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Mastering Nutrition

Hi, I'm Chris Masterjohn and I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. I am an entrepreneur in all things fitness, health, and nutrition. In this show I combine my scientific expertise with my out-of-the-box thinking to translate complex science into new, practical ideas that you can use to help yourself on your journey to vibrant health. This show will allow you to master the science of nutrition and apply it to your own life like a pro.
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Jan 16, 2018

Do you have anxiety? Depression? Attention problems? Or are you worried about estrogen and cancer?

If so, listen to this podcast to learn about the role of your COMT genetics.

COMT metabolizes dopamine, estrogen, and various other things. Half of us have the genetic for intermediate activity. The other half of us are split evenly between high and low activity. When nutrition is optimal, this just leads to personality differences: with low COMT activity, you’re better at focusing, but tend to ruminate on things rather than letting them go; with high COMT activity, you rarely get stuck in a rut, but you just as rarely sit down to focus on one single thing. When nutrition is off, we can go to pathological extremes, whether it’s depression and anxiety on one hand, or attention deficit and hyperactivity on the other. Robust COMT activity is also needed to get rid of harmful forms of estrogen that contribute to cancer risk.

I recommend testing your COMT genes with StrateGene, which you can get here:

chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene

For more information on how to get the StrateGene report, watch this video, the first of the three MTHFR videos:

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/12/04/know-need-care-mthfr/

Here are the two other MTHFR videos:

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/12/06/what-to-do-about-mthfr/

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/12/11/bloodwork-get-mthfr/

Jan 14, 2018

Today, January 14, is the *last day* to get 30% off your entire order by entering masterjohn as the promo code at checkout when you make purchases on paleovalley.com.

Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is central to both energy metabolism and antioxidant defense. While its deficiency causes many problems, out of all the B vitamins its deficiency is most neurological in nature, because energy metabolism of the brain becomes severely compromised, and because neurotransmitters derived from protein cannot be produced. In its most severe form, beriberi, it can cause loss of muscle control, twitching, muscles freezing into awkward positions, and seizures.

Carbohydrates require twice as much thiamin as fat. This means, on the one hand, that high-carbohydrate diets increase the need for thiamin, and on the other hand, that people who are deficient in thiamin may have neurological symptoms that resolve when they go on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.

Thiamin is widely distributed in foods. Historically, diets high in refined grain produced beriberi, but now refined grains are enriched in thiamin, so its deficiency is rarely caused by diet. However, certain foods such as raw fish and moths that are eaten in some cultures contain thiamin antagonists, gastrointestinal microbes can degrade thiamin, and there are various environmental causes of thiamin deficiency, such the algae that grow in dead zones. As such, environmental exposure to thiamin antagonists may be a more common cause of thiamin deficiency than poor dietary intake.

Still, some foods are much higher in thiamin than most others, with whole grains, legumes, yeast, and red meat being among the best sources.

The show notes for this episode are available at chrismasterjohnphd.com/50.

This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. I wrote this to make everything you could possibly need to measure and manage your nutritional status all one click away. Get it now!

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley. I use their beef sticks as a convenient yet nutritious snack. They are made from 100% grass-fed beef and preserved through traditional fermentation. The fermentation makes them more digestible and gives them a fresher mouthfeel and texture compared to most other meat snacks I’ve tried, which tend to be too dry for me to fully enjoy. They also have a grass-fed organ complex that contains a blend of liver, heart, kidney, and brain, all stuffed into gel caps for those who can’t bring themselves to eat these incredibly nutritious meats with a fork. Head to paleovalley.com and enter the promo code masterjohn at checkout for 30% off your order. This is a huge savings available for only a limited time. You can get 30% off everything on the site, ordering as much as you want, but only for the duration of the next three podcast episodes. Check it out now to make sure you get your discount!

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to grasslandbeef.com and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

Jan 11, 2018

Do you have asthma? High blood pressure? Knowing your nitric oxide genes may help you find a solution.

In this episode we continue to look at the StrateGene report, this time focusing on the genes for endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Impairments in this enzyme can increase your risk of asthma or high blood pressure. If you have either of these conditions and impairments in the enzyme, then you may benefit from strategies aimed at increasing nitric oxide production. Ensuring adequate zinc and arginine are part of the strategy because they support the enzyme, but you also should consider strategies that get around the enzyme, such as foods and supplements that generate nitric oxide enzymatically. Watch the video to learn more!

