Saturday, June 7, 2014

High Protein Bulking Maximizes Muscle (+1%), Minimizes Fat Gain (-3%): Study Proves That 200g+ Protein Per Day Make a Cleaner Bulk Than 133g/day on ~480kcal Surplus

If lean muscle if your goal, high protein bulking is the way. That's what bro-science that's just been confirmed by pro-science - w/ non-lifting young, lean men.
We all know "protein is good", but why is it bashed by scientists all around the world as a carcinogenic obesogen in the headlines of many of the major science news outlets, then? I can't answer this question, but after the "Meat is a major contributor to the dietary anti-oxidant intake of the average Spaniard" study I wrote about on the SuppVersity Facebook page, yesterday (learn more), today's SuppVersity article is going to be evidence number two you can use in any discussion with protein deficient vegan about the usefulness of a dietary protein.

Being based on a peer-reviewed study from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the results of the study at hand are (almost) beyond doubt.
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The study design is simple and easy to explain. Annemarie Rietman and colleagues recruited twenty-nine healthy, young, lean Caucasian men and women participated in this strictly controlled dietary intervention study. Participants had no family history of type 2 diabetes and were not taking any medication. The total dietary intervention lasted for 6 weeks. All participants started with a 2-week run-in period on a weight-maintaining CD (27.8 En% fat, 16.9 En% protein, 55.3 En% carbohydrates) to get familiarized with the dietary regimen and to adapt to the same diet.
Figure 1: Study design and composition of the diets. Measurements are indicated as follows: (1) after 2 wk of run-in; (2) after 2 wk of intervention (Period 1); and (3) after4wkof intervention (Period 2). BW, body weight; CD, control diet; HD, high-fat, hypercaloric diet; HP, high-protein condition (within the high-fat, hypercaloric diet); IHL, intrahepatic lipid; NP, normalprotein condition (within the high-fat, hypercaloric diet); REE, resting energy expenditure (Rietman. 2014).
Thereafter, participants were randomly assigned to either the HD group (n= 19) or the CD reference group (n= 10). Interestingly, the participants were unaware of their assigned diets until the end of the study, although participants could have guessed their study status based on the diets.

After the run-in, participants in the high energy intake (HD) group were overfed with 2 MJ/d, i.e. 477.69kcal/day, for the following 4 wk of intervention. The corresponding macros were
  • normal protein: 15.4% protein | 39.4% fat | 45.2% carbohydrates
  • high protein: 25.7% protein | 37.7% fat | 36.6% carbohydrates
Within the HD group, a randomized crossover design consisting of 2 periods of 2 wk was applied - practically speaking, this means that all subjects were on both diets for two weeks each:
Suggested Read: "If You Go "High Carb", You Better Go Really High! 800g+ of Carbs @ 1000kcal Over Maintenance and Still "Lean Gains"! " | read more
"Participants started randomly with either the NP condition or the HP condition and crossed to the other condition after 2 wk. Parallel to the HD group, the reference group continued on the weight-maintaining CD for another 4 wk.

Measurements of IHL content and fasting blood glucose, insulin, and TG concentrations were performed after 2 wk of run-in (baseline), 2 wk of intervention (period 1), and 4 wk of intervention (period 2).

Body composition, adipose tissue gene expression, and resting energy expenditure (REE) were measured after each intervention period.

