Things I am excited about.

•Sleeping more than two consecutive hours. Was a wreck and nothing would put this overtired baby to sleep—I was wrecked from 3+ hours of rocking said baby overnight in addition to the feeding and changing etc. We are now trialling a bit of routine—she's sleeping in her own bed by herself (after some terrible crying protests to begin with!) so just running with the little bit more sleep I get by not rocking her at night, and hopefully she'll stretch her night feeds out soon and I won't look like the walking dead. All. The. Time.
We needed sleep, Elv seemed impervious.
•My new roadie is built. MTB is where my heart and soul is, but doing 5x MTB rides a week can get a little same-y same-y. I am excited to mix it up, regain some strength and speed and hopefully get rid of these bingo wings in time, though maybe I need some gym time for that. I went for a 2hr15min ride the other day. It was harrowing—I had to pedal the whole time! I got rained on, hunger fatted and got lost out the back of Wights Mountain (how did that even happen?) and had to ring Aido for directions home as the iFail Maps weren't working.
Exactly like this...but with 3T carbon bar and stem and tape, SRAM Red drive train, Fulcrum 3 Wheelset, Aerozine post, Specialized Toupe Saddle and Ultegra Pedals. So...nothing like this except for the colour.

•BIG SMILES. The other day I had maximum 3 hours of broken sleep the night prior. Elv had not napped at all that day. I was in all sorts of pain and then after her lunch feed she broke into all kinds of freaky-smiley. I was so happy/exhausted/emotional I think I cried. Didn't make it better long term though, i'm pretty sure everytime Elv got grizzly that afternoon I wept a little too, but alas, she slept the longest she had slept and I made peace with the whole process. This was prior to my new routine, which I hope to hades sticks because it's terribly convenient having a baby that sleeps during the day, even if we are feeding 2-3x through the night still.

•Breakfast cereal. Seriously one of my favourite things ever. I love plain old Weet-bix, muesli and All Bran, and that's what I rock in a huge F*ck off bowl with about a litre of Macro Organic Light soy (oooh sooo nutty, sooo delicious!). Call me boring but it's my favourite meal of the day. Don't pay out the All Bran. I love that stuff...I can eat it dry (nom nom!)
Yes I am very, very boring.

•Coffee. It gives me the ability to get up in the morning. I swear it's a toned down version of Ecstasy—it fills me with love and joy PLUS it's legal. Kids don't do drugs.
Oooh yeah baby!

• Not being pregnant. It's like the best thing ever, especially now that the need to joke about adopting Elva out has abated a bit. I'm drinking coffee, I'm loving it (just one espresso in the morning then several decaf's). I'm able to ride my bike hard (which is all relative, as I can go 'hard' now and i'm still creeping, but loving being able to punish myself regardless!). I'm not constantly hot, my heart rate is back to 42bpm, I can walk without shooting pain in my hoo-haa from Elva being so low for so long. I still feel a bit whale-like, but at least I don't feel like a walrus that should be house-bound.

•The first sunny series XC race has been moved back two weeks. Yay! Two more weeks to attempt to get fit. It's not gonna happen but hey, we can dream!

•The fact that this post IS Caffeine-fuelled Cyclemania—we have bikes, we have coffee (ow with added baby!)

•Napping. Gets me through. In fact i'm going to go and have one now. Bye!

Lactobacillus vs. Oscillibacter! Does (Saturated) Fat Tip The Scale Towards Leaky Gut, Obesity & Visceral Inflammation?

Image 1: Location of the different fat depots of the human body (sorry Evilyn, had to borrow this from your Carbsane blog ;-)
Having tons of subcutaneous fat is certainly unaesthetic, but as science would have it, probably more healthy than a mediocre amount of superfluous visceral fat. But why is that? I mean, what makes the difference? It cannot be the location, can it? Well, a recently published study on metabolic dysfunction in diet induced diabetic mice suggests that it could be as simple as that (Lam. 2012).

You cannot spot reduce fat, but can you "spot inflame" it?

