Login | September 18, 2021

Resistance training stimulates fat burning

Pete’s World

Published: September 13, 2021

For years now I’ve been writing about how resistance exercise can actually be just as viable a modality in burning fat as cardiovascular exercise and be darned if there isn’t another study that’s come along to offer some brand new and revealing perspectives on this issue.
According to the findings from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and College of Health Sciences there’s good data to support the supposition that resistance exercise has unique benefits for fat loss.
The study, Mechanical Overload-Induced Muscle-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Promote Adipose Tissue Lipolysis, published on May 25, 2021 in the FASEB (Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology) Journal, found that “resistance-like exercise regulates fat cell metabolism at a molecular level.”
Now what’s so interesting about this study is that it adds a whole new dimension to how skeletal muscle communicates with other tissues and that’s by using extracellular vesicles.
Extracellular what? Extracellular vesicles––incredibly small “communicative” particles, of which researchers initially believed aided in ridding the body of certain proteins, fats and RNA.
This study though postulates that these extracellular vesicles also play a role in intercellular communication, more specifically in providing fat cells with genetic instructions to move into a fat burning situation.
So in a nutshell the study provides the first explanation of how resistance training initiates metabolic adaptations in fat tissue. And when they talk about resistance training initiating metabolic adaptations in fat tissue, they’re not just talking about weight lifting that involves slinging around super heavy weights. The resistance training, or mechanical loading as they call it, can entail the use of free weights, resistance bands, machines, body weight, etc., in any combination of sets, reps, recovery periods and frequencies. It’s purely the act of mechanically loading the muscle tissue that initiates the aforementioned biological processes. All of this underscores how vast and interconnected the internal effects of exercise can be on the human body.
Now in my opinion one of the crucial takeaways from this study that’s not mentioned concerns the general misconception regarding resistance training, which paints the activity as more of a muscle building (hypertrophic) endeavor. When in reality this and a number of previous studies have shown there to be ample evidence to indicate that resistance training not only reshapes our muscles, but it also helps to reshape our metabolisms.
Now prior to this study researchers had been struggling to figure out just what the process is that tends to bump up metabolisms in individuals who participate in resistance training programs. Thus the Kentucky researchers began their study with a hypothesis that something must be happening at the molecular level immediately after resistance workouts that ends up targeting fat cells. And their hypothesis was supported by years of data that suggest cells and tissues communicate across the vastness of our bodies.
Such cellular communication has been termed cellular crosstalk. And as I mentioned earlier, those crafty little extracellular vesicles, once considered nothing more than microscopic refuse collectors, well, they just may be playing a very critical role in some of this cellular crosstalk. Because when released into the bloodstream, they relay biological information from one tissue to another, like tiny biological bicycle messengers.
This study initially began with mice, and when the results revealed some startling discoveries researchers transitioned to people, gathering the blood and tissue from healthy men and women who had performed a single, intensive lower-body weight workout. The human study results paralleled the mouse study results, establishing that miR-1 levels (one of a group of tiny strands of genetic material known as microRNA that modulates muscle growth) in the muscles dropped after resistance training, while the volume of miR-1-containing vesicles soared in the bloodstream and nearby fat tissues.
Researchers postulate that muscle cells somehow fill those vesicles with bits of microRNA that retard hypertrophy and send them off to neighboring fat cells, which then allow the muscles to grow. BUT, the much bigger story here concerns what that miR-1 is doing to the fat tissue. And it appears that when those vesicles deliver the miR-1 information to the fat tissue some of the genes in the fat cells go into overdrive, directing the breakdown of fat into fatty acids. Thus, other cells can subsequently utilize those fatty acids as fuel, thereby reducing the body’s fat stores.
Yup, the science behind resistance training is far more complicated than we once presumed. And as research is proving, the benefits of resistance training now span the gamut from muscle building to fat-burning. I’d say that’s a win-win.