Weighing Your Weight Management Options

The research (and concerns) your shoppers should know about.

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We hear it all the time, “It’s not about going on a diet; it’s about making better lifestyle choices.” While this is absolutely true, implementing feasible changes that someone is more likely to stick with, rather than crack under the pressure, makes the weight loss journey not only more attainable but also more tolerable. Therefore, shoppers might need a boost to kick start their newfound lifestyle, help that goes beyond changing their eating habits and working out. That is where the weight management options come into play.

Satiety
Quite simply, satiety means to feel full or satisfied after eating. For consumers looking to lose weight, this may be the hardest part of their weight loss journey. The amount of food we eat, along with how many servings of it, isn’t something that fluctuates tremendously from one day to the next, or even one meal to the next. Our eating habits are something we’ve cultivated throughout our lives. We trained our minds and bodies on what types of foods and the serving size it takes to really make us feel like we’ve had enough. Therefore, when it comes to weight loss — the type of weight loss that is going to stick — don’t just depend on what foods we are cutting out or what exercise routine we are picking up. It comes down to reprogramming one’s brain to feel full after less food — this is where satiety supplements come in.

Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, senior director of research and development, Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation, Sugar Land, TX, explains that “the appetite center of the brain, called the hypothalamus, is influenced by interactions of circulating hormones that control food intake and body weight — namely ghrelin, leptin and cholecystokinin (CCK). Enhancement of leptin and serotonin and inhibition of ghrelin signal selectivity have been found to reduce meal size and enhance satiety.” The release of CCK then delays gastric emptying, which creates the feeling of being fuller for longer than usual, while also reducing cravings. Because satiety is controlled in part by hormones and neurotransmitters, Holli Lapes RD, LD/N, blogger and social media content specialist, Life Extension, Fort Lauderdale, FL, suggests investigating one’s sex hormones and thyroid hormones through blood work before subscribing to this method.

For satiety, MacDonald recommends Super CitriMax, a patented, branded, clinically studied Garcinia cambogia which she says is known for its weight management benefits. MacDonald points to recent research lead by Dr. Harry Preuss, Georgetown University, which demonstrates that Garcinia cambogia is three times more effective than diet and exercise alone. “This natural, super fruit extract from the fruit rind of Garcinia cambogia, a species native to India, has been used in Southeastern Asia for centuries as a condiment to make food more filling and satisfying,” MacDonald explains. Garcinia cambogia also supports healthy levels of serotonin — the neurotransmitter sometimes thought to be responsible for happiness — in the brain. Seratonin helps to curb the appetite and also promotes an overall sense of well-being, despite everyday stressors. More commonly known as Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA), Garcinia cambogia extract is a derivative of citric acid that converts how fatty acids are used by the body. With this nutrient, fatty acids are metabolized for energy rather than stored as fat.

When brain levels of serotonin are increased, the desire to eat is decreased; as serotonin levels drop, appetite is stimulated.

– Holli Lapes RD, LD/N,  Life Extension

Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D., consultant for R&D, Jarrow Formulas, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, explains that HCA has been well studied with at least 12 randomized placebo-controlled trials, using different salts and widely differing dosages. According to Clouatre, “mechanisms of action remain controversial.” He explains that HCA does not cross the blood-brain barrier, and therefore does not influence the central nervous system directly. It also does not “depend on activating nerves involving the liver (vagal afferents).” While HCA does delay gastric emptying, it also prolongs glucose absorption from the small intestine. This results in feeling full for a longer period of time after a meal, while lessening in between meal snacks.

In randomized controlled studies, weight loss results ranged from zero to approximately half, to one pound per week for eight weeks at higher dosages (2.8 g HCA) of potassium-based salts.  Clouatre explains, “Approximately 4.5 grams/day of a potassium-based salt can lead to as much as one pound per week weight loss if taken as directed. Weight loss normally starts after the first or second week of usage for reasons having to do with refilling glycogen stores in the liver and muscle.” No toxicity or significant side effects have been found with properly manufactured HCA, Clouatre reports.

Clouatre points to Jarrow’s HCActive, the company’s own version of Garcinia cambogia extract, which is protected by nine issued U.S. patents. According to Clouatre, “Research demonstrates both better bioavailability and a wider range of benefits than is true of other Garcinia extract. HCActive hydroxycitrate is a unique extract stabilized with the counter-ions potassium and magnesium.” He notes that the product is also calcium-free because calcium reduces the bioavailability of HCA and offers an unprecedented degree of purity at ≥99%. Clouatre also notes that no Jarrow product in this category have any direct impact on the central nervous system nor do they negatively impact the cardiovascular system. Because HCA in part causes carbohydrates to be stored as glycogen to replenish glycogen stores, he explains further, HCA works best if not consumed with a high-fat/high alcohol diet.

Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, senior nutrition education manager, NOW Foods, Bloomingdale, IL, points to animal models which indicate “it supports healthy insulin sensitivity, helps manage CRP and other systemic markers, reduces fatigue and decreases glycogen utilization during exercise, and promotes healthy lipid oxidation (fat burning).”

Another nutrient geared towards satiety — which is most useful in reducing excessive intake of carbohydrates and works best if not consumed with a high-fat/high alcohol diet — is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP, which is typically derived from the seed of Griffonia simplicifolia, is an amino acid and chemical precursor. Made from tryptophan, it is a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.

MacDonald calls 5-HTP’s function “a simple way to increase brain serotonin levels by bypassing the rate-limiting step and users reap the benefits of increased brain serotonin, like satiety.” 5-HTP also supports dopamine levels, and thus, the combined support helps consumers feel happier, satisfied and well-rested. Lapes points out that “when brain levels of serotonin are increased, the desire to eat is decreased; as serotonin levels drop, appetite is stimulated.” Lapes points to studies on obese individuals who have low levels of tryptophan; the findings suggest that the restoration of serotonin signaling may be a way to curve hunger cravings that can induce weight loss. Clouatre points to a study that shows ingredients like 5-HTP (and St. John ’s Wort), activate serotogenic pathways and at 600 to 900 mg/day can induce weight loss of 3.1 – 3.7 pounds in 5 – 6 weeks without dieting. At 900 mg, 70% of subjects experienced significant nausea, but adjusted after 6 weeks (1).

A proprietary blend of Citrus flavanone-O-glycosides (CitruSlim) from Bergamot and Eurypeptides from Eurycoma longifolia (commonly known as tongkat ali), is another nutraceutical ingredients that can promote “an anabolic state, reduce cortisol, activate AMPK, reduce triglycerides, and help balance blood glucose levels,” according to Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredients, Bradenton, FL. She says the blend also promotes healthy weight loss by helping dieters maintain “high energy levels during weight loss programs, prevent the body from storing fat and reduce appetite.” Eng points to a study in which 50 “moderately overweight men and women” were recruited to participate in a six week program of “stress management, nutrition intervention, exercise, and CitruSlim supplementation.” According to Eng, 40 participants were given 200 mg of CitruSlim, while 10 were given placebo. All participants followed a moderate, calorie-restricted diet based on their resting metabolic rate (RMR), plus a moderate exercise program  which included a five day per week regimen, including aerobic and strength training, in addition to stress management techniques each day. At the end of the six week trial, the group who took the supplement had a 95% completion rate, while the placebo group had an 80% completion rate.

According to Eng, this suggests the program was “easy to follow and not overly restrictive” compared to other diet programs like Atkins and Pritikin, which both had a 50% completion rate, and  Weight Watchers and Zone, which had a 65% completion rate. Furthermore, subjects in the CitruSlim group showed “significant body weight loss of an average of 2.7 kg, of which  2.4 kg was in body fat loss, suggesting 87% of the total weight loss is body fat loss.” Conversely, participants in the placebo group did not show significant body weight loss (0.78 kg) or body fat loss (0.55 kg) (2,3).

Carb Blockers
Carbohydrate blockers, or amylase inhibitors inhibit carbohydrate digestion by inhibiting the actions of alpha-amylase, the enzymes needed to break down carbohydrates for digestion. In other words, when amylase is blocked, consumed carbohydrates are not digested and are passed through the body without being absorbed. The most common inhibitor is white kidney bean extract, though other examples are cactus, chitosan, Gymnema, Italian Borlotto variety bean extract and prickly pear.

Levin further explains that because fat and carbohydrate blockers work on food, they must be taken around meal times. “Fat blockers are based on fiber, with chitosan (typically from shellfish chitin) being the strongest. Fiber bonds to fats in meals and carries them out of the body, preventing absorption,” he clarifies.

According to Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development, Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Kearny, NJ, “Pharmachem truly launched the category of carb ‘blockers,’ with Phase 2 Carb Controller, a proprietary extract of white kidney bean, which has been the subject of research since the beginning of the new millennium.” The extract, he says, has been the subject of over a dozen human studies  to demonstrate safety and efficacy, and it is the only weight control supplement with structure function claims in both the U.S. and Canada. Skop also states that it is also generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), made in the U.S. and made from non-GMO beans

Carb blockers like Phase 2, explains Levin  “prevent the digestion of starches from meals into simple sugars, effectively turning them into fiber.”

