|Nancy Brinch, MS, RD, LSW,
is Richard Stockton College's campus nutritionist. She obtained
her BS in Food and Nutriton from the Univ. of Delaware and her Master's
in Nutrition from Penn State Univ.
She provides individual, confidential nutritional counseling to
students. Her service is free for RSC students. For appointments
call extension 5740. Nancy Brinch can be contacted at Nancy.Brinch@stockton.edu
|Weight Loss Supplements & Popular
By Nancy Brinch, MS, RD, LSW
continually search for the easiest quick-fix weight-loss method.
Supplement manufacturers and diet book authors know the American
public is willing to spend millions of dollars to lose weight without
exercising or depriving themselves of large quantities of their
favorite foods. Do any of the recent supplements and popular diets
Ephedra was the popular ingredient in many weight-loss supplements
until the FDA banned it in April 2003 because of dangerous side
effects. This ban was upheld in federal district court. Manufacturers
have replaced ephedra with bitter orange (citrus aurantium) that
contains synephrine. Bitter orange is found in weight-loss
supplements such as Xenedrine EFX, Metabolife Ultra and Stacker
2 in combination with other ingredients. No research has studied
the effect of bitter orange alone on weight loss. Because synephrine
is similar to ephedra the FDA is considering banning it.
Green tea extract is found in weight-loss supplements such
as Xenedrine EFX, Metabolife Ephedra Free and Stacker 2. Green tea
extract contains caffeine and EGCG (epigallocatechin.) Supplement
manufacturers claim EGCG plus caffeine can cause weight loss
by increasing metabolic rate. A recent research study using green
tea extract showed that ECGC plus caffeine (but not caffeine alone)
caused a slight (4%) increase in caloric expenditure (about 80 calories
a day in male subjects.) At this time green tea extract appears
to be safe, but few studies on this supplement have been conducted.
is included in many weight-loss supplements. Ingredients such
as kola nut, guarana and yerba mate are caffeine sources
often used in these products. These stimulants in combination with
other stimulant ingredients such as green tea extract can cause
heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness, irritability, and muscle
tension if taken in large quantities. Metabolife Ultra, Metabolife
Ephedra Free, Xenedrine EFX and Stacker 2 contain one or more of
these caffeine sources.
Chromium picolinate has been marketed as a weight-loss supplement.
Research has shown that it is not effective for weight loss. The
FTC ordered the manufacturers of chromium picolinate to stop making
false weight-loss claims. Conjugated linoleic acid has been
touted as a weight-loss aid, but harmful side effects occur frequently.
Herbal diet teas often contain laxatives such as senna, Buckthorn,
cascara, and aloe. These can cause gastrointestinal distress and
may lead to constipation and dependency if overused.
The FTC has ordered the manufacturers of the following products
to stop making false and misleading weight-loss claims: Carb Zapper,
Chito Block 2000 Plus C, Chitosan 500 mg., Dreamshape, Extreme Carb
Blocker, F Block Chitosan, Lean Image Carb Blocker, Metabo Fat Blocker,
Starch Blocker 1000, Trim Spa Fat Blocker, Ultra Carbo Blocker,
Zone Fat Blocker. The makers of these products falsely claim they
block the absorption of starch, fat and calories thereby allowing
weight loss without making any lifestyle changes.
None of these supplements has been proven to cause permanent weight
loss. Some have harmful side effects.
High carb?? Low Carb??
Much confusion surrounds the controversy regarding the best diet
for weight loss. The Atkins and South Beach diets promote a low
carb diet, defying recommendations to eat a low fat, high carb diet
for weight loss. Research comparing both approaches showed that
after 6 months people on the low carb diet lost more weight than
people on a low fat, high carb diet. But at the end of one year
there was no difference in weight loss between the two diet approaches.
Both diets lower total serum cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
However, the low fat, high carb diet causes an increase in serum
triglycerides and a decrease in HDL ("good") cholesterol (factors
that increase the risk for heart disease) while the low carb diet
has a favorable effect on these risk factors.
Carbohydrate is necessary in the diet. It is the body's source of
glucose. Glucose is the only source of fuel for the brain and the
nervous system. It is also the primary fuel for athletic performance.
45% to 55% of daily calories should come
from carbohydrate. Much of the popular information on carbohydrates
does not distinguish between refined carbs and unrefined carbs.
Refined carbs (such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar,
pretzels, cookies, chips, crackers, soda, etc.) are quickly broken
down to glucose in the body. This causes a rapid rise in the blood
glucose level that triggers a burst of insulin which causes a plunge
in blood sugar levels. As a result you feel hungry and eat more
food. Refined carbs cause the undesirable rise in serum triglycerides
and drop in HDL cholesterol seen in a high carb diet.
Eating unrefined carbs like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes,
and low fat dairy products causes a gradual rise in blood sugar
and insulin levels which prevents the drop in blood sugar that occurs
after eating refined carbs. Eating unrefined carbs creates a feeling
of fullness that limits food consumption. Rather than focusing on
cutting carbs in general, focus on eating unrefined carbs and limit
intake of refined carbs. Include sources of plant fats in the diet
(i.e. nuts, peanut butter, olive oil) along with unrefined carbs
to feel satisfied longer. Protein increases satiety. Eat low fat
protein foods like chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs, cottage cheese,
skim milk and low fat yogurt along with unrefined carbs and plant
fats to increase satiety and minimize carb cravings.
Not all carbs are the same. We need to eat the more slowly digested
unrefined carbs and minimize consumption of the rapidly digested
refined carbs. Calories do count! Portion size matters! Weight loss
requires consuming fewer calories than our bodies burn. By choosing
foods that satisfy physical hunger like unrefined carbs, low fat
protein and plant fats we can decrease caloric intake and lose weight
gradually - the permanent way.