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Stop Your Muscles from Decreasing in Size & Strength with Omega 3 | Chris McGlory PhD

Episode 73, duration 1 hr 10 mins
Episode 73

Stop Your Muscles from Decreasing in Size & Strength with Omega 3 | Chris McGlory PhD

Dr. Chris McGlory is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University, Canada having completed Postdoctoral Fellowships at McMaster University, Canada under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Phillips. Chris specializes in the use of stable isotopic tracers to track skeletal muscle protein turnover during periods of fasting, feeding, training, and immobilization. Currently, his lab is focused on exploring how omega-3 fatty acid and essential amino acid intake protect against muscle disuse atrophy. Chris has published over 60 scientific papers and has delivered numerous invited national and international presentations at many prestigious scientific meetings.

Stop Your Muscles from Decreasing in Size & Strength with Omega 3 - Chris McGlory PhD

In this episode we discuss:
– The benefits of Omega3s for muscle health.
– How much Omega3 fatty acid should you consume?
– Why muscle strength is more important than size.
– Do you really need to lift heavy weights?

00:00:00 – Introduction

00:04:43 – Chris’ Background

00:09:04 – The Differences Between Omega-3 and Omega-6

00:13:37 – Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Metabolism Regulation

00:17:52 – The Mechanism of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Cardiovascular Health

00:22:16 – Omega-3 Fatty Acid Study

00:26:50 – Omega-3s and Muscle Loss

00:31:09 – The Role of Dietary Protein and Omega-3 Supplementation

00:35:41 – The Minimum Effective Dose for Preventing Muscle Atrophy

00:40:02 – The Importance of Staying Physically Active

00:43:59 – The Effects of Lifting Heavy Weights

00:48:17 – Role of Essential Fatty Acids in Muscle

00:52:22 – The Effect of Muscle Quality on Body Weight

00:56:33 – Overfeeding Skeletal Muscle

01:00:49 – Synergistic Effects of Food Sources on Protein Synthesis and Turnover

01:05:31 – The Importance of Publishing Research

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Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:00:01]

Welcome to the Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show where I believe a healthy world is based on transparent conversations. In this episode of The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show, it is my honor and privilege to sit down with Dr.Chris McGlory.He’s an assistant professor at Queen’s University Canada, having completed post-doctoral fellowships at McMaster University in Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Stu Phillips. Chris specializes in the use of stable isotope tracers to track skeletal muscle protein turnover during periods of fasting, feeding, training, and immobilization. In this episode, we take his expertise, and we do a very deep dive into his current research, which is focused on exploring how omega-3 fatty acid and essential amino acid intake protect against muscle disuse atrophy. Chris has published over 60 scientific papers, and he has deliverednumerous invited national and international presentations at many prestigious scientific meetings.

This conversation was absolutely wonderful. We discussed how much omega-3 fatty acids someone should use, the mechanism of action, how it can actually protect your skeletal muscle from disuse, what is its role in overall skeletal muscle health and so much more. Chris is a wealth of knowledge. Again, this is a very important nutrient,omega-3 fatty acids. It’s something that we can measure in your blood, andit’s something you can get in the dietor take through supplementation. It’s easy, and the literature is just booming.If you liked this episode, please take a moment to like, subscribe, share it. We offer this education free of cost so that we can get the message out there from the people in the trenches.


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Dr. Chris McGlory, you are an assistant professor at Queen’s University, and you completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University under the supervision of the one and only Dr. Stu Phillips. I’m really excited to have you on the show today because your work in omega-3 fatty acids and skeletal muscle health and essential amino acid intake to protect against muscle disuse atrophy is extraordinary. You really are leading and paving the way. Welcome to the show.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:05:21]

Thanks very much, and thanks for the nice introduction. I think I’m taking a lot of credit there for other people’s work as well, but a very much a team effort in the human trial. I’m looking forward to chatting a little bit about some of the work that we’ve done and some of the work that we’re looking to do now.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:05:34]

I’m so excited. So let’s dive into it. Can you give us a little bit of background, how you arrived at your current research?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:05:45]

I’m from the UK. I’m based in Canada, but I did my undergraduate and master’s degrees at Liverpool John Moores University, which is probably the best sports science institute in the world, at least in my opinion. I did it withGraeme Close and James Morton, and both Graeme and James are very interested in carbohydrate metabolism and sports performance. I did a little bit of work there. Then I was really fascinated by protein metabolism and learning how muscle proteins turnover, so James recommend that I work with somebody in that fieldsuch as Stuart orLucvan Loon in Holland.But I was very lucky to land a PhD studentship with Kevin Tipton at the University of Stirling, and my intention really was to go out there and learn how to use stable isotope tracers to measure muscle protein turnoverafter exercise.But when I got up there, Kevin and my other supervisors, Stuart Galloway had landed a grant to look at how omega-3 fatty acids would interact with protein metabolism in the context of feeding omega-3 fatty acids and seeing how it affected muscle protein metabolism, and it piqued my interest.

We did a series of studies in Stirling. At the same time, we were collaborating with Dr. Stuart Phillips, his lab at McMaster because Stuart had the mass specs that allowed us to measure the isotope enrichment in our samples. I went to Canada for a couple of weeks and worked there with the crew in Mac. When I got back to Stirling, Stuart kindly offered me the opportunity to go and learn from him a little bit more the clinical work in the form of a postdoc. So I went to McMaster, and I spent, I’d say, five of the best years of my career with Dr. Phillips,learning lots about the clinical work and applying stable isotopes. Stu was also an excellent mentor and allowed me to work with other people such as Graham Hollowayand learn from them in the surrounding area. Then a job came up at Queen’s University in Canada just before the pandemic. I applied, and I got the job. Then, the rest is history.Really, at least with the pandemic, and it’s only now that we’ve really started to get some of the trials that I’m sure we’ll talk about today, open and ongoing.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:07:59]

I’m really excited. My audience is fascinated in the idea of muscle-centric medicine.From our perspective, and I can speak collectively for my audience, we are very focused on the health of skeletal muscle as it relates to aging, longevity, metabolism, glucose homeostasis. Protecting skeletal muscle is really at the forefront of all of our thoughts, especially as aging and with the continuation of the narrative of really just focused on obesity, but bringing it back to skeletal muscle health, which, again, I think that you’ve done some tremendous work. Number one, I would like for the audience to understand a little bit, nothing in great detail, about the stable isotope tracer so they can get a sense of putting into context some of the work, just very briefly.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:08:54]

