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MYGYM’s Edmond Avetisyan comes second in Olympic Lifting British Championships

MYGYM regular Edmond Avetisyan came second last weekend in the Olympic Lifting British Championships.

Ed’s category (94 kg) was first to compete with an early 9 am start. He snatched 147 kg which placed him first. However, during the clean and jerks, his opener of 180 kg went very well, but the jump to 187 kg irritatingly left Ed missing the jerk.

There were a few hitch-ups with his final clean,  but overall coming in second was an incredible achievement!

Ed is now focusing on the under 23 Europeans in a few weeks’ time. Wishing him the best of luck and expect an update here!

Posted in Olympic Lifting, Training, Uncategorized, Weightlifting

Arching in the Bench Press: why the controversy?

The Girls Who Powerlift blog has just published a new article about arching in the Bench Press by state champion Powerlifter Christina Myers.

Women do seem to get a hard wrap for benching with an arch, even though many male Powerlifters do it too. I’ve found that lots of guys like to comment on how you are benching in a rather irritating, faux-concerned way: ‘is it safe to be doing that?’ and ‘watch your back!’ are just a few of the responses that I have experienced, and I’m definitely not alone!

Hopefully this article provides some food for thought and may be a way of explaining why it is not a concern to those kind souls who are just so worried about our back health.

Please drop a comment below if you’ve anything to add – it would be great to get a discussion going!

 

 

Posted in Benchpress, Powerlifting, Training, Weightlifting Tagged with: , ,

Weekend of achievements for Bristol Barbell Club members

Last weekend a team of our very own Deadlift Divas and one honorary deadlift ‘Dude’ took what appeared to be every medal going at the Knights Gym Powerlifting competition in Cheltenham!

The team absolutely smashed it, with many of the members having never competed before. Christie Civetta and Matt Watson were on hand to coach them to success and by all accounts the well-deserved Frankie and Benny’s ice cream sundae went down a treat afterwards!

Personal bests were hit by everyone! Hayley Muir won gold in the -52kg class, Deepali Lodhia won Bronze in the -63kg, Emma Shepherd tied for gold in the -72kg, and Kieran won silver in the -83kg class! Well done everyone!

Deepali and Kieran typically compete in Taekwondo competitions, but it just goes to show that strength transfers to strength because they did so blimmin’ well.

In other news, Christie took home a silver medal and broke the divisional record in the English Bench Press Championships last Saturday – hitting an incredible 85kg bench in the open 72kg class!

MYGYM veteran George also competed in the Central Masters Championship in Birmingham where he broke two British Masters records for Olympic weightlifting in the 94kg 60-65 age group. He achieved a 90kg snatch and 105kg clean & jerk!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Powerlifting at MYGYM, please contact us.

Posted in Benchpress, Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Training, Weightlifting Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Bristol Barbell Club updated!

Hey guys

Its been awhile, over a year in fact since the last post. We hope many of you have been staying tuned via our social media pages (main ones Instagram and Facebook).

As most of our members know, we are part of MYGYM and most updates re the gym and Bristol Barbell club now show up on MYGYM’s blog via MYGYM-Bristol.co.uk/Blog/ mostly written by the awesome Anona.

With the above being said, we will strive to be more active on the original club website here, though most likely the same blog updates will be shared from MYGYM.

Anyway, hope you all have a great week and don’t forget to Vote on the 8th June 2017!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We are now Bristol Barbell Club

Hi guys

Activity on our website has been low for the past year, a lot has been happening behind the scenes.

We now have a bigger weightlifting area, our club is now a good mix of both Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting athletes.

Listening to our members we thought it would be best to do a name change to encompass the club as a whole, perviously known as Bristol Weightlifting Club, we are now “Bristol Barbell Club”.

Club nights are now as follows:

Olympic Weightlifting: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 6-9pm

Powerlifting: Tuesday and Thursdays 7-10pm

As usual, out of club training slots, experienced members are welcome to us the weightlifting area for extra training.

Bristol Barbell Club membership is only £30 per month on a rolling monthly contract with MYGYM Bristol, you can join via www.mygym-bristol.co.uk 

We are on social media, remember to follow us! We are on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tips for Olympic Weightlifting

Tips for Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic weightlifting is an athletic discipline that requires individual to lift weights in a single lift placed upon a barbell. There are two types of lifts in this competition that are called snatch and clean and jerk. The lift where the individual takes the barbell in an overhead position in single motion is called jerk. On the other hand, the weight is held on the shoulders for some time before standing up to take it overhead in the lift called clean and jerk. Many athletes practice this fantastic sport to help them with explosive and strength increasing reasons. Almost all can benefit from Olympic Lifts.

The right gym with the right atmosphere
Looks can be very deceiving. When you look at the participants lifting barbells in these two types of lifts during Olympics on television, you think it is a very easy sport. However, it takes years of weightlifting and dedication to be able to compete at the highest level in this sport. More than anything else, it requires proper training under the watchful eyes of an experienced weightlifter and coach to be able to lift weights in the right manner.  At MYGYM Bristol Gym “Bristol Weightlifting Club”, training is imparted in Olympic weightlifting to people who are desirous of lifting weights. Find out more about our gym at Weightlifting at MYGYM Bristol

It is a gym that is not only meant for general fitness but also to help people desirous of making a mark in various  other sporting events such as weightlifting and martial arts.

Proper training under an experienced coach
If you are desirous of learning weightlifting, it is important to join a gym where there is proper environment and the essential equipment to be able to lift the weights in the correct manner. There are many other things like your diet and other exercises that are necessary for a budding weight lifter. At MyGym in Bristol, you will get all help and assistance from experienced weightlifting coaches to learn weightlifting. Lifting heavy weights requires great strength in your shoulders and arms but it also requires strength in your thighs and legs. This is the reason why your coach will tell you to do front squats as much as you can to increase strength in your legs.

Your weightlifting coach will also check your action while lifting weights and rectify it to make it smooth and correct. This is very necessary as unnecessary effort is wasted in lifting a weight if this action and the technique of lifting are not perfect. Once you know the technique, you are ready to increase the weights to lift more. You will also learn about the importance of proper diet and weightlifting gear to become a successful weightlifter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Protein Spiking, a PSA

About a week ago in the first part of the supplements that don’t suck series, the issue of protein spiking, a process by which supplement companies dilute their products, was briefly mentioned. With a new wave of protein spiking related lawsuits currently being launched against companies as large as MusclePharm, it would be prudent to take a break from the supplements that don’t suck series in order to delve in to this issue.

Protein spiking is a process that takes advantage of Kjeldahl method, a which measures the nitrogen content of a substance. Since proteins are composed of long chains of amino acids, and amino acids contain nitrogen, the Kjeldahl method is used to get a rough idea of how many grams of protein something contains. When designing the test over 100 years ago, Johan Kjeldahl set eggs and meat, each with a 6.25 conversion ratio of nitrogen to protein, as the standard for testing foodstuffs. Doing the math the other way, we find that dietary protein is therefore, on average, 16% protein (16%x6.25=100%).

Simple enough.

However, not all amino acids have the same nitrogen to protein ratio as meat does. Glycine, for example, is 18.66% nitrogen by weight. For every gram of glycine, the Kjeldahl method registers 1.16g protein. Creatine is even higher in nitrogen by weight, and every gram of creatine registers as 1.8g of protein. Other cheaper aminos register as less, but they nevertheless contribute to the overall nitrogen content determined by the Kjeldahl method.1

Now, if you’re a supplement manufacturer operating in a marketplace with little regulation, what do you do with this knowledge?

Well, if you’re a company run by good people who don’t lie and cheat and steal, nothing; you continue as you were, selling whey to people just looking to get their gainz on.

If you’re a company run by dicks, you add cheap aminos to your product, increasing the nitrogen concentration and tricking people in to thinking they’re buying more protein than they actually are. With the money you save, you can even license the face of a famous bodybuilder to make people think you’re legit.

Unfortunately, it’s not just supplement companies using this technique.

In 2008, Chinese authorities executed two people, and imprisoned five others, after they discovered that 22 companies were using melamine, an organic base containing 66% nitrogen by weight (1g melanine Kjeldahl methods as 4.1g protein), as a spiking agent in baby formula. Six infants died as a result of kidney damage, and over 54,000 were hospitalized.2

Though nothing meriting an execution has yet occurred in the west (though I wouldn’t put it past /r/bodybuilding), it does make one wonder why there isn’t more regulation in place to protect consumers, as the problem is endemic to the industry.

The best published analysis so far of protein quality was done by Labdoor, after a diligent redditor with lab access found some pretty suspicious things going on with protein samples that he requested from other redditors. Labdoor followed up, and these are the results3:

Labdoor Protein Analysis

Click to enlarge

Keep in mind, some of the products listed contain carbs as a stated ingredient, so a product like cytogainer may not be such a rip off as it first seems.

If you’re suspicious of a protein mix not on this list, there’s a couple of things you can do. The easiest thing to do is to look at the ingredients on the package.

“We typically see two situations:

  1. The disputed amino acid is within a “protein blend”

    In this case, you’ll see a product whose label looks something like this:

    Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Glutamine Peptides, L-Leucine, Egg Albumen, Whey Peptides, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine), Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), etc etc etc

  2. The disputed amino acid comes after the dietary proteins

    Here’s an example:

    Protein Blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Brown Rice Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Egg Albumin, Milk Protein Isolate, Partially Hydrolyzed Whey Protein), Taurine, Glucose Polymer, Cocoa Powder (Dutch Process), L-Glutamine, etc etc etc…

In either example, it’s really not possible to tell how much “watering down” is being done, because the whole batch of ingredients are counted as “proteins”. For all we know, they could each be in equal dosing!”4

Slightly more difficult, but still fairly easy, is to compare the amino acid profile printed on the product with a the known amino acid profile of whatever protein you are buying. Simply googling “amino acid profile casein”, for example, will give you an idea of what you’re looking for. In many cases though, the amino acid profile of a protein will not be printed on the product itself, which alone should be enough of a red flag to warrant finding a different brand.

Finally, avoid buying non meat based protein supplements with taurine or creatine in the ingredients or amino profile. Neither is naturally occurring in non meat sources, and both will throw off the Kjeldahl method.

Until regulators step up their game, the onus is on the customer to make sure they’re not being ripped off.

Good luck.

