Sports Nutrition 237: How Much Fat Can We Absorb Per Meal? Plus: ‘Ideal’ Meal Frequency and Supplements For Strength and Endurance Competitions

February 22, 2017


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Ben Greenfield is back for another edition of Sports Nutrition:

Meal Frequency

  • Dandelion tea
  • Is it better to have more or fewer feedings throughout the day? Can eating more often have a beneficial effect on blood markers, as long as it’s healthy and moderate portions? How does this compare to the benefits seen in intermittent fasting/LCHF trends of late.
  • JISSN position statement on meal frequency, “Increased meal frequency appears to have a positive effect on various blood markers of health, particularly LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and insulin.”
  • Alan Aragon et al meta-analysis on meal frequency that is mentioned.
  • More from Aragon.
  • Slight correlation with eating more leading to weight loss (i.e. metabolic advantage).
  • But are there tradeoffs to frequent feedings?
  • Protein absorption – we can absorb about 30-40g max per feeding for proper protein synthesis.
  • Sweet spot is 3 meals a day.
  • Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf

Supplements For Strength and Endurance Competition

How Much Fat Can We Absorb in a Meal?

  • Is there a general rule for the amount of fat someone can absorb in a single meal? Assuming one can consume excess fat in a meal, when does too much dietary fat have negative consequences like gut upset of fat mass gain?
  • Fat oxidation during exercise can be up to 60g per hour, but a big portion come from endogenous fat.
  • The speed at which fat moves through GI tract is about 2 hours (from eating to emptying).
  • We can eat 1,000 calories of fat maximum (~110g), BUT it’s better to keep it at 60g fat per meal, maximum, and any more may be a stress on GI tract, uncomfortable, etc.

Carb ‘Sensitivity’ & LCHF/Keto

  • Over a long period of time following a LCHF diet, does the body lose its ability to handle carbs? Are we doing harm by not eating a diet balanced in carb/fat/protein?
  • On one hand, no reason to believe that low-carb affects ability to digest carbs.
  • But on the other hand, maybe low-carb can affect our ability to use carbs…
  • New review in the Strength and Conditioning Journal titled “A Case for and Against Ketogenic Diets in Athletes.”
    • With long-term keto, glycogen levels in muscle and the liver may or may not be compromised but “the athlete will likely lack the metabolic machinery needed to fully use them as fuel sources.”
    • “Although ketone bodies may serve as a substitute for CHO, they may also paradoxically reduce endogenous CHO availability through inhibition of hepatic glucose output, therefore lowering the capacity to sustain higher intensity efforts (6,9). These findings emphasized the point that although glycogen levels in muscle and the liver may or may not be compromised with long-term KD, the athlete will likely lack the metabolic machinery needed to fully use them as fuel sources. It also suggests that while long-term KD may allow time for adaptation, short-term (i.e., 4 weeks) CHO restriction may compromise muscle glycogen stores.”

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