To cut the long story shortis that when you want to look at how your muscle grows, you need to be able to measure it. You can either use imaging techniquessuch as an MRI, but that takes typically weeks, sometimes months to see the change in muscle growth numbers for all muscle loss in response to an intervention. Essentially, a stable isotope labels amino acids. It makes them a little bit heavier chemically, which allows us that when we take muscle biopsies and we take blood samples, we can look at the fate of the ingested amino acid. For example, if you have an amino acid or a particular food source that is more anabolic than another, when we take muscle biopsies, we will see what we call a greater level of enrichment, which means more of the isotope in the muscle. We use mass spectrometry to assess that which is an extremely precise and sensitive instrument, so we can actually measure muscle growth using stable isotopes over the period of hours and days instead of weeks and months with the imaging techniques.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:09:51]

That’s so fascinating. I think it’s important to point out that typically, in practice and when they translate human trials that the imaging can miss a lot versus the stable isotope is, again, like you said, very precise.You will get even granular detail. Talk to me about what you uncovered about omega-3 fatty acids. Number one, what are omega-3 fatty acids? What are some of the doses that you looked at? What are some of the mechanisms of action? Because again, if we ask a question, and we say, well, omega-3 fatty acids may help with muscle protein synthesisas opposed to its effect on muscle breakdown, what are some of the mechanisms of action and justa broad overview on the omega-3 fatty acids and how that relates to muscle health.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:10:44]

Sure, and if I start rambling, feel free to interject me because it’s something I’ve got quite an interest in.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:10:48]

We try not to interrupt, but sometimesit’s helpful.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:10:52]

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as an essential fatty acids, which basically means we need to acquire them in the diet. Essentially, the omega-3s refer to the position of the first double carbon bonds. So saya saturated fatty acid, and most fatty acids, they’re essentially hydrocarbon chains. The poly or the unsaturated fatty acids basically means that there’s a double carbon bond somewhere in that chain. These double carbon bonds create a kink in the fatty acids. So instead of having a flat saturated chain, the position of that double carbon bond will create like a bit of a kink in the fatty acid chain. Omega-3 basically refers to the fact that that kink or that double bond is on the third carbon away from the omega and of the fatty acid chain.

Now a polyunsaturated fatty acid means that there’s multiple kinks or multiple double carbon bonds. This is where we see the differences between the actions of saturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the body. Some people would say, what’s the difference between an n-3 and n-6? Well, if we go by the extension of, that it’s the position of the third carbon, the n-6 means that the double carbon bond is on the sixth carbon. Thishas a fundamental difference in the body in terms of, we believe or we know that the omega-3 serve as precursors or building blocks for the production of anti-inflammatory signaling molecules, whereas the omega-6s serve as the building blocks for some pro-inflammatory signaling molecules. It’s just quite interesting to me that simply moving the position of that first double carbon bond can have such a profound effect on metabolism and at least inflammatory processes in the muscle.

In terms of the mechanism of action, aside from inflammation, because that is generally where people focus when we talk about omega-3s, we think of it in terms of having the anti-inflammatory reactions, which it does. But we believe that some of the effects in muscle are independent from that anti-inflammatory action. They could be related more to the structure of the omega-3s because those omega-3 fatty acids are actually incorporated into our membranes of our cells. Those membranes actually protect the inside of a cell. When you incorporate those omega-3s into that phospholipid membrane, think of it like awall protecting the castle, when youincorporate more of those omega-3s, that alters the processes on the membrane, and we believe it alters the processes on the membrane in a favorable way towards skeletal muscle.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:13:26]

That’sso fascinating. You had mentionedn-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. That’s really what we talk about is the PUFA omega-3 fatty acids. Then you mentioned omega-6 fatty acids, and there’s a lot of conversation about that ratio in the current Western diet.I know that in your studies, you have multiple great studies, and the one that I’m looking at here is temporal changes in human skeletal muscle and blood lipid composition with fish oil supplementation because again, from a bench to bedside perspective, what we care about is how does this move the needle for the listener and the patients? You gave people 5 grams of fish oil per day for four weeks. Do you think that an individual requires–could someone get that in a diet? And also, could they get that in the appropriate ratio of EPA and DHA? I’d love for you to discuss how you came up with 5 grams of fish oil, how you decided on the EPA, DHA? And then one last question—andI can remind you of any of these questions—what is the minimum to prevent deficiency? Because I don’t think that per se, we think of omega-3 fatty acids as a minimum to prevent deficiencies. But I’m curious as if you’ve thought about that.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:14:52]

Okay, so let’s start with the last question first. You’re correct.The main omega-3 fatty acids, the EPA and DHA, the typical recommendation is to consume two oily pieces of fish a week. That would get you around a gram a week, I believe. That’s going to be on top of what your normal diet is. This for people without cardiovascular disease risk, and then it changes for people with heart disease, starting off at around 1 gram per day, and that’s when people look at supplements. On that note, what I’ll say is that people sometimes will conflate fish oil with omega-3 supplements. Sometimes, you’ll seeit labeled fish oil,but you look at the back and off per gram, you might only have 100 milligrams, which is 1/10th of EPA and DHA, and the rest of it is filled up with different fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids. I think it’s careful to for us totalk in the context of EPA and DHA, not necessarily fish oil, but when we communicate with the general public, we say fish oil, but that’s my disclaimer. I think what we tried to do is we’re using omega-3s as a means tounderstand the regulation of metabolism. The doses that we use in our studies are not ones that I would suggest the general public should be moving forward with just yet. They’re very high dosesaround 5 grams.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:16:14]

That’s interesting. But before you go back, what should someone look at? For example, let’s say you’re going to Whole Foods. I don’t know if you have Whole Foodsthere. But let’s say you’re going to one of your health food stores. No fish oil is getting past you. You’re picking up the bottle, what exactly are you looking for? What dosing are you looking for?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:16:33]

Yeah, that’s a good question. On the back of each fish, a commercially available fish oil will have around 30% of EPA plus DHA. That’s generally what is normally on the shelf, maybe a higher quality and higher grade. What I typically look for is the EPA and DHA content. What you will often see is them expressing something called milligrams on the back of the bottle. If you’re looking to get 500 milligrams per day, what you can do is you can look at the back and it’ll either say per serving or per one soft gel or 1 gram of soft gel, how much you get. For myself, if anything starts to get below 30% is when I become concerned. You’ll notice that a lot of the cheaper products typically have EPA and DHA contents of that fish oil product that is lower than 30%. Typically, it’s just that we go for things that are around 30% or higher for the fish oil products of EPA plus DHA.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:17:28]

So there’s no number of EPA aside from percentage that you’re looking for in terms of 800 milligrams?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:17:37]

I would typically look for a combination of EPA plus DHA that comes to 500 milligrams. That would help if you are looking to get 500 milligrams per day, which is around what the recommendations are for people without cardiovascular disease, then that’swhat I would look to do.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:17:55]

