Cliff Harvey Interview – Part 2

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Our interview with Cliff Harvey continues in this PART 2:

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Cliff Harvey
Holistic Performance Nutrition

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Q: Pea protein I know that’s what you use in your protein formula so is there a form of pea
protein or style of pea that’s better than the other and why is it that you use pea protein?

A: 18sec – We are probably going back about 10 years when we first started looking at different protein types because I’d used all sorts of things I’d used rice protein, soy protein, whey protein, casein and all these various proteins tried them, self experimentation over many years but whey protein was and probably still is the most common protein and was considered the gold standard.  And when we started not even formulating anything at this point we were just thinking about ideas as to what protein we could use we really wanted to find the most hypo allergenic protein we could and that was just so it could be used by almost all people most all of the time. We started to notice that there was significantly more research coming out around whey and around casein and around the idea of combined milk protein allergies to the point where it’s probably around 1% of people now days have a defined diagnosed milk protein allergy of some sort.  It’s not a huge amount of people but the subclinical effects of that are a lot higher and there are probably a lot more people to some degree are intolerant to the diary protein. I’d always been a fairly big fan of the functional benefits of the diary proteins for performance for body building and all that kind of stuff but there was still that underlying intolerance and allergy issue that was going to affect some people and that’s not going to be beneficial so we were looking around for something else.

I was quite surprised how far pea protein processing technology had come by that point and there was some companies in Europe that were doing fantastic things with pea protein getting it to a point where the protein content was in fact higher than most of your whey proteins.   So you had a higher protein formula, lower carbohydrate so it was really good for providing that protein without any residual effects in terms of fat gain.  The satiety rating was higher so people felt fuller for longer after drinking pea protein as compared to whey. Any of the negatives that could be associated with legumes for some people basically aren’t there with the pea protein all the leptins are gone all the phytic acid is gone there’s no saponins, there’s all those things that might cause problems are basically gone.  So I was quite surprised cause what we had was an extremely high protein formula, extremely low allergen, didn’t have any anti-nutrients in it so it could be used by most people most of the time and provide a great satiety. So we thought great lets go down this track and see what we can do. So we purposely work with the best companies out of Europe to produce this protein and that means it’s the very highest quality there are a lot of other pea protein that have come on the market since but a lot of them we just can’t be assured of the quality control because they are grown in areas where perhaps there is a risk of pollution or the’e processed using inferior technology where you are still going to get some of those anti nutrients coming through or they are not going to be of the same sort of quality so that’s basically where we got to and the interesting thing now is there’s been a couple of really good studies that have come out in the last few years showing that the functional benefits of pea in terms of muscle building and retention are equal to or better than whey and so it’s basically just the same but it can be used by more people more of the time.

Q: And obviously vegan people can use it.

A: 4.01 min – Yes exactly and that was part of the whole having a universal protein that can be extremely affective and everyone can use it. It’s able to be used by vegans most vegetarians. Vegetarians can’t use most whey either because even though it’s a diary protein it’s still processed using rennin so if you are a strict vegetarian and even if you are not vegan you can’t use whey anyway so it checked all the boxes because it can be used by everybody.

Q: So people wanting to build heaps of muscle like your body builders who take these things full of collagen and all sorts would it be just as beneficial because a lot of what they take have got heaps of added stuff in them.

A: 4.45 min -And that’s the thing, I think a lot of what’s in these products its either for taste or consistency its fillers or its token amounts of certain things thrown in just to make it more marketable. But at the end of the day a good quality protein is a good quality protein and so what we should be looking at when looking at a protein powder is just protein really. High quality protein, high amounts of protein, low other things purely because you want to be looking for the most protein, and if we are comparing all of the proteins head to head in terms of functional outcomes there’s not probably that much difference between say your gold standard whey and pea so there’s no advantage to taking whey at all. The only advantage we could see really between the two is that if you are taking whey at the moment and you are getting bloated and crampie and all that kind of stuff it’s probably not working well for you so try something else and the variable option is pea protein. Now I don’t really like the sell per-se because I figure the benefits speak for themselves. So if someone does use whey and it works really well for them and they get no adverse affects there’s no reason not to use it. But there’s also probably good rational for them to having some variety as well, as we don’t really want to eat the same thing all of the time.

