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Wednesday, 10 October 2018


Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) have fatty acid tails that are 6-12 carbons in length (R).
There are both synthetic and natural MCTs. Natural sources include coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy fat. (R)
There are three main types of MCTs based on their length. Capronic acid has a length of 6 carbons, caprylic acid has a length of 8 carbons, capric acid has a length of 10 carbons, and lauric acid has a length of 12 carbons. The amount of each type varies based on what they are derived from (R).
In the past MCTs have been used in the treatment of digestives problems such as pancreatic insufficiency, fat malabsorption, and severe hyperchylomicronemia (R).
MCT have been considered safe for human consumption by the FDA for over 20 years (R).

Health Benefits of MCTs

1) MCTs are Antimicrobial and Antiviral

One type of MCT, lauric acid, is better at killing bacteria and viruses than caprylic acid or capric acid (RR).
In newborn children, MCTs as well as medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) derived from maternal milk, had antimicrobial effects in the gut tract and reduced pathogen transmission (R).
MCTs and MCFAs have also been shown to reduce growth of a certain species of Malassezia, an infectious fungus widespread in hospitals (R).
Studies of MCTs on rats showed improved gut integrity, modulation of the immune response and improved intestinal secretion of antibodies (R).
In piglets MCTs lowered intestinal pH, modulated the gut microenvironment, and potentially prevented post weaning diarrhea (R).

2) MCTs Aid in Weight Loss

One study on overweight men found that MCTs, compared to Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs), led to reduced appetite and increased feelings of fullness (R).
This MCT rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss when compared to an LCT rich diet. It also indicated that these effects can diminish after the body has adapted, around 2-3 weeks (R).
Several other studies in both animals and humans have shown that MCTs (caprylic and capric) increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (RRRRRRR).
MCTs were found to reduce fat and calorie intake in a study on 36 healthy women (R).
MCTs can increase satiety, or feelings of fullness, which leads to reduced food intake and causing weight loss (R).
They are broken down faster than LCTs making them more readily used by the body and less likely to be converted to and stored as fat (R).
In humans, MCT consumption for 4 weeks induced energy expenditure, fat burning and body weight loss (R).
MCT oils can be incorporated in weight loss programs without any negative effects on metabolic health (R).
An analysis of experiments showed after 3 weeks of MCT consumption or more participants had reduced body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, total body fat, total subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat compared to LCT (R).
Studies performed on cells showed MCTs reduces the conversion of excess carbohydrates to fats (R).

3) MCTs Enhance Exercise Performance

A study on mice found that they performed much better in swimming tests when fed an MCT rich diet compared to an LCT rich diet (R).
It has also been shown that consuming food containing MCTs instead of LCTs for 2 weeks increases duration of high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes (R).

4) MCTs Can Affect Cholesterol

Calves that consumed MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calve that consumed LCT-rich milk (R).
Multiple rat studies have linked natural MCTs to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (RR).
MCTs lowered LDL/HDL ratio, total and HDL-cholesterol; improved cardiometabolic profile in obese individuals (R).
In humans, natural sources of MCT, like coconut oil, along with low calorie diets led to reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol when compared to soybean oil (R).
Other studies have shown that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol (RR).
Another study done on healthy men reported increases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (R).
MCTs resulted in 12% higher LDL-cholesterol concentrations, 32% higher VLDL-cholesterol concentrations, a 12% higher ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, and 22% higher blood total triacylglycerol concentrations (R).

5) MCTs Helps With Diabetes

One study showed that diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (R).
A different study on individuals with type 2 diabetes showed that MCT supplementation improved diabetes risk factors as well as reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (R).
However, in one study, MCTs resulted in significantly higher blood glucose concentrations (R).

6) MCTs Benefits the Brain

MCTs have been shown to improve learning, memory, and brain processing in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, although this was only noticed in those who had the APOE4 gene (R).
They have also been shown to improve memory compared to placebos in individuals with mild cognitive impairments (R).
One study observed an improvement in cognitive status, especially women, those without diabetes type II, and severe patients (R).

7) MCTs Improve Muscle Strength for Elderly

One study showed that supplementation of MCTs along with leucine rich amino acids and Vitamin D3 may improve muscle strength and function in frail elderly individuals (R).

