Author: valdesfraost

Interesting: D-Allulose Promotes Fat Loss – Not Compared to Sugar, but Compared to Non-Caloric Sweeteners

The reduction in belly fat was significant – in the absence of dieting and compared to another zero-calorie sweetener, that is.

D-Allulose is one of those purported weight loss agents with an impressive research record from rodent studies. Now, a recent human trial suggests: it may work in overweight men and women, too.

With it being one of the newer sugar substitutes, you may not be familiar with d-allulose. So, here’s the gist: It’s the C-3 epimer of d-fructose, has (only) 70% of the sweetness of sucrose and ZERO calories (well, almost) … ah, and did I say that it’s rarely found in nature.

You can learn more about sweeteners at the SuppVersity

Aspartame & Your Microbiome – Not a Problem?

Will Artificial Sweeteners Spike Your Insulin?

Diet Soda Beats Water as Dieting Aid in RCT

Chronic Sweeten-er Intake Won’t Effect Microbiome

Sucralose Tricks ‘Ur Energy Gauge – Implications?

Sweeteners In- crease Sweet- ness Threshold

That doesn’t mean its the invention of a mad scientist, though, it is in fact present in small quantities in commercial mixtures of d-glucose and d-fructose obtained from the hydrolysis of sucrose or isomerization of d-glucose. Large scare production requires enzymatic treatment of d-glucose and has recently become available at reasonable prices. As Han et al. (2018), the authors of the previously hinted at paper point out,

“d-allulose is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), according to the United States department of agriculture (USDA) regulations” (Han 2018).

Aside from its beneficial effects on lipid metabolism (Matsuo 2001Ochiai 2014; Han 2016), the existing rodent data suggests that it will also enhance glucose uptake from the liver and suppresses hepatic lipogenic enzyme activities (Nagata 2015). In addition, it lowered food intake while it increased energy expenditure during darkness and soleus muscle lipoprotein lipase activity in rats pair-fed the high-sucrose diet (Ochiai 2014). And as if that wasn’t enough, yet, the same rodent studies also suggest that “d-allulose inhibits dietary fat absorption in the small intestine and increases β-oxidation in fat tissue under pair-feeding conditions in mice fed with a high-fat diet” (Han 2018) – No wonder that “[m]ost studies indicate that d-allulose induces a decrease in body weight, fat mass, and food or energy intake (ibid).

Would be nice to see the preliminary research on d-allulose’s use as a sugar substitute in foods being independently confirmed + extended to other foods like pancakes or protein bars.

Did you know? While the study at hand didn’t show any effects on inflammation, this would probably have changed if the control treatment was regular sugar. After all, the replacement of only 20% of the sugar in sponge cake with d-allulose produced a significant increase in the antioxidant properties of a cake that was also softer and got rid of the eggs-odor some people hate… ah, and did I mention that d-allulose has also been used in soy milk based, drinkable yogurt, where it reduced the acidity, increased the viscosity and made the fake-yogurt taste significantly milder without affecting potentially health-improving bioactive bacteria?

With the lack of adequately powered human studies (often using placebos that were anything but neutral wrt their metabolic effects, like sugar or fructose) to confirm the relevance of the existing rodent data, however, it has hitherto been really premature to recommend supplementation, let alone the large-scale incorporation of d-allulose as a sugar-replacement in processed foods.

How much d-allulose does it take to get jacked? 

This, or rather something like this is the research question of Han’s “preliminary study”. An RCT designed to answer the important dosage question to inform the methodological design of an upcoming main study, which would be performed using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) equipment for body fat measurement.

What? Yeah, you read that right. The study at hand didn’t use the gold-standard of body composition measurement. It was conducted in 121 Korean subjects (aged 20–40 years, body mass index ≥ 23 kg/m²; not jacked, but not sick and/or completely metabolically deranged, either) who consumed either

  • placebo control (sucralose, 0.012 g × 2 times/day), 
  • low d-allulose (d-allulose, 4 g × 2 times/day), or
  • high d-allulose (d-allulose, 7 g × 2 times/day) 

over the course of 12 weeks… and even though the authors didn’t use DXA scan, the body composition data was gathered by the means of a decent hand + feet based impedance analyzer (see the model). Moreover, Han et al. tracked their subjects’ nutrient intake, and got computer tomography (CT) scans to assess changes in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat (interestingly visceral at wa decreased only non-significantly), as well as blood draws to assess their subjects’ before and after plasma lipid profiles.

Figure 1: Changes in body composition in response to 2x4g and 2x7g of d-allulose per day for 12 weeks (Han 2018).

Ok, the results (see Figure 1) were not earth-shattering. Keep in mind, though, the weight and body fat loss occurred in the absence of any deliberate dietary changes/energy restriction, as the subjects “were [simply] instructed to maintain their routine food intake and physical activity, and consume two bottles of supplements per day” (Han 2018).

No dieting, but still significant fat loss? Too good to be true!?

Considering the fact that the placebo was an inert no-calorie sweetener (not sugar or fructose as in some other studies), the statistically significant beneficial effects on body weight, BMI, body fat percentage and total body fat are newsworthy – also because the CT scans confirm that the subjects lost both abdominal and subcutaneous fat compared to the placebo group; and all that in the absence of significant differences in nutrient intakes.

What the scientists did not observe, however, were the previously reported improvements in plasma lipid profiles, markers of liver and kidney function, and/or changes in major inflammation markers among groups. With the beneficial effects on body composition being increased with increasing dosages of d-allulose, it would be premature to discard the possibility of directly health-relevant effects of this rare sugar altogether.

Don’t dare to tell me ‘skippin’ sucralose did the trick’ | check your science!

Bottom line: 4g twice a day is not necessarily something you’d want to consume as a supplement in pill form.

With d-allulose being regarded as a generally recognized safe (GRAS) food ingredient and continuously plummeting production costs, this stuff could, however, be of interest for the food industry – as a (potentially more effective) alternative to currently used no-calorie sweeteners such as sucralose, the placebo supplement from the study at hand.

Follow up research warranted: In addition to the use of DXA-scans, future studies should also investigate the mechanism by which d-allulose works its fat-loss-magic. As of now, it seems to be unrelated to any of the usual suspects, i.e. reduced inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, augmented fatty acid oxidation, or appetite/food intake. Based on the rodent evidence we have (Han 2016), the most likely mechanism is the suppression of dietary fat absorption via regulation of respective genes in the small intestine and subsequent increases in fecal lipid contents. If that’s also what helped the human subjects in the high-dose group of the study at hand shed -21.31 ± 30.45 cm², i.e. 6.4%, of their belly fat and -20.59 ± 24.80 cm², i.e. 9%, of their subcutaneous fat in the absence of conscious dieting isn’t clear… the same goes for the general efficacy of the treatment – after all, the standard deviations within the group were huge | Comment on Facebook!


  • Han, Youngji, et al. “d‐Allulose supplementation normalized the body weight and fat‐pad mass in diet‐induced obese mice via the regulation of lipid metabolism under isocaloric fed condition.” Molecular nutrition & food research 60.7 (2016): 1695-1706.
  • Han, Youngji, et al. “A Preliminary Study for Evaluating the Dose-Dependent Effect of d-Allulose for Fat Mass Reduction in Adult Humans: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Nutrients 10.2 (2018): 160.
  • Matsuo, Tatsuhiro, et al. “Dietary D‐psicose, a C‐3 epimer of D‐fructose, suppresses the activity of hepatic lipogenic enzymes in rats.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 10.3 (2001): 233-237.
  • Nagata, Yasuo, et al. “d-Psicose, an epimer of d-fructose, favorably alters lipid metabolism in Sprague–Dawley rats.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 63.12 (2015): 3168-3176.
  • Ochiai, Masaru, et al. “D-Psicose increases energy expenditure and decreases body fat accumulation in rats fed a high-sucrose diet.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 65.2 (2014): 245-250.

Interesting: D-Allulose Promotes Fat Loss – Not Compared to Sugar, but Compared to Non-Caloric Sweeteners syndicated from


Whole vs. Skim Milk — Increased HDL and no Effect on LDL, Glucose and Insulin in 3-Wk Crossover Study… But WAIT!

“Whole” or “skim” – eventually it may make much less of a difference than either low-fat or high-fat proponents may still believe…. that is if you’re young and healthy and not doing the “1 gallon o’ milk”-routine, bro 😉

Now that more and more people begin to get that eggs are not toxic cholesterol bombs, it’s about time that scientists re-address the myth that putting the “whole” in the “milk” would have serious health consequences… oh, wait: Eventually, Sara Engel and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen found statistically sign. health consequences – allegedly heart-healty ones!

More specifically, the authors observed that only 3-weeks on whole vs. skim milk will significantly elevate the HDL levels of 18 healthy adults who were randomly assigned to a sequence of treatments consisting of 0.5 L/d of whole milk and skimmed milk as part of their habitual diet.

You can learn more about dairy at the SuppVersity

Dairy and (Pre-)Diabetes – Re-Evaluated

Is There Sth. Like a Dairy Weight Loss Miracle?

There is Good A2 and Bad A1 Dairy, True or False?

Cheese is a Heart + Metabolic Health Food

Milk Kills, PR Says + Perverts the Facts

Milk / Dairy & Exercise – A Perfect Match?

While only 17/18 subjects completed the intervention, the statistical analysis of the data doesn’t give us reason to believe that the significant increase in HDL cholesterol (compared to skimmed milk | P < 0.05), was just a statistical artifact.

Why would you even care about HDL? 

Admittedly, the role of HDL as a marker of heart health has been vastly overrated in the past decade. Nevertheless: higher HDL levels at stable LDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol, insulin, and glucose concentrations, as they were observed in the study at hand have been found to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Table 1: Whole milk increased the subjects’ total energy intake, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the short run (Engel 2018)

No, whole milk won’t make you fat! Remember: calories count and in the study at hand, switching the subjects to whole milk did result in “a significantly higher energy intake with whole milk compared to skimmed milk” (Engel 2018), but “it seems that the study subjects compensated for the extra energy with whole milk by lowering their intake of carbohydrate which was significantly lower compared to skimmed milk” (ibid). In conjunction with the potentially beneficial health effects of the milk fat globule membranes (MFGM), whose concentration is obviously much higher in whole milk, this may explain the overall positive effects on the subjects’ lipid profile.

The question the study at hand cannot answer, though, is whether the 3.7% increase in the study at hand is enough of an improvement to have physiologically relevant effects. I have my doubts about that. Hell, you could reasonably doubt that this is more than a statistical artefact.

Figure 1: Markers of metabolic health after skimmed milk and whole milk periods (Engel 2018)

In view of the fact that the previously mentioned auxiliary markers of metabolic disease, i.e. the subjects’ LDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol, insulin, and glucose concentrations worsened non-significantly, the study at hand clearly isn’t going to change the opinion of the initially referenced dietitian… I mean, Steinmetz’ 1994 study, which observed significant increases in HDL and concomitant decreases in Apolipoprotein B (the primary apolipoprotein of chylomicrons, VLDL, IDL, and LDL particles | more about its role in heart disease in Brunzell 2008) didn’t affect the public opinion, either (Steinmetz 1994)… and let’s be honest: the 3.8% increase looks rather random – statistically significant or not, it’s probably not physiologically relevant, anyway.

Which reminds me. Unlike you may have read on a couple of blogs, there’s no convincing evidence that high-fat dairy would be significantly heart (and metabolically) healthy than lowa-fat airy. In fact, the totality of (albeit mostly observational studies) suggests either the opposite or (just as most experimental trials) no difference, at all… ah, and NO butter, grass-fed or not is not a suitable alternative for eating fish / taking omega-3 capsules (in case you hate fish).

