NSCA National Conference 2011 Review - Part 2
July 31 2011
Here is the second part of my review of the NSCA National Conference. To read the first part, click here
Dr. Dan Bernadot
Dr. Bernadot is a Professor of Nutrition and the Director of the laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance at Georgia University. Dan’s presentation was titled “Within Day energy Balance for Better Weight, Body Composition, and performance”.
Dr. Dan talked about the issue of meal frequency - how many times you have to eat in a day to improve body composition. From what I have read, eating more frequently do not raise your metabolic rate or improve your body composition, though every fitness magazine swears that eating 6-8 times a day raises your metabolism. So I was very interested in looking at his references.
His first major study was an observational study done on elite gymnasts and runners. The study was based on self reporting and showed that the larger the energy deficit (in both frequency and /or magnitude), the higher the body fat. Keep in mind that this study is based on self reporting, the correlation coefficient was less than .50, and was studied on a population notorious for eating disorders and menstrual problems. It is hard to conclude anything more than a weak association between the frequency of food intake and body fat from this study.
Now for an experimental study with a control group –at least that’s what I thought from the slide. But the study was just a poster presentation and never got published. And the study did not study the frequency of meals, it only looked to see if a caloric surplus affected body composition in athletes. And, as expected, it did in a positive manner.
In fact, there are a few studies which have showed increase in lean body mass (or decrease in muscle loss) with lower meal frequency compared to a higher frequency. But the studies used BIA to measure body composition. In short, it seems like we do not have any strong evidence to show that a higher meal frequency helps lose weight or maintain muscle mass better than a lower meal frequency.
The second part of Dan’s presentation involved a dietitian talking about meal plans and recipes and how you can ‘make’ your athletes eat 6 times a day. Considering how college students have a hard time finding time or motivation to prepare and eat meals, strong recommendations like these need some strong evidence to be justified. If you can control your appetite better with 3 meals a day and hate taking the time to eat 6-8 meals (and most do), there is no convincing data to tell you otherwise.
Dr. Jeffrey Stout
Dr. Stout is an Associate Professor and the Director of Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory in the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Stout presentation was titled “Nutritional Supplement Approaches to Male Athletes”.
This was a good presentation: He had all the relevant studies and he narrowed his presentation from acute to long term studies. In the acute studies, he showed how a carb-protein supplement showed lower cortisol levels and lower muscle damage (creatine kinase). He also had some data showing how protein-carb supplement increase endurance performance, time to fatigue and decrease muscle damage. By the way, I am yet to see a endurance athlete talk about post workout nutrition.
For long term benefits, he showed a couple of studies which showed an increase in muscle and strength. He also talked about creatine and how creatine shows an increase in strength and muscle. It wasn’t anything ground breaking, but it was good to see someone lay out the evidence neatly.
I have talked about in the past that only the Cribb study directly supports the pre-post supplementation protocol to increase strength and muscle. There are two major reasons for this: In most supplement timing studies that I have seen, the participants were tested in the morning under fasted conditions. This is not how majority of people workout unless you are training in the morning on an empty stomach. Also, if we are studying the timing, the study design should be such that one group consumes the supplement Pre and Post and another group consumes it further apart from their workouts. But most long-term studies which looked at supplement timing used a control group that just had water or a carb solution post workout.
I would love to see a study with the same design as the Cribb study, but with a few changes: A placebo group so that the subjects who are in the pre-post group are not subjected to the placebo effects. In fact, a placebo group is required in drug trials if you are testing the efficacy of a drug. Also, a study performed by authors who have no financial ties to the supplement industry. It pretty clear now that favorable results are more likely in studies where there is a financial conflict of interest.
If you like it, please share it:
| Sun July 31, 2011
The quality of the presentations was all over the place, wasn’t it?
Making people eat 6-8 meals a day because of studies like that is like (unjustified) torture to me. It really can suck out the fun of life (and food).
Did you think Stout himself ‘believed’ that pre-workout nutrition matters? Or was he really critical of the concept?
| Sun July 31, 2011
You mentioned that a study presented by Bernadot showed that a caloric surplus affected body composition in athletes in a positive manner.
How was it affected? Probably more muscle growth, but what about the body fat mass?
Anoop | Mon August 01, 2011
Most of the presenters were researchers and many researchers usually struggle when they have to give practical recommendations. Evidence based approach is not just about blindly reading study conclusions.
If you ask me to take the time to prepare and eat all those meals, you better have some good evidence. Alan Aragon had a written a critical review of the ISSN position stand on meal frequency.
Those were my comments about the study issues. The talk was about the importance of nutrient timing so he had only good things to say. In the exercise field, you can say almost anything and get away. The worse thing that can happen is what? Someone got a bit smaller or a bit slower! But in the medical field, the difference is life and death when you jump into premature conclusions. So most research in exercise field are not that of high quality nor are people are so critical about research.
I am suprised that it never made it into print and why people read it into so much. Even the ISSN stance on meal frequency had a whole paragraph about it and even used it as a major reference. This is what ISSN had “A published abstract by Benardot et al.  demonstrated that when a 250 calorie snack was given to 60 male and female college athletes for two weeks after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as opposed to a non-caloric placebo, a significant amount of fat (-1.03%) was lost and lean body mass (+1.2 kg) gained. Furthermore, a significant increase in anaerobic power and energy output was observed via a 30-second Wingate test in those that consumed the 250 calorie snack . Conversely, no significant changes were observed in those consuming the non-caloric placebo. Interestingly, when individuals consumed the total snacks of 750 kcals a day, they only had a non-significant increase in total daily caloric consumption of 128 kcals . In other words, they concomitantly ate fewer calories at each meal. Lastly, when the 250 kcal snacks were removed, the aforementioned values moved back to baseline levels 4 weeks later ”
| Mon August 01, 2011
Good job Anoop. You need to do a Part 3, 4, and 5 to cover all the rest of the presentations
Anoop | Wed August 03, 2011
| Sun August 28, 2011
Being that most of your longer lived mammals have slower metabolisms, I’m often amused at our obsession over raising metabolism. We’d rather be thin than live longer?
| Mon August 29, 2011
Very nice review Anoop! You would think that there would be more peer review of conference presented materials.
Anoop | Thu September 01, 2011
That is an interesting point.
Thanks Rob for the comment. I have one more review of it coming soon. Just been busy with stuff at the work.