Skop notes that the first four placebo-controlled human studies (2001 to 2004) all demonstrated significant weight and inch loss with consumption of this carb blocker. He also points to the most recent and largest human study conducted on the product to date, in which individuals taking it lost an average of seven pounds more than those taking a placebo after 12 weeks (4). In addition, almost 74% of the participants in the weight management phase successfully maintained their new weight after 24 weeks. What’s more, after 12 weeks, participants in the experimental group “experienced a statistically significant decrease in their desire as well as in their frequency and strength of food cravings for chocolates and other sweet foods, whereas the placebo group experienced a significant increase in the difficulty in resisting particular types of food.”

Potassium and potassium-magnesium HCA salts are insulin sensitizing at human acceptable dosages whereas calcium- and calcium-potassium HCA salts are not.

-Dallas Clouatre, PhD, consultant for R&D, Jarrow Formulas, Inc.

Additionally, a 2011 review of over a dozen studies, published in Nutrition Journal, concluded that Phase 2 Carb Controller “has the potential to induce weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates.” In the study, co-author Jay Udani, MD, CEO of Medicus Research, explained, “Phase 2 Carb Controller has demonstrated the ability to cause weight loss with doses of 500 to 3,000 mg per day, in either a single dose, or in divided doses.” This same Nutrition Journal study also found that consumption of the carb blocker also reduced post-prandial blood glucose level spikes (5). While most weight loss aids are not meant for long term use, Skop calls Phase 2 a “lifestyle ingredient,” saying consumers can use the supplements “for as long as the individual feels it is necessary,” adding that it can be used daily during the period of weight loss, and then subsequently, “during times when the individual consumes carb-laden meals or treats.”

Clouatre explains that slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates to slow the yield of glucose is beneficial as it reduces the rush of glucose into the blood stream.  This inhibition is also potentially helpful in making carbohydrates act similarly to fiber — to support probiotic gut bacteria.  While most people take well to carb blockers and benefit from it, Clouatre says that not all do. For example, carb blockers could have side effects that produce mild gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, and stomach cramping.

Thermogenics
Thermogenesis is when the body creates heat by burning energy. MacDonald describes the process as “burning energy — adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — from stored calories (glycogen and fat).” Body heat production is a derivative of exercise and/or increased basal metabolic rate (BMR).  Thermogenic products are designed to over-stimulate metabolism beyond its normal rate in order to burn additional calories and to access fatty acids to then produce weight loss. Levin explains that most thermogenesis is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. “Thermogenic nutrients stimulate metabolism to promote the burning of calories to help maintain and manage energy, weight, and body composition. These substances work in various areas, including thyroid, liver, and cellular mitochondria.”

According to Clouatre, the most common choice among consumers is Green tea epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as it “reduces norepinephrine degradation and thereby increases catecholamine-mediated stimulation of beta-adrenergic receptors and activates the sympathetic side of the nervous system.” Consuming EGCG by itself — or in conjunction with caffeine — prolongs the actions of norepinephrine, explains Clouatre. This increases the metabolic rate, and therefore increases energy expenditure, by “increasing the oxidation of glucose and fat for energy and increasing calorie-consuming actions.”

Most stimulants cause fat to be released from storage so that it has energy to use, and thus a person may feel more awake and even more likely to exercise. Guarana seed extract is caffeine, which is sometimes referred to as guaranine when extracted from the guarana, that can also stimulate fat burning and increase metabolic rate. Lapes explains that the guarana fruit (Paullinia cupana) seed extract has “traditionally been used as a stimulant by people of the Amazon region, where guarana is a native plant. Guarana seeds contain as much as 6% caffeine.” Capsaicin, meanwhile, can be found in cayenne pepper or red hot peppers. MacDonald explains that it functions by “enhancing catecholamine secretion from the adrenals, increasing in lipid mobilization and decreasing adipose tissue mass.”

In human trials, red pepper induced a “reduction of food intake and an increased energy expenditure and lipid oxidation.” These effects are thought to be caused by capsiate, a metabolite of capsaicin. MacDonald points to studies which have shown that the “synergistic ingredients in this formula work by mobilizing stored fat while increasing the body’s natural ability to burn calories as heat energy.” Methylxanthines, such as caffeine and theobromine are part of the xanthine family and also stimulate the thermogenic cycle. A possible mechanism for this is “the degradation of cyclic AMP (cAMP), stimulation of substrate cycles like the Cori cycle in the muscle (conversion of glycogen and glucose to lactate) and FFA-triglyceride cycle,” MacDonald points out.