Cheesy, but heart healthy: Cheese come in all forms and colors | more

Saturated fat has always been good for HDL: When all is said and done, the increase in HDL Engel et al. observed in the study at hand didn’t come as the surprise as which I announced it. Research has, after all, shown significant increases in HDL cholesterol in response to increasing amounts of allegedly “bad” saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in the diet – even more importantly, a meta-analysis showed that this increase was pronounced enough to improve the physiologically much more relevant HDL/LDL ratio (Mensing 2013) – especially if SFAs replace plant-based transfats.

Does this mean that you should ignore the Danish and American Dietary Guidelines advice “that SFA should be limited to less than 10 E%, due to the predicted effect on LDL cholesterol” (Engel 2018), because the more saturated the fats in your diet, the healthier your heart is going to be? Not exactly. Not just, but also because “it is necessary to be cautious when interpreting low concentration of HDL cholesterol as a CVD risk factor” (Engel 2018) – if you’re genetically wired to have low HDL levels, that’s not associated w/ increased risk of myocardial infarction. That’s a result which is relevant not just for the selected few, but does, in fact, as Engel et al. point out, question “the causality of an association between low HDL concentration and CVD” (Engel 2018) — or as Holmes et al. have it: “genetic findings support a causal effect of triglycerides on CHD risk, but a causal role for HDL-C, though possible, remains less certain” (Holmes 2014) | Comment!


  • Brunzell, John D., et al. “Lipoprotein management in patients with cardiometabolic risk: consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Cardiology Foundation.” Diabetes care 31.4 (2008): 811-822.
  • Engel, Sara, Mie Elhauge, and Tine Tholstrup. “Effect of whole milk compared with skimmed milk on fasting blood lipids in healthy adults: a 3-week randomized crossover study.” European journal of clinical nutrition (2017): 1.
  • Holmes, Michael V., et al. “Mendelian randomization of blood lipids for coronary heart disease.” European heart journal 36.9 (2014): 539-550.

Whole vs. Skim Milk — Increased HDL and no Effect on LDL, Glucose and Insulin in 3-Wk Crossover Study… But WAIT! syndicated from

Nutrient Timing Less, Cyclic Dieting & Baseline Microbiome More Important for Fat Loss – Nutrition Science News 02/18

They may have been published in “Obesity” and observed in people w/ weight problems, but the results of these three recent papers are still relevant for lean, metabolically healthy people, too.

Even if you are already way beyond the stage, where “weight loss” is your main interest, I am pretty sure you will appreciate this selection of recent studies from obesity research all around the world. After all, some of the research may actually help you achieve your new goal which should be to lose body fat while keeping or even building lean mass.

In today’s research review I am going to discuss three papers that have recently been published in the International Journal of Obesity (after being available online since late 2017, btw). To generalize one could say that the papers deal with the effects of nutrient timing and your microbiome on the efficacy of your fat loss efforts.

Review older articles about the gut – health the SuppVersity

Bugs Dictate What You Crave

Sweeteners & Your Gut

Foods, Not Ma- cros for the Gut

Lactulose For Gut & Health

Probiotics Don’t Cut Body Fat

Microbiome <> Bread’s H. Effects
  • Usefulness of high(er) fiber diet for fat loss depends on your individual microbiome (Hjorth 2017) — A recent study from the University of Copenhagen found that the pre-treatment ratio of Prevotella to Bacteroides in your gut “determines body fat loss success during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention” (Hjorth 2017). 

    As Hjorth et al. point out in the introduction of their paper, the human gut microbiota can be divided “into two relatively stable groups that might have a role in personalized nutrition” (Hjorth 2017): Pprevotella and Bacteroids. In their latest RCT the scientists studied these simplified enterotypes as prognostic markers for successful body fat loss on two different diets.

    Figure 1: As the %-ages that indicate the differences between New Nordic and Standard Danish diet indicate, the former is better for everyone. The p-values (change for high vs. low P/B ratios) in the legend, on the other hand, clearly indicate that people with high P/B ratios benefit more from this dietary switch (Hjorth 2017).

    A total of 62 participants with increased waist circumference were randomly assigned to receive an ad libitum New Nordic Diet (NND) high in fiber/whole grain or an Average Danish Diet (ADD) for 26 weeks. Participants were grouped into two discrete enterotypes by their relative abundance of Prevotella spp. divided by Bacteroides spp. (P/B ratio) obtained by quantitative PCR analysis. Modifications of dietary effects of pre-treatment P/B group were examined by linear mixed models that yielded interesting insight into the microbiome <> fat loss diet interaction:

    “Among individuals with high P/B the NND resulted in a 3.15 kg (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.55; 4.76, P<0.001) larger body fat loss compared with ADD, whereas no differences was observed among individuals with low P/B (0.88 kg (95% CI: −0.61; 2.37, P=0.25))” (Hjorth 2017)

    If you do the math, you’ll realize that this is a statistically significant 2.27 kg difference between subjects with high P/B or low P/B ratios. If you’ve followed mainstream dietary advice but didn’t see the promised (and expected) fat loss benefits, having a relative abundance of Prevotella spp. may be to blame (interested in enterotypes: the basics).

Prevotella have previously been found to be associated with more favorable cardiovascular/metabolic health markers (de Moraes 2017)

Prevotella the vegetarian, the healthy bacteria? If you watched the video I linked above, you will be aware of the link between meat and Bacteroides, on the one hand, and plant foods and Prevotella, on the other hand. Don’t subscribe to black-or-white picture they’re painting, though. As pointed out later in this article, a low level of the allegedly carcinogenic Bacteroids has also been found to be characteristic of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

With another study showing a correlation between markers of cardiovascular health and the abundance of Prevotella (e.g. lower BMI, lower 2h blood glucose levels, and waist circumference vs. higher HDL with higher numbers of Prevotella | de Moraes 2017) the latter, i.e. the “vegetarian microbiome”, does yet have more scientific back-up to fuel claims about potential health benefits.