In order to assess the effects of normal vs. high fat (60%) diets on gut Permeability and microbiota the Yan Y Lam and his (or her?) colleagues from the University of Sidney kept a group of 16-week old Female C57BL/6J mice (those are the "normal" lab mice used in these experiments) on a regular chow diet (control; 10% fat) or a high saturated fat (34%) high fat diet (HFD; 60% of total energy from fat). After 12 weeks, the rodents in the HFD group were obese and diabetic, had elevated insulin and amyloid A3 serum levels and reduced adiponectin.
What are amyloid A3 and adiponectin? Not to long ago, I would probably have had to explain what insulin is, but in these days of carbophobia, I better stick to the aliens, amyloid A3 and adiponectin. While the former is an acute phase protein elevations of which are indicative of adipocyte (=fat cell) inflammation and have also been observed in Creutzfeldt Jacob and Alzheimer patients (Baker. 2003), adiponectin is a negative control factor for body fat and energy expenditure, with increasing adiponectin expression from adipose tissue being linked to increases in fatty acid oxidation, improvements in glucose metabolism and reduced triglyceride storage within existing body fat stores.
While these are results we have seen in countless of studies before, the interesting part of the study began with the collection of stool samples in the last three days and the "termination" of the animals at the end of the 12-week study period.
Figure 1: Gut microbiota composition in control and high saturated fat diet (HFD) fed mice after 12-weeks (Lam. 2012).
As you can see, there was a telling association between body weight and the Lactobacilli (fig. 1, middle) and Oscillobacter (fig. 1, right) content of the stool samples; with p-values (chance that this is coincidence) way below the significance criterion, i.e. p < 0.05 = 5%:
At the phylum level, HFD mice had more Firmicutes (73 6 1.5% vs 68 6 2.3% for controls; P = 0.041) and fewer Bacteroidetes (156 1.7% vs 196 1.3% for controls; P = 0.026) and thus a significantly higher Firmicutes: Bacteroidetes ratio ( P = 0.019). HFD also induced significant shifts in fecal microbiota composition at the genus level of taxonomic resolution. Within members of the Firmicutes, notably there was a 75% decrease in Lactobacillus ( P ,0.001) and a 279% increase in Oscillibacter( P = 0.004) as compared to controls and these changes in abundance were closely associated with weight gain.
These gut microbiotal changes, in turn, were closely associated with differences in gut permeability, as measured according to Wang et al. 2001 (Wang. 2001), showing positive correlations (r = 0.52; P = 0.013) with the abundance of Lactobacillus and negative correlations with Oscillibacter (r = - 0.55;P = 0.007) in the proximal colon.
Notably, increased Oscillibacter abundance was also associated with a reduction in the mRNA expression of ZO-1 (r = - 0.37; P = 0.039) and, although not statistically significant, a similar trend was observed with proglucagon (r = - 0.34; P = 0.061).
While the reduced expression of the macromolcule ZO-1 is symptomatic, maybe even causative for the "leakiness" of the gut (Assimakopoulus. 2011), the reduction in proglucagon, a pro-peptide to GLP-1 the fat-burning effects of which I have discussed in a previous blogpost (cf. "Eat more, burn more and lose fat like on crack"), could partly explain the diet induced hyperphagia (unsatiable hunger) and pronounced weight gain, which is yet perpetuated by what could eventually turn out to be a life-threatening down-stream effect of the leaky gut: Inflammation in the adjacent visceral adipose tissue:
Figure 2: Macrophage infiltration (per 100 adipocytes) and adipocyte area in the different fat depots of the mice on normal (control) and high fat diet (HFD) at the end of the 12-week study period (data adapted from Lam. 2012).
As the data in figure 2 shows, the 12 weeks on the high fat diet and the subsequent changes in the gut microbiom and permeability lead to an increased macrophage infiltration in mesenteric (58%; P = 0.020) and epididymal (71%; P = 0.006) fat, but was without effect in perirenal and subcutaneous fat. This interesting as neither the peri-renal = next to the kidneys, nor the subcutaneous fat (obviously right beyond the skin) is in close proximity to the (now leaky) gut.

Causal, corollary, chicken or egg?

Image 2: Until we know it's not the saturated fat that tips the scale in favor of Oscillibater you better have Sauerkraut with your Weißwurst ;-)
There are still way to o many uncertainties to state that a "leaky gut", let alone a high fat diet induced increase in Oscillobacter and decrease in Lactobacillus is the root of visceral obesity, or even the obesity epidemic. It is however quite telling how nicely these pieces of the puzzle are falling in place and that initial studies on the effects of lactobacillus supplementation on the onset of diet-induced obesity in HFD fed rodents (e.g. Takemura. 2010) suggest that there may be merit to rebalancing diet induced changes in the microbiota composition of the gut. In fact, so compelling that it will be hard to argue with the researchers' conclusion that "the gut is a central player in the aetiology of diet-induced metabolic diseases".

So happy to be a "Kraut" ;-)

Whether it is a or even the central player and whether the saturated fat content and not the lack of other nutrients cause the undesirable shift in the microbiota composition of the gut still has to be determined. I guess, in the meantime you better make sure to have Bavarian Weißwurst with Sauerkraut ;-)

Update: If you want to know more about the correlation between different food-types and nutrients and the gut microbiom, check out my previous post on the "Gut Type Diet".

Review for Reed's Natural Energy Elixir


Not certain, though I’m fairly confident it’s rather low—all you really get is the caffeine from the green tea extract.


This, like TwinLab Energy Fuel, is the consequence of my checking out the refrigerator section at a local health food store.  If you have one of those nearby, you might be able to find this there; otherwise you’re probably out of luck.


Even if it doesn’t grab and hold your attention the way some energy drinks do, I consider the packaging appropriate, given the fact that this is more of a health supplement than a traditional energy drink.  Overlaying the purple Hawaiian floral motif you have the name of the drink surrounding/cutting through the image of a volcano (a source, I suppose, of “natural energy”), then a list of ingredients incorporated into the drink’s formula.


This one tastes…interesting.  That is probably as appropriate an adjective as I’ll ever be able to attribute to this drink.  Initially, the combination of flavors is a bit…unusual for comfort, but as I slowly took down all 10.5 ounces, it began to grow on me.  For the most part, it’s the earthy flavor of the tea extract and the goji berries, followed up by the warmth of the ginger and the heat of the ginseng.  Not going to please everyone—I imagine there will be many who hate it—but in the end, I thought it tasted alright.


I wouldn’t have you believe that this drink does nothing—I’ll get into the perceptible effects in a moment—but know that this is not a load-you-with-caffeine-and-wake-you-right-the-freak-up sort of “energy drink.”  The blurb on the side of the can makes this clear, stating something to the effect that this is more of a long-term deal, meant to stimulate the metabolism and give you greater energy in the long run.  As such, the effects were extremely subtle.  When I drank this, I was pretty tired after my morning run, and honestly feeling a bit wrung-out from the rushed pace of the previous week.  I took it down, the drink did absolutely nothing to alleviate my fatigue, but it did eliminate from it the wrung-out quality, at least for a time.  Anyway, pretty bad if we’re rating it as an energy drink, but as a health beverage, I could appreciate the effects.


Very short-lived—probably a half hour, 45 minutes passed before I was back to where I was.


