Training

Muscle Cell Sensitivity and Building Lean Mass


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We find ourselves again dealing with insulin, as always is the case, and how to manipulate this powerful hormone for our benefit. Here’s a quick overview: insulin is released in response to carbohydrates in our diet; when increased insulin levels are in the blood stream, cells begin storing nutrients. This ‘storing up’ is referred to anabolic metabolism, and insulin is the most potent hormone for this process.

Muscle and fat cells use the same receptors to bring these nutrients from the blood stream into the cell (more on that later), when insulin spikes occur away from workout or early in the day, there’s a higher risk of nutrients being stored in fat cells. The result, larger fat cells and malnourished muscle cells, the opposite of what you’re looking for. This is a progressive process where the adipose tissue continues growing until you do something to reverse it.

How do you avoid this? Learn to increase muscle cell sensitivity by doing three simple things. 1. Lift Heavy Weights 2. Avoid carbs until after you train, then eat lots of them. 3. Take Creatine.

[quote]“Regardless of age, muscle cell sensitivity can be reduced or increased.  Eat the bulk of your daily carbohydrates within the few hours after training and watch your body composition improve.”[/quote]

The receptors alluded to earlier that are responsible for getting nutrients into muscle and fat cells are called GLUT transporters. There are four types of GLUT transporters in the body, 1-3 deal with organs, therefore the one we care about is the fourth one, GLUT 4.  Fat and muscle cells share this transporter so manipulating GLUT 4 is major part of making sure that nutrients get into muscle cells rather than fat cells, at any point of the day. (This information was taken from DangerouslyHardcore.com, written by author John Kiefer)

Muscles are the only thing in our bodies that facilitate movement, when we move, glucose is used and a vacuum for this nutrient (along with many others) is created. Resistance training, more than anything humans can do increases muscle cell’s insulin sensitivity. Just to clarify real quick, the resistance training I’m talking about isn’t cardio or kickboxing, it’s the heavy squatting, benching and deadlifting – men and women alike will benefit from this.  Do it right and you’re sweating everywhere and all you’ve done is walk under the bar and back again.

Heavy resistance training increases metabolic rate, establishes oxygen debt, creates a glucose deficit in muscle cells, and most importantly it causes GLUT 4 transporters to be more receptive in muscle cells than fat cells. What does this mean? Heavy weight training is the catalyst to making your muscles like a sponge for the body’s most anabolic substance: insulin.

Avoiding carbs until post workout is very important in improving lean muscle mass and muscle cell sensitivity throughout the day. Before workouts, you don’t want any major insulin spikes occurring, meaning keep carb intake a minimum. In doing this your body will use the nutrients stored in fat cells as a fuel source for your body.  Early in the day cortisol levels are higher and if combined with an insulin spike as well the result is the making of new fat cells. This creates a domino effect of new fat cell growth and absorption. Avoid this.

As described above, training creates a situation where you use muscles to contract and move weight, which creates a glucose deficiency in muscle cells and causes GLUT4 transporters to be much more receptive (there’s an entire process going on here I will spare you from) to insulin and therefore the nutrients in the blood stream.1 And how do you spike insulin? By eating carbohydrate rich foods. Immediately after workout, drink a quick digesting liquid carb, protein, creatine shake. Your highly sensitive muscle cells will store these nutrients exactly where you are aiming for.

Finally, take Creatine. No you don’t need Super Jacked 3,000 in order to get the benefits, the basic monohydrate will do. Creatine has so many benefits from recovery, to increasing anaerobic muscle potential (being strong from 1-7 seconds), and increasing insulin sensitivity in muscles. Where it applies to muscle cell sensitivity is its regulation of myostatin. Myostatin is the catabolic regulator of lean muscle mass, meaning it breaks muscle down. Creatine significantly reduces the activity of myostatin in muscle cells, meaning more cell growth and muscle cell creation.2 When this occurs muscle cells begin to dominate fat cells in absorption rates.  Fat cells shrink, muscles perform better and your body looks and performs like you want it to.

Do these three things, no matter what level you are on, beginner or professional and you will see improvements in performance, recovery, and body composition.

[note_box]1. Hayashi T, Wojtaszewski JF, Goodyear LJ. Exercise regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle.  Am J Physiol. 1997 Dec;273(6 Pt 1):E1039-51.[/note_box]

[note_box]2. Saremi A, Gharakhanloo R, Sharghi S, Gharaati MR, Larijani B, Omidfar K. Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1.  Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Apr 12;317(1-2):25-30. Epub 2009 Dec 22.[/note_box]

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