by Dr. David Minkoff August 28, 2019 6 min read
There is a master anabolic switch hidden deep inside your cells. It unlocks rapid muscle growth, stimulates tissue repair, activates your immune system, and generally makes us stronger and more capable.
It’s known as “mTOR.”
You may have heard of it in the bodybuilding and biohacking worlds.
However, this master anabolic switch is not as straightforward as some might like you to believe.
The equation is more complicated than mTOR = more muscle gain.
Like most biology, there’s a give and take. And as it turns out mTOR is also associated with decreased lifespan, cancer, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
So the real question with mTOR is how to activate it responsibly, optimally, so you get the gains without risking your future health.
In this article, you will learn the real deal behind mTOR and how to harness its power for your optimal performance.
Most scientific names of enzymes are the yawn-worthy products of tedious years of lab work.
Not so with mTOR.
The story begins at Rapa Nui, one of the megalithic sites on Easter Island. Back in the 1970s a curious scientist took a soil sample.
Maybe he thought the island’s mystical reputation held healing powers. Who knows.
Eventually, scientists identified an exciting antifungal compound and they named it after the Easter Island site: rapa-mycin.
When they began testing it, they noticed something fascinating. Rapamycin seemed to enhance longevity. Yeasts started living longer. So they tested some other organisms.
Worms lived longer. Flies lived longer. Mice lived longer. [1-4].
Curious, they investigated deeper. Eventually, they found that rapamycin affected one important enzyme that controlled a massive signal pathway inside cells. In fact, this one item was turned out to control the entire process of protein synthesis and cellular growth.
So they called it the “mammalian target of rapamycin”. It’s still clearly named by scientists, but maintains the connected story to that fateful 1970s excursion to Easter Island and Rapa-Nui.
Today, rapamycin is medically used as a powerful immunosuppression to keep patients from rejecting organ transplants. It’s also used as a black market longevity enhancer, but that’s another story .
mTOR is THE central regulator of metabolism and cellular growth. Anything your body builds — muscles, antibodies, liver cells, blood, etc. — all of it is mediated by mTOR.
It acts as a massive signal processor, monitoring and integrating all the different levels of all your biochemical resources: amino acids, fat, ATP, glucose, hormones, everything your body needs to build, synthesize, and grow. [6,7]
Ultimately, all these come from digesting food, so really mTOR measures your food intake. This means anytime you eat something, especially any kind of protein, you activate mTOR.
A cell has two basic drives: making energy and using energy. The technical term for this is catabolic and anabolic.
Catabolic breaks things down and makes energy. Anabolic builds things. This includes immune cells, antibodies, and muscle tissue.
Remember how rapamycin blocks mTOR? That’s why it suppresses the immune system. But it also blocks cellular growth and protein synthesis in general.
When the mTOR anabolic pathway gets shut off, something interesting happens. Autophagy turns on.
Autophagy is a deep cleanse for your cells.
If your cells were a commercial kitchen, mTOR is the chef and autophagy is the cleaning crew and dishwasher. Even the best chef in the world will run into problems if they are using dirty pots and pans, serving up food on plates encrusted with last week’s leftovers.
At the cellular level these leftovers are deformed proteins and biochemical byproducts that, over time, cause disease, and shorten-life span.
That’s why mTOR is associated with things like disease and decreased lifespan –– if it’s on all the time, it makes a bunch of toxic garbage. That’s also why rapamycin increases longevity. By shutting off mTOR, the cleaning crew finally has a chance to clean up the mess and get everything back into working order..
The key takeaway is that Autophagy and mTOR have an inverse relationship. Your cells cannot cook and clean at the same time.
If mTOR is on, autophagy is off.
Because mTOR turns on when you eat a meal, the key to turning mTOR off and activating autophagy is to not eat.
Research shows that calorie restriction, fasting, and even intermittent fasting all shift metabolism towards autophagy [7-9].
In order to achieve optimal health, build muscle, and increase performance while living for longevity, we need to have a deeper understanding of how mTOR really works so we can responsibly activate its muscle-building power.
We need to learn how to create a push-pull dynamic, so we get the best of both worlds: building protein/muscle AND cleaning/detoxifying.
The secret to building muscle is to lower mTOR temporarily and then crank it up later. It can't be “on” all the time.
This means fasting. There are lots of different shades of fasting.
It does not mean 5 days in the desert with no food or water.
There are many benefits to a longer fast, but for this conversation about mTOR we will focus on intermittent fasting.
On the low end this means not eating for at least12 hours, but because it takes your body so long to digest food, the longer the better. The ideal is to fit all of your eating into a 6-8 hour window of time.
So if you eat dinner at 7pm, don’t eat any food until 10 or 11am or so. This will give your body enough time to clean up the kitchen, throw out the garbage and be ready to cook up a whole bunch of new muscle tissue.
Research shows that it responds best to short bursts of activity [10-14].
Shorter bursts of intense exercise create a powerful spike of mTOR activity that stimulates muscle synthesis. The shorter duration limits the activity and gives your body more time to recover and actually do the building of muscle.
That way your body has time to integrate and take action on the signal.
High Intensity Interval Training, weight lifting, and other forms of high-intensity but short duration activities are extremely potent here.
Now here’s where things get really interesting. PerfectAmino does not raise insulin levels. It doesn’t raise glucose.. PerfectAmino has virtually no calories, about 2 per serving (5 tablets). It doesn’t activate digestive enzymes. It doesn’t “turn on” any the usual mechanisms of metabolism.
It is in your blood within 20 minutes of ingestion.
And yet, PerfectAmino is still “anabolic”. The specific formula of PerfectAmino is balanced in such a way that all of the amino acids go into the anabolic pathway.
Usually any kind of protein activates the digestive system, which automatically turns on mTOR and completely shuts down autophagy.
To be clear, there are NO definitive studies on the effects of essential amino acid supplements on mTor activation.
However, based on our knowledge of how the mTor pathway works and how your body metabolizes Perfect Amino, we can make intelligent inferences about what likely happens.
Because PerfectAmino has virtually no calories, about 2 per serving (5 tablets), many of the sensors that regulate mTOR will not be triggered. There is no increase in glucose. Normal digestive processes are not activated by PerfectAmino.
That said, it is likely that some slight activation still occurs because 1% of the amino acids in PerfectAmino still end up in the catabolic pathway and biology is always a little bit messy.
While autophagy may be slightly dampened, it can still do it’s life-lengthening, cell-cleansing work when you take only PerfectAmino in a fasted state.
You gain the benefits of fasting while staying full and providing your body with the necessary amino acids to heal itself.
PerfectAmino gives you the best of both worlds.
By combining all this information, we can reduce this down to an optimal protocol:
With this simple protocol, you ensure you get the long-term health benefits of autophagy while maximizing the muscle-building, immune strengthening action of mTOR.
And all the while providing your body with the raw amino acid materials to detox, heal, build muscle, and create your all-around optimal performance.
by Dr. David Minkoff
Signup for the BodyHealth Newsletter and get a FREE digital copy of "The Search for the Perfect Protien" by Dr. David Minkoff and discover the key to weight loss, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and osteoporosis!