Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paleo Supplements

The subject of supplements could very well take all day to discuss as it's something that needs to be continually looked at with every new bit of info that comes out. From the start though, as a nutritionist and naturopath, I certainly do advocate the use of certain supplements for most people or for specific conditions.

I'll start with the most basic supplement, and this was the point of the question anyway. Protein supp's are different in that it is a macro-nutrient (most are micro-nutrients) thus provides energy and Amino Acids that the body can use for… almost everything! The need for protein supp's depends on your daily diet however. While following a paleo diet you are more than likely getting enough protein from your meat/egg/cheese (if applicable) intake. Use the zone block calculations to get roughly the amount of protein you should be getting per day, slightly more than this will be fine. Amino acids (AA's) then work in a cyclic fashion around the body much like fat, while some proteins are being built, others are being broken down or destroyed and the AA's taken back up to be re-used. So as long as you're daily protein needs are met by food somewhere along the course of the day you really don’t need extra protein shakes. When you are talking specifically about pre/post workout nutrition, Robb Wolf has done an awesome post on this so I won't repeat anything here, just read it HERE. Basically I would say that most people would be better either not eating straight after a WOD and having a meal within an hour or so, or having a protein + fat post-WOD shake. The other time I could see it put to good use is if you have to skip a meal or have fasted. You could use a protein supp to make up the missed protein either as a meal replacement, or if you are in a hurry or travelling, or between meals after a fast if you can't stomach all your flesh in that shorter time frame. I sometimes throw a little bit of vanilla protein (high quality whey) into my daughter's milk/yoghurt in the arvo if she hasn’t eaten enough through-out the day, but don’t tell her that…

Fish oil:
Been covered, but very important so I thought I'd just mention it again

Mentioned on the Grok doesn’t supplement article due to the free-radical scavenging effects, reducing oxidative damage. This is something I've been debating about for a while and probably for a while yet. While the theoretical benefits fit the physiological basis of how anti-oxidants work in our body, there is not a great deal of evidence to show supplementation works. A couple of studies show they are neutral or even damaging in the long run, ref HERE. The second study is by the Cochrane Collaboration which is a reputable independent foundation, and is a major Meta-Analysis of heaps of studies using anti-ox supplements. Just read the first few pages for the down low, ref HERE. Though for every study done that shows no benefit you could find one that shows it cures cancer (or similar). Remember that vege's contain a lot of other compounds, not just a few vitamins that we recognise.

There are a lot of opinions by biochemists/professors etc in the paleo field that say the body's own anti-ox system is very efficient and when you remove grains/vege-oil/sugar, increase N-3/vit D/sat fats, and reduce inflammation, that this is enough. Running predominantly on fat for fuel is also cleaner than using extra oxygen to burn carbs. Further on this new models are showing that certain amounts of free-radicals are protective and stimulate the body's anti-ox systems and other physiological effects.

Against that argument I believe that vege aren't what they used to be and don’t contain the amount of nutrients/anti-ox that they used to due to industrial farming/picking/storage/transport..etc. So a low dose anti-ox may be useful, such as a basic multi vit & min (broken in two over the day), some vit-C (.5-1gm), and zinc. I also try to get anti-ox from specific foods such as fresh tumeric, purple onions, garlic, chilli which we use regularly, and occasional green tea and very dark chocolate (80% or more).

These are very useful and supplementation on occasion can help a lot of people. As stated on the article, grok ate a lot of dirt and with it a lot of bacteria. We live in a very hygiene obsessive environment with everything having to be perfectly sanitized, especially around kids. This doesn’t give kids/our immune systems a chance to fully develop a 'symbiotic relationship' with certain organisms. Even Helicobacter Pylori co-evolved with the human stomach and is thought to be an immune regulator. The gut flora is virtually a second immune system and weighs around 2kg worth of squizillions of bacteria with around 500 species. This plays a massive role in overall health and needs to be looked after, many peaple coming to a nutritionist or naturopath have gut problems. Eating fermented foods such as traditional set yoghurt, miso soup, tempeh (traditionally fermented soy), Kefir (fermented dairy), Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), or other fermented vege's can all significantly improve gut bacteria numbers. On the other hand, courses of anti-biotic's, vomiting, diarrhoea, and excessive stress can kill the bacteria, and a standard high grain/carb diet doesn’t really help to increase numbers. Supplements can help here after a bout of illness/prescription drugs/physical or mental stress to replant the seeds to let bacteria re-populate the gut. Depending on the condition different strains will do different things, though a general supplement with a range of species can help most people.

Other supps:
There are plenty of other supplements that can help many people depending on their specific presentation such as iodine, Co-Q10, niacin, specific AA's, tissue salts and an array of herbs and their extracts. Vit D3 should be taken by most people as well, at around 2-5000iu per day. Personally I also take half a standard Calcium tablet and a Magnesium tab at night. Both to help regulate calcium balance on a low calcium diet, and for rest & recovery.

Paleo foods, snacking and ketosis:
Matt, this is a rather long topic as well so I'll be brief (the questions are little vague too); if you would like a bit more specific info on something, just ask.
Portion size and excess calories are still going to make a difference even on paleo foods. While following a low carb paleo approach you are going to be in a position of storing less fat and using more for energy, but CALORIES STILL COUNT. Even on very low carb you can still store fat if you are eating way too much food, though this is unlikely to happen due to the satiety factor of lower carb, higher fat diet. Snacking should not really be necessary if eating the right ratio of carbs:fat, as you should be relying on fat as your main source of energy throughout the day and so your meals should not give you a big rise then drop in blood sugar, making you hungry between meals. I would even recommend against it for a few reasons HERE in my zone post (2nd last paragraph).

Is being is a regular state of ketosis beneficial? I don’t think anyone actually knows the answer to that, however being in or near ketosis most of the time is clearly preferred by the body and is therapeutic to certain clinical conditions such as epilepsy. The heart and brain function more efficiently on ketones (ref HERE) and as stated above offers a cleaner fuel to the body than sugar. Keeping the carbs around 50gm/day or below you will pretty much be completely in ketosis, but from 50-150gm per day will still get you fat burning and ketone body production. I would recommend this to almost everyone, as a low carb state is what our bodies where designed for. Some people feel better with slightly more carbs and others with less, so it's up to the individual. The only thing that would change for a sedentary person to an athlete is the amount of total calories consumed, while the amount of carbs may vary slightly.

Have fun with that, bit of reading for everyone, I better get back to my work…


robin said...

Thanks Steve, great info yet again.

Good to know I'm on the right path.

I'll mull over this for a while but dont worry, I have plenty more questions, such is my thirst for knowledge.

Brett_M/30/181cm/84kg said...

Awesome Steve and thanks,
Have fun at the photo without me.

I might need your help with CFLC next Wed morning are you free 0700 - 1000?

crossfitcrew said...

Good post. Not sure about the multi vit comment tho..

There are plenty of fruit and vegetable alternatives these days with solid research to boot..

Fits into what we're trying to do with eating paleo a little better also..

I use www.juiceplus.com.au capsules.. well worth a look