Quartzy co-founder Adam Regelmann is an MD-PhD. He bypassed a career in gastroenterology to launch Quartzy with Columbia colleague Jayant Kulkarni. Each week Adam answers five questions about science, medicine, and pop-culture.
Is carb-loading before exercise really an effective strategy?
In your body, all carbs are broken down and/or converted into glucose. That glucose can either be immediately processed by the body and used, stored as glycogen (which is like a starch in your muscles), or converted to fat. When you’re exercising, your muscles need energy very fast, and it’s much more efficient for them to quickly break down the glycogen into glucose than it is to access your fat stores. If you normally have a big meal of carbs every day, then having additional carbs the day before an event isn’t going to help anything because your muscles are already maxed out on the glycogen they can store. But if you’re on a low-carb diet and you want to make sure your muscles don’t fatigue as fast when participating in some strenuous exercise, then loading up on carbs may help.
What causes delayed soreness after a workout?
It was thought to be lactic acid, but that’s not the current consensus. Muscles are made of fibers with internal ratchet systems, so when you tell a muscle to contract, myosin fibers pull the actin fibers close to each other. The soreness comes from microtrauma to the myofibrils (the building blocks of muscles) during strenuous exercise. During certain kinds of exercises (such as walking downhill, or very slowly releasing a bicep curl), the microtrauma is especially pronounced. These are called “eccentric contractions,” where the muscle is contracting while getting longer. It causes more breaks in the ratchet system. The microtrauma results in a little bit of inflammation all over the muscles, which causes soreness that usually resolves in 1-3 days.
Do doctors tend to lead healthier lifestyles than other people?
Than the general U.S. population? I definitely know doctors who lead unhealthy lives, but for the most part, yes. Some doctors are very good at the whole “Do what I say, not what I do” approach to life. They definitely smoke less and eat the right kinds of foods more in the long term. In general, I haven’t seen many obese doctors, and obesity is one of the biggest public-health issues to hit America—it’s like the modern plague.
Is it true that lactose intolerance often begins when teenagers move away from home for the first time and stop regularly drinking milk?
Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose into galactose and glucose. It’s made in the gut. Without it, humans can’t process lactose—only the bacteria in your gut can, which produces gas and cramps. This question presupposes that decreased milk intake causes decreased lactase production. I don’t think that’s the case. Lactose is commonly found in milk, obviously. Lactase is turned on in infancy for most people. As you age, the amount of lactase you produce goes down. In areas where cattle were domesticated and dairy became a source of nutrition, a mutation that kept lactase turned on became more prevalent in the population, which is why, as adults, some people are lactose intolerant and some people are not. Basically, genetics and age dictate lactose tolerance.
The big Quartzy update has been rolled out to some users. What new feature or improvement are people most excited about?
The ease of use of the layout. That’s the feedback we’ve been getting: It’s much easier to find what you need to act on, and act on it.
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