The Skinny on Nestle's New Exercise in a Bottle Project

Burn calories without exercise? Maybe someday.

ByABC News
November 21, 2014, 12:57 PM
Nestle scientists want to create a drink to "help promote and augment the effects of exercise."
Nestle scientists want to create a drink to "help promote and augment the effects of exercise."
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

— -- The Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé is working on developing the lazy person's holy grail: an edible product that replaces exercise -- providing at least some of the benefits.

But it will be a while before the magical potion gets approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, let alone hits shelves of your neighborhood grocery store.

"Ideally, we'll be able to develop products that will help promote and augment the effects of exercise," said Kei Sakamoto, who heads the diabetes and circadian rhythms department at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Switzerland.

Specifically, Nestlé is working on a product that would regulate AMPK, an enzyme that scientists have dubbed the "metabolic master switch." The target customer is someone with diabetes or someone who is obese, according to the company.

Researchers at Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences and several other institutions found that a compound acts on the AMPK enzyme in mice to stop their livers from producing fat, according to a study published in July in the journal Chemistry and Biology.

But don't think you're going to drink your way to a beach body.

The product won't outright replace exercise, Sakamoto said in a statement, explaining that even run-of-the-mill exercise has such a dynamic role that Nestlé will "never be able to mimic all those effects in a single product."

Dr. Silvana Obici, an endocrinologist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio who was not involved in the study and has no affiliation with Nestlé, said it was too early to know if the findings in mice could be replicated in humans with any success.

"Although I am very happy that new specific compounds with selective AMPK are coming to the forefront, I can say I have guarded optimism," Obici told ABC News. "It needs to be demonstrated directly and not only in trials but also in animal models of obesity and also in clinical trials."

Obici said she had guarded optimism that a drink that affects AMPK could "rev up the metabolism," but said the drink would never fully replace eating healthy and working out.

"As a doctor, I want to point out that any drug that we have at our disposal for weight reduction and obesity [does] not work unless you are implementing lifestyle changes," she said.

Dr. Ryan Lang, a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit, contributed to this report.