How to increase your mitochondrial density
Ok, so now we know what mitochondria and why it’s good to increase their number. The next logical question is: what do we need to do in order to increase their number? Lucky for us, there are several studies that have examined this and gave conclusive results. Both strength and endurance training trigger an increased fatty acid oxidation capacity which directly correlates with increased mitochondrial density.
The higher the energy demand by the muscles, the higher demand for the mitochondria to provide it. Low-volume high-intensity interval training (HIIT) also increases mitochondrial biogenesis. Within 24 hours of intense workout session, new mitochondria were being created. The intensity of your workout session and the energy demand it places on the muscles in one of the major triggers to increase mitochondrial density.
A mix of both resistance and endurance training will cause a drastically higher rate of mitochondrial biogenesis than doing only endurance training. What are the main takeaway points of this study? If you want an efficient fat loss, include both resistance training and cardio exercises into your workout program. Even though one study defined cardio exercise as one hour of cycling at 65% of maximal oxygen consumption, it can be said that a combo of resistance training and HIIT is superior to resistance training and steady-state cardio in regards to increasing mitochondrial biogenesis.
Supplementing with BCAAs (Branched-chain amino acids) was also shown to increase mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscles. BCAAs are actually three of the nine essential amino acids for humans. These essential amino acids can’t be created by the human body and therefore must be consumed via your diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and also the reason why protein is one of the three essential macro-nutrients. Consuming around 0.8-1 gram of protein per pounds of lean body weight is deemed enough for triggering biogenesis.
As a summary, based on numerous studies, if your goal is to increase mitochondrial density and as a result increase the rate of fatty acid oxidation or fat loss, focus your training program around strength training and HIIT, and eat a diet which is rich in protein and low-glycemic carbs.