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Vegan specimens and protein


mccoy
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In this thread I'd like to post some considerations upon the cases of a couple of perfect human specimens who happen to follow a plant-based diet. They are of course genetically endowed for muscular development and follow an intense regimen of resistance exercise but the considerations stand very interesting and potentially useful.

Case#1: Torre Washington, IFBB Pro bodybuilder, presently engaged in men's physique contests, where the target is a very muscular yet proportional and sculpted physique.

He's 38, 5'7" tall, vegan since 1988, uses no steroids, no other supplements (not even creatine, BCAAs, protein powders). I've been listening to some interviews and watching some clips and he really seems genuine. Unless he's a consummate actor and scammer. My judgment is that he's genuine. He's not freakishly huge as the drug-enhanced pros. Weight: 162 lbs minimum, 175 on stage (73 to 79 kg).

Torre-article-image1.jpg

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The above proves that, with the right genetic background, it is very possible to develop muscles by eating only vegan protein and without the use not only of steroids, but not even BCAAs or protein powders.

I was a little skeptic since a vegan regimen can be pretty favourable to endurance sports because of high carbs, but animal protein are notoriously more anabolic than plant-based ones.

The evidence that conspicuos plant-based muscle can be built, without falling back on huge amounts of food and protein powders  is now in frontof our eyes.

Now the interesting part, the analytical breakdown.

Torre follows a varied plant-based diet with wide use of soy products, legumes, cereals, vegetables and fruit. He has always been eating by instinct, adjusting his diet by careful visual scrutiny of his body. Lately though he started tracking his dietary intake. The following data are based upon what he says in the interview with Nimai Delgado (Generation-V podcast).

Bodyweight 162 lbs to 175 lbs on stage.

Daily protein 120 to 150 grams, until he received a pro card from teh IFBB. Now, training for pro competitions, 210 g of protein per day.

I converted all the above in kilograms and other common dietary units, using some estimates as his average intake pre-IFBB. This is the result.

 

  • Weight from 73 to 79 kg → protein 120 to 150 g per day → 1.6 to 1.9 g/kg/d → 205% to 237% RDA
  • Weight 79 kg, pro phase → protein 210 gr/d max → 2.7 g/kg/d → 332% RDA

I hope there is not going to be probs with metric units, otherwise I'm going to convert

Very interestingly, the quantities: 1.6 to 1.9 g/kg/d are in the same range the same cited by Brenda Davis - Melina Vesanto for strength athletes in their excellent  'Becoming vegan' handbook  (the cited range is 1.3-1.9). Of course, the 2.7 g/kg/d applies to the extremely strenuos exercise needed to develop more muscle in a professional context and is not applicable to other situations.

The former figures are relative to professional bodybuilders though, even if natural.

My gross estimate for example, is that, training for resistance for both longevity and cosmetic purposes, outside of a competition regimen and minimizing training times  and loads to minimize the risk of injuries, we might take as a reference something in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 g/kg/d. Do not let's forget that 0.9 to 1 g/kg/d is the suggested RDA for vegans not following resistance training.

The above 1.1 to 1.5 g/kg/d range, converted to American units means  0.5 to 0.7 g/lbs/d. The usual amounts suggested in the gym environments by 'broscience' is 2 g/lbs/d, a totally overestimate unless steroids are taken, which enhance anabolism hence protein utilization and synthesis.

Edited by mccoy
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Another  vegan specimen: Nimai Delgado. bodyweight 180-190 lb (83 kg average) , age 28, IFBB pro competing in men's physique.

Nimai-Delgado.14.jpg

He has been tracking his intake nad these are the figures he declares:

150 gr/d protein, 100 gr from food, 50 gr from protein powder. Use of BCAAs, creatine and other supplements, no steroids not other PEDs.

The above means, taking as a reference the average bodyweight:

  • Weight 83 kg, e → protein 150 gr/d ave → 1.8 g/kg/d → 226% RDA

 

Again, within the range suggested By Davis-Vesanto, not incredibly huge amounts.

Of course in his case young age means a more anabolic hormonal environment , so he might need less protein other things being equal.

 

 

 

Edited by mccoy
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  • 5 months later...

