High Dose BCAAs for Cyclists | Colostrum Peptides for Bulking | Intermittent Fasting for Cutting | Probiotics for Muscle Protection -- ISSN'15 Research Review Issue #6

Are you trying to build a body like this? Maybe one of the supplements discussed in this article can help.
To make sure that I am not missing other relevant / interesting new research spending time with the ISSN'15 poster presentations, this is going to be the last installment of the ISSN'15 Research Review. With six different studies in one installment of the series it is obviously difficult to find a common theme. With studies on the ergogenic and pro-anabolic effects of various supplements, I am yet sure that there's (at least) one interesting study for everyone. So what's your favorite? The study on the immune effects of BCAAs, the one investigating the differential effects of coffee and caffeine, or the experiment that probes the safety and effects of bioactive peptides, the one that tests the nootropic effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo or the new study on intermittent fasting?
Read more about ISSN and other studies at the SuppVersity

Vitargo, Red Bull, Creatine & More | ISSN'15 #1

Pump Supps & Synephrine & X | ISSN'15 #2

High Protein, Body Comp & X | ISSN'15 #3

Keto Diet Re- search Update | ISSN'15 #4

The Misquantified Self & More | ISSN'15 #5

BCAA, Cholos-trum, Probiotics & Co | ISSN'15 #6
  • Ten weeks of branched chain amino acid supplementation improves select performance and immunological variables in trained cyclists -- Unlike previous studies which used either relatively low amounts of BCAAs or investigated only the acute effects of BCAA supplementation on performance and immune markers in athletes, the latest study from the Auburn University used a total of 12g BCAAs per day (6g/d L-Leucine, 2g/d L-Isoleucine and 4g/d L-Valine) or a maltodextrin placebo that was consumed by the N=18 trained cyclists (32 ± 2 yr, 77.8 ± 2.6 kg, and 7.4 ± 1.2 yr training) who participated in the study for 10-weeks.

    Before and after the 10-week study, the following was assessed: a) 4-h fasting blood draws; b) dual X-ray absorptiometry body composition; c) Wingate peak power tests; and d) 4km time-trials.
    Figure 1: While there were no improvements in body composition, the scientists observed sign. increases in selected performance markers in response to 10-weeks on high dose BCAA (Kephart. 2015).
    The analysis of the data shows no group*time interactions existed for total lean mass (p = 0.27) or dual-leg lean mass (p = 0.96). A significant interaction existed for body mass-normalized relative peak power (19% increase in the BCAA group pre- to post-study, p = 0.01), and relative mean power (4% increase in the BCAA group pre- to post-study, p = 0.01), however.

    Non-significant, but still noteworthy were the improvements in 4km time-trial performance which shows a borderline significant interaction (p = 0.08) - with the BCAA group improving their TT performance by a non-significant +11% from pre- to post-study. To which extent this improvement was mediated by the increase in serum BCAA: L-Tryptophan ratio would have to be investigated separately, though (l-tryptophan is still suspected to mediate the exercise induced increase in central fatigue | Fernstrom. 2006).

    Of similarly unclear practical significance are the interactions the scientists observed for neutrophil numbers (p = 0.04), which increased only in the placebo (+18%), yet not in the BCAA group. In view of the association of increased neutrophil levels and the exercise-induced suppression of immunity, it is yet logical to follow the scientists' conclustion that "BCAAs may benefit immune function during a prolonged cycling season" (Kephart. 2015).
  • Caffeine and coffee don't differ in their effects on exercise performance -- As Trexler et al. point out, coffee (COF) and caffeine (CAF) "have not yet been directly compared in the context of strength and sprint performance" (Trexler. 2015). To fill this gap in the available research Trexler et al. conducted a randomized, double-blind study that was to compare the effects of acute COF and CAF intake on strength and sprint performance.

