A, Zekri S, El May A, El May MV. The inhibitory effects on adult male reproductive functions of crude garlic (Allium sativum) feeding. Asian J Androl. 2008; 10:593–601.
  • Hammami I, Amara S, Benahmed M, El May MV, Mauduit C. Chronic crude garlic-feeding modified adult male rat testicular markers: mechanisms of action. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009; 24:57–65.
  • Hansen EA, Rønnestad BR, Vegge G, Raastad T. Cyclists Improve Pedalling Efficacy and Performance After Heavy Strength Training. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2011 Dec 2. 
  • Hammami I, El May MV. Impact of garlic feeding (Allium sativum) on male fertility. Andrologia. 2012 Sep 3.
  • Makanae Y, Kawada S, Sasaki K, Nakazato K, Ishii N. Vitamin C administration attenuates overload-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rats. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2012 Nov 26.
  • Medeiros Jr HS, Mello RS, Amorim MZ, Koch AJ, Machado M. Planned Intensity Reduction to Maintain Repetitions Within Recommended Hypertrophy Range. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 Nov 19. 
  • Oi Y, Imafuku M, Shishido C, Kominato Y, Nishimura S, Iwai K. Garlic supplementation increases testicular testosterone and decreases plasma corticosterone in rats fed a high protein diet. J Nutr. 2001 Aug;131(8):2150-6.
  • Patterson RE, Rock CL, Kerr J, Natarajan L, Marshall SJ, Pakiz B, Cadmus-Bertram LA. Metabolism and Breast Cancer Risk: Frontiers in Research and Practice. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Nov 2. doi:pii: S2212-2672(12)01426-8.
  • Qian YX, Shen PJ, Xu RY, Liu GM, Yang HQ, Lu YS, Sun P, Zhang RW, Qi LM, Lu QH.  Spermicidal effect in vitro by the active principle of garlic. Contraception. 1986; 34:295–302.
  • Troisi R, Grotmol T, Jacobsen J, Tretli S, Toft­Sørensen H, Gissler M, Kaaja R,Potischman N, Ekbom A, Hoover RN Stephansson O. Perinatal characteristics and breast cancer risk in daughters: a Scandinavian population­based study. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Available on CJO 2012.


  1. Would aged garlic, such as Kyolic, have the same beneficial effect of boosting testosterone levels as well?

    1. What would be the best form of garlic supplementation? Taking 8g of garlic powder (for an 80kg person) would probably not be so easy, and the gas would be horrible. On the other hand, the removal of odorous compounds (Kyolic) could mean some of those beneficial compounds are being removed, so yours is a good question

    2. I don't know a definitive answer, but based on the fact that aged garlic had similar effects as testosterone on the mounting behavior of rats, here >

      for general health and anti-cancer effects there is even slightly more research on aged than on fresh garlic

      in general you should be somewhat careful with the dosage as 15-30% garlic is obviously so much that we see (as usual) the exact opposite effects on testosterone =>

      here is a list of the active ingredients

      Diallyl sulfide DAS
      Diallyl disulfide DADS
      Diallyl trisulfide DATS
      AllylMethyl sulfide AMS
      AllylMethyl disulfide AMDS
      Allylmethyl trisulfide AMTS
      2-vinyl-4H-1, 3-dithiin
      3-vinyl-4H-1, 2-dithiin
      E- Ajoene
      Z- Ajoene
      S-allyl-L-cysteines SAC
      S-allylmercaptocysteine SAMC

    3. After digging a little further, it seems as if Aliin was the good guy here and the rest that's still left in crude garlic can produce problems

      here is a list of the main actives in garlic juice, powder, aged garlic and garlic oil

      Raw garlic juice
      Méthyl allyl thiosulphinate
      1-Propenyl allyl thiosulphinate

      Garlic powder

      Aged garlic extract
      S-allyl cysteine
      S-allyl mercapto-cysteine

      Garlic oil
      Diallyl sulphide
      Diallyl disulphide
      Diallyl trisulphide
      Allyl methyl disulphide
      Allyl methyl trisulphide
      Allyl methyl tetrasulphide
      Dimethyl trisulphide

      The pro-testosterone effects have only been observed by Oi and with garlic powder, while Hammami report negative effect of allegedly very high intakes 15-30% of the diet of crude garlic.