I'm not enthusiastic about veganism.  Not at all.

THAT SAID, neither of these men have the tell-tale signs of PED use.  Testosterone receptors exist at different densities on different muscles.  The delts and the lats tend to be overdeveloped in people who specifically abuse anabolic steroids--good training can overcome this, but there are often obvious signs, even among champion bodybuilders.  Excessively capped delts are usually a complete giveaway.  Both of these men have natural-looking physiques.

In addition, it hardly needs to be said that neither has the growth hormone gut.

The idea that either animal or vegetable proteins have special properties as proteins beyond their amino acid profiles is definitely in the woo territory.  Both pro-meat and pro-vegan groups are guilty of that.  (I'm pro-small-amounts-of-meat for reasons utterly unrelated to protein--same reasons I think it's a waste of time, at best, to pump lots of supplements and that soylent green is a horrifically terrible idea, nutritionally).

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  • 2 weeks later...

mccoy, do you believe pumping up one's muscles (beyond just having decent healthy muscle tone) is somehow going to lead to longevity?  If so, what is your basis for this belief?  I haven't seen any science or even any anecdotes, to suggest this is true.  Doesn't it lead to higher growth factors and T?  I can see why a teenager would want this, but why would you want high growth factors after your body is already fully developed?

 

Edited by Gordo
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18 hours ago, Gordo said:

mccoy, do you believe pumping up one's muscles (beyond just having decent healthy muscle tone) is somehow going to lead to longevity?

I can't speak for mccoy but I believe it.  At least I believe the opposite, the loss of ones muscle is a cause of death.  There are many, many studies linking muscular frailty to morbidity and mortality.  I don't believe having larger muscle mass protects one from precipitous decline in advanced age but it probably reduces the risk of frailty induced premature death.  And those with well developed musculature tend to have less incidence of other degenerations of aging such as osteoporosis, alzheimer's, etc.  And I expect it provides one with a bit more reserve to survive other problems.  For example a significant percentage of people with cancer die during treatment due to cachexia or weakness induced accidents such as falling and breaking a hip.

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Gordo, I believe that Todd's arguments are valid. By pumping muscles, I'm opposing the natural trend towards myopenia with increasing age. Plus the glucose sink. Plus the hormetic stress. Plus the enhanced digestive function. Plus enhanced cognitive function. 

How much is too much pumping? In natural bodybuilding, there is a defined threshold by which overwhelming muscularity is avoided. Drug induced superphysiological hypertrophy may actual be of detriment to health and longevity, whereas the natural resistance-induced muscularity provides usually benefits.

The higher exercise-induced IGF-1 appears to be local rather than systemic, and we know that local IGF-1 in muscle and nervous tissue is beneficial. Higher T is also notoriously provided by sun exposure. Such natural boosters may be beneficial in opposing the natural decline in physiological androgens.

Diet wise, I keep eating an healthy diet and presently am avoiding all the usual supplements like protein isolates, BCCAs and others because in my case they just do not work.

There are flip sides, like the increased hunger causing an increased intake of carbs and a consequent higher fasting blood glucose.

Since I feel very good with lifting weight and hypertrophic muscles, I'm going to make this specific gamble, trying my best not to get injured (first  and foremost rule).

After all, I remember you described doing things contrary to longevity, like taking Aya or going canoeing in perilous waters. Dean also described engaging in parachuting, which is an highly hazardous activity. 

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Hi McCoy!

I agree with Gordo.  True, you need to do a CERTAIN AMOUNT of "pumping" to prevent sarcopenia -- but bulging muscles are a huge calorie burner; and the higher IGF1 numbers are likewise undesirable, likely increasing the rate of aging.

That said:  AEROBIC EXERCISE is a pure plus; and one should additionally do adequate strengthening exercises to prevent sarcopenia.

Other useful things:  meditation, yoga.  Yoga is good for preserving -- and extending -- flexibility.

   --  Saul

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Guys, next time around that I'll have my blood drawn I'm going to request an IGF-1 value, so that we know for sure if systemic IGF-1 is overly increased in my case. By the way, we all know that IGF-1 like so many other parameters seems to have an optimum, too low is bad too high likewise.

