Exercise combined with a supplement which suppresses appetite could boost the rate at which the body burns fat.
The research teams at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, the Universities of Glasgow and the West of Scotland, and Imperial College London recruited a total of 20 women aged between 25 and 45 with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25 for the study.
Over the course of four weeks, the participants undertook moderate intensity exercise training and were given regular supplements of either inulin-propionate ester (IPE), which helps reduce cravings for high-calorie foods and boost rates of fat oxidisation, or a placebo made from cellulose. The researchers measured the change in the participants' levels of resting fat oxidation, or the process by which the body burns fat, by taking blood and expired gas samples.
They found that the rate of fat-burning in the placebo group remained unchanged at the end of the study and it was significantly higher in those who took the IPE supplement. The effect was also still present for seven hours after they took the substance.
"Our own research has shown that IPE can encourage people to feel full while eating less, and that it encourages the human body to burn fat faster," said corresponding author Dr. Douglas Morrison. "What we've been able to show for the first time is that this latter effect continues when exercise is added to regular IPE intake. We're keen to explore these effects further in more comprehensive randomised controlled trials in the future."
Propionate is found naturally in the human gut and is produced when food is eaten, helping signal to the brain that the stomach is full. Inulin-propionate ester was developed as a food supplement and leaves people feeling fuller quicker and thus suppressing the appetite.