Weight-Control Supplements

March 1, 2009

With weight loss perpetually topping New Year's resolution lists each year, and more than 60% of Americans considered overweight, the pop­ularity of diet products is unlikely to wane.

With weight loss perpetually topping New Year's resolution lists each year, and more than 60% of Americans considered overweight, the pop­ularity of diet products is unlikely to wane. Natrol (Chatsworth, CA) unveiled two major weight-loss products this year in the forms of white kidney beans and hydroxycitric acid (HCA), while OmniActive (Short Hills, NJ) sizzled with hot peppers. Meanwhile, AHD International (Atlanta) offered satiety with its LuraLean; NEXT Proteins Inc. (Carlsbad, CA) continues to tout Designer Whey as the most researched protein product on the market; and tiny cookies are at least one doctor's diet product of choice. Here's a look.

LuraLean
John Alkire, president of AHD International, claims to have lost 18 pounds in two months on his company's product. So how does Lura­Lean work? "We were the first company to research the fiber," says Alkire, so the company understands "every nuanced detail regarding the fiber's function and use." LuraLean interacts with liquid in the stomach to swell to nearly 200 times its original size, According to Alkire. Once it expands, LuraLean promotes a feeling of satiety while traveling through the gastrointestinal tract. LuraLean also acts as a "magnet," Alkire says, attracting and binding excess oils and calories, and carrying them out of the system through normal digestion. AHD International recommends that individuals ingest 200–250 ml of liquid each time they take LuraLean.

Every 100 g of LuraLean contains 97 g of pure fiber. Comparatively, the company says, for every 100 g of sweet potato, there is only 3.8 g of fiber.

The product is derived from the Amorphophallus konjac root, a plant native to warm subtropical and tropical eastern Asia. AHD International sources LuraLean from Japan.

Natrol Carb Intercept
Natrol Carb Intercept is a new product from Natrol that contains Pharmachem Laboratories' (Kearny, NJ) Phase 2 Carb Controller, an ingredient extracted from white kidney bean in combination with chromium and calcium. Each two-capsule serving provides 1000 mg of Phase 2, 40 µg of chromium, and 190 mg of calcium (as calcium phosphate), with a recommended daily intake of two capsules with each starch-containing meal.

Although Natrol's finished product has not been clinically tested, says Amy Fitzpatrick, MS, Natrol's corporate dietitian, a similar combination of Phase 2 Carb Controller, chromium, calcium, and niacin has been the subject of one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial showing the ingredient combination supports some weight loss in overweight people.

The subjects took one tablet daily with a starch-containing meal. Each tablet provided 445 mg of Phase 2, 50–60 µg of chromium, 160 mg calcium phosphate, and 56 mg niacin. The duration of the study was 30 days.

"While Phase 2 treatment was associated with greater weight loss compared to placebo," Fitzpatrick said, "it was important to note that weight loss did not reach statistical significance when compared with the weight loss in the placebo group."

However, one of Natrol's studies found that in a subgroup of people who had consumed the most carbohydrates, a significant effect for both weight loss (P=.0412) and waist size (P=.0100) was found when compared with placebo subjects in the same group.

At least four pilot studies have found that adding 750–3000 mg of Phase 2 to a starch-containing meal can help neutralize dietary starch. None of the subjects in any of the clinical trials have been followed to date.

Designer Whey
Whey is a natural dairy protein containing vitamins, minerals, protein, lactose, and traces of milk fat. Most commercial whey supplements are derived from cow's milk, which is composed of around 3% protein; about 20% of that protein is in the form of whey. Whey protein supplements utilize the concentrated protein, eliminating the lactose and milk fat.

"Our hunger-curbing Lite & Lean whey products are a perfect fit for those looking to maintain proper nutrition and health," says David Jenkins, CEO of NEXT Proteins.

The product has been tested in several clinical studies and is considered to be the most-researched protein available. In three university studies, male and female athletes who supplemented their diet with Designer Whey gained an average 18.8 lb of lean muscle and lost an average of 5.4 lb of body fat after weeks of systematic exercise training.

After 28 days, those taking Designer Whey gained over three times more lean mass while doubling their fat loss compared with those taking regular whey.

The product is also L-glutamine enhanced, providing 2 g of glutamine in every two- scoop serving. Each serving contains ZinMag-6, a blend of ingredients shown in clinical research to help increase performance, including improved strength, power, and recovery.

