Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do Raspberries Stunt Muscle Growth? And much more

Some highlights from my twitter between January and April, with additional commentary. I tend to tweet about recent scientific findings and other stuff I find interesting.

Do raspberries stunt muscle growth?

Tweet: "I'm a sucker for raspberries and sometimes eat them by the pound as a treat with cinnamon or cacao. Raspberry ketones may have some interesting effects: 'Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone'. But this study makes me think twice, since it appears raspberry ketones have anti-androgenic effects. Nothing conclusive in live human subjects though."

Comment: "Anti-androgenic effects" means that raspberry ketones (RK) block androgenic receptors, which should have negative implications for muscle growth. Since I eat a lot of raspberries, I decided to look into this.

In the discussion of the full text version of the study it was extrapolated, from rodent and cell culture studies, that the anti-androgenic effects of RK translates to an intake of ~10 mg/kg body weight, or 800 mg for the average male. Considering raspberries by themselves contain about 2-3 mg RK per 100 g dry weight, it would take about 30-40 kg/70-90 lbs of raspberries per day to reach those levels.

Suffice to say, there's no need cut down on your raspberry intake. However, where these findings might be relevant is in the context of RK supplements, which provide anywhere between 100 mg and 500 mg (!) of RK per capsule.

Here's a treat I eat on a daily basis. I empty a pound of frozen raspberries in a bowl, sprinkle them with cinnamon and/or cacao and pour vanilla protein on. Great stuff.

The cortisol paradox

Tweet: "I have a brutal cold. Ever wondered why symptoms are always worse in the evening (runny nose, sneezing etc)? It's due to cortisol. Cortisol peaks in the morning, which has an anti-inflammatory effect. As cortisol goes down in the evening, the inflammatory response goes up - your immune system can 'run wild' again = runny nose, sneezing etc."

Comment: Cortisol gets a bad rep, but much points towards acute elevations being beneficial, as the above example shows, and not detrimental. A low morning peak in cortisol is why some people feel sluggish after waking and short term effects of cortisol administration, via dexemathasone, elevates mood, increases leptin and provides performance enhancing effects (glucocorticoids such as prednisone and dexamethasone are on the World Anti Doping Agency's list of banned substances). The key word here is short-term. Chronically elevated cortisol, by stress or medication, is a another story. All the positive effects are basically reversed (mood is depressed, leptin is decreased, etc). When this happens depends on dose, but studies usually show that these sides occur after 3-4 days of cortisol treatment.

No best time to train?

Tweet: "It's fascinating how some of the best workouts get done under the worst conditions. Mindset plays a much larger role than people realize. I had some killer sessions after 20 hr + fasts, semi-drunk/with a scorching hangover or with barely an hour of sleep. Or like today, after having been out of commission for almost a week due to a cold."

Comment: Well, the tweet pretty much says it all. I've had some crappy workouts under "ideal" conditions and some great ones under the worst possible conditions. And vice versa, of course.

Knowledge-based work and overeating

This was originally a comment on Lyle's article. More specifically this part:

"Moving on to the other topic of the paper we get to KBW, again referring to activities such where you’re sedentary but engaged in large amount of mental activity. The paper mentions work, school, even video games and computer ‘chatting’ (you Facebook people know who you are) and other related activities as potential examples of KBW.

And, as you might expect, while similarly sedentary like sleeping, the impact of KBW on appetite and body weight regulation tend to be rather negative. The brain, unlike skeletal muscle, can’t use fat for fuel and studies have shown that intense thinking can screw blood glucose levels; this is relevant as some work shows that falling or lowered blood glucose can stimulate hunger."

Tweet: "The study you quoted on ad lib feeding and KBW, the exercise used in that study was perceived as a stressor by the women (as shown by higher cortisol levels vs the control condition), and that’s a significant confounder. KBW is not the trigger for overeating, stress is. I don’t think this was made clear enough in the article. Is there a link between non-stressful KBW and higher calorie intakes in a similar fashion? I don’t think so. Could chatting and WOW contribute to overeating in a similar fasion? Perhaps if they are perceived as stressful events."

Comment: My point here was that it's impossible to say that it's KBW per se that predisposes towards overeating, but rather the stress caused by it. It's not likely that unstressful and leisurely KBW would have the same effects on glucose metabolism and appetite.

Juicing with aspirin?

