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Get the skinny on weight loss
Slim Down for Summer

 


If, as the spring sunshine brings the first hints of the warmer weather to come, the mere thought of getting into your bathing suit fills you with dread, read on for some helpful weight management tips.

In addition to simply feeling more confident about your body, remember that excess body weight is implicated as a risk factor for many different disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, several cancers, female infertility, uterine fibroids, gallstones, as well as several disorders of pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and gestational hypertension.

The location of excess body fat may affect the amount of health risk associated with overweight. Increased abdominal fat, which can be estimated by waist size, may be especially hazardous to long-term health.

Discover what works for you to improve your chances of losing weight and keeping it off. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful. To help prevent overweight that leads to obesity:

  • Eat healthy—Follow in the footsteps of successful long-term dieters by avoiding too much fat and eating a regular breakfast.
  • Control appetite by controlling blood sugar—Choose foods with a low-glycemic index to help avoid blood sugar swings that can stimulate cravings.
  • Maintain your weight with exercise—Make exercise a regular habit to help keep body weight stable.
  • Avoid the yo-yo—Adopt realistic diet and lifestyle changes you can stick with, and get help forming healthier habits, to avoid frequent ups and downs in weight.
  • Spice up your diet—Add cayenne pepper to your meals to help curb appetite and increase calorie burning.

If you are working on losing excess weight already, keep these tips in mind:

  • Aim for total nutrition with a multivitamin—Extra vitamins and minerals will help ensure your body gets the nutrition it needs, especially if you are avoiding certain foods.
  • Find a diet that fits—For long-term success, choose a healthy diet that you can stay with.
  • Create a custom exercise plan—Exercise you truly enjoy is much easier to stick to, so find activities that fit your personal style, fitness level, and workout opportunities.
  • Find support—Improve your chances for long-term weight loss by joining a group while you adjust to new diet and exercise habits.
  • Talk to your doctor—Ask about medical options and for advice on how to form a safe, successful exercise program.

Diet Right: Cut Calories, Not Nutrition
Embarking on a weight-loss diet can be a challenge as you exchange old habits for a new eating routine. As you shift your eating patterns, don’t let vital nutrients slip through the cracks. Cutting back doesn’t have to mean a nutritional nosedive. Remember to seek a healthcare practitioner’s advice prior to kicking off your diet.

  1. Don't skimp on fat
    Many diets encourage decreasing fat consumption. By all means avoid saturated fat, but say yes—in moderation—to poly- and monounsaturated fats—the good guys. Fat helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. It’s also a concentrated source of energy, and the essential fatty acids in some fats are vital for many important body functions. Reach for foods rich in omega-3—an important polyunsaturated fat. Good sources are flaxseed and its oil; walnuts; oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna; and hemp oil.
  2. Fill up on fiber
    To curb hunger between meals, bulk up on high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Fiber gives you a feeling of fullness and slows digestion. When food moves slowly through the digestive system, blood-sugar levels remain on an even keel.
  3. Vitamins for vigor
    Exercise goes hand in hand with dieting and will help you reach your weight-loss goals more quickly. Don’t fall prey to low energy levels due to your lower calorie intake. Pack your diet full of B vitamins, which assist in many bodily functions, from energy production to regulating metabolism to overseeing thyroid and adrenal function. Include the following B-vitamin foods in your diet: whole grains, beans, eggs, yogurt, green leafy vegetables, almonds, avocados, poultry, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, organ meats (like liver), nuts, and fish.
  4. Calcium: the powerhouse mineral
    Recent studies have linked calcium intake to weight loss. Whether or not further studies bear this out, calcium remains a critical nutrient, especially for women. Calcium is vital to the formation and growth of the bones and teeth and helps to prevent osteoporosis, among its other roles. Get your calcium from green leafy vegetables, tofu, canned salmon, and dairy products.

Lesser-known minerals are also hard at work keeping your body healthy and running at top speed. The trace mineral chromium assists in stabilizing blood-sugar levels and is found in brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, beef, hard cheeses, liver, and whole-grain breads. Zinc supports protein synthesis and is essential to the formation of insulin. Zinc sources include Brazil nuts, shellfish, eggs, and lean meats. Manganese helps regulate cholesterol metabolism and blood glucose and is found in wheat germ, spinach, split peas, nuts, and oatmeal.

