How to beat Myostatin – The Physiological Restrictor

As Fitness Freaks, the very name of ‘Muscle Growth Inhibitors’ can send people into a tizzy of anxiety. Myostatin, is one such element occurring naturally in the human body. But hey, don’t jump to the conclusion that your muscle building days are done! Instead, let’s read up and try to understand what Myostatin is, and how its negative effects may be bypassed by structured nutrition and supplementation.

Myostatin is a protein found in the blood that inhibits muscle cell growth. Now that sounds like a bad news for people like us who want to gain muscles to get that lean look. Some might be blessed with great genetics and lower levels of myostatin, but for the rest of not-so-lucky people like us, there are some techniques which have shown to decrease its level in the body.

  1. Resistance exercise has been found to be beneficial in reducing the myostatin levels in the body. In a study, 24 healthy men were divided into two groups: resistance exercise (RE) group and control group. Blood samples of both the groups were collected before and 24 hrs after the exercise. There was a significant decrease in plasma myostatin level of the RE group. So, this gives you one more reason to lift weights.
  2. Ageing leads to loss of muscle mass. This concept is known as sarcopenia. A study conducted on mice showed that testosterone supplementation increases muscle mass in healthy old men. In old mice, testosterone treatment efficiently decreased muscle loss and also suppressed age-related oxidative stress through multiple muscle pathways like inhibition of myostatin. And how do we go about testosterone supplementation? Vitamin D and Zinc supplementation can enhance testosterone levels naturally in the body. Foods rich in Vitamin D are tuna, shrimp, eggs, beans etc. and pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc.
  3. Leucine (one of the branched chain amino acids) and creatine have also shown to reverse myostatin-induced atrophy in myotubes (a developmental stage in muscle fibers).
  4. Flavonoids are known for their healthy effects by limiting toxins in the body. Epicatechin is one such polyphenol/flavanol. When administered to old mice in a study, it decreased myostatin by 21% and increased follistatin, which is a myostatin inhibitor, by 56%. In humans, epicatechin is shown to increase bilateral increase in hand strength by 7% in only 7 days, while the follistatin/myostatin ratio increased by 49%. Epicatechin is found in green tea and chocolate. Dark chocolate and 100% Cocoa powder consist of a large amount of Epicatechin. So you can also include some dark chocolate in your diet.
  5. Follistatin supplementation – Follistatin is a protein which inhibits myostatin, and studies show that it may find use in the treatment of muscle atrophy. It helps in increasing lean muscle mass and strength. A study was carried out on humans and used follistatin, which was derived from fertile chicken egg yolk isolate. The results of the study showcased an increase in the muscle mass. With 10-30 grams a day supplementation of follistatin for 8 weeks and after 12 weeks of resistance training, they gained 1.7 kg lean mass, and a 0.2 cm increase in muscle thickness was also witnessed. There was no significant gain in the control group. Needless to say, egg yolks are found to be an excellent source of follistatin.

Hence, even if you aren’t among the blessed few who have low myostatin levels naturally, there is no need to despair the presence of this muscle growth inhibitor. Correcting the nutrition and proper supplementation can help overcome the damaging effects of Myostatin for a long, long time.


Article Courtesy – Akshita Arora