So, if we’re rating this as an energy drink, Reed’s Natural Energy Elixir tanks, and is definitely not something I’d count on for a serious (or really perceptible) boost.  But then again, it’s not really meant to be an energy drink in the same way Monster, Rockstar, etc. are energy drinks, so take my final score for what it’s worth.

KEYWORDS: Reed’s Natural Energy Elixir review, healthy energy

Every Dog Has His Day: Dr. Oz Was Right, Exercise Does Not "Just Make You Hungry", But Reduces Energy Intake!

Image 1: If I had to chose between the man on the left and the one on the right as my "dietary adviser", I would probably chose the right guy - I would not want him as a fitness coach, though ;-)
At least for those of you, for whom this is not their first visit at the SuppVersity, the term "physical culture" should sound somewhat familiar. I have "stolen" it from my friend Carl Lanore, the host of Super Human Radio who (I am sorry Carl) has probably "borrowed" it from someone else (maybe Randy Roach?)... in the end, it does not matter who coined the term; for me, it embodies the notion of working out for life - not just to look good on Spring Break. To embrace a healthy diet and to value your body in a non-narcissistic fashion. It is this "I am in this for life" mentality that will eventually pay off - and it is the lack thereof which renders all short-term attempts to "lose weight" or "pack on muscle" futile.

It does not take 8 days, 8 weeks or 8 months, it takes a lifetime

An, in my humble opinion, extremely counterproductive, claim that is coming up time and again, when people are debating the fallacy of the "calories in vs. calories out"-hypothesis (on the Internet, in books and even on Dr. Oz ;-) is that a fundamental reason that this equation would not hold, was that "exercise will just make you hungry". Proffered mostly by people who have never followed any type of consistent exercise regimen (or only in the presence of a calorically or macronutrient restricted diet), the central proposition of this claim is that you better not move your ass if you want to lose weight, because this will make it even more difficult for you to adhere to the currently en-vogue low-better-no carbohydrate diet, or otherwise restrictive diets.

I personally do not doubt that the latter is the case, what I do yet doubt is that long-term dieting and the avoidance of any type of allegedly hunger-inducing exercise, which would be the logical implication of the proffered argument, ist the be-all and the end-all of getting or staying in shape.

Exercise reduces not induces cravings and energy intake

I have broached this issue in previous blogposts, already (e.g. "The Female Weightloss EDC"), but none of the previous studies indicated so conclusively as the study that STRRIDE AT/RT that physical activity alone and in the absence of dietary restrictions can offer a long-term solution to weight loss and improved body composition.
Where is the Step by Step Guide (SBSG)? Just in case you are asking yourself where the next / last installment of the "Step by Step Guide to Your Workout Program" is - after all, it is Sunday! - I would invite you to let me know what you believe is still missing before I conclude this series. While my decision to postpone the next installment of the SBSG was partly related to my busy schedule, I am also not sure, if you do actually need more guidance or would agree that all the series still needs is a summary of the individual steps and a conclusion. If you disagree or have specific issues you want to be addressed in what will probably become the last installment of the SBSG, feel free to leave a comment either here, in one of the respective posts or even on the SuppVersity's Facebook wall. Thank you!
In the study that was conducted by researchers from the Duke University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina, and the results of which have just been published in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, a group of overweight/obese sedentary dyslipidemic men and women nN = 117) were randomized to one out of the following three exercise programs:
  • aerobic training (medium to high intensity steady state) of choice (treadmill, elliptical trainers, and cycle ergometer) with a total volume that would equal the workload of a 12-miles run / jog / walk (depending on fitness level) at a  VO2Max of 70-80% (n=39)
  • resistance training (full body workout, linear progression in 5lbs steps, when subjects were able to perform the prescribed number of reps) 3x per week, 3 sets a 12 reps (n = 38)
  • combined treatment (aerobic + resistance) with aerobic and resistance training on seperate occasions (n = 40)
While the resistance training sessions were supervised (or conducted with a training partner) and the adherence to the aerobic exercise regimen was controlled by hear rate monitor logs, there were no dietary restrictions of any sort.
Figure 1: Reduction in energy intake in response to the exercise regimen as assessed by average of data collected using
3-day records and 24 hr diet recalls (questionnaire) or food frequency (left) and changes in macronutrient composition (in %) of total kcal (data adapted from Bales. 2012).
And still - or rather therefore? - it does not take a rocket scientist (or science journalist ;-) to see that the caloric intake was statistically significantly reduced in all three groups.
Note: Although the quantity of the changes in macronutrient composition may be negligible, it is quite interesting and sort of revealing in terms of the interpretation of other study data, that there was a huge discrepency between the "recalled" (3-day records+24h recall) macronutrient intake of the study participants and the calculated one (based on food frequency). The ostensible overestimation of protein intake and the profound underestimation of the carbohydrate intake, in the presence of an almost "spot on" awareness of the fat intake, are telling as far as the accuracy of epidemiological studies using similar 3-day records+24h recalls to elicit the macronutrient composition of the diets of certain populations.
It is also interesting to note, that the metabolically most demanding exercise regimen, the combined protocol, exerted the greatest reduction in energy intake (not energy balance!). A result that appears to confirm the recommendation I have made in the "Step by Step Guide to Your Own Workout Regimen" to rather train frequently and short, than just once or twice a week in excess - not only, but specifically, when your main focus is still on the reduction of body fat (cf. "Fat Loss Workout Template").

