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Muscle Pain and the Fat-Burning Chain

Pushing hard can burn off the lard

‘No pain, no gain’ is a motto that has historically guided athletes in their quest for superior performance. Recent discoveries have demonstrated that the old-fashioned approach may also work very well for individuals who wish to lose fat, including the most stubborn kind.

Recent studies at the school of medicine at RMIT University in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, revealed that muscle pain during exercise may be an important indicator of a profound fat-burning effect. The researcher found that working muscles release a certain chemical that increases fat burning, or lipolysis, during intense exercise. The chemical, called interleukin-6 (IL6), belongs to a family of proinflammatory immuno-compounds known as cytokines. They are released during muscle inflammation, which is also associated with muscle pain.

Previous studies established that IL6 induces lipolysis when administrated to humans. That led scientists to believe that it’s released from skeletal muscles during intense exercise to act in a hormonelike manner and increase lipolysis from fat tissue to supply the muscles with fat fuel. Scientists found that the increased plasma level of IL6 stimulated fat burning even when fat burning was intentionally suppressed by drugs. The studies show that suppressing lipolysis and a subsequent fatty acid release during exercise by administering high doses of niacin (10 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight) before exercise resulted in a compensatory eightfold elevation of IL6.

In theory, that can work as a potential stimulator for delayed but explosive fat burning, and indeed it may help break down stubborn fat tissue. So another training truism may be ‘no pain, no fat burn.’ For that matter, incorporating high intensity along with higher volume’that is, doing many heavy, low-rep sets’and taking minimum rest between sets may be painful, but it may also be the most effective way to increase muscle swelling and stimulate massive fat burning without aerobics.

Note that taking high doses of niacin may cause unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes and tingling sensations in the skin. Though niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is widely used with a relatively high rate of safety, it’s best to ask your physician before taking a high dose. IM

Editor’s note: Ori Hofmekler is the author of the books The Warrior Diet and Maximum Muscle & Minimum Fat, published by Dragon Door Publications ( For more information or for a consultation, contact him at [email protected], or by phone at (866) WAR-DIET.

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