  • Speaking of “blame”, previous studies have shown that the similar results for the health benefits of capsaicin which is likewise particularly pronounced in subjects with a Bacteroides enterotype (Kang 2016). What? Oh right, Bacteroides, alongside Firmicutes account for the majority of human distal gut bacterial flora (~90%) and the presence of these gram-negative bacteria, many of which we know as pathogens, is not generally a bad thing – a recent meta-analysis, for example, found “Lower Level of Bacteroides in the Gut Microbiota Is Associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease” (Zhou 2016).

    Ah, and the good news is that previous research shows that the P/B ratio will remain stable during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention with the New Nordic Diet (Roager 2014). It’s unlikely that the fat loss benefits will disappear from one day to the next because your microbiome adapted. This does yet also mean that it won’t become more effective over time if you’ve got a low P/B ratio, to begin with 😦

  • Yes, you can … shed body and liver fat and significantly improve your insulin sensitivity no matter if you eat your largest meal early or late in the day (Versteeg 2017— The notion that eating a large dinner will have negative health effects that are so potent that they can override the benefits of a caloric deficit has just been disproven (again) in a new RCT from the University of Amsterdam.

    The authors, R.I. Versteeg and colleagues, studied if there’s any truth to the hypothesis “that during weight loss, consuming most [of one’s energy intake] in the morning improves insulin sensitivity and reduces hepatic fat content more than consuming most [of the] energy in the evening” (Versteeg 2018). To this ends, they had twenty-three obese insulin-resistant men (age 59.9±7.9 years, body mass index 34.4±3.8 kg/m²) follow a 4-week hypocaloric diet intervention with either 50% of daily energy consumed in the morning (BF group) or evening (D group).

    Figure 2: Only the peripheral (e.g. muscle) insulin sensitivity saw a small, but non-significant benefit from meal timing – interestingly enough from having a large dinner, not a large breakfast (Versteeg 2018).

    Insulin sensitivity, measured with a two-step hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp using a glucose tracer, intrahepatic triglycerides (IHTG), measured using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and resting energy expenditure (REE) were assessed before and after the diet intervention and the results were … quite unambiguous, to be honest: It doesn’t make a difference – at least not a statistically significant one! Or, to be more specific:

    “Meal macronutrient composition and weight loss (6.5±1.5% vs 6.2±1.9%, respectively, P=0.70) did not differ between the BF and D groups. Endogenous glucose production (P⩽0.001), hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity (P=0.002; P=0.001, respectively) as well as IHTG [intrahepatic triglyceride = liver fat] content (P⩽0.001) all significantly improved with weight loss, but were not different between the BF and D groups. In addition, both groups decreased REE and respiratory quotient equally” (Versteeg 2017).

    In other words: Calories count more than timing and timing the lion’s share of your calories later in the day ain’t going to hurt your weight loss and health improvement efforts.

  • Cyclic dieting (2 weeks in a deficit, 2 weeks on maintenance) shows significant weight and, more importantly, fat loss benefits (Byrne 2017) — Intermittent fasting is all the rage, but what about “intermittent dieting” or as I would prefer to call it: cyclic dieting? That’s probably the question Byrne et al. had in mind when they came up with the subgroup design of the MATADOR study, in which fifty-one men with obesity were randomised to 16 weeks of either: (1) continuous (CON), or (2) intermittent (INT) ER completed as 8 × 2-week blocks of ER alternating with 7 × 2-week blocks of energy balance (30 weeks total).

    In that, it is important to note that both groups had their energy intake reduced to 67% of weight maintenance requirements when they were actively dieting. The total deficit over time was thus identical (assuming perfect adherence).

    The body weight, fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM) and resting energy expenditure (REE) data from the forty-seven participants who eventually participated in the study (the others dropped out as early as in the 4-week lead-in), revealed that…

    “weight loss was greater for INT (14.1±5.6 vs 9.1±2.9 kg; P<0.001). INT had greater FM loss (12.3±4.8 vs 8.0±4.2 kg; P<0.01), but FFM loss was similar (INT: 1.8±1.6 vs CON: 1.2±2.5 kg; P=0.4). Mean weight change during the 7 × 2-week INT energy balance blocks was minimal (0.0±0.3 kg). While reduction in absolute REE did not differ between groups (INT: -502±481 vs CON: −624±557 kJ d−1; P=0.5), after adjusting for changes in body composition, it was significantly lower in INT (INT: −360±502 vs CON: −749±498 kJ d−1; P<0.05)” (Byrne 2017).

    Stated simply: The subjects who had bi-weekly “refeeds”, which is how some of you may think of the maintenance phases, may not have preserved more muscle mass or higher metabolic rates (if you scrutinize figure 3, you’ll see that a residual effect existed on REE, though), …

    Figure 3: Changes (absolute) in weight, body composition and resting energy expenditure (in kcal per hour, adjusted for body comp.); p-values for treatment differences (CON vs. INT | Byrne 2017).

    but they lost more body fat!  Or, as the scientists put it: “Interrupting ER with energy balance ‘rest periods’ may reduce compensatory metabolic responses and, in turn, improve weight loss efficiency” (Byrne 2017).

Want to lose that blubber in a minimal amount of time? Diet like a bodybuilder and don’t forget to refeed, Ladies! A study I discussed three years ago shows that a more conventional “refeed”-ish dieting regimen provides major fat loss advantages, too | more

So what are the take-home messages? Some things matter, other don’t. The bacterial composition of your microbiome, or – as scientists would say – your enterotype, which has long been completely overlooked by scientists and dieters alike, does turn out to be the major determinant of the health benefits of what’s considered a healthy fiber-rich diet by many researchers.

The often-touted obesogenic and health-disrupting effects of gravitating towards having your largest meal in the PM is – at least in a dieting (=energy reduction) context and if weight + liver fat loss an improvements in glucose metabolism are the primary outcomes – irrelevant; a result that’s probably also relevant (needs separate studies, though) for people who skip breakfast and fast intermittently.

