A new study shows that a love hormone released during sex can help men lose weight. Researchers have found that men who used a synthetic oxytocin nasal spray consumed less calories. The spray lowered the number of calories men consumed at a subsequent breakfast whether they were normal weight or overweight, according to the study.
Moreover, researchers found that oxytocin improved metabolic measures, such as insulin sensitivity, which helps the body to get rid of glucose from the bloodstream.
“Our results are really exciting,” said lead investigator Elizabeth Lawson, MD, MMSc, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Further study is needed, but I think oxytocin is a promising treatment for obesity and its metabolic complications.”
Lawson and her team tested 25 men. The average age of the participants was 27. The group included 13 men who had a healthy weight, and 12 who were overweight or obese. They were randomly assigned to self-administer a single dose of either oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo after fasting.
“On average, the men ate 122 fewer calories and 9 grams less fat at the meal after they received oxytocin nasal spray compared with placebo, the study data showed. Oxytocin also reportedly increased the use of body fat as a fuel for energy. There were no serious side effects and no difference in side effects between oxytocin and placebo, according to Lawson.”
Researchers found that oxytocin had no effect on self-reported appetite or on appetite-regulating hormones measured in their blood. It is still not clear how oxytocin affected caloric intake, Lawson said.
Further, Lawson said that oxytocin needs to be studied in women for an extended treatment duration because it has sex-specific effects.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and a Massachusetts General Hospital Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award.
People in Europe can buy and use the oxytocin nasal spray. However, the spray is still not available for people in the United States.
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