From the monthly archives:

May 2011

Six diet supplements

May 31, 2011

As a follow on from my last post about the HGC diet, here is an excellent article from nola.com about six diet suppliments and how effective, or dangerous, they are.

At the risk of repeating myself… you don’t need pills to lose weight! It’s doubtfull they actually do anything other than put your health at risk anyway.

Here’s the article:pills

There was a commercial years ago that showed a guy walking into a gym, stepping on a scale, running a lap around the gym and then jumping right back on the scale to see how much weight he had lost. I can’t remember what the ad was selling, but the message was clear: When we want to lose weight, we want to lose it now. Fast. And without working too hard.

It’s these conflicting desires that drive us to try the latest diets and to buy the hottest supplements that promise quick weight loss without much effort.

And I get it. I have many clients who want to “take something” to make it easier to lose weight.

When they ask me about supplements that they’re interested in taking, I have two main questions: First, is it safe? And if so, is it effective?

If there’s any question about safety, I recommend against it, period. And just because a product claims to be “all-natural” or “pharmacist-formulated” doesn’t mean that it’s safe.

If a product is safe, but may or may not be effective, I don’t have a problem with someone trying it out. Taking a supplement may give the extra psychological boost the person needs, and the worst consequence would be wasting their money.

But remember this: You never know how stimulants — or the combination of multiple stimulants often found in weight-loss supplements — might affect you. Supplements aren’t FDA approved, and supplement companies are responsible for making sure that their own claims are true and their products are safe. That means we simply have to trust what’s on the label.

There are literally hundreds of weight-loss supplements in stores and online, but there are six products that I’ve been getting a lot of questions about lately. My evaluations of those follow; if yours is not on the list, do your own research and ask your doctor if a product is right for you.

USPlabs OxyELITE Pro

Cost: $42.99 for 90 capsules (30- to 45-day supply)

The promise: OxyELITE Pro claims to be “Pharmacist-formulated and must be used with extreme caution only by healthy adults capable of handling its true power.”

What’s in it: A combination of stimulants, including caffeine and dimethylamylamine. Each capsule contains 100 milligrams of caffeine — about that of a cup of coffee. Caffeine alone isn’t necessarily an effective fat-loss supplement, but it’s considered safe in doses up to 300 to 400 milligrams (mg) daily. Dimethylamylamine, on the other hand, is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and may increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. Combining dimethylamylamine with other stimulants — including caffeine — can add to this risk.

The product also contains multiple herbs, including Bauhinia purpurea L. (shown to increase thyroid function in mice, though no studies have been conducted in humans) and Cirsium oligophyllum (a single study — on rats — showed that it may increase fat breakdown).

My take: This product’s warning label is longer than the benefits, ingredients and directions text combined. Not only is one of the ingredients banned by WADA, the supplement is also questionable for anyone with heart, liver, kidney or thyroid conditions, as well as anyone taking MAOI or SSRI antidepressants. In short, I wouldn’t recommend OxyELITE Pro to anyone.

Lipo-6X

Cost: $49.99 for 120 caps (30-day supply)

The promise: Rapid weight loss with its Accelerated Fat-Loss Formula

What’s in it: A combination of stimulants, including caffeine, synephrine HCL and yohimbine. Like OxyELITE Pro, each capsule contains about a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine. The more potent ingredient in Lipo-6X is synephrine (similar in structure to the now-banned ephedra), which can increase blood pressure and heart rate — and combining synephrine with caffeine increases the risks. Yohimbine has been associated with serious side effects including arrhythmia, seizure and heart attack.

Lipo-6X also contains guggulsterones, which have a thyroid-stimulating effect. Taking a supplement that contains guggulsterones can interfere with thyroid lab tests, as well as medications and treatments to normalize thyroid function.

My take: My opinion of Lipo-6X is similar to that of OxyELITE Pro: There’s a huge red flag when the warning label takes up most of the space on the bottle. Like OxyELITE Pro, Lipo-6X cautions users to check with physicians if they have medical issues involving heart, liver, kidney or thyroid. It also says to avoid caffeine, including coffee and soft drinks, and to check with your physician first if you’re taking medications as common as Advil, aspirin or antidepressants. Would I recommend Lipo-6X — or any other Lipo-6 product — to a client or friend? No way.

QuickTrim Extreme Burn

Cost: $49.99 for 120 caplets (30-day supply)

The promise: “How hot can you be? Keep up with Kim and Kortney Kardashian. Try the diet brand they love.”

