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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Staley-DeVany Conversation

On Art DeVany's blog, he recently posted a link to a long conversation that he had with Charles Staley. It was an interesting interview regarding Art's work on his Evolutionary Fitness model.
Link to Art DeVany's Blog
Link to mp3 on Charles Staley's site

A few of the more interesting tidbits of the discussion:
- DeVany broke down genotype vs. phenotype. Basically, the genotype is the specific genetic makeup of an organism, while phenotype is based on the genotype, but is also influenced by gene expression (genotype + environment + random-variation → phenotype). Gene expression is the result of genetic "switches" being flipped on or off based on how one lives their life, environmental stressors, etc. Basically, Art seems to be saying "Stop blaming your genes and examine your lifestyle!" I say the same thing.

- Staley brought up the concept of "compressed morbidity." This concept basically explains the deaths of wild animals and healthy humans; that is, death in most animals is a rather abrupt experience rather than the long, drawn-out period of increasing disability experienced by most humans. The average person doesn't want to get old because they see those around them breaking down, requiring help with everyday tasks, and experiencing prolonged disease. However, by living properly, eating a hunter-gatherer style of diet, and getting brief, intense exercise, one can decrease the length of death. As Dr. Garrett Smith has said, healthy people tend to either get well or die after a major trauma whereas unhealthy people tend to either die, spend a long time recovering, or begin a slow slide into decreased function.

- Finally, DeVany discussed post-workout (PWO) nutrition. The general consensus is that you must take a protein and carbohydrate drink following exercise to replenish the muscles. However, DeVany's take (and my take) is that PWO nutrition is not only unnecessary, but is harmful for the average Joe. A PWO shake is usually formulated so as to bring about an insulin spike. Unfortunately insulin is antagonistic to growth hormone, so as the insulin goes up, the growth hormone stimulation of the workout is shut down. Also, proper gene expression works best in a glycogen-depleted environment, such as that following a workout, so refilling the glycogen stores quickly eliminates this environment. As a final slap in the face, insulin spikes are highly damaging to arteries and insulin receptors. Insulin spikes bring about atherosclerosis (you know...what cholesterol is blamed for) and Type II diabetes from insulin receptor burnout. If you're not an elite athlete struggling to get in high-quality calories to maintain a high activity level, you would probably benefit more from a 60- to 90-minute window between your workout and first meal (of real food, not liquid!).

Those are just a few of the highlights that I found most relevant to my interests. There was a lot of other good stuff in the interview.