More muscle, less body fat without dieting

A combination of supplements readily available in health food stores can double the rate at which an exercise program builds muscle and sheds body fat.

It’s all a matter of timing, according to Melbourne researchers.

The researchers found that people who consumed the supplements immediately before exercising with weights gained much more muscle and strength than those who took the same supplements at other times of the day. The supplements used were whey protein, isolated from milk, and creatine monohydrate, extracted from plants.

“This study is the first to demonstrate that timing the consumption of these supplements promotes better results from exercise,” said Dr Paul Cribb the lead researcher, from Victoria University. “This is a simple strategy that most adults could incorporate into their exercise programs.”

Whey protein is a high quality dairy protein which stimulates muscle growth, and is rapidly absorbed by the body.  Creatine monohydrate is thought to aid energy production.  Both supplements are widely available and have been shown in research to provide a variety of health benefits.

Adult males participated in a 10-week supervised resistance training program while consuming the supplements. Those who took the supplements directly before and after exercise showed significantly better improvements in strength and muscle (fat-free) mass compared to a control group. The control group performed the same resistance exercise program and took the same supplement at other times of the day.

The changes in body composition were confirmed by muscle analyses at the cellular and subcellular levels. And the benefits were obtained without the participants’ having to diet or disrupt their normal, healthy eating patterns.

Cribb argues that this information is not only important for athletes, but has much wider application. “Athletic performance and vanity aside, building muscle is a vital part of healthy ageing. An age-associated loss of muscle is thought to initiate many illnesses that shorten our lifespan such as osteoporosis, type-II diabetes, and heart disease.”

“This is one of very few studies that provides data on a safe, cost-effective strategy that can help maintain muscle mass through life.”

AST Sports Science supplied the supplements used in this research.

Paul Cribb is one of 16 Fresh Scientists who are presenting their research to school students and the general public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national program hosted by the Melbourne Museum and sponsored by the Federal and Victorian governments, New Scientist, The Australian and Quantum Communications Victoria.  One of the Fresh Scientists will win a trip to the UK courtesy of the British Council to present his or her work to the Royal Institution.

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