I recommend testing your eNOS genes with StrateGene, which you can get here:

chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene

For more information on how to get the StrateGene report, watch this video:

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/12/04/know-need-care-mthfr/

Here is a link to Neo40:

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/neo40

Jan 9, 2018

You may have heard of MTHFR, but have you heard about MTRR? If you care about your vitamin B12 status, listen to this podcast to learn about it.

MTRR is an enzyme that helps you repair your vitamin B12 once it’s been damaged. You don’t need to use it a lot most of the time, so some of us, including me, have genetic variations that make it not work very well, yet we’re fine most of the time. But when you are exposed to new health challenges that increase the damage done to your B12, suddenly you may need to use the enzyme more than usual, and if you have genetic impairments in the enzyme you may suddenly become vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency.

I don’t recommend making a specific nutritional strategy around MTRR, but I do recommend you monitor your B12 status more proactively if you have genes that lower your MTRR activity.

I recommend testing your MTRR with StrateGene, which you can get here:

chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene

For more information on how to get the StrateGene report, watch this video:

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2017/12/04/know-need-care-mthfr/

Jan 8, 2018

Glycine can you sleep, stabilize your blood sugar, improve your joint health, keep your skin beautiful, and do much more. It's a little amino acid with a big impact on your health.

This episode is a panel discussion between Dr. Chris Masterjohn, Alex Leaf of Examine.Com, and Vladimir Heiskanen, covering everything you need to know about glycine.

The best way to get glycine is from hydrolyzed collagen. Great Lakes offers the best balance of quality, transparency, and price. Vital Proteins, while more expensive, uses enzymatic digestions rather than heat to hydrolyze the collagen, and some people find that their digestion tolerates Vital Proteins but not other brands.

Some people respond better to pure glycine. For these cases I recommend Bulk Supplements pure glycine powder. It has the same sweetness as sugar and can be used as a sweetener.

You can view the show notes for this episode at chrismasterjohnphd.com/49.

This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. I wrote this to make everything you could possibly need to measure and manage your nutritional status all one click away. If you purchase it by Wednesday, January 9, you can turn in your proof of purchase at any point in the future while my consultations are available to get $30 back on a single consultation or $100 back on a Health and Wellness Package. Get it now!

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley. I use their beef sticks as a convenient yet nutritious snack. They are made from 100% grass-fed beef and preserved through traditional fermentation. The fermentation makes them more digestible and gives them a fresher mouthfeel and texture compared to most other meat snacks I’ve tried, which tend to be too dry for me to fully enjoy. They also have a grass-fed organ complex that contains a blend of liver, heart, kidney, and brain, all stuffed into gel caps for those who can’t bring themselves to eat these incredibly nutritious meats with a fork. Head to paleovalley.com and enter the promo code masterjohn at checkout for 30% off your order. This is a huge savings available for only a limited time. You can get 30% off everything on the site, ordering as much as you want, but only for the duration of the next three podcast episodes. Check it out now to make sure you get your discount!

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to grasslandbeef.com and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

Jan 4, 2018

Concerned about kidney stones? Here are ten things you can do to naturally protect yourself.

Believe it or not, calcium is protective. But there is far more. Listen to this podcast to learn all about it.

Jan 2, 2018

Happy 2018!

After many dozens of hours putting this together, I'm super excited to announce "Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet."

Over the course of 2017, many of you followed my podcast series on measuring and managing nutritional status. Some of you absolutely loved it. Some of you found it too technical to follow, or found the episodes too long and dense to share with your friends and family and were excited when I started condensing them into much shorter Chris Masterjohn Lite episodes. At the end of the day, I still am only about 5% through the series, mainly because producing each episode takes me about two weeks of doing nothing else and I need to clear out more time for it.

One of my goals in 2018 is to unleash the complete series.

But this also calls for something else:

  • Could I completely distill the practical, actionable information from all the technical explanations?
  • Could I collect it all into one, easy-to-find place?