My reasoned feeling is that, if bodybuilding is done giving priority to an healthy balanced diet, no drugs, no supplements, no caloric nor proteic abuse, no overtraining, then it's not going to be detrimental to longevity. Whereas if done competitively, like many other sports in today's world, it may have deleterious effects.

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  • 1 year later...
On 2/17/2019 at 11:58 PM, mccoy said:

Guys, next time around that I'll have my blood drawn I'm going to request an IGF-1 value, so that we know for sure if systemic IGF-1 is overly increased in my case. By the way, we all know that IGF-1 like so many other parameters seems to have an optimum, too low is bad too high likewise.

My reasoned feeling is that, if bodybuilding is done giving priority to an healthy balanced diet, no drugs, no supplements, no caloric nor proteic abuse, no overtraining, then it's not going to be detrimental to longevity. Whereas if done competitively, like many other sports in today's world, it may have deleterious effects.

Hey McCoy, I'm curious if you've found out what your IGF-1 level is? I'm going to experiment with weightlifting and an increased protein intake as well and then have blood tests done to see if my IGF-1 has risen to an undesirably high level or not.

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59 minutes ago, Lucius said:

Hey McCoy, I'm curious if you've found out what your IGF-1 level is? I'm going to experiment with weightlifting and an increased protein intake as well and then have blood tests done to see if my IGF-1 has risen to an undesirably high level or not.

Lucius yes, my IGF-1 turned out to be pretty low, considering the abundance of methionine and other AAs I was taking from dairy products (mainly nonfat yogurt and milk), plus whey protein powder.

My value was recently 91 ng/ml, with a 'normal' lab range for males aged above 55 of 50-196, but we know that Longo advised 140 ng/ml for longevity and that the optimum in some studies was even lower than 140 (but I should look the specific thread up).

Bottom line, weightlifting and vegan protein powders ( I used to take a base of pea proteins blended with soymilk during my vegan stint) may not be a governing factor in increasing your IGF-1...

 

Edit: I just read in the other thread that you are 22. In this case, IGF-1 concentrations tend to be pretty high and probably you don't need to focus on them, unless you have familiarity with cancer-inducing genetic polymorphism.

I would rather focus on other details, a whole and nutritionally complete plant-based diet, proper exercise as discussed, resistance plus aerobic, good sleep and last but not least study or career.

Edited by mccoy
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3 minutes ago, mccoy said:

Lucius yes, my IGF-1 turned out to be pretty low, considering the abundance of methionine and other AAs I was taking from dairy products (mainly nonfat yogurt and milk), plus whey protein powder.

My value was recently 91 ng/ml, with a 'normal' lab range for males aged above 55 of 50-196, but we know that Longo advised 140 ng/ml for longevity and that the optimum in some studies was even lower than 140 (but I should look the specific thread up).

Bottom line, weightlifting and vegan protein powders ( I used to take a base of pea proteins blended with soymilk during my vegan stint) may not be a governing factor in increasing your IGF-1...

That's good news for me because my concern is IGF-1 getting too high, not too low, once I up my protein intake.

Longo also recommends to not go over the RDA level of protein (0.8 g/kg/day) but I believe that most if not all of the harmful effects of an increased protein intake are from animal protein and plant protein that has an amino acid profile similar to that of animal protein. I still haven't decided which specific amino acids I am going to restrict but methionine, leucine and cysteine have all been mentioned on this forum numerous times.

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1 hour ago, mccoy said:

weightlifting and vegan protein powders ... may not be a governing factor in increasing your IGF-1.

Yeah, there are a whole host of factors affecting IGF-1 levels,  not the least of which is genetics.  Even disrupted sleep patterns have been implicated in low levels.

On top of that,  there's strong support for the idea that it's not IGF-1 levels per se,  but IGF-1  biological activity  that counts,   and there are various formulas which usually include IGF Binding Protein-3 (IGFBP-3).

And then there's the wider context--  to give just one example,  how do you judge the longevity effect of low IGF-1 + high  testosterone  compared to  low IGF-1 + low testosterone  or other combinations of different growth factors in an individual's unique makeup?

Edited by Sibiriak
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