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episode #250

Re-Broadcast Interview with Dr. Don Layman: Importance of Amino Acids, Not All Protein is Equal and Role of Protein in Losing Weight!

May 8, 2023 in Podcast


This week I am rebroadcasting my interview with Dr. Don Layman!

He is the former professor of food science and human nutrition at U of Illinois. He has been studying protein, amino acid requirements and the interrelationship between dietary protein and carbohydrates in adult health for the past 30 years.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • what your first meal should consist of,
  • the importance of getting the correct amino acids in your diet,
  • the difference between casein and whey protein,
  • ideal amount of protein to build muscle
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast,

Don (4s):

When we talk about energy balance and everything, you have to realize carbs make up 50% of our energy intake. So they're a big part of it. The average Americans eating close to 300 grams of carbs per day. The r d A for carbs is 130. So we, people get all hung up about the R D A for protein at around 60 grams. And you know, the average Americans eating between 70 and 90 and people get all upset about that. But the r D A for carbohydrates is one 30 and we're eating 300. Nobody talks about it, right? So, you know, we gotta, we gotta be consistent here.

Don (45s):

Carbs are a great fuel for muscle, but only if muscle is active. And so the way I think about carbs is that the body has a need for about 90 to a hundred grams per day of carbs. And then anything above that, you, you earn with muscle activity at a rate of maybe 60 grams per hour of exercise. So if you have an hour of exercise per day, you can have about 160 grams of carbs per day.

Brian (1m 20s):

Hello and welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. I'm Brian Gryn and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in-depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long-term sustainable results. This week I am rebroadcasting my interview with Dr. Don Layman. He's the former professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois. He's been studying protein, amino acid requirements, the interrelationship between dietary protein and carbs in adult health. For the past 30 years, we discussed what your first meal should consist of the importance of getting the correct amino acids in your diet, the difference between cassin and whey protein, ideal amount of protein to build muscle and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was.

Brian (2m 15s):

Really enjoyed my interview with Dr. Don. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All right. Welcome to the Get EAN podcast. My name is Brian Grin and I have Dr. Don Leman. Welcome to the show.

Don (2m 32s):

I'd be with you Brian.

Brian (2m 33s):

Yeah. And Dr. Don, you've, you were a professor since 2012 or up until 2012 at University of Illinois, which I'm just outside Chicago. We were just talking about that. And you said you were there for, what, 30 years or so? Yeah,

Don (2m 47s):

33 years. I think I first went there directly from my PhD and from the University of Minnesota. I went there in 1979, so I'm not quite sure what that math adds up to, but yeah, it's a long time.

Brian (3m 4s):

Yeah. And you studied and you taught about like food science and human nutrition specifically, like protein, is that correct? I was

Don (3m 12s):

In a department of food science and human nutrition. My expertise is definitely biochemistry, particularly metabolic regulation and certainly an expertise in protein and amino acids, particularly related to skeletal muscle.

Brian (3m 28s):

And you know, since you started back, what, 79 till now, I know this might be a broad question, but what has changed or has your outlook changed on, you know, protein and the importance of it and also the amino amino acids as well?

Don (3m 47s):

Oh wow. I've always, I grew up on a farm, so in Illinois, so I always had a protein centric view of, of diet. I always thought protein was, and, and I was always an athlete, so protein was always important to me. I think I would say what our understanding has evolved. I, I was just writing something yesterday and I, I think one of the things that we need to become more sensitive to is we really don't have a protein requirement. What we have is a requirement for amino acids and we need to start treating amino acids like nutrients.

Don (4m 28s):

We would never consider saying, well, I have a requirement for a vitamin pill. I have a requirement for 12 vitamins. Why don't we say we have a requirement for protein when we don't, we actually require nine essential amino acids and some organic nitrogen, you know, bean groups, non-essential amino acids. So, you know, I think my evolution is that especially as we start talking about plant-based diets, we need to start really focusing on amino acids.

Brian (5m 1s):

Yeah, because you're, you, you're always hearing it, especially in the podcast world, people talking about the, the recommended daily allowance of protein and how much do we have and, and this and that. But not all protein is equal, right? Yeah.

Don (5m 14s):

I mean, yeah, you go to a, a label or a food and type of, you know, something that you see on a package and, and they act like it's additive. They'll put a, a wheat cereal and they say add milk to it, and they just add those up to a total. And there's no way a wheat, protein and milk are the same. I mean it's, you know, wheat protein, if it says it has four grams, the reality is it probably has less than two either because of bioavailability or poor amino acid content. So, you know, it's just, if, if we all eat 120 grams of protein per day or more, it doesn't really matter.

Don (5m 55s):

But when, when we go down the line of start talking about plant-based diets, the average consumer's gonna get into trouble cuz they're gonna decrease both the quantity and the quality at the same time. And the average consumer doesn't know what that means.

Brian (6m 11s):

Yeah. And if someone is on like a plant-based diet, what trouble could they run into if they're just day in, day out, not getting enough protein or not getting enough amino acids in their, in their, you know, or the correct amino acids in their diet? What, what trouble could they run into?

