T Nation

massive eating, glucose tolerance, and r-ala


#1

I had first sent this to Tampa-Terry as a PM because of the sound dietary advice TT gives, and I fear the flame. I have done some searching in the t-forum and there is a TON of info about r-ala. I am going to do a lot of reading about this over the weekend, but I wanted to get some opinions about my particular questions from the forum brain trust. Here is my question(s).

1) In JB's massive eating article, he suggests different macronutrient ratios for different insulin sensitivity levels. "In my experience, individuals who have high insulin sensitivity maximize their muscle to fat ratio on diets that are high in carbs and lower in fat (50% carbs, 35% protein, 15% fat). Those with moderate insulin sensitivity tend to do best on diets that are more isocaloric (30% carbs, 40% protein, 30% fat). And those with poor insulin sensitivity do best on diets that are low in carbs (50% protein, 35% fat, 15% carbs)."

There is a big difference between those ratios. He offers the glucose tolerance test, which I know doesn't measure insulin sensitivity but gives some type of indicator about it (correct)?

2) Another question I have is about r-ala. I am bulking up. I take 100mg r-ala 15 minutes before working out and the workout drink consists of 60g glucose/maltodextrin. I workout for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I then take 100mg r-ala 5-10 minutes before the post-workout drink, which consists of 80g of glucose/maltodextrin. What does it mean if I get a small bout of the jitters about 2 hours later?

3) Are there other ways to determine insulin sensitivity without having to go to the doctor? I came across Cy's article and TT directed me to it also. It states:
Are You Insulin Resistant?

Since there have been a lot people asking me for tips on how they can tell if they're insulin resistant, I've come up with a few quick tests. Now, don't get me wrong here, these aren't by any means 100% accurate indicators of insulin sensitivity. They may, however, tell you if you're higher up the scale in terms of insulin resistance.

It's been shown that insulin acts as a vasodilator, causing the blood vessels and vascular tissue to expand and relax.(29) So, it can be assumed that if you're insulin resistant to a significant degree, then your veins may not come to the surface very well after ingesting some type of carbohydrate. This is because the receptors aren't allowing insulin to dock. (Of course, if you're fat, you won't see too many veins anyway.) It's also known that a large increase in blood glucose levels will cause an increase in insulin as well. If muscle tissue is resistant to insulin, then the normal hypoglycemic "bonk" or blood glucose drop that causes drowsiness won't occur.

Combining these two ideas together, I came up with this test: In the morning, before consuming anything else, take in some type of high GI food, like white bread or anything with a GI above 100. Then, for about the next 20 minutes to an hour, see how you respond. If you notice an increase in how pumped your muscles feel and your veins come to the surface, and you start to feel drowsy, then it's likely that your insulin sensitivity is high (and that's good.)

If, however, these things don't occur, it's likely that you may at least be insulin resistant to a moderate degree. If you are, try the foods and tips above. Don't waste time. It's been shown that consuming a low GI meal can improve insulin sensitivity and lower triglyceride levels in only one day!


#2

Beltar, good questions. I'm glad you posted on the forum because there's some pretty smart people running 'round these parts, and I can't wait to see everyone else's thoughts and ideas.

Re the r-ALA, you're bulking, but want to optimize the ratio of LBM to FM you put on. Re the jitters, it's POSSIBLE that you're experiencing a blood sugar rebound effect, with insulin first spiking due to high blood glucose levels and then crashing or going below normal/optimal levels.

We've discussed it on the forum here in the past, about whether to take glucose disposal agents with our Surge-type WO/PWO drinks. JB is against using glucose disposal/insulin mimickers with your Surge type drink. Quoting JB,

"I think that using any ACUTE acting insulin mimickers or glucose disposal agents with Surge will cause too profound a hypoglycemia post workout. Remember, the data show HUGE drops in blood glucose due to the insulin spike. Any lower and people will be dropping like flies.

Another thing, to optimize the insulin response and anabolic opportunity PWO, you need to be eating a whole-food starchy-carb P+C meal 90 minutes after finshing your PWO drink. And your PWO drink should be slammed down as soon as you're walking out the door.

Quick question, are you using Surge? If not, are you taking in whey protein with the 140g of maltodextrin?

Re insulin sensitivity, do you have any immediate family members (mother, father, brothers, sisters, maybe even grandparents, aunts, uncles) who have diabetes? Does it run in your family?

