Do athletes really need protein supplements?

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Protein supplements for athletes are literally sold by the bucketful. The marketing that accompanies them persistently promotes the attainment of buff biceps and six-pack abs.

In 2014, the protein supplement market in Australia was valued at A$545 million dollars, and is predicted to keep growing by about 10% per year. But do athletes really need them?

First, let’s consider what protein is and why we need it. Protein is an essential macronutrient in the diet. This means it provides energy to fuel the body but also has structural properties.

Protein is formed by smaller units called amino acids. Amino acids are used by the body to make muscle and other essential body proteins that are used in the immune system, and also to regulate many of the processes in the body.

Protein and amino acids indirectly affect performance by building muscle to improve performance. There is little evidence to suggest consuming extra protein directly aids physical performance in either endurance or resistance exercise.

Protein is fairly ubiquitous in the diet – it can come from animal sources (fish, meat, offal, eggs and dairy), and in smaller amounts from vegetable sources (cereals and legumes).

How much protein do we need?

Protein requirements for Australians are based on our life stage and gender. The estimated average requirement for an adult aged 19-70 is 0.68g per kilo of body weight for women and 0.75g per kilo of body weight for men. This means a 65kg woman will need about 45g of protein per day. An 80kg man will need about 60g a day.

Athletes need more protein as they are building and/or repairing muscle as well as connective tissue. Their requirements are two to three times the amount of protein as normal people, or between 1.4-2g per kilo of body weight per day.

This is a large range, allowing variation for the sort of sport they play. An elite endurance male may be in the lower range, as they have a smaller body frame and less musculature. A power sportsman, such as an AFL player, would require more.

Are we getting enough?

A 2011-12 survey found most Australians were consuming about double the recommended intake of protein per day. Almost all (99%) Australians met or surpassed the required intake.

Evidence also indicates most athletes consume enough, and often more, protein than they require.

But actually it’s the timing of consuming the protein that is most important to building muscle. After any sort of exercise or performance activity that results in muscle resistance, the muscle has to be rebuilt. For maximal synthesis to occur there needs to be adequate levels of amino acids circulating in the blood. It’s been determined that, to achieve this, around 20-30g of protein must be consumed within 1-4 hours after exercise.

This doesn’t mean you need to down a protein shake as soon as you leave the gym. If you’re having a meal within this time frame, you can consume the 20-30g in that meal (which most people would anyway). This amount of protein from animal sources includes enough of the critical amino acid, leucine, that is needed for muscle resynthesis.

This is the equivalent of 120g of beef or chicken, three whole eggs, 70g of reduced fat cheddar cheese or 600ml of skim milk. However if we look at plant-based foods, you would need the equivalent of seven slices of bread, 350g of kidney beans or lentils, or 900ml of soya milk.

So does anyone need protein supplements?

There may be situations where an athlete is travelling or can’t access a meal within a few hours of their training session. So they could either snack on one of the foods listed above, or take a protein supplement. Protein supplements will usually be lower in kilojoules, so if an athlete is on a kilojoule-restricted diet they’ll get more bang for their buck from a protein supplement.

But of course protein supplements don’t have the other nutrients that natural foods contain, such as iron and zinc from red meat, calcium from dairy, or omega-3 fatty acids from fish.

Additionally, one needs to weigh up the risk of potential contamination with banned substances like anabolic agents, stimulants, and diuretics. This may be intentional by the producer (as their product will appear to be more effective in building muscle) or accidental due to an error in the manufacturing process or using ingredients that may have been contaminated.

Analytical studies have also shown there may be contamination with the heavy metals lead, mercury and arsenic. The other consideration for the athlete is the impact on the hip pocket and environment.

Is there any harm in taking extra protein?

The question of “protein overdose” partially depends on exactly how much extra protein is being consumed. We can be reasonably confident levels up to 2-3g per kilo of body weight per day (so around 200g for a 75kg person) have no health risk. But there has always been concern higher levels of protein may accelerate underlying kidney disease (particularly if there is a family history) leading to a progressive loss of kidney capacity.

Athletes and weekend warriors should exercise caution if they’re considering intakes of protein beyond 2-3g per kilo of body weight per day. In these situations, athletes should seek advice from an accredited sports dietitian.

Article Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-athletes-protein-supplements.html

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What Are Normal Testosterone Levels in Men?

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As a society, we tend to place a lot of significance on certain words. The word “normal” is one of them. With that in mind, one of the most often asked questions in the field of men’s health is “what are normal testosterone levels in men?” Both the media and health professionals are capitalizing on this question by talking about “low T” and urging men to turn to hormone replacement therapy to boost their testosterone levels.

But before men should even consider taking steps to raise their testosterone levels (which can be done in a number of natural ways), we return to the basic question: what are normal testosterone levels in men? Here is the not-so-simple answer.

 

What are the forms of testosterone?

First of all, there is more than one form of testosterone:

  • One is bonded with sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which is the most common type and makes up about 65 percent of total testosterone. The testosterone attached to SHBG typically cannot be separated from the hormone, so this T is not considered to be bioavailable. Testosterone that is bioavailable is the form that is used by the body.
  • One is bonded to the protein albumin, making up about 35 percent of your total testosterone. This testosterone is considered to be potentially bioavailable because it can be “coaxed” away from the protein.
  • One is free, which means it is not attached to any protein. Free testosterone makes up about 2 percent of total T and is the form that is completely bioavailable to be used by the body. Free testosterone travels throughout the bloodstream and can bind to receptors in the muscles, brain, and other organs.

