Top 5 fitness science breakthroughs of 2011

by Jeff Clemetson, Editor

As we start the New Year, Steroidology takes a look back at the important scientific studies of 2011 that will impact the way we get in shape in 2012 and beyond. Important studies into weight loss, anti-aging, muscle growth and supplements top this year’s list.

picture of protein powder

Whey powder is proven to build muscle according to a 2011 study.

 #1 Winning with whey’s protein power

In the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, two studies were published that proved what bodybuilders and gym rats have known for a long time – whey protein builds muscle.

The independent studies showed that subjects who ingested whey protein shakes immediately after workouts, showed significantly more muscle mass gains than those who took no protein. These studies also investigated how protein should be ingested after a workout, showing that a large single dose immediately after workouts is far superior to taking small doses over time after workouts. The results showed that consuming whey protein after workouts increased muscle protein synthesis by 33 percent.

#2 Gene tweaking creates mighty mice

The days of taking a pill to become fit without working out are nearly upon us. A joint study by the Salk Institute and two Swiss institutes found a way to manipulate the genome in mice, making them twice as strong without exercise. The scientists were able to locate a genetic inhibitor that may be responsible for deciding our strength. The genome NCoR1 regulates how large our muscles grow and by blocking it, the mice were able to grow muscles twice their normal size.

So far, the science has only worked by manipulating the genes of mice embryos, however the researchers have found no side effects from tweaking the NCoR1 inhibitor and are working on developing chemicals that will act to suppress it in grown adults. This research, besides making us all ripped, can also be used to treat muscular dystrophy and other muscle degenerating diseases.

picture of obese mice

A recently discovered human enzyme has shown potential to speed metabolism in mice.

#3 Human enzyme creates skinny mice

A recent study at Brown University found that the human IKKbeta enzyme increased metabolism and burned fat at prosing levels when introduced to mice. The mice that were engineered to express the human enzyme ate more but gained less weight than the control group of mice who did not receive the enzyme. In addition, the mice with the IKKbeta enzyme had improved insulin function. The study proved that obesity is the main cause of insulin resistance and that the IKKbeta enzyme aids in metabolism. It also discovered that IKKbeta might only effect unwanted fat tissue and not affect other important fat tissues such as the ones found in the liver. These finding are new and research into developing a weight loss drug based on the IKKbeta enzyme are a long way off, but for those seeking a pill to improve metabolism and prevent diabetes, this is a promising lead.

#4 Turning back the clock on your aging body

Two studies published last year backup the claims of many anti-aging experts and give hope and proof to men who want to stay fit for life. The first study looked into the effects of testosterone levels in aging men. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that men over 65 who had more testosterone lost less muscle mass than those with low levels of testosterone. The study looked at 1,183 men over a period of four and a half years. Lead author of the study Erin LeBlanc, MD concluded that the study “adds evidence to the growing body of literature that suggests higher levels of endogenous testosterone may be favorably associated with some key components of healthy aging men.”

picture of older man working out

Working out and testosterone levels have greater impact on health and fitness than age.

The second study, by the KG Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at Norwegian University, found that exercise plays a more important role in health than age. The study followed physically active 50-year-olds and inactive 20-somethings. The study concluded that by increasing exercise, older men could beat back the metabolic syndromes that lead to diabetes, stroke and heart problems. Other findings in the study show that workout intensity is more important than duration and that inactivity for periods of time as a young adult can affect future health greater than previously thought.

#5 Chew your way to loosing weight

A study done by Syracuse University chemist Robert Doyle found that a certain hormone that tells the body that it has a full belly could be ingested orally. The study, published in the online version of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, showed that the PYY hormone that is responsible for telling the brain when to stop eating can be ingested into the bloodstream when it is attached to molecules of vitamin B12. The next step is to make a chewing gum or oral tablet that can be used by people who need help loosing weight. And there you have it – possibly the first real fitness product