In contrast, for far fewer years, government agencies, academia and activists have touted the idea of recycling—as a result, today, most people have altered their habits to dispose of glass, plastic, etc. into a separate refuse container.
Boiling down why more Americans are fatter than ever leads to the inescapable physical equation of more calories consumed versus calories (energy units) expended. However, it is much more complex than that. Many who are serious about losing weight will alter their lifestyle habits to reverse that equation. Consumers should also be encouraged to incorporate heavily researched dietary ingredients that address underlying issues they or their physicians determine may derail attempts to lose weight and keep it off.
Greg Miller, PhD, executive vice president, National Dairy Council, noted the practice of balancing calories in/calories out takes a lot of work, and suggested brand marketers communicate with consumers about the value of meal plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, alongside cardio and strength exercising. “Simply put, too many Americans are overweight and undernourished and are missing out on key essential nutrients.”
Scott Chen, vice president of Jiaherb Inc., Parsippany, NJ, explained the biological mechanism of normal hunger. People usually first become aware of the fact they are hungry when they feel hunger pangs, which are stomach contractions. “For many people, this is a strong incentive to eat, and most of the food we eat gets converted to glucose, much of which is converted by the liver into fat for later use. When the levels of glucose are low, the liver sends signals to the hypothalamus—specifically, the lateral hypothalamus—that levels are low. The hypothalamus in turn triggers whatever habits we have accumulated relating to food seeking and consumption. Another portion of the hypothalamus actually informs us more specifically which foods we need, and seems to be responsible for cravings.”
Comfort Food Cravings
Shelves are stocked with more of them—and more square footage is given to new food chains proudly providing them. Comfort foods are enamored and often overly devoured these days, driven by the need for instant gratification.
“People gain weight because eating is fun. It’s primal. Good food tastes great…but will also make us fat,” said Mitch Skop, senior director, Pharmachem Laboratories, Kearny, NJ.
Carbohydrates are a go-to comfort food for many, and there is evidence that some carbs such as pastas improve serotonin levels in the brain. This is part of the attraction to loading plates with carbs, and why they are so hard to give up. “Phase 2 Carb Controller has been studied numerous times and shown conclusively to effectively reduce the portion of dietary starches like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes by up to 66% by reducing the way the body digests it,” Mr. Skop explained. Phase 2 has approximately 18 clinical trials demonstrating clear efficacy and safety to help accelerate weight loss.
One way that cravings for carbohydrates and fat-laden foods can be addressed is by partially blocking digestion of these foods through an enzyme-inhibition mechanism, according to Bruce Abedon, PhD, director of scientific affairs, Icon Group, NutraGenesis LLC, Brattleboro, VT. Synetrim CQ (marketed by Icon Group) is a multi-patented, standardized extract of Cissus quadrangularis. Specifically, he explained, Synetrim CQ reduces the activity of alpha-amylase, alpha-glucosidase, and lipase digestive enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for digesting starch, starch-derived sugar and dietary fat. “In a 10-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, consumption of Synetrim CQ resulted in significant reductions in weight, body fat and waist size,” he noted.
Rouen, France-based Nexira Inc.’s ingredient ID-alG is also a fat and carb blocker. “Clinical studies have shown up to 3 kg weight loss after two months consuming ID-alG compared to placebo in a group of 60 women aged from 20 to 60 years old, without any particular health conditions,” said Mathieu Dondain, director of marketing and communications.
Chitosan is a natural dietary fiber that has a demonstrated fat-binding capacity, according to Hélène L. Lauzon, director of research and development, Primex ehf, Siglufjordur, Iceland. Primex’s ChitoClear chitosan has self-affirmed Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status. Its LipoSan Ultra is a patented chitosan product that contains succinic acid, a GRAS food additive. Encapsulated LipoSan Ultra is a new product for applications in ready-to-eat functional foods and beverages.
“In the digestive system, LipoSan Ultra complexes and traps fats and oils consumed, and reduces the digestion of dietary fat, hence limiting the calorie intake. LipoSan Ultra is backed by a human randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study,” Ms. Lauzon explained. “Because chitosan must be completely dissolved in stomach acid in order to effectively bind and block the fat, typical chitosan usually takes up to an hour or more to do so. In vitro studies have shown LipoSan Ultra to be more effective in binding triglycerides than other chitosan products, especially after a short solubilization time up to 30 minutes. The resulting enhanced performance of LipoSan Ultra is characterized by its rapid solubility in stomach acid, high density and molecular weight, contributing to LipoSan Ultra’s effective fat-binding activity.”
Nexira’s NeOpuntia, a fat-binding ingredient derived from the cactus Opuntia ficus-indica, targets the quality and/or quantity of food, “which is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight,” Mr. Dondain said. NeOpuntia is a lipophilic fiber that helps reduce fat absorption.
An Overactive Appetite
Runaway appetites can cause consumers to eat larger portions and more calories throughout the day. For many, a supplement that promotes a feeling of fullness would be highly welcome.
Nutegrity, Irvine, CA, launched Solathin, a potato-protein extract derived from a mixture of natural potato proteins, as a solution for appetite control via satiety promotion, explained Matthew Phillips, chief commercial officer. The active component in Solathin is an appetite-suppressing agent known as Protease Inhibitor II or PI-2, which has been studied for more than 20 years. According to Mr. Phillips, human clinical studies show that PI-2 significantly increases the level of cholecystokinin (CKK), a neuropeptide that acts to produce a feeling of fullness, thus helping to reduce food consumption. “Solathin, which helps promote feelings of fullness through PI-2 supplementation, differs from existing PI-2 products because it delivers a composition that is greater than 90% protein,” he said.
Paul Dijkstra, president and CEO, InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Benicia, CA explained, “Many consumers like the idea of a supplement that helps them curb their appetite just long enough to get them through to their next meal without having to turn to less healthy snacks. It is a significant advantage if people can consume products with functional ingredients without having to make changes in their daily activities or remember to take supplements. Several clinical studies show positive efficacy of taking Super CitriMax on body composition and weight.”
Sabinsa Corp., East Windsor, NJ, offers HCA from Garcinia cambogia. Anurag Pande PhD, vice president of scientific affairs, explained, “Our Garcinia cambogia extract, Citrin, was the first commercially produced ingredient to effectively provide the health benefits of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Clinical studies on Citrin exhibit that HCA can help to reduce the appetite, promote satiety, help the burning of fat stored in the body, as well as inhibit new fat formation by the unique citrate lyase inhibition of HCA, which competes with citric acid to bind with the citrate lyase enzyme.”
Stress is often associated with an increase in the hormone cortisol, leading to the development of cravings for high-calorie comfort foods, consumption of which has been found to stimulate serotonin synthesis in the brain, helping overcome the negative effects of stress and producing feelings of well-being. “Unfortunately, it can also lead to weight gain,” noted NutraGenesis’ Mr. Abedon, “as numerous studies have shown. Sensoril is a multi-patented, standardized Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root and leaf extract, which contains the highest levels of stress and cortisol-reducing Ashwagandha bioactives.”
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial, subjects taking the recommended dose of Sensoril experienced significant reductions in overall stress and anxiety levels as well as serum cortisol levels. By helping to promote an enhanced mood and reduce stress, Sensoril can help provide resistance to stress-related appetite increase and food cravings to help a person achieve their weight management goals, according to Mr. Abedon.
Once consumers reach middle age, hormonal production shifts begin to affect metabolism. However, according to Bob Green, president, Novel Ingredient Services and Advantra Z, West Caldwell, NJ, “metabolism can also slow due to weight gain, yo-yo dieting, eating a lot of fatty foods, and even eating too little. Some medications and health conditions will slow metabolism. Lack of exercise, lack of sleep and even stress can also impede your body’s ability to burn calories.”
Thermogenesis, he emphasized, is a natural process that produces heat, or energy, in the body and is a proven way to lose weight when functioning optimally. More specifically, thermogenesis is the act of increasing the resting metabolic rate and the rate at which fat is released from body stores and broken down (lipolysis) to help burn fat and calories, which releases energy.
Advantra Z is a well-studied bitter orange extract. A double-blind study published in April 2013 found that eight weeks of supplementation with a multi-ingredient weight loss supplement containing Advantra Z enhanced body composition, reduced hip and waist girth and increased energy levels in overweight men and women. Seventy obese subjects underwent eight weeks of daily supplementation, calorie-restricted diet, and exercise training. Significant beneficial changes were observed in body composition—body weight, fat mass, lean mass, waist and hip measurements—as well as energy levels and food cravings.
Capsaicinoids are also thermogenic agents that have been studied for years, said Lynda Doyle, vice president of global marketing, OmniActive Health Technologies, Morristown, NJ. The active ingredient in OmniActive’s Capsimax, capsaicinoids “stimulate lipolysis, the mobilization of fatty acids into circulation, by releasing hormones to act upon lipase. Capsaicinoids stimulate thermogenesis, the process of generating energy in the form of heat through the expression of uncoupling proteins. This process takes place in brown adipose tissue (BAT), and plays a key role in energy metabolism. This suggests capsaicinoids increase energy expenditure, which may help decrease fat mass.”
Capsimax has been studied in several human clinical trials, which have shown efficacy, safety and good tolerability, Ms. Doyle added. One trial assessed the impact of a supplement containing Capsimax (0.67 mg capsaicinoids), black pepper extract and caffeine on energy expenditure before, during and after exercise in healthy, normal weight individuals. The supplement group saw an energy expenditure that exceeded that of placebo by approximately 200 kcal. Another trial trial assessed the impact of 100 mg of Capsimax (2 mg capsaicinoids) on lipolysis. Capsimax increased circulating free fatty acids and glycerol in healthy, normal weight men and women during a four-hour post-ingestion period. Another clinical assessed the impact of a supplement containing Capsimax, raspberry ketones, caffeine, garlic, ginger and Citrus aurantium (biter orange) on anthropometric variables. The supplement group saw a significant improvement in waist and hip circumference and body composition compared to placebo, and study participants perceived an increase in energy with supplement use.
Irvine, CA-based Gencor Pacific’s ActivAMP helps activate the energy-switching enzyme AMPk, replicating the metabolic and health benefits of exercise, according to Dr. Paul Clayton, chief scientific advisor. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in Obesity, 80 subjects with a BMI between 25-30 were treated for 12 weeks. The active group received capsules containing 450 mg of ActivAMP per day. No recommendations were made regarding diet or exercise. At the trial’s end, “total abdominal fat area, body weight, body fat mass, percent body fat and BMI were significantly decreased in the active group compared to the placebo group. The reductions in visceral adiposity were particularly marked, as they are following exercise,” Dr. Clayton reported.
Creative Formula Customization
According to Nexira’s Mr. Dondain, weight gain can also be due to other factors, such as water retention, diabetes, depression, stress or hypothyroidism. When these conditions exist, the ability to lose weight and keep it off may require a formula with other relevant, targeted ingredients. The idea is to compose a formula geared expressly for consumers with certain issues who are embarking on a healthier lifestyle, so they do not have to purchase multiple supplements. Such convenience may foster repeat purchases and brand loyalty.
“Obesity results from various factors,” according to Sabinsa’s Dr. Pande, “which include genetic makeup and lifestyle habits. Hence, customization in this category may be helpful to address the specific needs of people affected by different factors causing obesity.”
Melony Fuller, director of marketing, National Enzyme Company, Forsyth, MO, observed that the battle of the bulge is often trial and error. What works for one individual may not for another, and this may prove challenging in formulating more customized supplements. “While highly specific products stand to provide better individual results, this may prove too complex of an endeavor, as no two humans are the same.”
OmniActive’s Ms. Doyle expressed enthusiasm about more targeted formulas, noting that supplements tailored to the specific needs of weight-loss-seeking consumers will definitely “help this category grow.” Knowing the impetus driving consumers to shed weight will help as well, she pointed out. “Many people are trying to get back to a slimmer size or to lose weight for the first time; many women struggle with pregnancy weight, and others might have gained weight due to medical reasons, just to name a few. A more segmented category would allow finished product manufacturers to delve into each ‘reason’ that consumers may have in pursuing supplements to help them meet their goals.”
Pharmachem’s Mr. Skop noted that being overweight or obese is typically a multi-faceted problem stemming from lack of exercise, over-eating and consuming too much sugar and carbohydrates, which can also give rise to other related conditions. “Perhaps in the future we’ll see formulations that address unhealthy cholesterol levels by adding fiber or unhealthy blood glucose levels by adding, for example, Prenulin, a patent-pending combination of specially produced L-arabinose and chromium shown to reduce glucose and insulin by 25%. Or we may see special formulas targeted for people who overeat due to stress, such as a combination of Lactium, a milk protein hydrolysate shown to reduce stress-related symptoms, with Phase 2 for reducing starch calories.”
Mr. Dondain added that Nexira’s Serenzo, made from specific citrus species, naturally supports stress relief, and its Fibregum is a GMO-free source of soluble dietary fiber derived from acacia gum. “Studies have shown that Fibregum provides a repeatable effect of lowering post-prandial glycemia and insulinemia, which nutritionally supports people at risk for insulin resistance. A strong reduction of insulinemia could also imply a reduction of sugars potentially metabolized as body fat.”