Don (6m 27s):

I mean, there's a whole array of possibilities. The one that I study most is the branch chain amino acid leucine. And we know that if you don't get adequate amounts of leucine at each meal, that muscle health will suffer. You will decrease both the mass and the strength over time. And for aging adults, that's a big issue. So we, you know, we know that in people over the age of 40, they need about three grams of leucine per meal to maintain muscle help. And so if you go to a plant-based diet, especially one that's grain-based, people don't, again, don't recognize, they talk about plant-based diets and people start talking about nuts and lentils and soy.

Don (7m 15s):

But the reality is 80% of the plant-based protein in the world comes from wheat. And wheat is extremely unhealthy in the sense of amino acids. Lysine, methionine, leucine are all very low in wheat protein.

Brian (7m 32s):

And so if someone was gonna construct a meal and, and wanted to get those three grams, what would be some, you know, good quality foods? You know, I'm, as I'm assuming eggs would be up on the list. Are there, are there some other things that would be up there as far as getting that leucine requirement?

Don (7m 50s):

Well, the most, the most studied is clearly whey protein. Whey protein has almost 12% leucine by weight wheat, which I mentioned a few minutes ago is 6.8%. So it's, it's double whey protein is available in very pure forms. It's water soluble and tastes pretty good. So researchers have used it because it's high leucine and also easy to work with. So that's probably the best meats come in at about just under 9% leucine eggs, a little over 9%, maybe nine and a half.

Don (8m 30s):

So all of and fish are, you know, similar to meats. So all of the animal proteins are nine and up and almost all the plant proteins are eight and down.

Brian (8m 42s):

And when you say nine and up, you mean the percentage,

Don (8m 44s):

Percentage of leucine in the protein? Yeah, correct.

Brian (8m 48s):

Got it. And what,

Don (8m 50s):

So if you have, you know, so if you have whatever, a hundred grams of, of of whey protein, you're gonna have 12 grams of leucine in it. Okay. 12%.

Brian (9m 2s):

What about, what about casing protein? Because casing,

Don (9m 6s):

Yeah, casing is somewhat lower. I forget the exact percentage, but it's in the nines. So if you look at milk total, which is, I forget again, I think it's 80% casing and 20% whey whey protein, I think milk in total comes out at about 9.5%. So casings a little lower. The biggest difference between, well the, the leucine is part of the difference. Whey protein is also water soluble and very rapidly digested. It's referred to as quick digesting where casing is less soluble. Obviously the whole difference between casing and whey is cheesemaking.

Don (9m 50s):

When you put milk into an acid environment, you precipitate out casing and that's cheese and what's leftover is the liquid and that's whey. Hmm. So ca you know, cheese, so the casing is less soluble and digest slower. People have shown that if you use 35, well if you're trying to get a muscle protein synthesis with whey, you can do that with 23 to 25 grams of protein. If you do it with casing, you can get the same effects, but it's gonna take 30 to 32 because of the slower curve and digests slower.

Brian (10m 34s):


Don (10m 34s):

It. Likewise with plant proteins you can get the same effects, but it always takes more protein. So soy, maybe 35 grams w wheat protein, maybe 40 grams. So again, you can go to a plant-based diet, but you have to realize it always takes more total protein and more total calories to get the same effects.

Brian (10m 56s):

Got it. And yeah, cuz I've been told, you know, and done some research around casing and how it might be better off towards the end of the day, maybe before sleep a so you can get that, that slow absorption protein throughout the night.

Don (11m 11s):

So Luke Van Loon has done a lot of that research. He's in the Netherlands and, and what he did was look at basically adding a fourth protein meal to the day at nighttime. And he used casing for exactly that same idea, but he was using, he was using about a 40 gram meal, like an hour before sleep. And so they get a slow digestion, amino acids higher. And they did find that, again, by adding a fourth meal of that type of protein, the young athletes gain both mass and strength. So again, have to think about what your goal is. If your goal is, you know, maximizing body muscle mass or is your goal weight loss, you know, what's the effect of a fourth meal?

Brian (12m 0s):

Yeah. This is something I've struggled with a little bit myself because I'm typically about two meals a day and you know, I'm 42, I'm in fairly good shape and I do a lot of strength training and I'm realizing that it, I'm having a tough time maybe getting to like my protein requirements. Maybe I should look at it differently. Look at my amino acid profiles. I mean, I'm, I'm, I use whey I've, I've started using some casing and you know, obviously I, I I center my meals around protein. But would you say ideally, if this is someone who's really geared towards strength training and and building muscle that, you know, four spikes of muscle protein synthesis is, is sort of like the sweet spot.

Don (12m 45s):

That's generally where I would go if I was talking to an athlete really looking to build muscle and I would make, you know, I would center each of those around the leucine target. I think the, I think the first meal and then the later meals are the more important. I always comment, Doug Patton Jones and I did a study where we looked at an even distribution through the day. I think that got misinterpreted. The reality is nobody has really shown any real effect of lunch on muscle protein synthesis.

Brian (13m 22s):

Really? Why is that?

