Friday, July 4, 2014

Are You Still Wasting Money on Amino Acid Blends, When Plain Whey Protein Pumps More Protein Into the Muscle & Turns Endurance into Strength Type Fibers?

The indoctrination machine of the supplement industry is pretty efficient. At least that's what I gather from the "bro-talk" in my own gym - I guess you know what I mean, right?
If there is something free form amino acids products can do that plain whey cannot do, it's increasing the revenue of their producers. No wonder that they are touted as "almost as potent as illegal gear" and sold for prices that make me roll with the eyes. Dozens of patented "optimal" BCAA - leucine : valine : isoleucine - ratios and "superior anabolic blends" ... come on, you are beyond believing every lie you are dished up, aren't you?

You never gave in to the temptation? Right you were! A recent study from Japan confirms once more: It's complete proteins trigger complete growth effects, their individual amino acids, which were used in the control arm of a recent (unfortunately) rodent study from the Meiji Company Limited, the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology in Japan, on the other hand, have comparably weak effects on the post-exercise gene expression profile.
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But, one thing after the other, as you have already gathered from the information in the introduction, the scientists were building on their own results as well as the findings of Rowlands et al. have published in Physiological Genomics in 2011 (Rowlands. 2012). In said study, the researchers had been able to show...
"[...]that post-exercise ingestion of whey protein differentially alters the portion of the transcriptome that is involved in tissue structure and remodelling,  including production of the extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton and contractile proteins." (Kanda. 2014)
In contrast to their previous study, which was the basis of the discussion in an article I wrote last year (" Don't Judge a Protein by Its Amino Acid Content: 17% Higher Protein Synthesis With Whey vs. Free Form Amino Acids" | read previous article) and where their focus was on mTOR and the fractional protein synthesis (see Figure 1), the study at hand focused focused less on the net effect and more on the underlying (genomic) which explains the fact that free form amino acids suck and whey hydrolysate rules.

Figure 1: Fractional protein synthesis (left), AA, glucose & insulin conc. in the blood and expression of mTOR, 4E-BP1 and S6K1 in sk. muscle in response to CHO, whey protein hydrosylate or identical free form amino acids (AA; Kanda. 2013)
To this ends, the researchers fed rodent diets containing either CHO + Whey or carbohydrates (CHO) that were mixed with an iso-energetic amino acid formula which had an amino acid profile that was identical to the one of the whey proteins to investigate the global effect of WPH on gene expression in skeletal muscle in comparison with an identical amino acid mixture (AAM).
Figure 2: Fractional protein synthesis and insulin levels after the ingestion of the free form Amino Acid (identical profile as whey hydro) + CHO or Whey Hydolysate + CHO formulas after the workouts (Kanda. 2014)
Their findings (Figure 2) are, at least for you as a SuppVersity reader, unsurprising. Aside from the increase in insulin, a hormone lean individuals don't have to fear and probably the most potent natural anti-catabolic agent, the scientists were able to identify a dozen of other gene-factors (Table 1) that may be responsible for the 16% increased fractional protein synthesis Kanda et al. observed in their latest study.
Table 1:Significantly enriched Gene Ontology (GO) terms (P,0·01) found in the top 161 up-regulated genes in the whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) group (Kanda. 2014)
Figure 3: Venn and Euler diagrams represent the association of up-regulated genes with multiple GO terms caused by WPH (Kanda. 2014)
  • lmmune response
  • Regulation of RNA metabolic process
  • Positive regulation of RNA metabolic process 
  • Positive regulation of transcription, DNA-dependent
  • Positive regulation of transcription from RNA
  • polymerase II promoter
  • Regulation of transcr. from RNA polymerase II promo
  • Regulation of transcription, DNA-dependent
  • Positive regulation of gene expression
  • Regulation of nervous system development
  • Regulation of neuron differentiation
  • Negative regulation of neuron differentiation
  • Response to organic substance
  • Response to mechanical stimulus
  • Muscle tissue development
  • Striated muscle tissue development
  • Negative regulation of cytokine production
  • Response to wounding
The above list (cf. Table 1) leaves no doubt that the changes the researchers observed a potentially hypertrophy- and health-relevant. Not all of them, were whey exclusive, but the eight specific GO terms that were significantly enriched in the set of up-regulated genes included, as the scientists point out in the discussion of their results "some key elements such as Cd24, Ccl2, Ccl7 and Cxcl1 involved in post-exercise muscle repair" (Kanda. 2014).
Take some time off and reset your protein anabolic response. learn more about detraining and the difference to tapering @ the SuppVersity!
Bottom line: The logical conclusion Kanda et al. draw and I support is that their newest findings "indicate that WPH induces more rapid muscle recovery after exercise than does the AAM" (Kanda. 2014). Moreover, other specific gene changes relate to important transcription factors in skeletal muscle, which are also involved in the activation of the basal muscle anabolic protein Akt and a gene network these interacts with some glucoregulatory enzymes, such as hexokinase, pyruvate kinase and phosphofructokinase, which could explain why whey is a significantly better promoter of increases in muscle glycogen content than free form amino acids.

In conjunction with the donwregulation of genes that are encoded by type II fibers, and the up-regulation of a key transcription factor, Six1, which can reprogram adult muscle from the slow-twitch phenotype into the fast-twitch phenotype. Whey will, unlike free form amino acids eventually turn you into a fast twitch fiber powered sprint and weight lifting monster... well, almost ;-) It will obviously rather promote the development of a higher glycolytic fiber count which in turn will enable you to sprint and lift - And let's be honest, isn't that actually what you want?
  • Kanda, Atsushi, et al. "Post-exercise whey protein hydrolysate supplementation induces a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis than its constituent amino acid content." British Journal of Nutrition 110.06 (2013): 981-987.
  • Kanda, Atsushi, et al. "Post-exercise impact of ingested whey protein hydrolysate on gene expression profiles in rat skeletal muscle: activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α." British Journal of Nutrition (2014): 1-12.
  • Rowlands, David S., et al. "Transcriptome and translational signaling following endurance exercise in trained skeletal muscle: impact of dietary protein." Physiological genomics 43.17 (2011): 1004-1020.