      Nothing about aged garlic, though - if it's the Alliin that does the job it's yet unlikely to be efficient

    4. I am thinking about trying to put a tablespoon of garlic powder in capsule form. Has anyone tried taking in such large amounts (8-10 grams) and if so how did it treat the digestive tract? Also, did your significant other say you had a new found aroma?

    5. Never dealt with the extract, but I used to eat cloves of garlic because I personally think it tastes great. But I avoid it like the plague now because it makes my sweat, breath, everything smell awful. I never noticed, but my family was always quick to point it out. And it would last for days too.

    6. Well I am into the test phase. I made up some capsules. It takes about 12 or so "00" size for 1 TBSP which amounts to about 9 grams which is correct for my weight. I took 6 last night and 6 this morning. I will continue that and see how it goes. After 24 hours no smell says the wife :)

      No lets see if I notice anything after a month.

    7. I'm curious if garlic is a compound that deposits in fatty tissue. Adel? If so, then don't go on a cut anytime soon afterwards ;-)

    8. There is no help with garlic smell. Parsley minimizes halitus but thats all. It happens with some garlic like substances too like DMSO even if they inject you.

      The best way is that everybody in the house consume it.

      I am not sure that lots of garlic, especially capsules which are next to worthless in majority of cases, is good idea.

    9. Yep my wife said she smelled it. I decided to cut down to 4.5g per day also. I doubt that it is enough to have any adverse effects. There are a number of studies that suggest it has benefits (not with testosterone/cortisol however.

      I also wonder what does is actually required to see a results. Meaning perhaps a smaller does may have had measurable results but was not tested.

  2. Any idea on what exercises Hansen covered?

    1. I can't tell for sure, but scientists are creature of habit and in another study from 2012 - likewise on cyclists, the protocol consisted of half squat, leg press with 1 leg at a time, standing 1-legged hip flexion, and ankle plantar flexion.

      That's what they used here >|1|1

  3. Bushing vitamin C using junk studies again ... irresponsible. I expect better.

    Lets see.

    Study used Wistar rats and 8 of them were dosed with 500mg/kg once a day for 14 days. This would be equivalent to 35g of oral Vitamin C to 70 kg human. But that is a minor point. The far bigger problem is that Wistar rats are not GULO rats, that is, they produce bunch of vitamin C for entire day. If we add this to above equation daily vitamin C dose would probably be closer to 50g [especially given the liver optimal dynamic dosing capabilities]. The possibility of down regulation of endogenous production due to large exogenous input is remote. So, we have hugely vitamin C overloaded animals and "loss of adaptation" is minimal (152 vs 142). Why they didn't take guinea pigs or one of the rat strains that don't produce vitamin C is beyond me.

    Furthermore, after the protocol, animals don't live in the same context any more. There are number of studies which show that vitamin C make people and animals work harder and longer (because vitamin C lets them tolerate more stress). So, supplemented rats and humans could take advantage of that and work longer and/or harder. Being able to work longer is more important because in such scenario brain has more time to "adapt learn and recalibrate". This might not be that important for dumb sports such as body building but is extremely important for intelligent sports.

    "vitamin C enthusiasts" are taking on a daily basis in the futile (and useless) effort to boost their serum vitamin C levels to a concentrations your body does - probably not without reason - try to counter by increasing renal vitamin C clearance.
    Again, this is pretty bad information you are delegating. "Vitamin C enthusiasts" don't care about serum levels. I prefer my vitamin C in the cell, not in the serum (take diabetes as analogy). "Futal and useless" is your own opinion and is not supported by evidence. Finally, why does it matter that body gets rid of vitamin C ? The same happens with any other substance, particularly water. People are encouraged to drink 8 glasses per day (or whatever) but if you drink more, body will get rid of it.... "probably for a reason", right ?.

