Blood lactate testing for speed athletes; sprinters to endurance, has been used successfully for at least the last 20 years.
However, there is not much written about it for an athlete on a ketogenic low-carb diet.
This article will attempt to answer some questions and lay a framework for a ketogenic low-carb athlete to consider using blood lactate to improve performance through proper training of the two main energy fuel systems.
The Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride ending with a 26.2-mile marathon run. What went on from the very instant I decided to attempt it to finally finishing the race taught me more than I could have ever learned from a college degree of study.
“It was like anything that has ever been worthwhile in my life; it was hard, painful and memorable.” Michael Lantz
It was like anything that has ever been worthwhile in my life; it was hard, painful and memorable. I learned a great deal about the conflict of my body hurting and wanting to stop and my mind playing tricks on me, tempting me to quit.
If I had to sum up the top three things I learned about myself it would include these.
I learned that my level of commitment is equal to the importance I place on my goals and dreams. When I decided to do my first Ironman on April 15, 2007, I was all in. I was not going to let anything get in the way of crossing that finish line.
Would you rather pay for protein and have it 13.5% utilized or 81%? How about getting results in the gym that would blow you away? What’s the Net Protein Utilization of your protein source? What would happen to your lean muscle if you could make your protein 600% more effective?
Protein is something all of us need.
According to IsagenixHealth.net leading nutrition researchers have outlined how protein improves appetite, manages a healthy body weight, reduces cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, and increases dietary compliance in a recent review paper (1).
In this overview of the literature, scientists from the U.S., Australia, and Denmark explored how diets based on properly dosed, high-quality protein sources improve health.
Here’s what they found:
Metabolic and Appetite Advantage
Management of Healthy Weight
Higher-protein diets based around quality and sound nutrition work on multiple levels. I have been recommending a daily protein intake between 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram per pound of body weight (0.55 to 0.75 grams per pound) and about 20 to 40 grams per meal (depending on the individual) in conjunction with high-powered nutrition since inception. The amount of high-quality protein per meal found in Isagenix products is meant for sustained and real lasting results. Indeed, over the long term, higher-protein diets don’t just help with losing weight; they improve health and prevent unwanted weight regain (1).
Not All Protein is the Same
In order to establish the amount of protein that is actually used in the body lets understand net protein utilization.
According to Wikipedia, the net protein utilization, or NPU, is the ratio of amino acid converted to proteins to the ratio of amino acids supplied. This figure is somewhat affected by the salvage of essential amino acids within the body, but is profoundly affected by the level of limiting amino acids within a foodstuff. Nitrogen is a fundamental component of amino acids, which are the molecular building blocks of protein. Therefore, measuring nitrogen inputs and losses can be used to study protein metabolism.
All protein is not the same. There are factors that reduce the quality of all food including protein. According to Jones and Erdmann “Unfortunately, in the real world countless factors are working to prevent our bodies from receiving a full and balanced supply of these all-important substances. Among these factors are the pollution caused by burning fossil-fuels, the hormones fed to cattle, the intensive use of fertilizers in agriculture, and even habits such as smoking and drinking, all of which can prevent our bodies from fully using what we eat. Worse still is the amount of nutrition that is lost from our food through processing before we actually get to eat it…By providing the body with optimal nutrition, amino acids help to replace what is lost and, in doing so, promote well-being and vitality.(4)”
Essential Amino Acids
Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body’s proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.
The 10 amino acids that we can produce are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well. The essential amino acids are arginine (required for the young, but not for adults), histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids are required in the diet. Plants, of course, must be able to make all the amino acids. Humans, on the other hand, do not have all the the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of all of the amino acids.
From the chart below you see how different proteins are compared. Pay attention to Net Protein Utilization.
Understanding the Amount of Amino Acids that Promote Body Protein Synthesis (BPS)
Lets follow whey protein through the process. Once you consume it the dietary protein is digestible, when it is enzymatically hydrolyzed during the digestive tract thus releasing its constituent amino acids in the first 100 cm of the small intestine, where they are absorbed. Then, those amino acids can follow either the anabolic or the catabolic pathway. The percentage of digestible protein is Net Protein Utilization (NPU) which for whey protein is 92%.
Once in the small intestine it is either used to promote BPS, their primary function, or removed as toxic waste. The portion that follows the anabolic pathway can be used for BPS. The portion that follows the catabolic pathway can not provide BPS. The ratio of amino acids that can provide BPS is called Net Nitrogen Utilization (NNU).
Whey protein generally has an NNU of about 15%, i.e., 15% follows the anabolic pathway and 85% follows the catabolic pathway. If the NNU increased the BPS would also increase. That would be highly desirable.