 

WORKS CITED

1, 4: https://blog.priceplow.com/protein-scam-amino-acid-spiking
2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal
3: http://blog.chaosandpain.com/monday-quickie-picking-a-protein-thats-actually-a-protein-and-not-rich-gasparis-poor-facsimile-thereof/ (probably NSFW)

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Supplements that don’t suck part 2

Oh hey there. In the last installment of this series, we covered the current state of the supplement industry (a disaster), and why taking creatine is a good idea. In this installment, we’ll be looking at two more supplements that are easy on the wallet, but give huge rewards. If you’ve not read the first post, go give it a look.

WHEY PROTEIN

Forget what Chest Day Mcgee down at the GNC told you about whatever bug based protein that the kipping muscle-up crowd is in to these days, and save the hemp protein for the vegans. Whey is the king of proteins.

How can I make such a claim? Let me count the reasons.

  • Whey protein increases more satiety more than any other protein supplement, even casein.1
  • Whey protein has more of the BCAAs that drive muscle protein synthesis, like leucine, isoleucine, and valine than other protein supplements.2
  • Whey protein has a higher concentration of essential amino acids than other protein supplements.3
  • Whey protein increases satiety for longer than other protein supplements, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.4
  • Whey protein is cheap

So what can whey do for you?

Quite a bit, actually.

For most of us, hitting daily protein can be a pain in the ass. If you manage to do it with whole foods, more power to you, but for we mere mortals, having a way to quickly and cheaply supplement your daily protein needs can be a godsend. Whey bought in bulk from an online retailer runs as cheap as 1 pence per gram of protein. Barring foods like liver from non-organic cows (which you shouldn’t be eating for health reasons), canned tuna (which you shouldn’t be eating for ethical reasons), and battery farmed chicken scraps (both, plus ew gross), there is no cheaper form of whole protein on the market.

Whey is also a time saver. 1.5 scoops of whey and a flapjack has been my go to road meal for a while now, netting 45 grams protein, 53 grams carbs, and 18 grams fat, not bad for 2 minutes work and a pound or so.

You can also get fairly creative with whey. Proats should be one of your go to breakfasts, and if you’ve not tried them, you really haven’t lived. Simply make porridge, leave it to cool for a little while, and then add 1-2 scoops of whatever flavour whey you choose (chocolate works best). Whey goes well when mixed with a bit of not too hot coffee, and you can even add it to cold cereal.

People with lactose intolerance can have issues with whey concentrate, so I would suggest they get their hands on whey isolate. A bit more expensive, but still does the trick. Those unfortunate few with an allergy to beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, or bovine serum albumin are shit out of luck though. Your best bet would be to play around with finding a good rice/pea protein mix. The amino profile isn’t as good as whey, but it’s not bad compared to all your other options, and pretty cheap to boot.

Finally, a note on whey farts: they happen. The best way to avoid them is not to take whey on an empty stomach, or to get whey isolate rather than concentrate.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D, though a little pricier than the other supplements we are covering, is on this list because of how beneficial it is, and how much it sucks to be deficient. Vitamin D deficiency has symptoms including:

  • “Rickets, a childhood disease characterized by impeded growth, and deformity, of the long bones.”5
  • “Osteomalacia a bone-thinning disorder that occurs exclusively in adults and is characterized by proximal muscle weakness and bone fragility.”6
  • “Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility.”7
  • “Muscle aches and weakness (in particular proximal limb girdle).”8
  • “Muscle twitching.”9
  • “Light-headedness.”10

Worse still, “pilot studies and regional monitoring suggests that vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK’s white population, up to 90% of the multi-ethnic population, and a quarter of all children living in Britain.”11

While it is tempting to blame the UK’s “unique” weather for these rates, the problem may have more to do with our current lifestyle and less with the fact that it’s always cloudy. Given that vitamin D deficiency rates are high in Miami,12 and that more than a third of Australians 25 years and under are deficient,13 the problem may stem more from staying indoors all day than from the local climate.

But really, who could blame us?

So what will supplementing do for you, asides from preventing rickets? Quite a bit. Before reading this list, please keep in mind that the evidence presented below merely shows a correlation between vitamin D levels in serum and the effect noted, not a causal link between supplementing and the effect. There is a chance that any one of these studies could simply be noting a coincidence. Or, it could be the case that raising your vitamin D serum levels will confer these benefits. Given the data, I think the latter of these possibilities is more likely, but the caveat seemed like best practice. In any case, vitamin D:

  • Reduces all cause mortality (the chance that you will die, for any given reason, at any given time)14,15
  • An increase in testosterone and a decrease in sex hormone binding protein, “even after BMI, smoking, alcohol, beta-blockers and diabetes were controlled for.”16,17
  • Inversely correlated with risk of breast cancer.18
  • Reduces symptoms of depression in teenagers.19
  • Protects against multiple sclerosis.20
  • May improve sleep quality.21
  • Reduces the risk of cardiac disease.22

Further, low vitamin D is hypothesized to increase the risk of obesity, though the link is pretty tenuous.23

DOSING

Vitamin D, like fish oil, should be taken with a form of fat to improve bioavaliability, or as part of a meal containing fat. Though the current USFDA recommendation is to get 400-800IU/day, this is barely enough for maintenance, and those with suboptimal levels need to supplement more aggressively. The upper limit for safe supplementation is 10,000IU/day, and the lowest effective dose range is 1000-2000IU/day.24 To be honest, pull a number out of your hat, on the high side between those ranges, and go from there. I have personally taken 35,000IU/day, twice a week, since I generally do what Charles Poliquin tells me to, but since I can’t find any hard data on it, I wouldn’t suggest it to others. I’m mentioning it simply as a way to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about going up to 10,000IU/day. Do not go wild and start taking 35,000IU/day every day though, overdosing on vitamin D is no fun.