And, last but not least. “Cyclic dieting” or whatever you want to call the cycle of 8×2 weeks of dieting at 67% of your maintenance calories interspersed by 7×2 weeks at maintenance seem to support weight and, more specifically and importantly, fat loss, significantly.

So, just as promised: Three studies with practical relevance beyond obesity research. Stay tuned for more research updates in the weeks to come… ah, and let me know if you like the presence of links to the abstracts of papers in the SuppVersity article – usually I stick to references, only; is it worth spending the 3 extra-minutes to implement the links? | Comment!

  • Byrne, Nuala M., et al. “Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study.” International Journal of Obesity (2017).
  • Hjorth, M. F., et al. “Pre-treatment microbial Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, determines body fat loss success during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention.” International Journal of Obesity (2017).
  • Kang, Chao, et al. “Healthy subjects differentially respond to dietary capsaicin correlating with specific gut enterotypes.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 101.12 (2016): 4681-4689.
  • de Moraes, Ana CF, et al. “Enterotype may drive the dietary-associated cardiometabolic risk factors.” Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology 7 (2017): 47.
  • Roager, Henrik M., et al. “Microbial enterotypes, inferred by the prevotella-to-bacteroides ratio, remained stable during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention with the new nordic diet.” Applied and environmental microbiology 80.3 (2014): 1142-1149.
  • Zhou, Yingting, and Fachao Zhi. “Lower level of Bacteroides in the gut microbiota is associated with inflammatory bowel disease: a meta-analysis.” BioMed research international 2016 (2016).

Nutrient Timing Less, Cyclic Dieting & Baseline Microbiome More Important for Fat Loss – Nutrition Science News 02/18 syndicated from

Serial Loading: Stomach NaHCO3 and Benefit from Baking Soda’s Performance-Boosting Effect – 3×3g/Meal for 3 Days

You can sure get the cheap stuff from the supermarket, but if you realize it’s working for you, buying several kg in bulk costs hardly more than the packets on containers you will find in the baking section of your local grocery store.

For SuppVersity veterans, it’s no news that you can take your 0.3-0.5g/kg body weight of baking soda, i.e. NaHCO3 or sodium bicarbonate, spread across three days before an event and still see enormous benefits. I discussed this strategy and corresponding evidence in form of a study in trained cyclists as early as in 2012 (My, that’s more than 5 years ago… reminds me that I have been doing this for quite some time, now ;-).

In the meantime, I have repeatedly addressed the performance enhancing (and health) effects of bicarbonate, but … and that’s relevant for those of you who cannot stomach large(r) quantities of baking soda… 99% of the newer studies on performance are conducted with acute sodium bicarbonate dosing in the previously mentioned range of 0.3-0.5g/kg. If you weigh 75kg that’s the whopping amount of 37,5 grams of pure baking soda consumed within (usually) 60 minutes before a workout – you better make sure that this doesn’t give you the runs (which is, unfortunately, not exactly unlikely) before doing that during competitions.

You can learn more about bicarbonate and pH-buffers at the SuppVersity

Caffeine + Bicarb Make Champions

Alkaline Diet = Ergogenic

HIIT it Hard W/ NaCHO3

+100% Anaerobic Endurance

Bicarb Buffers Creatine

Instant 14% HIIT Boost

Serial loading may offer a way out of the diarrhea risk trap. Unlike in the previously cited 2012 study by Driller et al., the international research team (UK, AUS, ESP) who conducted the most recent serial loading study, studied the effects of bicarbonate serial loading in fifteen female university basketball players (23.3±3.4 years; 173.1±5.8 cm; 65.8±6.3 kg; 23.6±4.9% body fat).

Figure 1: Illustration of supplementation and exercise test (Delextrat 2018).

The participants ingested 0.4 g·kg-1 of body mass of sodium bicarbonate or placebo for 3 days (split into 3 equal daily doses), before completing a simulated basketball exercise. The scientists elaborate on that stating that they used the same stuff you may be using when you’re trying to avoid drinking the bicarbonate: they bought gelatin capsules (MyProtein gelatin caps, Cheshire, UK) and filled them with either NaHCO3 (Dr Oetker, Leyland, UK) or calcium carbonate (Sigma-Aldrich Co) and explain that they deliberately increased the minimum dosage for acute supplementation (0.3g/kg), significantly, i.e. to 0.4g/kg (not per day, but rather altogether). They also explain:

“Indeed, it has been recommended to use higher quantities than the 0.3 g/kg body mass commonly administered, while serial loading avoids the GI disturbances usually reported with such doses ingested acutely (Burke & Pyne, 2007 | free full-text on researchgate). In addition, capsules were preferred to powder to mask the taste of the substances ingested and allow blinding of the participants to the experimental conditions” (Delxtrat 2018).

Now what’s really interesting is that the scientists advised their subjects to consume the capsules not just spread across three days, but also in three equal amounts throughout the day (during breakfast, lunch, and dinner), with the last ingestion at 7pm on the day before the test.

No, you won’t miss out on nutrient digestion and die from a heart attack: Whatever you eat, it WILL ALWAYS increase your gastric pH significantly and a healthy tummy is well capable of – actually constructed to reacidify the chyme in no time (honestly, if you want to worry, worry that the meal interferes with the absorption of bicarbonate – well, ok, the study at hand shows, it doesn’t; at least not to a degree that would blunt the effects). And if you’re afraid of salt = high blood pressure, calm down and read Luft’s seminal paper on this issue – a paper that showed a reduction in blood pressure w/ NaHCO3. For both aspects, it must be said, though, that your individual response can always differ from that of Mr. and Mrs. Average.

During the supplementation period, participants also reported any gastrointestinal (GI) side effects on a 10-point Likert scale; sprint and circuit times, jump heights, performance decrements and gastrointestinal (GI) side effects were recorded during the test and blood lactate concentration was measured pre- and post-test.

Effects of 3-day bicarbonate loading on performance markers during a simulated basketball game (Delxtrat 2018).

