Thursday, April 19, 2012

Interview: Dr. Layne Norton On Health and Fitness

The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.

Educational Background for Dr. Layne Norton:

BS in Biochemistry from Eckerd College with honors (>3.5 GPA) in 2004
PhD Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois 2010

List of scientific publications by Dr. Norton

In my interview with Tom Naughton, who directed Fat Head, I asked about the food pyramid and its suggestion about maintaining a low fat intake. Some might still be skeptical about a higher fat diet and think that the food pyramid promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Enter Dr. Layne Norton. Dr. Norton is a natural bodybuilder (meaning, he does not use steroids), who received his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and is an expert in health, fitness and nutrition related topics. You can view his material at his website BioLayne.

1. The food pyramid promotes carbohydrates as a main macronutrient in diets. In the past few years, lower carbohydrate diets have challenged this notion, some of which have seen results as far as body composition. What is your view on the food pyramid?

I think you could turn the food guide pyramid upside down and it probably would work better to be frank. In the 30 some years that the food guide pyramid has been around, people have actually typically followed it (increased grain consumption, cut down on meat/egg/dairy consumption) and we have done nothing but get fatter and more diseased. Recent studies have shown increasing proportions of protein and decreasing carbohydrates not only provides more favorable body composition outcomes, but also provides better health outcomes (reduced cancer, cardiovascular disease, and better blood lipid profiles). Some anti-meat 'experts' will conveniently point out correlation data showing an association with meat consumption and cancer. What they DON'T point out is that people who eat more meat typically eat higher total fat, calories, exercise less, and eat less fiber. When the data is statistically corrected for those variables, there is absolutely no association with meat consumption and cancer.

2. How would you advise young men, interested in fitness, as far as protein consumption is concerned? Does it differ if a person is gaining muscle, losing fat, or maintaining weight?

I actually think the amount of protein that's optimal for gaining muscle is probably around the amount that's optimal for overall health. What our research data has shown is right around 1g/lb is a great number to shoot for in terms of optimizing body composition. It's probably a bit more than what is 'needed' but it's not as if consuming a bit extra protein is somehow bad.

3. What's the importance of insulin sensitivity and do supplements, like alpha lipoic acid, increase insulin sensitivity?

Well insulin sensitivity is important as the more glucose you can dispose using less insulin is always better as it will reduce fat accumulation and keep you healthier.

Lipoic acid can increase insulin sensitivity short term by making the muscle receptors respond more effectively to insulin, mostly through it's anti-oxidant properties. Since Lipoic Acid is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants available it tends to be a better insulin sensitizer than other anti-oxidants like vitamin E which still have mild insulin sensitizing effects.