Second only to weight loss, putting on muscle mass is the most prominent fitness goal. The problem is whereas some people can easily increase muscle mass, many cannot despite long hours of heavy lifts. The reason you can’t increase muscle mass like you want may be due to a particular protein called Myostatin. For years fitness scientists have looked for the key to inhibit the function of Myostatin. Could these new discoveries in myostatin inhibitor unlock some new potential?
What is Myostatin? What does it do in the body? And can it be overcome?
What is Myostatin?
Myostatin is a protein in mammals that inhibits the growth of muscle cells. This is actually a relatively new discovery by scientists with the gene first being discovered in 1997. The main purpose of Myostatin is to insure that muscles do not grow too large. One popular theory about the effects of Myostatin suggest that it was important to ancient man in that as a hunter gatherer it was important for him to be fast and lean as opposed to bulky.
It is interesting to note that some species are naturally void of Myostatin or have a natural resistance. For instance, the Belgian Blue cattle breed have a mutated gene that leads to an absence in functional Myostatin.
The Whippet dog has a gene mutation that results in inactive Myostatin proteins.
These mutations are also found in humans. In 2004 doctors diagnosed a German boy with a mutation of the Myostatin producing gene. Finally, in 2005 an American boy was discovered to have what doctors believe to be an inactive Myostatin receptor.
Myostatin Inhibitor and obesity
A new study on Myostatin, more specifically inhibiting Myostatin has shown promise in the fight against obesity. Research presented at the American Physiological Society 2017 annual meeting in Chicago looked at the relationship between increased Myostatin and obesity.
Researchers found that suppressing the production of Myostatin lead to an increase in muscle mass. The studies suggest that obese people produce less Myostatin thus having a lower muscle mass an a greater fat mass.
In the study which was conducted on two groups of mice, one group programmed to produce uninhibited levels of Myostatin, and the other to be completely lacking any active Myostatin gene. Even the obese mice unable to produce Myostatin were found to be stronger and have heart and metabolic function on par with the leaner mice.
The researchers are hoping to be able to translate this into human subjects. It is already known that humans with more lean muscle mass tend to have higher metabolisms and are less prone to obesity. Furthermore, even maintaining proper cardiac and metabolic function in obese subjects can make it easier for them to lose the weight through exercise.
Beyond the muscle
The research on inhibiting Myostatin done by Augusta University suggested further promise outside of fighting obesity and helping increase muscle mass.
Lead researcher Dr. Joshua Butcher hopes to be able to create a pill that inhibits Myostatin. This could be valuable for patients with muscle wasting diseases like cancer, muscular dystrophy, and AIDS.
What this means for you?
This along with many other studies shows promise. What makes this new study unique is that unlike the past athlete specific studies on increasing mass, this looks at the potential for inhibiting Myostatin to improve health and even fight disease.
Don’t get too excited yet. As this new study was only done in mice, human tests and any resemblance of an actual supplement or pill are years or even decades off. Furthermore, there have been several products created over the past ten years that attempt to inhibit the production of Myostatin. These products were aimed at the bodybuilding market, however no truly effective product has been created and brought to market. You can be assured that if a real and effective Myostatin inhibitor ever hits the market it will be the biggest thing in the supplement world since whey protein and you’ll hear about it as breaking news. That said, don’t fall victim to products (usually expensive) that claim to inhibit Myostatin and increase muscle growth.
However, a 2015 publication suggested several “proven” supplements that can be used to limit the effects of Myostatin.