As you can see in Figure 2 the regimen worked like a charm. With significant improvements in mean sprint time (s), mean circuit time (s), mean jump height (cm), ideal sprint time (s), total sprint time (s), and a sign. reduction in sprint performance decrement, the scientists recorded potentially game-changing (literally) performance increments.

So, NaHCO3 serial loading can increase performance, but what about GI stress? 

At least for those of you who have been avoiding bicarbonate supplementation because it gives you the runs, Anne Delextrat et al. have good news. The risk of diarrhea or other GI side effects was, after all, not just reduced – there were simply no side effects (at least none that weren’t observed with the placebo supplement, as well).

Planning to fry your legs? Ingest 0.3g/kg NaHCO3 before your workout!

So what’s the verdict, then? With dozens of positive studies, there’s little doubt that bicarbonate will improve your performance in high-intensity (not-ultra-short, like 1x1RM) exercise; and still, it has yet been used only by a minority of athletes. Why’s that? Well, you can ask toilets in gyms all around the world: GI stress.

With the study at hand being #2 on a list of very convincing (since well-done) studies on bicarbonate serial loading and the first to show that serial loading of sodium bicarbonate is effective for (ball based) team-sports such as basketball, I would expect that more and more people jump on the bicarbonate bandwagon.

And they’d have a good reason: it may not have doubled the subjects’ performance in the study at hand, but a significant improvement in repeated sprint and jump performance during competition is a performance benefit no pro-athlete should deny. What we do need, now, are (a) more studies in different athletes, and (b) long-term studies testing if the increased training performance would also faster/more complete adaptation to training “on NaHCO3” | Comment!


  • Burke, Louise M., and David B. Pyne. “Bicarbonate loading to enhance training and competitive performance.” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 2.1 (2007): 93-97.
  • Delextrat, Anne, et al. “Effects of 3-Day Serial Sodium Bicarbonate Loading on Performance and Physiological Parameters During a Simulated Basketball Test in Female University Players.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2018): 1-20.
  • Luft, Friedrich C., et al. “Sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride: effects on blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis in normal and hypertensive man.” Journal of hypertension 8.7 (1990): 663-670.

Serial Loading: Stomach NaHCO3 and Benefit from Baking Soda’s Performance-Boosting Effect – 3×3g/Meal for 3 Days syndicated from

Replacing CHO W/ Protein Won’t Impair Glycogen Resyn-thesis | Plus: RT+HIIT & Satellite Cells; BFR & Recovery

If that’s what your PWO meal looks like, you’re doing it right.

I am sorry it took me so long to complete the follow-up to last week’s article about the latest “recovery science” – my real job took a toll… in fact, I still have to hurry and will, therefore, skip a lengthy introduction that won’t add to the educative value of today’s article, anyway… the only thing I would like to say in advance is: I am going to do my best to decrease the interval between SuppVersity articles again.

Maybe it will comfort you to hear that there are five studies in today’s research update – five studies that are not all directly related to exercise recovery and yet still practically relevant for your training and nutrition planning (see “What’s the practical implication?” at the end of each bullet-point if you want to read only the gist(s)).

Learn more about building muscle and strength at

Acutely Increased Hormones Don’t Grow Muscle?

Alternating Squat & Blood Pressure – Productive?

Pre-Exhaustion Exhausts Your Growth Potential

Exercise not Intensity Variation for Max. Gains

Battle the Rope to Get Ripped & Strong

Study Indicates Cut the Volume Make the Gains!

Here are the topics of installment #2 of the recovery science research update January 2016 (click here to read the previous one):

  • Blood flow restriction late in recovery after heavy resistance exercise hampers muscle recuperation (Bunevicius 2018) — In view of the results of the latest study by scientists from the Lithuanian Sports University, you seem to be ill-advised to use BFR training and heavy training in one and the same workout… at least not alternatingly with BFR during inter-set rest periods as the results of the previously discussed 2015 study by Taylor may suggest.
    Due to methodological differences, the study at hand does not really contradict the results of the post-set BFR study by Taylor et al (learn more). What the study at hand does do, however, is to make us question the use of “intermittent BFR”, as you may want to call it, at a point in your workout where you haven’t yet completed all the high intensity sets.

    In their RCT the Lithuanian scientists investigated the effects of two bouts of one-leg dynamic plantar flexion exercise to failure with the load equivalent to 75% of maximum with and without high occlusion pressure (200mmHg) being applied for 15 minutes towards the end of a 20 minute period of passive recovery after the first and before the second bout.

    The subjects, amateur male middle- and long-distance runners, were randomly assigned into two experimental groups. In addition to the “passive rest”-only group, there was a third group of subjects who rested only 5 minutes before the retest.
    As the authors’ analysis of the data shows, the work capacity in the BFR group was significantly compromised in both groups, albeit to a different degree with a reduction of 10.5 ± 3.1%, BFR had a significantly more pronounced effect (vs. 9.3 ± 2.2% with 120 mmHg | p < 0.05) with 200 mmHg occlusion pressure.

    What’s the practical implication? In view of the potential negative impact of the reduced workload, it is possible, but by no means proven, that the adaptational response to the workout may suffer. Against that background, the more important message to remember may be the difference between the control groups, where the work capacity was restored after 20 min (− 3.9 ± 3.2%, p > 0.05) but not after 5-min recovery (− 20.0 ± 1.8%, p < 0.05). If you want to train at maximal workloads (and that appears to be one of the few things that are really affecting muscle gains), longer rest times seem to be beneficial.

Blood pressure (mmHg) of subjects in diff. body positions (Sieljacks ’18).

Speaking of BFR, … another recent study (Sieljacks 2018) shows that your individual body position during an exercise influences the arterial occlusion pressure. This has important implications for both scientists and practitioners who want to standardize the pressure during blood flow restricted exercise.

As you can see in Figure to the left, you will have to make up for the position (=seating) dependent increase in blood pressure. The relative difference between a wide and narrow cuff, on the other hand, is virtually identical in both positions.

