I’m all for helping people lose weight in the easiest way possible because losing weight is difficult for most of us. Its not surprising that people look for things that will help them lose the fat in a fast and easy manner - like diet pills and supplements. But desperation, impatience, or a lack of sound advice can put your health at serious risk, and none of us want that!
There are literally hundreds of weight loss pills on the market
but this is one area where it definitely pays to be a skeptic. At the least you can waste hundreds of dollars on a diet pill that sounds great but does absolutely nothing and at the worst, you might wind up having a heart attack or a stroke. And its not only over the counter diet pills that can put your health and wellbeing at great risk.
Actually prescription diet pills can carry bigger risks
than the over the counter kind. And that is why they are controlled substances and those that take them need to remain under the supervision of a Doctor. Most recently the FDA has required that the weight loss drug Meridia, also called Sibutramine be withdrawn from the market. The SCOUT trial (Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial) which included 9000 people over 5 years, demonstrated that there was 16% greater chance that you could have a heart attack or stroke if you take this drug, compared to people who don’t take it. And not only that, the weight loss in people who took the drug was not huge - it was minimal according to the results of the trial. Weight loss supplements prescribed by doctors are controlled substances.
Safe and successful weight loss involves commitment, sweat and patience.
And there is no doubt about it, it can be difficult and that is why so many of us turn to weight loss aids to help take the pain out of dieting.
In an earlier post I talked about the benefits of fiber for reducing cholesterol.
Fiber can be very useful for a weight loss too. PGX (PolyGlycoplex) is a soluble viscous fiber developed from the konjac plant. Its benefits are well documented for reducing cholesterol, lipids, blood sugar, easing constipation, and also as a safe adjunct for weight loss. The Natural Standard data base is the place that I go to when I want information about a supplement herb or alternate therapy. Although it’s pricey to belong to; it provides unbiased scientific evidence – something VERY important to making quality decisions about your health.
OK so what does the natural standard data base have to say about PGX
It significantly reduces cholesterol
It eases constipation
It has positive effects on blood sugar levels in those with diabetes
It is effective in weight loss - although there are mixed results
It reduces high blood pressure - although there are mixed results
It helps regulate blood sugar for children who suffer from dumping syndrome – again mixed results
It improves blood sugar regulation for those who have had gastric surgery – again results are mixed.
So why am I so excited about this?
Because when many studies are taken into account to determine the evidence for a particular effect of a supplement or herb there are usually going to be mixed results – with more study needed. Why is it that one study can show significant results for a supplement and another may not? Because there are differences in purity of the substance being tested, some studies use different populations than others, studies may have different designs and it takes some familiarity with statistics to weigh one study against another. And these are just a few of the most common reasons for differences in studies.
But an April 2010 article in the Alternate Medical Review reports this:
Twenty nine sedentary obese or overweight people took 5 grams of PGX 3 times a day 5-10 minutes before meals with 500ml of water. After 14 weeks the study showed significant reductions in body fat, waist circumference and body weight, in addition to significant reductions in cholesterol.
So where does this leave us with in making decisions about fiber for weight loss:
Here is what is known about viscous fiber, blood sugar, weight gain and loss, hunger and fullness
Soluble viscous fiber absorbs many times its own weight in water
It stretches the lining of the stomach leading to a feeling of fullness
It delays the rate at which the stomach empties
There are hormones released from the brain when we have a full stomach that prevent hunger. Carbohydrate (broken down to glucose) enters the blood stream at a much slower rate when viscous fiber is present. Weight loss won’t occur while blood sugars are high (unless you go into ketoacidosis – a bad idea). Weight gain will occur when blood sugar levels rise quickly unless you burn the energy immediately
PGX is used by health professionals in the know
who like alternative methods and seek to assist their clients in a safe manner; with scientific evidence to back it up. PGX is derived from the root of the Konjac plant and blended in a proprietary mixture. It creates a blend of polysaccharides with bonds so strong that creates a level of viscosity that is 3 to 5 times greater than any other polysaccharide. And it absorbs 200 times its own weight in water. The impact that a soluble fiber can have on cholesterol, blood sugar levels, constipation, hypertension and gastric emptying is directly in proportion to the level of viscosity of the fiber. Any diet pill that offers weight loss with no other effort is either lying to you, or has the potential for real harm to your health. PGX will HELP you lose weight, you will still need to maintain your muscle mass by exercising and you will still need to reduce you calories if you want great results. PGX is an aid to weight loss – a true aid, not just a placebo.
Studies have shown no adverse effects of PGX
in healthy people, but if you have health problems then you may need to adjust the amount of medications you take, especially diabetic agents. If you do have diabetes it’s a MUST that you do this with your health practitioners knowledge and supervision for medication adjustment. In addition to weight loss, reducing meds for diabetes is a good thing. If you have an ileus or bowel obstruction, then fiber of any kind is contraindicated also.
There are several ways to take PGX
it can be taken in capsule form or powdered, its even available in flavors if you go for the meal replacement type products. SlimStyles natural weight loss powders which can be added to puddings as well as drinks. These are more like meal replacements, which are fine if you like that kind of thing.
One other note
If you do take PGX, on a calorie reduced diet it’s probably a good idea to take some essential fatty acids at another time of the day since PGX can prevent absorption of these. In addition ALWAYS take enough water with any fiber supplement. Water is what makes fiber work, and you should always drink enough to wash it down as they can swell in the throat and cause obstruction if there isn’t enough water to wash it down.
Natural Standard Data Base
The effect of a novel viscous polysaccharide along with lifestyle changes on short-term weight loss and associated risk factors in overweight and obese adults: an observational retrospective clinical program analysis. yon MR, Reichert RG. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):68-75.