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Jason Cholewa is a faculty member within the Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies Department at Coastal Carolina University. He draws on his many years of research and experience in the field of human performance to teach strength and conditioning, exercise science, and sports nutrition courses.
Jason Cholewa also runs an online fitness consulting company, Big Red Physical Performance, where clients are provided with individualized, evidence based training and nutrition programs. He is adept at using virtual technology to assess movement patterns, coach technique, and measure the progression of clients living across the country and globe.
Link to Dr. Jason's website
Dr. Cholewa’s Effects of Betaine Paper http://www.academia.edu/7989508/Effects_of_betaine_on_performance_and_body_composition_a_review_of_recent_findings_and_potential_mechanisms
Proper Diaphragmatic Breathing with Pat Davidson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2andZZu0eI
01:50 Dr. Cholewa’s Journey: He always liked working out, conditioning and getting stronger. His newest goal is power lifting. He received his master’s degree in strength and conditioning and his PhD in exercise physiology – metabolism and human performance.
02:32 Resistance Training: You don’t have to power lift. Nearly everyone benefits from resistance training. For the elderly, it helps to maintain bone mass, strength and muscular strength, which predicts how long someone can live independently. The more active a muscle is metabolically, the more adaptations it is making, the more energy it is going to require. Most of your body fat is burned in your muscle. The more muscle you have, the greater the potential you have to improve body composition. Using free weights helps us to move better.
03:47 Improving Mitochondrial Density: Fat is burned in the mitochondria through beta oxidation. The greater the mitochondrial density, the more potential there is to utilize that for fuel. The greater the capillary density (the ability to deliver free fatty acids to skeletal muscle) plays a role in your ability to utilize fat for fuel. You need to be able to remove the free fatty acids from the fat cells and circulate it in the blood to the skeletal muscle. Research shows that high intensity training (HIIT) or sprint training improves body composition, not only during the session, but afterward in increases in mitochondrial density, increases in beta oxidation enzymes within the mitochondria, as well as the adaptations that occur in the skeletal muscles.
05:56 Sprint Training Benefits: Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is dependent upon how long and to what degree your metabolism is elevated after training. Sprint training plays a role in nutrient partitioning. Sending more of what you eat to your muscles and less to your adipose tissue. You are able to store more fuel as glycogen. Your muscles become greedy.
07:08 The Benefits of Betaine: Pigs and humans are more similar than you might think. In pig studies, researchers were finding improvement in pigs that were supplemented with betaine. They gained more muscle mass and less fat mass. The pigs that had the largest space to move had the most improvement. There wasn’t much research done on humans with betaine and muscle. One study showed no improvement in sedentary overweight subjects fed betaine, though some studies showed improvements in performance. Dr. Cholew’s research combined exercise with betaine in trained subjects. They found a 1+1=3 effect. There were improvements in body composition, work capacity and a trend toward increased power.
09:08 Methylation and Betaine: When you consume protein (methionine), your liver and kidneys attach a methyl group to it to create S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM). SAM is the universal methyl donor to a number of different reactions: the biosynthesis of creatine, the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine (which is used for lipid transport), carnitine and others. After these have been used up, you are left with homocysteine. Homocysteine has been associated with cardiovascular disease risk, reduce glucose sensitivity and others. Betaine and folate provide methyl groups to transmethylate the homocysteine back into methionine. In a way, it detoxifies homocysteine. If you are not consuming enough folate, betaine or both, you can go into a state of hyperhomocysteinemia. We (especially pregnant women) should eat a diet rich in folate and betaine. Homocysteine seems to play a role in unhealthy pregnancies.
11:50 Dr. Cholewa’s Betaine Study: Dr. Cholewa’s hypothesis was that homocysteine that isn’t transmethylated can potentially turn into homocysteine thiolactone (HCTL). HCTL seems to play a role in reduced insulin signaling, reduced signaling of protein synthesis, disrupting the ability of IGF-1 to signal protein synthesis and more. The strength athlete study subjects consumed a great deal of protein and consumed few vegetables. Theoretically, they would have high homocysteine thiolactone levels. By consuming betaine, you transmethylate more of the homocysteine, you see a reduction in homocysteine thiolactone, and potentially, insulin can do a better job of signaling protein synthesis. With that, you might see improvements in performance. It turns out that the participants did not have high levels of HCTL. Betaine did decrease homocysteine thiolactone, it didn’t seem to translate into improved performance. Betaine is a good supplement to support health via the methylation cycle, but not so much for improvements in performance via methylation.