In doing a search on tests for insulin sensitivity, I found the following from an article on MedScape

From Zachary T. Bloomgarden, MD, 05/06/2003

Let's (briefly) review the current understanding of insulin resistance and potential approaches to its management. Insulin resistance is a common condition affecting some 47 million persons in the United States.[1] The condition is easily diagnosable by assessing a patient for the characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: waist circumference > 102 cm (40 in) in men and > 88 cm (35 in) in women; serum triglyceride > 150 mg/dL; HDL-C < 40 mg/dL in men and < 50 mg/dL in women; blood pressure > 130/85 mm Hg; serum glucose > 110 mg/dL. Anyone with 3 or more of these findings (and probably anyone with 2 or more) has the syndrome, and hence has insulin resistance. Although body weight measurement is not required, if the waist circumference is measured, one should certainly also assess the degree of overweight, with body mass index > 30 kg/m2 indicative of obesity. If this set of clinical measurements outlines the "insulin resistance test" performed for the patient described, one would presume that the physician had already assessed these factors in routine management.

Although it is a complex topic, one should note that there is no good clinical test for insulin sensitivity, with measurement of fasting insulin and glucose being most widely used but actually only being sensitive to the more extreme degrees of insulin resistance, and hence likely to miss the majority of persons who have this abnormality. Low HDL cholesterol and high blood pressure appear to convey most of the increased cardiac risk of the syndrome,[2] and therefore would be the most logical therapeutic targets. Indeed, there is excellent evidence that fibrate treatment[3] is particularly beneficial for persons with low HDL and insulin resistance, and certainly our approaches to antihypertensive treatment now emphasize achievement of very low BP targets using a variety of therapeutic modalities.

Nonetheless, Beltar, I could swear I ran across something by JB that supposedly tested for insulin sensitivity.

Anyone remember the article?

Another thing I would like to throw out for your consideration is the r-ALA dosing I like. I've always followed Thunder's numbers for r-ALA, 100mg of r-ALA per 30-50g of carbs.

Okay, Beltar, let's see what everyone else comes up with. If we're lucky, even Thunder might stop by...


#3

From JB....

Insulin Sensitivity - I Want Your Blood

So the next question is how do you know if you're sensitive or not? Did you cry at the end of Titanic when Leonardo DiCaprio's character sank like a blue Freezer Pop into the North Atlantic? Well, there you go; you're sensitive. Me? I cried like a baby. Okay, okay, actually there are several methods.
The easiest thing to do is just think about what types of diets you respond to best. If low carb diets work great for you, then you're probably insulin insensitive. If you can eat a lot of carbs and not get fat then you're probably insulin sensitive. If you'd like something more concrete than that, read on.

Some experts use very simplistic recommendations for testing insulin sensitivity, methods I disagree with. For example, I've heard the statement that if you have an apple-shaped physique or if you get sleepy after a carb meal then you're insulin resistant (insensitive). In my opinion, these are way too non-specific and tell you very little about your nutrient needs or if you're making progress.

Instead, I prefer methods that, although more time consuming, are objective. The first is an oral glucose tolerance test. For this you need to go to your local pharmacy and purchase a glucometer, some glucose test strips, and a standard glucose beverage (ask your pharmacist about this because it has to be a specific kind. Pepsi won't work). Once you've got the goods, you'll plan your test.

After going at least 24 hours without exercise (do this test after a day off from training), you'll wake up in the morning (fasted at least 12 hours) and you'll take a blood sample from your finger tip. Write down this number. Then drink your glucose beverage and continue to take blood samples at 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. Record all the numbers at each time point. Here's a little chart of what you should expect:


#4

TT - My workout drink is 35g of ICE, 15g of ion exchange whey, 30g of glucose, and 30g of maltodextrin. My post-workout drink is 10g of BCAA, 30g ion exchange whey, 40g glucose, and 40g maltodextrin, and 5g creatine. The quote you provided from JB makes sense. Maybe I should stop taking r-ala with my workout and post-workout drink if I am getting jittery. I have been eating a whole P+C about 1.5 hours after my PWO drink. On a few times, I have been preparing the chicken, it was getting to two hours and I was getting the jitters.

I did see the quote provided from JB's massive eating, but I just want to know if evaluating your glucose tolerance is a decent measure of insulin sensitivity. Thanks.


#5

Meat072, thanks for the reference. My memory of that article is that the OGTT determines exactly that, glucose tolerance, not glucose sensitivity. Having said that, my memory may be faulty.

I just want to know if evaluating your glucose tolerance is a decent measure of insulin sensitivity.

Beltar, you're donig an excellent job of defining/refining the question at hand. I'm really hoping some of our resident insulin experts will stop by.

One thing I have read about insulin sensitivity is that if an insulin sensitive person is challenged with a glycemic load (say 75g of glucose) insulin will spike and return to baseline (or thereabouts). If an insulin IN-sensitive person is challenged with a glycemic load (once again, say, 75g of glucose) insulin will spike and return to baseline in a curve or arc and at a slower rate.

Making those determinations can only be done by playing around with a glucometer and testing your blood sugar. I'm planning on doing that to see how my body responds to different carb foods and different amounts of ALA.

