AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme found in all cells of the body. This enzyme plays a major role in regulating metabolism.  Metabolism is the complete range of biochemical processes that occur in living organisms.

       AMPK stimulates a flow of events within cells that are all involved in maintaining homeostasis which is the ability of the body to adjust to changing circumstances to maintain survival.  AMPK works as a control switch regulating how energy is produced and used in the body.  When cells are low in energy, AMPK generates ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the chief energy molecule used by cells.

       AMPK stimulates fatty acid oxidation (breakdown of fats) and the production of ketones which are substances produced by the liver from stored fat to provide energy when glucose levels are low.  AMPK inhibits the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides and regulates the cellular uptake of glucose.  Cells will activate AMPK when they run low on energy. This has been found to be especially true following exercise or during times of fasting.

       AMPK helps to regulate autophagy which is a process whereby old and damaged cells are destroyed. This process allows the body to do its own house cleaning in order to allow for the creation of new healthy cells.  Auto means self and phagy means eat. Autophagy means self-eating.

       AMPK is involved in a great deal of cellular signaling which is the communication that occurs in a cell to facilitate what the cell is designed to do.  Impaired signaling has been shown to be a causative factor in the development of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and a number of other health problems.

       As we age the body’s production of AMPK activity begins to diminish. This results in reduced cellular signaling which leads to less regulation of numerous cellular functions including glucose and fat metabolism. Increasing cellular levels of this enzyme has been shown to be effective in treating degenerative disease. The pharmaceutical medication Metformin used to reduce blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes does so in part by raising AMPK levels.  

       In an effort to increase diminishing levels of AMPK activity in the body, various natural substances have been identified to activate AMPK. Berberine, resveratrol, rooibos and alpha lipoic acid are among them. Exercise and calorie restriction will also activate AMPK.

       Since studies have shown that increasing AMPK activity can encourage cells to stop storing fat and start burning it for energy, the company Life Extension has developed and formulated a product called AMPK Metabolic Activator to help fight unwanted belly fat. This product contains two substances that have been shown to activate AMPK.

       This product contains an extract of gynostemma pentaphyllum which is a climbing vine native to Asia and hesperidin which is a flavonoid derived from citrus fruit.  Human and animal studies have shown that these two substances activate AMPK leading to reduced belly fat and decreased inflammation.

       In 2014, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was done where 74 obese adults were given 450mg of an extract of gynostemma pentaphyllum or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Those given the extract showed a 6.3% reduction in abdominal fat, lost one inch in their waistline and experienced a significant decrease in overall body fat.  The placebo group did not experience such results and actually experienced an increase in overall body weight.

       Studies done using hesperidin have also shown weight loss and a reduction in body fat. In a randomized placebo-controlled trial published in December of 2020 in the Journal Nutrients, 40 competitive amateur cyclists were daily given either 500mg of hesperidin or a placebo for 8 weeks. Those supplemented with hesperidin showed a 3% reduction in total body fat. 

       The Life Extension product AMPK Metabolic Activator is available at Milk ‘N Honey. This product contains 450mg of gynostemma and 500mg of hesperidin per tablet.