More plus factors for the ecdysteroids: the steroid compounds in spinach-type plants not only have an anabolic effect, but also curb the growth of fat layers. Researchers at Rutgers University will soon publish the results of a study which offers evidence that ecdysterone [also known as 20-hydroxyecdysone, structure below] prevents overfed mice from getting fat.
Correction: from getting too fat.
The same researchers have already published an article in which they showed that ecdysterone makes the muscle cells of rats grow faster. Ecdysterone also made the animals stronger. Hungarian researchers confirmed the results a few months later. According to their animal study, ecdysterone has an anabolic effect in slow muscle fibres.
In their later publication the Americans examine whether ecdysterone is a suitable model for developing a new medicine for obesity and diabetes 2. That’s why they fed mice a diet that consisted of sixty percent fat for the experiment. [HF] The mice in the control group were given a diet containing only ten percent fat. [LF] Mice on this level of diet do not become fat.
Half of the high-fat diet mice were given a daily dose of 10 mg ecdysterone per kilo bodyweight. Orally. The experiment lasted thirteen weeks.
The table below shows the effect on insulin levels and the concentration of adiponectin. Adiponectin is a protein that is secreted by healthy fat cells sensitive to insulin. Adiponectin suppresses appetite and heightens the effect of insulin. And the other way round, if the cells’ insulin performance declines, the secretion of adiponectin also goes down. It looks as though ecdysterone helps reverse this process in mice that are putting on weight.
As the mice get fatter, the concentration of glucose in their blood rises. Apparently they can’t make enough insulin to process the glucose, or their insulin receptors are not working so well. But if the fat mice are also given ecdysterone this doesn’t happen.
This mechanism is probably how ecdysterone curbs the increase in bodyweight. The heaviest the mice in the control group got was 5.18 g, while the fattened mice weighed as much as 18.8 g. And the fattened mice that were given ecdysterone put on 18 percent less weight. At the end of the experiment they weighed 15.4 g. It is the growth of fat tissues that ecdysterone inhibits. The steroid has little effect on the increase of lean body mass.
Ecdysterone is found in supplements. Manufacturers seem to have been inspired mostly by almost occult studies from the Eastern Bloc on the effects of ecdysteroids. Although there is increasing evidence that ecdysteroids do have an effect, it is still not at all certain whether users of the ecdy-supplements that are currently available notice these. The doses are too low.