When buying vitamin D, make sure you’re getting cholacalciferol, and not ergocalciferol, since you get more bang for your buck with the former.

There is anecdotal evidence that taking vitamin D before bed may disrupt sleep,25 and since placebo has a 50% success rate, and you’ve just read this whole sentence, you should probably take it in the day.

NEXT WEEK

In the next installment of this series, we’ll be looking at another two supplements before opening up to reader suggestions, which you can post on our facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BristolWeightliftingClub

Thanks for reading!

 

Works Cited:

1, 2, 3, 4: Feigenbaum, Jordan. MD: http://www.barbellmedicine.com/nutrition/7-rules-to-optimize-protein-intake/
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypovitaminosis_D Retrieved March 9th, 2015
11, 13: Blair, Mitch. PhD: Action needed on Vitamin D http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20710026
12: Gonzalez, Diana: Are People Short on Vitamin D in Sunny South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Are-People-Short-on-Vitamin-D-in-Sunny-South-Florida-136853473.html
14: Melamed ML, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Arch Intern Med. (2008)
15: Ford ES, et al. Vitamin D and all-cause mortality among adults in USA: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality Study. Int J Epidemiol. (2011)
16: http://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/
17: Wehr E, et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). (2010)
18: Garland CF, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2007)
19: Högberg G, et al. Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatr. (2012)
20: Salzer J1, et al. Vitamin D as a protective factor in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. (2012)
21: Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. (2012)
22. Wang L, et al. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Ann Intern Med. (2010)
23. Foss YJ. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity. Med Hypotheses. (2009).
24: http://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/#howtotake
25: http://examine.com/faq/when-should-i-take-vitamin-d.html

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , ,

Supplements that don’t suck part 1

Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time. You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to seek reasons to avoid hard physical exertion. – Mark Rippetoe

Who doesn’t love supplements? Or that feeling of going in to a supplement store and looking at all the shiny things with pictures of muscles, improvised explosive devices, and fierce animals on them. It’s like a candy store for lifters, and if the market is any indication, people like it that way. In the UK alone, the supplement industry is worth more than ninety-one million pounds as of 2009.1

These figures should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with coaching or training noobs. They’re always looking for some silver bullet to get ahead. It is a hard sell to tell people that 99% of it comes down to lifting heavy things, moving quickly, eating right, and sleeping well.

Or, as Rip puts it so succinctly above, being uncomfortable. Even advanced athletes can fall in to this trap, but again, it’s understandable. It ain’t easy to be swole, and between working a full time job, looking after any kids you may have, and paying enough attention to your SO that they don’t mind your weird tendency to consume all your meals in shake form, it can be tempting to optimize your gainzZz by consuming the newest formulation of deer antler fur and pine pollen, or whatever new supplement Tim Ferriss is promising will turn you in to a six-packed-pizza-eating-polyglot-love-machine.

But we all know deep deep down that most of it is garbage. People have been getting jacked for millenia without needing beta-alanine and a peri-workout shake to do it.

Sidenote: the ideal male physique prior to the invention of the bench press.

Sandow being a notable example,

Eiferman being another,

and the Navvies rounding out the field. Navvies were “expected to be able to lift nearly twenty tons of earth per day onto a wagon, using a shovel. It was acknowledged that the toughest agricultural workers were completely incapable of keeping up with seasoned navvies; it took a year to turn a man into a navvy, a human machine fuelled by meat and beer, the most obdurate specimen of human brawn the world has ever seen, and one of the most universally despised by the rest of society.” 2

While Brunel was lounging in Clifton, the navvies were out, drinking 15 pints of beer a day, eating a ton of meat, and building the rail lines that underpin England to this day.

That’s right. Beer and meat.

For more fun, let’s take a look at the Saxon Trio, some of the first celebrity strongmen on the Vaudeville circuit.

“For breakfast they ate 24 eggs and 3 pounds of smoked bacon; porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with plenty of sugar. At three o’clock they had dinner: ten pounds of meat was consumed with vegetables (but not much potatoes); sweet fruits, raw or cooked, sweet cakes, salads, sweet puddings, cocoa and whipped cream and very sweet tea. Supper, after the show, they had cold meat, smoked fish, much butter, cheese and beer. Following this they had a chat and at one o’clock went to bed.” 3

With a 203kg two hands overhead anyhow, I think Arthur Saxon did alright without beta-alinine. Though he did drink a shake made of stout, gin, egg yolk, and sugar. 4

ad39a_ORIG-healthdrink

Probably best to not take pre workout.

The point of all this isn’t to suggest we all start replicating the navvy diet, but just to show that even in sub-optimal conditions, the human body is capable of astounding levels of muscular development, strength, and endurance.

So why the supplements? Because some of them do work. If you’ve read my posts in the past, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the natural for its own sake. There are some supplements out there that you really should explore. However, the supplement industry itself is a clusterfuck of false advertising, snake oil, overhyped data, and broken hopes and dreams.