Do you think that is enough?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:17:59]

Well,I’m going to do the scientist response and say it depends. It’s all context specific. There’s recommendations there for healthy people, there’s recommendations for people with cardiovascular disease. I don’t think, in my opinion, right now, we have enough scientific evidence available to make prescription recommendations to improve skeletal muscle health. I’d say it’s going to be a few years before we get there, but I think the first thing isdo no harm. I’m not an RD or a physician, or a registered dietician or physician, so I wouldn’t be prescribing anybody anything. But I’d say that there’s no real harm in going up to around 2 grams per day of EPA plus DHA, at least from what I’ve seen in the literature.There appears to be quite significant benefits. If you look at Bill Harris’s work with the omega-3 index that the second you get a little bit higher into those ranges, there seems to be beneficial impacts across the board for health.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:18:51]

I love that you brought up the omega-3 index because that is something you guys listening can have your provider do. An omega-3 index is something thatyou can get through bloodwork.Is there a percentage that you’d like to see in the omega-3 index of omega-3 fatty acids?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:19:11]

I’m careful with this. I mean, in terms of cardiovascular disease risk off the top of my head, I believe it’s around 8% is what people are looking towards the upper end. In terms of muscle, I am a little bit skeptical when I see people using the omega-3 index as a reference for skeletal muscle health because I just don’t think the evidence is there yet for us to say, to protect against or to improve muscle with aging, you need this percentage. But I’d say that using it as a broad gauge for omega-3 status is quite helpful. Again, I haven’t familiarized myself with the index for a while now, but I think around 8% is something that is typically a healthy level.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:19:47]

I would agree. We’d like to see people between 8 and 12 or so just for overall health. It’s a goal that we shoot for. Now in terms of mechanism of action, let’s talk a little bit about out the mechanism of action and what the potential benefits are of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:20:06]

Are we talking muscle specific or general?

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:20:09]

You can talk whatever you would like,your favorite topic that you want to hear about.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:20:16]

I actually think we don’t really know. There are some really interesting papers out there now, and they’re review papers by people who’ve done a lot of work in cardiovascular physiology. I just think we know that, at least from a cardiovascular perspective, there is some positive evidence there and some recent trials using the Vascepa, which is apure form of EPA assurance and positive results in the cardiovascular world. But I still don’t think we’ve nailed down the mechanism, at least in that perspective.When it comes to muscle, the first thing is that we do need more work.I need to see a little more and more high quality RCTs before I’m quite convinced it’s beneficial for muscle, but going in that direction. I’ve got a hunch that it is related to incorporation into the membranes and potentially influencing mitochondria, which are the powerhouse of the cell; they create the energy.I think there’s something related to the incorporation into the membrane and then also improving mitochondrial health and function, which I know is a very broad term. But that’s theoverall mechanism that I think from a skeletal muscle perspective might be working. But again, we just need a lot more work in the area before we can really start pinning those mechanisms down.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:21:31]

That’s fascinating. Basically, what I’m hearing you say is that this incorporation of taking an omega-3 fatty acid orally will help with the, would you say, the fluidity of the phospholipid membrane of cells potentially?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:21:48]

I’ve used fluidity before, andI’ve been reprimanded. I think it’s because fluidity gives the impression that it’s just not regulatedor we just make things easier to get in and out. I think if the analogy of that castle wall is the whole point of the membranes be is to protect and to regulate what comes in and out.I think Dr. Phil Calder, who I spoke to a review article on this, he would defer to me and said, it’s actually membrane order where if the odor of the membraneand how things are regulated across that membrane is altered. That’s really where I think that the beneficial effects of the omega-3s would occur. To pick off that, it seems to me at least logical, andthere is some evidence for this, that people who have a low omega-3 status would benefit more from omega-3 intake because the composition of their membrane is not as favorable as to those people who typically have an omega-3 index that wasaround the 6% to 8%.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:22:44]

How long does it take for the membrane to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:22:51]

That’s a function of the dose. If you give around 5 grams per day of omega-3s, or around 3 to 5 grams per day, you can see a detectable change within about two weeks. It’s detectable because we use very precise instruments; it’s really a very small increase. Buttypically, you require around four to eight weeks to see about a doubling of the EPA and DHA content in the muscle. We’ve shown before in women that are around 5 grams per day of collective omega-3s that it seems toplateau somewhere between six and eight weeks in the muscle. What we’re doing now is we’re doing a study where we’re trying to see how long it takes for it to come out of the muscle. My grad student, Sidney Small, is doing a study whereshe’s loading up for eight weeks and then ceasing intake, and then seeing how long it takes for it to come back down to baseline in the muscle and measuring associated inflammatory markers to see whether they track the open down nature of the lipid composition or the EPA and DHA composition in muscle.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:23:56]

That’s really exciting. I’m excited to hear what her results are. Is it dose dependent? So you went up to 5 grams? If you were to say, go up to 10 grams, I don’t know if this has been done in humans or animal models. But if you go up above and beyond the 5-gram dose, do you think that there is diminishing returns?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:24:16]

I would certainly say so. Yes, there’s going to be a point at which we just cannot assimilate the EPA and DHA into the membranes as quickly. I don’t know any hard studies on this that has done dose response in skeletal muscle at least have real high doses of 10 versus 5 versus 2.5. But I’d say that it gets to a point where a lot of the lipids would just end up being oxidized. They wouldn’t make it into the membrane. I think 5 grams is quite challenging for a lot of people to consume in pill format. You could drop it down to around 2 grams per day of EPA and DHA and still see the same changes in the membrane potentially, it just may take a little bit longer, maybe two to three months instead of in the one to two months that we’d see with a higher dose.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:24:59]

Do you suspect that the needs are a daily need?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:25:06]

I’d say that if we’re going topin our mechanism of action around changes in the membrane composition, I would say that no.You could probably skip a day and then pick back up on the omega-3s, and it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. I don’t think the benefits of the omega-3 is a transient. What I mean by transient, I don’t mean thatyou take omega-3s, you do exercise, and just taking the omega-3 within hours cause you tohave these beneficial effects, so to speak. I think what happens is the omega-3s will prime the cellular environmentto better respond to cues or to protect against negative cues, so you really do need to increase the EPA and DHA content of your muscle before you typically see the benefits.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:25:58]

This leads beautifully into one of your recent research papers that I found very relevant and this was omega-3 fatty acids supplementationattenuates skeletal muscledisuse atrophy during two weeks of unilateral leg immobilization in healthy young women. I am going to just give you a quick summary for the listener, and you, my friend, are going to dive deep into the literature. The summary is this study investigated the impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on muscle size, mass, muscle protein synthesis, during a two-week period of muscle disuse and recovery in women. It’s somewhat of the catabolic crisis model that Doug Paddon-Jones had initially put together.Participants either consumed 5 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids or an equivalent amount of sunflower oil as a control group, starting four weeks before the immobilization of a limb. The results showed that the decline in muscle volume was significantly lower in the omega-3 group compared to the control group, and muscle mass reduction was only observed in the control group. Of course, there’s two more statements here. The muscle protein synthetic response was higher in the omega-3 group. Basically, this takeaway for me was that omega-3 supplementation could help mitigate muscle disuse atrophy in young women, which is fascinating because most of the studies, when we think about disuse, are older, potentially through the promotion of muscle protein synthesis, versus the mitigation of muscle protein breakdownor a proteolysis.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:27:48]

That study wasa long time in the making. We’d read the papers from Bettina Mittendorfer’sgroup that we talked about before with Gordon Smith and Samuel Klein showing that–

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:28:00]

I was telling Chris that I trained, I was there in my fellowship at my postdoc with Bettina and Gordon Smith. So hey, guys.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:28:12]

They did the classic, seminal papers in this field that start showing that you feed omega-3s, and then you’re infused with amino acids and insulin, you see a potentiation of protein synthesis. The Omega-3s had somehow potentiated the feeding-induced response or the simulated feeding-induced response, and they followed that up, of course, with the longitudinal study on all the people where they fed all the people omega-3s and found that it increased muscle volume. So really, what we wereinterested in, and Dr. Phillips has done a lot of work with immobilization and disuse and trying to understand what are the factors thatcause muscle loss with tissues in humans specifically, and it is different between humans and rodents in our opinion.

I come from Sterling with my PhD really interested in omega-3 metabolism. Dr. Phillips has been doing a lot of work in aging and disuse. He supported me and we wrote grants to get the money into study whether we could use these omega-3s, which were anabolic in situations of just simply feeding and whether they could protect against disuse atrophy. We chose young women for a variety of reasons. One, there’s some evidence that women can metabolize EPA to DHA a little bit more efficiently. Secondly, young women tend to be more susceptible to ACL injuries when they’replaying sport and thereforegoing through a period of disuse. The literature, at least with protein metabolism,lacks a lot of data in females. So, essentially, what we wanted to do was to study whether the omega-3s could protect against muscle loss and essentially, that’s what we found. We found that when we feed for a prolonged period or that running period for four weeks, put the young women in a leg brace for two weeks, and then allow them to recover for two weeks then going back to the activities of daily living, that those in the omega-3 group seem to lose less muscle than those in the control group. This was linked to higher rates of protein synthesis, which gave us a bit of confidence because we’ve seen before the work from Bettina Mittendorfer’s lab showing that it directly affects protein synthesis.

But there are a couple of disclaimers on this that I would say is thatthis work typically costs a lot of money, so you can’t do large sample sizes, unless you do get the cash to do so. We did see around a 14% decline in muscle volume in the control group, which is quite a lot. So whilst this is a very rigorously controlled study,when you see a 40% decline in a control group and around a 5% decline in the intervention group, we typically see around 5%declines in this population with two weeks of disuse. I’m confident that there was an effect ofomega-3s, at least from the protein synthetic perspective, but we also have to bear in mind that it’s not a complete case at all. I think a lot more work needs to be done in this, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now. We’ve gone to a larger bedrest study where we’re looking at 40 women—20 in a control, 20 inan intervention group during a period of bedrest—to see whether we can recapitulate those findings.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:31:21]

What is the age of the women in that group?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:31:27]

18 to 30.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:31:29]

So they don’t have a robust amount of hormones that potentially could play a role.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:31:35]

I’m not too sure. I haven’t seen convincing evidence, in humans anyway, that these changes in circulating hormones actually have too much of a role in regulating muscle protein turnover in young people at all. I mean, as we get older, maybe it’s slightly different. But I think primarily,it’s the factors intrinsic to the muscle that are causing muscle loss.Luc van Loon’s group have done some excellent work with intrinsically-labeled protein, where it would suggest, at least to me, that there’s intracellular mechanisms that are affecting greater protein synthesis that are causing the muscle loss themselves.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:32:16]

Whenwe talk about the intrinsic mechanism, are you talking about mTOR? Are you talking about additional mechanisms? And if so, what is the role of dietary protein? Does that act synergistically with the omega-3 supplementation?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:32:32]

When I say intrinsic to muscle is basically in humans, maintenance of muscle sizes, muscle protein synthesis, and muscle protein breakdown. So again, imagine a brick wall, you put bricks in, which is muscle protein synthesis, you take bricks out, which is muscle protein breakdown.In humans, when we go through a period of disuse, it’s the inability to put bricks into that wall effectively, and breakdown pretty much stays the same or slightly increases, and then that’s when you see that reduction in muscle size. So really, what we believe is happening is that there is a reduction in protein synthesis inside of the muscle. There seems to be something about the molecular factors inside of the muscle that are alteredthat impair the ability of muscle to mount that protein synthetic response. Typically, we hear and talk quite a lot, and that is obviously the focus of a lot of research for a variety of reasons, right across from aging and cancer and nutrition.

I think we really, again, don’t know is the answer. We don’t know exactly inside of the muscle what is causing that impaired or blunted protein synthetic responseor the reduction in muscle protein synthesis. It could be reductions in the capacity or the amount of translational material that we have, or it could be an impaired ability to translate the protein from the mRNA. But when it comes to the amino acids, yes, I do believe that there’s a synergy between the omega-3s and the essential amino acids, particularly leucine, if going back to the classic work that we talked about before in Betting Mittendorfer’s lab, what they found was that when you measure muscle protein synthesis in the fasted state, so that you there is no feeding,omega-3s don’t really seem to have an effect on resting protein synthesis rate, so this is before you’ve consumed protein or amino acids. But when they infused amino acids, that was when they saw the potentiation. So again, that goes back to my theory about the mechanism of action being it changes the biophysical properties of the muscle, so that maybe it’s better able to stimulate protein synthesis in response to amino acid feeding, if thatmakes sense.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:34:43]

It does, and it’s so interesting. Basically, what I’m hearing is, and again, I’m taking this to the public, if you’re going to ingest omega-3 fatty acids potentially for some kind of muscle-sparing effect, it sounds like it’s better to do in combination with some kind ofdietary protein, could that be fair?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:35:10]