Don (13m 24s):

We know that that first meal is critical. Yeah. But the first meal, the hangover from the first meal lasts a long time and we really don't know that the second meal has much effect. Hmm. We know quite a bit about the third meal. So first and third, we know for sure, as you pointed out, there's some data about a fourth meal. But the reality is we don't know much at all about the second meal. You commented on two meals a day. That's kind of my pattern, my, my pattern. I tend to not have my first meal till somewhat later, maybe nine 30 to 10 30, somewhere in that window. And then my last meal is, you know, six 30 to seven and maybe something light in between.

Don (14m 11s):

But I'm in not interested in muscle building, I'm interested in muscle protection and sort of weight maintenance. And so I'm kind of controlling calories while I'm maxing my protein, you know, sort of a cost ratio benefit.

Brian (14m 27s):

And I, I think I meant, I saw, I saw on your Twitter you were commenting to someone a about how many grams of protein can you absorb per meal? And I, I think the individual thought that it could, you know, 30 grams is ideal and

Don (14m 44s):

No, actually the person said 30 grams was the max.

Brian (14m 47s):

Was the max. Right. And you're, and and and, and they're really, is there a max?

Don (14m 51s):

No. Okay. You know, I think one has to realize that there would be an adaptation. So if you were a vegan having 20 grams per meal or less, and all of a sudden you took in a hundred grams, chances are you wouldn't digest and absorb that very well. But if you get used to it over a period of a week or so, no one really has an upper limit for digestion. I mean, if you have a meal with a hundred grams of protein and it, and it's something you've done sort of routinely, you're gonna digest and absorb at all, you're not gonna use it very efficiently.

Don (15m 32s):

We think there's a sweet spot between 25 to 55, maybe 60, that is sort of your efficiency of use. So I don't like to see meals above 60. I don't see there's any point in that. But, you know, is there a difference between a meal with 25 and a meal with 45 or 50? I think there is. So I, I typically recommend a first meal getting something 35 or more and your dinner meal getting something closer to 50. I like to see some variation to it and I like to see at least one of the meals per day sort of maxing that number.

Brian (16m 14s):

Okay. And if, if you're, if let's say you have an individual who's 175 pounds and they're having two meals, you know, let's just say we, we shoot, I know we shoot for a gram per pound, let's just say, I know that's maybe a little bit on the higher end, but you know, an aging individual, well we're all aging to some degree, but like someone perhaps that's 50 plus, right? Should they have higher targets of protein simply because it's m more difficult to, to technically like digest that protein or, or absorb that protein as it would be if you were 25?

Don (16m 51s):

I don't really, I don't know of any real data to suggest that your digestion ability goes down. We know that the efficiency of use goes down. Okay. As you get older, particularly in terms of muscle, muscle when you're young develops really driven by hormones, insulin, IGF one, testosterone, rin, all of the hormones drive growth up through 30. They're really important. Then you have sort of a sweet spot after 40. Now we know that those hormones really aren't helping you much anymore. They can't be deficient, but they're not really giving you much growth.

Don (17m 31s):

And now we know the quality of protein becomes more effect, more important. Yeah. So we know the efficiency goes down, digestion absorption, not to our knowledge. Yeah.

Brian (17m 43s):

Okay. I think that's probably, that's sort of what I was keying towards was yeah, okay. Yeah, but

Don (17m 49s):

Your, your other question in terms of amount, the real range that the research supports is from about 1.2 to 1.8 grams per kg. So that's a little less than a gram per pound. That's, you know, sort of up in the 0.7 grams per pound range. A gram per pound is certainly adequate for anyone. Muscle development, aging, whatever the research suggests that it probably peaks out at more that 1.8 grams per kg range. Okay. We know that from research standpoint we can always detect in aging, we can always detect people who are less than one gram per kg or more than one gram per kg.

Don (18m 38s):

The, can you detect the difference between 1.5 and 2.0? I think, I think 2.2 grams per kg is one gram per pound. So can you detect between 1.5 and 2.0? Nobody's ever published that. We don't know that there's a difference. So what people have done is look at say like 1.2 and 2.2, you can usually detect a difference, but can you detect a difference between 1.6, 1.8 and 2.2? Nobody's ever shown that.

Brian (19m 13s):

Okay. So let's just say around 0.8 per pound of p 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. So per

Don (19m 21s):

Muscle development, all the data suggests that's adequate. Yeah, it's adequate for aging. Some people might argue that there's reasons to have higher protein because you're trying to have lower carbs. So now you have another question. You know, we were talking about muscle development, but if your goal is to reduce your carbs more by replacing it, then that's another reason to have a higher protein diet. So there may be multiple reasons, but not muscle development.

Brian (19m 54s):

And what are your thoughts around, you know, carbs? I know you were talking with Dr. Judy Troy, who I had on mine, you know, she has a big carnivore audience. What, what, what do you think, what role does do carbs play and as far as do, do you have any thoughts regarding that?

Don (20m 14s):

Yeah, a lot of thoughts about carbs. I, you know, I think that when we talk about energy balance and everything, you have to realize carbs make up 50% of our energy intake. So they're a big part of it. The average Americans eating close to 300 grams of carbs per day. The RDA for carbs is 130. So we, people get all hung up about the RDA for protein at around 60 grams and you know, the average Americans eating between 70 and 90 and people get all upset about that. But the R D A for carbohydrates is one 30 and we're eating 300.