  • Satellite cell activity is not impaired by a combination of resistance and HIIT training (Pugh 2018) — Satellite cells are “muscles to be”, I’ve written about them and their role in both skeletal muscle growth and repair in various contexts, before.
    Figure 1: Participant flow diagram. The dashed box indicates the participants who withdrew from the study (Pugh 2018)

    With Jamie K. Pugh, Steve H. Faulkner, Mark C. Turner, and Myra A. Nimmo’s latest paper in the European Journal of Applied Physiology (read it for free) focused on the individual response of these cells in middle-aged, sedentary, overweight/obese individuals – a segment of the society that is particularly prone to develop metabolic disease and sarcopenia, i.e. the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing.

    As previously hinted at, satellite cells will replace damaged myonuclei in your muscle and thus help maintain the structural integrity and function of your biceps, triceps, abs and all the other muscles in your body.

    In the study at hand, the researchers did now investigate if the proven ‘muscle maintaining’ effects of resistance training (here in form of 8 × 8 leg extensions at 70% 1RM), would persist, when the subjects did an additional, metabolically demanding and thus fitness improving HIIT (10 × 1 min at 90% HRmax on a cycle ergometer) protocol right after the leg extensions.

    Figure 2: Satellite cell content (Pax7+) before and 96 h after a single bout of resistance exercise (RE) versus resistance exercise and high-intensity interval training (RE + HIIT). a–d Representative images of muscle fiber type-specific Pax7 immunofluorescent staining. Merged images of a Pax7/DAPI/laminin/MHC I (green)/MHC II (red), and b Pax7/DAPI/laminin (red) are provided, with single channel views of c DAPI (blue) and d Pax7 (green). Arrow denotes a Pax7+ cell. Scale bar 20 µm. Pax7+ cells per e type I and f type II muscle fiber before and 96 h after resistance exercise in both trials. Symbols above lines denote differences when a main effect was observed. *P < 0.05 vs. Pre. Data presented as mean ± SEM (Pugh 2018).

    Muscle biopsies were collected from the vastus lateralis before and 96 h after the RE component to determine muscle fiber type-specific total (Pax7+ cells) and active (MyoD+ cells) satellite cell number using immunofluorescence microscopy; and here’s what they found:

    “Type-I-specific Pax7+ (P = 0.001) cell number increased after both exercise trials. Type-I-specific MyoD+ (P = 0.001) cell number increased after RE only. However, an elevated baseline value in RE + HIIT compared to RE (P = 0.046) was observed, with no differences between exercise trials at 96 h (P = 0.21). Type-II-specific Pax7+ and MyoD+ cell number remained unchanged after both exercise trials (all P ≥ 0.13)” (Pugh 2018).

    In other words, at least acutely there’s no evidence that a single HIIT session after ‘weights’ will interfere with the anti-sarcopenic satellite cell response to resistance training.

    Hitting it After Weights – There are downside, but Systemically Impaired Strength & Size Gains are a Myth | more

    What’s the practical implication? With conflicting results from previous research showing conflicting results, it should be clear that any single study won’t get concurrent training off the hook. There’s still the possibility of differences in long-term adaptation, but if you remember the last article in which I touched on the pros and cons of post-RT HIIT, you will also remember that its detrimental effects on protein synthesis and co. are probably overrated and the health-, fitness-, and body-composition-benefits of adding any form of endurance training to your regimen – ideally, obviously, on separate days – cannot be ignored.

Food for thought: The availability of water associated with glycogen during dehydration: a reservoir or raindrop? (King 2018) — Roderick F. G. J. King et al. authored an interesting paper in which they report the results of an experiment designed to find out, whether glycogen-associated water is a protected entity not subject to normal osmotic homeostasis. The answer to the initially rised question is: It’s a raindrop. In their paper, which is likewise available as open access, King et al. show that “glycogen-associated water does not appear to be a separate reservoir and is not able to uniquely replete water loss during dehydration.

Practically speaking this result may be of specific importance for “fat fuelled” athletes whose glycogen stores are – especially at the beginning of their fat-laden journey to full ketosis often depleted and the water content of the musculature reduced (for these athletes it’s obviously good news). Moreover, the results of the study at hand put a question mark behind the hypothesis that protected water could provide rehydration when hypohydrated, especially when water loss has occurred through sweat loss as it has been suggested by Maughan et al. (2007)… since the data King et al. present in the February issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology is based on in-vitro data, only, it would be, as the scientists write “worthwhile to consider approaches in vivo where accurate and precise osmotic pressure changes simultaneously with changes in cell glycogen and water were made”, but as King et al. rightly point out: “this would be difficult in humans” (King 2018).

  • Dairy protein does not significantly effect post-workout glycogen recovery (Cogan 2018) — Since we have already been talking about glycogen, it may be worth to end this research summary with a study addressing the recovery of glycogen stores post-workout.

    As a SuppVersity reader you will remember that plain milk can easily compete with special sports drinks like Gatorade, when it comes to its ability to restore muscular glycogen levels after a workout. With milk being a mix of both carbohydrates (which are obviously important to max out the glycogen recovery) and protein it was thus not unreasonable of Cogan et al. to assume that combining both, i.e. carbohydrate (CHO) and dairy protein in form of either sodium caseinate protein (CHO–C) or a sodium caseinate protein hydrolysate (CHO–H) could have a beneficial effect the post-workout glycogen recovery of trained male cyclists [n = 11, mean ± SEM age 28.8 ± 2.3 years; body mass 75.0 ±2.3 kg; VO2peak 61.3 ±1.6 ml kg/min].

    Figure 2: Glycogen concentrations and rates of glycogen resynthesis following 2 h of aerobic exercise (~ 70%VO2peak) after 4 h of recovery. a Mean (±SEM) muscle glycogen concentration at baseline, and +0 and + 4 h or recovery following the ingestion of carbohydrate (CHO); or isoenergetic drinks containing CHO and intact sodium caseinate (CHO–C); or CHO and hydrolysed sodium caseinate (CHO–H | Cogan 2018).