All measurements were performed after an overnight fast at the research facilities of Wageningen University." (Rietman. 2014)
The diets of the participants were (according to the scienceists) "strictly controlled" (Rietman. 2014) during the entire 6-wk study period. In that the diet was composed of an identical 90% baseline to cover their basic needs and a 10% extra they could select from a predefined free-choice list. Moreover, ...
  • all food items chosen from the free-choice list were recorded. Participants came to the research facility every working day during lunchtime
  • they consumed a hot meal, which was weighed to the nearest gram by the research dieticians,
  • breakfast, evening bread meals, snacks, beverages, and all meals for the weekends were provided in take-home packages,
  • all the foods were precalculated for macronutrient composition and energy content for each individual participant by the research dieticians
  • Suggested read: "Calorie Shifting (-45%) Beats Calorie Reduction (-55%)" | more
    participants were instructed to eat all the provided food and not to change their physical activity pattern for the duration of the study,
  • dietary compliance was assessed by completion of a diary by the participants, return of emptied food packages, and measurement of 24-h urine urea concentration by kinetic UV assay,
  • physical activity was controlled through a regular check by the dieticians, who informed participants about the allowed physical activity
Moreover, a diary on physical activity had to be filled out every day. Thus, the scientists tried to emulate a tightly controlled "quasi metabolic ward" scenario under free-living conditions.
Yes, even protein can make you fat (learn more)
Don't forget to train + keep your energy surplus moderate: Please keep in mind that this was a six-weeks study in the course of which the subjects were on a ~15-18% energy surplus. As a SuppVersity reader you will remember the results of the Bray study, which indicate that on a +40% energy surplus, even "high protein" is not going to save your ass, thighs and midsection from the deposition of unwanted body fat (learn more)... And that's going to happen particularly fast, if you don't train as regularly as the resistance trained subjects of Jose Antonio's protein overfeeding study I wrote about on May 18, 2014 | read it!
Table 1: Nutrient composition of the diets (Rietman. 2014) - Values are means of duplicate portions. CD, control diet; en%, energy percent; HP, high-protein condition (within the high-fat, hypercaloric diet); NP, normal-protein condition (within the high-fat, hypercaloric diet).
Now, if you look at the data in Table 1 you will realize that the energy-distributions were not as significantly different as they are if you compare the average bodybuilder to the average Joe. With 16.9 en%, 15.4 en%, and 25.7 en% for the CD, NP diet, and HP diet, respectively, the total dietary protein intake from mixed origin (dairy, animal, and plant sources, with the contribution of dairy protein more prominent in the HP condition | 55% of the protein came from dairy in the high protein vs. normal protein and control condition compared with 30% for both other diets) amounted to only 212g/day that's way less that the subjects in Jose Antonio's recent "protein excess study" were consuming (learn more).

Diet and physical activity levels are is yet not the only difference between the studies. The outcome measures were different as well: The triglyceride and intra-hepatic fat levels, indicators of beginning non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and thus, as you as a SuppVersity reader know, impeding insulin resistance (learn more) you can see in Figure 2 tell you provide insights into the overall metabolic health of the subject, the previously cited study did not have to offer.
Figure 2: Intrahepatic lipid levels (left) and serum triglycerides (right); data are means +/- SEM (Rietman. 2014)
And we are talking about a health, here of which the data in Figure 2 tells you that it was not compromised by the high protein diet phases at all. In fact, "a trend toward lower IHL and plasma TG concentrations during the HP condition compared with the NP condition was observed" (Rietman. 2014).
Figure 3: Relative differences in body composition and glucose management (Rietman. 2014); data based on pooled means from the NP and HP conditions; note: the only statistically significant differences were observed for the  increase in lean and decrease in fat mass.
Bottom Line: So, bulking on a "high" protein diet (ca. 211g/day) is healthier than doing the same thing on diet with only  "normal" amount of protein (133g/day). And that's true irrespective of whether we judge by classic markers of metabolic health, i.e. serum triglycerides and liver lipid levels or by a parameter that's probably more dear to your heart and inspite of its aesthetic value in as much a health parameter as the trigs and liver fat: Body fat,lean mass, fasting blood sugar & insulin levels (see Figure 2).

In that the study confirms the general advice to get the lion's share of your caloric surplus on a bulk from protein from both, an aesthetic (body fat), as well as a health perspective (body fat, glucose management, fatty acid metabolism and liver health).
  • Martínez, J., Nieto, G. and Ros, G. (2014), Total antioxidant capacity of meat and meat products consumed in a reference ‘Spanish standard diet’. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. doi: 10.1111/ijfs.12577
  • Rietman, et al. "Increasing Protein Intake Modulates Lipid Metabolism in Healthy Young Men and Women Consuming a High-Fat Hypercaloric Diet". J. Nutr. August 1, 2014 jn.114.191072.