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2015 ISSN Conference Review - Part I

Quick Hit Summary

The 12th Annual ISSN Conference took place in Austin, Texas (USA) on June 11-13th, 2015. Once again CasePerformance covered the event. In Part I of our multi-part review of the conference we take a look at the following presentations: Rick Collins, JD, FISSN, CSCS – Nutrition Law Every Fitness Professional Should Know; Dr. Ralf Jager, CISSN, FISSN, MBA the Gut-Muscle-Axis: Probiotics Flex Their Muscles in Sports Nutrition and Stacy Sims – Dogma of Hydration. Additionally we take a peek at some of the hallway chatter that took place at this year’s conference.

12th Annual International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) Conference – "Everything is Bigger in Texas"

Figure 1 Catching up with friends at the ISSN conference. From left – Carrie Hogan, Dr. Mike T. Nelson, Korey Van Wyk, Lonnie Lowery & myself (Sean Casey). Image via Korey Van Wyk

The 2015 Annual International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) conference is in the books; the info has been digested on my end and that means one thing – time for another thorough review of this year's events! Similar to prior years, the conference had multiple presentations going on simultaneously; one on the "practical applied side", one on the "I'm a nerd – research side" and the unofficial presentation of ideas that were happening in the hallways throughout the entirety of the event!

Since I'm only one man and can't split into two, I called upon prior CasePerformance contributors Korey Van Wyk & Jeff Rothschild as well as 1st time contributor Carrie Hogan to highlight a few presentations where I missed a portion or all of it. Additionally, the Iron Radio podcast crew covered the event live for those of you who dig audio (see sidebox). So if my writing style turns you off, good news – the CasePerformance summaries will feature a few different voices this year. With that being said, let's kick off Part I of our multipart 2015 ISSN Conference Review!

Rick Collins, JD, FISSN, CSCS – Nutrition Law Every Fitness Professional Should Know

Figure 2. Rick Collins discussing laws that every fitness professional should be aware of. Photo used with permission.

How to Legally Protect Yourself

Rick Collins gave an excellent presentation discussing nutrition laws and how they impact dietitians, nutritionists, personal trainers, coaches, etc. The first piece of advice he provided was on the steps any professional in the fitness/athletic world should do to protect themselves including…

  • 1) Incorporate yourself – Limited liability protects your personal assets from being used to pay off a debt
  • 2) Create a Waiver of Liability – However, be aware that a "waiver only shifts some legal and technical presumptions from you to the injured party"
  • 3) Get Insurance – In particular, both professional liability insurance (ie – malpractice) and general liability insurance
  • 4) Trademark Your IP (Intellectual Property) – This is extremely important to draw clear distinctions between what you've done vs. other parties and goods

Can You Provide Nutritional Advice to Your Clients?

The next topic Rick discussed was if it's actual legal to provide nutritional advice to those you work with – depending on where you live, unless you're a registered dietitian (RD), the answer to this question may in fact be "NO!” Currently there are 17 states where you are unable to provide nutrition advice unless you're a RD (For listings, I refer you to Nutrition Advocacy.org). If you happen to be a nutritionist and personal trainer providing individual nutrition counseling you're putting yourself at risk of committing a crime.

The idea of only registered dietitians being able to provide dietary advice/counseling to their clients is a topic I've debated quite often with colleagues. Most are surprised that, despite being a registered dietitian myself, I have absolutely no problem with non RD's providing nutritional advice to individuals.

Although there are some potential benefits with these laws (ensures that the provider has passed a certain degree of training, baseline education knowledge, etc), I believe it also comes with a downside. Many highly qualified individuals (ie – PhD's, etc) whose knowledge far surpasses mine put themselves at risk of committing a crime every time someone asks them for assistance. I believe that opening the nutrition counseling field up to a larger degree of individuals forces everyone (dietitians included) to "up their game/applied knowledge base" to a higher level simply due to increased competition between various fields/practitioners.

"Dietary Supplements, the Law & Your Clients"

The final topic discussed by Rick Collins focused on laws/current issues in the supplement industry and what you/your clients should be aware of when purchasing supplements. In doing so he dispelled the myth that the supplement industry is an unregulated field. Multiple agencies oversee the market including the FDA, FTC & other various agencies. Thus, the problem isn't in regulations but rather enforcing the regulations. However, although quality control issues are present, it's not nearly as bad as portrayed in the mainstream media’s anti-supplement reports. On multiple occasions products have been taken off the market for failing to comply with regulations or causing harm to the end user (USPLab's OxyElite Pro, etc).