Let's wait and see who else stops by


#6

Along the same lines as JB's glucose tolerance test, is that a good start as far as trying to look at potential insulin trends a person may experience? It would be fun/interesting to use a glucometer to measure how your body deals with different P+C meals with and without r-ala.


#7

Ok, I'm not really sure what the first question is. It seems like more of a statement. However, I'd agree that the variation in macronutrient recommendations is quite large.

I would probably agree with his first two recommendations, but not so much the third one, at least from my experience with people. I realize that some here have commented that they've gained muscle on low carb diets (and 15%) is quite low, it's definitely not the quickest way. I personally would question anyone who said they gained more muscle on a low carb diet, relative to a higher carb diet. On top of that, with a diet comprised of 50% protein, you're basically getting a 'safer' yet more expensive carbohydrate.

You tend to burn the most abundent fuel source and protein, being such an efficient source of fuel, does not make for a good choice. Higher amounts of carbs and fats in your diet (as in the 30/40/30 recommendations) are very protein sparing. I think in the end you should pick between the first two.

I really don't know if that is helpful at all. I don't seem to be thinking too clearly today.

  1. As to your second question, I have a lot of experience with r-ala, as does Marc McDougel (even more so, so hopefully he can chime in) and as TT said, I like the 100mg per 30-50g of carbs. Having said that, I think you'd need to up your dose a bit.

What exactly do you mean by 'jitters'? For me, a crash is more like an overwhelming feeling of fatigue; almost like you want to sleep. The fact that this is occurring two hours later is puzzling. Typically I've found most people, if they do crash, do so within 30-40 minutes.

  1. As for Cy's tips on assessing your carb tolerance, etc., I agree. I have learned and observed this repeatedly during the final week of a contest run. Some people respond FAST to carbs. You just see the veins pop, and these are the same people that fill out and carb up so well. Others, the effect is much less dramatic and in some cases vascularity doesn't increase. These are the same people that don't fare as well on a 'strict carb up'.

I'll come back with more once I get some clarification.


#8

I'll throw in my two cents' worth:

First, I wouldn't take r-ala with your post-workout drink at all. If you're using something like Surge or ICE, both of which are formulated to be absorbed more or less immediately, and in a post-training state (when nutrient partioning will take place very effectively already), why take the r-ala? I don't think that it would be bad, necessarily, but I don't think that you'd see any advantage from it either. In other words, you're just wasting the supp.

Second, why are you waiting two hours for your post-workout meal? One hour would be better. (Personally, I like to eat about 45 minutes after my Surge.) There's no real reason to wait two hours.

Third, yes, you should up your dosage. I like Thunder's recommendations. Again, personally, I've been experimenting with r-ala myself for the past few weeks. I have not been using a glucometer or anything like that; rather, I was interested to see if adding it to my diet would result in any noticeable visual change. I tried 200mg per meal - nothing. At 300/meal (with my meals typically having 70-80g of carbs in them), there seems to be some effect. Again, this is just me looking at myself in the mirror, so take it for what it's worth. But at 200g there was nothing.


#9

Sorry, that should have been 200 and 300 milligrams, not grams.

:slight_smile:


#10

Try the glucometer test mentioned in the JB article. It's not as complicated as it may sound. I did it when the article first came out and found that I was very sensitive to the glucose. I emailed JB my results and he recommended, based on my numbers, that I follow a diet of at least 50-60%carbs. This test should also be done every once in a while(1-2 times/year) because your tolerance level could change over the course of the year depending on your training and lifestyle.


#11

Hi beltar,

As Terry said already, the reason you bonk after your PWO drink is actually because you are quite insulin sensitive. Right after a workout your muscles are primed to take up glucose as a preferential fuel source much like Rosanne Barr is primed to take up a crate of twinkies! Then when you combine the fact that your muscles are very insulin sensitive during this time period (because of your workout) with a very high GI carb source, then you are setting the stage for rapid blood glucose clearance and then (also) rapid hypoglycemia soon after. So, it is actually a good thing that you feel shaky at least 2 hours later because it means that the carbs you just took in were taken up and used by your muscle. Especially since your goal is to bulk up, you'd want this to happen.

I also agree with Terry and Char-dawg that you shouldn't wait so long to eat after your PW drink because then you're entering into the hypoglycemia zone. When you enter this zone, your body switches from being anabolic to being catabolic. The hormones glucagons, NE and E are released to bring your blood glucose levels back up to normal, and that's NOT good for muscle growth (gluconeogensis, decreased glucose uptake by tissues, and increased liver glucose mobilization).