I would say so, yeah. I’d say thatthere’s some evidence that it might actually potentiate the small doses. If you’re insufficient, your diet in protein omega-3s may rescue a little bit. But I would say that combining omega-3 intake with a highqualityprotein dietrich in essential amino acids is probably the way forward. Butagain, another disclaimer here as I think there is no more powerful tool than an exercise, particularly resistance exercise, to combat muscle loss. Whenever I give a talk on this, I’m always like, first slide, you can’t out nutrition physical inactivity. Dr. Phillips says this a lot and so do a few others, exercise is the frontline strategy here. But then after that, modifications to diet are important. Then when we think of the context of hospital or sickness or surgery, then I think nutrition becomes a greater relative player in the toolbox that we have to try to combat muscle loss.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:36:07]

I couldn’t agree with you more. Exercise is a much bigger needle mover. But again, the majority of individuals, 50% of Americans don’t exercise, and of those exercising, they might hit 24% of the baseline recommendation. Eating and food intake supplementation is the lowest hanging fruit because it’s something that we all do. Nailing this and getting this right is essential. The other side mention of what you’re saying is that you do need physical activity, which makes me think in terms of gradation, you are looking at bedrest which, again, this is an extreme model.You guys,bedrest is exactly what it sounds like. Typically, when someone is admitted into the hospital, oftentimes, that is something that is put on their chart, individual should be on bedrest, probably the worst thing that you could do for someone’s skeletal muscle health. What about individuals who are not per se exercising and not on bedrest, is there a minimum amount of movement that you think becomes protective? Or let’s say they’re taking 1,000 or 2,000 steps a day. Do we have an idea of what the minimum effective dose of just maintenance to prevent atrophy?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:37:26]

I don’t think we have an exact prescription in terms of rep sets type of exercise. But just to maybe put it into context, low levels of physical activity, and that could be defined as walking to the shops, walking around, climbing stairs, really have a very protective effect against all-cause mortality if you look at the data there. Doing something is certainly better than nothing. When it comes to muscle, just to give you an idea, some work from Marlou Dirks,who worked with Luc Van Loon, now she’s got an independent position in Holland, she did work where they just superimposed twitch interpolation. Essentially, they got a part that delivered electrical stimulus onto somebody’s leg that was immobilized. I could be wrong here,so you’d have to check the papers out, but I think it was around 30 minutes a day of just superimposed twitch, and it was enough to prevent the loss of muscle size, but not muscle strength.


Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:38:18]

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Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:40:42]

I thinkit depends on the question.To offset muscle, the loss of muscle size, you can probably get away with not that much. I mean, to give you an example, in the bedrest studies, what we’re worried about is people getting up and walking around. You’ll see in a lot of the bed rest trials, people have to go to the bathroom.In the bed, they make sure that they don’t move around a bitbecause it may protect against the loss of muscle size, but what it does not protect against is the loss of muscle strength. Muscle strength is arguably more important than muscle size when it comes to aging. We want to be able to move functionally, and we require that strength. So essentially, I think anything is better than nothing. If I was to pick one, I’d say resistance exercise training or some form of resistance, because then you’re going to hit strength and size. But essentially, the answer is I don’t know what is the minimal amount, but I’d say something is better than nothing for sure.So just basically, if you think because I’m not going to go to the gym and do an hour’s session lifting weights, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t just go outside and go for a walk or stay physically active. The other thing about physical activity is that it maintains the sensitivity of the muscle to the nutrition. Simply by staying active, even though you in your head, you’re not lifting, therefore it won’t grow, but staying physically active retains muscle sensitivity to amino acids. So I think that’sanother way to think about it as well and the importance of physical activity.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:42:03]

I love that. Can you talk a little bit more about that, just the physical activity? I’m sure you’re also referring to insulin sensitivity, just the activity.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:42:13]

Sometimes we’ll see peoplebecome pre-diabetic a little bit through physical inactivity. One of the reasons is that you your muscle is basically a sink for glucose, and it’s a sink for amino acids. When you stay physically active, there’s essentially receptors on muscle that become a little bit more active when you are physically active. I won’t say mechanicaltension, but mechanical strain and a form of exercise like walking around, that will activate those receptors on the muscle to bring in glucose and to bring in amino acids. I think staying physically active keeps your muscle very healthy. It keeps the quality of your muscle healthy. Another way to think of things is just because our muscles may not necessarily grow, it doesn’t mean that the quality of the muscle is not being positively affected. The more that you increase the synthetic rates of building that wall and the breakdown rates, you’re constantly replacing that brick wall.One way to think of it is if you’ve got damaged bricks, you want to knock them out and then you want to replace them. That’s whatphysical activity does. It increases the turnover of your tissue so that you’re constantly replacing damaged or broken tissue. Essentially, that’s what physical activity does and that’s why it’s so important.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:43:30]

I noticed that you mentioned primarily resistance training, if you’re going to choose one thing, versus some kind of cardiovascular.Why the resistance training over some kind of cardiovascular exercise?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:43:44]

Well, I think the first thing, I’d say both.If I had to pick, I would pick both. I think both are important. But if someone had a gun to my head and said, you have to pick one,for me, it will be resistance training. I think that will be becausethe first thing I’d say the majority of the literature out there on exercise,the overwhelming evidence is built upon the foundation of endurance exercise and cardiovascular exercise of which there are clear benefits. But there’s comparatively less work when it comes to resistance exercise training, particularly as we get older. I think there’s maybe some societal issues around older women typically performing a resistance exercise as well and some of the narratives around that, at least in their head. It’s a little bit outside my area, but that’s the experience I’ve had talking to some of the older women when they come in to do training.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:44:32]

What do they say? They say I can’t lift weights, I’m going to get bulky,I’m going to hurt myself, what do they say?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:44:37]

Well, hurting ourselves was one, but the other one is, I’ve just never done it. I’ve never seen myself in a gym. I think a lot of that is they don’t see themselves in the gym. If you walk into the average gym, you can see, particularly in the weight section, that the demographics are typically there versus, you don’t walk into a weight section and typically see older ladies performing squats or doing that type of work. It’s just not something that they’ve ever seen themselves doing, and I think it’s really important to change that message. If you were to pick a demographic that you think will benefit the most from resistance training,it’s the older adults, particularly the older women.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:45:09]

Absolutely.I wrote a book called Forever Strong, andthat’s exactly what it’s about. It’s really about changing the narrative surrounding resistance training. Muscle health is not something that is just for the bros in the gym, but truly as this organ of longevity. I appreciate you because what you’re saying absolutely backs up that message. Again, as a geriatrician, that is what I hear is that women will say, well, I’m just not the kind of person that goes in and knows how to lift weights andfeels comfortable. But in my opinion, it is the most important exercise that has to be instated. Also, what I’m hearing you say is that it doesn’t have to be heavy weights. Again, Stu Phillips has done some wonderful work in this area.It can be bands, lighter weights.It doesn’t have to be these heavy one-rep max.Would you agree with that?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:46:05]