Overall, according to Mr. Green of Advantra Z, in general, consumers are much more likely to respond to supplements that address their specific situations. “You can’t generalize that every Baby Boomer’s weight management needs are the same. There simply is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to weight loss.”
A select round-up of branded weight management ingredients.
Advantra Z, West Caldwell, NJ
Ingredient: Advantra Z
Description: Bitter orange extract
Mechanism of Action: Increases thermogenesis by stimulating beta-3 receptors
Research Support: 41 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 70 mg p-synephrine, single dose; 100 mg throughout day (either 50 mg twice, or 33 mg three times)
Gencor, Irvine, CA
Description: Extracted from Gynostemma pentaphyllum, an adaptogenic herb
Mechanism of Action: Activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPk) that switches on the same fat-burning and energy-producing metabolic processes of exercise
Research Support: 3 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 450 mg/day
Icon Group/NutraGenesis, Brattleboro, VT
Description: Standardized Ashwagandha root and leaf extract
Mechanism of Action: Stress/ cortisol reduction
Research Support: 1 study investigating stress/cortisol reducing properties specifically; 9 total studies on overall health benefits
Dosage Recommendation: 125 mg once or twice daily
Ingredient: Synetrim CQ
Cissus quadrangularis extract
Mechanism of Action: Digestive enzyme inhibition
Research Support: 3 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 150 mg twice daily
Interhealth Nutraceuticals, Benicia, CA
Ingredient: Super CitriMax
Description: Garcinia cambogia
Mechanism of Action: Decreases appetite; clinical studies suggest Super CitriMax helps increase fat breakdown as part of overall weight loss
Research Support: 4 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 1,500 mg 3 times a day
Description: Sphaeranthus indicus and Garcinia mangostana
Mechanism of Action: Enhances fat breakdown; reduces fat accumulation
Research Support: 2 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 400 mg twice a day
National Enzyme Company, Forsyth, MO
Description: Blend of Garcinia cambogia, green tea and green coffee
Mechanism of Action: Inhibits lipogenesis, an important step in the conversion of simple sugar to fatty acids
Research Support: 3 studies on HCA
Dosage Recommendation: 400 mg, three times daily
Nexira, Inc., Somerville, NJ
Description: Cactus fruit water extract
Mechanism of Action: Removes excess water from the body
Research Support: 1 in vivo study; 2 clinical studies
Dosage Recommendation: 1 to 2 g/day
Description: Patented fiber made from dehydrated cactus leaves (Opuntia ficus-indica)
Mechanism of Action: Reduces fat absorption
Research Support: 1 clinical; 1 pilot clinical study; in vitro tests
Dosage Recommendation: 1 to 2 g after a meal
Description: Brown seaweed extract
Mechanism of Action: Inhibits two digestive enzymes
Research Support: 1 in vitro study; 1 in vivo study; 1 clinical study
Dosage Recommendation: 200 mg twice a day
Nutegrity, Irvine, CA
Description: Potato-protein extract with a composition greater than 90% protein
Mechanism of Action: PI-2 Inhibitor; appetite suppressant
Research Support: 1 study
Dosage Recommendation: 500 mg, twice daily or 1,000 mg
OmniActive Health Technologies, Morristown, NJ
Description: Capsium extract
Mechanism of Action: Lipolysis and thermogenesis
Research Support: 5 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 100 mg Capsimax (2 mg of capsaicinoids)
Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Kearny, NJ
Ingredient: Phase 2 Carb Controller
Description: White kidney bean extract
Mechanism of Action: Reduces the digestion of starchy foods
Research Support: 18 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 1,000 mg prior to carb-rich meal
Primex ehf, Siglufjordur, Iceland
Description: Chitosan from shrimp shell
Mechanism of Action: Hypolipidemic, hypocholesterolemic, weight control, reduction of blood pressure
Research Support: 3 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 3-4.5 g/day (1.5 g at each meal, 2-3 times daily)
Ingredient: LipoSan Ultra
Description: Chitosan blended with succinic acid
Mechanism of Action: Fat-binding ability (hypolipidemic, hypocholesterolemic, weight control)
Research Support: 1 study
Dosage Recommendation: 3 g/day (1.5 g for each main meal)
Sabinsa Corporation, East Windson, NJ
Description: Patented Coleus forskohlii extract
Mechanism of Action: Helps cells to break down stored fat via direct activation of cAMP
Research Support: 7 studies
Dosage Recommendation: 250 mg twice a day