One of you wrote to me last year:

Hi Chris, I'd happily pay for a PDF cheat sheet containing all your evidence-based recommendations in one table. I frequently find myself hunting through your transcripts :)

Just a suggestion, keep up the good work.

Man oh man, was he right. Quite often, dozens of hours reviewing the science around a nutrient led me to recommend specific tests that are not in common use, or specific ranges for tests that are commonly used but where the lab's range is far too broad, or just way off.

So I started to put together such a cheat sheet. Lo and behold, I found myself hurting as I tried to find my own practical recommendations in the sprawling 2-hour transcripts. 

🤕

After all this time in the trenches, what I've emerged with... let's just say, ain't no ordinary cheat sheet.

It's the ULTIMATE cheat sheet.

It's is a “cheat sheet” in two ways:

● All of the lab testing required for comprehensive nutritional screening is reduced to a single page, with hyperlinks making ordering any of the tests just one click away.

● In just five pages, I provide full instructions for lab testing, blood pressure, and dietary analysis, as well as an algorithm for quick decisions on what to do next for each marker that may be off.

This “cheat sheet” is ultimate because of what comes next:

● Over 70 pages list the signs and symptoms associated with all the possible nutrient imbalances, the potential causes of nutrient imbalances, and an action plan for correcting each imbalance.

To top it off, it ends with an index of the signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. The index has 178 entries, and each entry links directly to the sections of the text where those signs and symptoms are discussed. This makes it incredibly easy to browse through the index for the things that seem most interesting or relevant to you and find exactly what you're looking for without having to read the whole guide.

If you're getting antsy, you can buy it right now, but read on if you'd like to learn more about it.

Three Ways to Use the Cheat Sheet

Let's face it, testing nutritional status can be expensive. In my consulting practice, some of my clients often ask me to find ways to minimize the costs associated with figuring out nutritional problems. Others are able to get practically anything covered by insurance if they use the right labs, and others just want me to find the cream of the crop, the best of the best.

So I've started the cheat sheet by outlining three different ways to use it:

  • In the comprehensive approach, you get the comprehensive lab screening, conduct a dietary analysis and a series of home blood pressure measurements, and collect a list of signs and symptoms that seem relevant from the index.
  • In the time-saving approach, you skip the dietary analysis -- the most time-consuming part -- and only resort to dietary analysis if and when some of your health challenges prove too difficult to resolve without it.
  • In the cost-saving approach, you skip the lab screening, only resorting to running labs when doing so proves necessary to determine the best course of action.

The comprehensive approach is the one that generates the correct strategies the fastest, but if time or finances are constraining, the other two options allow you to make the best of the resources you have at your disposal.

By the way, while practical, this is an entirely educational resource. Please don't try anything in the cheat sheet without consulting your doctor, and please don't ever ignore the advice of your doctor because of anything I've written in the cheat sheet.

This Is a Living Document

Putting this cheat sheet together has been tremendously valuable to me. It required me to do a lot of research, and to collect my thoughts and findings all into one place. I know very well that it's going to be my primary tool for helping myself and others in the years to come. So I want to keep this constantly up-to-date for both myself and for you.

You'll notice that I've called it Version 1.0. Since it's practical in nature, I decided to think of it more like a software program than a book, and went with version over edition.

When you purchase the cheat sheet, I recommend you enter your email address in the shopping cart. That will allow me to email you updates to future editions. If I make small changes to it, I will call the versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and so on, and give you the updates for free. When I make bigger changes, I will release versions 2.0, 3.0, and so on, and give you steep discounts for having purchased version 1.0 early in the life of the guide.

I will also offer you opportunities to give me your feedback on the guide, and I will consider that feedback in the production of updates.

This Is a Practical, Not a Scientific Argument

I've put together a small collection of further reading materials at the end of the guide. If I had thoroughly referenced every statement in the guide, it would be unwieldy, with a sprawling bibliography that rivaled the guide in length. I mean, geez this is a cheat sheet and it's already 78 pages long! Instead, I listed what I consider the best starting places for developing a deeper understanding of the material. One of those resources is my podcast, where I will be doing an episode on each nutrient this year, in full scientific glory.

What that means is that this is not for you if what you are looking for is full explanations of how things work, how I came to each conclusion, and the exact source of each statement pinned clearly to the statement itself. I have plenty of writings of that nature, but this isn't one of them.

