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It’s a well known fact that a proper diet combined with exercise remains the best way to promote weight loss and manage body composition. However, numerous nutritional approaches have been investigated as possible weight loss methods with or without exercise. According to the International Society for Sports Nutrition (ISSN), these products are categorised depending on the research that exists to back up their effectiveness. In this week’s article discover some of the most common types of weight loss products available, which have proven benefits and can help you achieve your ideal weight!

Apparently Effective

  • Low Calorie Diet Foods & Supplements

Most of the products in this category are convenience supplements such as pre-packaged food, bars, and RTD (ready to drink) supplements which are low fat/carbohydrate, high protein food alternatives. They are designed to help people follow a particular low calorie diet plan. Diets that provide less than 1000 calories per day are known as very low calorie diets (VLCD’s). In most cases, VLCD plans recommend behavioural modification and an exercise routine. Research on the safety and efficacy of people maintaining VLCD’s generally indicate that they can promote weight loss.

In fact, the combination of high protein and exercise is the most effective intervention for weight loss and is superior to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet in promoting weight loss regardless of the presence of an exercise intervention. The reason for this is that typically when people lose weight about 40-50% of the weight loss is muscle which decreases resting energy expenditure. Increasing protein intake during weight loss helps preserve muscle mass and resting energy expenditure to a better degree than high carbohydrate diets. Most people appear to maintain at least half of the initial weight lost for 1-2 years but tend to regain most of the weight back within 2-5 years. Therefore, although these diets may help people lose weight on the short-term, consistency is important in order to maintain the weight loss.

  • Ephedra, Caffeine, and Silicin Thermogenics are supplements

These products are designed to stimulate metabolism and consequently increase energy expenditure and promote weight loss. They typically contain the “ECA” combination of ephedra alkaloids, caffeine and aspirin/salicin. The first of the three traditional thermogenics is now banned by the FDA however; its safety is debated. Ephedrine/ephedra can promote a more substantial weight loss 0.9 kg per month in comparison to placebo in clinical trials but it comes with increased risk of psychiatric, gastrointestinal symptoms as well as heart palpitations.
More recently, other potentially thermogenic nutrients have been added to these formulations instead of the banned ephedra. For example, thermogenic supplements may also contain synephrine, calcium & sodium phosphate, thyroid stimulators, cayenne & black pepper, and ginger root.

Possibly Effective

  • High Fiber Diets

One of the oldest and most common methods of suppressing the appetite is to consume a diet that is high in fiber. High fiber foods (fruits, vegetables) or fiber containing supplements increase the feeling of fullness (satiety) which allows you to feel full while ingesting fewer calories. Theoretically, maintaining a high fiber diet may help decrease the amount of food you consume. In addition, high fiber diets/supplements help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, enhance insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. One of the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet is its high fiber content which is linked with the above health benefits and is considered as one of the best diets.

  • Calcium

According to research dietary calcium has been shown to suppress fat metabolism and weight gain during periods of high caloric intake. Moreover, increasing calcium intake has been shown to increase fat metabolism and preserve thermogenesis during caloric restriction. The reason calcium promotes reductions in fat mass is that it modulates a certain form of the vitamin D (1,25-diydroxyvitamin D) which serves to regulate the calcium levels in fat cells. These findings suggest a strong relationship between calcium intake and fat loss. However, more research is needed before we can make definitive conclusions.

  • Green Tea Extract

Green tea is now one of the most common herbal supplements added to thermogenic products because it has been suggested to affect weight loss. Green tea contains high amounts of caffeine and a group of substances called catechin polyphenols. The primary catechin that is associated to the potential effects on weight loss is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. Research suggests that catechin polyphenols possess antioxidant properties and the intake of tea catechins is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, green tea may increase energy expenditure by stimulating brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, or in other words, heat production which would increase energy expenditure and weight loss.

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA)

CLA is a term used to describe a group of isomers of linoleic acid that contain conjugated double bonds. There are some data suggesting that CLA supplementation may promote fat loss and increases in lean mass. In fact, CLA supplementation combined with creatine and whey protein can lead to an increase in strength and lean-tissue mass during resistance training. However, some studies don’t show any benefits for weight loss. Therefore, CLA supplementation may have potential in the areas of general health and but research on its effects on body composition is ongoing.

Apparently ineffective

The available research for these substances in terms to their effect on weight loss is rather limited, and therefore their use is not recommended.

  • Calcium Pyruvate
  • L-Carnitine
  • Chromium
  • Chitosan
  • Phosphates
  • Herbal Diuretics

By Kleio Bathrellou
Associate Nutritionist & Certified Sports Nutritionist

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