CitriMax
CitriMax Plus is Natrol's multiingredient formula that combines hydroxycitric acid (HCA) from Garcinia cambogia fruit with chromium polynicotinate, uva ursi leaf, cascara sagrada bark, and calcium. Each capsule serving provides 250 mg HCA, 100 µg chromium, 100 mg uva ursi, 75 mg cascara sagrada, and 75 mg calcium, according to Fitzpatrick.

Another Natrol product, Pure CitriMax, contains HCA from Garcinia cambogia fruit with calcium (50 mg) in a one capsule serving with a recommended intake of three capsules daily a half-hour before meals. Although Natrol CitriMax Plus and Natrol Pure CitriMax have not been the subjects of clinical research, the primary ingredient in these formulas (i.e., HCA from Garcinia cambogia fruit) has been the subject of clinical trials, showing benefits in terms of weight loss, appetite, and/or fat burning when used alone and in combination with other ingredients (chromium, Gymnema sylvestre, and/or caffeine).

Cascara sagrada bark is a natural laxative commonly used for occasional constipation. "Weight support or dieter's formulas often contain natural laxatives, such as cascara or senna, as a means to help the occasional constipation that may occur with dieting," says Fitzpatrick.

Natrol CitriMax Plus provides 75 mg of cascara sagrada bark per capsule. The typical effective dose is 300–1000 mg in a single daily dose; however, the individually correct dose is the smallest dosage necessary to maintain a soft stool. If the recommended dose of three capsules daily is taken, a total daily intake of 225 mg of cascara sagrada would be ingested. This dosage is well below the acceptable intake for cascara. However, if someone is currently experiencing diarrhea, then the use of any laxative (synthetic or natural) is contraindicated. Another common side effect associated with cascara is mild abdominal discomfort or cramps.

Capsimax
The hot peppers in Capsimax capsicum extract beadlets have been tested in a study carried out at the biophysics laboratory of the University of Oklahoma's (Norman, OK) department of health and exercise science. The blend was clinically proven to help burn 12 times more calories after exercise, compared with placebo, says Abhijit Bhattacharya, COO of OmniActive Health Technologies, which manufactures Capsimax. Capsicum beadlets have also been tested in two studies carried out by researchers in the field of dietetics, food science, and nutrition at the SNDT University in Mumbai, India.

The beadlets are not liquids, but are in the form of "free-flowing spheroidal particles containing super-hot capsicum extract with a high level of capsaicinoids from red peppers," says Bhattacharya. An outer protective envelope of food-grade excipients shields the swallower from experiencing the pungency and heat of red peppers. The beadlets are designed to reign in the natural intense heat of red peppers without causing the associated discomfort.

The weight-loss and diet-related benefits of red hot peppers, capsaicinoids, and red pepper extracts have been the focus of several studies across the world by eminent researchers over the last three decades, Bhattacharya says. Capsimax is a new patent-pending form that has been used in studies for about two years.

Studies have been carried out to see the impact of capsaicinoids from Capsimax. The studies covered various physiological parameters associated with calorie burning immediately after supplementation, the tolerability of supplementation of moderately high dosages in human volunteers over weeks, and the compliance of volunteers over such extended periods.

Capsimax studies have been carried out on "diverse volunteer sample sizes ranging from around 10 to around 25 to 30 subjects," Bhattacharya said.

The Cookie Diet
Perhaps the most unusual product of the group is the brainchild of Sanford Siegal, DO, who has a natural love of nutrition and, well, cookies.

Siegal's Cookie Diet amasses about 800 calories per day, with a total carbohydrate intake about 70 g per day. The diet partially consists of six special cookies that are eaten to stave off hunger during the day, along with eight glasses of liquid. For the rest of the diet, only one meal is eaten-dinner-consisting of 6 oz of lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, or seafood only), plus one cup of vegetables.

What is not mentioned, however, is that about 60% of patients on the Cookie Diet are also prescribed appetite-suppressant drugs, and another 25% are prescribed thyroid hormones, according to Mary Shomon, author of The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss.

The cookies, which Siegal claims contain amino acids with appetite-suppressant properties, are available in chocolate, raisin, or coconut flavors.

With critics saying that the diet provides far too few calories to maintain health, energy, and vitamin C intake, even Siegal admits that the Cookie Diet is not meant to be used for long periods of time.