    In the study, fifty-four resistance-trained male participants (mean ± SD; age = 20.1 ± 2.1 yrs; height = 177.3 ± 5.6cm; weight = 78.8 ± 8.8 kg; habitual caffeine intake = 32.9 ± 59.6mg/day) completed a baseline test that consisted of both one-rep max (1RM) and repetitions to fatigue (RTF) for leg press (LP) and bench press (BP).
    "Following strength testing, a friction-loaded cycle ergometer was loaded with a resistance of 95g/kg of bodyweight and participants completed a repeated sprint protocol consisting of five, ten-second sprints separated by one minute of passive rest. Peak power (PP) and total work (TW) were recorded for each sprint, along with average PP and TW values for the entire protocol (all five sprints). At least 48 hours later, participants returned for post-testing and ingested a beverage containing either CAF (300mg), a caffeine-matched dose of instant COF (8.9g, yielding 303mg of caffeine), or a flavored placebo (PLA) 30 minutes prior to exercise. Prior to each visit, participants were instructed to maintain similar dietary habits, abstain from strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours, and avoid caffeine intake for at least 48 hours. Change scores were compared using one-way ANOVAs, and 95% confidence intervals (mean ± 1.96 × SEM) were constructed for each dependent variable" (Trexler. 2015).
    The analysis of the data the experiment generated yielded significant performance increases on the on the leg press where the 1RM was improved more by COF compared to CAF (Δ = 32.2 ± 18.6 vs 15.3 ± 16.9lb, p = 0.04), but not to PLA (p = 0.99).
    Figure 2: At least in comparison to the placebo treatment, the improvements in exercise performance are not debatable. Whether caffeine or coffee is the better ergogenic is albeit still not 100% clear (Trexler. 2015)
    No significant interactions were not observed for bench press (BP) 1RM, BP RTF, or leg press (LP) RTF (p > 0.05). The total work during the spring, however was increased for CAF [81.4, 623.9J], but not COF [-121.0, 376.2J] or PLA [-239.9, 180.1J]. In addition, both caffeine and coffee blunted the significant reductions in peak power and total work during the latter sets of the spring training. In spite of the lack of general improvements of strength outcomes, the improvements that were observed during the repeated sprint test support the notion that both caffeine and coffee have practically relevant ergogenic effects.
  • Bio-Gro™, a commercial food-based bio-active peptide product, may augment your gains and enhance your recovery -- I guess the question that's preying on your mind at the moment is "Bio-Gro? Wtf..." Well, I wish I could answer this question precisely, but all I can tell you is that it's a peptide-based powder (serving size 1.5g) of which the manufacturer, Isatori, says that it is extracted from bovine colostrums and contains ...
    "an exact concentration of bioactive:  Proline-Rich Peptides (PRP's), Growth Factors (IgF, TGF beta-2, EGF, PDGF), Immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA), Lactoferrin and Fibroblast-GF." (manufacturer website)
    Against that background it is not really surprising that Patrick Jacobs' study on the safety of the product did not find unwanted side effects in twenty recreationally resistance trained men who consumed the supplement that is available both in powder- and capsule-form.

    What is surprising, though, is that the provision of the supplement over 8-weeks also yielded significant enhancements in the rate of body mass and lean body mass gains with supplementation of a bio-active peptide in conjunction with eight weeks of resistance training. To be precise, Jacobs' analyses of the data revealed that ...
    "Bio-Gro™ produced significantly greater (p < 0.05) changes in total body mass as assessed with BodPod (+6.3 pounds) than the placebo condition (+2.8 pounds). [In addition, l]ean body mass changes were also significantly greater with Bio-Gro™ (+5.8 pounds) compared with placebo (+3.7 pounds) (p < 0.05)" (Jacobs. 2015).
    Similar benefits were observed for the subjects sleeve sized of which mid-arm flexed measurements (+0.74 inches) indicate that they increased more than 2x more in the treatmet vs. placebo condition (+0.31 inches) (p < 0.05).
    Figure 3: Pre- / post changes in body composition and mid-arm flexed circumference (Jacobs. 2015).
    In view of the lack of differences in other circumferential change scores, and the lack of statistical significance of the lean mass when the latter were assessed by skinfold measurements, I would still like to see an independent confirmation of the results (also a comparison to whey protein / the use of Bio-Gro™ alongside whey protein) before I invest 52.5 cents per serving. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the supplement appears to have boosted the subjects' fat gains, too (see Figure 3 where the difference between total mass and lean mass increases is probably fat, not organ or bone weight ;-).
  • Caloric restriction is easy on "intermittent fasting", but fat loss does not ensue -- Bad news for intermittent fasting enthusiasts comes from the Baylor University, where Grant M Tinsley investigated the effects of intermittent fasting combined with resistance training on body composition, muscular performance, and dietary intake.