Q: So if you have a person that eats a huge amount of meat and then drinks down these massive shakes, and are going in at the gym and thinking I am drinking all of this protein so I can push these really heavy weights… what’s your take on the average younger guy in 20’s that wants to look buff but are forcing this drink down with no idea what is in it in terms of caffeine etc what’s your general take on that you must see it in the gyms and stuff.

A: 7.28 min – I think it can be overkill and I think the most important thing there is just to look at what your outcome is. What’s your desired outcome, what’s your goal and marry what you are doing to that it’s quite simple.   And we don’t have any real evidence to show that having more than 3 or 4 grams of protein per Kg of body weight per day is going to do anything apart from just be wasted. However 3 grams of protein per KG of body weight per day is a lot so that could probably be the limit as to how much benefit you are going to get.  What I am getting at there is that if you are eating 3 or 4 really good meals a day and they contain if you eat meat, meat and vegetables and all the good stuff and you are getting enough protein across those meals there’s really no good rational to have any extra protein. You might want to do a little bit around your training window you might want to have a little bit of protein before and a little bit after but outside of that lugging down protein shakes when you are getting enough protein from other sources is just a waste of time. We have been sold this misplaced idea that protein drinks are somehow magical in that you drink back the protein you train hard and you are going to get massive but protein powders and protein drinks have no benefit over food and that’s why I always say and this is something as a company we say in Nuzest as well ‘food comes first’ and we would never try and convince someone to take our product if they don’t need it or as a substitute for food that’s just crazy. What all protein powders do is provide convenience because if you are an athlete competing at a high level or if you are a body builder, because body builders are probably the exception to the rule where it’s probably fare to say are more constant protein intake is going to be of benefit and a higher protein intake is probable going to be of benefit if that’s going to be difficult to get in for whatever reasons through food having some protein shakes absolutely not a problem.  In terms of developing to quickly we don’t see that happening unless people are taking steroids if people are taking steroids then we do see some interesting things happen like bicep tears and peck tears are a great example you very seldom see peck tears where the peck muscle actually comes completely away from the humorous you don’t see that in people training naturally typically you only really see that in people taking steroids. So that’s an example of when the body develops to quickly for its supportive tissue connective tissue all that kind of stuff. When people are just eating a good diet and sure they might be supplementing with some protein and doing good quality strength training they typically won’t develop to quickly but they absolutely can injure themselves if they are being silly with their training and that’s all those things you talked about making sure you are strong enough at a base level first before going in and pushing it too hard.

And that’s where I think people will be much better off in a lot of cases training within themselves it’s the easy strength ideal that guys like Dan John and Pa Ball talk about. Where you are not necessarily always pushing yourself to absolute failure absolute destruction of the body kind of thing at every training season because that is very limited in terms of how long you can do it and it puts you at greater risk of injury. You are much better off training within yourself and that’s what we use to do with weight lifting. You don’t see weight lifters in their training to failure on each and every set that would be completely counterproductive for two reasons.  If you train to failure that point of failure is usually accompanied by poorer form because you can’t have good form at the very limits of the human bodies capacity plus there is also a potential that you could be training yourself to fail because that’s just part of a neural patterning aspect. You also push yourself to a point where you are breaking down the body to the point where you can’t train again for quite some time. Where for strength gain you would be better off training more frequently but not to the same point of fatigue, if you know what I mean.  Because strength is a skill like anything else, if you swing a 50kg tennis racket you will probably be able to do it once before you are to tired to do it for a couple of days you won’t learn to have a better swing that’s for sure. You are better off swinging that tennis racket over and over again just like with weight lifting you are better off doing those movements over and over again but the difference is you need to do them under load to get use to being under load and to encourage the body to handle more load so it’s a fine line between frequency and intensity load and all those types of things.