Don (20m 55s):

Nobody talks about it, right? So, you know, we gotta, we gotta be consistent here. Carbs are a great fuel for muscle, but only if muscle is active. And so the way I think about carbs is that the body has a need for about 90 to a hundred grams per day of carbs. And then anything above that you, you earn with muscle activity at a rate of maybe 60 grams per hour of exercise. So if you have an hour of exercise per day, you can have about 160 grams of carbs per day. If you eat 300 grams of carbs per day, then you need three hours of fairly intense exercise every day.

Don (21m 42s):

And not too many Americans are getting that, you know, keto folks like super low carbs. I think that's an individual thing. I think people, you know, we talk about personalized nutrition, I think some people can go with really low carbs. I think the average person doesn't feel good and can't really put together very complete meals that way. So I consider, I consider keto and carnivore to be extreme diets which can be balanced may work for some people, but not for the majority of people.

Brian (22m 19s):

And when you talk about carbs, obviously there's a difference between a highly processed carb and something that's a whole food. Is that, when you talk about earning your carbs, obviously you're talking about whole food carbs, what are some of the ones that maybe you, you would look towards?

Don (22m 35s):

You know, the processing aspect? I, as I look at that research, it's becoming more vague to me, I think the starting point is that fruits and vegetables are natural forms of carbs that I think we should all be eating and probably eating more of grains, particularly wheat carbs are where we're getting a lot of our carbs. And it appears that that form of carbs from wheat flour is particularly dangerous in the in metabolism. I still like the concept of glycemic index. I think the faster carbs in the diet are converted to glucose in the blood, the bigger the insulin response.

Don (23m 20s):

I think that's important for most people. You know, there's a lot of arguments about, well is it, is obesity an insulin driven thing or not? Right? I don't think that's a yes or no answer. I think carbs are important. I think insulin, I think carbs, blood sugar is clearly toxic at some level. We call it diabetes. Insulin creates its own resistance. All of those things. I think the American public is overeating carbs or overeating refined carbs, particularly in the form of wheat, starchy, you know, foods, sugars.

Don (24m 0s):

I think that's all the root of the problem.

Brian (24m 3s):

Yeah, I mean I've always been someone who has been fairly low carb, n n not in the sense that I even track it. I've been starting to track it a little bit more just like my protein, my carbon intake and fats and, and I think that's something that can go a long way. It's like if you, if you're not tracking that stuff, how do you know where, where to go? It's like, is that something that you advocate or something you do for yourself just to keep Yeah. You know, have a baseline. At least

Don (24m 31s):

In our weight loss clinic and in my weight loss program, we sort of, you know, we looked at counting things and people don't like to count things, they don't like to read labels. It's boring, it's hard. So we basically looked at how we would partition the plate into three sections. One section for protein, one section for fruits and vegetables and one section for all of the starchy sugary carbs, whether it's rice or pasta or breads or desserts and even alcohol. We put in that section, not really a carb but empty calories.

Don (25m 12s):

And basically the way we teach it is that the visual size of the protein on your plate, the carb section can never be larger than that.

Brian (25m 21s):


Don (25m 22s):

So if you have a five ounce piece of meat that translates to about a half cup of rice. And so if you basically limit your intake by the protein amount, satiety will usually take over for you. So anyway, that's how we do it. And we found it a pretty easy teaching way that people don't have to count and they can actually eat out, they can take it on the road, they can eat at home and they can kind of keep track of it that way.

Brian (25m 53s):

Yeah, that's a good way of doing it. Sort of a visual as as opposed to just I've, you know, I've never been a big calorie counter myself, but yeah, I think if you give someone a visual of protein should be the biggest, you know, thing on the plate and then everything else should just so fall in line a little bit less, is that what you're saying? Yeah, exactly.

Don (26m 12s):

We, we teach it as a protein centric diet. So what, whatever you choose, if you choose to be an omnivore and eat meats fine. If you choose to be a vegetarian and not eat meats, but you still base your meal around the protein amount, you pick your protein amount and that determines your carbon amount. And so that's how you have to structure the meal and you can pick it at a high protein or a low protein level. But if you do that, the appetite regulation that goes with that will usually keep most people in, in a better weight, you know, more toward their optimum weight.

Brian (26m 51s):

Yeah. Let's touch on the satiety of protein, cuz I think that's what makes it so good for muscle preser preservation along with, you know, losing body fat and maybe touch on, I don't know if you've done some studies around that, but I'd be curious to know what your thoughts on that.

Don (27m 9s):

We have never done a lot on appetite per se. When we are doing our weight loss, we experiment a lot with what that breakfast meal should look like, looking at blood sugar changes and, and asking our, our, our patients, how they felt and what their hunger was. One of the goals we wanted was to have a breakfast, a first meal of the day where they would get to the lunch meal without having to have any snacks. One of the big problems we think in life is snacks. Yeah. And so what we wanted to do was sort of look at that satiety. So we found that getting the protein in the 35 gram range, keeping the carbs less than the protein number, so 30 grams or less of carbs and and fat sort of in a, in a moderate range.