Exercice more, eat less, gain muscle and lose fat - stick to it and it works

Since we are not dealing with a prescribed caloric restriction, but with a voluntary reduction in caloric intake in previously sedentary, overweight subjects in response to an obligatory exercise regimen, it stands to reason that this protocol elicited beneficial changes in body composition, which were probably due to the meticulously controlled adherence to the the aerobic and resistance training sessions, not correlated with the subjects' adherence to the aerobic (R = -0.198; p = 0.227), resistance (R = -0.109; p = 0.516) or combined (R = -0.188; p = 0.245) training programs.
Figure 2: Changes in lean body mass (LBM), fat mass (FM) and total body weight, as well as reduction in energy intake (in kcal per kg) of lean body mass in the 17 overweight / obese study participants (data adapted from Bales. 2012).
If you take a look at the difference between "recall" and food frequency data on the energy intake per lean body mass, the loss in LBM in the aerobics only group (already only 0.2kg and statistically non-significant) would corroborate my previous assumption that the latter, i.e. the food frequency analysis is a more reliable tool to measure total caloric intake than the memory and awareness of portion sizes and macronutrient contents of the participants. If you translate that into dietary practice, it could imply that a more general advice on the type of foods people should eat, instead of having them count calories or macronutrients would result in a better compliance to dietary prescriptions - i.e. "eat fish once a week" instead of "get X amount of omega-3 and Y amount of taurine and ..."

Patience and consistency, not dieting and extreme exercise build better bodies

The data in figure 2 does yet also show that prescriptions like that may yet not even be necessary, for formerly sedentary people to improve their body composition. After all, none of the subjects indulged in the predicted post-exercise binges (or it did not hurt them ;-) and gained body fat instead of leaning out. Moreover, and this is a commonly overlooked, yet potentially even more important argument for working out, the subjects in the resistance training only and the combination group gained 1.0 kg (p = 0.042) and 0.6 kg (p = 0.097) of lean body mass, or as Carl, would say "metabolic currency", over the 8 months study period - and that despite likewise reduced energy intakes.

Combined with the statistically significant fat loss of -2.3kg (p < 0.001; equals -1.6% body fat). The results of the study at hand thus indicate that the adherence to a combined exercise regimen consisting of an aerobic exercise program of choice (calorically equivalent to ~12 miles/wk at 65-80% VO2 peak) and a progressive full body resistance training performed three times a week, alone will elicit long-term beneficial effects on body composition, in the absence of prescribed caloric restrictions.

Good exercise, bad exercise? 

By no means, does any type of additional exercise (again, in the absence of caloric or macronutrient restrictions) "just make you hungry"! It does rather appear that it helps to rebalance our natural ability to regulate energy intake - maybe partially due to an increased availability / accessibility of existing body fat stores due to exercise induced increases in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation capacity and insulin sensitivity. While the "eat less and exercise more" prescription will thus still fail you, the results of the STRRIDE AT/RT Study clearly suggest that the equation "incorporate a reasonable amount of exercise into your live to rebalance your system" could hold the key to long-term successful body-recomposition (not just weight loss) in normal and overweight subjects. Whether it will suffice to help the biggest of the losers lose weight, is not only questionable, it may also simply take too long to get them back to a non-life-threatening bodyfat level by "just" having them work out (that being said, many morbidly obese patients cannot even exercise).

Image 2: The transformation Adelfo made from October 2011 to March 2012 is a testimony to the value of modest dietary restrictions and consistent and dedicated efforts in the gym.
For those of you who have already found their way, to physical culture, on the other hand, the results of the study are not just a confirmation that you are on the right track, they also confirm what you may have observed in the pictures of Adelfo Cerame's contest prep. With a nutrient dense diet, clever macronutrient modulation (no ketogenic dieting!) and lot's of hard, but not excessive work in the gym, a slight reduction in total calorie intake will burn fat not muscle. And when it is combined with appropriate refeeds and the strategic use of supplements, it appears reasonable to assume that even concomitant increases in lean body mass can be possible.

Review for Red Bull Total Zero

It’s been a good couple of weeks for energy drink hunting—within a 14-day period, Monster Rehab—Orangeade, Übermonster, and Red Bull Total Zero all show up at my local grocery store!  Anyway, with the first two reviewed, it’s time for me to review all three sizes (they’re not doing this beverage in the 20 oz. size, apparently) of the much-anticipated Red Bull Total Zero—which differs from Red Bull Sugar Free, from what I understand, only in the fact that the sweetener blend in this newer beverage includes sucralose in addition to Ace K and Aspartame.  Let’s see how it performs….


80 mg/8.4 oz. can
114 mg/12 oz. can
154 mg/16 oz. can


I don’t think I even need to comment here.  If you can’t find it yet, you’ll be able to soon.  It’ll be everywhere.


The strength in Red Bull’s motif is in the fact that it needs to say very little to say everything that needs saying—that this is the original energy drink, that this is the drink almost everyone tries to duplicate, and that this is the drink that every energy drink company that’s ever been established since has to compete with.  Red Bull products exude confidence, and the new Total Zero, clad in dark grey, is no exception.


So here’s the big question—how does the new drink taste?  Well, as I mentioned, the only difference between Total Zero and Sugar Free is the fact that the sweetener blend in Total Zero includes sucralose.  Popping my first can and taking a sip, I notice immediately that the flavor is stronger and less watered down than Sugar Free.  Having previous experience with Red Bull, I knew I was going to be getting an aftertaste soon enough, and to be sure, it came on as soon as the actual taste fades.  Rather than compounding the bitterness of the original, as did Sugar Free, the added sucralose kind of blends the two, such that they kind of drown each other out.  So in the end, you have a product that tastes like the original, only slightly less muted, and an aftertaste that’s similarly distracting and distinct from that of the original.

8.4 OZ. CAN


Here’s where I’m going to be struggling to find something to write, because in terms of kick, Total Zero is like all the rest.  The 8.4 oz. can here delivers a decent boost, at least enough to clear out the cobwebs and leave you feeling slightly alert.


