Scientists are researching how to pack the benefits of exercise into a weight loss pill

A scientific team has identified a molecule in the blood that is produced during sports training and that can effectively reduce food intake and obesity, according to a study published this Wednesday (June 15, 2022) in the journal Nature.

The physiological processes that underlie the interaction between exercise and hunger are not yet well known. To change this, the research team is focusing on understanding how exercises work at the molecular level to capture some of their benefits.

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“It’s proved that regular exercise helps to lose weight, regulates appetite and improves the metabolic profile, especially in overweight and obese people. If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise causes these benefits, then we will be closer to helping many people improve their health, “said Yong Xu, co-author of the study and a professor at Baylor Medical College.

“Older or weak people who can’t move enough can one day benefit from taking medicine which can help reduce osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions, “added co-author Jonathan Long of Stanford University.

The effects of the Lac-Phe molecule in mice

To reach their conclusions, the scientists conducted a comprehensive analysis of the compounds of blood plasma on some mice after intense treadmill running.

The main induced molecule is a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe, synthesized from lactate (a byproduct of intense exercise that is responsible for the burning sensation in muscles) and phenylalanine (an amino acid that is one of the building blocks of proteins).

In mice with obesity caused by diet (fed a high-fat diet), a high dose of Lac-Phe suppressed food intake by approximately 50% for a period of 12 hours without affecting movement or expenditure.

When administered to mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduces cumulative food intake and body weight (due to weight loss) and improves glucose tolerance.

To continue their research, the researchers also studied the sharp rise in Lac-Phe plasma levels after physical activity in racehorses and humans. Recorded data from human exercise show that sprinting, for example, causes the strongest increase in plasma Lac-Phe, followed by endurance training.

“This suggests that Lac-Phe is an ancient and preserved system that regulates food and is related to physical activity in many animal species, “Long said.

“Our next steps include finding out more details about how Lac-Phe mediates its effects in the body, including the brain,” Sue said. “Our goal is to learn how to modulate this path of therapeutic intervention exercises.”

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