Tweet: "NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit adaptations to resistance training when taken prior to the workout...but actually helps if taken AFTER the workout...and quite significantly so vs placebo: 'Timing of ibuprofen use and bone mineral density adaptations to exercise training'. Maybe we'll see people juicing up on aspirin soon"

Comment: An undesirable side-effect of NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) is inhibition of prostanglandin synthesis, which results in impaired bone formation. Increased bone formation is one of the adaptations to weight training. Needless to say, taking NSAIDs in conjunction with weight training is something you'd want to avoid. However, animal studies have previously shown that this effect only occurs when NSAIDs are taken prior to mechanical loading. The aim with this study was to test whether this was true for humans as well.

The participants in this study were split into three groups and studied for nine months, during which they were weight training three times a week.

IBUP/PLAC: Received 400 mg ibuprofen prior to weight training, and placebo after.

PLAC/PLAC: Received placebo prior and after training.

PLAC/IBUP: Received placebo prior to weight training, and 400 mg ibuprofen after.

The results showed that bone density in IBUP/PLAC decreased by 0.2%. Regular weight training was not sufficient to compensate for the negative effects of consistent ibuprofen intake.

PLAC/PLAC showed a small and predictable increase of 0.4% in bone density.

And here's the kicker: PLAC/IBUP showed an increase of 2.1% in bone density. So post-workout ibuprofen intake basically increased bone formation by 500% compared to placebo, which is pretty crazy.

What's the explanation here? The researchers speculate that ibuprofen may protect against, or dampen, the surge in inflammatory cytokines which occur post-workout. Inflammatory cytokines acutely inhibit bone formation, so NSAIDs could theoretically combat this by anti-inflammatory action.

However, another perspective on this, not mentioned in the paper, is that exposure to inflammotory cytokines, and other metabolic by-products such as free radical formation, is necessary for optimal training adaptation.

Regardless of the precise mechanism behind the effects of NSAIDs on bone formation, it's safe to say that if you need to take them, do it post-workout.

Lifting weights for toning is horseshit

Tweet: "NY Times: Lifting light weights for "toning" is horseshit: The Claim: For Better Muscle Tone, Go Lighter and Repeat. That's what I've been saying for years...but it's good to see the mainstream catching on."

Comment: I've never believed that women's training routines should look much different from men's training routines in terms of the general setup. The only thing I change is expanding the repetition interval.

I typically use a double progression model where the load is increased when x reps are performed. So for a male, I might tell them to increase the weight by 2.5% or 5 lbs when 8 reps are performed. This usually translates to 5 lbs in most movements, except deadlifts and squats, since 5 lbs is the bare minimum in terms of plates available.

For women, an increase of 5 lbs usually translates to an increase in 5% load or more, which results in a drop off of more reps. Let me give you an example.

Male, bench press (rep range 6-8, increase at 8 reps)

200 x 8 to 205 x 7 (+2.5%). Loss of 1 rep, assuming strength is unchanged.

Female, bench press (rep range 6-9, increase at 9 reps)

80 x 9 to 85 x 6-7 (+6.2%). Loss of 2-3 rep, assuming strength is unchanged.

I tend to stick to the 6-8 rep range for most - not all - upper body movements. If I would have used the same rep range for women, they'd sometimes hit 5 reps or less when increasing the load, which is why I expand the range. This is particularly important for dumbbell movements. For example, going from 20 lbs dumbbells to 22 lbs dumbbells would equate a 10% increase in load and the loss of 4 reps or more. In such cases, I use a 6-10 rep range.

You can bet my client Jennifer didn't do any pump-and-tone bullshit in her glute-specialization routine.

Vegetarian diets and muscle growth

Tweet: "Vegetarian diets aren't optimal for muscle growth: see my comment in 'Book Review: Muscle Gaining Secrets'.

This was in response to someone who asked me about data for my claim that vegetarian diets aren't optimal for muscle gains. I brought it up because Ferruggia advocates a vegetarian diet - or so I thought. He actually advocates a vegan diet, which is even worse. Anyway, you can see my response in comments, but the gist of it is this:

Studies have concluded that a protein intake of 2 g/kg body weight is needed to optimize muscle gains. However, these studies are based on non-vegetarian diets. Why is this important? It's not only about total protein intake, it's about the BCAA content of the diet. BCAAs, and particularly leucine, are the amino acids most intimately involved in controlling muscle protein synthesis. BCAA content in relation to total calorie content of different foods:

Whey protein: 25% BCAA

Animal protein: 17-18% BCCA

Egg white protein: 18% BCAA

Soy protein: 15-18% BCAA

Cottage cheese: 10-13% BCAA

Beans and peas: 4-5% BCAA

Nuts: 2% BCAA. Speaking of nuts, they're probably the most overrated food deemed "healthy" by the mainstream. I talked about this in "Scorch through your fat loss plateau".

