ANALYSIS: A New “Magic Bullet” for Good Health Spawns New Diet Scams

dietsFad diets.   Arrrgggh!    The “weight loss” and “diet” industries are enough to drive consumer advocates to drink….or eat… largely because none of them really work.   In fact, that’s the weighty little secret in the diet business…..their benefits are largely short-term, if any at all.   The vast majority simply don’t work unless they include lifestyle changes which are really the key to any weight loss.   Ever wonder why there aren’t two or three really large companies who have proven weight-loss track records?    There’s no Amazon or Target or USAA or General Electric kind of companies in the diet world and its not because there isn’t any money to be made.   Millions upon millions of people spend billions upon billions of their dollars on creams, devices, plans, pills and prepared meals whose one common attribute is that they will NOT deliver long-term weight-loss.   Any well respected company is loathe to enter a business where your product or service is unlikely to work.   Yet, food giant Nestle admits to exploring a new “magic bullet” that could boost healthfulness and reduce weight for millions of people.  Unfortunately, Internet scammers are also at work exploiting the same “magic bullet”.   Here’s the low down on AMPK – the alleged magic bullet.

AMPK Is A Magic Bullet?

A metabolic protein called AMPK (“adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase”) has been labeled a “magic bullet for the health”, not by some slimy marketers but by the world-renowned Salk Institute.  (the slimy marketers use terms like “youth enzyme” or the “youth switch“) Some limited studies have suggested that compounds that activate the protein have health-promoting effects to reverse diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, treat mitochondrial disease — even extend life span.  A relatively small study of Metabolaid suggested some hope that AMPK can be stimulated by some herbs.

Salk scientists have developed a new system that lets them study in more detail than ever exactly how, where and when AMPK carries out its molecular and therapeutic functions. In a study conducted by Salk scientists, lab mice had activated in the liver. Then, they fed a subset of these mice high-fat diets leading to diet-induced obesity and an excess accumulation of fats in the liver. (this is the rodent equivalent to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in humans).  .In both mice with and without NAFLD, levels of fats in the liver dropped when AMPK was activated — new fat production was slowed and existing fats were metabolized. Moreover, when AMPK was activated in mice that were fed a high-fat diet, the mice were protected against weight gain and obesity and had fewer signs of liver inflammation.  Salk’s researchers say the study results indicate that AMPK could potentially be a powerful treatment to a host of diseases in humans.

The Salk findings essentially provide other researchers with some tools that will help science search for the weight loss Holy Grail.   And one company, in particular, is probably jumping at the chance to use these tools.

Nestle Has Hopped Aboard the AMPK Train

About five years ago, food giant  Nestle entered the diet picture.   It has its researchers looking for ways to stimulate AMPK production in the body. Their hope is that this enzyme could, conceptually, turn brisk walking into an activity that generates the metabolic response of 20 minutes of jogging or 40 minutes of cycling.  Nestle’s scientists are now searching for fruit and plant extracts that could act as a trigger for the enzyme. Nestle is a big, well-financed company and their plunge into the diet world would be a major event, if it happens.

And that’s a big IF.   AMPK has been known about for many years.  The trick that no one has mastered has been how to effectively activate AMPK.   Nestle has not even begun clinical trials yet, so it may be a few years or more before you can drink your way to weight loss.   In the interim, if you really want to lose weight, reaching that Holy Grail will involve a journey into a world of exercise (150 minutes a week), stress reduction, discipline, unprocessed foods and reduced carb intake.    If you do that, you’ll be successful.   If not…….well, you’ll have to wait a few years before you can drink your way to weight loss.   Here’s hoping that Nestle’s scientists figure out how to make a red wine version of their AMPK diet potion.

How to Avoid the AMPK Scams

So far, Nestle has been unable to figure out a way to stimulate AMPK production within the body.   But a large group of questionable Internet marketers haven’t let that stop them from promoting AMPK products.   These supplements are usually called “AMPK metabolic activators” and they claim to do what Nestle (and others) have been unable to accomplish.  Please know that there are NO scientific studies that have found pill-based stimulators of AMPK.   None!   However, there is one fairly reliable AMPK stimulator that is free and widely known:  exercise.   Specifically, high-intensity short exercises.   As the Mayo Clinic reports,  high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a proven way of stimulating AMPK in the human body.  A typical HIIT session might include a three-minute warmup, four to six repetitions of a 30-second sprint followed by a 60-second active recovery, and a three-minute cool-down.

So if you want to activate your body’s AMPK levels, some short exercises will do the trick.  But if you want to wait for a pill to accomplish the same, you’ll have to wait until Nestle or some other well-funded company, comes up with a solution.   The supplements currently being hawked on the Internet will only deplete your savings and stimulate your anger.

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