Pyruvate for Peeling off Pounds?
Q. What's the scoop on pyruvate? Can it really take the place of exercise as those TV infomercials claim? Will it help me keep the pounds off during the holidays?
I've seen the "Exercise in a Bottle" infomercial with former baseball player Steve Garvey. They insist that products containing pyruvate, a naturally-occurring enzyme, can help you lose weight without dieting or exercise. Supposedly, the pyruvate in Exercise in a Bottle forces every cell in the body to work harder, whether or not you're exercising. This is a fantastic claim. And the infomercial cites compelling data from a University of Pittsburgh study -- which did find that pyruvate works. The infomercial stresses that, in the study, the people who took pyruvate supplements for 21 days lost fat at a rate 48 percent higher than those who didn't (they also lost weight at a rate 38 percent higher).
The study is real, but according to Dr. Ronald Stanko, the researcher who conducted it, the findings aren't quite what the infomercial would have you believe. What really happened? A group of obese, bedridden women were put on a diet of 1,000 calories per day. They were also given 36 grams of pyruvate daily, for three weeks. While the fat- and weight-loss rates quoted in the infomerical were accurate, the actual weight lost among the women who took the pyruvate was, on average, only three or four pounds more than those who didn't take it. Another important discrepancy between the study and the infomerical's claims: The women in the study took 36 grams of pyruvate per day -- that's 35 grams more than the recommended daily dose of Exercise in a Bottle.
I'm afraid that pyruvate is just the latest in a long line of magic pills promoted for weight loss. As far as I can see, you've got to be skeptical of products in infomercials. Believe me, if and when scientists find a magic pill for weight loss, TV programs will be interrupted for news bulletins, the story will make headlines around the world, and I wouldn't be surprised if those responsible won the Nobel Prize.
Enjoy your holiday feasts, but if you don't want to gain weight, don't overeat, and do remember to exercise.