Caffeine
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), along with the heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure, explains MacDonald. Some consumers, therefore, turn to caffeine in hopes of speeding up there metabolism. Clouatre calls caffeine a “mixed bag” when it comes to this. According to Clouatre, there is evidence that suggests acute increases in resting metabolic rate and thermogenesis from caffeine consumption alone. However, chronically consuming caffeine nullifies these benefits. Habitual caffeine use also reduces the benefits of caffeine/EGCG mixtures, like green tea, compared to consumers who do not consume significant caffeine on a regular basis. “Overall, there is little or no support for the claim that caffeine by itself induces or maintains weight loss over the long term,” Clouatre says.

He explains that because of this, caffeine is far more effective if consumed in a form such as green tea for initial weight loss, but that with this form too, results will taper off after habitual use. He points to caffeine-related compounds in green mate instead, which appear to have more benefits over the long term than caffeine on its own does. People who don’t drink caffeine often, can also experience elevated blood pressure, while people who drink it habitually likely won’t experience these effects. MacDonald also explains that caffeine can act like a “water pill” that increases urine flow — but this is only for people who drink it sparingly.
Clouatre also explains that the health benefits of coffee ­— which, according to Lapes, can include relief  from migraines and tension headaches, alertness “and is possibly effective for asthma, athletic performance, diabetes, low blood pressure after eating,” (6) — comes from chlorogenic acid and related compounds, not from the caffeine itself.

Is there a certain caffeine type that is safer or more effective than the other? The answer, according to MacDonald is no. “Simply, caffeine is caffeine. Whether you get it from a natural source or from synthetic production, your body will respond the same,” she explains. “The only difference is that with natural sources you will get lower amounts and additional naturally inherent ingredients, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, etc.”

Lapes, however, reiterates that Guarana, a form of caffeine, should be consumed judiciously especially in those with “heart conditions including hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and other arrhythmias,” and recommends it as an alternative for those who have conditions such as anxiety or hyperthyroidism that may predispose someone to sensitivity to caffeine and stimulants.

Levin, meanwhile, explains that up to 400 mg daily “appears” to be safe for adults. “This is equivalent to about 4 cups (8 oz) of coffee, 10 cups of tea, or 10 cans of cola drinks,” Heavier use — over 400 mg a day — can cause side effects, he says, such as “nervousness, insomnia, irritability, fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, etc.” Teenagers are advised to limit caffeine to 100 mg per day, he warns, while explaining that some people “more slowly metabolize caffeine and can still feel it up to 18 or 20 hours after ingesting, though many people develop some tolerance to caffeine.”

Making Good Choices
“It is understandable that when trying to lose weight you want to exercise, eat right and have a supplement regimen to get you off the launch pad,” says MacDonald, “but lifestyle changes and long-term dietary commitments are safer and more effective in the long run of an individual’s weight loss journey. I would actually suggest for the customer to not give up fat, but to get healthier fats into their diet (i.e., fish, coconut oils and more avocados), and to add fiber to their diet and reduce the amounts of sweets eaten in a given day.” Plus, certain foods can produce a feeling of satiety.

“Consuming both healthy fats and fiber contribute to satiety and don’t make the individual feel like they have to give something up…losing weight shouldn’t be about eliminating foods or food groups, but about making better choices throughout the day to support the weight loss journey,” MacDonald suggests. According to Lapes the feeling of satiety is produced when “sensory cells located within the stomach walls detect stretching of stomach tissue [and] directly signal satiety to the brain through nerve impulses. Indirectly, blood levels of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids (components of proteins) stimulate the perception of satiety in brain centers and depress eating behavior.”

Take time with consumers entering your store for the first time. Give him or her a store tour to discuss how certain foods and supplements can help them begin to lose weight and…improve overall health status and well-being. Certainly go beyond just ringing up the sale of a weight loss product.
– Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredient

Some foods that induce satiety include chia, apple cider vinegar, ground flax seed, baked acorn squash, artichoke hearts and most legumes. Clouatre also suggests fiber, particularly very viscous fiber, because it can “increase satiety by increasing stomach distention (the feeling that the stomach is extended and full) and reducing the rate of gastric emptying.”
Fiber also tends to reduce the rate at which carbohydrates release glucose into the blood stream, Clouatre explains further. Viscous soluble fibers include, but are not limited to pectins, beta-glucans, psyllium, glucomannan and guar gum. Oats and barley are good sources of fiber as well he says, but not if they have been “instantized” as this process causes them to act more like high-glycemic foods.