This is for you if you want to the practical what-to-do information all distilled into one place. And hundredsof hyperlinks ensuring you never have to scroll, squint your eyes to find things, or make an appointment with Dr. Google.

This Is a Digital Document

The format of the cheat sheet is a PDF. You'll be able to download it immediately after purchase.

You can certainly print it out if you wish, and that might be best if you want to read it straight through. However, please keep in mind that one of the key features is the hundreds of hyperlinks. They bring you to the exact section you want to use when reading the instructions for use. They bring you to the exact paragraph to read when looking things up in the index. They bring you to the exact lab test when looking for a test to order. So, keep the digital version handy if for no other reason than this amazing assortment of links.

An AMAZING Gift for You if You But It This Week

If you buy the cheat sheet this week (by January 9), you can use your proof of purchase at any time to obtain a discount (technically a rebate) on my consultation services:

  • If you purchase a single consultation, you can turn in your proof of purchase and I'll give you $30 back. That's the full value of the cheat sheet. So you can think of this as 10% off the consultation, or getting the cheat sheet completely for FREE.
  • If you purchase a Health and Wellness Package, you can turn in your proof of purchase and I'll give you $100 back. That's a $30 investment to get $100 back, a $70 profit. It's like buying bitcoin!  😉

You don't have to commit to a consultation now. This offer is good for the entire life of my consultation services.

So, the action you need to take this week to be eligible is to purchase the cheat sheet, and to save the email with the download link and receipt as your proof of purchase. The action you can take at any time in the future is to use the proof of purchase for a rebate on my consultation services. This is subject to the availability of my services. If you wait until 2020, I cannot guarantee I will still be offering consultations. If you wait until August, I cannot guarantee you'll get your spot at a convenient time. All I guarantee is that as long as I offer these services, I will honor the rebate.

Even if you decide not to follow up on the rebate, what you get is an amazing resource for the ridiculously cheap "full price" of $30.

Actually, you can pay less than that.

Plus a Discount If You Buy It Today!

For today and today only, I'm offering an early bird discount.

At checkout, put in this discount code:

SaveMe5!

It takes $5 off the price and expires at 11:59 PM tonight, eastern time.

Here It Is...

Ready?

You can buy it here:

Testing Nutritional Status: The ULTIMATE Cheat Sheet

Happy New Year!
Chris

Jan 2, 2018

So far we’ve seen that glycine or collagen supplements can improve sleep, tendon health, and blood sugar. But many of you have asked me, should we be concerned that they can raise oxalate levels? This could potentially increase the risk of kidney stones.

There’s about a ten percent chance you could be at risk of a kidney stone some day, and if you’re in that minority you should be concerned about your exposure to oxalates. Glycine is very unlikely to generate oxalates, but collagen may, especially if you are deficient in vitamin B6. In this podcast, I describe how to figure out if this is relevant to you and what to do about it.

Dec 28, 2017

Got blood sugar problems? Glycine might help!

3-5 grams of glycine before a meal helps stabilize your blood sugar after the meal, and 15 grams a day every day helps improve long-term blood sugar stability in type 2 diabetes. Listen to this podcast for the best way to implement this strategy.

Dec 26, 2017

Achy joints? Tendon pain? Just looking to stay youthful forever?

Taking 15 grams of collagen before your workout, maybe with a little vitamin C, can do wonders for your tendon health. Your tendons aren’t that metabolically active and they don’t vacuum up what they need as actively as your muscles do. Getting the collagen peptides into your bloodstream before your workout makes them available to your tendons when your workout starts pumping blood directly into all the nooks and crannies where those shy little tendons are found.

Here is the link to the Sigma Nutrition episode with Danny Lennon and Keith Baar: https://sigmanutrition.com/episode143/

Dec 21, 2017
Creatine, best known for its ability to build muscle and enhance athletic performance, is also critical for digestion, mental health, protecting your hearing, and keeping your skin vibrant and youthful. 
 
From among the various options for creatine supplementation, I recommend Optimized Nutrition micronized creatine powder. If you are using creatine while traveling, try Optimized Nutrition creatine caps.

Click here for the only searchable database of the creatine content of foods on the internet. It has over 140 entries!

