Carbohydrate Tolerance – Episode 167

Performance Menu: Journal of Health & Athletic Excellence

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  1. [7:41] Insulin, Friend or Foe
  2. [12:13] Low Carb Performance, Volek and Phinney
  3. [23:52] Carb Tolerance and Genotype
  4. [32:32] Genetically Preset Body Composition
  5. [40:13] Phosphatidyl Serine From Soy
  6. [45:05] Supplementing Vitamin C, and Ascorbic Acid
  7. [51:37] Increasing Glutathione Levels, and Whey
  8. [56:39] Supplementing Olympic Lifts with Bodybuilder Training



1. Insulin Friend or Foe

Jeff Hazzard says:
Hey Robb and Greg, I wanted to first thank you for all the goods you guys bring on a weekly basis; keep up the awesome work!

I wanted to hear a bit about insulin and how it affects your post workout nutrition. In particular, I have heard a bit lately about  the “insulinemic” rating of particular foods. So, if a food has a high insulinemic effect it would be good post workout.

Also, why do some people refer to insulin as a fat storage hormone? If it acts as the transporter of sugar into the cell then why would it be considered to cause fat storage? I just wanted to get a bit of a better understanding of this seemingly complicated (at least to me :)) hormone.

Thanks for everything and I look forward to hopefully making the cut here AND meeting you both one day ( no homo, no stalker) just respect!!

Jeff Hazzard


2. Questions from Episodes 160 & 162

Gary says:
In Episode 162, Robb stated that a Low Carb diet could be detrimental to performance and instance workouts. This leads me to ask what his thought is on Dr. Jeff S. Volek & Dr. Stephen D. Phinney. In particular, I would like his opinion of their book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.

Additionally, in Episode 160 Robb talked about a friend of his who is a Functional Medicine Doctor treating people with a five day cortical reset. My wife’s circadian rhythm problem is similar to what Robb talked about: slow and lethargic in the AM and wide awake in the PM. I would love for Robb to talk more about how we could treat this at home, or maybe even get his friend on to talk more about this.


3. Carb Tolerance & Genotype

Amy says:
Hey Robb & Greg!

Insert obligatory bowing down and “I’m not worthy” mantra.  😉 Long story short, you both rock.

I have a question that’s based in all the buzz about low-carb as magical therapy for all kinds of metabolic and neurologic derangement vs higher carbs to support athletic performance or other things in already healthy, lean people.

We know for certain that ApoE genotype affects lipid & cholesterol metabolism. Isn’t it likely that some aspects of genotype affect carb tolerance as well?

What are your thoughts on this? I understand that carb tolerance is intimately tied to insulin sensitivity and activity levels, but I can’t help thinking there’s probably a geno/phenotype aspect to it, too. Let’s face it — we all know people who eat carbs out the wazoo and whose only exercise is lifting the remote control, yet they remain lean. So I feel like carb tolerance in terms of body weight has to have something else to it than matching carb intake to activity levels. As for *other* aspects of health besides weight, all bets are off. We know that being lean does not automatically mean someone’s healthy. I did my thesis on Alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes and the therapeutic role of carb restriction, and the medical literature is pretty clear that Alzheimer’s is the end result of decades of hyperinsulinemia leading to insulin resistance at the blood brain barrier (and the subsequent starvation of brain cells in the absence of any appreciable amount of ketones.) The research also is pretty slam-dunk that ApoE genotype E4/E4 raises Alzheimer’s risk exponentially — but only when *combined* with a high-carb diet and/or other lifestyle factors that whack out insulin sensitivity. So it stands to reason that people with certain genotypes are more evolutionarily suited to a higher carb intake, and others are better suited to lower. This says nothing in support of either camp — only that optimizing body comp *and* health would probably require knowing more about the food environments where our individual ancestors lived. And the problem with that is, we’re all such mutts at this point that almost nobody’s pureblooded anything at this point.  😉

Thanks for reading my novel of a question! Sorry it was so long.


