Ever since Fen-Phen was taken off the market, I (and every other weight conscious person on the planet) have been searching for another miraculous replacement. The pills that have appeared have been plant-based formulations that I have to admit, I have been skeptical about. When America’s favorite doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, would mention a new product to assist us in fat-burning and losing those extra pounds – people jumped on it and the products would be top sellers in stores and online. Who wouldn’t want a leg up on the battle of the bulge?
According to an article in Natural Foods Merchandiser, “And the biggest cheerleader of these products is the market-making Dr. Mehmet Oz…. But here’s the multimillion-dollar question: Has Dr. Oz been duping his audience, or are his recommendations rooted in research? Here’s the story on a few of his favorite ingredients.
Dr. Oz called this “a miracle in your medicine cabinet that will help you lose 10 pounds” and one of his “breakthrough fixes for women over 40.” African mango seed extract juices the activity of leptin, a hormone that controls appetite and revs metabolism. In one study of 102 overweight or obese volunteers, a patented extract of Irvingia gabonensis called IGOB131, 150 mg twice daily before meals, led to statistically significant improvements in weight, fat and waist circumference, as well as total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation), adiponectin and leptin levels. Carry on Doc!
In February of 2012, Dr. Oz referred to raspberry ketones as a “miracle fat burner in a bottle to help boost your metabolism and burn excess body fat.” Where did he get the idea? From a 2010 petri dish study in which raspberry ketones were found to increase the breakdown of fat cells.
But there’s only been one published clinical study using raspberry ketones on people – and it is used in combination with caffeine, capsaicin (peppers), garlic, ginger and Citrus aurantium as part of a larger weight-loss program. Although the eight-week study showed significant differences in body weight, fat mass, lean mass, waist and hip girth and energy levels, because it was part of that larger weight-loss program, even the placebo group saw “beneficial changes in body fat.” So there’s really not much for raspberry ketones to hang a hat on.
Dr. Oz mentioned a placebo-controlled study finding 1 pound of weight lost per week while “doing nothing extra”—no exercise or anything. The only green coffee bean extract worth discussing is Svetol, a branded ingredient standardized to 45 percent chlorogenic acid. A 2012 human clinical study that followed 50 people ages 19 to 75 for 60 days found that those who took 400 mg of Svetol daily lost an average of 10 pounds and increased their lean-mass-to-fat-mass ration by more than 4 percent.
A meta-analysis of green coffee bean extract studies concluded that “the magnitude of the effect is moderate and promising,” although more research, as always is needed. Sounds good, good doctor.
Dr. Oz recommended “fat burning” DHEA metabolite 7-keto as one of his “belly blasters in a bottle.” This non-hormonal is a thermogenic ingredient that speeds up metabolism and heat production to help build lean body mass and muscle. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical study, 200 mg a day was given to 30 adults in two divided doses for 60 days. The 7-keto group lost 6 pounds while the control group lost 2 pounds.
It should be noted that these results are modest because, as in the case with such thermogenic ingredients, people will gain muscle as they lose fat. Because muscle weighs more than fat, while the pounds lost may smaller, the shape of the body improves and the belt tightens a few notches.
Another human clinical bears this out. Over eight weeks, 35 subjects in the 7-keto group first experienced a 7.2 percent increase in resting metabolic rate, compared with essentially no change in the placebo group. This backs 7-keto’s claim to fire up metabolism. Then the 7-keto group had a decrease in hip circumference of 3.78 cm, compared with a drop of 2 cm in the control group. There was a change in weight status in the 7-keto group. Keep going, doctor!
Forskolin “works like a furnace but on the inside of your body,” Dr. Oz said on his show, as he ignited a piece of prop filament balloon to expose simulated hard muscle underneath.
The Indian botanical standardized to 10 percent forskolin is said to increase muscle mass and help testosterone levels. There have been dozens of rat studies on forskolin, but only a few human clinicals. In one 12-week double-blind, randomized study, researchers gave 23 women 250 mg of Coleus forskohlii twice daily. While no weight loss was apparent, researchers concluded it “may help mitigate weight gain in overweight females.”
In another human clinical, 60 obese men and women with body mass indexes between 28 and 40 took 25 mg of forskolin twice daily. After 12 weeks, the treatment group lost 3.8 pounds total weight and 0.46 percent body fat; the control group gained 0.5 pound and 0.68 percent body fat. As a bonus, the forskolin group also saw a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. Fair enough, Oz.
Getting Skinny is Big Business
Finding the magic pill to lose weight without the discomfort of effort is the secret desire of overweight Americans from coast to coast. Ever since the most magic pill of all—ephedra combined with aspirin and caffeine—was taken off the market by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, the market has clamored for the next thing.
For 2013, weight loss pill sales grew at 11.6 percent, up from 10.4 percent the year before, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Lately, there has been a decline in product sales targeting weight management. According to product scan data from SPINS, supplement sales marketed for weight loss in the natural channel turned negative in June—exactly around the time Dr. Mehmet Oz got hauled up in front of Congress to testify on what were touted as his “weight loss scams.”
Still, there are products that do their due diligence by providing modest weight-management solutions, in particular when combined with exercise, diet and even counseling. There. We said it.”