Drinking the 8.4 oz. can will give you about 2 hours of energy, after which it will have worn off without a crash.


If a slight boost is all you need, and if you like Red Bull but don’t like Red Bull Sugar Free, then I think it’s safe to say that an 8.4 oz. Red Bull Total Zero might be up your alley.

12 OZ. CAN


I didn’t find the 12 oz. can to be all that more potent than the 8.4 oz. can—even though you are getting more caffeine, it’s only enough to make a slight difference—just enough that you feel a little more alert.


Equally hard to distinguish from the 8.4 oz can—you get somewhere over 2 hours, but less than 2½.


The 12 oz. can is kind of in energy drink limbo—you’d probably wind up paying almost a dollar more than the 8.4 oz. can for a drink that’s only slightly more powerful.  Read on.

16 OZ. CAN


I actually found the 16 oz. Total Zero to be more potent than the 16 oz. Red Bull and 16 oz. Red Bull Sugar Free.  Not sure how that works, but in any case, it’s enough to get you alert, jittery, and yes, make you feel like you have wings.


The 16 oz. Total Zero will deliver about 3½ hours of energy before wearing off, leaving you feeling tired again but not as though you’ve crashed.


So…when it comes to kick, the moral with Total Zero is “go big or go home.”   The smaller sizes offer only a moderate buzz, and more often than not, I need more than that to really be functional.  Now, rating the 16 oz. Red Bull Total Zero overall, I’d say it’s a satisfactory, if spendy, energy drink experience.  It offers a taste that will please hardened Red Bull lovers, and is quite a bit more palpable than Sugar Free.  If I were the CEO of Red Bull, I’d probably just discontinue Red Bull Sugar Free and push Total Zero.

KEYWORDS: Red Bull Total Zero energy drink review, Red Bull Total Zero 8.4 oz. can review, Red Bull Total Zero 12 oz. can review, Red Bull Total Zero 16 oz. can review, 8.4 ounces, 12 ounces, 16 ounces, zero calories, zero sugar, zero carbs

Liposuction Shifts Fat from Subcutaneous to Visceral Fat Depots and Reduces Energy Expenditure by 5%!

Image 1: Without exercise and a healthy diet your fight against body fat is as desperate as Heracles fight against the Hydra without the help of his nephew Iolaus.
After yesterday's blogpost on the Biggest Losers, who - upon closer scrutiny - were not so bad of, as many people in the health and fitness community would have it, we will take a look at a more convenient and (accordingly *sigh*) increasingly popular way to get rid of the nasty lovehandles: Liposuction, or the costly reduction of subcutaneous body fat with a hopefully 100% sterile vacuum cleaner ;-) Aside from the risks that are directly related to the operation, a group of Brazilian researchers right from the mecca of plastic surgery, Sao Paulo, has just published a paper (2 days ago, to be precise) on another, hitherto totally overlooked side effect that arose subsequent to a small-volume tumescent abdominal liposuction (1240.3ml) in the sedentary half of 36 physically inactive (i.e. not engaged in any form of regular physical activity program for at least 6 months), yet non obese women (20 –35yr) who participated in the study (Benatti. 2012)

Remove it here, regrow it there. Body fat resembles the Hydra from Greek mythology

In order to control the outcome of the operation itself and its long(er) term consequences in the presence or absence of a physical exercise program that was conducted for four months starting 2 months after the OP (this yields a total duration of 6 months for the whole study), the Fabiana Benatti and her colleagues assessed the total body fat and fat-free mass of the participants via hydrostatic weighing and used computer tomographs to determine the size of the individual fat depots.
Figure 1: Changes in body composition relative to baseline (data calculated based on Benatti. 2012)
As you can see in figure 1 the comparatively reasonable exercise program the subjects in the training group (TR) performed three times per week during the last four months of the follow-up period and which consisted of a...
  • 5-min warm-up followed by 
  • strength exercises: 8 exercises for the major muscle groups, 3 sets of 12 reps, and
  • aerobic exercise on the treadmill: 30-40min at 75% of the VO2max
led to further reductions in subcutaneous fat mass. From a non-aesthetical perspective, it is yet more important that the three weekly exercise sessions prevented the vicious repartitioning effect from the subcutaneous to the visceral body stores, the cosmetic surgery had on the adipose tissue of the the women in the sedentary group (NT) in the course of the 4 months after their surgery.

Could it be that taking the easier way out is always a bad idea?

Image 2: Does look nasty, is not without risk and not effective in the long run - liposuction.
These results are interesting, because they do confirm the long-touted notion that plastic surgery would be pretty useless, if it is not combined with an adequate exercise and nutrition program. Moreover, the novel finding that the compensatory effects, i.e. the regrowth of body fat, does not take place in the subcutaneous fat depots, but in the vicinity of the organs, i.e. in the dreaded visceral adipose tissue stores, sheds an even more unfavorable light on a convenient, yet expensive, ineffective and - as this study shows - profoundly unhealthy attempt to "looking good naked".

The further reduction in subcutaneous fat and the absence of this highly unfavorable "repartitioning effect", on the other hand, speak to the effectiveness of a combined strength and endurance training program for female and, as we know from countless of other studies, also male weight loss - and that in the absence overtly restrictive eating.