Vitamins That May Help

Multiple vitamin minerals
Diets that are low in total calories may not contain adequate amounts of various vitamins and minerals. For that reason, taking a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement is advocated by proponents of many types of weight-loss programs, and is essential when calorie intake will be less than 1,100 calories per day.

Pyruvate
Pyruvate, a compound that occurs naturally in the body, might aid weight-loss efforts. A controlled trial found that pyruvate supplements (22 to 44 grams per day) enhanced weight loss and resulted in a greater reduction of body fat in overweight adults consuming a low-fat diet. Three controlled trials combining 6 to 10 grams per day of pyruvate with an exercise program reported greater effects on weight loss and body fat than that seen with a placebo plus the exercise program. Animal studies suggest that pyruvate supplementation leads to weight loss by increasing the resting metabolic rate.

Borage oil
In a double-blind study of obese people who had previously lost an average of about 66 pounds, supplementation with 5 grams of borage oil per day (providing 890 mg per day of gamma-linolenic acid) significantly reduced the average amount of weight regained over the next 12 months (4.8 pounds versus 19.3 pounds in the placebo group). It is believed that borage oil worked by correcting certain abnormalities of essential fatty acid metabolism that are common in people predisposed to obesity.

5-HTP
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), the precursor to the chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) serotonin, has been shown in three short-term controlled trials to reduce appetite and to promote weight loss. In one of these trials (a 12-week double-blind trial), overweight women who took 600 to 900 mg of 5-HTP per day lost significantly more weight than did women who received a placebo. In a double-blind trial with no dietary restrictions, obese people with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes who took 750 mg per day of 5-HTP for two weeks significantly reduced their carbohydrate and fat intake. Average weight loss in two weeks was 4.6 pounds, compared with 0.2 pounds in the placebo group. This amount has not been established as a safe long-term treatment and should not be tried without a doctor’s supervision; people taking antidepressants or other medications should be aware of potential drug interactions.

7-KETO
The ability of 7-KETO (3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone), a substance related to DHEA, to promote weight loss in overweight people has been investigated in one double-blind trial. Participants in the trial were advised to exercise three times per week for 45 minutes and to eat an 1,800-calorie-per-day diet. Each person was given either a placebo or 100 mg of 7-KETO twice daily. After eight weeks, those receiving 7-KETO had lost more weight and lowered their percentage of body fat further compared with those taking a placebo. These results may have been due to increases in levels of a thyroid hormone (T3) that plays a major role in determining a person’s metabolic rate, although the levels of T3 did not exceed the normal range.

Calcium
In a study of obese people consuming a low-calorie diet for 24 weeks, those receiving a calcium supplement (800 mg per day) lost significantly more weight than those given a placebo. Calcium was effective when provided either as a supplement, or in the form of dairy products. In a second study, however, the amount of weight loss resulting from calcium supplementation (1,000 mg per day) was small and not statistically significant. In that study, participants' typical diet contained more calcium than in the study in which calcium supplementation was more effective. Thus, it is possible that calcium supplementation enhances weight loss only when the diet is low in calcium.

Chitosan
Chitosan is a fiber-like substance extracted from the shells of crustaceans such as shrimp and crab. Animal studies suggested that chitosan supplementation reduces fat absorption, but controlled human trials have found no impairment of fat absorption from supplementation with 2,700 mg of chitosan per day for seven days or 5,250 mg per day for four days. A double-blind study found that people taking 1,500 mg of chitosan three times per day during a weight-loss program lost significantly more weight than did people taking a placebo with the same program. Similar benefits were seen in another double-blind study that used 3,000 mg of chitosan per day. Other studies using smaller amounts of chitosan have reported no effects on weight loss.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
A double-blind trial found that exercising individuals taking 1,800 mg per day of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) lost more body fat after 12 weeks than did a similar group taking a placebo. However, two other studies found that amounts of CLA from 0.7 to 3.0 grams per day did not affect body composition. Most double-blind trials have found that larger amounts of CLA, 3.2 to 4.2 grams per day, do reduce body fat; however, one double-blind study of experienced strength-training athletes reported no effect of 6 grams per day of CLA on body fat, muscle mass, or strength improvement.