Part of it is the fault of muscle magazines and websites like T-Nation. Funded largely by companies wanting to advertise supplements, it is extremely unlikely to find an unbiased opinion regarding supplements from either of these sources, or an editorial advising the reader to buy a cheaper option when more expensive ones exist.

In large part though, the fault lies with the failure of regulators. In the UK, supplements merely have to be shown to be safe for human consumption according to the 1990 Food Safety Act5 and the EU’s Food Supplements Directives Act.6 So long as they don’t make medical claims (ie: cures diabetes), companies can say just about anything (ie: burns fat, increases lean mass), and there is little in the way of proof that they need to offer. Things are looser still in the US, and a recent study by the New York Attorney General’s Office found 79% of supplements tested lacked the primary ingredient on the label.7

Even more insidious is protein spiking.

Protein spiking is where a protein manufacturer adds amino acids that are cheaper than the base protein powder it’s actually selling in order to increase the product’s nitrogen content. When this is done, the company is able to lower the cost of goods. A basic test for total nitrogen is often used to quantify the amount of protein per serving, and this test can be cheated by using cheap amino acids to spike the nitrogen content. The problem is that the inclusion of odd amino acids usually has nothing to do with increasing the performance of the whole protein itself, and it usually makes key ratios such as BCAA content go down, which is a total rip-off.8

So what’s a lifter to do? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that my usual answer is to look at the evidence, but really, that’s what I’m paid to do so you don’t have to. Thus, for the next few weeks, we will be looking at what supplements actually work, with a focus on getting the best bang for your buck. In this first installment, we’ll be getting to my personal favorite organic acid, creatine.

Creatine

Good ol’ creatine. A performance enhancer, muscle builder, and nootropic. I think Kurtis Frank puts it best: “If humans didn’t make any in the body, this thing would be a vitamin.”9 It is the most studied sports supplement in existence, and yet I still have to hear an earful from my mother every time she finds out I’m using it.

Sir’s /fit/ comic

It is, however, not a steroid (organic chemistry 101 people), it doesn’t cause kidney damage even in populations with a single kidney,10 it doesn’t cause cancer and in fact lessens the side effects of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin,11 and it probably won’t make you go bald. Probably.

In layman’s terms, creatine works by facilitating the body’s production of ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the most easily accessed form of cellular energy. When a phosphate group is cleaved from ATP, it is converted into adenosine diphosphate, or ADP, and energy is released. You know that gassed feeling you get when you’re on rep 4 or 5 of a heavy set? It comes from a lack of ATP. Creatine, when stored in the body as creatine phosphate, provides a readily accessible phosphate group for the conversion of ADP back in to ATP.

Supplementing creatine:

  1. Increases power output.12
  2. Increases neuromuscular function (as measured by peak torque [+34%] and time to reach peak torque [-54.7%].13
  3. Increases muscular endurance in trained athletes.14
  4. Increases testosterone when combined with weight training more than weight training on its own.15
  5. Decreases cortisol when combined with weight training more than weight training on its own.16

So I think it’s safe to say that you should be getting your hands on some. Of especial interest to weightlifters should be point 2, since a reduction of time to reach peak torque can do loads for helping your snatch and clean.

Luckily for you, the most effective form of creatine also happens to be the cheapest. None of the fancy creatines advertised on T-Nation or in muscle magazines has ever been shown to be more effective than creatine monohydrate.17 Ordering online, you can get a 1 kilo bag of the stuff that should last more than half a year, and will come out to .05 pence per 5g serving.

A lot is made out of loading protocols and the need to cycle, but most of it is horseshit invented by supplement manufacturers looking for a marketing gimmick. Since people cycle steroids, perhaps they thought that telling people they had to cycle creatine as well because “omg the gainzZz” seemed like a good ploy. If you really want to load, or are a vegetarian, .3g per kg bodyweight a day for a week should do it. Otherwise, 5g daily, taken with a meal, is adequate.

That about covers it for this installment. In part two, we’ll be looking at protein supplements and vitamin D. If you’d like to suggest a supplement for part three, hit us up on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BristolWeightliftingClub

 

Works Cited:

1. Soteriou, Helen. Muscle supplement industry going mainstream. BBC News, 15th February, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12277808

2. http://old.qi.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=4970&start=0

3, 4. Gaudreau, Leo. THE SAXON TRIO: What they ate & how they trained. Muscle Power Magazine, date unknown.

5. Vitamins and Supplements – UK – September 2014. Retrieved from: http://store.mintel.com/vitamins-and-supplements-uk-september-2014 March 3rd, 2015

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement

7. Salzberg, Steven. A Really Bad Week for the Supplements Indusry. Forbes Online, February 2nd, 2015

8. http://muscle-insider.com/content/protein-spiking

9. http://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/

10. Gualano B., et al. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. (2010)

11. Santos RV., et al. Chronic supplementation of creatine and vitamins C and E increases survival and improves biochemical parameters after Doxorubicin treatment in rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. (2007)

12. Kendall KL et al. Effects of four weeks of high-intensity interval training and creatine supplementation on critical power and anaerobic working capacity in college-aged men.

13. Bazzucchi I., et al. Effect of short-term creatine supplementation on neuromuscular function. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Oct;41(10):1934-41.