As you can see, plant protein doesn't rank very high in terms of BCAA content. It's likely that a vegetarian diet containing 2 g/kg protein would have a much lower BCAA content than a 2 g/kg protein non-vegetarian diet. Meaning that, in order to get the same effect, you'd have to eat more total protein to reach the same BCAA content than a non-vegetarian diet. Unless you're planning on consuming tons of soy protein (which might have adverse effects).

Now, for a ovo-lacto vegetarian with a decent base of nutritional knowledge it wouldn't be too hard to get quality protein by adding a lot of cottage cheese, egg protein and even whey protein. The real issue as I see it is mainly with vegans and some vegetarians that don't have a clue about what sources to get quality protein from.

Protein trumps fat for satiety

Tweet: Protein trumps fat for satiety: 'Postprandial ghrelin and PYY responses of male subjects on low carbohydrate meals to varied balancing proportions of proteins and fats'

Nothing new here, just a firm reminder about why I advocate high-protein diets for maintaining low body fat in the long term. It's not that I believe high protein intakes beyond a certain point leads to improved muscle growth, but rather due to the effects on satiety and metabolism (via TEF). Read more here: "Maintaining low body fat".

P.S. I fixed the "Like"-button below, so now it shows you liked the specific post/article and not just my site.


LayzieBone085 said...

Great articles as expected Martin, whats next up your sleeve?

cubby said...

Is your estimate of beans and peas the number of calories from the BCAAs in relation to total calorie content? Most bean proteins are in the range of 15% BCAAs. Check the math on black beans here.

Most beans have a very similar profile, except lentils, the profile of which is much poorer.

Martin Berkhan said...


I have all sorts of mischief planned. Telling would ruin the surprise...


In relation to total calorie content. But thanks for catching that, I'll clarify in the text.

Anonymous said...

Is that milk with the raspberries or just melted ice?

Anonymous said...

What about hemp protein?

From Wiki:

"Whole hempseed also contains about 25% of a highly-digestible protein, where 1/3 is edestin and 2/3 are albumins. Its amino acid profile is close to "complete" when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy."

Andrew said...

A nice mix up of a multi-faceted post. Pleasant reading as always. I never get tired of reading your stuff to cut through the BS.

Anonymous said...

About protein trumping fat for satiety: I have been having either sleepless nights or having broken sleep the past several days. I am trying to isolate the culprit, but when the insomnia started, I also happened to adopt a few diet-related practices at the same time - in an attempt to optimize my diet.

All at the same time, I decided I would start having an 8-oz. "winecap" (cabernet) as well as have dinners that were as free of fat as I could possibly make them. This would mean 2-3 scoops of whey and casein powder, 40g of raisins, and a blueberry or cinnamon raisin bagel with fat-free cheese melted on top. Total fat intake for that meal would be 1-2g only. Total fat intake for that day was around a paltry 8-10g (the remainder of the fat intake was from 6 fish oil caps).

Context: I'm in the stubborn fat phase and I'm aware of how easily lipogenesis can happen when dietary fat is consumed under insulinemic conditions. Also, I read from some interview of you that your post-workout refeeds are generally low in fat. I basically took this to the extreme and tried to minimize my fat intake as per your response to the interviewer's question.

So my question is threefold:

1) I know red wine naturally contains melatonin, which helps with sleep. However, my dad, an MD, stated something to the effect that alcohol's detrimental effects on lowered sleep quality (easier to knock out but REM is compromised, I'm guessing) will far outweigh the benefit that the small quantity of melatonin in the wine would offer. Whether or not red wine may be associated with insomnia, which was what I was experiencing, I don't know. Could the culprit be the wine?
2)Might the body desire a daily threshold of fat intake to be reached before satiety can be reached? Is this something not even high protein can fulfill? Because my protein intake was up there.
3)What exactly did you mean when you tried to keep fat intake low during the post-workout refeed? Would you give me a ballpark number? I feel that I most definitely went overboard in applying what you said!