Don (28m 3s):

For example, we experimented with using milk that was ranged from full fat, reduced fat to skim milk. And we found if we took the fat out of the milk, we lost the satiety effects. And so, you know, we always used reduced fat, like 2% milks, but we never went to fat-free products. And we always tried to keep the protein levels at at least 35 grams or higher. Technically y you know, it works. There's a lot of hormones. GLP one p y y brain effects, vagal effects from the stomach.

Don (28m 43s):

There's a lot of, you know, gastric emptying rates. There's a lot of possible reasons why protein has higher satiety. I think all of those are important. C, c k, we don't know that any one of them is exactly the answer.

Brian (29m 0s):

Yeah. So that, as you're saying, that first meal is most important. And I think a lot of people in general probably, and, and it's all because of marketing mainly, right. Cereals, breads, croissants, muffins. This is,

Don (29m 16s):

I carve low protein, easy, convenient again, you know, we developed a protein meal replacement for our diets because we needed convenience. People are in a busy, you know, everybo, you know, we know that eggs and meats and things like that for breakfast are great. People like them, but they take time. They're messy, you know? And so we decided we had to do something to make it more convenient. So we used that type approach.

Brian (29m 49s):

Yeah. I always say maybe an easy way to go about that is like hard boil eggs.

Don (29m 54s):


Brian (29m 54s):

You know, make those, the type of form, the,

Don (29m 57s):

The risk of eggs is that, you know, you're, you're a little, you know, a large egg has 6.5 grams of protein. So if you're, if you're looking for 30, 30 plus, you know, you've got a few eggs that you're downing.

Brian (30m 15s):

Very true, very true. But it is convenient, the hard boiled eggs and, and yeah, exactly. And yeah, I, I agree with you. I think a lot of people are rushing in the morning and end up consuming, you know, these, these processed carbs that just puts you probably on this blood sugar insulin level rollercoaster for the rest of the day.

Don (30m 33s):

That's what we found. We found that they would get a spike of blood sugar, a spike of insulin, and then they actually get a valley about two hours later. And we found the people who, so we had a high carb group and a low carb group in our studies. People on the high carb group complained about being hungry about two hours after their breakfast where the people on the higher protein, low carb didn't. And so again, our studies weren't really designed around satiety, but we certainly observed the effects.

Brian (31m 7s):

Yeah. And is there any harm of e eating? Too much protein?

Don (31m 15s):

I don't really see any harm to it. You know, I sort of, you know, I think with every nutrient we ought to think about a range and, and the protein range for me is, you know, a low end of, you know, somewhere around 60 grams, that would be a pretty strict vegetarian. That's probably enough to prevent any real deficiencies up to an upper end of maybe 300 grams per day. Certainly two 50. I think that's totally safe within that range. Has anybody really ever studied 500 grams per day for a long period?

Don (31m 59s):

I don't see the point in that. You know, I, I don't, I just don't know if there's any problem long-term with that much protein, but I certainly don't see any problems with 200 grams a day.

Brian (32m 14s):

Yeah. And that's for just, you're, you're talking maybe a t a typical adult maybe let's say a male, 175 pounds?

Don (32m 22s):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, what we always recommended was we, we were always targeting between a hundred and 140 gram sort of women to men. Okay. We would like to try and get women to a hundred grams and we would like to try and get men or not 1 30, 1 40. And again, we weren't dealing with bodybuilders, we were dealing with weight loss, healthy aging and things like that. So I personally, I personally target about 1 25 a day

Brian (32m 52s):

For yourself,

Don (32m 53s):

For myself. And I weigh about one 60.

Brian (32m 56s):

Okay. And what about recovery and its role in that? Because, you know, you hear about this, you have this anabolic window, which I know has changed over the years. I think a lot of the, the protein companies and the supplement companies wanna think you have to chug a protein shake immediately after a workout. But I believe this anabolic window is, I've heard upwards to almost two days. What are your thoughts around that? And also, well, let's go with that and I have another, something to follow up from that. Yeah.

Don (33m 26s):

So we were actually the first to publish, you know, protein for recovery. So we were studying, so the whole leucine aspect, we realize that leucine and mTOR is a signal for recovery. And so whether it's an overnight fast or whether it's after exhaustive exercise, the body is catabolic and it will stay catabolic until you eat protein. And so we started experimenting with taking in protein and eventually we got down to, it actually was leucine was the key. And so that's where the recovery concept came from.

Don (34m 9s):

We found that the window for the biggest effect was about two hours ask within two hours afterwards. Okay. So that's sort of acute recovery. Then there's a lot of research been done by Stu Phillips and other people who have looked at sort of the anabolic window. So now we need to step away from sort of an acute experiment and asking how about training? Okay. This whole aspect of protein right after exercise, the biggest benefit of that is for an untrained individual.

Brian (34m 44s):


Don (34m 45s):

Once you become trained, if you've been doing the same exercise for two months and you're basically trained at that level, I see no real benefit to protein after exercise. Your next meal is fine. You and I talked about three meals per day or four meals per day. I don't really care where you place them, it's all gonna be the same. Okay. But if you are going into a new exercise, you've been off summer vacationing and now you're coming back to football practice and you're gonna do two a days, I think protein right after exercise is probably a good recovery for, for the first couple of weeks.

