US army drink could hold the key to weight loss, treat epilepsy and diabetes

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
US army drink could hold the key to weight loss and treatment of epilepsy and diabetes

A new energy drink can burn fat, suppress appetite as well as treat epilepsy, diabetes and Alzheimer's, according to developers at Oxford University.

Complete with sci-fi label, "The Drink", the product contains ketones which are energy sources the body produces when we burn fat stores for energy.

Kieran Clarke, a professor of physiological biochemistry at Oxford University, was commissioned by the US Army to develop a drink that soldiers can use to boost their energy levels.

"Back in 2003 they were looking for an energy source that would improve soldiers’ mental and physical performance under battlefield conditions," Professor Clarke said.

"Troops weren’t taking enough rations into action because they filled their rucksacks with extra ammunition instead. As their blood glucose dropped, they became confused and sometimes ended up shooting their own side."

But the use of ketones in The Drink could have revealed broader health benefits, according to the Daily Mail.

Our bodies' ketone levels naturally rise in the morning after fasting for 10 or 12 hours so that our brains and muscles can use fat stores for energy.

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Now Professor Clarke has created ketones in the lab and it appears consuming them helps the body release stored fat and use it for energy.

She tested it in rats and found that when they were given the ketone compound, they ate less and put on less weight than a control group on the same diet.

Professor Clarke has begun trials to evaluate the role of ketone drinks in weight management. He studied eight people with diabetes and found that when they drank three ketone drinks a day in conjunction with their normal diet for a week, they lost two percent of their body weight, and had a drop in glucose, cholesterol and fat levels in the blood.

Ketones work by suppressing hunger signals because your body is able to obtain energy from its fat stores. It works in a similar way to the high-fat Atkins diet and the results are similar.

Now it's thought that drinking a ketone drink could be a better solution.

Professor Clarke has also tested The Drink on rowers and found they improved their performance by 0.5 percent - which could make a difference in Olympic-level results.

However she warned that ketones don't provide a license to sit on the couch and eat junk food.

"It provides 10 per cent of your total calories –– each drink is around 200 calories –– so if you are going to lose weight you are going to have to cut that much from your diet or you would put on weight," she said.

"For best results, you should be eating a sensible, healthy diet, maybe some variation of the Mediterranean."

Professor Ian Caterson, the director of Sydney University's Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, told ninemsn that scientists have known about ketones for some time.

"Ketones are very natural and we have them overnight and every time we fast," he said.

"This will help those who want to lose weight because it's a drink that provides ketones and might reduce their hunger."

Professor Caterson said he wouldn't be surprised if ketone products are available in Australia in the future.

"This is basically a modified sports drink –– it's possible that it will come to Australia at one stage, it just depends on [which company] gets it," he said.

"It would be a problem if it came saying 'drink this and lose weight' because you can't drink this willy-nilly and live because it may not have all the other vitamins and minerals. But it might be an adjunct to sticking to a diet –– this drink may help suppress that hunger."

However Professor Caterson warned that ketones do have side effects and aren't safe for everybody.

"One of the problems is that they smell on your breath if you have too many of them," he said.

"If you're a pregnant mum, particularly with diabetes, you don't want too many ketones because ketones aren't good for the baby's brain development."

Professor Caterson also said he doubts it would be safe for use with diabetes.

"In type one diabetes, ketones are a sign that you haven't got enough insulin around," he said.

"In those people, you certainly wouldn't suggest to them to live on this sort of thing because ketones are a sign that things are going wrong."

High ketone levels have also been linked with constipation, kidney failure, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.

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