A new study shows that the “love hormone” oxytocin can help men lose weight. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
Elizabeth Lawson, assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston explained how administering oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray helped men (both obese and normal weight) eat less.
There were 25 men, 13 normal weight and 12 obese men with a body mass index of up to 40, participating in the study. Each person stated his preferred breakfast meal that, during the study, was served in twice the portion that person would normally eat. The participants were divided into two groups. One would be given placebos and the other would be given the active oxytocin hormone.
After two weeks, each participant went through a series of tests. Results showed that during the study, participants who were administered oxytocin reduced their calorie intake by 122 kcal each.
The team calculated that if the participants continued with the reduced breakfast portion and extended this habit to the rest of their meals while also continuing the oxytocin treatment, each person would lose about 4 kilograms over a period of 12 weeks and 17 kilograms if they continued for a year.
Lawson did mention that these values were conservative as most U.S. citizens eat larger portions at lunch or dinner meaning that the weight loss could, in reality, be greater.
In addition to a reduced caloric intake, the study showed each participant lowered the amount of consumed fat by 8.7 grams. The protein and carbohydrate intake was not significantly changed. Also, appetite was unchanged and the levels of “appetite-regulating hormones such as leptin or ghrelin” were normal.
Scientists also found a connection between the oxytocin treatment and the decrease in carbohydrate utilization while fat usage increased meaning they burned more fat. Participants also had lower levels of insulin while their blood sugar was unaffected. This means they were handling their glucose better.
Lawson explained that “subjects said they didn’t feel any different after administering the drug – three sprays in the nose – they just didn’t eat as much”. She added that although there is the need for additional information, oxytocin therapy seems “promising in terms of its potential use in the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.”
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