13:18 Homocysteine Thiolactone: This and to a lesser extent homocysteine itself potentially play a role in inflammation and may be the reason it is linked to cardiovascular disease. Another reason for the link may be its effects upon insulin signaling and hyperglycemia (the inability to take up enough glucose).
15:44 IGF-1 Axis and Betaine: Betaine is a very powerful osmolyte, meaning it attracts water. When they were making the betaine capsules for the study during a humid time, Dr. Cholewa noticed that the betaine that had fallen on the table for 5 minutes had turned into a puddle of water which it had absorbed from the air. In pig studies, they found that betaine was taken up by the hypothalamus and increased hypothalamic secretion of growth hormone releasing hormone. From there, growth hormone increases. It may be an additional way that betaine improves body composition. In cell dishes, they found that betaine acts directly via the IGF-1 receptor. This may lead to improved protein synthesis and perhaps an increase in lipolysis.
17:34 The Function of IGF-1: When you release growth hormone, it binds the liver and the liver releases IGF-1. It is an insulin-like growth factor. In muscle tissue, it interacts with its receptor to downstream signal protein synthesis, which is a good thing. If you have cancer, it makes sense that if you inject IGF-1, insulin or any other growth factor, even thyroid hormone, you will see an increase in cancerous cells. Exercise stimulates the release of tremendous amounts of IGF-1 and exercise has a great many positive effects upon cancer.
20:08 Betaine and HPA Axis: Post exercise cortisol concentrations were lower with betaine supplementation. This acts in conjunction with greater growth hormone levels.
21:21 Animal Model Studies vs Human Studies: Take things in stride and look at the body of research. One study in a few dozen animals or a few humans shows promise and potential. Before experimenting upon yourself, look at the potential benefit vs the potential harm.
23:40 Women and Muscle: Men produce much more testosterone than women. Testosterone is a major anabolic hormone. Putting on copious amounts of muscle requires a tremendous amount of food and protein consumption. It requires about 3,000 calories of energy for your body to biosynthesize one pound of muscle. One pound of muscle only contains about 140 grams of protein. The fear of lifting heavy weights building unseemly muscles in women is unfounded.
25:04 Benefits of Weight Training: Trained skeletal muscle at rest burns more fat than untrained skeletal muscle. Even adding 10 pounds of muscle around the body may not be noticeable, but the increase in metabolism will be noticeable and will increase your ability to get lean and improve body composition.
27:05 Improving Capillary Density: By improving capillary density, we improve the ability of our bodies to deliver fat from adipose tissue to the mitochondria. This means that we can burn more fat when we exercise. For any adaptation to occur, you need a stimulus. The greatest stimulus for capillary density is intense aerobic training. When oxygen is being demanded and it is not being supplied properly, we increase the amount of oxygen we take out of the blood. To do this, we need more surface area interacting with skeletal muscles. Thus we see an increase in capillary density. You can accomplish this with high rep low weight training or HIIT.
28:31 Optimal 30 Minute Workout: For a 30 minute workout 5 days a week, Dr. Cholewa recommends rotating between a full body resistance training workout with cardiovascular conditioning. He would set it up in 3 tiers. One day would be heavy weight and low reps of resistance training, another day moderate weight moderate reps, another day lower weight and higher reps. He would also change up the aerobics. One day would be sprint based, one day would be more anaerobic based and one day that is more traditionally aerobic.
29:33 Dr. Cholewa’s Favorite Nutrient: Chili peppers are overlooked. Capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory and increases lipolysis, the ability to release fats into your blood stream from adipose tissue. In men, it has been shown to increase testosterone.
30:51 Dr. Cholewa’s Elevator Pitch: Learn to breathe correctly. Utilize your diaphragm as core stability muscle. Diaphragm dysfunction and not breathing correctly is leading to a great many muscular imbalances, potential injuries and downstream pain.