Clear results with surprising effects on CVD risk and  energy expenditure

Still, there are a few downsides and shortcomings to this study that should not be overlooked. Firstly, the scientists did not evaluate the body fat distribution in the upper body, specifically the breasts. Whether there may have been a repartitioning effect from the abdominal to the upper body (e.g. breast, back and arms) subcutaneous fat depots, thusly remains to be elucidated. Moreover the increase in total LDL count, the scientists observed in the non-training group was not accompanied by increases in ApoB levels, which are considered as a relatively reliable marker for the number of the allegedly artery-clogging small LDL particles. Whether the women in the study are thusly actually facing an increased risk for cardiovascular disease or simply carry ~10% more visceral body fat around is about as questionable as the underlying cause of the reduction in energy expenditure that went hand in hand with the loss of ~1kg of subcutaneous body fat in the absence of a reduced caloric intake.
Figure 2: Significant (non-training, p = 0.01) and non-significant (training, p = 0.82) changes in doubly labeled water measured energy expenditure 6 months after liposuction (data adapted from Benatti. 2012)
In the end, the data in figure  2 relates directly to what we have seen in yesterday's analysis of the metabolic effects of a -60% reduction in body fat (cf. "Metabolic Consequences of Extreme Weight Loss"). If we assume that the 7-day food diaries provide an accurate estimate of the energy intake (if anything those logs usually underestimate / the participants underreport energy intake) and rely on the exactness of the relatively reliable doubly labeled water method you already know from yesterday's Biggest Loser study, the ~100kcal reduction in energy expenditure in the study at hand cannot be induced by restrictive eating (and in the non-training group obviously not by excessive exercise ;-), so that the Brazilian scientists conclude that...
our data suggest that the fat loss per se plays a role in decreased energy expenditure because no changes in food intake, lean mass, or leptin levels were observed.
And call for "[a]dditional studies" to "comprehensively explore the underlying mechanisms of the liposuction-induced decrease in energy expenditure". In view of the fact that these results could be of fundamental importance not only for the lazy plastic surgery patient, but also for the hard-training physical culturist who strives to push his / her body fat levels lower and lower, you can be certain that the SuppVersity is the place, where you are going to read about the results of future investigations into the underlying mechanisms first!

Review for Übermonster


Best guess is about 169 mg, if the caffeine content per ounce is the same as a regular Monster.


The Monster Energy Company has traditionally been a little inconsistent with pushing  their new products.  With some, they arrive virtually everywhere overnight (i.e. Absolutely Zero, Rehab—Lemonade), and with others, it takes them a while to creep into commonality (i.e. every other beverage of the Rehab line that isn’t Lemonade).  Übermonster is one of the latter, and you can expect it to be on the hard-to-find side of things, at least for a while.


I have gone crazy over the packaging of many Monster products—Heavy Metal, Import, Rehab—Orangade…but none of these compare with what Übermonster comes in.  I mean, look at the pic…do I need to say anything?  Look at that satin label, with the highly detailed griffins, the black gold, the wide-mouth green bottle—I’ve said this before, but this drink sets a standard when it comes to packaging, and other energy drinks are going to have to step up if they ever hope to be noticed in the same refrigerator as Übermonster.  My only complaint is the lid—I hate pry-off lids.  But since I love the rest of the bottle so much, I’m not going to say anything beyond that.


With most reviews I’ve read, little information is given beyond the fact that this stuff tastes, more or less, like the original.  Well, I don’t know about everyone else, I wasn’t really expecting anything new—just a different take on the same flavor that Monster’s so loved for doing.  Turns out that this is the case—the flavor is classic Monster, but there are a few differences that I really appreciated.  First of all, it’s a bit sweeter, but it’s not really a sugary sweetness—even though it’s sweeter, it is far smoother than the original.  In addition, you get a small degree of effervescence lingering in your mouth once the initial fizz wears off, which I found to be appealing.  When it comes down to the flavor, I’d put it on par with Import.  Very enjoyable. 


So Übermonster lives up to the hype when it comes to taste and packaging, but how does this “bio-activated” energy technology we’ve all read about and looked forward to hold up?  Well, having drank it twice now, I have come to the following conclusions: 1) it is stronger, 2) it lasts longer, and 3) you don’t experience nearly as much of a crash when it isn’t your second energy drink of the day and you aren’t completely caffeinated out by the time you drink it.  Speaking now about my second (and I believe more representative) experience, about five minutes had passed after I drank the bottle before I became infused with a very healthy degree of energy, and another five passed before I found myself buzzing all over the clinic where I worked.  No shelf of pet food was too difficult to move, no canine too difficult to hold so as to allow the doctor to check his ears, no cat so feral that I couldn’t get it boxed up for its spay.  Yes, Übermonster is a potent beverage that delivers a very enabling kick, and I’d say it met expectations quite nicely.


I’d gauge Übermonster’s longevity as being somewhere between 5½ and 6 hours—and, as I mentioned, no crash.


So…how does Monster’s new, über-hyped drink hold up to scrutiny?  Well, putting it simply, I quite liked it.  I appreciated the new take on the original flavor, I appreciated the intensity of the kick, and I loved how long-lived it was.  Given the fact that it’s pretty pricy (I forked out $4.25 for the bottle), I don’t think it’ll be a beverage I revisit with frequency, but for the occasional hankering for a Monster, I think it’ll do nicely.


KEYWORDS: Übermonster energy drink review, green bottle, traditional energy drink flavor, bio-activated energy, energy brew

Review for Wired Berry


94 mg


About as common as the original.  Can be found fairly easily if you know where to look, otherwise…gets to be a bit challenging.


I think this is the first time I haven’t been enthralled, or at least have been critical, of an energy drink packaged in purple.  See, purple has an almost limitless potential to make things look cool—see what it does for the likes of NOS Grape, Monster Energy—Mixxd and Rockstar Juiced—Guava.  The difference between these and Wired Berry is the fact that the purple really has nothing to work with on the latter—I’ve always considered the Wired motif to look a bit cheesy, and there’s very little the purple can do to help it.