I have no clue what is going on but can only trace back to what I began doing recently habit-wise. Perhaps it's the summer heat making it hard for me to fall asleep?

Anonymous said...

Your last point on protein and satiety reminds me of a problem I've been having lately. I have been having insomnia for the past week and that was the around the time I began adopting a very low fat intake during the post-workout refeed. I remember you saying that you kept fat intake low post-workout. I perhaps went overboard because my total fat intake during this time would be 1-2g. Total fat intake for the day would be 8-10g (the remaining 6g came from fish oil caps). A typical dinner would be 2-3 scoops of whey/casein, 40g of raisins, and a blueberry or cinnamon raisin bagel with fat-free cheese melted on top. Is there a satiety threshold that can only be met with a minimal daily fat intake that not even a high protein intake can fulfill?

The only other variable I can consider is that I also began drinking red wine (cabernet sauvignon) at the same time I adopted this low-fat post-WO approach. I believe that for some people alcohol may cause insomnia. It may acutely help with sleep but increase the incidence of waking up; in this sense it may disrupt normal REM occurrence and lower sleep quality (despite the fact that it red wine naturally contains melatonin, which improves sleep quality).

Either that or it's the summer heat making it hard for me to fall asleep. I dropped both dietary practices but to no avail - still broken sleep or 1-2 hours of sleep max. Thoughts?

By the way, what is your ballpark figure of fat intake during the post-workout refeed? Just trying to gauge how "low" you meant when you said your fat intake was low during this time.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I thought my first comment didn't go through so I rewrote it and made it shorter..

fitto13 said...

The RPT is awesome!
I've been implementing it slighty different - not to failure and it still works a charm!

Higher reps to get volume in, but heavy weights are where it's at.

Cleo said...

Some very interesting stuff here! I love this format of bite-sized tidbits of recent scientific findings and information on cortisol etc. Keep up the great work, your blog is amazing:)

Anonymous said...

A question about something completely else. Something that's been on my mind for a while.

Way back when in 2003 I was really fat (+110kgs. In 2004 I got myself down to 78 kgs. About a year after that I started a bulk that lasted for about 3-4 months. I found that I got fat very easily even with a remote surplus. I wasn't pleased with the fat/muscle ratio.

About a year ago I started a somewhat "homebrewed" protocol wich had me overeating slightly one week followed by another week where i ate below my caloric budget. I repeated this cycle for about 6 months and was very pleased. I go stronger in all my lifts and didn't gain much fat.

The question i would like to get your opinion on, seeing as you yourself were a former fat kid.

Do you find that former obese individuals who have lost weight are better suited for att bodyrecomp-protocol instead of the traditional bulking thing? And have you yourself found that you got fat fast when trying to put on muscle?


Justin said...

In response to the vegetarian protein info.

If you had a client that was refusing to stray from a vegan diet and didn't eat soy for health reasons what would you recommend for protein sources and how much?

Always interested in what a knowledgeable person like yourself would say on the subject?

(Im not vegan, Just interested in what you think.)

Clement said...

Hey Martin, do you have any opinions on soy protein? I'm unsure whether to get a whey protein with soy in it or just pure whey. Both have 6g of BCAAs per serving. The only difference is that the one with soy has 25g of protein and 2g carbs, while the one without has 24g protein and 3G carbs.

Mike @ Papa Star Health said...


I am getting to close to 8% body fat (currently at 10%) I do not currently take any supplements besides calcium, vitamin d, fish oil and apple cider vinegar.

I am trying to get down to 7-8% body fat for my honeymoon. Do you think adding creatine, l-arginine (Nitric Oxide), and 10g of BCAA (pre-workout as you recommend) will make a noticeable visual impact? Meaning would you spend the extra $70 (US dollars) and start supplementing a couple weeks out before the actual event (honeymoon)? Any help, thoughts you have on this would be appreciated


Evan said...

Bump Anonymous @6:47 7/29 question:

What is "vanilla protein"?

Looks like a tasty treat and I want some. NOW!

Anonymous said...


Speaking of Ferrugia and vegetarian or vegan diets, I was wondering what your thoughts are with regard to the rice protein from Sun Warrior, a product which Ferrugia links to through his website..................but in this context I am mostly curious about whether or not you think this is a viable option for supplementing protein intake (as opposed to being the sole basis of said intake) for a person who has a sensitivity to dairy-based powders (this would also apply to someone who has possibly sensitized to various animal protein sources and may need to run a rotation-type diet for a time before reintroducing certain foods.........running such a diet while still having adequate protein can be a challenge depending upon what foods cause issues).

