Naturally produced protein called Sestrin gives you benefits of exercise without working out

Sestrin can prevent muscle atrophy in a muscle that has been immobilised for a long time.


Everyone has, at one point or the other, wanted to lose a few kilos without actually going to a gym or working out. If only we could get ourselves to lose the fat or have a magic pill that can get rid of it.

And no, we don’t mean those weight loss pills or crazy crash diets — they are not healthy for the body.

But, there's a new type of protein that can help us cut out that extra flab and is produced naturally by the body.

Sestrin protein can mimic the effects of a really good workout in flies and mice, and the findings from this new study can possibly help researchers deal with muscle wasting that occurs due to ageing or other scenarios.

 Naturally produced protein called Sestrin gives you benefits of exercise without working out

A protein called Sestrin is produced naturally in the body.

Previous studies had observed that Sestrin accumulates in the muscle after a workout but the team of researchers wanted to further look into this link. They needed to find flies and encourage them to work out. The team settled on using Drosophila flies since they have a natural instinct to climb out of a test tube and built a fly treadmill. The researchers trained these flies on the treadmill for three weeks and then studied them. They compared the running and flying ability of normal flies with those of flies that were bred to lack the ability to produce Sestrin.

Flies can usually run around four to six hours at this point and the normal flies’ abilities improved over that period,” says professor Jun Hee Lee from the University of Michigan, in a press release. “The flies without Sestrin did not improve with exercise.”

When the team maxed out the levels of Sestrin in the muscles of normal flies, they found that those flies had the abilities above and beyond the trained flies, without doing any exercise. In fact, the flies with the maxed out Sestrin didn’t develop more endurance when exercised.

They also found that the mice without Sestrin did not have the improved aerobic capacity, improved respiration and fat burning abilities usually associated with exercise.

“We propose that Sestrin can coordinate these biological activities by turning on or off different metabolic pathways,” says Lee. “This kind of combined effect is important for producing exercise’s effects.”

Pura Muñoz-Cánoves from the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, with help from Lee, demonstrated that the protein Sestrin can help in preventing muscle atrophy in a muscle that has been immobilised for a long time, for eg if one’s limb has been in a cast for a long time.

Lee said, “This independent study again highlights that Sestrin alone is sufficient to produce many benefits of physical movement and exercise.”

The findings from this study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

This protein cannot be made in supplementary pills as yet but the researchers of this study are working on it.

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