    For the course of the 8-week study, 18 adult men were randomly assigned to do either resistance training alone (RT) or resistance training plus IF, in the form of termed time-restricted feeding (RT+TRF). Both groups followed a 3-days-per-week resistance training program for 8 weeks.
    "The TRF program was implemented on non-workout days (i.e. 4 days per week) and consisted of consuming all calories within any 4-hour period between 4 PM and midnight. Both groups were allowed unrestricted food intake during feeding periods. Research visits were conducted at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks after beginning the study and consisted of body composition assessment via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) strength testing and muscular endurance testing on bench press and leg press exercises, and subjective measures of program difficulty. Diet records, workout logs, and compliance forms were used to track and encourage program adherence, as well as examine dietary differences. One-way and factorial ANOVAs were conducted using R (version 3.1.1)" (my emphasis in Tinsley. 2015).
    For intermittent fasting enthusiasts, the results were - as previously said - disappointing: No group*time interactions were found for any measures of body composition (lean mass, fat mass, and body fat percentage), muscular performance, or dietary intake.

    Interestingly, the intermittent fasting group did still display a slightly higher leg press 1-RM as well as an increased bench press endurance compared to the resistance training only (RT) group. That this occurred in the presence of a significantly reduced energy and fat intake in the RT+TRF group on the fasting days, but in the absence of significant differences on the non-fasting days is surprising. It does after all suggest that the subjects in the intermittent fasting (RT+TRF) group must have consumed significantly less energy. Now, it's up to you to decide what you find more surprising:
    • Intermittent fasting can make you fat | learn why!
      The fact that the subjects in the intermittent fasting group consumed significantly less energy without losing body weight or fat?
    • Or the fact that the subjects in the intermittent fasting group saw greater performance increases despite consuming significantly less energy and dietary fat?
    Whatever your personal answer to this question may be, the most significant results of the study is probably that there were "[n]oticeable differences in individual responses to the programs" (Tinsley. 2015) - an observation that should remind you of the conclusions to previous articles on Intermittent Fasting, here at the SuppVersity: Eventually, you will have to try it to find out if IF works for you.
  • Probiotic muscle protectors -- Muscle protecting probiotics? I have to admit: That sounds awkward. Nobody would doubt that GanedenBC30 a probiotic supplement that contains Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086, supports healthy digestive and immune function. I am even willing to believe that supplement-induced changes in the make-up of its users gut microbiome can increase the absorption of protein, but I would not have expected that it can actively promote muscle recovery through gut microbial modulation.

    Just that is yet what a recent study from the University of Tampa suggests. In said study, 30 healthy recreationally-trained males (mean+/-SD; age: 21.5 ± 2.8 years; height: 177.4 ± 8.0 cm; weight: 89.7 ± 28.2 kg) were randomly assigned to consume either 20 g of casein (Control = CON) or 20 g of casein plus probiotic (500M CFU GanedenBC30, = BC30) twice daily in a crossover, diet-controlled design for a two-week time period.
    "Subjects performed a damaging exercise bout consisting of 10 sets × 10 repetitions unilateral leg press at 70% 1 RM with 1 minute rest, one legged - leg extension (5 sets × 12 reps), and rear foot elevated split squat 5 sets × 12 reps with one minute rest at baseline and after two weeks of supplementation. Athletic performance consisting of peak power (Wingate 10 sec Peak Power Assessment at 7.5% BW at 175RPM threshold loaded drop), vertical jump power (Tendo unit, single-leg jump), and 1-RM single-leg press; and muscle damage was analyzed by muscle swelling (ultrasonography) and blood draws (creatine kinase (CK), blood urea nitrogen (BUN)) were taken at baseline (pre-supplementation) and 48 hours after damaging exercise bout. Perceptual measures (perceived recovery, soreness) were taken before, 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercise" (Jäger. 2015).
    The analysis of the data the tests generated shows that the damaging exercise bout significantly increased muscle soreness (p < 0.001), reduced perceived recovery (p < 0.001) in both groups. Compared to the control group, however, the subjects in the casein + BC30 group show a significantly increased rate of recovery at 24 and 72 hours, and decreased soreness at 72 hours post exercise.
    Figure 4: Changes in CK and Wingate peak power in the control and treatment group (Jäger. 2015).
    The perceptual measures were confirmed by increases in CK (CON: +266.8%, p = 0.0002; BC30: +137.7%, p = 0.01), with BC30 showing a trend towards reduced indices of muscle damage (p = 0.08). It is thus only logical that the significant reduction in athletic performance in the control group (Wingate Peak Power; CON: (-39.8 watts, - 5.3%, p = 0.03)), was ameliorated, yes even blocked, in the BC30 group (+10.1 watts, +1.7%).

