Winning the Weight War

The latest research offers promise for those fighting the battle of the bulge. Don't miss our tips below for natural products that feature the hottest weight-loss remedies.

The key to losing weight is pretty simple: we need to eat less and exercise more. But if weight loss were that simple, why are two out of three Americans obese? We do need to eat a more healthful diet and be more physically active, but for many people, there is more to the story. In addition to inactivity and eating too much, there are several other factors that can influence weight gain.

For example, groundbreaking research from the University of Washington has demonstrated in animal studies that internal bacterial imbalance can contribute to weight gain, which is why taking a probiotic supplement may help some people lose weight. Other factors that influence weight gain include genetics, metabolism, age, illness, and stress.

Stress Eating
Today, we are faced with many stressors—economy, career, family, health, the list goes on. Even trying to lose weight is stressful because we know that if we don’t, we are putting ourselves at risk of developing many serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Biologically, the human body has checks and balances that help us deal with stress. But when stress becomes chronic, it throws our system into constant survival mode. During times of stress, the body activates key hormones to help us cope. However, when elevated for an extended period of time, some of these hormones—specifically cortisol—do more harm than good. Our bodies are hardwired to stock up on fuel after stressful encounters. That means constantly high levels of cortisol actually increase our desire to eat. Worse yet, because our bodies use sugar as fuel, that’s exactly what we crave. Appetite suppression and controlling these stress-induced cravings becomes critical to weight loss.

Natural Appetite Suppression
As a nation, we are eating more calories than ever. A new report released in August 2008 declared that despite widespread public service campaigns about the dangers of obesity, obesity rates actually went up in 37 states, and there were no decreases in any states. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. To calculate your BMI, visit nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.

While there are countless weight-loss supplements on the market, both old and new research shows that soluble fiber can help people lose weight by suppressing appetite and encouraging satiety, a feeling of satisfaction and fullness. Oat bran, guar gum, psyllium, and glucomannan are examples of clinically studied soluble fibers for weight loss. Recently, a proprietary new blend of soluble fibers known as PolyGlycoplex (PGX) has been receiving attention. Researchers from the University of Toronto have found that PGX not only reduces appetite, it also decreases compounds in the body that stimulate overeating. In addition to helping with weight loss, these soluble fibers also help reduce cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent heart disease and diabetes.

To use soluble fiber supplements or powders for weight loss, begin gradually, usually with 1 to 2 g of fiber. Too much soluble fiber too quickly can cause uncomfortable gas, bloating, and even diarrhea or constipation. Follow the directions carefully and increase the dose slowly so you don’t get frustrated with the side effects.

Burning Belly Fat
Once we suppress the appetite, we need to find ways to lose existing fat, specifically abdominal fat. Carrying excess fat is bad for our health; however, a wide waistline, in particular, can be especially dangerous. Abdominal obesity, which refers to white adipose tissue (the fat that surrounds our organs and settles in the abdomen), has been directly linked to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. This makes burning belly fat a top priority for any weight-loss plan.

Several natural substances have been shown to reduce white adipose tissue. Fucoxanthin, a seaweed carotenoid, has been shown to significantly reduce white adipose tissue in animal studies. A Japanese study demonstrated in 2007 that the combination of fucoxanthin and fish oil significantly reduced white adipose tissue in animals in just four weeks. Human clinical trials are needed to confirm these benefits.

In another recent study from Japan, a catechin-rich green tea beverage was shown to significantly reduce waist circumference in obese children after six months.

An edible cactus from India known as Caralluma fimbriata has been shown to not only decrease appetite, but also reduce waist circumference. This ingredient is sold in the United States as Slimaluma.

Phase 2, an extract of the white kidney bean, has been shown to help reduce body fat by controlling the digestion of carbohydrates and starch. In a 2007 trial featured in the International Journal of Medicinal Sciences, Phase 2 helped participants lose an average of 6.5 pounds and 10.5 percent fat mass after only 30 days.

Keeping It Off
Perhaps you’ve tried losing weight in the past only to find yourself gaining it all (and even more) back after you are done with your “diet.” Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) used over a long period may help break this unhealthy cycle. A meta-analysis featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that Tonalin CLA at an average dose of 3.2 g per day helped reduce body fat and effectively prevented the fat regain typically experienced by yo-yo dieting.

While nutritional supplements are important tools we can use to lose weight, it’s important to make changes that you can live with for a lifetime. Finding healthful ways to deal with stress, such as regular exercise, will go a long way in the battle of the bulge.

Don’t approach weight loss as a short-term goal by trying one of the many fad diets out there. Short-term weight-loss goals don’t work for the long-term. Through a combination of diet, exercise, and dietary supplements, you can create a successful weight-loss plan that dramatically enhances your overall health.




BN Shopping Tips:

  • For more information about healthy ways to cope with stress, refer to the Better Nutrition Healthy Living Guide titled Relax by Sherry Torkos, BSc, Phm, available at your local natural health store.
  • Take the edge off hunger and even out blood sugar with PGX Daily from Natural Factors—the recommended dose is two softgels before meals (be sure to take with a large glass of water).
  • Try fücoTHIN from Garden of Life, the only fucoxanthin product that has been clinically tested for weight loss.
  • GenaSlim from Country Life boasts Slimaluma and green tea for a potent fat-fighting duo.
  • Get the benefits of fucoxanthin and green tea with FucoGreen by Olympian Labs, which also contains the appetite-suppressing herb hoodia.
  • All you need are two capsules of Carb Intercept from Natrol taken immediately before a carb-containing meal, to reap the starch-blocking benefits of Phase 2.
  • When buying CLA supplements, look for Tonalin (a patented and researched form of CLA), such as Source Naturals Tonalin 1000 CLA.
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