Sunday, March 15, 2015

Classic vs. Alternative Fat Loss Tools: Ephedrine = Sign. Body Fat Red. Despite Brown Fat Burnout, Lupines Protein + Low Carb = Sign. Moderate, Yet Not Impressive Fat Loss

The yellow seeds of the lupine plant, known as lupin beans, were once a common food of the Mediterranean basin and Latin America - almost "paleo" ;-)
Not really worth their own article, but certainly too good to be ignored. That's exactly how you can desribe the latest studies from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the King Saud University. Two studies that deal with the management of obesity and the metabolic difference by supplemental means.

In the first study by Harisa et al. a single 43-year-old man with obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, hyperuricemia and mild liver dysfunctions was put on a lupid (Lupineus luteus) containing low carbohydrate diet + improved lifestyle regimen for 6 years.
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The body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), triacylglycerol (TAG), uric acid (UA) and alanine transaminase (ALT) were markedly decreased by 26.85%, 26.95%, 13 %, 53.84%, 57.84%, 36.14 %, 47.58 % and 61.62 % respectively, compared to those at baselines. The same goes for the body weight that was reduced by 16% within the first 3 months and 27% after the full 6 months study period.
Figure 1: Changes in blood pressure, blood sugar & lipids and parameters of liver health over the course of the 6-months study during which the subject consumed a diet rich in legume protein (smart protein), low in carbohydrate, low in animal fats and animal proteins (Hariza. 2015).
That's in contrast to the good cholesterol levels aka high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) value that was markedly increased by 30.77%. Thus, the case-study at hand confirms what rodent studies already suggested: Lupines are protein-rich diet constituents which has the ability to significantly improve blood lipids and their oxidation.
Figure 2: Comparison of the effects of lupines and oats as an add-on to calorie reduced diets on obese rodents (Chabane. 2013)
Whether they are significantly "better" than similar foods like oats, of which a study by Chabane et al. (2013) found that they have similarly pronounced anti-metabolic syndrome effects as lupines (oats decrease total cholesterol more, lupines decrease triglycerides more), will yet have to be investigated in future human studies with significantly more participants.

What has already been studied in humans is the effect of ephedrine...

and I am not talking about the hushed up studies that show that it is a relatively safe and highly effective anti-obesity drug. Rather than that, I am talking about the latest study of its chronic administration on the activity of brown adipose tissue in a randomised controlled human trial (Carey. 2015).

Previous studies have shown that brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation increases energy expenditure and may have therapeutic potential to combat obesity. The primary activating and adaptive signal for BAT is via β-adrenergic signalling. Carey et al. have previously demonstrated that human BAT is acutely responsive to oral administration of the sympathomimetic, ephedrine.
Figure 3: Effects of ephedrine treatment on body weight & composition of normal-weight healthy men (Carey. 2015).
In their latest study they wanted to check, whether these beneficial effects are attenuated with chronic administration of 2.5 mg/kg ephedrine for 28 days; and the data in Figure 3 clearly indicates that chronic ephedrine treatment does reduce the body fat content of healthy, young, normal-weight men despite the fact that the effects on brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity is suppressed in response to chronic ephedrine administration.
Ephedrine, Exercise or Diet? Ephedra Modulates Substrate Utilization, but Exercise Melts Body Fat & Builds Muscle | read more.
So what do we make of the results? Let's start with the Carey study, in which the existing improvements in body composition and the whopping 26% reduced reduction in estimated visceral fat mass (not shown in Figure 3) clearly refute the conclusions that (a) ephedrine was not an effective body recompositioning agent and that (b) brown fat activation was the mechanism by which it works its anti-obesity magic. Rather than that, the most important and totally ephedrine-unrelated conclusion we have to draw from the study at hand is that the f*** up brown adipose tissue is not the key to obesity treatment many scientists believe it was.

Whether the same can be said of lupines remains elusive. The study by Harisa et al. is promising. It must yet not be considered "conclusive evidence" that a low-carb lupin-rich diet is better for weight loss than a low-caarb diet that derives its high protein content from classic (mostly animal) protein source. To find out if that's the case, we need further studies | Comment on Facebook!
  • Carey, Andrew L., et al. "Chronic ephedrine administration decreases brown adipose tissue activity in a randomised controlled human trial: implications for obesity." Diabetologia (2015): 1-10.
  • Chabane, Fatima Z., et al. "Effects of Two Hypocaloric Diets Supplemented With White Lupine or Oats on Lipid Peroxidation, Reverse Cholesterol Transport and Paraoxonase Activity in Obese Rat." Journal of Food Research 2.5 (2013): p1.
  • Harisa, Gamaleldin I., and Fars K. Alanazi. "The beneficial roles of Lupineus luteus and lifestyle changes in management of metabolic syndrome: A case study." Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal (2015).