What’s in it: In addition to vitamin C and a day’s worth of the B vitamin niacin, every two-capsule serving contains multiple sources of stimulants, including 200 mg of caffeine, theobromine (from cocoa seed) and green tea extract. This combination of ingredients appears to be safer than the ingredients in OxyELITE Pro and Lipo-6X. QuickTrim Extreme Burn’s “Super C3G Lipolytic Complex” is essentially a blend of fruits and fruit extracts. Good sources of antioxidants, perhaps (though it’s impossible to know just how much, since exact dosages aren’t listed for each), but they’re not going to help your body burn significantly more fat.

The ingredients listed under the “Extreme Fat-Loss Catalyst Complex” include green tea extract, cinnamon bark, banaba leaf and Gymnema sylvestre leaf, all of which can lower blood sugar levels. This can be a good thing, especially for people with insulin resistance.

My take: Compared to the intense stimulants listed in OxyELITE Pro and Lipo-6X, QuickTrim Extreme Burn seems moderately safer. But there’s still a potential risk in combining multiple stimulants, and there’s no guarantee that it will accelerate fat loss.

All three of the above-mentioned supplements contain multiple herbs or other plant-based compounds. While some of these may be safe, others have a laundry list of interactions with medications, alcohol and/or antidepressants. And for anyone looking to take one of these products to lose post-baby weight, be aware that nearly all of the herbs should be avoided if breast-feeding.

HCG drops

Cost: Varies by brand; ranges from $39.99 for 40-day supply to $69.99 for 15-day supply.

The promise: Lose up to a pound a day

What’s in it: Though ingredients vary by brand, most are a combination of amino acids that are claimed to promote fat burning, muscle growth and appetite control. Some brands contain various herbs; others contain caffeine (40 milligrams per serving, or about half a cup of coffee).

The makers of HCG drops appear to be trying to cash in on the HCG diet, which centers on daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that is released during pregnancy and is used to trigger ovulation during fertility treatment. The diet protocol calls for 23 or 43 days of HCG injections, along with a 500-calorie diet.

My take: Any weight lost with the HCG diet is likely due more to the very restrictive 500-calorie diet than the HCG injections (which, by the way, cannot be prescribed for weight loss in Louisiana). And there’s absolutely no evidence that the amino acids or other ingredients found in HCG drops will have the same effect as HCG injections. But when it comes to safety, the HCG drops with only amino acids appear to be harmless. Regardless, I would never recommend this diet protocol — nor the accompanying supplements — to anyone.

SENSA

Cost: $89.99 for 60-day supply

The promise: Sprinkle it on. Eat less. Lose weight (30+ pounds without dieting!).

What’s in it: Maltodextrin (a carbohydrate derived from corn starch), tricalcium phosphate (an anti-caking ingredient), silica (used to control humidity in products), and natural and artificial flavors. Directions say to sprinkle the Sensa crystals (referred to as “Tastants”) labeled “salty” on salty foods and “sweet” on sweet foods.

My take: The company’s website says that “by enhancing smell, Sensa Tastants were designed to help speed up the process and trigger your ‘I feel full’ signal, so you eat less and feel more satisfied.” The evidence for Sensa is based on a study conducted by Sensa’s developer in which 1,436 men and women lost an average of 30.5 pounds in six months without changing their existing diet or exercise program. Never mind that this study has never been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Is Sensa safe? It seems to be, at least according to the product label. But will it help you lose weight? I doubt it.

Bios Life Slim

Cost: $121.95 for 60 servings

The promise: “Train your body to burn away excess fat forever — without the jitters, hunger, or confusion of other weight-loss products or programs — creating a slimmer, more active, more attractive you.”

What’s in it: With 3.4 grams of fiber per packet, Bios Life Slim’s self-named “Biosphere Fiber” is a blend of soluble fibers, including guar gum, citrus pectin, oat fiber and beta glucan, all of which may lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels.

The “Bios Cardio Matrix” contains cholesterol-lowering phytosterols (the same compound that’s in Promise active cholesterol-reducing spreads) along with other potential cholesterol-lowering ingredients. And the “Bios Vitamin Complex” provides large amounts of B vitamins, along with smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

My take: Bios Life Slim is stimulant-free, so there’s little or no risk associated with taking this supplement. The different types of fibers may help to keep you feeling fuller longer, but that’s no guarantee that you’ll eat less, nor will fiber rev up your metabolism. These various fibers can help to stabilize blood sugar and energy levels and reduce cholesterol, however, and the phytosterols can also help to lower cholesterol levels. Here’s the thing, though: Bios Life Slim doesn’t reveal how much of each ingredient is in the product, so there’s no way to know if there’s enough to make a difference. And at $2 per serving, it’s pricey.

If you’ve got the money to spend, there’s no harm in trying it. If your goal is to reduce your cholesterol levels, have your levels checked when you start Bios Life Slim, and then again three months later. Those numbers, along with any corresponding change on the scale or in how your clothes fit, will let you know if this supplement is worth your money.

The bottom line

The developers behind many of these weight-loss products acknowledge that the key to losing weight comes down to diet and exercise. So it makes more sense to spend your time, your energy and your money on what’s been proven to work: Moving more, whether it’s at the gym, the park or even your own living room, and consuming fewer calories than you burn.

Focus on incorporating a small meal or snack every three or four hours, incorporating enough protein and fiber and small amounts of fat to keep you feeling fuller on fewer calories, and limiting calorie-dense starchy carbs.

And if you’re deciding whether to take a high-potency, stimulant-laced diet pill to lose a few pounds? My opinion is that it’s just not worth it.

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HCG Diet Scam

May 31, 2011

Do not fall the the HCG Diet Scam!

You may have heard about the HCG diet and how people are losing weight on it. Check out the video below showing a news report on it.

At first it sounds like there is something to it… then you realise these people are ALSO on a 500 calorie a day diet!

Folks, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that ANYONE on a 500 calorie a day diet is going to lose a lot of weight quickly, whether they are injecting themselves with stuff or not.

There is no scientific evidence that this pregnancy hormone actually has the effect claimed. There is conclusive scientific evidence, however, that a 500 calorie diet will cause anyone to lose wieght quickly.

So what’s going on here? Well, for people paying the several thousand dollars required to receive the injections, they are probably thinking it’s the hormones doing the job. But why pay the money? And why risk injecting female pregnancy hormones into your body when nobody yet knows the long term side effects of doing such a thing?

And why bother at all when you can do a 500 calorie a day crash diet without injecting anything?

And here’s the thing. As we all know by now, permanent weight loss is only achieved by a permanent change in lifestyle. The HCG diet, like any crash diet, is a short term fix that does nothing to address the long term issues that cause weight gain in the first place.

So please, don’t be tempted to part with your hard earned cash, and risk your health, for this stupid crash diet.

I’ve lost 20lbs this year without dieting, without joining a gym, without taking pills or suppliments, and I’ve eaten out loads, drunk loads of beer and generally had a nice time. I’ve lost 20lbs because I made small yet significant changes to how I live. And I know this weight loss is permanent because there is no diet to come off of, no injections to stop taking, no pills to run out of. I’m not going to get bored of going to the gym either, because I don’t go.

Here’s the video:

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Here’s an interesting article about portion control and exercise. A lot of people think they can just do a ton of exercise to make up for the fact that they eat too much but it doesn’t work that way. It’s far better to take control of what your eating and do moderate exercise than trying to spend all day in the gym and then going for a burger with fries and washing it down with a load of beer.

Here’s the article:power lifter

Post-workout treats can deny weight loss for even the most ardent workout fiends

You are what you eat, no matter how far or how fast you try to run from it.

Eating and exercising go hand in hand. The more you exercise, the more you eat. The more you eat, the more you need to exercise.

Experts said any exercise is good for a body. But exercise alone cannot make you thin.

Exercise can enhance people’s mood and become a source of happiness. Therefore, said Therese Waterhous, an eating disorder specialist and owner of Willamette Nutrition Source, “understand why you are exercising and make it a fun experience. Something to enjoy and anticipate.”

The reasons for exercise vary from improving blood pressure to staving off diabetes to compensating for a gluttonous weekend. People have their own motivators. However, the goal behind the exercise can be cause for concern.

“Moving is good for you,” said Carol Walsh, nutrition expert at The Corvallis Clinic in Corvallis. “Exercise on its own provides many health benefits.”

Exercise improves insulin resistance, reduces blood pressure, it is recommended for lowering cholesterol and reducing stress.

Don’t lose sight of those benefits, Walsh said. But don’t expect weight loss. For weight loss there has to be a change in energy balance. Exercising burns calories and burning calories increases hunger. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see ladies in Spandex in line for coffee topped with whipped cream or men finishing their run at a tavern to put back a pint, or two, of beer.

That after-gym treat will ruin exercise benefits to the waistline but not to the heart.

Walsh said 70 percent of the population says they are active – but still 60 percent to 70 percent of the population is overweight.

No matter what weight a person is, everybody is recommended to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. To maintain your current weight, you need to eat about the same calories your body is using. To lose weight, a body must eat fewer calories than it is using.

Eating and obesity

What we eat and how much we eat are the leading factors in obesity.