While I would generally try to get as much protein as possible from whole food sources, there are times when adding a scoop or two of protein powder is convenient and helpful for various reasons. But without dairy-based powders, many of the options are worse than eating dirt (hemp and pea spring to mind). Most would likely tag the Sun Warrior product as overpriced junk, so I am mostly curious if it might have limited potential for someone in a similar boat as me with regard to dairy-based foods.

The only other potential powder option I could think might be more tolerable was the following product, which is a goat's-milk-derived whey, since goat's milk is supposedly well tolerated by many who have varying degrees of issues with cow's milk.

I know that a lot of people are quick to downplay the notion of food sensitivities, but as someone with a family history of auto-immune issues, I am likely more pre-disposed to developing issues than a lot of folks. As such, I hope that my questions don't come across as me thinking that any of the products suggested above are magical or should become staples in the average lifter's diet. I am mostly wondering if you think they are complete bunk or potentially useful in those with legitimate food sensitivities.

Thanks for taking time out to read this.

~Ben McDonald

Anonymous said...

Hi, Martin. Just curious, when you mention cacao, do you use nibs or a powder form? Either way, I am right there with you on the raspberry bandwagon. Delicious!


Bleicke said...

Hi Martin, when is your book coming out? I can't wait.

I've been IFing mostly like your protocol (eat between 2PM and 10PM most days) for a few months now, but I haven't lost any weight. I train CrossFit between 3-5x a week and either eat eggs and bacon before or after it. I limit carbs to 1 bar 75% chocolate (25g carbs) and 1l whole milk (50g carbs) a day MAX. Most days it is less. In general, my calories on a given day are between 2000 and 2500.
IF is very convenient, I'm never hungry and feel great on it. Even working out on it is great. But why can't I lose fat? I've initially lost 20kgs when I started paleo but then plateaued. Haven't lost a pound in almost 6 months of Leangains-style IF now, last measure was 96kg (@185cm).

What am I doing wrong?

LayzieBone085 said...

well your site has sure lacked some Cheesecake updates... Just sayin'

Jeremy T. said...

While I generaly agree with you on almost everything, and "quality" whey is very good for you. Hemp protein is THE best there is. There's just no way around it, and it's plant based. When you think about plant based proteins look at gorillas. Don't get me wrong I love meat and most vegetarians/vegans are undernourished. You just got to be smart, and do what works for you. Love your site and another great article. Can't wait for the book.

Anonymous said...

@Jeremy T., i beg your pardon, but your comment about hemp protein is completely unfounded. What does "the best" mean? It certainly is not the "best" in terms of bioavailability, price, AA profile, or macronutrient composition. Perhaps you simply like the taste?

But, hey, if your goal is to look/act like a gorilla, that's your prerogative.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please direct me to the part where Sumo's skipping breakfast as a means of gaining weight is explained?

Anonymous said...

Related to insomnia, I have found that if I eat too much protein and/or too little carbs at night I can´t sleep well.

I fall asleep the best if I ingest most of my daily protein allotment in my first 2 meals while consuming most of my carbs for dinner (my 3rd and last meal of the day, which is low protein).


Anonymous said...

That seems to make sense I think. Maybe the high TEF from protein makes us generate a lot of heat and keep us up? And the serotonin released from carbs makes people drowsy right? Maybe all protein should be taken in earlier and most, if not all, carbs before bed. :)

That may have to do with my insomnia problem; either that or girl problems. Yeah, probably the girl problems.

Jaap said...

A great read Martin. I'm finding myself more and more on your blog, keep it up!

Martin Berkhan said...


"Is there a satiety threshold that can only be met with a minimal daily fat intake that not even a high protein intake can fulfill?"

Yes. Your fat intake was extremely low - I don't know your stats, but I would suggest you at least keep it in the 25-35 g range.

Martin Berkhan said...


"Do you find that former obese individuals who have lost weight are better suited for att bodyrecomp-protocol instead of the traditional bulking thing? "

I would suggest a small weekly surplus. Not sure what you did that made you pack on the fat that fast.

Martin Berkhan said...


"If you had a client that was refusing to stray from a vegan diet and didn't eat soy for health reasons what would you recommend for protein sources and how much? "

Beans, rice, lentils, quinoa, chick peas etc.

