Irisin: The Latest in Fat Burning

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Could scientists have finally found the key ingredient for an “exercise drug?” A recently discovered hormone seems to play a role in turning unhealthy “white” fat into calorie-burning “brown” fat. The hormone is named Irisin and, in mice at least, it seems to do what we’ve only known exercise to be able to accomplish. 



In the lab, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that when mice spent three weeks doing free-wheel running, their irisin levels increased 65 percent. Similarly, irisin levels doubled for humans after 10 weeks of supervised endurance exercise.

With more irisin, the mice developed more brown fat, the desirable fat that helps the body expend energy (rather than the unattractive white kind). Plus, the bodies became more insulin resistant. 

Could this hormone, if developed into a drug for humans, be the answer to our growing obesity and diabetes epidemics? Not so fast. “Whether long treatments with irisin and/or higher doses would cause more weight loss remains to be determined,” the authors wrote in the journal Nature. 


So it’s back to the treadmill for us…for now.

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