Monday, August 4, 2014

Rice the Original Bodybuilding Supplement? γ-Oryzanol Supplement Augments Changes in Body Composition & Strength in 9 Week Resistance Training Study

Purple rice sushi could actually replace chicken + rice in the BB
Chicken and rice, these are the staples of a classic bodybuilding diet. As far as the chicken goes, you will all be aware that it qualifies mostly due to its high protein and low fat content. Rice, on the other hand, is a decent carbohydrate source and as such not exactly zeitgeisty... I guess we could easily get lost in the high vs. low carb debate again, which is why I would draw your attention to the fact that Saghar Eslami and his colleagues from the University Putra Malaysia did not feed their thirty two healthy young male subjects (aged 18 to 32 yr), who were recruited for this double-blind clinical conducted in the Faculty of Sport Sciences at the University of Isfahan, in Iran, tons of rice (see bottom line for an estimation of how much it would take).

What they did was to provide their subjects, who were not allowed to drink, smoke or do any other exercise except from the prescribed protocol, with either 2x300mg γ-oryzanol or identically looking placebo capsules (There was no significant difference between the placebo and supplement groups with respect to age, weight, energy, carbohydrate, protein, and fat intakes).
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According to Eslami et al. the use of gamma oryzanol, which is found in rice bran, wheat bran and certain fruits and vegetables "as a nutritional supplement for strength in athletes is prevalent" (Eslami. 2014), while the research to date has tended to focus on gamma oryzanol effects in patients, especially hyperlipidemics, rather than on resistance athletes.

If we take a look at the existing evidence there are studies by Bucci et al. who found that the intake of 30 mg ferulic acid per day (extracted from gamma oryzanol) for eight weeks resulted in increasing body weight and muscular strength in weight lifters, and a study by Fry et al. which reports strength increases in response to the ingestion of 500 mg/day gamma oryzanol supplementation in 40 year-old or older adults.
Figure 1: Overview of exercise protocol (left); changes in 1RM on the bench and leg curl machine (Eslami. 2014)
In view of the existing evidence it's thus not totally surprising that the complex mixture plant sterols and ferulic acid esters had statistically significant effects on the 1RM strength increase in response to the 9-week resistance training protocol with its 4 weekly supervised RT sessions, a set-count of three and a rep range from 6-12 repetitions (at a pace of 2 sec up and 4 sec down) for each exercise (inter-set rest was 3 minutes; exercise selection see Figure 1).

Visible, but not significant changes in body composition

In contrast to the significant changes in muscular strength, the inter-group differences with respect to the already small changes in the anthropometric measurements (see Figure 2) did not reach statistical significance.
Figure 2: Changes in body composition (all non-significant inter-group differences; Eslami. 2014)
As Eslmai et al. point out, "it might be suggested to use this supplement for longer time" and or to "analyze the antioxidant levels in the blood of the athletes to consider exercise effects on oxidation and free radical production as well as inhibitory effect of supplement" (Eslami. 2014), which would be a first step to understand how γ-oryzanol is actually working - up to now this is still pretty much unknown (Fry et al. speculated about increases in testosterone or androgen receptor interaction, but that's not proven yet; Fry. 1997).
What else can γ-Oryzanol do for you? Traditionally it has been used to treat medical conditions, including heart burn, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, depression, oxidative stress, under-active thyroid, symptoms of menopause, gastritis, childhood rashes, physical injuries, and muscular aches and pains, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), high blood pressure & more (Patel. 2004). It will also stimulate the release of endorphins and has thus been used with some success in the treatment of emotional disorders. Last but not least, it's a potent antioxidant that protects your cells and DNA from oxidative damage (Tsushimoto. 1991).
Bottom line: When I started to write this article, I thought that I would end it on a note that says that you cannot get away without supplements. If we assume, though, that you are willing to consume 822g of Kumdoisaket purple rice from Thailand per day, you would actually be able to get your 600mg of γ-oryzanol (Bonsit. 2006).

Not realistic? Well, I guess you won't be happy to hear then that it would take the sumo amount of ~2kg of white rice to get to your 600mg of γ-oryzanol per day... but hey, you know what? If you do that I am pretty sure that you'll see that the changes in body composition that were still non-significant in the study at hand would become significant ;-) Which brings me to the most important question: Would I buy a supplement like this? Probably not. Mostly because I have been disappointed by too many supps to be willing to risk wasting any more money.
  • Boonsit, Panita, Dumnern Karladee, and P. Phongpiachan. "Gamma oryzanol content in purple rice Thailand local genotypes." Tropentag, October (2006): 11-13.
  • Bucci, L. R., et al. "Effect of ferulate on strength and body composition of weightlifters." J Appl Sports Sci Res 4 (1990): 110. 
  • Eslami, Saghar, et al. "Effects of gamma oryzanol supplementation on anthropometric measurements & muscular strength in healthy males following chronic resistance training." Indian J Med Res 139 (2014): 857-863.
  • Fry, A. C., et al. "The effects of gamma-oryzanol supplementation during resistance exercise training." International journal of sport nutrition 7.4 (1997): 318-329.
  • Patel, M., and S. N. Naik. "Gamma-oryzanol from rice bran oil: a review." J. Sci. Ind. Res 63 (2004): 569-578.
  • Tsushimoto, Gen, et al. "DNA-damaging, mutagenic, clastogenic and cell-cell communication inhibitory properties of gamma-oryzanol." The Journal of toxicological sciences 16.4 (1991): 191-202.