"Weight Training" Reduces Fat and Improves Metabolism in Mice
ScienceDaily (Feb. 7, 2008) â€” Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have demonstrated that in mice, the use of barbells may be as important to losing weight and improving health as the use of running shoes. The discovery builds upon the fact that skeletal muscle consists of two types of fibers. Endurance training such as running increases the amount of type I muscle fibers, while resistance training such as weightlifting increases type II muscle fibers. Using a mouse genetic model, BUSM researchers demonstrated that an increase in type II muscle mass can reduce body fat which in turn reduces overall body mass and improves metabolic parameters such as insulin resistance. These studies indicate that weight bearing exercise, in addition to endurance training, may benefit overweight people.
Researchers used a genetic trick in obese mice that caused the mice's muscles to bulk up as though they had been lifting weights. The researchers found that the "genetically reprogrammed" mice lost fat and showed other signs of metabolic improvement throughout the body. What's more, those benefits were seen even though the mice continued eating a diet high in both fat and sugar and didn't increase their physical activity at all.
The researchers genetically engineered a mouse, called the MyoMouse, to grow type II fibers by activating a muscle growth-regulating gene. The gene, called Akt1, was engineered in such a way that it could be turned on and off at will by researchers. Even without exercise, activating the gene made the MyoMouse physically stronger. When the gene was de-activated, the mouse returned to its original strength. While stronger and faster than a regular mouse, the MyoMouse did not run with as much endurance on a treadmill, a finding that is consistent with the growth of type II rather than type I muscle. These findings demonstrate that the mouse was genetically programmed to have the characteristics of a lean and powerful sprinter rather than those of a gaunt marathon runner.
"We've shown that type II muscle does more than allow you to pick up heavy objects," said Kenneth Walsh of Boston University School of Medicine. "It is also important in controlling whole-body metabolism."
In the study, the Akt1 gene was turned off and the MyoMice were fed a high fat/high sugar diet with a similar caloric composition as a meal from a fast food restaurant. Over an eight-week period, the mice became obese and insulin resistant and developed fatty acid deposits in their liver, a condition referred to as hepatic steatosis or fatty liver disease.