Weight lifting? Your Fat Cells Want a Word


Before and after this process, the researchers drew blood, biopsied the tissues, centrifuged the fluids, and looked for vesicles and other molecular changes in the tissues microscopically.

They took a lot of notes. Prior to improvised weight training, rodent leg muscles were filled with a particular piece of genetic material known as miR-1 that modulates muscle growth. In normal, untrained muscles, miR-1, one of a group of small strings of genetic material known as microRNAs, curbs muscle formation.

However, after the rodents’ resistance exercise consisting of walking around, the animals’ leg muscles appeared to be depleted of miR-1. At the same time, the vesicles in the bloodstream and nearby fatty tissue were brimming with substances. The scientists concluded that the animals’ muscle cells somehow inserted microRNA fragments that retarded hypertrophy into vesicles and sent them to neighboring fat cells, which then allowed the muscles to grow immediately.

But the scientist wondered what miR-1 was doing when it got to the oil? To find out, they marked vesicles from weight-trained mice with a fluorescent dye, injected them into untrained animals, and traced the paths of glowing bubbles. The scientists found that the vesicles located on the oil dissolved and deposited the miR-1 cargo there.

After a short time, some genes in the fat cells went into overdrive. These genes help direct the breakdown of fat into fatty acids that other cells can use as fuel, reducing fat stores. In fact, weight training shrunk fat in mice by creating vesicles in the muscles, which, through genetic signals, told them it was time to break down the fat itself.

Graduate student Ivan J. Vechetti Jr. “The process was phenomenal,” said John J. McCarthy, a professor of physiology at the University of Kentucky, who, along with his colleagues and co-author of the study, said.

But mice are not humans. So, as a final aspect of the study, the scientists collected blood and tissue from healthy men and women who did a single strenuous low-body weight workout and confirmed miR-1 levels in the volunteers’ muscles, as in mice. decreased after removal, the amount of miR-1-containing vesicles in the bloodstream increased.

Of course, the study mostly involved rats and was not designed to tell us how often or intensely we should lift to maximize vesicle output and fat burning. But even so, the results said that “muscle mass is vitally important to metabolic health,” and that every time we lift weights, we start building that mass and making our tissues talk.


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