We review a lot of supplements on this site, mainly natural T boosters and fat burners. These can be a great help to any fitness regime, but one thing we always make clear is that they won’t do the work for you.

What if one day they could though? What if science could fit months, even years worth of exercise into capsule form?

Picture that famous scene in The Matrix. The one where Morpheus offer Neo the red pill, except this time imagine it’s not because he needs to see the terrifying truth of our virtual reality enslavement, it’s just because he’s packed on a few pounds.

Well, if recent reports are too be believed, science is not too far away from achieving this very goal. Which is … good we guess?

Rat race

A few different research teams are currently striving to perfect the edible workout. All for the good of humanity, you understand. The potential billions of dollars to be made hasn’t ever occurred to anyone we’re sure.

Most are still on the rodent testing phase, but the current front runner is probably Ron Evans. Evans is a professor at Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in California.

He and his team recently made it into the New Yorker magazine thanks to progress they’d made with compound GW501516. (I know, catchy right? Somewhere a pregnant celebrity is kicking themselves they didn’t think of that.)

516 for short, targets a specific gene called PPAR-delta. It essentially tricks your system into thinking you’re doing endurance training. This triggers all bodily processes it would if you had put in the effort. Namely ordering cells stop storing fat and start burning it off as energy.

The team experimented with two mice (okay so not rats, but close enough) named Couch Potato Mouse and Lance Armstrong Mouse. Both just sit around all day eating a high fat diet, Lance though gets a little bit of 516 to give him an edge.

Not only did that Lance stay slim and maintain bags of energy without doing a damn thing, on the treadmill, 516 improved performance by 70%.

By boosting your levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the drug is the wrecking ball that allows to smash through ‘the wall’ we normally hit.

Hard to swallow

Sort of begs the question why we’re not all already taking 516 with our O.J in the morning, doesn’t it? Well, very few if any, synthetically produced drugs are completely side effect free and this is no different.

516 was first championed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) years ago.

Chemical biologist, Tim Wilson, trying the compound on monkeys, believed he’d found a new metabolic super drug. Our hairy cousins saw an increase in good cholesterol, a reduction in bad cholesterol. Along with improvements in insulin levels and triglycerides.

New effective treatments for conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease suddenly looked a possibility. However, long term many of the animals developed aggressive cancers and GSK shelved research in 2007.

So that’s where Evans and his mice took over. Based on his results, with a few tweaks he believes the 516 could not only be safe but could be used as a kind of gene therapy.

“We proved that endurance could be genetically engineered through this particular switch. And the switch stayed on, and could be passed on as a genetic trait.”

No sporting chance

As you may expect, the ever vigilant World Anti Doping Agency banned 516 in 2009.

When you think about it a drug like this could rip the heart out of a lot of sports. Boxing for example, where training camps and weigh-ins play such a huge part in the build up. “Take a couple of these daily for a while lads then we’ll meet back here and have a tear up.” It’s just not the same is it?

WADA were given full access to Evans’ study so a keen eye was kept on professional endurance athletes. The same can’t be said for online and the darker corners of some gyms unfortunately.

So rumour has it, if you know where to look, for about $1000 per 10g, despite considerable risk you can buy your own pre-made effort.

The future

Evans argument is in part that his mice were exposed to much higher doses of 516 than humans will be and this should limit side effects. He hopes to have something safe for use available in the next 5 to 10 years.

By the time it reaches the market even if the risk factors are reduced they’re unlikely to be gone altogether.

Hey look, we’re not saying there’s not a place for a – hopefully renamed 516 or something like it. If it helps battle life threatening metabolic conditions, or extreme obesity fine, but the fact remains, the safest way to get in shape and stay healthy is, and always will be, naturally.

It’s getting to be like the na-na-nas in ‘Hey Jude’ of these articles, but we’ll say it again: Sensible exercise, balanced diet and quality, organic supplements. These things are tried, tested and side effect free.

Plus, there’s a certain quality of life that working out brings which will be lost. That sense of accomplishment you get from  reaching your goal would be gone. Not to mention the social aspect of keeping fit too. Buds who spot and squat together, stay together, amma right?

If a magic pill like this does ever make it to market, then it’s up to you if you want to take it. We’re just putting it out there though, you’ll literally be swallowing your pride.

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