Science Says: Weight Loss Supplements Do NOT Work
Finally! We have some good news to hang our hats on in the weight-loss world. This time, however, it reveals the ugly truth about most of the magic pills and potions people use to “melt fat away.” A researcher at Oregon State University did an extensive review of all the evidence around weight loss supplements. It’s bad news for those trying to find that magic pill or potion to lose weight and keep it off. It just does not exist.
Researcher Melinda Manore got after the task of analyzing the efficacy of hundreds of weight loss supplements in the $2.4 billion supplement industry in the United States. She discovered no research evidence supports any single product resulting in significant weight loss. And in fact, many have detrimental health hazards.
Manore - a professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at OSU and science board member for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition - looked at supplements touted to do the following:
- Block absorption of fat and carbohydrates
- Increase metabolism
- Change body composition by decreasing body fat
- Suppress appetite
She found that many weight loss supplements had no randomized clinical trials examining their effectiveness, and most of the research studies did not include an exercise program. Most of the products showed a weight loss advantage of less than two pounds as compared to the placebo groups.
Only a few products, including green tea, fiber, and low-fat dairy supplements, were found to have a modest weight loss advantage of 3-4 pounds. However, it is important to know most of these supplements were tested as part of a reduced calorie diet.
Manore stated, “For most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact. I don’t know how you eliminate exercise from the equation. The data is very strong that exercise is crucial to not only losing weight and preserving muscle mass, but keeping the weight off.”
“What people want is to lose weight and maintain or increase lean tissue mass,” Manore said. “There is no evidence that any one supplement does this. And some have side effects ranging from the unpleasant, such as bloating and gas, to very serious issues such as strokes and heart problems.”
Manore’s general guidelines for sensible weight loss and a healthy lifestyle include:
- In the morning, start making a plan for dinner to avoid spontaneous eating and thus poorer food choices.
- When dining out, start your meal with a large salad with low-calorie dressing or a broth-based soup. This will make you feel much fuller and less likely to eat your entire entrée.
- Split your entrée with a companion or simply order an appetizer in addition to your soup or salad.
- Exercise! Move, walk, or run. Find ways to stay active, especially if you have a sedentary job.
- Eat vegetables at every meal. Shred vegetables into your pasta sauce, add them into meat dishes, or just buy many bags of vegetables (and fruits) for on-the-go eating.
- Increase fiber intake. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough fiber. Attempt to eat “wet” sources of fiber rather than dry – cooked oatmeal makes you feel fuller than a dry fiber cracker.
- Try to eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking your calories. In example, eat an apple rather than drink apple juice. Compare foods that seem similar and eat the one that physically takes up more space. In example, eating 100 calories of grapes rather than 100 calories of raisins will make you feel fuller.
- Eliminate processed foods. Research increasingly shows that non-processed high-fiber foods are harder to digest and have a greater “thermic effect” – they increase your metabolism.
Manore concluded, “The key to weight loss is to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats, reduce calorie intake, and to keep moving. Adding fiber, calcium, protein and drinking green tea can help, but none of these will have much effect unless you exercise and eat fruits and vegetables.”
Again, more sensible weight loss advice we have known for years, yet the supplement industry continues to tell us otherwise. Hey, it’s the United States of America. Free enterprise, build your own niche, distort the research, make up your own facts, create a new and different product, slap that microscopic FDA disclaimer on it, market it, and sell it to misguided people.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is rapidly become more and more obese due to factors beyond the scope of this article. These people are being lead down the wrong path. The better path is the one built on solid proof that weight (fat) loss is best attained SAFELY by taking the following 3-ingredient “pill”:
- Reducing total calorie intake to create a caloric deficit
- Consuming those calories via healthy sources (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins)
- Moving/exercising to preserve lean tissue and assist with the calorie deficit
If more people swallowed this “pill” there would be more muscle and less fat roaming the country.