This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley. I use their beef sticks as a convenient yet nutritious snack. They are made from 100% grass-fed beef and preserved through traditional fermentation. The fermentation makes them more digestible and gives them a fresher mouthfeel and texture compared to most other meat snacks I’ve tried, which tend to be too dry for me to fully enjoy. They also have a grass-fed organ complex that contains a blend of liver, heart, kidney, and brain, all stuffed into gel caps for those who can’t bring themselves to eat these incredibly nutritious meats with a fork. Head to paleovalley.com and enter the promo code masterjohn at checkout for 30% off your order. This is a huge savings available for only a limited time. You can get 30% off everything on the site, ordering as much as you want, but only for the duration of the next three podcast episodes. Check it out now to make sure you get your discount!
 

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to grasslandbeef.com and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

Dec 13, 2017

Do you have trouble sleeping, or wish you felt more rested and energized during the day?

Glycine might be one of the best things you can try. It doesn’t just have a calming effect, but it improves sleep quality and can make you feel more rested even on the same amount of sleep. In this episode, I discuss how to use glycine for better sleep and why you should consider both free glycine and hydrolyzed collagen.

Dec 11, 2017

Is what you’re doing for MTHFR working? How would you know?

In this episode I cover the most important blood work to get to make sure what you’re doing is working. I cover the importance of homocysteine, how to interpret glycine and sarcosine levels on a plasma amino acids test, the difference between measuring serum or plasma folate and measuring red blood cell folate, and more.

Dec 6, 2017

Got MTHFR? I got you: here’s what you can do with nutrition to optimize for your genetics.

MTHFR mutations increase your need for choline and glycine. It’s key to get methylfolate in your diet, but high-dose methylfolate supplements are not the solution. You need to boost choline as an alternative supply of methyl groups, and creatine supplementation can help you better conserve your methylfolate by reducing the need to use it. This is important because adequate methylfolate preserves glycine and prevents it from being lost. Too little protein hurts methylation, but too much worsens the loss of glycine, so you need to hit the Goldilocks amount. Finally, you need to get more glycine to make up for whatever you’re losing.

In this episode, I explain how to use food and supplements to make all this work in your favor.

Dec 4, 2017

Should you care about your MTHFR?

Here’s how to find out your MTHFR genetic status and know how it affects you.

MTHFR is an enzyme that allows folate, or vitamin B9, to support a process known as methylation. Methylation is important to mental health, cardiovascular health, sports performance, and preventing cancer, just to name a few. In this episode, I show you how to find your MTHFR genetic status. I also discuss how the various different genetic combinations impact you and how you can leverage that information to determine how strictly you should follow the dietary recommendations I’ll outline in the next episode.

To order a StrateGene report while kicking a small commission my way at no extra cost to you, use this link: chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene I appreciate the support!

The audio of this episode was generously enhanced and post-processed by Bob Davodian of Taurean mixing. You can find more of his work at taureanonlinemixing.com.

Nov 4, 2017

Are you coming to Wise Traditions 2017?

It's in Minneapolis, with some pregame events beginning on Thursday November 9th and the main conference running from Friday, November 10th through Monday, November 13th.

I'm excited to see friends like Ben Greenfield and Laura Schoenfeld, to meet many other people I know only through the internet, and to spend some face-to-face time with lots of people who share traditional diets as a common interest.

I'll be giving two talks, plus teaching an all-day interactive course on measuring and managing nutritional status.

Here's what I'm doing:

  • On Saturday, I'll be giving a talk on the role of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals in achieving an optimal hormonal balance.
  • On Sunday, I'll be giving a talk "Methylate Your Way to Mental Health: Beyond Folate and B12 Supplements."
  • On Monday, I'll be teaching an all-day interactive course called "Measuring and Managing Nutritional Status Masterclass."

To register for the conference, go here. Please note that the Monday class on managing nutritional status comes separately. When you sign up, look for the "Monday Event Registration" header on the form, and change the dropdown menu from "No Monday Event Selected" to "Chris Masterjohn (includes lunch)."