    And, in fact, in view of the fact that the “CHO+”-treatments contained lower amounts of CHO (1.04 and 0.16 g kg/BM) than the CHO-only treatment (1.2 g kg/BM) there must have been a small improvement in the relative efficacy (i.e. amount ingested per increase in glycogen content) of the carbs in the recovery drinks the subjects were served +0 and +2h after having cycled for 2h at ~ 70% VO2peak.

    Figure 3: Plasma amino acid concentrations during 4-h recovery. Mean (±SEM) for (a) total, (b) EAA, and (c) BCAA plasma amino acids during 4-h recovery (n=10 | Cogan 2018)

    In addition, the combination of carbohydrates and protein produced a significant hyperaminoacedemic state (=elevated total, EAA and BCAA levels in the blood | see Figure 3) that went hand in hand with potentially gain-relevant increases in regulators of post-workout protein synthesis (the actual fractional synthesis rates weren’t measured, by the way).

    Noteworthy SV Classic: Post-Workout Coffee Boosts Glycogen Repletion by Up to 30% and May Even Have Sign. Glucose Partitioning Effects | more

    What’s the practical implication? At first sight, the study seems to fail to add any practical tools to your evidence-based training toolbox, but if you come to think about it, the message that “protein co-ingestion, compared to CHO alone, during recovery did not augment glycogen resynthesis” (Cogan 2018) is not disappointing, but rather in support of replacing some of your PWO carbs with dairy proteins. Why’s that? Well, you won’t miss out on glycogen recovery and will, at the same time, improve your hypertrophy potential due to the significant increases in phospho-mTOR Ser2448 and 4EBP1 Thr37/46 versus CHO only.

    In this context, it is probably also worth considering that even if (a) both forms of casein used in the study at hand are fast-digesting (only micellar casein clumps and is thus slow-digesting), the hydrolyzed version of the dairy protein produced the greatest increase in markers of post-workout anabolism (and slightly higher insulin levels)  the casein hydrolysate was both

That’s it for today, and I hope that I will have more time for regular updates in the weeks to come – sorry for the recent delays and reduced number of posts on both, this website, i.e., and the Facebook news-page | Comment on Facebook!
  • Bunevicius, Kestutis, et al. “Blood flow restriction late in recovery after heavy resistance exercise hampers muscle recuperation.” European journal of applied physiology 118.2 (2018): 313-320.
  • Cogan, Karl E., et al. “Co-ingestion of protein or a protein hydrolysate with carbohydrate enhances anabolic signaling, but not glycogen resynthesis, following recovery from prolonged aerobic exercise in trained cyclists.” European journal of applied physiology (2017): 1-11.
  • King, Roderick FGJ, Ben Jones, and John P. O’Hara. “The availability of water associated with glycogen during dehydration: a reservoir or raindrop?.” European journal of applied physiology 118.2 (2018): 283-290.
  • Maughan, Ronald J., Susan M. Shirreffs, and John B. Leiper. “Errors in the estimation of hydration status from changes in body mass.” Journal of sports sciences 25.7 (2007): 797-804.
  • Pugh, Jamie K., et al. “Satellite cell response to concurrent resistance exercise and high-intensity interval training in sedentary, overweight/obese, middle-aged individuals.” European journal of applied physiology 118.2 (2018): 225-238.
  • Sieljacks, Peter, et al. “Body position influences arterial occlusion pressure: implications for the standardization of pressure during blood flow restricted exercise.” European journal of applied physiology 118.2 (2018): 303-312.

Replacing CHO W/ Protein Won’t Impair Glycogen Resyn-thesis | Plus: RT+HIIT & Satellite Cells; BFR & Recovery syndicated from

Steam Inhalation Basics

Stuffy-headClear your head!

Steam inhalation for sinus congestion coughs, or stuffy nose is very effective.
To get great results, all you need is:

  1. Hot water
  2. A bowl
  3. A towel
  4. One drop of essential oil.

Watch the video below for simple steam inhalation instructions:


Steam Inhalation is Simple!

This is a great way to stay healthy during cold and flu season. Take a few minutes 2-3 times a week for a steam inhalation to support the health of your respiratory tract. It’s quick and effective!

Essential oils for steam inhalation

  • Eucalyptus globulous  (for people over 10 only)
  • Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

There are other essential oils, I’m just giving you the ones that I like to use. If you are brand new to essential oils and steam inhalation, start with one of these three. Experiment, notice your experience, and then try other essential oils.  Remember, all you need is one drop – a little goes a long way!

Acupressure Points for Sinus Congestion

Caring for ourselves naturally is even better when we combine different approaches. When I have a stuffy nose or sinus congestion, I use steam inhalations and acupressure.  Now that you have mastered steam inhalations, go check out acupressure points to relieve sinus congestion.



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Top 6 Home Workouts

I wanted to share the top 6 home workouts based on your interest as well as the evolution of this website.

I have created A LOT of workouts over the years; it’s something I love to do. You can revisit home workouts or gym workouts that I have created in this space. Additionally, I have prenatal workouts for expecting mamas!

In an effort to design training plans that meet your demands, I’d love to hear about your favorite workouts or exercises as I’m creating a NEW training plan.

Top 6 Home Workouts to do NOW

1. Full Body Dumbbell Workout

I did this one with two kids runnings around, so hopefully you can make it work too. Exercise demos here.

2. No Equipment Countdown Workout

I’m a fan of the descending ladder in many forms! You can see the entire post here.

3. 600 Reps Kettlebell Workout

This count down is a burner. Check out the exercises here.

4. Dirty 30 No Equipment Workout

I’m thinking of creating another version of this one that’s equally challenging!

5. Beginner Workout Routine

Everyone starts at a different place. Or, maybe life got in the way, and we need to find out way back. Start with this routine.

6. Running + Strength Workout

You can definitely adjust the distance based on your goals. One mile is loooooong for me nowadays!

What is your favorite home workout from Blonde Ponytail Fitness?

The post Top 6 Home Workouts appeared first on Blonde Ponytail.

Top 6 Home Workouts syndicated from