A few final tidbits Rick Collins covered in his talk…

  • Protein Spiking – Various companies are 'spiking' the protein content of their products with amino acids and other cheap non-protein ingredients. End result – the consumer does not get what he/she paid for and the supplement company ends up making more $$$.
  • The "New" US War on Drugs – On December 18, 2014, the US congress passed the ¬_Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act_ (DASCA), cracking down on the sale of over the counter prohormones, listing 25 steroidal compounds as illegal. Unfortunately there was no grace period; Thus, even if you had just purchased them legally a day or two earlier (while they were still 'legal’) you were left with two options: 1) Dump them down the toilet/sink drains, allowing them to enter the general water supply or 2) Hold onto them and be considered a fugitive.
  • On PED's in General – Although they work, steroids have a cost (albeit the risks are exaggerated – "The Difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose")

Dr. Ralf Jager, CISSN, FISSN, MBA the Gut-Muscle-Axis: Probiotics Flex Their Muscles in Sports Nutrition

Figure 3. The Digestive Track – A penthouse suite to millions of bacteria. Image source.1

If I had to make a hypothesis as to what the ‘next frontier’ in maximizing human health via nutrition/supplements, along with nutrigenomics, I’d wager that it would be understanding the gut microbiome (ie – digestive tract), the bacteria that live within it (ie – probiotics) and how their population can be manipulated based off altering their food supply (ie – prebiotics). It seems like every day we are learning something about how the unique bacteria composition within each of our guts impacts our health. It’s a topic I truly find fascinating; in all reality, I firmly believe that we are barely scratching the surface of what there is to know about it (see sidebox).

Although many questions are still to be answered when it comes to probiotics, it appears that certain strains, at least in some populations, may be able to bolster the immune system.23 For highly competitive athletes, this is especially important as, in the course of pushing their body to the limit, their immune system often takes a beating. Factors contributing to this include travel, altered sleep patterns, poor diets plus immune suppression brought on by high intensity exercise itself. In a pair of studies completed by Engebretsen et al, it was found that 7.2% of athletes reported an infectious illness at both the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver as well as the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.45 Most common among these illnesses are respiratory infections.

To what degree may the use of probiotics reduce the incidence of illness, specifically upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs)? This question has been examined by various research groups. In a study completed by Gleeson et al, 84 healthy endurance athletes, ranging in skill level from recreational active to Olympic triathletes, completed a trial in which they consumed a daily probiotic drink or a placebo over the course of 4 months of winter training. For reference, the probiotic drink consisted of a minimum of 6.5 × 10^9 live cells of L. casei Shirota. As shown in Figures 4 & 5 the group receiving the probiotic drink experienced significantly fewer URTI’s.

Figure 4. Number of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) during 4 month winter training and competitive season. * indicates statistical significant difference. Data adapted from Gleeson et al.2

Figure 5. Percent of individuals experiencing upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms totaling > 1 week. * indicates significant difference. Data adapted from Gleeson et al.2

Cox et al also assessed the impact of probiotics on URTI in endurance athletes (mean VO2max – 67.1 (4.5) ml/kg/ min) during the winter months.3 In their randomized crossover designed study, each participant took either a placebo or probiotic supplement (1.2×1010 CFU L. fermentum VRI 003/d) for 28 days, completed a 28 day washout, and then switched to the other group. Final results indicated that while on probiotics, individuals experienced fewer days with URTI symptoms (30 vs. 72) and the symptoms they did have tended to be less severe.

There have also been a few studies assessing if the consumption of probiotics could provide individuals with an ergogenic boost beyond simply keeping them healthy. For the most part, studies have yet to show any clear physical performance benefits beyond a bolstered immune system.678

Dr. Jager concluded his talk by reminding everyone that we are just at the cusp of understanding the microbiome and much work needs to be completed before more concrete recommendations can be made in this area.

Stacy Sims MSc, PhD, CISSN – The Dogma of Hydration: Liquid calories vs. Fluid

Dr. Sims started her presentation by discussing how to optimize fluid absorption. More specifically she discussed how too many carbohydrates delays gastric emptying. With this being said, it was extremely important that glucose-containing solutions include sodium to enhance fluid and carbohydrate into the body. Dr. Sims noted that an ideal solution should be "a 1-4% solution of glucose+sucrose". In a case study, Dr. Sims noted that for one particular individual who came to her with fueling issues, she intervened with "’functional hydration’ of 3% glucose-sucrose solution with 720mg Na+/L."

She then went into discussion on how women should not be viewed simply as “small men”. Due to hormonal cycles, their needs differ considerably over the course of a month. Following her talk, my friend Jeff Rothschild, MS, RD, made a nice summary chart of things which he gave me permission to share below.

Figure 6. An overview of fluid and hydration needs during the follicular and luteal phase of a female cycle & peri-/post- menopausal. Image used with permission.