Absolutely, 100%. I think it’s a little bit of a myth that you need to lift these heavy weights. I’ll hold my hands up, when I first went to Stu’s lab, I was like, no way.In my mind, I was like, what’s going on? I saw Nick Byrd’s work, excellent work, real good work. But the point he says is no, you’ve got to be lifting heavy weights. My mind has changedsignificantly over time. When I first went, I had my PhD, and I still was not convinced. Then when I was there, and I just started to think a little bit moreclearly about it, and I realized now that the evidence is there, the meta-analyses are there, there’s enough evidence to show actually you don’t need heavy weights to grow muscle, and you certainly don’t need heavy weights to get stronger. Maybe if it’s, you want to get that extra 2% on your powerlifter or whatever, I get it.You want to practice that task ata heavy load. But if you’re talking public health recommendations, and I think this is where there’s a conflation between public health recommendations and what is optimal for an athlete, and I think, in my mind,going to the gym, you don’t have to do heavy weights. You don’t have to do multiple set after set after set.If older folks want to go, they can do low, low till failure, or even close to failure. You don’t necessarily even need to go to failure. You can get significant health benefits from performing resistance exercise, and they occur quite quickly as well.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:47:24]

They do they do. Now, I have a question for you. I don’t know if this has been studied, but does the omega-3 affect different fiber types differently, type I versus type II? Is there more of a significant change or dose that affects one or the other?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:47:47]

I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s actually looked at that. I don’t believe they have. I mean, the way to do that will be to do the biopsies, take the single fibers, and then look at the differences in corporation. I think we’re splitting hairs at that point. If we do see the differences, it’s more interesting from a biology point of view.But from an overall health point of view, I’m not too sure it would make that much of a difference. But the long and short there is I just don’t know.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:48:16]

Is there potentially a genetic variability in these effects?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:48:22]

Yeah, that’s a great question. There is some work from the University of Toronto by somebody called Adam Metherel. He’s done some really cool work in this field looking at particular SNPs and genotypes.There are some females that seem to be able to more effectively convert EPA to DHA. When we talk about omega-3s, you consume them in the diet, but essentially, you can convert EPA to DHA. There seems to be some evidence that certain women can convert, not all women, but certain women can convert EPA to DHA a little bit more effectively or efficiently. That’s early level research. But it’s something that we certainly need to build upon. In Sydney study right now, we’re doing the feeding study; it’s the time course change. We’re going to try to tease that out a little bit. We’re not statistically palatable for the genotype work, but from an exploratory analysis, we’re going to look at that. But I will say that not just from changes in the composition of the membrane, but the production of lipid species appears to be very variable to a single dose between people. But a little bit more work needs to be done there with that.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:49:34]

That is so amazing. There may be variability and these effects based on male or female that seems that women potentially can convert and utilize it more effectively, would you say?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:49:54]

Essentially, it just seems to have higher resting DHA levels in the plasma, whether it’s the same in the muscle, I’m not too sure. That’s something that we’re interested in doing because we do the muscle biopsy researches, so that’s something that we’d look at. But it’strying to understand why does that happen? Why do some people maybe metabolize these omega-3 fatty acids slightly different compared to other people? What are the reasons, and can that be leveraged from understanding the biology of omega-3s and also leveraged towards improvement in health? I think that information is yet to come. But what I’ll say is in terms of muscle, and rightly so, there’s just an abundance of research on essential nutrients in the form of proteins, so the essential amino acids, but I think the role of these essential fatty acids in muscle is very much in its early stages, and there is a lot of exciting work still to come. It requires money, but it’s on its way.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:50:52]

And it requires somebody to do the biopsies. Did you have to do the biopsies, Chris?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:50:57]

Here, yes, we do in Canada.We do the biopsies.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:50:59]

So you personally, because I had to do them early in the morning. I had to do fat and muscle biopsies early. So I’m just asking, are you the one that has to go on there and go, gosh, here we go?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:51:10]

At the moment, yes. But I’m trying to find my way to wiggle out of it. If I’m honest, I need to get somebody else to do them becauseit’s not the early mornings, but it’s just half of your day’s gone by the time that you finished doing them. It’s 12 o’clock, and you’re like, well, I got to start my day now. This morning, I got the morning off from them, so I’m quite happy about that.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:51:26]

Your armpits are sweatingbecause you’ve got to make sure that they’re appropriately numbed, and there’s no infection. It’s a whole thing. It is absolutely a whole thing.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:51:37]

I tell the same joke at every biopsy to the participant, and it’s a different participant, so they don’t mind,but the PhD students are getting pretty bored of the same jokes every time. But they just have to deal with it.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:51:47]

Do you think that there’s a role in omega-3 fatty acids in weight loss?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:51:55]

It’s a nuanced question.Here’s the way in which I think it could happen. If you were at a situation of induced weight loss,you would require a calorie deficit. Typically, when you’re in a calorie deficit, you, of course, will lose fat, but you will also lose a little bit of skeletal muscle. Now, if it is the case that the omega-3s are potentiating the protein synthetic response to feeding, it could be the case that when you’re in a situation of weight loss, and you consume those omega-3s, that they would better help retain lean tissue during that weight loss period. To my knowledge, that question has not been comprehensively answered yet. It’s a really interesting one. It’s about the ability to detect a change obviously in science and the RCTs. I think the effects of omega-3s in muscle are typically very small. They can be very important, clinically meaningful, but they’re very small. So I think to answer that question, we would need quite a large RCT to be able to detect the effect of omega-3s in that context, if it did exist.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:53:05]

Nick Byrd, he was actually at the University of Illinois. I don’t know if he is still there. There was some evidence that he had put out that potentially individuals struggling with obesity have somewhat ofa blunted muscle protein synthetic response. Have you also seen that data from him?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:53:27]

I’ve not done any studies myself, but I’ve seen Nick’s work on that. They wrotea pretty good review on that in Frontiers as well. I mean, it is Nick. The literature’s mixed, but it does seem to be the effect, the finding that obese people do have a blunted response.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:53:42]

It just makes me wonder is this room for, again, utilizing omega-3 fatty acids with high quality protein to potentiate and overcome any challenges within that tissue? Because skeletal muscle tissue also gets fat infiltrated within the tissue, the quality of the tissue can change, so I was just curious if you’ve thought about that or if there was any research that you’re aware of or potentially something that you’re working on related to obese tissue and omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:54:15]