14. Chilibeck PD., et al. Effect of in-season creatine supplementation on body composition and performance in rugby union football players.

15, 16. Arazi H., et al Effects of short term creatine supplementation and resistance exercises on resting hormonal and cardiovascular responses Science & Sports

17. http://examine.com/faq/what-is-the-best-form-of-creatine.html

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The Myth of The Natural

Hey bro, shoes aren’t natural bro, ankle mobility bro.

Hey bro, hold the whey bro, not natural bro.

Bro, hey bro, that doesn’t look functional bro, muscle insertions bro.

Bro, omega threes bro, omega threes. Robb Wolf’s fish oil calculator bro.

Vibrams bro.

Whoa, bro, keep it keto in the winter bro, leptin bro, biorhythms.

Vibrams.

In 1928, Dr Vilhjalmur Steffannson and Martin Andersen had a point to prove. They had spent nearly nine years in the arctic, living with and eating with the Inuit, and yet no one would believe their claims that they had gotten by on a diet of little else but meat. Humans, it was believed, could not survive on meat alone.1

So they did what any pissed off scientists would do in their situation. While living in New York, they acted against the advice of nearly every physician and dietician they spoke to, and ate nothing but meat for a year under medical supervision. They were fine once they figured out that they needed to eat fatty cuts2 (though they didn’t get super-powers, which is what is supposed to happen in scenarios involving maverick scientists testing stuff on themselves).

It proved to be the first study done on the effect of an all meat ketogenic diet on non-inuit peoples.3

Right around the time that Stefannson was breaking out the bacon and calf’s brain, an American named Joseph Knowles was gaining fame for having survived two months by himself in the wilderness of Maine. Knowles claimed to have been examined by the director of The Hemenway Gymnasium at Harvard University, who had found

“With his legs alone he lifted more than a thousand pounds.” Sargent also noted a remarkable improvement in Knowles’ complexion: “Subjected to the action and the stimulus of the elements, Mr. Knowles’ skin has [come to serve] him as an overcoat, because it is so healthful that its pores close and shield him from drafts and sudden chills.” Thus, Sargent declared the “experiment” a complete success. “Forced to eat roots and bark at times, and to get whatever he could eat at irregular hours, his digestion is perfect, his health superb.”4

Though Stefansson’s experiment was picked up on by doctors researching epilepsy, most who took note of him or of Knowles were among the wave of American racist-not-racist-ACTUALLY-RACIST “scientists” lamenting the decline of white virility. Ernest Seton, writing in the first edition Handbook for the Boy Scouts of America, summed up the feelings of the movement, writing that he wished to “combat a system” which “partly through the growth of large cities” had “turned such a large proportion of our robust, manly, self reliant boyhood into a lot of flat-chested cigarette smokers, with shaky nerves and doubtful vitality… Degeneracy is the word.”5

Aside from that though, they both largely faded in to obscurity.

In 1939, Weston Price, a dentist by trade, published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a groundbreaking study, focusing on the differences in dental and physical health between 11 geographically and genetically distinct peoples when they were either isolated or modernized. He concluded, unsurprisingly, that western diseases were largely due to a diet that stood in stark contrast to that eaten by our ancestors.

Reviews were mixed. Some hailed Price as the “Charles Darwin of Nutrition.”6 Others, including a review published in 1981, accused Price of bias and poor science.7

According to Stephen Barrett, from Quackwatch “Price made a whirlwind tour of primitive areas, examined the natives superficially, and jumped to simplistic conclusions. While extolling their health, he ignored their short life expectancy and high rates of infant mortality, endemic diseases, and malnutrition. While praising their diets for not producing cavities, he ignored the fact that malnourished people don’t usually get many cavities.”8

Tell that to Shane MacGowan.

In any case, most of mainstream science moved on. Science that doesn’t lead to more efficient ways of killing your fellow-man doesn’t sell well during world wars.

Aside from a 1985 article by Boyd Eaton that may have gotten the ball rolling for the likes of Art Devaney and Loren Cordain, little in the literature or in the popular concsiousness pre-2010 hinted that the next wave of eating a “natural” diet would be focused on the delicious flesh of animals. If anything, vegetarians were in the ascendancy, praising their version of the natural human diet. It is ironic, then, that the man who would carry the paleo flag into the mainstream was himself a vegetarian.

A biochemist, and former California state powerlifting champion, Robb Wolf was the first person to succesfully market the paleo diet to a wide audience, becoming popular first in the early crossfit crowd, before achieving recognition in the mainstream through his book the Paleo Solution, his podcast, and his work with the military. His personal conversion to paleo came after a vegetarian/vegan diet that, in the words of his mentor Loren Cordain, nearly killed him.9

In many ways, he may simply have been in the right place at the right time. Momentum to move away from a high carb diet had been brewing in the academic community for quite some time, the public had already been softened up by the success of The Atkins Diet, and people were starting to come around to the conclusions that many elite coaches had made decades ago: that protein is good for you and fat doesn’t make you fat.

Robb Wolf is, admittedly, a world away from the fringes of paleo-land. His take on paleo, again and again, that “paleo is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.”10 What is interesting about his history though, is how similarly the paradigms of vegetarian/veganism and paleo are built.