Martin Berkhan said...




It's a vanilla flavored casein powder. I'm using powder:water in a 1:5 ratio. Makes it very milky. Depending on brand you might wanna try something similar i.e 4-5 dl water for 1 dl powder.

Martin Berkhan said...


"I was wondering what your thoughts are with regard to the rice protein from Sun Warrior, a product which Ferrugia links to through his website."

Rice protein is pretty shitty. Given your issues with dairy protein, look into egg or pea protein.

Martin Berkhan said...


"Hi, Martin. Just curious, when you mention cacao, do you use nibs or a powder form?"

Powder. But it's actually a sweeetened cacao powder, the kind you use for quick n easy chocolate milk. Raw cacao is pretty bitter on it's own.

Martin Berkhan said...


"While I generaly agree with you on almost everything, and "quality" whey is very good for you. Hemp protein is THE best there is. There's just no way around it, and it's plant based. When you think about plant based proteins look at gorillas."

I can't think of a single attribute hemp protein would be "best" in. It's a complete protein but it's still subpar compared to whey and casein.

Anonymous said...

Just to remind you, this was your reply to my post:

"Yes. Your fat intake was extremely low - I don't know your stats, but I would suggest you at least keep it in the 25-35 g range."

Would it be prudent to move this fat intake to a period when my carb intake is low (for example, pre-workout), rather than coinciding the ~30g of fat intake with the relatively high-carb post-workout feed? I am trying to facilitate the fat loss process and don't want any esterification of dietary fat into triglycerides.

As per Lyle, a pound of fat is ~400g of fat. A 150-lb person will normally oxidize ~180g fat daily, not looking at re-esterification or compensatory storage of fat, according to a study Lyle cited in his Ketogenic Diet book. A cardio session that burns 150 calories, assuming a low RQ (from low-carbing, ephedrine, caffeine, yohimbine, fasting, etc.), roughly equates to 15g of fat oxidized.

So, I want to make sure I oxidize most of my dietary fat, which is already low. Or would I be shortchanging myself and still not meet the fat threshold if I tried to do the good ol' carb/fat separation trick for the final stages of my leaning out? Should I just have the fat in the post-WO feed?

Alexis said...

Hi Martin, I have like 3 or 4 months following IF and I´m really glad with the results. I´m going to travel like a month and a half and for sure I´m not going to have access to machines or some barbells to do my workouts, any advice? do you have some alternative routines?


Anonymous said...

Martin, if your indictment of vegetarian and vegan diets is based on protein quality alone, check out the BV scores of seeds (esp. poppy, flax, sunflower), vegetables (the cruciferous ones), and even fruits.

The scores are on par with dairy and meat, some even superior (eggs are still highest, though).

One might still argue that the protein content of these foods (except seeds) is much lower than that of most animal products, making it hard to ingest sufficient quantities.

In case of fruits, I agree. A meaningful amount of high-quality fruit protein is necessarily combined with a disproportionally larger amount of simple, fairly high GI carbs.

But with cruciferous veggies, the story is different. Vegans usually eat much larger portion sizes than omnivores, and a 1 kg bag of frozen cauliflower would certainly be realistic (judging from myself), delivering 27 grams of high-quality protein and little else.

Therefore, I do not share your view that vegetarian and vegan diets are necessarily inferior for muscle building due to lower protein quality.

If the right kinds of foods are included (which does not have to mean eating tons of soy), protein quality can be at least as high as with omnivorous diets.

Martin Berkhan said...


You're overthinking this. Stop wanking around.


Look into some of Ross's stuff at

Martin Berkhan said...


You'd have to eat a SHITLOAD of vegetables to get a sufficient amount of vegetable protein.

30 g of protein in 1 kg broccoli, so what? Are you going to eat 5 kg+ per day?

And the protein would still be inferior compared to a mixed diet at the same calorie intake.

Clement said...

Hi Martin, I have to ask you this: does dairy make you fat? Besides low fat cottage cheese, of course. I'm talking about swapping it with sliced low-fat cheddar cheese. More sodium and less protein, I would imagine. And do you have any opinions on soy vs cow's milk?

Anonymous said...

"You'd have to eat a SHITLOAD of vegetables to get a sufficient amount of vegetable protein.

30 g of protein in 1 kg broccoli, so what? Are you going to eat 5 kg+ per day?

And the protein would still be inferior compared to a mixed diet at the same calorie intake."

