No magic pills for diet…or exercise

Dr. Oz’s irresponsible promotion of questionable weight loss supplements puts him in the same league as big pharma–at least in one respect. They both condition many people to think they can fix everything and anything by just taking a pill. As a result, many consumers have unreasonable expectations about weight loss.

Of course, the lame stream media plays a part too. In fact, last summer I read a breathless story in the New York Times about “exercise in a pill!” (The breathlessness of the reporting in this story apparently wasn’t due to exercise.)

According to the Times article, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL, created and tested a new “workout pill” compound. When they injected this compound into obese mice, it activated a protein called REV-ERB and caused the mice to lose weight. Even on a high-fat diet. Plus, in most cases, the mice were more physically lazy and inactive than they had been before the injections. But they still lost weight.

So, how does this so-called “enticing” compound work?

The injected mice simply began using more oxygen throughout the day. And they expended 5 percent more energy throughout the day. Therefore, they lost weight.

That mechanism of action actually makes sense. In fact, your body burns energy–and loses weight–this way too.

Let me explain…

The mitochondria are your cells’ “energy factories.” They literally “burn” carbs (calories) by combining them with oxygen. In a real fire, the energy produced comes off as heat. But inside your cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) captures the energy. Then, it makes the energy available to fuel your cells.

When the body “burns” carbs and oxygen, it also releases carbon dioxide and water. Of course, the cells flush out the carbon dioxide. And you breathe it out of your body. But the water stays in your cells. And helps keep them hydrated.

In the end, when your body uses more oxygen, it means you’re burning more energy. And you’ll lose weight, if you don’t start adding in even more excess calories. That’s what we saw happen, artificially, in these mice.

One of the study’s co-authors, from the Department of Pharmacology at St. Louis University School of Medicine, told the New York Times the new drug “certainly seems to act as an exercise mimic.” And he said he could foresee using this new drug for elderly or disabled patients.

But if you’re a regular reader of my Daily Dispatch or Insiders’ Cures newsletter, you know you don’t need to wait for this “enticing” drug to hit the market. There are natural ways to boost production in your cells’ energy factories. In fact, a few natural nutrients and phytochemicals–including coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) and South African red bush (rooibos)–work in the same way.

In addition to stoking your cells’ energy factories, red bush tells your fat cells not to collect and store extra lipids (fats) from the blood. (Your body doesn’t need to store the extra fat when it’s getting all the energy it needs from the mitochondria.)

And voilà, you lose weight, “even on a high-fat diet.”

The New York Times claims it features “all the news that’s fit to print.” But when it comes to medical science, they still can’t tell the real news from the press releases.

Forget about some over-hyped, soon-to-be-offered “exercise in a pill.” Right now is the perfect time to enjoy some physical activity in the great outdoors. You’ll also get some sun for healthy vitamin D levels, to boot!

And keep reading my Daily Dispatch and Insiders’ Cures newsletter. I’ll make sure to help you separate the real news from the science fiction.


  1. “Exercise in a pill?” New York Times ( 7/17/2013