Vegetarianism’s roots are as old as civilization itself, perhaps owing to the human urge not to kill things that look cuddly. When not busy describing the length of the hypotenuse, followers of Pythagoras abstained from eating meat on the basis that they might be killing the reincarnated soul of one of their ancestors in order to do so.11 Some went even further. Hesiod, Ovid, and Plato all recount a myth of the Golden Age; in which a non-violent humanity had no need to eat animals, as the earth produced food spontaneously, and in abundance.12 Early monastic Christians, focused as all good early monastic Christians are on enjoying life as little as possible, refrained from eating all meat but fish and sometimes fowl, though their motivation was based more in the mortification of the flesh than in ethical considerations .13

Though some quite famous people did refrain from eating meat, Leonardo and Shelley being notable examples, vegetarianism as a health movement advocating a return to a natural way of life didn’t take off in the West until the 19th century. It found a ready home in England, whose people were probably less concerned than others about the taste of their food. Members of the English temperance, food quality, and anti-vivisection movement championed vegetarianism as a part of “the natural way of life”.14 Writing before his death in 1816, Reverend William Cowherd, an early advocate of the movement, stated that “If God had meant us to eat meat then it would have come to us in edible form, as is the ripened fruit.”15

A man can dream.

It was this particular articulation of vegetarianism which, though now secular in its reasoning, began to capture the public imagination in the 20th century, and which lives on to this day. Like dental science in the build up to a war, vegetarianism for the sake of morality or temperance is a hard sell. Vegetarianism for the sake of health, or for the sake of a more “holistic” and “natural” lifestyle, on the other hand, is much easier (sidenote: I puke in my mouth a little bit when I hear those terms). Most of the pro-vegetarian literature on the internet revolves around a sort of two-pronged attack; on the one hand, convince people of their moral superiority, and on the other, convince them that what they’re doing is natural, and therefore good for them.

Thus we get idiots youtube personalities like Durian Rider, claiming that a 30 banana a day raw food vegan diet is the most natural, and most moral diet available.

To be sung to the tune of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy, ad nauseam, upon meeting a raw food vegan:

Once upon a time, in the land down under,
Lived a pencil necked, fruit-eating, marathon runner,
He thinks thigh gaps are healthy,
Called a pregnant woman fat,
And he can’t squat worth a damn.
It’s Durian! Durian! Durian Rider!
He looks like he smokes meth!
It’s Durian! Durian! Durian Rider!
Not very far from death.

Despite the stark differences in their prescriptions for health and performance, both diets have more in common than just invoking the natural to justify their methodology. Vegetarianism, in its early days, was criticized for being an unbalanced diet, much as paleo is now. Vegetarianism had its watershed moment in 1994, when it was publicized that President Clinton was eating Boca Burgers in the White House.16 Though paleo hasn’t yet achieved the same success that vegetarianism has, there is every indication that it is gaining momentum, and now every one who has ever publically expressed an interest in crossfit can expect to hear from their friends that they’re “trying to cut down on gluten” while eating gluten. In either case, both have achieved every diet writer’s dream: being done half-assed by masses of people who don’t understand the literature, in order to feel better about themselves.

Boca Burgers weren’t the only thing Bill was eating at the White House…

Of course, the one, irreconcilable difference between these practices is their beliefs on what the original human diet was. It is outside the scope of this article to prove the case either way; and may even be impossible to do so without cherry picking the data. If you’d like to have a go, googling “the expensive tissue hypothesis” and “vegetarian teeth” would be a good start.

Really. It doesn’t matter. Instead of taking my word for it, let’s see how it all plays out, and look at this turd that the top minds over at Mark’s Daily Apple decided to publish.

It’s an article about a 2010 study done on the eating habits of ancient humans in East Africa. I’m not sure whether they’re deliberately dissembling, or whether they’re just getting over excited, but the study they reference makes no dietary prescriptions, nor does it claim to have discovered what the actual diets of those people were. Rather, it hoped that by reconstructing multiple possible paleolithic diets, using known foraging strategies, pathophysiological restraints (macronutrient ratios, etc), and available foodstuffs, it might be possible to model what we might have been eating during the thousands of years that early humanity lived in East Africa.17

Before I go and get carried away hating on Mark’s Daily Pseudoscience, I should note that the study referenced on the blog is actually pretty cool, makes some interesting points about evidence based medicine, and is fully aware of its own limitations. Here’s a link if you’re interested.

They argue, somewhat convincingly, that

The criteria for establishing optimum nutrient intakes via randomised controlled trials (RCT) with single nutrients at a given dose and with a single end point have serious limitations. They are usually based upon poorly researched dose – response relationships, and typically ignore many possible nutrient interactions and metabolic inter- relationships. For instance, the adequate intake of linoleic acid (LA) to prevent LA deficiency depends on the concurrent intakes of a-linolenic acid (ALA), g-LA and arachidonic acid (AA). Consequently, the nutritional balance on which our genome evolved is virtually impossible to determine using the reigning paradigm of ‘evidence-based medicine’ with RCT. Nutritional research rather needs an organisational template that focuses on the optimal homeostasis.18

Their logic is, essentially, that “disparities between Paleolithic, contemporary and recommended intakes might be important factors underlying the aetiology of common Western diseases. Data on Paleolithic diets and lifestyle, rather than the investigation of single nutrients, might be useful for the rational design of clinical trials.”19

I did some underlining and italicizing there, because that is all that this paper is trying to show, that “the present data represent[s] a unique and powerful rationale for the design of future intervention studies”.20 Much like a biologist might do an inexpensive in vitro study before committing to an in vivo study, they argue that nutritionists ought to use ancestral diets as a sandbox from which they create new hypotheses.