Fiber
Fiber supplements are one way to add fiber to a weight-loss diet. Several trials have shown that supplementation with fiber from a variety of sources accelerated weight loss in people who were following a low-calorie diet. Other researchers found, however, that fiber supplements had no effect on body weight, even though they resulted in a reduction in food intake.

Glucomannan
Supplementation with 3 to 4 grams per day of a bulking agent called glucomannan, with or without calorie restriction has promoted weight loss in overweight adults, while 2 to 3 grams per day was effective in a group of obese adolescents in another controlled trial.

HMB
Biochemical and animal research show that HMB has a role in protein synthesis and might, therefore, improve muscle growth and overall body composition when given as a supplement. However, double-blind human research suggests that HMB may only be effective when combined with an exercise program in people who are not already highly trained athletes. A double-blind study of young men with no strength-training experience reported greater improvements in muscle mass (but not in percentage body fat) when HMB was used in the amount of 17 mg per pound of body weight per day. Another group of men in the same study given twice as much HMB did not experience any changes in body composition.

Herbs That May Help

Cayenne
Research has suggested that adding cayenne pepper to the diet may help people lose weight. Controlled studies report that adding 6 to 10 grams of cayenne to a meal or 28 grams to an entire day’s diet reduces hunger after meals and reduces calories consumed during subsequent meals. Other controlled studies have reported that calorie burning by the body increases slightly when 10 grams of cayenne is added to a meal or 28 grams is added to an entire day’s diet. However, no studies have been done to see if regularly adding cayenne to the diet has any effect on weight loss.

Green tea
Green tea extract rich in polyphenols (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) may support a weight-loss program by increasing energy expenditure or by inhibiting the digestion of fat in the intestine. Healthy young men who took two green tea capsules (containing a total of 50 mg of caffeine and 90 mg of EGCG) three times a day burned significantly more calories and oxidized significantly more fat than those who took caffeine alone or placebo. In a preliminary study of moderately obese individuals, administration of a specific green tea extract (AR25) resulted in a 4.6% reduction in average body weight after 12 weeks. The amount of green tea extract used in this study supplied daily 270 mg of EGCG and 150 mg of caffeine.

While caffeine is known to stimulate metabolism, it appears that other substances besides caffeine were responsible for at least part of the weight loss. Although the extract produced few side effects, one individual developed abnormal liver function tests during the study. In another study, consuming approximately 12 ounces of oolong tea (a semifermented version of green tea) daily for 12 weeks reduced waist circumference and the amount of body fat in a group of normal-weight to overweight men. However, in another study, 300 mg per day of EGCG was no more effective than a placebo for promoting weight loss in overweight postmenopausal women. Additional studies are needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of green tea extracts for promoting weight loss.

Hoodia
One small, double-blind clinical study in humans found that hoodia latex and inner plant can significantly reduce food intake. Available products are of unknown quality and much more work remains to be done to determine if hoodia will be a sustainable, safe way to reduce appetite.

Yohimbine
The ability of yohimbine, a chemical found in yohimbe bark, to stimulate the nervous system, and to promote the release of fat from fat cells, has led to claims that it might help weight loss by raising metabolic rate, reducing appetite, or increase fat burning. Although a preliminary trial found yohimbine ineffective for weight loss, a double-blind study found that women taking 5 mg of yohimbine four times per day along with a weight-loss diet lost significantly more weight than those taking a placebo with the same diet after three weeks. However, a similar study using 18 mg per day of yohimbine for eight weeks reported no benefit to weight loss compared with a placebo. A double-blind study of men who were not dieting reported no effect of up to 43 mg per day of yohimbine on weight or body composition after six months. All of these studies used pure yohimbine; no study has tested the effects of yohimbe herb on weight loss.


Copyright © 2009 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Aisle7 content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Aisle7. Healthnotes Newsletter is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Aisle7 shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. AISLE7 is a registered trademark of Aisle7.

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