It could be the ultimate diet – all the benefits of going to the gym, in a drink.
Nestle has revealed it is developing ‘exercise in a bottle’.
It hopes to create a drink or pill that burn fat in the same way that a workout does.
The world’s biggest food company, Nestle is better known for KitKat candy bars and Nespresso capsules,
Scientists at the firm’s Geneva HQ say they have identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13.
The findings were published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology, and are a potential first step in developing a way to mimic the fat-burning effect of exercise.
The goal is to recreate the effect of exercise in a pill or drink.
It will initially be aimed at people with limited mobility due to old age, diabetes or obesity, Kei Sakamoto, the scientist who oversees research on diabetes and circadian rhythms at Nestle, said
His group of researchers looked at how the master regulator of the body’s metabolism, an enzyme called AMPK, is controlled at the molecular level.
‘AMPK is a key protein in every single cell in your body and is naturally activated by exercise.
‘It monitors your energy status, like a fuel gauge in a car, and tells you to fill up when your energy is low,’ Professor Sakamoto said.
AMPK’s role is important as energy is needed for all the key physiological processes in the body, from secreting a hormone to moving a muscle and even brain function.
‘Our research has revealed new knowledge about this master switch.
‘In some conditions, such as diabetes, the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin and muscle cells reject the message about their need to take up glucose.
‘However, even under such medical conditions, AMPK can find an alternative way and take up glucose in muscle,’ Prof Sakamoto said.
‘Ideally, we’ll be able to develop products that will help promote and augment the effects of exercise.
He cautioned, however, that no product would ever simply replace exercise.
‘Exercise has so many different effects – a cognitive role and physiological function – we’ll never be able to mimic all those effects in a single product,’ he said.
Ed Baetge, Head of the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, said it was key to understand how to apply the basic knowledge.
‘The next stage is to identify natural substances that can influence this molecular mechanism.
‘This could lead to the development of new dietary approaches with targeted effects on the body that, like exercise, could help in addressing metabolic problems and maintaining a healthy energy balance,’ he said.
Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, told Bloomberg points out others have tried to develop fat-burning products before, to no avail.
‘A successful attempt in producing metabolic-assisting foods that mimic exercise would be marvelous — the holy grail,’ Sattar said by telephone. ‘But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So far no such product has ever passed clinical trials.’
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