I think that a lot of people tend to over emphasize the topic of insulin sensitivity too much. A truly insulin insensitive individual has chronically high blood glucose levels and this then leads to a whole cascade of other problems. Syndrome X is the biggest problem (diabetes, high TG's, High BP, obesity etc). However, there is definitly a reason to maintain good glucose control though, and you can achieve that by eating smaller frequent meals, avoiding high GI carbs, taking your fish oils, r-ala, etc, and exercising on a regular basis. Since this is something that all of us do (I hope) I really don't think insulin insensitivity is an issue.

However, since your goal is to bulk up, the best thing you should do is never let yourself become hypoglycemic and always keep your body supplied with the right fuel to grow. And as Thunder said, keep your carbs higher than 30% at least so that your muscles can improve.

Now, in regards to determining your insulin sensitivity, you're actually on the right path. Unless you go to the doctor (an endocrinologist to be exact) you can't truly measure your insulin ability.

I myself have had a OGTT done recently and all it told me was that yes, I am insulin sensitive because 2 hours after a 75 g glucose load I became VERY hypoglycemic (my sugars dropped to 1.1 mmol/L) and all my nervous system hormones kicked in high gear to return my sugars to normal. Also during the test, I never reached a very high glucose level because my body took the sugars up so rapidly. Now the next step for the doctors is to do a 3 day fasting glucose/insulin test to see what happens: but personally I don't have the time to sit in a hospital for 3 days hooked up to an IV again. (it really does suck).

Cassandra


#12

Char, what visual effects did you notice?


#13

I am going to try JB's glucose tolerence test to see what results I get. I guess I have just been brain-washed that carbs are bad and will make you fat. I need to lose that mentality because I want to maximize muscle gain. If the higher carb approach will do that, so be it.

Sometimes I don't get my P+C until 1.5 to 2 hours after my PWO drink because the workout drink and PWO drink really fills me up. I guess I just need to force it.

To clarify "jitters", I get really shaky. I guess it is what it would feel like to be hypoglycemic. If I get that feeling on 100mg r-ala and 80g of carbs, would upping the dose to 200mg be worst? I guess it comes down to not taking r-ala with the workout or PWO drink.


#14

Tampa T...Sorry, I was just being a lazy bum! Here's a more accurate assessment of insulin sensitivity. JB (Massive Eating II) states the following:


#15

Timbo, that's EXACTLY what I was looking for. Cool!!!

I was driving myself crazy trying to find it. And you provided the source and the relevant, quoted material, both.


#16

Hey TT,

You know me, baby. This is your world, girlfriend, and I'm just a squirrel tryin' to get a nut. Ye' asketh of me and ye' shall receiveth from me;-)


#17

Beltar I wouldn't add anymore r-ala if it's already making you that hypoglycemic. The trouble with taking all these tests and such is it can change a whole lot in an individual just depending on your eating habits and whether you're gaining weight/losing weight, how much you're eating, what type of diet you're eating etc. So ideally you'd have those tests taken before you start bulking and then again after you've put on a significant amount of weight and increasd your calories up dramatically. You'll probably see some big differences. Generally insulin sensitivity improves as an adaptation as one loses bodyfat, so you might find, if you've recently cut down, that you can get away with a higher carb intake the leaner you are. Also, insulin sensitivity lessens as one bulks up so you may need to change macros the heavier you get and the more you eat. It also can depend on what supplements you're taking and stimulant usage. Personally, I use hunger and appearance of veins in the forearms as a gauge as well. I think i picked this up from Lee Labrada about 10 years ago, could've been somebody else though. But anyway, at a low bodyfat i can eat a carb meal, have veins popping out within minutes, and be hungry for another carb meal within an hour. As my weight and bodyfat increases I notice i can eat a carb meal and not have any vascularity increases, and also not be hungry for carbs again for a longer period of time. When this happens if i keep consuming carbs as i did when leaner I'll just put on fat. So it does fluctuate quite a bit. Also when using hunger after a meal as a gauge it is difficult because one needs to differentiate between appetite and hunger. Most americans are probably insulin resistant and munch on high glycemic carbs all day....this is because these foods are easily available and people eat because they like to eat...not because they're hungry. With hunger it's more like a need to eat rather then a desire. Hope this helps!


#18

Kell,

It's always good to see you around! You bring up a significant point that Tampa T and I would both chomp on in a heartbeat: Hormonal Hunger!

That kind of expands beyond the scope of this thread, however, so I won't add anything related to that for the time being.

Great post, Kell, and I concur.


#19

Very interesting stuff, guys!

Thanks. This is one of the reasons T-Mag is what it is, and why I keep coming back.


#20

Thunder: Nothing dramatic, just a little less flab around the waistline, a mm less on the ab skinfolds. Again: seems like. It could very well be me just hoping that I didn't waste my money on a dud supp. :wink:

But again, at 200mg per meal, there was nothing at all.