No, not off the top of my head. An interesting question thoughto answer is, could we do that? I think sometimes though is that the caseof, it will be a mitigation strategy as opposed to a frontline strategyto try to improve the quality of the muscle. But as a stopgap, so to speak, it will be maybe interesting to see whether you could increase the omega-3 content. I would assume though that those omega-3s are also going to get soaked up by some of the adipose tissue. When you’re given an absolute dose of those omega-3s, how long would it take, and an interesting question is does it differ in terms of the incorporation into muscle between obese and non-obese? But typically, obese folks tend to have more muscle anyway, it’s just the quality of the muscle is not great.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:54:54]

We talked about gram size, but is there a body weight component, a dose associated based on body weight? Because essentially, someone like me, I’m 5’1”, 110 pounds, I am going to have a lot less phospholipid membranes potentially than someone who is 6’, 250 pounds.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:55:19]

Yeah, and that’s again, a great question because some of the variability that we see could just simply be because we have given the same flat dose to people of different body masses, so the relative changes are going to be different. I think, from a scientific perspective, it would be interesting to see whether we do prescribe things based on the gram per kilogram basis likesometimes people would do with protein. But I also think from an application point of view to the general population, it becomes a little bit difficult.You wake up in the morning, and then it’s like, okay, how much do I weigh?Then you get each gram pill. You’re not going to cut a fish oil pill in half; it tastes horrible. So I think the absolute doses are probably the best way to go for now, so that we can actually understand what’s going on and to see on a population basis and a clinically meaningful level whether these changes are occurring, and then we can refine the doses tomaybe make it a little bit more prescriptive on a person-by-person basis. But right now, in my mind is, I think we just need to start with the big questions with the absolute dose, and then if we need to, not at least from a practical perspective, have given people an oil on a gram-per-gram basis and just stick with the absolute dose at the moment.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:56:33]

That’s a really good perspective. Do you think that there is any role in the timing of omega-3 fatty acids in relation to exercise and recovery?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:56:47]

Again, I’ll just go back to my initial hypothesis with this is that it’s required to be incorporated into the membrane for it to see its effect. That’s one of the limitations that people will argue against omega-3s. If you’re going into surgery, and it’s an emergency surgery, or it’s a last-minute issue, or you become sick last minute, then you’re not exactly going to reap the benefits because it’s going to take two weeks for it to get into the membrane, sometimes four. We’re doing a study right now with ACL surgery patients where we are loading them up with high-dose omega-3s and high-dose essential amino acids to see whether that prophylaxis approach can work. But I would say that in terms of timing, I don’t believe that you could take omega-3s on a Monday and see the benefits on a Tuesday. That’s just my particular opinion.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:57:30]

But it would be nice. So basically, if you guys are getting in omega-3 free fatty acid, this will be something that you would also potentially pre-take not if but when there’s some kind of catabolic crisis or some kind of need.You mentioned essential amino acids. What is the dose comparison? Do you control for the dietary protein in the diet? Because I’ve seen some of your other studies; you double the RDA at 1.6 grams per kilogram.Do you, or I think it was actually 1 gram? How do you dose protein and then with the addition of these essential amino acids?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:58:05]

We typically put the– and this is something that we get reviewed a lot with the grants becauseit’s, are you giving the essential amino acids on top of the diet, or are you replacing what’s already in the diet so that essentially the diet is of better quality, so to speak? In our studies, we add it on top. That’s because we want that big excursion of essential amino acids into plasma and potentially into muscle. That’s when the design of the study is right now that we’ve got just to give you an example for the surgery study is they will consume a high-dose essential amino acid product at around 20 grams, so it’s a very high essential amino acid with the omega-3s, but the Omega-3s are every morning, and then the essentials are like twice a day to hopefully take advantage of that priming effect. Our doses are typically higher.We choose a pure essential amino acid mixture because when people go to the hospital, we want to be careful of the calories if they are consuming enough calories. Some places they don’t, but at least in our setting, they do. We don’t want people to become overfed as opposed to– does that make sense? You don’t want to induce negative effects in the muscle because you’re overfeeding them, so we try to balance it as much as we can.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:59:20]

I really liked that you pointed out this idea of overfeeding skeletal muscle because again, skeletal muscle as this site for glucose disposal, if you do not create flux and exercise within this tissue, you do have to utilize muscle glycogen. If anyone were to Google intramyocellular lipids or ceramides, there’s just all kinds of things that happen when skeletal muscle is overfed. Would you agree with that?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [0:59:49]

Yeah, and that’sin terms of calorie control there, 100%.When you start to get a surplus of calories for a prolonged period of time, you can start to see, like you said, an infiltration of fatty acids and not good fatty acids into the muscle, the development of insulin resistance. This is where exercise is a potent tool. There is some evidence, I think BettinaMittendorfer for sure, whenyou feed high doses of protein for too long—whetherit’s causative, it’s reverse causality, we don’t know—there’s a link betweenthese high-dose protein diets and potentially, insulin resistance, but that is completely abolished when you perform exercise. Actually, I was talking to Nick Byrd maybe two years ago or whatever,but when we teach nutrition in university, andsometimes people will teach nutrition in the absence of exercise. But the reality is that physical activity modulates the fate of those ingested nutrients. To understand nutrition, I think you need to understand how it’s partitioned, or the dietary intake of those nutrients can be partitioned dependent upon the physical activity status. If you’re lying in a bed and you’re not moving and glycogen stores are full, well you know that those excess calories are probably going to get turned into lipids. But if you are exercising,the calories are likely going to either be stored as glycogen or turned to glucose or oxidized.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:01:10]

I want to follow up.You mentioned something about the data with higher protein diets; again, we would have to define that.But one of the things that I think should be pointed out is that you’ll see an increase in all of these metabolites in the blood, whether it’s glucose, whether it’s fatty acids, whether it’s these amino acids, not because, at least from the data that I’ve looked at, it’s a direct cause of these amino acids. But again, it’s an overconsumption. You can’t just add protein to an already calorie-rich diet and you’re going to get a positive effect. That is not going to help, and you will see an increase in the substrates within the blood. I do think that that’s an important point to mention and to point out.