8) MCTs Enhance Effects of Fish Oil

A study on rats showed MCTs and MCFAs enhanced the beneficial effects of fish oil on selected heart risk factors (R).
Serum liver EPA and DHA levels were remarkably elevated in rats fed fish oil-enriched MCT (R).

Side Effects

Nausea, stomach cramping and other gut problems are a known side effect of MCTs (R).


A single dose of MCT ranging between 5 and 50 g or a weeklong diet containing 40% MCT-fat systematically leads to elevated post meal oxygen consumption and thermogenesis, increased total fat oxidation, higher energy expenditure and diminished energy storage in comparison with LCT administered under identical conditions (R,R,R).

Technical Section/Mechanisms

MCTs are absorbed directly into the portal vein, transported rapidly to the liver for beta-oxidation, and thus increase diet-induced heat creation compared to long-chain triacylglycerols which are absorbed via the intestinal lymphatic ducts and transported by chylomicrons through the thoracic duct into the systemic circulation (R).
  • Increases peptide YY and leptin concentrations (R).
  • MCT is known to be a good substrate for the conversion of ghrelin to active ghrelin, without necessarily affecting total ghrelin concentrations (R).
  • Studies performed on cells showed MCTs induce heat creation and reduces  de novo fat production (R).
  • MCTs reduce fat mass, through down-regulation of adipogenic genes as well as PPARy (R).
  • MCT-supplemented diets constitute a promising tool against adipogenic and steatogenic diseases(R).
  • Prevents CD14-activation dependent endotoxemia mediated by LPS (R).
  • Increases enzyme activities of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and ketone body utilization in mice (R).
  • Antimicrobial effects on C. difficile result from cell membrane disruption (R).
  • Suppresses the increase in blood lactateconcentration and RPE during moderate-intensity exercise and extends the duration of subsequent high-intensity exercise, at levels higher than those achieved by ingestion of LCT-containing food (R).
  • Lowers fat levels in blood and tissues and LDLoxidation by physiological oxidants (R).
  • Enhanced glycogen storage and fatty acid synthesis from acetate supplied by enhanced glycolytic flux (R).
  • Increased mean fasting blood beta-hydroxybutyrate levels (R).
  • Increased C-peptide levels (R).
  • Increased amount of blood ketone bodies (R).
  • Reduced blood fat peroxides, total cholesterol, triglycerides (TAGs), TNF, IL-6 and C-reactive protein (R).

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tips, Vitamin D

Most people don't get enough of it. And now we know 

Most people don't get enough of it. 

Vitamin D Is Magic

Magic? It would seem that way if there wasn't a ton of research to back it up. We already know that having a high level of vitamin D in your system leads to better athletic performance, easier fat loss, and optimal hormone levels. It even helps women have better orgasms. And having low vitamin D has been linked to dozens of maladies, even several forms of cancer and various fat-person diseases.
Now we have another reason to supplement with it and stop fearing sunshine: you're more likely to get injured if you have low vitamin D.

The Study

Researchers nabbed 216 college football players who were participating in the NFL Scouting Combine. They wanted to find out if there was a relationship between vitamin D levels and muscle strains, including core muscle injuries (sports hernias).
Using blood tests, they found that 126 players (more than half) had abnormally low serum vitamin D levels, and 22 of them had severe deficiencies. Here's how they defined that:
  • Normal: 32 ng/mL
  • Insufficient: 20-31 ng/mL
  • Deficient: Below 20 ng/mL
Was there a relationship between low D and muscle injuries? In short, yes.
"Our primary finding is that NFL combine athletes at greatest risk for lower extremity muscle strain or core muscle injury had lower levels of vitamin D. This could be related to physiologic changes that occur to muscle composition in deficient states," said Dr. Scott Rodeo, the senior investigator.

But Is "Normal" Good Enough?

The scientists here defined normal D levels as those being at least 32 ng/mL. That's 32 nanograms per milliliter... but that's just barely normal.
Progressive doctors go a bit further and say that the OPTIMAL range is between 50 and 70 nanograms per milliliter. And some shoot for as high as 100 ng/mL. Those higher ranges seem to be where the real health benefits kick in.
Now, the average American in late winter (after months of little sun exposure) averages about 15 to 18 ng/ml – a serious deficiency. So, chances are, unless you're a lifeguard in Kona who doesn't wear much sunscreen, you'll need to supplement with Vitamin D.

