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Do Weight Loss Supplements Really Work?

Jul 14, 2008
It amazes me that some big time guru diet people praise certain foods and their own diets as the end all be all! Yet in the same breath they claim their own weight loss supplements are the only real way to lose weight. On top of that! There is always a new improved formula, better than the old one! Sounds like a way just to get more of your money! Folks I have been involved in the fitness industry for over 15yrs. There is no magic bullet in the form of a pill, powder, or food that is going to make you lose weight. Portion control and well designed exercise programs are the only time tested methods that truly help people lose weight.

"Some people believe they can't change, not only do they believe they can't change, they don't even try. Then there are the other people, who not only believe they can change, they actually do change" by Robert Saladino. Out of all of God's creatures on the face of the earth, human beings are the only ones allotted the ability to change. We can change our jobs, friends, and most of all our thinking. I believe in you! Now you only have to believe in yourself! No diet aid will help you as much as yourself.

I have listed some of the most popular weight loss supplements that people spend millions of dollars on each year and why you need absolutely none of them!

Hoodia Gordonii:(pronounced HOO-dee-ah) also goes by the name Xhooba, Khoba, Ghaap, Hoodia Cactus, and South African Desert Cactus. The makers of this cactus plant claim the reason why it is such a powerful dietary aid is due to the fact that it suppresses appetite and promotes weight loss. There are 20 types of Hoodia, only the Hoodia Gordonii variety is believed to contain the natural appetite suppressant.

Although Hoodia has been promoted just recently, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have been hailing its claim for over a 100 years. They use it to ward off hunger and thirst during long hunting trips where food is scarce.

. An American pharmaceutical company purchased the rights for the active ingredient named p57 for $20 million dollars. The company has since given back the rights and walked away from Hoodia. Red flag people! A natural ingredient from a plant in nature that surpresses hunger and at the same time can give you energy and a drug company turns it down? This would be the biggest find in the history of the diet industry!

When researchers at a major University studied Hoodia they found that the steroidal glycosides, affect nerve cells in the hypothalamus (located above the brain stem, it controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and anger) tricking the brain into thinking there is enough blood sugar. The hunger mechanisms are then subdued and guess what? You're not hungry anymore. I'm not a medical doctor but I'm going to suggest a radical idea. Maybe, just maybe, YOU REALLY SHOULD KNOW WHEN YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS DROP FROM LACK OF FOOD!!!!! Don't you think you might want to know when your brain needs glucose to perform properly? After all, the brain needs a certain amount of glucose (minimal of about 80g) daily to keep working at optimal levels.

Telling it other wise, will only cause your body to make glucose from non carbohydrate sources, including amino acids from your own muscle tissue. Stronger, bigger muscles burn calories. Making them weaker by drawing on their own amino acids (building blocks of protein-which is the only substrate that helps rebuild tissue in the body) will defeat the purpose of anybody trying to get more fit. Again there are no valid studies to date that can validate Hoodia as a safe and effective aid in a weight loss program. Don't waste your time or money and don't believe the hype. Just believe in yourself! You can change and will change.

L Carnitine: When L-Carnitine is synthesized in the body from lysine and methionine it is used for the transport of fats into the mitochondria (power house of cell) for energy production. It is postulated in theory that if you supplement your diet with L-Carnitine then you will be able to burn more fat and spare glycogen for later use during exercise. There are a couple of problems with this theory. The intestine has trouble digesting anything above a 2-g dose, which in clinical studies has been shown to only increase muscle levels by 1-2% (Hultman and Harper: Carnitine Administration as a Tool to Modify Energy Metabolism During Exercise. Eur. J Applied Physiology .62:450 1991).

Most companies' average 3x that dose, the rest simply goes down the toilet. I guess the most salient problem I have with this theory is: don't you think the human body knows already how much fat it actually needs to burn at one time? If the mitochondrion is already swapped with substrates additional mobilization of fats may not be needed.

There have been countless studies on L-Carnitine all producing results suggesting that there are no benefits from supplementing the diet with it. Your best bet is to follow a balanced diet rich in clean, complete proteins which will contain Lysine and Methionine which can then produce L-Carnitine naturally.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT): As the name implies because they are medium chain MCT's in theory are quickly digested. Hence they can be used for immediate energy opposed to long chain triglycerides which take longer to digest. Sports supplement companies make the claim that MCT's can be used to promote fat loss when on a low carb diet by burning the ingested MCT's and sparing glycogen.