Martin, I agree that eating 5 kg of frozen vegetables daily would neither be practical nor effective.

However, when combining frozen veggies with other plant products (legumes, nuts and seeds, some soy products) ingesting 150 grams of protein is totally feasible.

When many different protein sources are combined over the course of a day, the combined BV score is generally good - no problems there.

The amount of specific AAs (esp. BCAAs) could still be significantly lower than with an omnivorous diet, including lots of animal products.

But even this problem (if you want to call it one) is easily fixed: Just buy a pound of cheap vegan leucine or BCAA powder at, and you're fixed for a whole month.

Anonymous said...

Martin, if you'll look, you'll see the mainstream is NOT catching on. They know (you don't) that people, in general, don't read articles (sad, but true). They only read headlines. Let's look at the headline of that article:
"The Claim: For Better Muscle Tone, Go Lighter and Repeat"
No, they're not catching on, they're allowing the real word to provide content, then they attach a counter-spun headline when reality doesn't directly benefit the fraudulent business architecture of today.
A better headline:
For Toning, Experts say Higher Weight, Lower Reps!
But, no, the myth made the headline.
They know what they're doing, but they're not "catching on".

Michael said...

Ciao, Martin. I was wondering, since you're pretty fledged with eating those frozen raspberries, if you've ever encountered a joke on humanity called the Norovirus? If you have, what did you eat during that period? I ate some foreign raspberries which we've gotten epidemics of Noro here in Finland (duh, should've done my research before chugging the bastards down) and now I'm enjoying the pleasant aftermath of sleep-wake-shit-puke-repeat. Would you go for "energy" drinks like gatorade? I don't know, but I'd guess eating large amounts of meat and dairy goes well against recovery from the virus. If you have any insight, please, enlighten me. This is crazy annoying.

Martin Berkhan said...

Nope, never heard of the Norovirus. It sounds like a bitch though.

Dream_Puppy said...

WOW! Jennifer looks great! I feel so bad for women who leg press 50 pounds and think they are toning their legs and bum. There is nothing like heavy weights for truly changing your body. I now leg press 210 pounds (am 5'4, 125 pound female) and the changes to my body have been very promising. Esp the booty!

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Great tweets and info Martin.

As far as cortisol increases goes; i've found the same effect with simply psyching myself up, it's easy to increase your 'stress hormones' on demand :)

Zach said...

the point about looking into BCAA percentages of plant protein is very interesting, and something ive never considered before. i agree with you that there's really no reason that vegetarians can't build muscle as long as they're consuming plenty of eggs and dairy. overall, this was a very interesting post, as usual

coffeenjub said...

Bit of a necro, but...

Either your comparison of BCAA-profiles are flawed, or the description of the comparison are flawed. I'm guessing the latter, since it involves the least amount of /failsauce, even though someone allready asked about your pea/beans estimate.

So either your comparing apples and moondust by comparing the BCAA percentage per calorie in isolated proteins to BCAA percantage per calorie in wholefoods (cottage cheese and peas), or your description should be something along the lines of "BCAA content in relation to total calorie content of _the proteins_ in different foods:".

If its the former, I dont think I need to explain how that would be wrong. said...

I'm a lacto ovo vegetarian... Very glad to hear that i will still be able to grow my puny muscles into less puny muscles. Currently using 100% soy protein powder, egg whites and whey as my staple sources of protein.

Anonymous said...

This actually makes me feel better. It is my first week on leangains and I've ha da troubling feeling I am doomed to fail - being vegetarian and an endurance athlete. But this is reassuring, since I eat a variety of all those foods as well as eggs and dairy.

Luke J. Terry said...


Re: raspberries--the leaf has a fairly potent estrogenic & progesteronic effect. Raspberry leaf has been used for centuries for female reproductive disorders. No question that the berry itself will retain many of these properties--especially berries that are immature.

Most berries packaged for shipment are picked slightly immature; fresh berries are not a packagable, shippable product, they're too sweet, juicy and squishy.

Rob said...

This is an old one, but the study about rep ranges mentioned in the NYtimes piece makes no sense. It says the groups were either 8 reps at 85% 1RM or 15 reps at 45% 1RM. Now it seems like the former would be a rep or two past failure in many cases, whereas the latter would be pretty easy.

Now, other studies have made it clear that >60% 1RM is best, but it looks like the particular one mentioned by the NYTimes is pretty crap.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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