For those interested in discussing this figure more in-depth (or just want to talk sports nutrition!), I strongly encourage you to reach out to Jeff Rothschild, MS, RD via facebook.

Hallway Chatter

Figure 7 Meeting of the minds in the hallways during the ISSN conference. Photo used with permission.

One of the great things about any conference is the ability to talk shop with attendees. Between presentations and dining events, I had the opportunity to converse with many individuals.

One of the people I sought out was Dr. Darryn Willoughby. At last year's ISSN conference, his talk focused on Ursolic Acid and the acute effects that ingesting 3g of it may have on markers of protein synthesis and anabolic hormones (read more). At the time of his 2014 presentation, he had yet to analyze all the data from the study. In discussion with me, Dr. Willoughby mentioned that Ursolic Acid failed to significantly impact both mTOR1 (which was mentioned at last year's conference) as well as muscle IGF-1 levels (new information).

I also had the chance to pick the mind of Dr. Robert Wolfe, who gave the keynote presentation at this year's conference, "Is there an upper limit to protein intake to maximize the anabolic response?" To say Dr. Wolfe is a legend in the field of muscle protein research would be an understatement. His lab has studied in great depth the effect of protein ingestion and muscle anabolism, greatly contributing to our knowledge of how much protein can be ingested to maximize growth. During our conversation, I asked Dr. Wolfe how he ever got so involved in this area. Dr. Wolfe informed me that his interest in this area was borne out of efforts to improve the survival rate of those with severe burns.

Dr. Richard Kreider, one of the founding members of the ISSN, also sat down to chat with me. Being one of the leading figures in creatine research, I picked his mind on various aspects of creatine, particularly the non-ergogenic benefits it has from a nervous system perspective (neurological diseases, concussions, etc). I had noticed that most studies involving creatine use for neurological disorders/protection involved higher doses (= or >10g/d) than commonly recommended for athletes (generally 3-5d/day). Although I hadn't come across any research directly commenting on why, I assumed it was due to higher levels being needed to saturate neural tissue (specifically within the brain). Dr. Kreider informed me this was correct; however he mentioned that an upper limit had not been determined yet in regards to creatine saturation in treating various neurological disorders.

This only starts to scratch the surface of the conversations that I had during my three days there… not to mention juicy supplement news regarding amino acid spiking & the ripple effects it's having within the industry, which supplements were/were not working plus many other tidbits!

ISSN Part I Wrap-up.

There you a go – an inside look at a few of the presentations that took place at this year’s ISSN conference. Hungry for more of an inside scoop on the events that took place over the weekend? Stay tuned because in parts II, III and IV we’ll be covering…

  • Dr. Brad Schoenfeld – Manipulating Training Variables
  • Sohee Lee – Increasing Dietary Adherence
  • Dr. Joe Klemczewski – Nutrition Strategies for Sustainable Health & Weight Loss
  • Dr. Richard Kreider – Global Updates & Applications on Creatine Use
  • Dr. Mike T. Nelson – Online Monitoring of Fitness
  • Alan Aragon – Toward Ending the Dietary Wars
  • Dr. Darryn Willoughby – L-citrulline and Glutathione Supplementation
  • Dr. Bob Wolfe – Is there an Upper Limit to Protein Intake

As you can see, a lot is still to come so stay tuned!


1 Mariana Ruiz. diagram of a human digestive system. 17 December 2006. Accessed on July 25, 2015 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Digestive_system_diagram_edit.svg

2 Gleeson M1, Bishop NC, Oliveira M, Tauler P. Daily probiotic's (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) reduction of infection incidence in athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011 Feb;21(1):55-64.

3 Cox AJ1, Pyne DB, Saunders PU, Fricker PA. Oral administration of the probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 and mucosal immunity in endurance athletes. Br J Sports Med. 2010 Mar;44(4):222-6

4 L. Engebretsen et al. Sport injuries and illnesses during the Winter Olympic Games 2010. Br J Sports Med 2010, 44(11):772-780;

5 L. Engebretsen et al. Sport injuries and illnesses during the London Summer Olympic Games 2012. Br J Sports Med 2013, 47(7):407-414

6 Georges et al. Effects of probiotic supplementation on lean body mass, strength, and power, and health indicators in resistance trained males: a pilot study. JISSN 2014, 11:P38

7 Salarkia et al. Effects of probiotic yogurt on performance, respiratory and digestive systems of young adult female endurance swimmers: a randomized controlled trial. MJIRI 2013, 27(3):141-146

8 Lampbrecht et al. Probiotic supplementation affects markers of intestinal barrier, oxidation, and inflammation in trained men; a randomized, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial. JISSN 2012, 9:45

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Written on July 25, 2015 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: July 27, 2015

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.