Don’t look for anything recognizably berry in Wired Berry—just expect a vague, fake flavor that may pass to some palates as being berry flavored.  So far, I’m not impressed….


Wired Berry does’t get any less ordinary when it comes to kick—it’s an average boost, the same kind you can get out of hosts of others.  In the interest of being descriptive, I’ll describe it as being an appreciable increase in alertness without any jitters.


Passable, if unremarkable.  2½ hours passed before it became apparent that the caffeine had worn off.


When it comes right down to it, Wired Berry is pretty dang ordinary.  If this sort of description does not turn you off, then by all means go ahead and buy a can.  Unfortunately, I experienced nothing drinking it that’s going to have me coming back for more.

KEYWORDS: Wired Berry energy drink review, bargain energy drink, fake berry flavor

Review for Wired Sugar Free


94 mg


Less common than some Wired products, which is unusual, considering it’s the sugar free version of the original—which is also harder to find than most.  All I can tell you is that if you’re near a WinCo store, you can find it there.  Otherwise…good luck.


Not often that I see silver and white favor an energy drink’s appearance, but in this case, it does.  Don’t ask me how; I still can’t quite place my finger on why—the silver flames, white background, and red font somehow look nice together.   Maybe because it reminds me of peppermint….


I didn’t plan on enjoying Wired Sugar Free as much as I did—the original was just a Red Bull clone, and even though I do like the flavor, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat for joy as I drank it.  The diet version here is nice, though—well balanced in terms of the complex combinations of flavors that make up the traditional energy drink flavor, with a blend of artificial sweeteners that actually manages to bring out said balance and make the drink a smooth experience.


Not bad—just average.  A healthy degree of alertness is about all you get, which under some circumstances, I can appreciate.


Wired Sugar Free delivered about 2½ hours of efficacy—which is not shoddy, but not exactly spectacular, either.


In terms of taste, I quite enjoyed Wired Sugar Free, and actually ranks pretty high when compared to the majority of Red Bull clones.  Kick, however, is more standard, which I almost expect given the caffeine content.  I don’t know how I’d feel about the flavor after drinking two cans, but that’s just might be what needs to happen if you find yourself in a high energy-requiring situation and you select Wired Sugar Free as your beverage of choice.

KEYWORDS: Wired Sugar Free energy drink review, Wired Diet energy drink review, sugar free, zero sugar, zero carbs, zero calories, Red Bull clone, traditional energy drink flavor

Review for TwinLab Energy Fuel


No clue.  My guess is 70-80 mg.


I found TwinLab Energy Fuel at a health food/herb store in Twin Falls—not one of my usual haunts, but upon entering the store to buy some turkey rhubarb as a birthday gift (long story), I decided to peek in the refrigerators on a whim, and Lo!  Therein were a couple of “healthy” takes on energy drinks, including this one.  Not sure what about it earns it a spot in a health food store refrigerator, but keep an eye on such locations if you’re actively trying to find it.


After a bit of a war with myself over my feelings for the can, I’ve decided that I like it.  Even though the leaping white figures aren’t really necessary, and the design is fairly simple, I like that it doesn’t really pitch itself as standard soda-style energy drink fare, but rather as a bona fide health supplement, created with the science in mind more than anything else.  That aside, I like the combination of purple and orange in the background, something you can’t see with the image I’ve provided—you have to roll the can over in your hands to get the full picture.


The can designates the drink’s flavor as “carbonated fruit splash”—so I really had no idea what to expect, except that it would be fruity.  I took a sip, and…it’s a bomb.  It’s got a fruit flavor, but it’s singularly muted and ambiguous—half the time I’m not even sure that I’m tasting it at all, much less able to identify it.  Finished it without any trouble, but it was like drinking water when you’re not really thirsty—really hard to enjoy it, no matter what you do.


At first, I could say that I was impressed with the energy boost I got as a reward for drinking the entire can.  I can’t really say I was wired, but I did get a pretty nice degree of alertness out of it—akin to what I experienced after drinking a 10 oz. bottle of Bawls.


That nice little boost didn’t last long—maybe 30 minutes before I was stuck with a more mediocre energy state.  It held the real fatigue off for maybe another hour after the fact, and then I was through.


I really can’t recommend this drink…health food store grade or not.  It seems to have been made by people who, not really understanding what an experience healthy eating can be (yeah, I know that’s hypocritical coming from an energy drink addict), resigned themselves to eating like guinea pigs, choking whatever it is they eat down no matter how nasty or bland it is on the grounds that it’s good for them.  Sure, the boost was okay while it lasted, but it didn’t last long enough to make up for the mediocrity of the flavor.  You will not miss anything by passing it over, which is the course of action I recommend.


KEYWORDS: TwinLab Energy Fuel energy drink review, health energy drink, health food store energy drink, healthy energy?

Weight Loss Reduces Biggest Losers' Metabolic Rate by 20%! 7% More Than Predicted by Another Useless Formula

Image 1: How many Biggest Loser ranches like this could you possibly build from the billions of dollars the American Health Care System alone is paying for drugs to manage instead of tread the obesity epidemic? And would it be worth it?
If you really want to get me started, you got to ask me "how many calories" you are supposed to eat. In my whole life, I have never even seen let alone eaten such a thing as "a calorie" and although I have no scientific evidence for that, my personal experience tells me that meticulous and even anxious calorie counting can make you skinny and crazy, yet never lean and sane. Aside from food quality factors, which certainly have a major impact, the real, fundamental fallacy of the "cut your calories" approach to weight loss is the ubiquitous ignorance towards the adaptive capabilities of the human body. A topic, I have broached several times before - yet obviously to no avail, other than the constant decry that "dieting will downregulate your metabolism"; of course, it will! If you weigh less, you need less energy.