Getting your testosterone levels checked

After you undergo the simple blood test that measures your testosterone levels, your doctor will give you the results represented by three different numbers:

  • Total testosterone. This represents the total amount of testosterone that is circulating throughout your body, so it includes both types of bonded T plus free T
  • Bioavailable T, which consists of testosterone attached to albumin plus free T
  • Free T

Now comes the complicated part. The definition of “normal” testosterone varies, depending on the expert and the testing lab used. The good news is that there are general guidelines for “normal” testosterone. Here are the generally accepted normal ranges of total, free, and bioavailable T, given in nanograms of testosterone per deciliter (ng/dL) for different age groups:

Total T:

  • 240 to 950 ng/dL for men age 19 years and older

Free T:

  • 5.05 to 19.8 ng/dL for men 25 to 29
  • 4.86 to 19.0 ng/dL for ages 30 to 34
  • 4.65 to 18.1 ng/dL for ages 35 to 39
  • 4.46 to 17.1 ng/dL for ages 40 to 44
  • 4.28 to 16.4 ng/dL for ages 45 to 49
  • 4.06 to 15.6 ng/dL for ages 50 to 54
  • 3.87 to 14.7 ng/dL for ages 55 to 59
  • 3.67 to 13.0 ng/dL for ages 60 to 64
  • 3.47 to 13.0 ng/dL for ages 65 to 69
  • 3.28 to 12.2 ng/dL for ages 70 to 74

Bioavailable T:

  • 83 to 257 ng/dL for men 20 to 29
  • 72 to 235 ng/dL for men 30 to 39
  • 61 to 213 ng/dL for men 40 to 49
  • 50 to 190 ng/dL for men 50 to 59
  • 40 to 168 ng/dL for men 60 to 69

No ranges have been determined for men age 70 and older. Clinically low total testosterone levels are recognized as less than 220 to 300 ng/dL.

Bottom line on normal testosterone levels in men

Here is the bottom line when it comes to answering the question, what are normal testosterone levels in men.

  • The range of “normal” is wide, which accommodates the fact that every man’s needs are different.
  • While men’s total testosterone level can be within the normal range, their free T levels can be low, which can result in symptoms of low T.
  • The testosterone level men should be most interested is in the bioavailable number. If men can boost their bioavailable testosterone level, they should expect an increase in energy, sex drive, and muscle strength as well as better mood and well-being.

Article Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-are-normal-testosterone-levels-in-men_us_5968d687e4b06a2c8edb45e9

Written By: Craig Cooper

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Hormone imbalance may explain higher diabetes rates in sleep-deprived men

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Studies have found an association between insufficient sleep and the development of insulin resistance, one of the factors that cause type 2 diabetes, and now researchers have discovered a biological reason for this relationship, at least in men: an imbalance between their testosterone and cortisol hormones. The study results will be presented Sunday at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.

“Our highly controlled sleep study showed that even one night of restricted sleep can cause insulin resistance and that we can dampen this effect by controlling levels of these two important hormones,” said senior investigator Peter Y. Liu, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., a professor of medicine with the Los Angeles Biomedical (LA BioMed) Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, Calif.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body does not properly use the hormone insulin. Testosterone is the main anabolic, or muscle-building, hormone, whereas cortisol—often called the “stress hormone”—helps catabolism, or breaking down energy and fat stores for use, Liu explained. Past research shows that sleep loss reduces a man’s testosterone levels and increases cortisol levels.

Liu and his fellow researchers conducted five nights of sleep studies in 34 healthy men with an average age of 33. They controlled what the subjects ate and how much they slept, giving them 10 hours of sleep the first night and restricting them to four hours of sleep the remaining nights. The study received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Clinical and Translational Research Center at LA BioMed.

In this “crossover” study, the men served as their own controls. In one series of sleep studies, they received three medications: ketoconazole, which switches off the body’s production of testosterone and cortisol; testosterone gel; and oral hydrocortisone, a synthetic form of cortisol. The doses of testosterone and hydrocortisone were in the midrange of levels that the body normally produces, according to Liu. This arm of the study was called a dual “clamp” because it stopped the body’s production of these two hormones and then gave them a fixed amount of the hormones, thus clamping levels in a normal hormonal balance, he said.

In another set of experiments, the men received inactive placebos that matched the medications. The order of when they received the clamp and the placebo was random, with a two-week interval between the study conditions. The morning after the first and last nights of each part of the study, all men took the oral glucose tolerance test, in which they gave blood samples while fasting and again after drinking a sugary drink. This test result allowed the researchers to calculate each man’s insulin resistance using standard measures, including the Matsuda Index.

After sleep restriction, this index reportedly showed greater insulin resistance with both the clamp and the placebo. However, Liu said this increase was significantly dampened, or less severe, with the dual-clamp, demonstrating that testosterone and cortisol reduced the negative effects of sustained sleep restriction on insulin resistance.

“Maintaining hormonal balance could prevent metabolic ill health occurring in individuals who do not get enough sleep,” he said. “Understanding these hormonal mechanisms could lead to new treatments or strategies to prevent insulin resistance due to insufficient sleep.”

Article Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-hormone-imbalance-higher-diabetes-sleep-deprived.html

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