Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Z Health Info and a Brand New Study on Strength Training and Insulin

Greetings loyal readers! Two topics today, some Z Health and then a cool new study.

I am currently in sunny AZ to start Z Health I Phase (level II) training in a few hours for the next 4 days. It will be a blast and I can't wait. This is what happens when you start drinking the Z Health Kool-Aid. I Phase is more integrated and you start to combine different foot and upper body movements while doing joint mobility work. One example would be to lunge to the right, rotate your upper body to the right and do a thoracic mobility drill. The options are limitless and a good base of Z Health R Phase work is required.

I Phase also incorporates the visual and vestibular (inner ear) components. It makes sense when you think about how your body gets information for movement--you watch (eyes/visual), balance (inner ear canals) and proprioception information (your body's 3D map of itself--that is how you can touch your nose with your eyes closed and not poke out your eye). I am sure I will have much more to say in the next few days. Plus I get to hang out all 5 days and talk shop with a bunch of super talented and bright people. Give me a "Hell Yeah!" Click here for Z Health info

Brand New Study on Strength Training and Glucose Tolerance (2)
The other topic today is a brand new study just published a few days ago on insulin and exercise. In general, as we exercise our body becomes better at handling glucose. Glucose (sugar) is actually toxic in the bloodstream in high amounts, so the body secretes insulin to get it the heck out of the blood and into tissues where it is safely stored for later use (glycogen or converted to fat and stored there) or burned for fuel. With exercise, the body needs less insulin to get the same job done and this is a good thing.

Think of someone trying to enter a room. Glucose comes to the door but has no arms, so it gets its buddy insulin to knock on the tissue door to allow entry. In tissue that is working correctly (no pathologies), insulin knocks a few times and glucose moves on in--everyone is happy. In tissue that is now becoming less sensitive to insulin, glucose needs more and more insulin to create more and more knocks at the door since the tissue is going "deaf" to the knocks. If this goes on for a long period of time, the poor pancreas (the organ that has to crank out insulin) may burn out and lead to type 2 diabetes.

On to the study!
It has been shown the endurance training improves insulin sensitivity (1), but few studies have looked at resistance exercise (strength training).

N=18 healthy recreationally trained active students (the typical college dude since they are easy to get into studies)
They were randomly split into and endurance training or resistance training group

Pre Training
OCTT (oral glucose tolerance test) was done
Endurance group--a max exercise test to exhaustion on a bike with a metabolic cart
Resistance group-10 RM (rep max) was done

Study design
Beverage with 1,000 kcal (200 g of maltodextrin and 50 g whey hydrolysate) was given within 1 hour post training--holy post training beverage batman!
An OGTT was done 6 hours after exercise

No changes in glucose tolerance after endurance training
Acute resistance training can significantly lower blood glucose (area under the curve) as shown by an OGTT for up to 6 HOURS later, even after a crapload (technical term) of carbs and protein post training.

That is pretty cool that this effect stays around for that long and with that many grams of carbs and protein after training.

My Thoughts
Resistance training wins again!

I wish they would have monitored strength levels and body composition, especially with that many grams of carbs and protein post training. I know there are some other great studies on nutrient timing, but more data is good!
Although insulin levels are interesting, I am more personally interested in strength/body composition changes. You would expect that as the body becomes more sensitive to glucose you would drop body fat, but it is just not that simple all the time.

This is based off an ORAL Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), and therefore absorption of that many carbs and protein in the gut may be an issue for some people in the study. Maybe they should have measured expired gases not just from the mouth! If you can't absorb it, you will have a different response vs. someone who can. Researchers will then get into a heated debate about the best way to measure insulin response, but of the other ways are more invasive (multiple sticks for an IV at times) and much more time intensive. Plus, if you want to compare it to the average gym rat, they will be using an oral drink so having an oral drink in the study is better for that comparison.

Take away (aka how the heck does this help me)
To modify glucose tolerance, resistance training appears to be better based on this study. So save those carbs for post training!

Rock on
Mike N


1. Ivy J. L., T. W. Zderic, D. L. Fogt. Prevention and treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 27:1-35, 1999.

2. Venables M. C., C. S. Shaw, A. E. Jeukendrup, A. J. Wagenmakers. Effect of acute exercise on glucose tolerance following post-exercise feeding. Eur J Appl Physiol. , 2007.