Natural Weight Management: Is There Truth Behind the Hype?

You’ve probably heard the hype about some new naturally derived weight loss supplements on the market today. Here, we explore how they work, and how they might be able to help you meet your weight management goals.

Green Coffee Bean
Taking green coffee bean extract isn’t just like drinking a cup of coffee: unroasted coffee beans contain a much higher amount of chlorogenic acid, an active compound that increases fat metabolism and decreases glucose absorption.

There are several studies, says Dr. Jenny Kaltunas, naturopathic doctor at our West Seattle store, that provide strong evidence for its ability to promote weight loss. “In one study with overweight people, they saw a significant decrease in overall weight, body-mass index and percent body fat over a 22-week period.” She cites another study in which participants not only lost weight, but also saw a decrease in blood pressure and homocysteine, a marker for cardiovascular disease.

African Mango
Derived from the seeds of mangos grown in the rainforests of West Africa, the supplement commonly known as African Mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is high in soluble fiber. “That’s the active constituent that can contribute to weight loss,”Jenny says. “The fiber delays the emptying of the stomach and absorbs water, meaning sugar is absorbed at a slower rate and you don’t get blood sugar spikes.” Fiber also combines with bile, which helps flush out fat and cholesterol.

In a 2005 African study, participants who were given African Mango saw a 5.6% decrease in weight after one month compared to placebo, and a significant reduction in waist and hip circumference. “They weren’t changing their diets, and their total cholesterol went down,” Jenny says. “So there’s pretty good preliminary evidence that this could be a supportive adjunct therapy to weight loss.”

Raspberry Ketone
Raspberry ketone entered the limelight when it showed up on The Dr. Oz Show earlier this year. It’s an aromatic compound that comes from raspberries and other fruits, and apparently improves fat burning by encouraging norepinephrine to break down fat cells.

“The other idea is that it increases a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in fat metabolism, and improves insulin resistance, which can also help with weight loss,” says Jenny. But, she says, “Exercise is one of the best ways to increase adiponectin, so you’ll probably see a bigger increase if you combine the two.”

While there isn’t yet strong evidence for raspberry ketone, Jenny says it’s worth a try. “It’s something to try if your want to kickstart a diet—as long as you’re combining it with healthy diet and lifestyle changes.”

Note: Any weight management program should be combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any weight management program.

SafSlim (Safflower Oil)
Safflower has long been cultivated for its oil, used in cooking and other applications. The oil is rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is being researched for its ability to reduce the adipose fat around our waist.

“There are some theories that it could promote the breaking down of fat,” says Jenny. “Supposedly it helps use existing fat for energy and inhibits fat storage.” She also points to a study done at Ohio State that showed that safflower oil can boost good cholesterol levels, and reduce belly fat and insulin sensitivity in overweight post-menopausal women with Type 2 diabetes.

SafSlim offers a convenient way to incorporate safflower oil into your diet, as it offers an ideal dose of linoleic acid in a tasty formulation.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HcG)
hCG has been used for years in its injectable form, and is now available as a homeopathic drop. “hCG is a hormone that’s naturally produced in pregnancy,” says Dr. Jenny Kaltunas, naturopathic doctor at our West Seattle store. But if you don’t have a baby, she says, “The idea is that it’s tricking the hypothalamus into using stored fat for energy.”

Pharmaca offers hCG from Creative BioScience, and the company recommends taking the drops along with a low-calorie diet—either 500, 800 or 1,200 calories per day, depending on your level of physical activity. (Even on a 500-calorie diet, Jenny says, “You don’t feel as hungry as you think you would, because the body is pulling that stored fat to provide energy.”) Their site even offers detailed recommendations for dosages and meal plans.

“They’re pretty adamant about following their diet recommendations of lean protein, vegetables and low carbs,” Jenny says. “They’ve formulated it in a way that the food you’re taking in is not used up before breaking down the fat cells.” But, she cautions, because the diet is so high in protein, anyone with kidney problems or diabetes should consult with a physician before starting the hCG diet.

Learn more about Pharmaca’s health weight-management options by speaking with a practitioner today.

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