Don (35m 25s):

But people need to realize, once you get trained, whether you have your protein in the first two hours afterwards, or whether you have a 24 hours later, it's still protein and the the muscle, the, what exercise does is sensitize the muscle to the signals. It's a molecule called red one. And basically what you're doing is inhibiting that and making the muscle more sensitive to protein. And by doing that, that's training. Okay. And so again, if you're untrained, that's where we studied that protein effect right after exercise. If you're trained, it doesn't really matter.

Brian (36m 8s):

Interesting. Perhaps maybe speak on, just so people understand the difference between, you said the bo you're, you're typically a, your body's catabolic. Maybe explain that a little bit if you could.

Don (36m 19s):

So the, so the easiest way to sort of think about it is that, and again we sort of need to think about different tissues. So we're you and I have been kind of talking about muscle livers a little different, I'll, I'll, I'll make that point in a minute. So after a meal muscle goes into what would be an anabolic period, it's synthesizing more protein. And we always have two processes going on. One is synthesis and one is breakdown. You're continuously making new protein and breaking down protein. You and I different ages, different body size, we both need to make 250 to 300 grams of new protein per day.

Don (37m 6s):

So that's a lot more than we're eating. Okay. So that's turnover. And the body is continuously reusing some amino acids. Okay. So we've got these two processes going on right after a meal. We have an anabolic process, high synthesis for about two hours, two and a half hours. And then you go into a catabolic period where the body now in muscle is no longer synthesizing protein at a high rate, the breakdown is now becoming the higher rate. And the reason for that is the body has nowhere to store amino acids and organs like the liver or the heart or the kidney need to make proteins 24 hours a day whether you're eating or not.

Don (37m 50s):

And so muscle in essence becomes a reservoir and it begins to supply amino acids to the rest of the body. So during the nighttime where you eat dinner and you might go 12 hours till your next next meal, now you're going into a very catabolic period. You're basically breaking down protein to feed your liver and kidney and brain and everything else that needs to run muscle is supplying that. And when you wake up in the morning, your body's gonna stay catabolic breaking down muscle protein until you eat a meal that has 30, 35 grams of protein. Which is why that cereal and juice breakfast is so bad.

Don (38m 32s):

Basically it's high carbs, it's high insulin, it's high fat deposition and yet you're still breaking down muscle for protein. And so that's why we think the first meal of the day is so critical. You need to have it low carb, high protein to restabilize metabolism.

Brian (38m 51s):

Yeah. Yeah. That's a good thanks for explaining that. And what are your thoughts around having times, you know, we talk about fasting quite a bit on the podcast, having times of sort of this catabolic state, like you mentioned an overnight fast. But you know, taking it a little bit longer into the next day. What are your thoughts about balancing the, the catabolic state with an ana? You know, having, you know, obviously periods of time of eating in anabolic

Don (39m 17s):

The body, the human body really evolved to be able to fast. I mean we're, yeah, we have fat stores that allow us to survive in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights or whatever. Yeah. So we have the capability of fasting. The reality of that is that evolution was for young people. What we know is that catabolic periods, once you get beyond 40, you never really recover from Doug Patton Jones, who I mentioned earlier, he has a theory of aging and sarcopenia that it's a series of cat catabolic challenges.

Don (40m 1s):

You fall and break a leg, you get sick and you're in bed for a few days, you fast for a few days, the body becomes very catabolic and when you're over 40 you, the body doesn't recover from that. So that probably is a net loss of protein that you never get back. So can a 25 or a 30 year old fast probably, it doesn't make much difference. Should a 50 year old fast, I think it's an awful idea. You know, the, the subset of that though is time restricted feeding. You know, should we prolong the overnight fast? I sort of do that.

Don (40m 41s):

I think that, I think that it becomes a way of helping to control calorie intake. And so now you're kind of weighing the catabolic period against excess calorie issues. I think that is a good strategy for some people. So I think restricting the time of eating, going to two meals a day, I think time restricted eating makes sense to me. Fasting for 48 hours or something, 72 hours makes no sense to me at all for an adult.

Brian (41m 12s):

Yeah. Perhaps if the individual is, how about an individual who's maybe morbidly obese? You know, I know Dr. Jason Fung is like a fasting clinic and works with a lot of people who are diabetic and need to get, you know, insulin in check and things like that. So I mean, you know that it might play a role for some people doing a little bit more prolonged fast than other people depending on their body composition.

Don (41m 42s):

Yeah. Even then I would go back to the old protein sparing modified fast. I wouldn't go to a hundreds percent calorie restriction. I would go down to maybe six, 700 calories per day. But almost all protein, you know, very little carbohydrate, essentially none extremely low calories, but still bringing in some amino acids to try and prevent enormous muscle wasting, you know, keeping, you know, hundred grams of carbs per day in the diet or something. So I would prefer that versus a total fast.