Beyond the amino acids,so we’re really talking about something that is in its elemental form, the amino acids and then these omega-3 fatty acids, do you think that there are bioactive compounds that when these things are ingested, or at least from an omega-3 fatty acid standpoint, whether it’s vitamin D, K2, do you think that there is some synergistic effect or other bioactive compounds that may influence the augmenting of the muscle protein synthesis and mitigating of proteolysis, which, again, is this highly regulated, complex system that degrades muscle proteins?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:02:41]

This is definitely not my specific area of expertise, so I’m just pretty much going off, I’m probably no different to the lay public here. But essentially, Nick’s done some really good work with eggs where you giveintact like egg with yolk and then you separate them off, and you pretty much get a more positive effect when you consume an intact egg that contains its yolk. Kevin Tipton, my older PhD mentor, he did work in Texas where it was like full fat milk versus, I think, skim milk or the isolated part of it. Weirdly, the full fat milk had a greatereffect on positive protein balance. In my mind,I think this is what was mentioned in Nick’s papers is that it isgreater than the sum of its parts in terms of that there are some things in intact food sources that would work together synergistically to enhance protein synthetic responses, and simply isolating the so-called known active ingredients. This is where I’d always suggest a food-first approach.

When people say, should I take omega-3 supplements? I’d be like, well, can you not get it from oily fish? That’s what I would always suggest. I think there are some bioactive compounds that would actually work together to enhance protein synthesis and modulate protein turnover, whether it be proteolysis, as well. But exactly what they are, I don’t know. I think there’s a little bit more work to be done there. There’s some evidence that vitamin D might work. But again, I’m not too familiar with that literature. But I do think it’s a food-first approach whenever we can and to try to take advantage of what seems to be an emerging theme in the literature that when you combine intact food sources, there seems to be a better, let’s just say, health benefit than consuming the isolated parts.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:04:28]

It’s excitingbecause ultimately, you’re utilizing these individual components, creating evidenced information behind it, and then going back to the individuals and saying, okay, well, choose these whole foods that have these components in it to really optimize and protect it. It’s ultimately using food as medicine and movement as medicine for optimization, which is incredible. Where is your research going? What are you working now?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:05:01]

Right now, we’ve got a surgery study. We have patients going through ACL reconstruction, and we’ve created an essential amino acid drink basically, a bespoke drink, that we’ll use based off the literature that we think will have the most anabolic influence, and we’re combining that with omega-3 fatty acids. We’ve also got a bedrest study that’s going to start early next year that’s looking at the effect of the combination of essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids in that response. Omega-3s is what we’re interested in,but primarily, what we look at is the mechanisms that regulate protein turnover in response to tissues and exercise. We have some other studies going on that look at using the biopsies and the proteomic response to exercise and musclemobilization, so which particular proteins in the muscle are being synthesized and which particular proteins are being degraded? We’ve got a new postdoc, Jon McLeod, who’s come from Stu’s lab, who’s leading that with my masters student, Christine, and Emily Ferguson’s leading the bedrest study. Emily’s already wrote actually a really good review article on what she thinks is happening inside the muscle when it comes to omega-3s. It seems like we’ve got a lot going on. It sounds like a name dropping, but I think the students need recognition for what we’re doing.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:06:23]

I agree with you. I think it’s wonderful. I’ll link some of those papers as long as they’re open access, but we’ll link them either way. I agree with you, they do a lot of work.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:06:37]

It’s a lot of work. That’s the thing is with these types of trials is thatthey’re two-to three-year trialssometimes before when the papers come out.For example, right now, Danny and I have been leading this surgery mobilization study that’s been in the works now for about a year, just designing the protocol, working with the surgeons, getting the nutrition designed. People will read a four-page PDF, but it’s probably a few hundred thousand dollars,thousands of hours of work that go into it.It’sinterestingwhen the paper gets published, it’s more of a relief than anything else, to be honest, that you’ve managed to get it through.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:07:16]

Chris, let’s be truthful. I mean, I worked on some papers during my postdoc. We did two major projects that didn’t get published. People don’t recognize the fact that there are hundreds of thousands dollars and full teams working on these studies. I mean, we were doing euglycemic clamps and muscle biopsies, cognitive testing, and just an enormous amount of work. But it doesn’t all get published.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:07:43]

When people say,when they do get published, why didn’t you do this? Why don’t you do that? And I’m like, well,you write me a check for a million dollars, and I’ll do whatever you want. We want to do these things, but they just cost money and they cost time. But I’m sure it’s all going to be helpful moving forward topinpoint things and to see what’s going on with these omega-3 fatty acids because it is very much a new and interesting area of research on top ofunderstanding the biology of muscle loss and muscle growth.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:08:12]

Chris McGlory, I’m so grateful for your time.Let’s close it out with your ultimate recommendation, the scientific recommendation and then potentially your recommendation, and maybe they’re one and the same, of whether it’s a diet or supplementation.Putting you on the spot, buddy.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:08:33]

I’d say stay physically active and do a mixture of resistance exercise and endurance exercise. That will be my primary recommendation. Then after that, if you can get yourself around 500 mgs twice per week of EPA plus DHA, you’re good to go. But primarily exercise.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:08:51]

I love it.How much dietary protein would you recommend these days?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:08:56]

I don’t think you need much more than around 1.2 grams per kilogram if I’m honest.If you’re training heavy,1.6. I mean, it depends if you’re an older person. I go on offense and say it depends. My answer is it depends, but I’d say the general public, anything above 1.2 is pretty much diminishing returns at that point in my mind.Unless you’re doing heavy training, then maybe 1.6.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:09:18]

I’m going to hold you to a 1.6. I think that higher, from a clinical perspective, may be better because again, they’re going to either get carbohydrates or fats. There are so many benefits to these amino acids and the foods that ride along with it, whether it’s creatineandserine, all the other things, iron, but a whole foods diet. I love it. You’re also not saying that you have to take omega-3 supplementation, that if you’re getting two servings a week, you would feel good about that.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:09:48]

Absolutely.I’m not here trying to peddle you need to supplement omega-3s at all. I think we’re just trying to find nuanced kinds of situations in which it may benefit, but I think for the general population, a food-firstapproachwith oily fish, that will do the job.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:10:02]

Well, I love it. Chris McGlory, I’m so grateful for you, and I know that the listeners are going to absolutely love this. In this episode, we covered everything related to omega-3 fatty acids and skeletal muscle health. Where can people find you, if you want them to find you? Are you looking for new graduates?

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:10:24]

We are always looking for good graduate students and good postdocs. I’m on LinkedIn; I think that’s the closest you’re going to get me to social media. I reserve Facebook for me ranting when rugby scores don’t go my way. But other than that, LinkedIn professionally and also you can contact me via email as well.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:10:42]

Well, thank you, Chris again.

Dr. Chris McGlory  [1:10:46]

No worries, and thanks very much for having me. I enjoyed the chat, always good totalk over these things with other people that share the interest.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:10:53]

Yes. Alright guys, till next time. I hope you love this episode of the show. As always, please take a moment to rate, review, and share it.This content is free. The goal is that we got the best of the best out there to interface with you all.


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