The Masterclass will take each of the essential nutrients, and cover both the "what" and the "why" behind the signs and symptoms of deficiency, the distribution in the diet, and the lab work used to assess nutritional status. It will consist of 10-15 minute chunks of lecture interspersed with questions that I'll give you. You'll vote on the answers with an app on your mobile device or laptop and we'll look at how people respond (anonymously in aggregate), often using the responses as a basis for discussion. You will have numerous opportunities to ask me questions about what we cover through the class and a more free-for-all-style opportunity to ask me anything at the end.

Sound great? Register here!

Register for Wise Traditions, 2017

Hope to see you there,
Chris

Oct 10, 2017

In conditions of glucose deprivation, such as fasting or carbohydrate restriction, ketogenesis serves to reduce our needs for glucose. This reduces the need to engage in the energetically wasteful process of gluconeogenesis, which would otherwise be extremely taxing on our skeletal muscle if dietary protein were inadequate. Ketogenesis mainly occurs in the liver. The biochemical event that leads to ketogenesis is an accumulation of acetyl CoA that cannot enter the citric acid cycle because it exceeds the supply of oxaloacetate. The set of physiological conditions that provoke this biochemical event are as follows: free fatty acids from adipose tissue reach the liver, providing the energy needed for gluconeogenesis as well as a large excess of acetyl CoA. Oxaloacetate, with the help of the energy provided by free fatty acids, leaves the citric acid cycle for gluconeogenesis. These events increase the ratio of acetyl CoA to oxaloacetate, which leads to the accumulation of acetyl CoA that cannot enter the citric acid cycle and therefore enter the ketogenic pathway. This pathway results in the production of acetoacetate, a ketoacid. Acetoacetate can then be reduced to beta-hydroxybutyrate, a hydroxyacid, in a manner analogous to the reduction of pyruvate, a ketoacid, to lactate, a hydroxyacid. Acetoacetate is an unstable beta-ketoacid just like oxalosuccinate (covered in lesson 6) and can also spontaneously decarboxylate to form acetone, a simple ketone that is extremely volatile and can evaporate through the lungs, causing ketone breath. This lesson covers the basic mechanisms of ketogenesis and sets the ground for the forthcoming lesson on the benefits and drawbacks of ketogenesis in various contexts.

Click here for the full lesson

Sign up for MWM Pro for early access to content, enhanced keyword searching, self-pacing tools, downloadable audio and transcripts, a rich array of hyperlinked further reading suggestions, and a community with a forum for each lesson.

Oct 9, 2017

The last lesson covered how insulin, glucagon, and allosteric regulators from within the liver ensure that the liver only engages in gluconeogenesis when it can and when it needs to. This lesson focuses on an additional layer of regulation: cortisol. Cortisol is the principal glucocorticoid in humans. Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex that increase blood glucose. Cortisol has multiple actions on the liver, muscle, adipose, and pancreas that all converge on making glucose more available to the brain. Among them, it increases movement of fatty acids from adipose to the liver, which provide the energy for gluconeogenesis, and the movement of amino acids from skeletal muscle to the liver, which provide the building blocks for gluconeogenesis. Cortisol serves both to antagonize insulin, thereby acutely increasing gluconeogenesis, and to increase the synthesis of gluconeogenic enzymes, which amplifies all other pro-gluconeogenic signaling and increases the total capacity for gluconeogenesis. In fact, even the day-to-day regulation of gluconeogenesis by glucagon is strongly dependent on normal healthy levels of cortisol in the background. Since gluconeogenesis is an extremely expensive investment with a negative return, it makes sense that the body would regulate it as a stress response, and thus place it under control by cortisol. This raises the question of whether carbohydrate restriction increases cortisol. Several studies are reviewed in this lesson that indicate that 1) there may be an extreme level of carbohydrate restriction that always increases cortisol, and 2) carbohydrate restriction definitely increases cortisol in some people. It may be the case that other stressors in a person’s “stress bucket” determine whether and how strongly the person reacts to carbohydrate restriction with elevated cortisol.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/31

Sign up for MWM Pro for early access to content, enhanced keyword searching, self-pacing tools, downloadable audio and transcripts, a rich array of hyperlinked further reading suggestions, and a community with a forum for each lesson.

Oct 8, 2017

Since gluconeogenesis is extremely expensive, it has to be tightly regulated so that it only occurs when both of two conditions are met: 1) the liver has enough energy to invest a portion into synthesizing glucose, and 2) the rest of the body is in need of that glucose.