    Whether similar effects can be seen with non-patented strains of probiotic bacteria warrants further investigation. What I can tell you already, though, is that even regular yogurt has immuno-supportive effects (Lollo. 2013). Previous studies also indicate that more commonly used lactobacillus strains have similar anti-oxidant effects in athletes (Martarelli. 2011). Whether their effects are more or less pronounced than those of the Bacillus coagulans strain in BC30 will now have to be elucidated in future studies.
Nootropics for the bottom line: In view of the inconclusive results of Parker et al.'s study on the effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility, I have "banned" it into the bottom line, where I'd like to cite the scientists's conclusion that "future research should focus on dosage of [alpha GPC for certain physical and mental performance tasks], timing of consumption before testing measurement, bioavailability, longer term supplementation, and subject selection, in order to reduce individual variability" (Parker. 2015) and add that you may want to memorize that the provision of 200mg of caffeine did not improve the 10 male and 10 female participants' performance on subsequent (30 min) tests for reaction time, hand-eye coordination, power, speed, and agility.

You have to adjust volume, intensity and frequency of your workouts according to your goals | learn how!
At first sight, the lack of efficacy of caffeine appears to stand in contrast to the results Trexler et al. present in their study. Eventually, however, it could well be nothing but the test that makes all the difference. After all, acute performance benefits were observed by Trexler et al. only in the total work during a sprint test - the total work, however, wasn't even assessed by Parker et al. So, if there's one important take-away it's that supplements must always be chosen according to one's personal goals...

Now, this which brings me back to the increased sleeve sizes in the Jacobs study. You will be happy about these inches only if you don't care about the purported fat gain Jacobs doesn't address in the abstracts to his 8-week study on cholostrum peptide supplementation | Comment on Facebook!
  • Fernstrom, John D., and Madelyn H. Fernstrom. "Exercise, serum free tryptophan, and central fatigue." The Journal of nutrition 136.2 (2006): 553S-559S.
  • Jacobs, Patrick L. "Safety and organ health with 8 weeks use of commercially available bio-active peptide supplement: A prospective, double-blind, placebo controlled randomized trial." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P46.
  • Jacobs, Patrick L. "Significant enhancement in the rate of body mass and lean body mass gains with supplementation of a bio-active peptide in conjunction with eight weeks of resistance training: a prospective, double-blind, placebo controlled randomized trial." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P47.
  • Jäger, Ralf, et al. "Effects of probiotic supplementation on markers of skeletal muscle damage, perceived recovery and athletic performance after an intense single leg training bout." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P36.
  • Lollo, Pablo Christiano B., et al. "Probiotic yogurt offers higher immune-protection than probiotic whey beverage." Food Research International 54.1 (2013): 118-124.
  • Martarelli, Daniele, et al. "Effect of a probiotic intake on oxidant and antioxidant parameters in plasma of athletes during intense exercise training." Current microbiology 62.6 (2011): 1689-1696.
  • Kephart, Wesley C., et al. "Ten weeks of branched chain amino acid supplementation improves select performance and immunological variables in trained cyclists." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P20.
  • Parker, Adam G., et al. "The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P41.
  • Tinsley, Grant M., et al. "Intermittent fasting combined with resistance training: effects on body composition, muscular performance, and dietary intake." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 12.Suppl 1 (2015): P38.
  • Trexler, Eric T., et al. "Effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous on strength and sprint performance." European journal of sport science (2015): 1-9.
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