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Man jogging in winter using plant compounds to boost AMPK and reducing belly fat

AMPK and Belly Fat

Human studies show that two plant compounds can increase AMPK activation and reduce belly fat.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD.

Man measuring amount of belly fat with caliper

An expanding waistline tends to go hand-in-hand with aging.

AMPK is an enzyme found in every cell of the body. The problem is that its activity decreases with age.1

As an energy regulator, activated AMPK can enable fat burning and other beneficial cellular processes.1,2

Two plant compounds—Gynostemma pentaphyllum and hesperidin—have been shown to support youthful AMPK activity and fat loss.3,4

In one study, subjects given the Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract had a 6.3% decrease in abdominal fat as assessed by CT scans, and lost one inch from their waistline.5

In another study, the subjects' percent of body fat decreased by 3.7% and their total body fat was reduced by 3% when given hesperidin.6

Combining hesperidin with Gynostemma extract can maximize their fat-reducing and health-promoting potential.

What Is AMPK?

AMPK is an enzyme in our cells that regulates glucose and fat metabolism.7

Think of it as a sophisticated fuel sensor within cells, capable of regulating a wide range of energetic pathways. When cells are low on energy, AMPK triggers the production of ATP. This is the form of energy that cells require.8,9

When activated, AMPK triggers cellular processes that promote healthy aging.9

A decline in AMPK signaling is common in aging. This can lead to increased fat deposition, heightened inflammation, poor responsiveness to insulin, and decreased ability to repair damaged tissue.10

Supporting the activity of AMPK is key for healthy aging.

Reducing Belly Fat

Man resting after jog to reduce abdominal obesity

Abdominal obesity—often referred to as belly fat—has been linked with heart disease, type II diabetes, increased in-hospital mortality, and more.11

An expanding waistline is associated with insulin resistance and lower AMPK activity.12,13

One way that the diabetes medication metformin works is by activating AMPK.14

Scientists are increasingly looking at plant compounds to accomplish this.15

Increased Longevity

AMPK promotes many anti-aging actions that could result in a longer, healthier life.16

When scientists increased AMPK activity in roundworms, their lifespan increased by up to 15%.17

The longevity-promoting effects of AMPK have also been proven in fungi, fruit flies, and rodents.18,19 Due to their shorter lifespans, these organisms make it easier to study longevity.

Impact on Aging Factors

Lab researcher using microscope to study AMPK and cellular samples

Our body ages due to a gradual decline in cell, tissue, and organ function. Part of this results from a decrease in AMPK activity.20

AMPK controls the functioning of a whole network of cellular regulatory pathways involved in the aging process.1

As AMPK activity drops, there is an increase in cellular stress.16

Impaired AMPK signaling is involved in many disorders of aging, including heart failure, type II diabetes, cancer, and age-related vision loss.19,21-23

Activated AMPK helps regulate autophagy, a recycling process inside cells.24 This cellular housekeeping breaks down damaged cell components that impede youthful function.25

Man pinching belly fat with superimposed cells with increased AMPK activity

What you need to know

Burn Belly Fat and Slow Aging

  • AMPK is an enzyme present in all the body's cells. It acts as a complex and sensitive fuel sensor, ultimately acting as a regulator of a host of aging pathways.
  • Activating AMPK helps combat fat deposition and inflammation, and helps stimulate the production of new mitochondria and reduce the number of dysfunctional cells. This lowers disease risk and helps slow aging.
  • In animal studies, increasing AMPK activity extends lifespan.
  • Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract and hesperidin are two plant compounds that promote youthful AMPK activity.
  • Human and animal studies have shown that these natural AMPK activators can reduce belly fat and decrease inflammation to support health and longevity.

Autophagy includes recycling defective mitochondria, a process known as mitophagy. Mitochondria are the energy factories of cells where ATP is made.7

AMPK activation can help combat elevated blood lipids and vascular calcification.16,19,26

Gynostemma Activates AMPK

Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a vine-like plant that is widely used as a longevity herb in Asian countries.27,28

It has also been used to help reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammation, and obesity.27,29

In mice, extracts from the leaves of G. pentaphyllum have been shown to decrease the production of body fat and increase fat burning.29

A key to the herb's benefits is its ability to activate AMPK.29

When muscle cells were exposed to an extract of G. pentaphyllum in the lab, it strongly stimulated AMPK. As the dose increased, more AMPK was activated.27

Activating AMPK significantly stimulated fat burning in the muscle tissue.

Results from a Clinical Trial

In a double-blind clinical trial, scientists gave 74 obese adults 450 mg of an extract of G. pentaphyllum or a placebo every day for 12 weeks. They maintained their usual diet and activity.5

Subjects given the extract had a 6.3% decrease in abdominal fat as assessed by CT scans and lost one inch from their waistline.5

They also had a significant decrease in overall body fat, while those in the placebo group had an increase.

The scientists monitored the participants' blood markers and vital signs, which confirmed there were no adverse side effects from the herb.

Hesperidin Decreases Belly Fat

Hesperidin is a polyphenol that is especially concentrated in orange peels. It has the potential to fight belly fat, inflammation, and aging in several ways, by activating AMPK.30-32

In a mouse model of obesity, hesperidin boosted AMPK activity. At the end of the 16-week study, the treated mice weighed less and had less body fat than untreated mice.30

In a double-blind crossover study, 24 obese people with metabolic syndrome were given 500 mg of hesperidin or a placebo daily for three weeks.4

The hesperidin produced a significant decrease in inflammatory markers, including a 33% decrease in C-reactive protein.4

The hesperidin also produced improvements in total and HDL cholesterol and blood vessel function.

Anti-Obesity Effects

Man jogging in winter and supplementing with hesperidin

Hesperidin has an advantage in fighting belly fat: It targets several different causes of obesity in addition to ones involving AMPK.33

Preclinical research has shown that hesperidin:

  • Inhibits the absorption of dietary fat from the gut,34,35
  • Inhibits genes involved in all phases of fat cell development,36
  • Promotes the production of enzymes that break down body fat,33,36
  • Reduces body fat accumulation and storage,36 and
  • Increases secretion of adiponectin, a hormone that decreases appetite and inflammation.32

In a recent human study, 40 healthy amateur athletes were given 500 mg of hesperidin or a placebo daily for eight weeks. They maintained their usual diet and lifestyle.6

In the hesperidin group, the subjects' percent of body fat decreased by 3.7% and their total body fat was reduced by 3%.

Combining hesperidin with Gynostemma extract may maximize their fat-reducing and health-promoting potential.


Lab technician reading reports on AMPK samples and healthy aging

AMPK beneficially controls a network of regulatory pathways needed for healthy aging.

A decline in AMPK signaling is common with aging and can lead to fat deposition, inflammation, poor responsiveness to insulin, and decreased ability to repair damaged tissue.10

Boosting AMPK activity holds the potential to tackle multiple conditions of aging, including abdominal obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Gynostemma pentaphyllum and hesperidin are two plant compounds that increase AMPK.

Studies show that these AMPK activators help decrease belly fat and tame inflammation, which can support a healthier lifespan.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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