Since the liver is the metabolic hub of the body that also plays a major role in anabolic synthesis and nitrogen disposal, it also regulates glycolysis and gluconeogenesis according to whether amino acids are available to supply energy in place of glucose and whether there is sufficient citrate and associated energy for biosynthesis. This lesson covers how insulin, glucagon, alanine, citrate, fructose 2-6-bisphosphate, ATP, ADP, and AMP regulate the flux between glycolysis and gluconeogenesis.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/30

Sign up for MWM Pro for early access to content, enhanced keyword searching, self-pacing tools, downloadable audio and transcripts, a rich array of hyperlinked further reading suggestions, and a community with a forum for each lesson.

Oct 7, 2017

Gluconeogenesis is extremely expensive. Three steps of glycolysis are so energetically favorable that they are irreversible. Getting around them requires four gluconeogenesis-specific enzymes and the investment of a much larger amount of energy. Overall, six ATP worth of energy are invested to yield glucose, a molecule that only yields 2 ATP when broken down in glycolysis. This lesson covers the details of the reactions as well as the rationale for investing so much energy. One of the most pervasive themes in biology is the drive to conserve energy. That we will spend this much energy synthesizing glucose is a testament to how essential it is to our life and well being.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/29

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Oct 6, 2017

Insulin is commonly seen as a response to blood glucose whose primary role is to keep blood glucose within a narrow range. This view of insulin fails to account for its many roles outside of energy metabolism that govern long-term investments in health. The biochemistry and physiology of insulin secretion suggest, rather, that insulin is a gauge of short-term energy status and energetic versatility. Since glucose can only be stored in small amounts and since it is the most versatile of the macronutrients in its ability to support specialized pathways of energy metabolism, it makes sense that it would be wired to the pancreas as the primary signal of short-term energy status and energetic versatility. In this lesson, we review the unique uses of glucose and the mechanisms of insulin signaling to synthesize them into a more nuanced view of the role of insulin than is typically presented.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/28

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Oct 5, 2017

The pentose phosphate pathway provides a deep look into a stunning array of essential roles for glucose. In it, glucose becomes the source of NADPH, used for antioxidant defense, detoxification, recycling of nutrients like vitamin K and folate, and the anabolic synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, neurotransmitters, and nucleotides. At the same time, glucose also becomes the source of 5-carbon sugars, used structurally in DNA, RNA, and energy carriers like ATP, coenzyme A, NADH, NADPH, and FADH2. DNA is needed for growth, reproduction, and cellular repair; RNA is needed to translate genetic information from DNA into all of the structures in our bodies; the energy carriers constitute the very infrastructure of the entire system of energy metabolism. This lesson covers the details of the pentose phosphate pathway, how it operates in multiple modes according to the relative needs of the cell for ATP, NADPH, and 5-carbon sugars, the role of glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and thiamin deficiency in its dysfunction, and what it means for the importance of glucose to human health.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/27

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Oct 4, 2017
In August of this year, 25-year-old bodybuilding mom Meegan Hefford was found unconscious in her apartment, brought to the hospital where she was declared brain-dead, and died soon after. The cause? "Too much protein before competition," according to the New York Post. She had recently doubled her gym routine, started dieting, and begun slamming protein shakes in preparation for an upcoming bodybuilding competition. No one knew she had a rare genetic disorder that would make the breakdown of protein acutely toxic for her until after her death.
 
Does this tragic case carry lessons for the rest of us without rare genetic disorders? In this episode, I make the answer a definitive YES.
 
Protein is essential to life and health, but its metabolic byproduct, ammonia, is toxic. Humans dispose of excess nitrogen largely as urea, a nontoxic metabolite of ammonia that can be safely excreted in the urine. Rare genetic defects like Hefford's interfere directly with the production of urea. Other genetic defects that interfere with the use of certain fuels, especially fatty acids and branched-chain amino acids, can indirectly impair the synthesis of urea during metabolic crisis. Impairments of urea synthesis lead to the accumulation of ammonia, with devastating neurological consequences.
 
