Researchers have identified a substance in blood that is produced when people exercise. Researchers analyzed blood plasma compounds in mice who had just finished intense treadmill running. They found a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe, derived from lactate. Lactate is the chemical that is responsible for the burning sensation in muscles after a strenuous workout. The substance also reduces food intake and decreases obesity in mice.
In mice with diet-induced obesity (fed a high-fat diet), a high dose of Lac-Phe suppressed food intake by about 50% compared to control mice over a period of 12 hours without affecting their movement or energy expenditure. When administered to the mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced cumulative food intake and body weight (owing to loss of body fat) and improved glucose tolerance.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Stanford Medicine were interested in the effects of exercise at the molecular level. They wanted to identify blood chemistry changes due to exercise.
“Regular exercise has proven to help weight loss, regulate appetite and improve the metabolic profile, especially for people who are overweight and obese,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Yong Xu, professor of pediatrics- nutrition and molecular and cellular biology at Baylor. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, then we are closer to helping many people improve their health.”
If pharmaceutical companies could synthesize the compounds found in blood after an intense workout they could possibly mimic the benefits of exercise in a pill or injection. This isn’t necessarily just about people too unmotivated to exercise:
“For example, older or frail people who cannot exercise enough, may one day benefit from taking a medication that can help slow down osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions.”
The research was published in the Journal Nature.