The Skinny Behind Weight Loss Supplements
With the multitudes of weight loss supplements out there and Dr. Oz recommending the latest weight loss “miracle” on a near weekly basis – what are you supposed to believe? Well, I scoured the medical literature and found that most of the weight loss supplements have good studies trying to prove their effectiveness. Even more surprising are the results.
Hydroxycitric acid is obtained from extracts of Garcinia cambogia and has been shown to suppress food intake and decrease body weight gain. The most recent evidence suggests that Garcinia extracts generate a small amount of weight loss in the short term. Most of the studies involved included a significant caloric restriction in addition to exercise.
Bottom line – Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement may help you lose a small amount of weight when coupled with caloric restriction and exercise (not miraculous weight loss).
Chromium bound to niacin makes glucose tolerance factor, which helps your insulin work better. It has been shown to decrease carbohydrate cravings. Reported effects include an increase in lean body mass, a decrease in percent body fat, and an increase in the basal metabolic rate. The results of the studies showed a small amount of weight loss without a change in diet and exercise. Look for chromium polynicotinate (it’s already bound to the niacin and ready to get to work) rather than the more common chromium picolinate.
Bottom line – again, as a weight loss supplement, chromium alone is no miracle. But coupled with the right diet and exercise it might make a significant difference.
Chitosan is a substance derived from the exoskeleton of crustaceans (those with shellfish allergies beware!). It is promoted as a remedy to reduce fat absorption. According to multiple studies there is considerable doubt that chitosan is effective for reducing body weight in humans. The most common side effects included constipation and flatulence.
Bottom line – no documented weight loss and gastrointestinal side effects. Chitosan is not a weight loss supplement I would recommend.
Glucomannan is a component of konjac root. I found only one study that suggests significantly greater weight loss compared to placebo. The subjects in this study were encouraged not to change their diet or exercise. There were no side effects in the treatment group.
Bottom line – more studies need to be done, but as a weight loss supplement, Glucomannan appears promising
The chemical structure of guar gum is similar to that of Glucomannan, but the results of the studies are not. Neither the individual studies nor the meta-analysis showed a significant difference compared to placebo. Side effects included diarrhea and flatulence.
Bottom line – no weight loss benefit. Side effects including diarrhea and flatulence – I’ll pass on recommending this as a weight loss supplement.
Hydroxy-methylbutyrate inhibits protein breakdown – maintains muscle mass. It has been used by bodybuilders to induce positive changes in body composition.The studies show an increase in lean body mass from all trials reviewed. No adverse effects were reported.
Bottom line – HMB had not been well studied as a weight loss supplement. But some encouraging data regarding lean body mass. This is a supplement to keep your eye on.
Green Coffee Extract
Green coffee beans are coffee beans that have not yet been roasted. These coffee beans contain a higher amount of the chemical chlorogenic acid. This chemical is thought to have health benefits. For weight loss, chlorogenic acid in green coffee is thought to affect how the body handles blood sugar and metabolism. Similar to Garcinia camogia, there may be a small amount of weight loss associated with green coffee extract.
Bottom Line – not the miracle weight loss supplement you’ve been looking for.
Bottom, Bottom Line
Many of the weight loss supplements out there have potential for a small amount of weight loss associated. However, the degree of weight loss is generally overshadowed by what you can do with a controlled calorie diet. I personally recommend chromium polynicotinate, more to enhance insulin function and decrease carbohydrate cravings – the mild weight loss is a bonus. I am also personally considering starting HMB, because who doesn’t want to increase their lean body mass.