Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Supplements Help With Weight Loss?

I hear that there are supplements marketed by Health Food manufacturers, which allegedly increase metabolism ( L-Carnitine) or even enhance the natural production of calorie-burning, muscle-building testosterone without the risks and side-effects of hormone replacement therapy( Tribulus Terrestris and Eurycoma Longifolia , the latter grown in Malaysia /Indonesia and long known as Tongkat Ali /Pasak Bumi) are but two of the many plants believed to boost testosterone by endogenous action). If it could allow me to better manage my weight, give me more energy and restore normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, without the undesirable side-effects of direct hormone replacement therapy, I'd go for it. I'd like to know if you have any comments or suggestions regarding these herbal products. Perhaps as a dietician, you have more flexibility and openness than a doctor. Most doctors, and mine is no exception, don't know much about medicinal plants, unless the effects of their active ingredients are endorsed by clinical studies on humans and appropriated by the pharmaceutical industry as specific drugs. Until then, too many doctors simply don't bother to keep abreast with the findings of phytopharmacology and they turn their lack of knowledge into mistrust. So I hit a brick-wall when I asked her about these herbal products. She told me that it is better to play it safe and stay away from them , not, of course, because she personally knew of any negative ( or positive) effects, but simply because not much is known about them and their interactions with other drugs. I tend to think this is only half of the truth.Again, I'd appreciate your comments on these issues. Thank you, Franco

Dear Franco,

Unfortunately there are not a lot of reputable studies in Western countries on herbal weight loss methods. The herbal supplements that are sold are not regulated by the FDA because they have managed to go under the radar claiming to be neither a food nor a drug. This means that even if there were some great studies on one of the herbs used in another country, we have no idea how many milligrams are present in what's sold over the counter here or how pure the product is, or even if it contains what it claims to.

There are not any supplements, to date, proven to stimulate metabolism; keep in mind that if there were, they would have been discovered, in the news, and widely used by numerous celebrities . . . and no one would be overweight anymore!

That said, there are some things you can do to promote weight loss, even though you say you are already following a healthy diet and are very active: We usually tend to underestimate what we eat (portion sizes as well as little treats that manage to sneak by our conscious minds) and overestimate how active we are. Keeping a food diary and recording everything you eat has been shown over a number of years to help people lose weight. It makes us more aware of what we are eating and you may discover you are eating more than you thought you were.

As for exercise, you might consider wearing a pedometer and/or keeping an exercise log to carefully track how active you actually are. If it's within your means you might also consider a personal trainer... there is evidence that metabolism doesn't decrease with age as much as it does with a reduction in muscle mass. If exercise can increase your muscle mass this does naturally increase your daily metabolism.

No comments:

Post a Comment