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Research Update: Muscle-Saving Supplements

Leaning out is often accompanied by a subsequent loss in muscle mass (boo!), but two supplement ingredients in particular can help you hold on to your size when you're getting shredded.

Research Update: Muscle-Saving Supplements

By Tim Scheett, PhD – Director of Research, PhD Fitness

If you've ever followed a respectable fat-loss diet and stuck to the plan, you most likely enjoyed seeing a leaner, more shredded physique in the mirror. Unfortunately, there's probably one other thing you noticed: a little bit less muscle than you had before you started leaning out.

You're not alone. People have been sacrificing hard-earned muscle mass for fat loss for as long as guys have been uttering the statement, “I’m gonna bulk up now and then I’ll get shredded in time for summer.”

Are you tired of seeing a significant amount of muscle go away when you get shredded? Then don't let it happen. Instead, hold on to your lean mass while stripping away body fat with two key supplemental ingredients: whey protein and branched-chain amino acids. Jim Stoppani includes these key players in Pro JYM (whey), Pre JYM (BCAAs) and Post JYM (BCAAs) for a reason: Because the last thing he wants to do is lose size when he's getting shredded – and he doesn't want you to either. Jim has been touting the benefits of whey and BCAAs for years, and a pair of recent studies lend even more credibility to his recommendations, specifically for those following fat-loss diets.

Breaking Research

Recently, Dr. Wes Dudgeon and I published two peer-reviewed research papers in the Journal of the International Society for Sport Nutrition (link to study here) and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (link to study abstract here) demonstrating that men taking either whey protein or a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement along with resistance training and following a reduced-calorie diet were able to lose fat mass (i.e. get shredded) while also maintaining or increasing their muscle mass.

It's very common for anyone purposely trying to drop body fat to also lose some muscle mass. Research has shown that this loss of mass can usually be attributed to reduced calories. When calories are reduced and activity level remains the same or increases, the body ends up being in what's known as negative caloric balance, where it's taking in fewer calories than it's burning. Oftentimes the body isn't getting the necessary amounts of amino acids it needs, so after tapping out the body’s free amino acids it will begin to break down its own muscle mass to get the needed protein. When this happens, you end up losing some of that hard-earned muscle you just spent the past several months training your ass off to gain. Who wants that??? Yeah, me neither.

The natural question then becomes: What can I do to keep this muscle I worked so hard to gain? Well, the easiest thing you can do is supplement your weight-loss diet with either whey protein or a BCAA supplement, preferably both. The results of our two studies showed that the use of whey or BCAAs while following a calorie-restricted diet provided the subjects sufficient nutrients to prevent losing muscle mass while at the same time losing body fat.

For these research projects, subjects performed resistance training four days a week for eight weeks using a bodybuilding-style split resistance-training program in conjunction with pre-, during-, and post-training consumption of either whey protein or BCAAs. Control subjects consumed a calorically equal carbohydrate-based nutritional supplement.

At the end of the study, data analyses showed that consuming whey protein in a shake allowed the subjects to lose 5.5 pounds of fat while not losing any of their muscle mass. These changes allowed the subjects to lose 2.7% body fat during the eight-week study. On the other side, subjects that consumed a BCAA

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