Cinnamon To Get Swole

New research from France suggests you should start sprinkling cinnamon on more than just your oatmeal. The study, published in PLOS ONE, examined the effects of cinnamon on overweight subjects and the affect the spice exerted on their insulin sensitivity. Subjects were given approximately 460 milligrams of Cinnamomum cassia extract a day for four months. By the end of the four months, the subjects did experience lower blood glucose levels in the morning, but the researchers were surprised to find that they had added, on average, a bit more than two pounds of muscle.

The scientists feel they need more information on different doses and types of cinnamon before declaring it a muscle-building marvel. Since there really is no downside to cinnamon, try adding it to your protein shakes, coffee, and even as part of a dry rub on grilled steaks.

Melatonin For Fat Loss

A new study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology indicates that regular use of a melatonin supplement results in a leaner, more muscular body. Long used to improve sleep by regulating circadian rhythms, melatonin has several other health-promoting properties. A group of older subjects was given a small daily dose of melatonin (either one milligram or three milligrams) every day for a year.

At the end of the year they had lost significantly more fat and added slightly more muscle than the control group who did not take the supplement. The group who was given the three-milligram dose lost more fat than those who took one milligram, but both losses were significant. (An average adult dose is usually five milligrams a day.) Scientists believe that the improved body composition is due to melatonin’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity.

No Pain = No Muscle Gain

Delayed onset muscle soreness is an occupational hazard to hard training, especially after some time off from the weights. Bodybuilders and athletes have been mixing weights and Advil for years, but new information suggests that this can actually inhibit hypertrophy.

A literature review published by the Department of Health Sciences at Lehman College, New York, shows that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil and Aleve may impair the adaptive response to exercise. NSAIDs work by inhibiting the action of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes, which scientists believe plays an important role in muscle growth. While occasional use doesn’t seem to have any ill effect, eating them like Pez can be detrimental to bigger muscles.

Instead, manage your inflammation with adequate intake of protein and fish oil, proper hydration, and daily self-myofascial release.

Stretch The Truth

There are better things to do between sets than check your Instagram. Scientists in Brazil discovered that when athletes stretched a muscle between sets of weight training, the antagonist muscle group—the muscle group being trained (not stretched)—gets stronger and more muscle fibers are recruited during exercise.

The subjects in the study, which was published in the journal Research In Sports Medicine, were experienced weight lifters who passively stretched their pectoralis muscles for 40 seconds between sets of a 10-rep maximum of a seated row. In the experiment, the group who stretched between sets were able to complete significantly more reps than the group who didn’t stretch.

Take A Tryp

You probably know of tryptophan as an essential amino acid that is infamously found in turkey. According to your uncle, it’s the reason why he falls asleep after Thanksgiving dinner every year (that and the two bottles of wine he drinks). In fact, tryptophan is known to improve sleep and boost mood through its ability to elevate serotonin levels in the brain. A recent study seems to shows that it also helps you build muscle and lose fat. Animal research published in the journal Amino Acids described how rats who were given extra tryptophan enjoyed reduced fat deposition and increased oxidation of fatty acids. The scientists also found evidence of increased protein synthesis in the tryptophan group as well as reduced catabolism of dietary amino acids.

 

Vitamin D-Mand

The reasons to take vitamin D just keep adding up. Not only are most Americans deficient in this important nutrient (which is nearly impossible to get from food), but new research shows that the fat-burning effects of high-intensity interval training are increased when combined with vitamin D. Published in the Journal Of Exercise Nutrition And Biochemistry, the experiment examined four groups of subjects: one trained and took vitamin D, another just trained, a third only took the supplement, and a fourth did nothing. After 12 weeks, the two group who exercised both experienced significant fat loss, but the subjects who also supplemented lost more fat off their gut than the other groups. The vitamin D group also saw the greatest improvement in lean body mass, insulin sensitivity, and blood lipid profiles.

Just Your Cup Of Tea

A mug of coffee or green tea might be the next big thing when it comes to post-workout beverages. A study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research examined the fat-burning effects of ingesting caffeine and polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) after an intense 30-minute sprint interval workout. In the hours after the workout, the subjects who consumed the combo burned significantly more calories and oxidized more fat stores than the placebo group. It should be noted that the supplement group also experienced elevated blood pressure and heart rate after the workout as well. Coffee is a convenient source of both caffeine and polyphenols, as is green tea, albeit not as strong as coffee. Cocoa powder, dark-red berries, sweet cherries, and plums are also loaded with polyphenols and can be easily tossed into a post-workout shake.

Skipping Workouts

How many times can you play hooky from the gym and not lose your gains? It’s a question that comes up every holiday, anniversary, or vacation. A study in the Asian Journal Of Sports Medicine sought to find that magic line of demarcation. The study followed 90 male college students who followed a total-body workout program for 11 weeks. At the end of the program, the results were sorted into three groups based on attendance. The groups who only missed five percent or 15 percent of the workouts made similar progress in how much weight they could bench press. However, the group who missed 25 percent of the workouts made significantly less progress. The leaders of the study theorize that you can miss 20 percent of workouts and not risk losing very much of what you have been able to build.

Upper Chest Quest

Many people have said it: You can’t do too much upper-chest work. It’s an area of the body that can almost always be improved. One way to improve it is through push-ups. But not just any push-ups: flexed trunk push-ups. Sports researchers at Inje University in South Korea investigated the difference in muscle activation between standard push-ups and flexed trunk push-ups, when the subject keeps the lower body at a 30-degree angle. Instead of a flat back, the glutes are pushed toward the ceiling in a modest pike position. By measuring the electrical activity in the muscle groups, the scientists found that this variation of push-up elicited far more response in the muscle fibers of the upper chest and serratus anterior than a traditional push-up. Conversely, the traditional push-up created more stimulation in the lower pecs than the flexed-trunk push-up.

Fat-Eating Bugs

A study published in the International Journal Of Food Sciences And Nutrition examined the role of probiotics, the good bacteria that resides in your gut, on acquiring a lean physique. Scientists pored over the results of 25 different human trials and the impact probiotics have on bodyweight and BMI in healthy adults. They found that probiotics clearly reduced bodyweight when subjects consumed more than one type of probiotic for at least eight weeks, they experienced an even greater increase in weight loss. Probiotics also provide other health benefits and can help boost the immune system. When buying a probiotic supplement, look for a product that contains at least 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose.