Let’s face it—losing weight is not easy. That’s especially true for markedly obese people. Successful, healthy weight loss requires that lifestyle, exercise, attitude and dietary choices be in just the right balance. Yet the equation underlying these choices is quite simple: to lose weight we need to take in fewer calories and/or burn more. The three natural approaches described below are successful in aiding weight loss because they all work well within that basic equation. In addition, they are all great alternatives to ephedra, a popular herb used for dieting that some wish to avoid.
5-HTP: “TURNING OFF” HUNGER
5-HTP is a very effective weight-loss aid because it can literally “switch off” the hunger signals that lead some people to overeat. In one of many studies, women taking 5-HTP lost an average of almost 12 pounds in 12 weeks while on a 1,200 calorie/day diet. In comparison, women on the same diet taking a placebo lost only 1.8 pounds. For some overweight people, a low serotonin level causes increased hunger sensations that lead to overeating. 5-HTP works because it helps to correct the low serotonin level and blocks the unnecessary hunger pangs.
CITRUS AURANTIUM: HEATING THINGS UP
Like ephedra, citrus aurantium (CA) can boost the metabolic rate—the rate at which calories are used by the body. Known as a “thermogenic” substance, CA can promote fat breakdown and preserve lean muscle, making it a popular choice among athletes. CA may be one of the best alternatives to ephedra-based products. Like ephedra, CA is reported to provide a thermogenic lift, but without the side effects associated with ephedra. While CA does increase the resting metabolic rate, it does not impact the central nervous system or cardiovascular systems. While ephedra amines are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, the amines in CA are not. An exciting study published in Current Therapeutic Research in March of 1999 concluded that a “combination of Citrus aurantium extract, caffeine (such as green tea) and St John’s wort is viable and effective in reducing body fat in obese healthy adults.” Look for CA on its own or in weight-loss formulations.
CLA: THE FAT THAT BURNS FAT!
A number of studies have shown that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) can reduce body fat while increasing lean muscle. That makes CLA popular with people who want to lose weight as well as athletes and body builders. CLA’s fat-fighting potential is thought to be linked to three factors: it may inhibit the body’s absorption of fat; it may increase metabolism, like ephedra and CA; and it may increase the body’s use of energy during sleep. In one CLA study using animals, the researchers concluded that CLA “produces a rapid, marked decrease in fat accumulation.”
As you can see, there are many safe, natural options available to help in your weight-control goals.
Sources: Earl Mindell’s Supplement Bible by E Mindell, PhD, Fireside:1998; Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements by M Murray, ND, Prima:1996; Am J Physiol 1999 Apr;276(4 Pt 2):R1172-9