The method to increase the shake’s NNU was tested by Dr. Marco Ruggiero (see bio below). He discovered with the use of hydrolysis and an electron microscope that using the Isagenix Isalean Shake with the method described in the video could increase the NNU from 15% to 90%!!!!! According to Dr. Ruggiero, the Isagenix IsaLean shake as formulated by John Anderson’s patented process is the best he has ever tested. He indicated that Mr. Anderson’s method of preparing the New Zealand whey protein preserves its natural enzymes in a way no other formulator has ever been able to duplicate. He indicated that this method shown in the video will probably not come close to yielding the following results with any other whey protein shake on the market other than the Isagenix’s IsaLean Shake.
Before the discovery:
Net protein utilization (NPU) (90%) X Net NNU (15%) = 13.5%
Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A et al. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015;ajcn084038.
Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tome D, Soenen S, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition 2009;29:21-41.
Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2004;23:373-85.
Erdmann, R. & Jones , M., (1987) The Amino Revolution, First Fireside Edition, p2.
Dr. Marco Ruggiero Bio
Dr. Marco Ruggiero is a rare talent; with credentials as both a PHD in Molecular Biology and a certified Medical Doctor, specializing in Clinical Radiology. He is undoubtedly in the top echelon in both fields and he somehow manages to split time between developing cutting edge research in the lab, while maintaining the highest level of treating, caring for and diagnosing patients at the bedside. Ruggiero has always felt it was equally important to not only develop medical advancements and miraculous, scientific breakthroughs in the lab, but to also see them come to fruition at the bedside. Formulating the work he does behind the scenes is just as important to Dr. Ruggiero as seeing the improvements in his patient’s quality of life. Dr. Marco Ruggiero is truly a gift to humanity.
Dr. Ruggiero graduated in 1980 from The University of Firenze in Italy and earned his MD status. Soon after graduation, he joined the Military and with his high intelligence, he cut his teeth on atomic, biological and chemical warfare. Truly, these were not subjects for the faint of heart. He began traveling in 1982 and landed in Houston Texas where he was fortunate to study under Nobel Prize winning scientists in Physiology and Medicine. One of the Nobel Prize winning scientists that Dr. Ruggiero studied under, Sir. John Vane took notice of some of the research Ruggiero was compiling and offered to sponsor his first paper for publication. This was the beginning of a thirty plus year career for Dr. Ruggiero as one of the leading authorities in the scientific and medical world. One of his first major revelations focused on the past failures as to how viruses were being fought. Dr. Ruggiero was a major catalyst in changing the scientific community’s focus away from the virus and instead addressing the immune system first and foremost.
In his 30-year career, Dr. Ruggiero’s work has not gone unnoticed. He has had over 150 papers published in the world’s most prestigious, peer reviewed scientific journals. As of December, 22nd 2015, Dr. Ruggiero now has two published, peer reviewed papers that reside in the top 5% of all scientific papers ever published. Dr. Marco Ruggiero currently resides in Chandler Arizona with his wife, Stefania Pacini, MD. They continue to turn the scientific and medical communities upside down with their cutting edge research and development of nutritional technologies, which help facilitate natural healing within the body.
For more information on Dr. Ruggiero’s latest project, visit Bravousa.com
Do I need more protein if I’m a bodybuilder? Do I need less protein if I’m a marathon runner? These are valid questions, as athletes participating in various activities manipulate their intakes of carbohydrates, fat, and protein differently to achieve their goals. The simple answer is that protein is key in optimizing the performance of all types of athletes and anyone who exercises, offering numerous advantages when consumed at levels above the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Some studies even show that athletes can benefit from as much as twice the RDA (1).
Athletes can be categorized into three main groups based on the goals associated with their chosen activities: endurance athletes, high-intensity athletes, and strength athletes. Endurance athletes include those who participate in activities requiring stamina, such as distance runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. High-intensity athletes compete in activities that require short, intense bursts of energy focusing on technique, lasting from seconds to only a few minutes. Such athletes include sprinters, volleyball players, and gymnasts. Like high-intensity athletes, strength athletes also engage in activities that require short bursts of energy. However, their primary goal is to attain strength and muscle mass rather than honing a sport-specific skill. The term strength athlete is synonymous with bodybuilder.
Protein has been shown to boost performance among the three categories of athletes in the following ways:
1. Endurance Athletes
Endurance athletes engage in low to medium intensity activities that elevate the heart rate for prolonged periods. To generate the energy needed to sustain low intensity exercise over a long duration, the body mainly uses the aerobic system—a system relying on the cardiovascular system to supply oxygen to the muscle. Improving endurance in athletes demands optimizing aerobic energy production, improving cardiovascular fitness, and maximizing the ability of muscle fibers to contract.
Historically, much more attention has been paid to carbohydrates in maximizing endurance than protein. “Carb-loading” is a popular dietary strategy used by endurance athletes to improve performance, and involves eating foods high in starch prior to events in an effort to maximize muscle glycogen. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate that can be used by the aerobic system to supply muscles with energy. With importance placed on carbohydrate consumption in endurance activities, protein is often pushed to the wayside. Many myths regarding protein intake have circulated among endurance athletes, such as the idea that high protein intake will cause bulky muscle gains that hinder efficiency, or that high protein intake is of greater relevance to strength athletes.