Protein is another good source for satiety, but Clouatre warns that one can over-consume calories from protein just like anything else. Because of this he suggests plant protein sources as an alternative because they are have a slower absorption process into the tissues and therefore may be especially good for prolonging satiety.

Diets have changed quite a bit over the years. They’ve become more nuanced as the science of nutrition changed and advanced. “The reason why ‘fat-free’ diets imploded was because people avoided all fats — including the good ones — and consumed more fattening carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, rice and bread,” explains Skop. Of course, this does not mean carbs on the whole are negative. “Similarly, there are good/healthy carbs such as those found in vegetables, which should be part of a healthy diet,” he continues.

Clouatre, meanwhile suggests, “most dieters will find that their results will be better and more lasting if they follow something akin to the 30% protein, 30% carbohydrate, 40% fat diet with an emphasis on omega-3s and olive oil as the fat sources.” As Eng points out, “There is such a tremendous amount of good-for-you foods easily available today, more than ever. And, on the flip side, there’s a tremendous amount of junk and fast foods more than ever as well.” As an example, Eng points to peanut butter, which is known to be a good source of healthy fats. “There are some popular mass brands that include sugar and a few other additives, and then there are ‘natural’ brands that just contain peanuts,” she explains,  “And although the latter may cost a little more (not as much if it’s a store brand), which one would parents feel better about for their families?”

Eng also recommends that retailers encourage shoppers to look at serving sizes  — if their objective is to count calories. “For example, in one supermarket, breaded tilapia had 190 calories per serving, while breaded flounder had 240 — but the serving size for the tilapia was half that of the flounder, making the flounder the better choice for fewer calories,” she explains.

In the end, it is all about making the right choices. Lapes points out that, “a healthy eating pattern should always be followed in conjunction with weight management supplements as they are not a replacement for a poor diet.” MacDonald, meanwhile, says that, “eating the right foods, in the right quantities and incorporating exercise most days of the week is truly the key to success when it comes to weight loss.” She also makes a very valid point in that weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, just as weight loss doesn’t either. Because of this MacDonald recommends the following strategies:

1. Swear off fad diets.
2. Be positive.
3. Drink lots of water.
4. Create a meal plan.
5. Exercise most days of the week – both cardio and strength training.
6. Have a cheat meal at least once a week.
7. Get lots of sleep.
8. Have healthy snacks on hand.
9. Journal your experience.
10. Find a group so that you are encouraged each other during the journey.

“Natural products retailers understand that there is no ‘magic pill’ or diet or device that can quickly cause significant weight loss,” says Eng. Therefore, she suggests that knowledgeable staffers “take time with consumers entering your store for the first time. Give him or her a store tour to discuss how certain foods and supplements can help them begin to lose weight and…improve overall health status and well-being. Certainly go beyond just ringing up the sale of a weight loss product.”

For reassurance on the consumer — and retailer’s — end, Levin points to NOW’s newly developed and cutting-edge testing method, which screens for banned substances and illegal adulterants, including steroids, diet drugs, erectile dysfunction drugs, and economic adulterants such as melamine. “Consumers, and the retailers who sell our products, can be confident that NOW weight management products have been tested and verified to be free of pharmaceutical adulterants, as well as microbial and heavy metal contamination.” Levin says two recently published methods have even adapted NOW Foods’ method to distinguish between counterfeit and authentic prescription drugs, one calling the published method the “fundamental” technique for determining pharmaceutical adulterants in raw materials (7).

By helping customers understand their options and clear up any misconceptions, you are allowing them the opportunity to make good decisions from the beginning. They will reward your diligence by coming back time and again, not only to buy more products but also to learn.

References
1. “Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1384305, Accessed 2/8/17.
2. “Efficacy Findings from Clinical Trials for CitruSlim,” http://hpingredients.com/index.php?page=CitruSlim, Accessed 1/8/17.
3. “Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669033/, Accessed 2/8/17.
4. “Weight Reduction and Maintenance with IQP-PV-101: A 12-Week Randomized Controlled Study with a 24-Week Open Label Period,” http://www.phase2info.com/wp-content/uploads/
2015/01/NewInquamStudy.pdf, Accessed 2/18/17.
5. “A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): A review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control, ” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071778/, Accessed 2/18/17.
6. “CAFFEINE,” http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/
ingredientmono-979-CAFFEINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=979activeIngredientName=CAFFEINE, Accessed 2/8/17.
7. NOW Foods Continues to Employ Industry-Leading Adulterant Testing Method to Safeguard Product Safety and Purity, https://www.nowfoods.com/now/nowledge/now-foods-continues-safeguard-product-safety-and-purity, Accessed 3/27/17.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine March 2017

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