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Birth Control Pills May Stunt Muscle Growth

woman frustrated with weight gain
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Self

Blame your flab on those contraceptives. Hey, at least you aren't pregnant.

In our contraceptive experience, birth control pills have been both cursed and thanked. Damn you for those extra 10 pounds (hiss, hiss) but many thanks for the extra cup size (wink, wink). Makes sense. We are, after all, tricking our bodies into thinking we're pregnant. Why not have a slightly rounded belly to match?

Yet, we've always been told toning up isn't witchcraft—it's biology. Ingest more calories than you burn, voila, it goes right to your hips. Sit all day and avoid physical exertion? Don't be surprised if all that slacking equates into a less than bikini ready body come May.

Well, according to a recent study by Texas A&M University in College Station, birth control pills may be the culprit behind a body that refuses to get toned. Researchers recruited 73 women, all between the ages of 18-31, and had them do identical workouts and eat the same amount of muscle-building protein for ten weeks. At the end of the session they compared and contrasted, and found that ladies who popped oral contraceptives had 60% less new muscle mass generated than those who didn't. Uh oh. But why?

Researchers say these ladies had lower levels of anabolic hormones in their blood (they influence muscle growth) and higher levels or cortisol (the stress hormone), which decrease muscles and encourage flab.

Before you shelve the Yaz for good, take heed. Science doesn't want you to think this is the end all be all. Alas, "future studies are needed to help explain the reasons behind the results."

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