How Much to Take

Experts suggest supplementing with 1000 to 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. You can adjust that amount based on your non-sunscreened sun exposure, the time of the year, your location on the planet, etc. If you want to see where you're at and how much you need in order to maintain a healthy level, you'll need ask your doctor for a couple of blood tests for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Can you get too much vitamin D? Technically, yes, but it would very difficult to do unless you were swallowing over 20,000 IU daily for months on end. So, no need to worry about it really.
Old recommendations said 2000 IU daily was the safe upper limit, but today most agree that was unnecessarily low and say that 10,000 IU is more like it. (Government agencies and antiquated dietician schools will take a while to catch up and reluctantly change their recommendations, of course.)


  1. Hospital for Special Surgery. "More than half of college football athletes have inadequate levels of vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency linked to muscle injuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2017.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting and feeding

My general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you arise at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

However, the fast could also also be broken later in the day depending on your personal preferences and daily routine. I personally tend to break the fast as late as 4-6 PM since I work well into the night and rise later than most people with normal jobs.

The recommendation for fasting through the earlier part of the day, as opposed to the latter part of the day, is for behavioral and social reasons. Most people simply find it easier to fast after awakening and prefer going to bed satiated. Afternoons and evenings are times to unwind and eat. For adherence reasons during dieting, I've also found that placing the feeding phase later in the day is ideal for most people.

The protocols
I work with four different protocols depending on when my clients train. Depending on setup, one, two, or three meals are eaten in the post-workout period.

Fasted training

Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This "pre-workout" meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted - that would be detrimental. The pre-workout protein intake, with its stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding phase starts with the post-workout meal.

Sample setup

11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above.

Early morning fasted training
Here's a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later. 

6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

For the sake of conveniency, I recommend getting BCAA in the form of powder and not tabs. Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake and drink one third of it every other hour starting 5-15 minutes pre-workout. Tabs are cheaper, but much more of a hassle (you're going to have to pop a lot of tabs). 

One pre-workout meal
This is the most common setup for my younger clients that are still in college or have flexible working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
3-4 PM: Training should happen a few hours after the pre-workout meal.
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Two pre-workout meals 

This is the usual protocol for people with normal working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).

Key points 

* No calories are to be ingested during the fasted phase, though coffee, calorie free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar free gum are ok (even though they might contain trace amount of calories). A tiny splash of milk in your coffee won’t affect anything either (½-1 teaspoon of milk per cup at the most - use sparingly and sensibly if you drink a lot of coffee). Neither will sugar free gum in moderation (~20 g).

* The fast is the perfect time to be productive and get things done. Don’t sit around, get bored and brood about food.

* Meal frequency during the feeding phase is irrelevant. However, most people, including me, prefer three meals.

* The majority of your daily calorie intake is consumed in the post-workout period. Depending on setup, this means that approximately 95-99% (fasted training), 80% (one pre-workout meal) or 60% (two pre-workout meals) of your daily calorie intake is consumed after training.

* The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns. We tend to get hungry when we're used to eating and maintaining a regular pattern makes diet adherence easier. If you're used to breaking the fast at 12-2 PM and ending it at 8-10 PM, then try to maintain that pattern every day.

* On rest days, meal one should ideally be the largest meal, as opposed to training days where the post-workout meal is the largest meal. A good rule of thumb is to make meal one on rest days at least 35-40% of your daily calorie intake. This meal should be very high in protein; some of my clients consume more than 100 g of protein in this meal.

* When working with clients I am always open to compromising on the above rule. If your preference is to eat a larger meal in the evening instead of noon, or whenever you break the fast, it's no great harm. Some people prefer to save the largest meal on rest days for dinner with their family instead of having a large lunch and that's fine by me if it makes them enjoy and adhere to their diet better.

* Macronutrients and calorie intakes are always cycled through the week. The specifics depends on the client's ultimate goal: fat loss, muscle gain or bodyrecomposition. The details will be revealed in the book. Generally speaking, carbs and total calorie intake is highest on training days. On rest days, carbs are lower and fat is higher. Protein is kept high on all days.