Brian (42m 20s):

Okay. What about, what are your thoughts on dairy? Dairy? You know, you hear differing opinions and some people are sensitive to dairy, some people aren't sure. I've actually, we have a farm 40, it's probably not, well not by you, but, well you're in Urbana, right? You're in Champaign or

Don (42m 40s):

I actually am in Chicago at the moment. Oh. But I grew up over around Peoria, Peoria

Brian (42m 45s):

Farm. Okay. This was in Dundee, this farm's in Dundee. So I used to go there. I haven't got been there in a few a month or two, but I used to get some raw milk. Yeah. And you know, bring it back cuz I just found, I

Don (42m 56s):

Grew up on a farm that had dairy early in my life. I really was never involved. All of the government restrictions on purity and things, it's hard to get raw milk anymore, but, oh

Brian (43m 10s):

Yeah. Oh yeah.

Don (43m 10s):

You know, I, I think dairy is a great food source. You're right. There are a lot of people who are sensitive either to the lactose or possibly the protein, possibly fats. But that's true of every protein. I mean, you can be allergic to peanuts, you can be allergic to soy, you can be allergic to to gluten, you can be allergic to. Right. So you can be allergic to, I mean, so every protein in the diet, there's potential to be allergic to whether it's plant or animal. So that's something that's individual as far as proteins, whey is a great protein and you can get it 98% pure so you can get it lactose free basically without casing in it.

Don (43m 59s):

And to my knowledge, I've never really seen anybody who is allergic to whey proteins. So again, there's a lot of ways you can look at it. I think it's a great protein. I definitely use it. I understand the allergies or sensitivities, all of those kinds of things. And that's an individual preference, but it's a great protein.

Brian (44m 21s):

Yeah. Do do, have you done any research around like how to take in that protein in the sense that there is a protein that I, I get called green metal. I think it's Green Meadow Whey and I don't know if, have you heard of that?

Don (44m 36s):

No. Okay. That sounds like a brand name though. So that's a company Green Meadow.

Brian (44m 42s):

Yeah, it's just, yeah, it, it Green Meadow whey protein. And I was emailing back and forth with the guy who developed it and he was saying make sure that you do not put it under high stress from a blender. That that will sort of, I guess maybe make it less bioavailable. I'm, I'm not a hundred percent sure. I was wondering, I know it's cold process, I believe it's cold process. Is there certain things people should look just

Don (45m 10s):

On, just on the surface of having done a lot of RA way research and working with a lot of dairy companies. That statement makes no sense to me. Okay. I mean, it, it's possible that it would in some way break up some proteins, but that's the first thing you do when you digest them anyway. So I don't see any, I don't see any problem with that.

Brian (45m 34s):

And is there certain things that people should look for when they're looking at a protein? Cuz I know there's different, there's a whey protein isolate and there's a WHE protein concentrate.

Don (45m 42s):

Okay. So the isolates are the highest purity. And so most of the isolates will be lactose-free. And usually they're 95 to a hundred percent pure. A company I like is is called a agri pur. And they have a protein called bpro, which is the purest, purest whey protein isolate on the market. The concentrates can range from as low as 65 to 90% pure. The average concentrates on the market are typically around 85 and they usually contain both lactose and fat where the isolate doesn't contain either.

Don (46m 29s):

So that's, that's kind of the effect, you know, when you look at different proteins, it's always important to sort of look at, you know, they, they say, you know, one scoop, well what's that really mean? How much is in it? They'll talk about the grams, you know, how pure is it? Soy protein isolates may be 95% pure pea protein isolates may be as well as 70% pure. Hmm. You know, so you have to sort of think a little bit more about your protein isolate and its purity. A lot of the plant protein isolates aren't very pure and they may have a lot of antinutrients or fibers in them yet.

Brian (47m 15s):

Okay. Yeah, I was curious cuz there's, there's a lot of proteins on the market and I'm, I'm sure they're not all equal, right?

Don (47m 22s):

Yeah, they definitely aren't. I, I have a new product that's coming out in the next couple of weeks. We actually went to a, to look at sort of that effect, we went to a blended protein. So we have two-thirds plant, one-third dairy using pea and fava bean and, and dairy milk concentrate. Dairy milk concentrate, milk protein concentrate is also interesting cuz it's lactose free and fat free. But it's both whey and cassin. So it's another example of proteins.

Brian (47m 58s):

And one other question, why don't we talk about just like con constructing a day for an individual as far as eating, I know we touched on how important that first meal is. Do you think if someone's having two meals a day and maybe they're in their forties and doing resistance training, maybe it makes sense to add in, they don't even need to add in a full meal, but maybe add in some type of pro protein replacement drink throughout the day?

Don (48m 28s):

I think there are different strategies you can use. I just talk about what I do. Yeah. Which is sort of a form of that. So again, I get up in the morning, I typically don't try to have a protein meal until nine 30, sometimes as late as 1130. Sometimes I'll go work out first. I often play tennis like nine to 11 and I won't eat till after that. Okay. But my first meal whenever it occurs is probably a 45 gram protein shake with close to 400 calories. Okay. It's, it's a dairy whe based protein shake my next meal.

Brian (49m 11s):

What else do you put, do you put, I'm sorry to interrupt. Did you put anything else in that? Do you put fruit or do you just Oh,

Don (49m 16s):

So mine's a bit complex as I've mentioned, I have a shake, so that is a base of it. Okay. I add in that bypro I mentioned, and then I mix it with typically a yogurt and keifer and berries. Okay. So it's definitely a blended protein shake with multiple, multiple forms of dairy proteins.

