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BAM15: The Fat-Burning Molecule That Could Aid Weight Loss

BAM15: The Fat-Burning Molecule That Could Aid Weight Loss

In the United States, more than 42% of adults are obese. Obesity is linked to health complications, including diabetes and liver disease ( 1 ). Research into obesity has commonly focused on dieting or weight loss medications. But now scientists are investigating a fat-burning molecule, BAM15, which could aid weight loss.

How to Lose Fat

Losing weight can be a difficult task. Even after losing weight, willpower is required to maintain your new weight. But breaking old habits can be hard, and a return to eating energy-dense foods and not doing enough exercise will cause an increase in body weight. Also, hormones, genetics, and neural factors can all affect weight variance ( 2 ).

In the simplest terms, fat, and therefore weight, can be burned by reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity. Progress can be slow and frustrating, and so it is common to turn to weight-loss drugs (such as phentermine) or supplements to succeed in losing weight.

The importance of a healthy weight should not be underestimated. Obese adults who lose weight can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular, liver, and endocrine diseases ( 1 ). Scientific research, such as the investigation of BAM15, could help obese adults lose weight and prevent other related health conditions ( 3 ).

What Triggers Fat Burning?

When we exercise, our bodies burn fat stores as this essential process releases energy to cells throughout the body. Reducing our calorie intake also forces the body to make use of the energy stored in fat. Certain weight loss drugs can also be beneficial in achieving and maintaining weight loss.

Research into obesity no longer focuses purely on exercise programs or dietary restrictions, with scientists now investigating novel ways to aid weight loss. In June 2020, Christopher Axelrod and his team of scientists studied the effect of medicating mice with an oral preparation of BAM15 to see if it triggered fat burning.

What is BAM15?

BAM15 is a small molecule that acts as a mitochondrial uncoupler. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production within the body. When a mitochondrial uncoupler (such as BAM15) is taken, the mitochondria are stimulated to make cells respire more. This, in turn, increases metabolism within the cell to help us burn more calories without exercising ( 4 ). Ingestion of BAM15 could, therefore, be an effective method of fat burning and could protect against diet-induced obesity ( 3 ).

What did the Results Show?

Within nine days of starting treatment, the BAM15 mice had begun to lose weight. Axelrod and his team found that BAM15 lowered fatty acid levels and reduced fat mass. Additionally, BAM15 helped to prevent the production of new fat cells. Crucially, unlike with dietary restriction, treatment with BAM15 did not adversely affect lean body mass, including essential mass within the muscles and bones. This suggests that BAM15 is effective at targeting body fat alone ( 3 ).

How to Avoid Weight Regain

How to Avoid Weight Regain

Existing anti-obesity or weight loss treatments can aid initial weight loss by suppressing the appetite and telling your body to stop eating. However, a rebound effect can occur on stopping treatment, as patients begin over-eating again. Despite successful weight loss, around 80% of adults will have put the weight back on within two years ( 5 ).

Traditional weight maintenance focuses on adhering to a healthy diet, following a physical activity program, and regularly monitoring your weight ( 5 ).

Encouragingly, Axelrod’s study found that BAM15 mice “displayed reduced fat mass”, while the “control animals gained both fat and lean mass during the treatment period”. The BAM15 mice still lost weight despite having the same dietary intake as the controls ( 3 ).

This suggests that patients could be less restrictive with their calorie intake and still lose weight. Rebound overeating and weight regain could, therefore, be prevented.

Further Benefits of BAM15

The BAM15 study didn’t just show a reduction in fat.

High blood glucose (sugar) levels are associated with diabetes, but in the BAM15 mice, blood glucose levels were reduced. The healthier blood glucose levels were a result of BAM15 increasing the rate at which glucose was broken down ( 3 ).

In the treated animals, blood glucose levels (sugar) were reduced. Such healthier blood glucose levels were a result of BAM15 increasing the rate at which glucose was broken down ( 3 ).

The liver’s weight also decreased, and researchers noticed that BAM15 markedly reduced fat accrual within this vital organ ( 3 ).

As obesity is closely linked to diabetes and fatty liver disease, a reduction in blood glucose levels and fatty liver deposits could reduce a patient’s risk of these diseases ( 1 ). Treatment with BAM15 could, therefore, be beneficial for more than just weight loss ( 3 ).

Previous studies of fat-burning molecules similar to BAM15 prompted a raised body temperature in animal subjects. BAM15 did not cause this side effect ( 4 ). This raises hope of it becoming a safe anti-obesity treatment for humans.

Limitations

Axelrod’s study was conducted in vitro using mice and showed promising results. However, a human clinical trial into the efficacy of BAM15 is yet to be undertaken. 

The researchers found the half-life of BAM15 to be quite short in the mouse model ( 4 ). The half-life is the time that a medication remains effective for. In humans, a longer half-life might be required for BAM15 to burn fat effectively.

Current Alternatives

While BAM15 has shown promise as a potential fat burning medication, it is still in the trial stage and not currently available to patients.

Many adults looking to lose or maintain weight choose to take weight loss drugs in addition to eating healthily and exercising.One of the most popular weight loss medications in the United States is phentermine. Its active ingredient suppresses appetite and boosts energy. As a schedule IV controlled substance, phentermine is available with a doctor’s prescription for up to 12 weeks at a time.

Summary

The BAM15 trial showed effective fat burning and weight loss in mice with the same dietary intake as the controls. It also reduced glucose levels and the amount of fat in the liver. Further trials are required to assess BAM15 for human treatment. Currently, you can discuss weight-loss drugs, including a phentermine prescription, with your doctor.  

References
  1. Adult Obesity Facts. (2020, June 29). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  2. Evert, A., & Franz, M. (2017, August 01). Why Weight Loss Maintenance Is Difficult. Retrieved from https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/3/153
  3. Axelrod, C., King, W., Davuluri, G., Noland, R., Hall, J., Hull, M., . . . Kirwan, J. (2020, June 10). BAM15‐mediated mitochondrial uncoupling protects against obesity and improves glycemic control. Retrieved from https://www.embopress.org/doi/full/10.15252/emmm.202012088
  4. ‘Fat burning’ molecule has implications for treatment of obesity. (2020, June 08). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200608132539.htm
  5. Achieve Long Term Weight Loss with Phentermine (2020, June 30). Retrieved from https://www.phentermine.com/phentermine-withdrawal/life-after-phentermine/

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