Want to get - and main­tain a lean physique? These sci­ence-backed life hacks will help you reach you goals.

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - Dwayne N. Jack­son, PH.D.

For most of us, the fit­ness life­style is a means to feel­ing great, liv­ing longer and look­ing fan­tas­tic. One of the best ways to achieve these life mile­stones is to stay lean and mus­cu­lar all year long. Un­for­tu­nately, for many, be­ing lean and mus­cu­lar is a fleet­ing con­di­tion that is re­served for a few months in the sum­mer.

The best as­sur­ance for a suc­cess­ful and life­long body trans­for­ma­tion is to make per­ma­nent (healthy) changes to your diet, mod­ify your daily bad habits, par­tic­i­pate in daily vig­or­ous ex­er­cise and use key sup­ple­ments aimed at sup­port­ing your trans­for­ma­tion goals. In this ar­ti­cle we present three sci­ence-based life hacks — and their sup­port­ing sup­ple­ments — geared to­ward help­ing you achieve and main­tain a lean and mus­cu­lar physique for life.


The im­por­tance of sleep in health and fit­ness can­not be over­stated. Dur­ing slow wave (deep) sleep the body re­leases an abun­dance of growth hor­mone, which re­pairs and builds lean mass while pro­mot­ing fat loss. While sleep­de­pri­va­tion can blunt GH re­lease and neg­a­tively im­pact your physique, re­cent ev­i­dence il­lus­trates that sleep qual­ity also im­pacts hor­mones as­so­ci­ated with hunger and sati­ety (the feel­ing of full­ness), es­pe­cially when di­et­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the data, sleep de­pri­va­tion when di­et­ing dys­reg­u­lates the re­lease of pep­tide hor­mones ghre­lin and glucagon-like pep­tide 1 in the gut. As such, sleep-de­prived men tend to have higher lev­els of ghre­lin (a pep­tide that makes you feel hun­gry) in the morn­ing than women. In con­trast, sleep­de­prived women tend to have lower lev­els of GLP-1 (a pep­tide that makes you feel full) in the af­ter­noon. The take­home mes­sage: If you are di­et­ing, main­tain a nor­mal sleep sched­ule of eight to 10 hours per night and you will find it eas­ier to eat less.

MELATONIN Melatonin is an en­doge­nous com­pound that’s syn­the­sized by the pineal gland and is tra­di­tion­ally used as a sup­ple­ment to ef­fec­tively fa­cil­i­tate sleep. How­ever, re­search from sci­en­tists at Baylor Univer­sity (Waco, Texas) has shown that melatonin not only in­duces deep sleep, but also dra­mat­i­cally in­creases GH se­cre­tion. Fur­ther­more, the ef­fects of melatonin on GH se­cre­tion are even greater af­ter train­ing. Melatonin’s sleep-in­duc­ing and Gh-re­leas­ing prop­er­ties make it the per­fect bed­time sup­ple­ment for ath­letes look­ing to get lean and stay lean. DOSAGE: Stud­ies have shown that doses in the range of 1 to 5 mil­ligrams work best, with the lat­ter pro­mot­ing the great­est GH re­lease.

MUCUNA PRURIENS Mucuna pruriens has been shown to en­hance the night­time re­lease of growth hor­mone. M. pruriens comes from an an­cient In­dian herb called

vel­vet bean, which when in­gested has been shown in many pub­lished in­ves­ti­ga­tions to el­e­vate L-dopa (the pre­cur­sor to dopamine). Sev­eral stud­ies have illustrated the re­mark­able ef­fects of M. pruriens on dopamine re­lease in healthy and dis­eased peo­ple. Dopamine is a key player in the sig­nal­ing for GH re­lease by in­hibit­ing hy­potha­la­mic so­mato­statin se­cre­tion, which leads to greater re­lease of GH by the pi­tu­itary gland. DOSAGE: To sup­port your noc­tur­nal GH surge take ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 mil­ligrams of high-qual­ity M. pruriens (stan­dard­ized to 15 per­cent L-dopa) im­me­di­ately be­fore go­ing to bed.


Most pro­tein rec­om­men­da­tions are based on anec­do­tal ev­i­dence, so some di­eti­tians and physi­cians ques­tion the ϐ to lose fat. How­ever, a study pub­lished in Medicine & Sci­ence in Sports & Ex­er­cise tells us that re­sis­tance-trained ath­letes should con­sume at least 2.3 grams of pro­tein per kilo­gram of body­weight per day in an ef­fort to pre­serve lean mass while di­et­ing and train­ing.

