Supplement Info-mercials? (Sterols)

McCullough, MEd.

I would like to make a comment about a recent article published in Powerlifting USA. Brunner, R. (1996). Plant extracts used in elite powerlifting. Powerlifting USA. 19(8), 17-19. To start off, I would first like to let you know that Rick Brunner IS Atletika Sport Nutrition. He has also been writing articles for PL USA on a monthly basis that are, in my opinion, only intended to sell Atletica products. I have sent several letters to Mr. Brunner questioning some of his claims, but I never get any answers. Do my questions not dignify an answer ? Maybe someone on the list who has a little more knowledge of biochemistry than I do, can answer my questions. 

In this latest article, Brunner discusses the usefulness of phytochemicals, by powerlifters. He says that the 5 main classes of phytochemicals are: 1) Enzymes; 2) Antioxidants; 3) Sterols; 4) Polyamines; and 5) Phospholipids.

Enzymes are compounds that speed the rate of a chemical reaction. Almost ALL enzymes are proteins. So my first question is, how is it that powerlifters need more protein in their diets? Most research shows powerlifters already take in 1.7 g/kg of body weight. Is that not enough protein to sufficiently produce the amount of enzymes necessary to function normally? Next, Mr. Brunner claims that the human body relies on enzymes from outside sources such as plants to keep our bodies functioning properly. He goes on to say that unfortunately, enzymes are very unstable and in fact are easily destroyed by high temperature such as cooking, etc. My next question is, if almost all enzymes are proteins, isn't it true that cooking is just another step in the digestive process? Is it not true that cooking unfolds or denatures proteins and softens tough connective tissues, making them easier to digest and absorb? In fact, are not enzyme production problems caused by the lack of the correct DNA structure not dietary protein intake? Again, I am not a biochemist, however this is my understanding.

Sterols are lipid compounds that have a multi-ringed (steroid) structure but, definitely are not anabolic steroids. An important sterol is cholesterol Cholesterol forms some important hormones, particularly to powerlifters, such as corticosteroids, estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D, and calcitriol. However, the sterols suggested by Mr. Brunner are plant sterols. Is it not true that plants have related sterols only, such as ergosterol, that can form a type of vitamin D, but DO NOT contain cholesterol? Of course Atletika makes and sells Retibol which is a extract from the Leuzea plants in Russia and Hungary and Ekdisten which is an extract from a Pfaffia plant from Brazil. Where are you finding all of the supportive research on the actions of these plants? Most of what I have found centers around prevention of disease and cancer. There are not very many people, outside of Atletika, that can even say what these products do. In my opinion, are you not promoting products that have had literaly no research or generally unimpressive research done on them? Show me a study that substantially backs your claims.

Phospholipids look like triglycerides at first glance, however they contain only 1 or 2 fatty acids. Structures other than fatty acids, such as choline, bond to other sites on the glycerol backbone. Lecithin as revealed by, Mr. Brunner, is an example of a phospholipid. However, is it not true that even though lecithin and other phospholipids are found in food, it is NOT necessary to eat these because the body makes lecithin and other phospholipids when and where it is necessary? Mr. Brunner then goes on to promote Atletika's new First Strike. A product in which Atletika claims will block cortisol production as a result of intense training. This product uses what Atletika claims is a soybean extracted phosphatidylserine (PS). They also will reluctantly send out two studies that were used to support their claims. Unfortunately, neither studie do uses a soybean extract, in fact they use PS derived from the bovine cerebral cortex which was then given to the subjects by injection. Somehow, Mr. Brunner, I do not see how this study could possible substantiate Atletika's claims that the soybean extract will do the same thing. I have yet to find a study that would possibly suggest that the two would be remotely the same chemicals. Again, if I am wrong, please give me some references. Hopefully, other than the two that you already gave me.

In summary, I really get tired of seeing articles published in magazines like this one, which in my opinion, are nothing more than a magazine version of an info-mercial. As to Powerlifting USA, I have always looked to this magazine as a non-commercial, good source of relevant information for the powerlifter. Is this magazine going down the tubes too? If Atletika does not care to answer my questions and at least give me the dignity of a reply, could it be my suspicions are true? Maybe someone on this list could be more helpful. Until then I sure won't recommend or purchase Atletika products.