You count calories? You must have a DEXA scanner, a ton of doubly labeled water and a Finnigan MAT 252 dual-inlet gas isotope ratio mass spectrometer, then, right?

And in view of the complexity of the human body, you should not be surprised that neither the resting nor the total energy expenditure exhibits a linear or otherwise deterministic association with your body weight and activity level. That even smart scientist, sophisticated mathematical formulas and accurate body fat, lean mass, etc. parameters (something you will by the way never have unless you got a decent DEXA scanner next to your scale in your bathroom ;-) cannot calculate the exact amount of energy you need has only recently confirmed in no one else but The Biggest Losers - in this case the actual "losers" from the TV show (Johannsen. 2012; thanks Steven Arcera for posting the link on my Facebook wall).

"Big losing" reduces your energy expenditure by -9% in six weeks

Some of you will know that the Biggest Losers are no strangers here at the SuppVersity (cf. my discussion of Ashmadi. 2011); not because I am a fan of the show, but rather because the TV producers worked hand in hand with a group of scientists who are now coming out with some relatively well-controlled (in the actual "camp" phase; 13 weeks for the last losers standing ;-) data on the effects of a weight loss program that consisted of a reasonable reduction in energy intake (-30%; pretty reasonable for someone who is as obese as a Biggest Loser - for leaner folks I would yet suggest to try to hover at max. -20% of their maintenance food not calorie intake and that for no longer than 6 weeks followed by a maintenance phase!) and an insane amount of (mostly) aerobic exercise.
Figure 1: Changes in BMI, fat free mass (FFM), fat mass (FM) and body fat (%) of the Biggest Losers after six weeks in the camp (total time in camp 13 weeks for the winners) and at the 30-week follow (left); fat / fat free mass weight loss ratio (right) and body weight change over the whole 30 week period (upper right; based on Johannsen. 2012)
And if you take at the results of the 11 (our of 16) competitors who survived the first 6 weeks, the results were actually not too bad. The subjects lost a whopping 7% of body fat (12kg!) and only 4% of their fat free mass. This yields a fat / fat free mass weight loss ratio, i.e. the ratio of the amount of fat to the amount of fat free mass (this is not just muscle, but also bone, organ weight, etc.) the subjects dieted and exercised away, of 4.8 - or put more simply. The subjects lost "only" one kg of fat free mass per ~5kg of body fat, which, if you come to think about it, is not all too bad. Most surprisingly, the weight loss did not stall (cf. figure 1, small graph), when the big losers went home after 13 weeks. In fact, the average weight of all sixteen participants, including the "real losers", who gave up before week 6 had declined by -40%(!) at the 30 week follow up and the "average loser" (7 men, 9 women) had lost 47kg of pure fat (-66%!) - if those are "the biggest losers", I guess the "biggest winners" are soon going to walk on the Karl Lagerfeld's catwalk ;-)

Are the Biggest Losers all winners, after all?!

The biochemical and blood pressure readings at the follow up support the notion that, overall, "housing [obese people] in an isolated ranch[es] outside Los Angeles" could be the long sought-for solution to the diabesity epidemic - a wonderful success story, if we (or rather you my dear American friends) had enough isolated ranches, personal trainers, television crews etc. to house and pamper 36% of the population (obesity rates according to NHANES data from 2008).

And though I am actually not sure if it would cost so much more than the billions of dollars the American Health Care System is investing year by year in drugs to manage, instead of to cure obesity, diabetes and co. if they actually constructed respective facilities, hire trainers and staff, revised the dietary guidelines and took all the other necessary measure to get down to the root of the trouble (and these are not just carbohydrates!), we all know that this is not going to happen.
Figure 2: Predicted and measured resting metabolic rate (RMR.) and total energy expenditure (measured using doubly labeled water analysis) of the subjects at week 6 (in the camp) and on 30 wk follow-up (left); changes in adipokine and thyroid hormone levels from baseline at 30 wk follow up (data calculated based on Johannsen. 2012)
If you take a closer look at the data in figure 2 it is also questionable how sustainable the results of these efforts would be, if we do not eventually step back from the typical western "more is more principle", according to which it is good and highly desirable to eat copious amounts of (junk-)food without any of the natural side effects this practice has.After all, the -20% reduction in metabolic rate (-560kcal/day), the scientists attribute to "centrally mediated with a parallel action on the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis", because ...
[...] the magnitude of metabolic adaptation was not significantly correlated with circulating T3 changes but was as-sociated with the change in TSH such that those with the greatest increase in TSH had the least metabolic adaptation.
and an average resting metabolic rate of  1764kcal/day will make it difficult to remain weight stable in a society where eating as much as possible (without gaining weight, of course) is perceived as desirable.

"More, more, more, ... I want to eat more!"

Image 2: Could Adelfo's physique partly be attributable to the fact that eating as much as possible is not among his goals in life?
If we disregard any appetite dysregulation and cravings for junk food, and take an objective look at the total daily energy expenditure of the subjects (in the absence of drill instructors enforcing the 90min/day of intense aerobic exercise), even the calories in vs. calories out principle would leave more than enough room for these big losers to eat to satiety - 2906kcal/day (!), this is ~27% more energy than our mutual friend Adelfo Cerame is consuming at the moment.

So, let me ask you this: What is the underlying problem here? Is it really the downregulation of the metabolic rate, or isn't it rather the combination of our insatiable appetite that grew from year to year on the standard western junk / convenient food diet with subsequent and intermittent unbalanced starvation diets, which makes everyone moan about a "sluggish" metabolism, these days?