Brian (49m 42s):

Gotcha. Okay. And then, so

Don (49m 44s):

The, the next meal I'll have can vary all over the place, kind of how I feel, but it's about controlling calories. So it could be a salad with some protein and eggs and stuff like that. It might be a slice of bread with some cold cuts of cheese and meats or something. But typically pretty small, probably 300 calories, 400 calories and maybe only 20 grams of protein. And then for dinner I'll typically have, you know, a much higher protein meal. So more like, you know, six ounces, seven ounces of meat.

Don (50m 29s):

So I'm talking 55, 60 grams of protein type thing.

Brian (50m 34s):

Okay, gotcha. Yeah, just curious because like for myself, like I mentioned, I'm try trying to get in that those protein requirements sometimes could be difficult with two meals. So I've been, I've been messing around adding in a, in a third meal. I think maybe calorie cycling has some, has some benefits where you go some, some weeks where you sort of, they call it like over dieting where you're actually consuming more calories and then you go through times where maybe you're bringing in less calories and less meals.

Don (51m 2s):

Yeah. I, you know, I think the body is designed to be flexible like that. I, yeah. I find that seasonally I change, when we were doing weight loss with people, we thought we found consistency to be really important. Same time of the day, same size meals, otherwise you tend to get hungry. So, you know, you and I aren't focused on weight loss, we're more in maintenance. I think flexibility is fine if your focus is weight loss. I think you need to be much more consistent both in timing and amount and size of the meals.

Brian (51m 39s):

Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. And well this was great. Where's the best place? I know you said you have, you have some products coming out and, and some things. So where's the best place for people to find out when you, when you have these products coming

Don (51m 52s):

Out? Well, you mentioned I am on Twitter at Don Layman, so that's pretty easy. Right. My website is called Metabolic Transformation.

Brian (52m 3s):


Don (52m 4s):

And we'll have some products coming out in the next couple of weeks I think. So you can follow that, you know, metabolic transformation.com. Okay. And you know, there's a lot of interesting basic nutrition science there. There's a lot of pull down blogs and metabolic information really designed for the lay public to learn more about it. A lot of information about proteins. It's just a, it's a website that has a lot of information that we've had up for a while, but now we're gonna bring out basically the weight loss program that we had at the University of Illinois. We've now basically put it into the system and we developed a meal replacement shake to make sure that first meal's correct.

Don (52m 51s):

So that's all coming out frankly in the next few weeks. Oh,

Brian (52m 55s):

Great. Yeah. And I forgot to ask you this one last question I always ask most of my guests are, what would you give one tip to let's say 40 plus middle-aged male who's looking to get their body back to what it once was back in their twenties and thirties. What one tip would you, would you give them,

Don (53m 12s):

Figure out how to add exercise to your day?

Brian (53m 17s):

I love it. Straight to the point. Yeah. Adding an exercise And do you, would you say resistance training

Don (53m 23s):

Or just, you know, I like hit type of training. I think they're both important. When we were doing our weight loss studies, you know, resistance training's great, but midlife women don't necessarily like going to the gym and lifting barbells. And so we started focusing on repetition and stretching and we found that we could get basically the same amount of effects by repetition and stretching as we did by heavy weights. And there's a lot of research coming out about volume of exercise now that you don't necessarily have to lift a 200 pound weight, but if you lift a 15 pound weight, a lot of times you can get the same effects.

Don (54m 8s):

True. And so we found that with weight loss doing stretching, we could get, we could partition the weight loss to almost exclusively body fat protecting muscle. So I personally do resistance training at least two to three times a week. I like to play competitive tennis, so all of my workouts are basically for a 70 year old not to get hurt. And so it's really about, you know, strengthening the body to do the things I wanna do. And, and it's a combination of aerobic and resistance.

Brian (54m 43s):

Okay. Yeah, that, that, those are great tips. I mean, I agree As you, as you get older, it's like, you know, in the beginning when you're in your twenties and thirties, like you don't even think about getting hurt. And then as you get older, that's like number one priority. Yeah.

Don (54m 57s):

I had a, I have a physician friend who I play with and I was complaining about the aches and pains and he said, you know, if you're over 50 and you get up in the morning and you don't have aches and pains, that means you died overnight.

Brian (55m 12s):

Yes. Very. Yes. That, that could be true. Could be very true. Well, Dr. Don, this was a great conversation and I, we'll put links in the show notes so everyone can check out metabolic transformation.com and your Twitter, your Twitter address. I know you're, you, you like to tweet some things out and some good information and study. So I appreciate you coming on and sharing your knowledge.

Don (55m 36s):

It's great to spend some time with you, Brian. It was, it was a pleasure.

Brian (55m 40s):

Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Get Lean EAN podcast. I understand there are millions of other podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned in this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

Dr. Don Layman

Dr. Donald K. Layman is professor Emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He is internationally recognized for his research about dietary protein and amino acids. He has extensive research focused on muscle development and in studies of metabolic regulation for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

He is widely sought as a keynote speaker at professional meetings, medical conferences, and as a consultant to major food companies.

Over 120-peer reviewed research publications 30 years as Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture Doctorate degree in nutrition and biochemistry Master’s degree in biochemistry


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