* Here are the supplements I recommend everyone to take on a daily basis: a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and extra calcium (unless dairy is consumed on a regular and daily basis).

* For fasted training, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. However, if this feels like too much micromanaging or simply questionable from an economic standpoint, you could also make due with some whey protein. The importance of protein intake prior to fasted training is outlined in this and this post.

* People sometimes ask me which protocol is best. I tend to look at things from a behavioral perspective first and foremost, so my reply to that is to choose the protocol best suited to your daily routine and training preferences. When dealing with clients I make the choice for them. If you work a 9-5 job and your only option is to train after work, training fasted is generally a bad idea and I always choose the one or two meals pre-workout protocol.

* Even from a physiological perspective, each protocol has it's own strengths and theoretical benefits. With "physiological perspective" I mean in terms of nutrient partitioning, fat loss and muscle growth. This deserves an article on it's own. I have some interesting and compelling arguments that I think are very unique.

Below I'll list some other resources that I think will give you an idea of what Leangains is all about.

Diet methodology

Calories, foods and macronutrient choices play an important role in the optimal diet. The following articles will give you an insight into my philosophy on this topic.

Scorch Through Your Fat Loss Plateau

Maintaining Low Body Fat

Intermittent Fasting, Set-Point and Leptin

Diet psychology

The right mental attitude is a crucial factor for a successful diet and training routine. This is an area that is all too often overlooked. I've explored this subject through many different perspectives.

The Secret Benefit of Being Lean

The Marshmallow Test

How to Look Awesome Every Day

How People Fail Their New Year's Resolutions

Regarding comments
Commentators often ask me if this or that is fine or how they should optimize things. I simply don't have time or energy for that any longer. Understand that a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration when determining calorie intake and macronutrient cycling; body weight, body fat, activity level, training routine, gender, insulin sensitivity and so forth. That's why I have clients - optimizing a diet plan requires time and reflection, and being a perfectionist by nature I simply can't "okay" something without having all the facts in front of me.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Estudos mostram que exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo

Que as atividades físicas são benéficas para a saúde de uma forma geral não é mais novidade. Além de conferir bem estar, a prática regular pode prevenir doenças como diabetes, obesidade, doença celíaca e fibromialgia. E um estudo recente comprovou ainda que exercícios podem ajudar a reduzir a inflamação no corpo.

Entenda como caminhar pode reduzir inflamação no corpo. 

Como os exercícios podem reduzir a inflamação do corpo?

Um estudo realizado por pesquisadores da Universidade da Califórnia em San Diego, nos Estados Unidos e publicado recentemente na revista científica Brain, Behavior and Immunity, mostrou que 20 minutos de exercício são capazes de reduzir a inflamação no corpo.
O grupo de pesquisadores desejava comprovar se a prática de atividades físicas ativavam o sistema nervoso simpático do cérebro. Essa parte é responsável por acelerar os batimentos cardíacos, elevar a pressão arterial e intensificar o ritmo respiratório. E eles acreditavam que ao disparar esse sistema, ele acionaria uma resposta anti-inflamatória. Essa teoria foi comprovada com o estudo.
Para isso, os cientistas convocaram 47 homens e mulheres, que precisaram caminhar em uma esteira em intensidade moderada por 20 minutos. Eles tiveram uma amostra de sangue coletada em dois momentos: antes e depois da prática desse exercício. O que os resultados mostraram é que houve uma redução de 5% no número de células imunológicas ligadas a processos inflamatórios.
A partir desse estudo, os cientistas pretendem conseguir desenvolver novos novos tratamentos anti-inflamatórios. E um outro lado positivo deste estudo é a comprovação de que apenas 20 minutos de atividade já é suficiente para se proteger. “A ideia de que o treino precisa ser exaustivo e longo intimida aqueles que sofrem com doenças inflamatórias crônicas e poderiam se beneficiar da atividade física”, comentou a cientista líder do estudo Suzi Hong.
Para quem sofre com alguma doença ou vive no sedentarismo, não há como mais fugir e deixar de praticar exercícios. Uma simples caminhada já pode fazer toda diferença para a manutenção da sua saúde. Vale a pena consultar o seu médico e um profissional capacitado em atividades físicas para que avaliem de que forma essa prática pode ser inserida na sua rotina, possibilitando que você consiga todos os benefícios disso.

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