Null genes manifest in infancy and are best studied. Partial genetic deficiencies, like Hefford's are often asymptomatic through adulthood until dietary changes (protein supplementation, carbohydrate restriction, fasting) or metabolic demands (intense exercise, illness) force a greater rate of protein catabolism.
 
There is at least one genetic polymorphism in a urea cycle gene that is COMMON and associated with disease: the A allele of rs5963409 in the OTC gene is present in up to 25-30% of some populations. It impairs ammonia disposal and arginine synthesis and it increases the risk of hypertension and Alzheimer's disease.
 
Does it impair protein tolerance? It hasn't been directly studied, but it is reasonable to believe that people with this polymorphism may not tolerate protein as well as others, and that arginine supplementation could help. 
 
We need to stop dismissing inborn errors of metabolism as too rare to be relevant and we need to start connecting the dots and learning the lessons they carry for everyone.
 
This episode is brought to you by Paleovalley. I use their beef sticks as a convenient yet nutritious snack. They are made from 100% grass-fed beef and preserved through traditional fermentation. The fermentation makes them more digestible and gives them a fresher mouthfeel and texture compared to most other meat snacks I’ve tried, which tend to be too dry for me to fully enjoy. They also have a grass-fed organ complex that contains a blend of liver, heart, kidney, and brain, all stuffed into gel caps for those who can’t bring themselves to eat these incredibly nutritious meats with a fork. Head to paleovalley.com and enter the promo code masterjohn at checkout for 30% off your order. This is a huge savings available for only a limited time. You can get 30% off everything on the site, ordering as much as you want, but only for the duration of the next three podcast episodes. Check it out now to make sure you get your discount!
 

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to grasslandbeef.com and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

Oct 4, 2017

Although insulin promotes storage of fat in adipose tissue, this occurs in the context of multiple layers of regulation where energy balance is the final determinant of how much fat we store. In a caloric deficit, the low energy status of muscle and heart will lead them to take up fat rather than adipose tissue, even in the presence of insulin. Insulin combined with low energy status will promote the uptake of glucose in skeletal muscle over adipose tissue and will promote the oxidation of glucose rather than its incorporation into fat. Some advocates of the carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity have argued that glucose is needed to form the glycerol backbone of triglycerides within adipose tissue. Although glucose can serve this role, it isn’t necessary because adipose glyceroneogenesis and hepatic gluconeogenesis can both provide the needed glycerol phosphate. Further, low energy status promotes the use of glycerol as fuel and high energy status is needed to promote the formation of glycerol from glucose. Finally, fatty acids are needed to store fat in adipose tissue and they overwhelmingly come from dietary fat in almost any circumstance. Insulin can only promote de novo lipogenesis, the synthesis of fatty acids from other precursors such as carbohydrate, in the context of excess energy, and this pathway is minor in conditions of caloric deficit, caloric balance, or moderate caloric excess. Thus, although insulin does promote storage of fat in adipose tissue, it doesn’t directly affect energy balance, and energy balance is the determinant of how much fat you store overall.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/26

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Oct 3, 2017

Insulin prevents fat-burning in part by locking fat in adipose tissue and in part by shutting down transport of fatty acids into the mitochondrion inside cells. By downregulating lipoprotein lipase (LPL) at heart and skeletal muscle and upregulating it at adipose tissue, insulin shifts dietary fat away from heart and muscle and toward adipose tissue. By downregulating hormone-sensitive lipase in adipose tissue, it prevents the release of free fatty acids from adipose tissue into the blood. At the cellular level, insulin leads to the phosphorylation and deactivation of AMPK. Since AMPK inhibits acetyl CoA carboxylase, insulin-mediated deactivation of AMPK leads to activation of acetyl CoA carboxylase and the conversion of acetyl CoA to malonyl CoA. Malonyl CoA inhibits carnitine palmitoyl transferase-1 (CPT-1) and thus blocks the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondrion. Nevertheless, all of these steps are also regulated at the most fundamental level by energy status, as covered in lesson 22. Further, insulin stimulates the burning of carbohydrate for energy, as covered in lesson 24. So, is insulin’s blockade of fat-burning sufficient to cause net fat storage, or does this critically depend on energy balance? This question will be answered in the next lesson.

For the full episode, go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/mwm/2/25


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