I have reviewed several studies regarding the use of MCT's and have found no research that demonstrated enhancement in performance and no research that significantly displayed altered fat oxidation during exercise. In a nut shell good in theory, bad in results, it simply doesn't work, don't take it. Coconuts are rich in MCT's, if you still think they might work, save some money and buy some coconut oil and use it in cooking. Studies show small amounts will not raise cholesterol.

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA): Is a very popular substance that is found in wanna be weight loss products. It is a compound found in the plant Garcinia Cambogia. The organic acid found in HCA is similar to citric acid found in lemons and oranges. HCA is believed to be able to suppress appetite, increase energy levels and inhibit fat production. There have been promising animal studies that demonstrate fat inhibition, improved glucose function and increased serotonin levels when supplementing with HCA.

In a study conducted at Columbia University when testing 135 overweight human subjects with HCA no reported significant weight loss was reported when compared to the placebo group (November 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.) In case you haven't noticed, we are not fury, with little tails ... In till human studies can replicate similar results, don't bother once again!

Fucothin: A compound found in several different types of seaweed, what will they think of next? The Fucoxanthin contained in Fucothin is a carotenoid much like lutein and lycopene which are powerful antioxidants. The companies that sell Fucothin claim that it creates a powerful thermogenic effect (fat burning) in the body. It does this by boosting the metabolism without causing jitters due to the fact it contains no stimulants. The only published studies that had any significant findings were found in only rat and mice studies. No human studies in real scientific journals have been published. My guess is none ever will.

Ephedra:A plant extract from the Ma hung plant. Ephedra works by increasing the neurotransmitters nor epinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals are picked up by beta receptors (receptors that aid in activation of fat burning) which then cause a thermo effect in the body by raising your metabolism causing you to burn more fat.(Sports Supplements Encyclopedia by Dr. Antonio and Dr. Stout).

Once again, there is no reason to artificially drive your metabolism up. You can naturally and safely raise your metabolism by staying active (exercise) and portion control your food (eat 5-6 smaller meals through out the day). I mentioned safely because there are known side effects of taking products that contain Ephedra including: dizziness, headache, tremor, depressed mood, euphoria, insomnia, dry mouth, increased blood pressure, palpations, racing heart rate and constipation. Wow! Sounds like you might need a trip to doctor's office instead of your normal workout at the gym.

Caffeine: The most popular legal in the world. People seem to have a hard time understanding that caffeine is in fact a drug and a very addicting drug for that matter. Here is a very broad simplistic view of how Caffeine works in the body: Caffeine structurally is very similar to adenine (a component of ATP, DNA and most importantly cyclic AMP).

Caffeine in very simple terms can fool the body and slip into the adenosine receptors, which intern can keep cAMP(referred to as a second messenger in the stimulation of target cells) active rather than being broken down by the enzyme phodiesterase. When cyclic AMP breaks down, the body's energy supply also decreases due to the fact that cAMP activates protein Kinase A which phosphorylates(making something active) hormone-sensitive lipase. When HSL is active it initiates the breakdown of adipose tissue.

In a nutshell caffeine makes available more fat to be burned. The problem is Caffeine like I mentioned earlier can be very addicting and does have side effects including: increase in blood pressure, heart rate, increase urination, and withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, headache and the shakes. If you do decide to use caffeine, use it sparingly for a little pep in your step and not for weight loss.

My take home message is..... Artificially ingesting a substance to aid in weight loss is completely unnecessary. One of my favorite quotes is "As a man thinketh he is" by James Allen. If you are a novice, prescribing to an exercise and new eating strategy for the first time may seem like hard work. Guess what? Your probably right. All great rewards are preceded by hard, hard work! The question is do you really want it! Please no reprints and distribution without including resource box.
About the Author
Robert Saladino is a certified trainer, who has helped hundreds of his clients reach and keep their fitness goals. He is one of the top Personal Trainers in PA; visit his web site now for a free glance at selected chapters of his new e-book At Last! Weight Loss at www.mountainfitnessbyrobert.com If you are someone that is trying to lose weight, gain muscle or just want to get more fit. You owe it to yourself to visit this site! The information will blow your mind
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