What they are not arguing is that everyone ought to start eating like a caveman in the absence of any evidence that it might be healthy to do so; yet this is exactly what the top minds over at Mark’s Daily Apple suggest we ought to do, since apparently they’d rather be having a paleolithic renaissance faire than doing any actual science.

He’d probably make a better vegetarian anyway.

Which is about as dumb as arguing that we ought to eat only plants because our canines, molars and incisors are shaped a certain way, which is what nearly every vegetarian blog tries to do at one point or another.

Which is about as dumb as this dietary advice, which is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.

First off, the idea that what is natural is necessarily good, and what is artificial is necessarily bad, is utterly vapid. Hemlock, anthrax, faeces, genital herpes, opium, and angry lions gnawing at your face are all natural. Reading, vaccinations, vitamin D tablets, casts for broken bones, and incubators for premature infants are all unnatural.

Cavemen, whether vegetarian or carnivorous, were not going around putting incrementally larger boulders on their backs and squatting them for reps, or throwing sabre tooth tiger carcasses above their heads in stunning displays of explosive strength and agility. None of what we do is natural, and yet logically structured strength training is undoubtedly good for anyone above the age of 4.

And I do mean anyone.

So what should the confused dieter do with no pre-lapsarian regime to turn to?

Look at the evidence.

Robb Wolf hits the nail on the head when he states that his version of paleo “is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.”21 The same should be said of vegetarianism by its proponents. The hypothesis of both diets, that the modern human is living in discordance with their genetics, is a sound one. However, not every novel or artificial thing that comes to hand or plate is necessarily bad. Sweet potatoes, cashews, and avocadoes are great for most of the population, and they’re new to everyone but native South and Central Americans.

The same logic applies to hormetic stressors; take some away from a human being, like exercise, and things go wrong. Take others away, like the presence of fecal bacteria in our food, and we do great. Though we have the genetics to expect both exercise and habitually eating with poo hands, we do much better in the absence of one and not the other.

100% organic.

At their best both diets provide a valuable framework for researching and testing hypotheses on human health and performance. At their worst they devolve into nothing more than cults whose adherents, acting on faith alone, blindly shove whatever their youtube gurus tell them to down their throats.

 

NOTE: This post has been edited to reflect corrections made by P. de Torreil, who quite rightly pointed out that an article critical of the paleo diet used in this post cited a number of professors who had absolutely no web presence other than having been quoted in that article, an extremely unlikely scenario for academics. It is more than likely that the article is a fake, so it has been removed. Apologies to all who read the original piece, and thanks to Mr. de Torreil.

Works Cited:

1: Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. “Eskimos Prove An All Meat Diet Provides Excellent Health” (Harper’s Monthly, November 1935)
2, 3: McClellan Walter S., Du Bois, Eugene F.  “Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis” J. Biol. Chem. 87: 651-668, July 1930
4: “The Curious History of the Paleo Diet” Retrieved from: http://americanscience.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-curious-history-of-paleo-diet-and.html (Retrieved Feb. 22nd, 2015)
5: Seton, Ernest Thompson. “Boy Scouts of America, a Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life-Craft” Double Day, Page & Company, New York, 1910, p. xii
6: Jones, Isaac H et al. “Nutrition and The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (With Excerpts from the Literature)” The Laryngoscope, 60: 1210-1226, December 1950
7: Jarvis, William T. “The Myth of the Healthy Savage” Nutrition Today, Volume 16 Issue 2, March/April 1981
8: Barrett, Stephen. “Stay Away from “Holistic” and “Biological” Dentists” http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/holisticdent.html (Retrieved Feb 22nd, 2015)
9: Cordain, Loren., Schlender, Shelley. “The Paleo Diet Podcast – The History of the Paleo Movement”  http://thepaleodiet.com/paleo-diet-podcast-history-paleo-movement/ (Retrieved Feb 22nd, 2015)
10, 21: Wolf, Robb., Dees, Andy. “The Paleo Solution Podcast, Episode 52” http://robbwolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/the-paleo-solution-episode-52.pdf
11: Sorabji, Richard. “Animal Minds and Human Morals” London 1993, p. 172-175
12: Haussleiter, Johannes: “Der Vegetarismus in der Antike” Berlin 1935 pp 54 – 64
13: Regula Benedicti 36,9 and 39,11, ed. Rudolph Hanslik, Vienna 1975, p. 96, 100
14: Spencer, Colin. “The Heretic’s Feast. A History of Vegetarianism” London 1993, pp 285-288
15: “The History of the Vegetarian Society” https://www.vegsoc.org/history (Retrieved Feb 22nd, 2015)
16: Lunan, Charles. “President Among Diners to Jump on Boca Burger Patty Wagon” The Sun Sentinel, May 27th, 1994
17, 18, 19, 20: Kuipers, Remko S., et al. “Estimated Macronutrient and Fatty Acid Intakes from an East African Paleolithic Diet” British Journal of Nutrition, 2010 p. 1-22

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