WHEY PRO­TEIN ISO­LATE Whey pro­tein iso­late in­ges ϐ Ǥ ~ Ǧ ϐ whey pro­tein are high­lighted in a clin­i­cal trial pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion and Me­tab­o­lism, in which sub­jects who took a whey pro­tein sup­ple­ment while un­der­go­ing a calo­rie-re­duced diet re­tained twice as much lean mass and burned off nearly twice as much fat mass as the con­trol group (with the same diet). As well, it has been shown in other re­search that drink­ing a whey pro­tein shake be­fore a meal stim­u­lates post-meal hor­mones that con­trol sati­ety and reg­u­late blood-sugar lev­els. DOSAGE: For a day­time pro­tein boost, mix 10 to 20 grams of whey pro­tein iso­late or a whey pro­tein blend with 8 ounces of water and drink it 20 to 30 min­utes prior to break­fast and din­ner.

MICELLAR CA­SEIN In con­trast to whey pro­tein sup­ple­ments, in­ges­tion of micellar ca­sein pro­motes a mod­est, slow and sus­tained (ap­prox­i­mately 7 hours) el­e­va­tion in blood aminoacid lev­els. This unique fea­ture of ca­sein con­trib­utes to an in­crease in pro­tein syn­the­sis and a marked (ap­prox­i­mately 34 per­cent) de­crease in mus­cle break­down. These prop­er­ties make micellar ca­sein es­pe­cially use­ful prior to bed­time and dur­ing pe­ri­ods when fre­quent pro­tein con­sump­tion isn’t pos­si­ble. DOSAGE: For a sus­tained noc­tur­nal pro­tein boost, con­sume 40 to 50 grams of high-qual­ity micellar ca­sein pro­tein 30 min­utes be­fore bed­time.


When it comes to life­long �it­ness, keep­ing your me­tab­o­lism el­e­vated is im­per­a­tive. In ad­di­tion to our sug­ges­tion that you boost your meta­bolic rate with ex­er­cise, we also sug­gest drink­ing four liters (about a gal­lon) of cold water per day. This not only keeps you hy­drated, but also pro­vides a de­cent kick to the me­tab­o­lism. In fact, drink­ing 500 milliliters of cold water in­creases meta­bolic rate by about 30 per­cent for about 30 min­utes, which equates to a to­tal of about 25 calo­ries burned! In males, water-in­duced ther­mo­ge­n­e­sis is ac­com­plished by burn­ing fat, whereas fe­males burn more car­bo­hy­drates. Based on this re­search, you can ex­pect to burn about 200 ex­tra calo­ries per day if you drink four liters of cold water daily, which seems a lot eas­ier than do­ing more car­dio! ACETYL-L-CARNITINE Stud­ies have re­peat­edly demon­strated that dur­ing ex­er­cise there’s a tran­sient de­crease in mus­cle carnitine con­tent, which cor­re­lates highly with a de­crease in fat burn­ing as ex­er­cise pre­vails. Re­search in­di­cates that in­creases in skele­tal mus­cle to­tal carnitine con­tent (e.g., via acetyl-l-carnitine sup­ple­men­ta­tion) re­sults in greater fat-burn­ing ef­fects and de­creased car­bo­hy­drate us­age, even dur­ing rest when there’s high car­bo­hy­drate avail­abil­ity. This is good in that fat is uti­lized as en­ergy be­fore car­bo­hy­drates. As such, it has been sug­gested those who use L-carnitine sup­ple­ments burn greater amounts of fat dur­ing ex­er­cise than those who don’t. DOSAGE: For best re­sults, take 1.5 to 2 grams of acetyl-lcar­ni­tine be­tween meals.

GREEN-TEA EX­TRACT In a dou­ble-blind and placebo-con­trolled study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Sports Nu­tri­tion, sci­en­tists from the UK re­ported that green-tea ex­tract sup­ple­men­ta­tion en­hanced to­tal fat ox­i­da­tion dur­ing cy­cling ex­er­cise by al­most 25 per­cent, with no changes noted in those who took the placebo. Fur­ther­more, they mea­sured greater body-fat loss and a 10.9 per­cent im­prove­ment in ex­er­cise per­for­mance in those who took GTE ver­sus those who took the placebo. DOSAGE: To get 25 per­cent more fat burn­ing from your work­out ses­sions, take 500 to 1,000 mil­ligrams of green-tea ex­tract stan­dard­ized for epi­gal­lo­cat­e­chin gal­late (aka EGCG) two or three times per day. For best fat-burn­ing ef­fects, al­ways take one dose 30 min­utes prior to do­ing car­dio. 



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