Cordyceps for Fat Loss
Cordyceps militarius, Caterpillar fungus, or "Winter worm summer grass" is a popular energy tonic, and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of conditions. Because of its role in enhancing energy, scientists suspected that this multifunctional fungus might be able to promote fat loss, and were pleasantly surprised by the results.
Mice were fed a high fat diet to induce metabolic changes related to obesity, and one group was supplemented with Cordyceps. At the end of the study period, this group of mice had accumulated less fat under the skin, had a better blood lipid profile, and displayed a reduction in fat deposition in the liver that the researchers described as "dramatic".
When the scientists analysed the fungus to find the active constituents responsible for these results, they found that it was a combined effort of at least fourteen different compounds, including two newly discovered in these experiments, acting in a variety of different ways to reduce the uptake of fat.
This exciting research may have uncovered some new weapons in the war against weight gain. It would not be surprising to see cordyceps popping up in fat burners in the future as more research is done into its effectiveness for fat loss on top of its potential as a testosterone support supplement.
Fish Oil for Muscle Strength
Is there anything fish oil doesn't do? Bodybuilders have long speculated that fish oil is good for the muscles, and a new experiment just completed in rats is proving them right.
Scientists supplemented the meals of rats with either saturated, omega-6 or omega-3 fats, as found in fish oil, over eight weeks and measured muscle performance. The rats on the omega-3 diet developed greater muscle tension, used oxygen and glycogen more efficiently, and took longer to succumb to fatigue than the rats fed the other two diets.
It will be interesting to see if this effect holds up in human studies. We think it's good enough to add to the ever growing pile of reasons to supplement with fish oil. Aim for around 1000-6000mg of fish oil per day depending on the level and intensity of exercise.
Prebiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism
Is out metabolism controlled by our gut bacteria? A growing number of scientists think it might be. Taking their lead from emerging research which suggests that too much bad bacteria in the colon might have something to do with health problems like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, researchers did a review of all the previous studies and came up with the intriguing conclusion that taking a prebiotic supplement designed to promote the growth of good bacteria within the gut can reduce blood glucose and insulin levels, and increase feelings of satiety after eating.
These scientists now want to carry out a large-scale human study to learn more about the hard-to-fathom notion that some of the workings of our bodies might be influenced by the army of single celled organisms living inside us. Insulin, apart from telling the cells of the body to take in sugar, is a powerful anabolic. Will the bodybuilders of the future get huge by eating yoghurt? The mind boggles.
While it’s too early to conclusively suggest prebiotics as a preventative method for certain chronic diseases, we do know healthy gut flora is an important factor for good digestive health and foods providing prebiotics such as bananas, whole grains, garlic and honey provide a vast range of other beneficial nutrients.Kim SB, Ahn B, Kim M, Ji HJ, Shin SK, Hong IP, Kim CY, Hwang BY, Lee MK. Effect of Cordyceps militaris extract and active constituents on metabolic parameters of obesity induced by high-fat diet in C58BL/6J mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Nov 11.
Peoples GE, McLennan PL. Long-chain n-3 DHA reduces the extent of skeletal muscle fatigue in the rat in vivo hindlimb model. Br J Nutr. 2013 Nov 11:1-8.
Kellow NJ, Coughlan MT, Reid CM. Metabolic benefits of dietary prebiotics in human subjects: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2013 Nov 13:1-15.