Sounds pretty interesting to me. But interesting in a ‘that just sound plain wrong’ way, not the ‘oh, I really want to try that’ way. How would you like it if the scientists actually invents a pill that gives you all the benefits of a workout, without working up a sweat, but rather just by downing a pill? Would you take the pill?
I like to say, when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I mean; seriously, a pill? Gives you the muscle mass of heavy gym work; gives you the lung capacity from repeatedly doing cardio workouts; gives you the rock hard abs you’ve always wanted; gives you the benefits on your insulin sensitivity and gives you the stamina to run a marathon? What?
In that study, a team at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, reported that a compound they had created and injected into obese mice increased activation of a protein called REV-ERB, which is known to partially control animals’ circadian rhythms and internal biological clocks. The injected animals lost weight, even on a high-fat diet, and improved their cholesterol profiles.
First of all, if you are on a low carb high fat diet, you will lose weight. Fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs does. The same applies to your cholesterol profiles, they will improve on a LCHF diet (it doesn’t say the mice were on low carb, I am just assuming this). The more surprising part is the mice started using more oxygen, about 5% more, than the comparison group. So it seemed the mice got the benefit of a workout, without the effort (everyone in the world would love this sentence, wouldn’t they?).
Finally, the scientists injected their compound into sedentary mice, stimulating their production of REV-ERB beyond what would be considered typical. When they set the sedentary mice loose on little treadmills, they ran “significantly longer both in time and distance” than untreated animals, the authors wrote, even though they had not been training beforehand.
So, you can go from couch to 5k in no time, just by getting an injection in your bum? Awesome! I think not. It sounds just plain wrong to me. We are born to run, born to use our body, born to move. We are not born to sit on our ass all day. All the inventions the last few centuries are just making us lazier and lazier. Who needs to walk, when we can drive. Who needs to dig the dirt for vegetables, when they are ready in the freezer at the supermarket. Who needs to run through the forest to hunt for animals, when the protein is farmed on massive farms, cur into tiny pieces and even cooked before it reaches your hands. Stairs? Nah, we’ve got escalators. Bake bread, nope, bread making machine (or the bakers do it for us). We literally don’t need to do anything for ourselves anymore, and now there seems we actually don’t even need to move to get the benefit of moving.
Thankfully, it seems this is far, far into the future and the scientists are saying the pill would be aimed towards people with disabilities that can’t actually participate in physical activity on the same level as the rest of us. That’s great! But, I know there will be plenty of others who would want a part of this wonder pill. Finally there is a magic pill that can do all the hard work, right? We’ve been waiting for this for decades! I’m also sure athletes would want to get their hands on the pills, in case they can enhance their already fantastic performance, so they can get even better, with less training. I’m pretty sure that’s called cheating (and we’ve seen more and more athletes doing that lately, what happened to clean sports and competitions?).
And a larger concern is whether any single pill can hope to replicate the bogglingly complex physiological effects of physical exercise and whether, in trying to create one, we risk unanticipated consequences.
It won’t. No pill can ever replicate the benefits of a walk along the beach. The fantastic feeling after doing a hard spin class. A pill can’t give you the energy you get from a hike in the mountains on a beautiful autumn day. A pill can never, ever give you the feeling of being unbeatable after finishing your first 5km run/10km run/Half Marathon/Marathon or even your first ever rock climbing effort. It just can’t! Stay away from magic pills. If they sound too good to be true, they probably are! Go do a workout instead. Because if you’re sitting around waiting for a pill to do all the hard work for you, you will be waiting for a very long time.
New York Times article here.