However, strength and endurance athletes each have similar protein needs, with the only difference being how the body uses the protein in relation to different training regimens. While the protein consumed by strength athletes is primarily used to build muscle, it is used by endurance athletes for muscle repair and other functions related to the effects of prolonged training. Because protein improves endurance performance in a variety of ways, false beliefs resulting in low protein intake are detrimental to the athlete.
2. High-intensity Athletes
High-intensity athletes seek to perfect technique and train their muscles to perform the powerful functional movements necessary to their sport. They engage in activity that consists of repeated bouts of short intense exercise. Such activity draws on the anaerobic system to make energy.
In contrast to the aerobic system, the anaerobic system is able to make muscle energy in the absence of oxygen. Although this system is able to rapidly produce the energy needed to drive intense bursts of activity, it cannot be relied upon for extended periods of time—less than a 2 minute maximum.
The primary goal of high-intensity athletes is to improve performance by perfecting technique and increasing speed, strength, and agility. This requires developing muscle memory for optimally performing a sport-specific movement. It also requires increasing the speed and force with which a muscle contracts, optimizing the lean muscle to fat ratio, and raising the anaerobic threshold. Supplying the body with adequate protein is essential for improving the performance of high-intensity athletes, as protein plays a key role in muscular development and fat loss, and may even beneficially influence factors that affect the anaerobic system.
Protein is the primary substrate used by muscle to achieve the optimal physical adaptations that enhance high-intensity performance. Following a strenuous workout, the body is very sensitive to the effects of protein in stimulating muscle synthesis. Eating protein during the post-exercise period promotes the synthesis of new muscle fiber proteins and an increase in contractile muscle proteins, resulting in greater strength and speed (2).
3. Strength Athletes
Strength athletes share the same goal as high-intensity athletes in improving strength, but they place a particular emphasis on aesthetics, seeking to achieve optimal muscular proportion while maximizing muscle size and definition.
Because lifting weights primes the muscles for growth, resistance training is the central component in the work-out regimen of the strength athlete. Like high-intensity athletes, strength athletes draw on the anaerobic system to get the energy they need to fuel their grueling resistance workouts. High protein intake has always been a central component of the dietary strategy used by strength athletes, as they have long recognized its value in promoting muscle synthesis.
In addition, the beneficial effects of protein in promoting fat loss and preserving muscle is extremely important to strength athletes, who desire a particularly high lean muscle to fat ratio in achieving their aesthetic goals. Although all athletes will benefit from using dietary strategies to maximize muscular development and body composition, this is particularly important to strength athletes.
Timing, Type, and Source of Protein for Any Athlete
Following intense exercise, the body is very sensitive to the effects of protein in provoking muscle synthesis. Studies suggest that there is an optimal window during which maximal benefits can be derived from eating protein. Most experts agree that protein eaten close to the end of a workout provides the greatest benefit, especially within an hour after finishing exercise. However, some benefit has even shown to be derived up to 2 hours post-exercise (1, 3).
An optimal amount of protein is needed to maximally stimulate muscle growth. Studies have shown that a dose of about 18 to 40 grams (depending on body weight, age, and workout length and type) is necessary to trigger muscle synthesis, although no greater benefit is derived from consuming amounts above this level in one sitting (2).
To optimize muscle growth and repair throughout the day, studies suggest that several meals consisting of about 30 grams of protein each should be eaten throughout the day (3).
Whey protein, derived from milk, is superior to other protein sources for promoting muscle growth and repair. It is absorbed faster than either casein or soy protein and is higher in BCAAs, ultimately leading to greater muscle synthesis (1, 3). In addition, its high leucine content serves as a trigger for muscle growth. Whey is also the most satiating protein, helping achieve fat loss and an improved body composition.
With the numerous advantages conferred by protein, and whey in particular, incorporating this macronutrient into a dietary and training plan will help any athlete get a leg up on the competition:
Whey is classified as a fast-absorbing protein. It is absorbed faster to maximize peak muscle growth for high-intensity and strength athletes.
Compared to other protein sources, whey is higher in BCAAs. BCAAs serve as a trigger for muscle growth after resistance training exercise.
Whey protein enhances recovery after exercise because it elicits a higher insulin response that speeds up glycogen resynthesis.
Enhanced recovery from whey protein enables greater training volume to support increased muscle growth or more frequent training.
Whey protein stimulates greater fat oxidation following a test meal compared to other protein sources like casein or soy.
Although the goals and training techniques used to improve performance varies by athlete, protein has unanimous benefits among all athletes and exercisers of any kind and should be a central component of any good dietary strategy.
Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-S38.
Cribb PJ, Hayes A. Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006 Nov;38:1918-25. Doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000233790.08788.3e
Phillips SM, Tang JE, Moore DR. The role of milk- and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons.J Am Coll Nut. 2009 Aug;28:343-54.