If you're keeping up with the news, you may have noticed some renewed interest in a chemical frequently referred to as "516". Despite the drug first emerging in 2001, being classified unfit for human testing or consumption in 2007, and being banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2009, it continues to show up periodically in journalism - often described as the "exercise pills" of the future.

At Weight Crafters, we have always sought to help people.

Most commonly, our clients need help losing a significant amount of weight in a relatively short time frame.

The reasons vary - some clients come to us after being told they won't live another year by their doctor. Others are seeing the early signs of diabetes and looking to cut it off at the pass. Some attend because their families are concerned. And truly, some of our guests show up just because it's a lot of fun.

Regardless of their reasons for spending time with us, at Weight Crafters we do the best we can to help them get healthy - and stay healthy.

What is the connection between this and so-called exercise pills?

Simple: Exercise pills are blatantly dangerous.


The Attraction to Exercise Pills

There are two particularly common chemicals being sold under false pretense and abused today as exercise pills. The newest is Compound 14, and the most hyped is GW501516 (also referred to as GW1516 or simply 516).

Under normal conditions, our bodies burn glucose for energy whenever possible. When under stress (intense exercise for example) the body will also burn stored fat to maintain energy levels and keep the brain functioning properly.

GW501516 activates receptors in the body that trigger this fat burning process, regardless of the availability of glucose. It's a lot like placing your finger over the sensor on an automatic night-light, forcing it to stay on.

Compound 14 works a little differently. It inhibits the function of an enzyme in the body called ATIC, responsible for the insulin signaling process. This essentially tells the body that energy is running low, and more glucose needs to be burned asap.

Both chemicals trick the body into burning more stored or available energy, similar to the way it would during an intense exercise session. GW501516 in particular, targets fat directly.

What does this mean for potential consumers looking to lose weight? If story spinners are to be believed, it means that you can finally get all the benefits of a vigorous workout without ever leaving your couch.


What's the Catch?

For all of the hyped up promises about the potential benefits of these chemicals, there are several very serious drawbacks.

Compound 14 is very new, very experimental, and lacks proper testing or packaging for human consumption.

Compound 14 appears to have a relatively natural interaction with cells in the body, helping obese subjects to burn energy more quickly. It has been tested on mice in a lab and shown to reduce weight significantly in obese mice while having little or no effect on normally sized mice.
While this research does sound promising, much further testing is required - and human tests have not even begun. We cannot begin to guess what side effects may be found.

Furthermore, since compound 14 is still in the early stages of development and testing, the idea that pill peddlers have already developed a drug from it for human consumption is absurd. During the last published tests with mice, the compound was directly injected. Pill manufacturers would have to come up with a way to get compound 14 through the digestive system and into the bloodstream, assuming they can produce it properly in the first place.

In short - if you're buying "compound 14 pills" from someone somewhere, it's probably not compound 14. And if it is, you're gambling with your health and life on an untested drug.

CW501516 (CW1516, or 516) causes cancer in lab animals.

Were you ready for that bombshell?

Some journalists covering 516 have mentioned it, but the majority marginalize the results - or leave this part out completely.

GW501516 first showed up in research around 2001, and was intended for use controlling cholesterol in diabetics. Because it causes the body to burn fat directly, it very quickly began to sound like the perfect "miracle cure" for obesity.

But then in 2007, longer-term research studies were released that proved it was causing rapid, aggressive cancer development in test animals. The pharmaceutical company responsible for developing 516 promptly shelved it, and it remains highly unlikely that it will ever be tested on humans - in a laboratory.

On the street? That's a different story.

Following the viral story of a drug that actually burns fat, black market manufacturers quickly began producing 516 and selling it illicitly. Often listed as a "laboratory chemical" for "experimental use only" and specifically labeled "not for human consumption", these peddlers have been making a killing on 516 ever since. For about $1,000, athletes and gym rats can get a 10-gram supply of the stuff from their local steroid dealer - and they frequently do.

This is made all the worse by a regular stream of articles and posts sharing 516 weight loss success stories. It's no different than tobacco executives denying the health risks of their products - those who stand to profit from 516 are happy to proclaim it safe for anyone desperate enough to buy some.


Will a safe exercise pill ever truly arrive?

Perhaps. Many scientists and researchers are dedicating vast time and resources to make it a reality. Some hope to short-circuit the body's fat burning system like 516 does. Some hope to enhance the genes responsible for increased risk of obesity. Some hope to change how the body stores fat in the first place.

Until a legitimate supplement or drug arrives on the market that has passed thorough testing and due diligence however, it is best to steer clear.


If exercise pills aren't an option, what can I do?

Get up, get out, and get moving!

Regular exercise provides powerful health benefits beyond just burning fat. It can improve your skin tone, reduce your risk of leading killers like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and decrease your risk of injuries later in life.

Exercise has been shown to reduce the risks of debilitating falls in the elderly, as well as the risk of mental illness. It provides powerful anti-depressant effects. It strengthens your bone density. It improves your lung capacity and helps to heal the effects of long-term smoking.

Good old-fashioned exercise provides a seemingly endless list of positive rewards. Would you really sacrifice all of that in exchange for a pill that will most likely give you cancer?

We hope not.