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Over the last 50 years, there has been a significant rise in the global rates of obesity, especially in developing and developed countries. This rise is also a major risk factor for chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and mood disorders. (1)
To combat this, new methods to attain weight loss are being discovered. The targeted use of nutrients, enzymes, and hormones has gained swift popularity with an increasing amount of research into their effectiveness.
Peptides – a string of amino acids – are compounds similar to protein but are not affected by changes that affect protein molecules such as heat. (2) Peptides are also produced in the human body in organs and within the intestine, but consuming them via supplements can have additional benefits to weight loss.
Just like the intake of nutritional supplements, consumption of peptides is done in the form of capsules or injections. Their benefits include reducing inflammation, delaying aging, building muscle, and of course reducing weight and preventing obesity.
How Peptide Therapy Aid Weight Loss
As discussed, peptide therapy refers to utilizing peptides via capsules and injectables to boost their function.
Though peptide treatments have promising results when it comes to energy metabolism and weight loss, they are also to be used only after diet and lifestyle modifications have failed to bring about the necessary weight loss.
Peptides can assist with weight loss in a variety of ways:
- Some peptides can influence the nervous system and increase the release of gut hormones that can increase the feeling of fullness. (3)
- Others improve insulin secretion and function, reducing blood sugar levels and preventing the accumulation of fat.
- Others increase the rate at which fat is burned during exercise.
Here are some of the widely studied peptides being used for weight loss.
Glucagon-like peptide -1
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is commonly marketed as a drug to treat type 2 diabetes, but it is also naturally produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain. With regard to obesity, GLP-1 injection into the nervous system can reduce the intake of food, ultimately leading to weight reduction. (4)
Common GLP-1 drugs include semaglutide, dulaglutide, albiglutide, liraglutide, lixisenatide, and exenatide, which are taken once a week. (5)
Irisin is produced in the fat cells of the human body in response to exercise. Its main method of action is the conversion of white adipose tissue (WAT) to brown adipose tissue (BAT). (6)
In the human body, there are two types of adipose or fatty tissue: WAT and BAT. While WAT stores fat and is difficult to burn, BAT mobilizes the fat and burns more readily for energy production. (4)
Leptin is released mainly by adipose tissue but also in small amounts by the intestines. It reduces food intake as it brings about satiety and feelings of hunger. (4)
Obesity as a result of overeating leads to leptin deficiency, which can delay the feeling of fullness. Therefore, supplementing with leptin can bring about energy balance and result in weight loss. (7)
More research is needed on the effectiveness of leptin.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) naturally exists in the nervous system and is produced in relation to leptin. While leptin inhibits food intake, NPY increases appetite and increases food consumption. (4)
Studies have also identified NPY to increase immunity and regulate blood flow via the cardiovascular system. Because NPY is thought to control the distribution of fat within the body, it can have an impact on specific fat spots such as belly fat. (8)
5-amino-1MQ is an inhibitor of an enzyme called NNMT. Studies have found NNMT (which plays a role in energy metabolism) to increase obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes. (9)
5-amino-1MQ has been found to have high cell permeability, which means it is more effective in preventing NNMT from accumulating fat within the cells and reducing total cholesterol in the blood. (10)
Oxyntomodulin is released from the gut after eating food. It activates GLP-1 as well as the GLP-1 receptor in the gut, which not only reduces food intake but also encourages the expenditure of energy in humans.
Because it activates GLP-1 receptor, it also benefits people with type 2 diabetes. (11)
Tesamorelin has emerged as a promising remedy for weight reduction. It has been known to reduce the amount of visceral fat that is deep inside the belly and stored around the organs.
In a study, people suffering from HIV experienced fat losses both around the organs and just below the skin’s surface. (12)
It is unclear whether the same results are obtained in people without HIV.
Adropin and preptin
Adropin is expressed naturally in the liver, pancreas, heart, kidneys, vascular tissues, and parts of the brain. It has a role in maintaining energy balance by reducing insulin resistance. This helps drive blood sugar into the cells and reduces its chance of being converted into fat for storage.
Preptin is found in the pancreas and has a similar action to adropin. It improves carbohydrate metabolism and reduces insulin resistance. As such, this peptide is primarily used to manage diabetes and not weight loss. (14)
The use of adropin and preptin for weight loss needs to be done at the doctor’s discretion.
Care for Using Peptides and Possible Adverse Effects
Peptides are used as a supplement when lifestyle and diet interventions fail in people with obesity, especially with additional conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or difficulties in breathing.
Because it is mostly injected, you must not use peptides by yourself. Consult a doctor to identify the peptides most suited for you as well as their dosages.
Peptides are produced in the body and are not likely to have side effects. However, there can be some adverse reactions at the site of injection such as: (15)
- Rash and pain
Other side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight on Peptides?
When combined with dietary and lifestyle interventions such as exercise, it may take 3–6 months to lose weight while on peptide therapy.
- Peptides are a form of shorter proteins that are also made up of amino acids. They are naturally occurring in the body and are useful in many bodily functions such as reducing weight, cardiovascular protection, reducing inflammation, and improving immunity.
- Most peptides work by increasing the rate of fat being utilized for energy or reducing appetite.
- They are usually injected and can cause some side effects such as rash, itchiness, and swelling. Other side effects include diarrhea or vomiting.