The weight loss supplements that work and the bogus ones to avoid – according to an expert
WHEN you're trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to seek out a quick fix.
But do they really exist?
There are lots of companies promising us pills and potions that help to speed up weight loss.
A US regulator recently fined an Amazon firm $12.8 million for fake reviews of a weight loss supplement, which claimed that it "literally blocked fat".
But are all of these dieting products bogus or might there actually be some truth behind a few weight loss supplements?
"Supplements stating they can actively promote weight loss, without mentioning the need to address other factors, should probably be avoided," nutritional therapist Ellie Isom from the Clinical Nutrition Team at BioCare, told Healthista.
Anything that promises to help you lose a ridiculous load of weight in a week is probably best avoiding.
But, she says, there are some natural ingredients that really can speed the process along.
1. Fat blockers – beware
The holy grail of weight loss supplements, fat blockers claim to stop the body from absorbing fat.
Sounds good, right? Who wouldn't want their fat to melt away – for their body to positively reject it?
Well, Ellie warns that they tend to have some pretty unpleasant side effects, including diarrhoea.
"Fat is important in our bodies, especially essential fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6," she said.
"These fats are used within our body for so many processes including the production of hormones and anti-inflammatory molecules, moisturising our skin, and supporting our cardiovascular health, to name a few.
"Excluding fat altogether from your diet, or supplementing with fat blockers, can actually be detrimental to your overall health."
2. Green tea extract – does work
Green tea is known to have tonnes of health benefits and weight loss is one of them.
It's been proven to help support with fat loss, with research showing that it really can make a difference in overweight people.
A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial saw 50 overweight women randomly divided into two groups.
Group A received dietary supplements containing 125mg green tea and group B received placebos. These were taken twice with lunch and twice with dinner every day for eight weeks.
The study found that those taking green tea supplements for eight weeks had beneficial effects on weight loss and reducing their BMI.
Scientists from Anglia Ruskin Uni are currently looking into the beneficial effects of green tea.
3. Green coffee extract – might work
There's some research suggesting that green coffee extract can help but most of it has been conducted on animals – not humans.
Until we see some concrete results in human subjects, it's a bit of a stretch to claim that green coffee extract is an effective weight loss supplement or not.
4. Raspberry ketones – probably don't work
You can find raspberry ketones everywhere, from Holland & Barrett to MyProtein.
But Ellie says there is currently a serious lack of research on raspberry ketones and weight loss.
Raspberry ketones are claimed to cause the fat within cells to be broken down more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster.
They are also claimed to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps to regulate metabolism.
"The efficacy and reliability of raspberry ketones is questionable, and they are rarely recommended by registered nutritional therapists."
5. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – might work
CLAs are the fatty acids found mainly in meat and dairy, and there is some evidence that they can support fat management.
In fact, one study has found that they can reduce fat mass in overweight people.
But we don't really know how CLAs work yet, and they've been shown to increase inflammation in overweight people…which means that taking them could be dangerous.
Ellie said: "Although supplement with CLA could potentially support fat management, it should perhaps be used with caution".
6. Garcinia cambogia – does work
This stuff is a fruit native to Indonesia and it often appears in weight loss supplements claiming to bust fat.
And there is actually a load of evidence to support that claim.
It contains hydroxycitric acid, which helps the body to process fat. It's also been found to our satiety signals – meaning that we feel fuller for longer.
Obviously, supplements for weight loss really shouldn't be your first – or only – port of call.
Healthy eating and exercise have to play the key roles in any weight loss journey, as well as making sure that you're getting enough sleep.
If you've plateaued in your weight loss journey, then maybe trying a supplement can help but they won't be a quick fix and they can't be taken as substitutes for healthy living.
And they can't get the route of the weight issue in the first place, so there's no guarantee that the weight won't pile back on.
You're best off consulting your GP before taking supplements and chatting about what options there are open to you for potentially more sustainable, safer methods.
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