- Follistatin is a protein that you make naturally. Your body uses it to control your metabolism, grow muscle, and boost fertility.
- Increasing follistatin can help you put on muscle very quickly, and may help you burn a significant amount of body fat as well.
- Boosting follistatin may also improve your sexual health.
- You can increase follistatin naturally through diet, or you can use a supplement for more pronounced benefits. Details are below.
Follistatin is a well-kept secret in the bodybuilding community. The science on this valuable protein is still relatively new, but according to limited human research, a follistatin supplement can increase muscle growth up to 200 percent, help you shed body fat, and enhance fertility, whether you’re a man or a woman.
Your body makes follistatin naturally. It’s a protein that activates when you work out, and it plays an essential role in helping your muscles get stronger. If you consciously control your follistatin levels — either by increasing it naturally or with a supplement — you can see much faster results in the gym.
Here’s everything you need to know about follistatin — how it works, how to increase your levels, and the best follistatin supplements.
How follistatin helps you build muscle and burn fat
Have you ever seen a Belgian Blue bull? They’re gigantic and rippling with muscle. Belgian Blues gain muscle and burn fat at an incredible rate, thanks to a genetic mutation that decreases a protein called myostatin. Humans have myostatin too, and it does the same thing in you that it does in a Belgian Blue: it blocks muscle growth. When myostatin is high, your muscles don’t rebuild themselves.
That’s where follistatin comes in. It mimics what Belgian Blues have naturally — it blocks myostatin, which allows your muscles to grow rapidly.
Follistatin also blocks activins, compounds that can slow down your metabolism and harm your reproductive system when they get too high. By blocking activins with follistatin, you can enhance your fertility and increase fat burning.
That’s how it works. Now let’s take a look at the benefits of increasing this protein.
The benefits of follistatin
Follistatin helps you build muscle
In a 2014 study, healthy people took either follistatin or placebo orally for eight weeks, alongside a weight-lifting program. Follistatin suppressed myostatin by 44 percent, which tripled muscle growth.
Another study found that injecting people with epicatechin, a compound that boosts follistatin, increased people’s strength after only a week.
There aren’t any other human studies that use follistatin because it’s so new. There is a fair amount of animal research though. Giving rodents follistatin increases their muscle gain and makes them lose fat, even when they eat a diet designed to make them gain fat. It also boosts strength and muscle growth in monkeys.
It’s worth noting that taking follistatin won’t make you grossly muscular like those cattle. You’ll still produce myostatin when the follistatin wears off. But using it in a targeted way, alongside a workout program, seems to be a recipe for rapid muscle gain.
Follistatin may help you burn fat
There’s no good human research on follistatin and fat-burning. However, two studies have found that giving mice follistatin makes them burn more fat and shrinks their fat cells, even when they eat a diet specifically aimed at making them fatter.
Follistatin could improve fertility — in both men and women
It’s not entirely clear how follistatin affects fertility, but growing evidence suggests that high levels could make you more fertile.
Follistatin inhibits activins, compounds that cause reproductive aging and gradually increase as you get older. High follistatin supports healthy pregnancy and birth, and hormone therapy during menopause recovers decreased follistatin levels, which eases a lot of the side effects of menopause.
This research isn’t quite as clear as the science on follistatin and muscle growth, but it’s possible that boosting it could increase your fertility.
How to increase follistatin naturally
You have two options when it comes to enhancing your follistatin levels: lifestyle changes or a supplement.
You’re best off injecting follistatin as a supplement (see below). If that turns you off, use these tools to increase your follistatin naturally.
Work out while fasted
Exercise, particularly strength training, increases follistatin levels naturally and decreases myostatin, which leads to muscle growth. No surprises there.
If you want an extra follistatin boost, combine a strength workout with intermittent fasting. Healthy men who exercised in a fasted state (no food) saw a big increase in follistatin levels.
Eat fertilized egg yolks
This sounds gross, but it’s perfectly safe, and it’s great for you. Fertilized eggs contain a lot of follistatin. The people who tripled their muscle growth over eight weeks were eating an extract from fertilized eggs.
Eat more epicatechins
Epicatechin is an antioxidant that increases your follistatin levels. You can find epicatechin in a bunch of different foods, including:
- Cacao powder, the best source of epicatechin
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
Add these foods to your diet to increase your follistatin levels.
The most efficient way to increase follistatin is by taking a supplement. The downside is that you have to inject it.
You can find purified follistatin powder online. It’s legal and there don’t appear to be any major side effects to taking it. However, you want to be sure you inject it correctly. Make sure you reconstitute the follistatin using bacteriostatic water and inject it directly into your muscle with a sterile syringe. You can find guides to injecting yourself online, or, if that makes you nervous, you can talk to a doctor, a nurse, or someone else who has had injection training.
There’s no official dose for follistatin, but based on the research cited in this article and on anecdotal reports, 100-300 micrograms is a good dose range.
This is one of the more experimental supplements in biohacking. It shows a lot of promise for muscle growth, but it’s still quite new, and it requires using a needle. Experiment with it at your own risk, and make sure you know what you’re doing if you inject it yourself. Always biohack responsibly.
And if follistatin is a little too out there for you, don’t despair. There are plenty of workout supplements that actually work and don’t require using a needle. Pick one (or several) of them for faster results in the gym.