    Actually, there are several explanations for this: it might be and probably is mechanical problem for one, it might be secreted in the kidney to protect it for two (take a look at C & urinary infection connection), and finally the same thing happens in rats in many ocassions - when dealing with some stressors, rats produce several fold more vitamin C and excrete it more (thus loosing precious glucose, i.e. food). Of course, thee are also many negative speculations (protection from overoxalation, hemolitic potential of C etc...) but all that is theoretical.

    To make my position clear, I don't claim vitamin C doesn't attenuate exercise induced hypertrophy. Nobody knows it for sure, but it doesn't seem likely which this study that used daily dose that most humans take in several months clearly show. Even if there is effect, its probably small. If we accept there is, there are things C offers in return. Why such ignore, I ask.

    benefits of more than 1g of supplemental vitamin C per day (in humans) is simply non-existent
    Can you give me some references, lol ?

    1. before you start critteling around, please do your homework and learn how you calculate equivalent doses (your 70kg person would only need 5.6g per day).

      and in this human study even 1g was enough to decrease adaptation and performance by 50% (VO2Max) =>

      also, even 250mg can deliver results => combination of vitamin E and slow-release vitamin C slows down atherosclerotic progression in hypercholesterolemic persons:

      I agree that people like type II diabetics may need more since they use more, but that does not mean that everyone needs doses in the multiple gram range every day - where is the evidence that this would yield any benefit?

    2. The results are meaningless to humans since animals produce C, enough said. HED is not important in that conotext and its far from easy to calculate since many factors influence it (sugar, stomach acid, medicine etc.). Nobody can calculate that.

      Yeah, even 250mg can deliver results, when did I say it doesn't. If you have latent scurvy its probably miraculous.

      People with diabetes not only use more, but block more. Several scientist think that most of people are in pre-diabetic state (Rosedale, Ely, etc.). If that is true, then we all need more from your words.

      I don't see a relevance of other studies with very sick people.

      The more important thing is - what is the cost of such adaptation. Body will obviously devote resources to problematic aspect to survival (take sublethal dose of some strong poison and next time you can probably double it) using triage system. Your will to "adapt to exercise" doesn't come for free. What suffers, is the question.

      So, lets sumarize this:
      - Without C, you might get little more muscle but will let your body be damaged more in order to achieve it. This means that there is some window of oportunitty for you to get screwd properly (infection comes to mind ASAP, but injuiry is equally possible)
      - With C, you might get little less muscle.

      where is the evidence that this would yield any benefit?

      You said first it doesn't. You provide your evidence that it doesn't, and then I will provide my evidence. Last time I provided evidence and took substantial amount of time to do it, you didn't follow up.

    3. I am 100% for challenging conclusions, maintaining skepticism, and questioning (all in a polite and respectful manner of course). Thus, I am not here to say stop.

      I am simply curious majkinetor, what is it about this study and Vitamin C that makes you so passionate?

    4. Hej primalkid.

      I am not passionate, I just like precision and when picture fits into the big framework. And this one is neither. I personaly benefit from information as I am C megadoser. I always sick the negation of things I do and hence I am widely interested to converse with those with valid arguments. For instance, I no longer think vitamin C is great for bacterial infections [with few exceptions like h.pylori etc], while for viral its miraculous. Somebody knowledgeable enough presented good evidence.

      When somebody explains to me why goat with 13-100g production of vitamin C per day has no problems climbing that 90 degree hill or drop from kidney stones or whatever, I will start to change my opinion.

      Also, I would like to see which serious body builder takes less then 1g of vitamin C per day.

      Until then, its highly unlikely we are that special given we use the same programming interface as other living creatures.