Soon there might be a way to build muscle without spending hours at the gym, thanks to researchers from Augusta University. The team found that suppressing the myostatin protein builds muscle mass, which also helps heart and kidney health, according to a release.
The researchers focused on myostatin because it’s already known to inhibit muscle growth. The less of the protein in someone’s body, the more muscle mass they’ll have. Previous research indicates that higher levels of myostatin are associated with obesity. In a former study on lab mice, researchers found that the protein levels gradually decrease with weight loss.
"Given that exercise is one of the most effective interventions for obesity, this creates a cycle by which a person becomes trapped in obesity," said Joshua T. Butcher, Ph.D, a postdoctoral fellow at Augusta University who worked on the study, in the release.
For this study, the team bred lean and obese mice with either uninhibited myostatin production or those that were unable to produce the protein. Mice that didn’t produce the myostatin had higher muscle mass. The obese mice that were unable to produce myostatin had cardiovascular and metabolic health similar to lean mice. The difference was significantly better than obese mice with uninhibited myostatin production.
The team hopes that this effect could be mimicked someday in pill form.
“Ultimately, the goal of our research would be to create a pill that mimics the effect of exercise and protects against obesity,” Butcher said. “A pill that inhibits myostatin could also have applications for muscle wasting diseases, such as cancer, muscle dystrophy and AIDS.”
While this muscle-building supplement isn’t available yet, you can still build muscle by eating protein, eating frequently to keep your metabolism up and getting enough sleep, according to Men’s Fitness.