4. Genetically preset body comp

Jax says:
Hey guys,

My question has to do with what I’m calling a natural body composition.  I’ve been eating a paleo diet for the last 8 months.  During that time I’ve felt better, have more energy and no longer spend a lot of time trying to lose weight.  I’m 5’10 male and went from 210 to 188.  The thing is, I have this last 10-15 lbs of body fat that just won’t budge.  I’m wondering if my body has reached what it thinks is ideal composition.  I get between 50-100 grams of carbs daily from vegetables, some nuts and occasional berries.  With effort I can get down to 180 (by further restricting carbs and IF).  But once I go back to eating at regular intervals and carbs closer to 100g I jump back up to 188-190.  One thing I enjoy about living this way is not focusing on cal and all the BS dieting and just the general wellness I feel (and bacon).

Should I just expect that this is where my body wants to be?  Not sure I’m interested in the effort involved in counting carbs, IF’ing and all that would go with staying leaner.  Also I lift 1-2 per week and its less fun when carbs are lower.

I’m lazy… Have I reached a point of diminishing return?


5. Phosphatidyl Serenity

Rob Burgess says:
Hello Roberto & Gregor,
On a recent podcast Robb mentioned Phosphatidylserine.  I’ve been curious about this supplement for a while.  According to the repository of all human knowledge (Wikipedia), PS used to be distilled from the brains of bovines but is now distilled from the brains of the soybean.

I’m firmly in the camp that believes that soy is bad (Bad soy!  Go to your room without dinner!).  What I would like to know is, can something distilled from soy be good for us?

I also can’t believe that anything used in mass production would generally be made from organic soy, so is GMO soy a secondary issue?

Or is this like scotch, which although it is made from grain, is rendered gluten free by the distillation process?  While I am perfectly willing to be a guinea pig to satisfy my scotch needs, I’m not so sure I want to go down that road for Phosphatidylserine.

Thanks in advance, and if the world happens to end I’ll look for you in Valhalla for an answer :-)

best regards


6. Question for Podcast

Michael George says:
What about supplementing Vitamin C? Is the synthetic ascorbic acid that supplements contain a problem? These people think it’s a problem in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 87, No. 1, 142-149, January 2008) which showed supplementation with vitamin C ascorbate damages muscle, causes impairment in mitochondrial function, loss of endurance, and inhibition of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes superoxide dimutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxide. What do you think about supplementing Vitamin C. Thanks.


7. glutathione

Diane says:
Good day. I was hoping you might be able to help me. I have been Paleo approximately 2 1/2 years. I recently got my blood work done and everything came back in wonderful Paleo fashion except for my inflammatory numbers. My Paleo leaning doctor recommended they increased my glutathione levels. He recommended that I take whey. I am not so much into taking whey because it is not a real food.  Is there something else you can recommend to increase  glutathione levels or is all the hype true and whey really is the very best way?


8. Olympic weight lifting

Jake says:
Hi guys

I have a question regarding weightlifting that im sure greg would be interested in.

Chinese weightlifters such as the great lu xiaojun seem to supplement there olympic lifts with bodybuilder type training , still using compound exercises but hitting a higher rep range. I was wondering if you could explain how this might be beneficial ?

I have recently started to learn oly lifting from gregs awesomely written book which i recommend to EVERYBODY! . Before starting to learn lifts i was strength training weighing in at 75kg i can lift 3 times my body weight on a dead lift. Bench can suck me dick but dips and pullups weighted i found extremely effective.. But im now in a confused state.. I want to do the oly lifts and do it well but i also love my deadlifts. But what rep range is best to supplement oly lifts 1-5 or 10-15? I wanna look awesome aswell … Theres just to much choice in the life !!, anyway thanks in advance for your answers or rants you will go on in this question… Please ignore any spelling mistake i never went to school i spent my life in the gym :-)


9. Cycling and Climbing-

Ed says:
Rob and Greg,

Hope you guys are doing well. (Weather here in NYC is a bit cold and dreary, so while hunkering down indoors this time of year I thought I might run this one by you.) I’m an avid listener to the podcast and am finally caught up having listened to every single podcast- don’t know how you guys do it. Oh, interesting factoid- I went to high school and graduated with Joe Kenn. I should get some points for that from Greg at the very least.

I’ve been Paleo for the past 11 months. I “cheat” once and a while. (When I say I “cheat”, I mean like once a week with a hot chocolate that’s got a bit of sugar but that’s it for real, so don’t go bashing me about what you think “once and a while” means.) I’ve read Cordain’s books, Friel’s books, Taub’s as well, and Rob’s of course. I geek out on all of the nutritional bio-chem stuff. Find it really fascinating.

I’m 46 years old and an active cyclist (couple of times during the week and then a long weekend ride- don’t roll your eyes please. Yes, I find those rides enjoyable.)  I usually set a goal each year to ride a “Classic” road race and base my training around that one event.  As an example, this past year I did “Paris-Roubaix” (called the “Hell Of The North”).  You know, it’s that 135 mile ride in France over the old-school cobblestones.  Absolutely brutal event.  Proud to say I finished it. The prior year I did a stage of the Tour de France.  I think you get where I’m coming from on this- 1 big ride each year; lots of prep and then take it pretty easy after that “A” list event.

In addition to this, I’m an avid climber (well I “was” until the first kid came into this world 14 months ago.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world, but now my climbing is mostly indoors, and mostly bouldering since it’s hard to find steady climbing partners to rope up with. All of my old partners have mostly settled down and are in the same boat as me dealing new family stuff.

So right to my question: I’ve never incorporated weight training as part of my quest to get stronger.  I’ve always been of the mind set that if you want to get better and stronger at cycling, spend more time building power while in the saddle. (I do use a power meter to measure my output- much better than measuring input through a heartrate monitor.)  Same with climbing, if I want to get stronger, I’ve always believed that you got to get on the wall.

Do you agree with this philosophy? Are there exercises that would you recommend to assist in increasing my power output (keeping in mind I’m not a sprinter, but rather want increased power over the course of endurance type events- 2-4 hours).  Same with climbing, are there strength-based activities I should be doing that you feel can increase my strength as a climber other than spending more time on the wall?  (Most of the kick-ass climbers I know aren’t big, muscle-wise but are really lean and strong pound for pound.)  So in answering the ultimate question of what am I trying to achieve, it’s really simple- I would love to be able to pedal hard, climb hard and look insane naked.  Please tell me I can achieve all 3 and still have a life?  (I think Rob you mentioned on a prior podcast when answering whether Mark Sisson’s program was a “good” program, you said it depends on what you want to do and indicated that if you wanted to get strong as a rock climber, as an example, Mark’s program would “NOT” be the right program.)

I’m a patient man and will dial in any program (regardless of it’s time commitment) to make this happen. If any of your recommendations incorporate weight training- squats, presses, lifts, etc., can you suggest a good coach in NYC? There are so few talented coaches around I don’t want to develop bad habits.

I know everyone says it, but hope you don’t get tired of the pat on the back. You guys have changed lives including mine. And through that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paid forward that message. Keep up the Great work.



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  1. Ian says

    Hey Robb, great show! Regarding your training and the cube method: are you following it as laid out (with a bench, squat and dl day; dynamic days, etc)? If not, how are u implementing it?

  2. Kevin's Ghost says

    Hey Robb and Greg, thanks for a great show.

    The Phosphatidyl Serine question got me wondering. In your response, you outlined a basic strategy of taking supplements that increase cortisol in the AM and ones that decrease cortisol in the PM—makes perfect sense. However, going back to your “My Training at 39” post, you mentioned taking Gaia Herbs Stress Response (which is based around Holy Basil right?) at breakfast and lunch. But doesn’t Holy Basil suppress cortisol, and so shouldn’t it be taken in the PM?

    Just a little confused on that point. I just started to mess around with Gaia Herbs Stress Response and can’t find any other sources on when to take it.


  3. Josh says

    Hi Robb, I enjoyed your ideas about resetting circadian rhythms via cortisol supplementation. What sort of MG dosage (AM & Noon) would you say this technique would involve?

    Many thanks

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