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The Flex Diet podcast: Protein metabolism and research

Unlocked's head coach, Eric Williamson, was a featured guest on the Flex Diet Podcast with Dr. Mike T. Nelson. Listen to it below!

On the Flex Diet Podcast, Dr. Mike T Nelson gets geeky with the latest research and scientific findings in the fitness world. Listen here, and subscribe to the Flex Diet Podcast on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


On this podcast, Eric Williamson and Dr. Mike get super nerdy with a deep science-y discussion on how protein metabolism research is conducted, the connection of mechanisms to outcomes, the effect of exercise and nutrition on muscle protein metabolism and lots more. We also name drop and provide shout outs to many other specific researchers in the field of protein metabolism for you to look into if you’re as geeky as we are. The pros and cons of research are discussed and Eric provides practical tips on how much protein you really need and when.

Episode notes

  • Eric’s background and how he found himself studying and researching protein metabolism

  • Why mechanisms are important

  • What is nitrogen balance and what are the pros and cons of nitrogen balance research

  • Essential vs. nonessential amino acids

  • Acute vs. chronic research studies

  • The importance of resistance training and nutrition, especially as we age

  • Anabolic resistance with age and in disease

  • Tracer techniques in research

  • Optimal protein intake per meal

  • Protein, intermittent fasting and muscle

  • Autophagy

  • How protein recommendations for older adults differ

  • Why exercise breaks are important for our muscle



I misspoke around 40 minutes where we talk about the deuterated water (D2O) technique in research. I say that it “has an extra hydrogen”. It doesn’t. The hydrogens already on the water compound are the isotopes. Both of them carry an extra neutron. What I say afterwards about the hydrogen finding their way onto amino acids and into proteins through metabolic processes is correct. We are able to detect these hydrogens in muscle and elsewhere to get a sense of what metabolic processes (e.g. muscle protein synthesis) are occurring.

- Eric


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