American health experts report adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, from 15 to 30 percent, while childhood obesity rates have more than tripled. These obesity rates have significant health consequences, contributing to increased rates of more than 30 serious diseases. These conditions create a major strain on the health care system. More than a quarter of health care costs are now related to obesity.

At the same time, strength and enhanced health and energy come with exercise — but exercise doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss.

“If a person is exercising and expecting it will contribute to weight loss that’s when they need to look at what is related to weight loss,” Walsh said. “There has to be fewer calories going in than what’s being expended. You do expend calories when you exercise, but if you end up eating more than what you’ve exercised, you haven’t created that negative energy balance.”

Portion sizes boom

So many things contribute to obesity today. Portion sizes are astronomical, said Sara Lee Thomas, clinical nutrition manager at Samaritan Health in Corvallis. People have increased screen time and hectic but sedentary lifestyles drive people to eat fast food more than once a week.

The result, Thomas said: “It’s real easy to out-eat exercise.”

At the same time, the amount of calories in fast food meals has increased. In the 1950s, a fast food meal was about 500 calories. Today, that same basic meal is 1,000 calories. The same meal is twice as much and we aren’t walking twice as much to make up for it.

Just to maintain their weight, adults need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day, Thomas said. Instead of focusing on loss, people need to focus on how to stop gaining. Cut 100 calories a day to prevent weight gain.

“Get in 2,000 steps more a day,” Thomas said. “Take the stairs, park farther from the door. You don’t have to lose all the extra weight to get benefits. Just losing 1 percent can save $400 in health cost a year.”

“The body is made to move,” Thomas said. “We all need to sit less and move more.”

But be careful: Exercising to the extreme to make up for increased caloric intake is a bad reason to work out, Waterhous said.

“When you are exercising to only get rid of extra calories, you are purging,” she said. “Think beyond exercise in relation only to calories.”

Waterhous said people need to understand their relationship with food and become knowledgeable to make healthy choices.

“Everyone is concerned with getting fat,” she said. “Everybody hates their body. However, food should be pleasure and we should eat to satisfy hunger.”

“If you allow yourself to enjoy food, it is easier to walk away,” Waterhous said. “Instead we put ourselves through cycles of food depravation followed by overeating. It is never-ending.”

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Here are some tips from American Health and Beauty for changing to a good diet over a ten week period. Personally I think it’s a bit regimented but there are some good tips in there nonetheless and I do pretty much follow this method myself for the most part.

It’s no doubt that good eating habits lead to weight loss and all around better health. Here are 5 tips: 1 per 2 week increment to help you clean up your diet for good.

We think the general consensus is that eating healthy is hard, even for people whose careers are based in fitness. Time and time again, however, we see success stories that scream to us: “It can be done!” There’s nothing stopping you but the lack of a solid plan and we are here to correct that problem. Follow these steps and over time you will have reached your destination – thin and sound.

Eating Clean – Cut Out The JunkBill Stagg turning up his beans, Pie Town, New Mexico. He will next pile them for curing (LOC)

During the first 2 weeks, the first step is to cut out fast food, junk food, and sweets. You need to be eating food that comes from the ground or an animal. As long as that is true, eat whatever you want and how much you want for about 2 weeks to get yourself used to eating real food. You can have whatever seasoning or condiments you want and you can follow your regular eating schedule.

Eating Clean-er

For the next two weeks, try to make sure the majority of what you eat has been purchased and prepared by you or someone in your household. This way you know exactly what is in the food you are ingesting. At this point, you’ll want to cut back on butter, heavy or sugary sauces like barbecue sauce and some popular condiments that may contain an excess of sugar.

Smaller Portions, More Frequently

During the 3rd 2 week increment, start eating smaller portions more frequently. Aim for at least 5 times a day, about every 2-3 hours. Every meal should have one serving of protein, one serving of carbs, and one serving of green vegetables. Count a serving as about a hand full. Fill up your Tupperware or your plate evenly and don’t eat anything else. If you’re eating out, order the small portion.

Meal Planning

Now we’re getting serious. On the fourth 2 week period, sit down one night and plan out 5 meals. Once you’ve got this planned out, purchase the groceries you’ll need and plan two days out of the week when you can cook all your food. Then bring it with you to work and wherever else you may go during the week. Try to get all your meals in.

Eat Clean, On Time, Everyday

Last two weeks: Plan your meals from when you wake up til when you go to bed, each 2.5 hours apart. Try to eat the same thing at the same time every day. Stop eating carbs after the 3rd meal, and don’t eat anything in between your meals. After this, continue to maintain the good habits you’ve started.

The key to attaining your fitness goals is approaching with a strategy that you can maintain because consistency is the only thing that yields results 100% of the time.

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