Many of our articles have been about different ways and means to increase muscle mass with the most well-known methods being increasing testosterone and nitric oxide production. According to the research, when nitric oxide synthesis is increased in the body, you experience an improvement in energy levels, blood circulation and nutrient delivery which helps reduce fatigue and improve your workout performance. As for increasing testosterone levels, you will experience an increase in masculine attributes which include muscle growth, energy levels, mood, and workout endurance.
This article will be a discussion on Cholesterol and its relationship with muscle gain and bodybuilding. So, let’s get started with the facts and evidence:
What Does The Research Say About Cholesterol And Bodybuilding?
Most of the internet will say that having high levels of Cholesterol is bad for your heart health due to the plaque that builds up in the arteries, causing clogs and heart attacks. However, a study conducted in 2007 by Riechman from Texas A&M University found that an increase in dietary Cholesterol intake showed an increase in lean body mass. This study was conducted over a 12-week period where 49 elderly participants were prescribed strength training programs with the levels of fat and proteins being controlled.
Another study in 2007 by Riechman & Gasier found muscle growth and strength to increase with Cholesterol intake. The study was repeated in 2008 but found that Cholesterol affected strength development positively but didn’t affect lean body mass.
In 2009, Iglay from the Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, Indiana found no effect of Cholesterol intake on strength development and muscle mass. However, some critics have suggested that the study didn’t have sufficient statistics due to them not finding any affect of protein intake on strength development and muscle mass either.
Later, a 2011 study by Lee from the Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, Texas was performed to compare two groups of young adults who were given high and low Cholesterol Diets. The individuals who ate a high Cholesterol diet where found to have an improved muscle growth when compared to those with a low Cholesterol diet.
Other studies have also shown that statins which reduce Cholesterol levels in the body can negatively impact muscle growth with some individuals experiencing myopathy, myositis and even rhabdomyolysis. This may also be the reason meats are promoted for muscle gain as they contain more Cholesterol content in animal lipids that in plant-based lipids.
How Does Cholesterol Help With Muscle Gain?
While most of the information online talks about the adverse effects of Cholesterol in the blood, it should be known that they are almost always talking about the ‘bad’ LDL Cholesterol. As for the benefits of Cholesterol for muscle gain, here they are:
- Cholesterol helps muscle cell versatility and reduced inflammation response during damage while working out by improving membrane stability and viscosity.
- Cholesterol improves the control over the inflammation caused by muscle damage during workouts which can help increase immune cells that enhance muscle recovery and repair.
- Cholesterol helps boost production of IGF-I, mTOR and other growth factors by improving lipid raft formation.
- Cholesterol is also a precursor for testosterone production which can help promote muscle gain.
In simple terms, Cholesterol works to improve your muscle cells’ damage resistance while boosting the muscle cells’ post-workout recovery and repair, helping to build lean muscle mass.
What About The Relationship Between Cholesterol And Health Problems?
Most of us think that eating high-Cholesterol foods will cause our heart arteries to become blocked, leading to a heart attack. But the fact of the matter is that our bodies can effectively regulate Cholesterol level, meaning that the diet you eat doesn’t affect the amount of Cholesterol in the blood. If you eat a diet which is deficient in Cholesterol, your body can improve the absorption and even produce more Cholesterol to keep levels regulated.
What needs to be understood is that the Cholesterol produced and regulated by the body includes both the ‘good’ HDL and ‘bad’ LDL Cholesterol in the same proportions, making the increase in cholesterol levels safe. There has also been a study conducted by Lecerf from Nutrition Department, Institut Pasteur de Lille, France found that “Epidemiological studies have not shown any relationship between cardiovascular risk and dietary Cholesterol intake.”
Conclusion Regarding Cholesterol And Muscle Gain:
After researching this topic, it’s clear that there is a link between Cholesterol intake and muscle gain. According to the experts, the average male should include 400 mg of Cholesterol every day with the intake being of 7.2 mg dietary Cholesterol for every kilogram of lean body mass you have. You should also remember that Cholesterol is naturally regulated with the ratio between HDL and LDL being proportional. So, if you have been wondering why your Low Fat, Low Cholesterol diet wasn’t helping to gain muscle, you now have your answer.
Mikael is a health nutrition expert and loves mountain biking. Mikael started his health product research journey about 6 years ago and still loves doing it. Apart from spending time on his study, research & literature, he plays basketball regularly and is a fitness freak.