Q: I’m a swimmer that’s my background and we use to do a lot of aerobic base and just what you are saying there because I’m a sprinter do you think it’s important to have that aerobic base?

A: 12.40 min – It’s an interesting one because there probably is rational for it and its probably quite contentious in the areas of sports physiology because first thing we learned at university that rowers and swimmers are typically the most over trained athletes because they generally do way to much volume compared to what there length of event is.  On the other hand there is also a balance there because you want to get in a lot of strokes to become more efficient with your strokes and to learn at times to develop power under fatigue which is important for any event so I think training methodology in rowing and swimming has changed a lot over the years but there is still absolutely a place for having a good aerobic base.  The other thing is having a god aerobic base and a good work threshold does is if you train yourself to have a higher work threshold you can get more seasons in during a week of the high intensity stuff and that’s an interesting aspect as well and I think that’s where you are seeing athletes in sports like MMA and in cross fit they’re doing different things now because they are training so much across so many different modalities it doesn’t really make sense but they are able to do it because they have built this amazing work threshold underneath it all so there’s lots of various aspects to it.

Q: And it depends on the person as well doesn’t it some people can handle 8 or 9 sessions a week and some people can handle 5 sessions they slack off but they are still fast in the pool.

A: 14.21 min – Absolutely there’s a great book called the The Purposeful Primitive and it’s by a powerlifting coach and good powerlifter himself called Marty Gallagher and within that book he evaluates or looks at a whole bunch of legends of powerlifting and bodybuilding and the various ways that they train and they are really different. These are world champions all of them you have people who will train twice a week and just do very short sessions they might go in and train one hour twice a week that’s it and others who would train six days a week. Other athletes who would do two sessions a day six days a week so they are training 12 hours a week as compared to the guy training two hours a week but they are all at that same sort of level and it comes down to how you respond to training, what else is going on in your life and what the volume and intensity of your training is. If you train closer to failure you probably need more time to recover.

Q: You often see that, I am just relating again to people in the pool who train really hard every session and those people who train like that you feel deserve to actually do better but have actually not improved. Yet the kids when they are feeling they have slaked off a little bit they have done really well.

A: 15.53 min – To give yourself that recovery time as well and to come into an event fresh is interesting but that changes across the boards as well a lot of power lifters I know use to not train a week before a meet because they wanted that recovery time but allot of the top power lifters I know now will train more like weight lifters where we will train right through till the Thursday night if we had a meet on a Saturday because you want to stay fresh but fresh in terms of being really fined tuned with your lifts you want to stay in the groove basically so you are going to back off allot of things you are not going to do allot of volume and you are not going to necessarily use the same intensity but you are still going to go in and do the movement because that’s critically important.

It’s an interesting one and the area of sports physiology and research is expanding so quickly and there’s lots of cool things coming out there heart rate variability as a measure fatigue and all sorts of cool stuff. And here’s an interesting point sports physiology a lot of times naturopaths clinical nutritionist are more holistically minded they kind of ignore because I don’t want to deal  with sports they see it as being outside of the scope but I firmly belief having come from a performance background all those years ago and having been an athlete but also someone who has health conditions that I have to deal with I work with terminally ill patients and all sorts of things I can see an interesting correlation there where often research that’s done in sport because sport has money behind it and it’s a glamour kind of thing research that comes from that often translates very interestingly into other aspects in health. The reason why AUT really got into the lower carb high fat thing which is now getting really great public health outcomes was because they were seeing interesting results in the lab with their athletes they wanted to elucidate more or with things like chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion whatever you want to call it in the field of naturopathy and complementary alternative medicine chronic fatigue and adrenal exhaustion those terms are very inexact they are very imprecise they are basically waste basket diagnosis’s that have no real clarity around them.  But what we can see from exercise physiology is some really interesting stuff in terms of overtraining syndrome which is much more closely defined, it’s probably a very similar thing. So we can look at that data and that sort of evidence in terms of blood markers and how we might help people to recover from it from that set of evidence but often because we are not looking at it we don’t have that same appreciation.