Making a Magic Pill to Build Muscle and Fight Obesity

Researchers hope to create a pill that mimics the effect of exercise and protects against obesity.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a way to just take a pill to get fit, lose weight, or pack on pounds of muscle? A lot of us would probably take advantage of it—between our busy work and home lives, we’ve very little time to hit the gym.

To date, nothing has come close to an exercise pill. There are no supplements you can take to increase muscle mass and improve cardiovascular health. The only way to do that right now is to put in the time at the gym, on the field/court, or running the streets/tracks of your city.

But, according to research out of Augusta University, there may soon be a pill to replace exercise. Animal testing found that suppressing the production of myostatin could lead to improvements similar to those caused by exercise. Myostatin, a protein that affects your cells’ autocrine function, can inhibit the development of skeletal muscle. More myostatin decreases muscle mass, so reducing the production of myostatin can lead to an increase in muscle mass—as the researchers found in the mice they tested. Even the obese mice had higher muscle mass once myostatin was suppressed.

Obesity causes an increase of myostatin, which prevents the body from building the muscles that could burn more fat and combat obesity. The continued increase of body fat keeps raising the levels of myostatin, leading to a vicious cycle of obesity that could become a trap. People who are obese have a very difficult time building muscle and burning fat because their bodies are working against them.

What if there was a way to shut off the production of myostatin, perhaps using an exercise pill? If the myostatin was turned off, even obese people would be able to build muscle mass. The increase in muscle would lead to a faster metabolism and more calories burned every day. This could, in turn, lead to a decrease in body fat, effectively combating obesity.

The scientists stated, “Ultimately, the goal of our research would be to create a pill that mimics the effect of exercise and protects against obesity.”

Imagine being able to take such a pill and benefitting from the myostatin suppression. It wouldn’t replace exercise completely, but it could enhance the benefits of exercise—and could give those without the conditioning or opportunities for exercise to get healthy and decrease their body fat.


1. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “One step closer to an ‘exercise pill‘.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2017.