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.