For Losing Weight, Calorie Counting Tops Fasting Diets

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Intermittent fasting diets are all the rage, but new clinical trial results indicate they don’t work any better than simple calorie cutting.

People who simply cut their daily calories by 25% lost the most weight and fat tissue in three weeks of dieting, compared with two groups following different intermittent fasting regimens, an international team of researchers reported.

There also was no difference between the groups when it came to heart health, metabolism or gene expression related to fat cells, researchers found — in other words, no hidden benefits to fasting.

“Standard dieting may be more effective than intermittent fasting for reducing body fat,” said senior researcher James Betts, a professor of metabolic physiology with the University of Bath’s Center for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism in England.

Fasting diets require that people refrain from eating, either on specific days of the week or during certain windows of time during the day.

This clinical trial tested the merits of an alternate-day intermittent fasting schedule, in which people would fast for one day and then on the next consume as much as twice their usual daily calories.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers recruited 36 lean participants and put them into three groups of 12. One group simply ate 25% fewer calories each day. The second fasted one day and then ate 150% of their normal calories the next, and the third ate 200% of their daily energy intake every other day, fasting on alternate days.

By the end of three weeks, the group following a simple diet had lost the most weight, with an average fat loss of about 3.5 pounds.

The group doing an intermittent fast who ate 150% of their regular diet every other day lost some weight, with an average fat loss of about 1.5 pounds. The group that fasted and then ate double their usual amount showed no significant drops in weight.

The fasters also didn’t have any benefits when it came to their levels of cholesterol, blood sugar or insulin, results showed.

Two U.S. nutrition experts not involved with the study agreed with the findings.

“When it comes to weight loss, modest reduction of calories is what counts regardless of how you achieve that,” said Lona Sandon, a professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “In other words, reduce portion sizes by about 25% and limit overeating. Getting caught up in complicated rules and regimens around eating may not be worth it.”

Researchers found that people on a fasting schedule tended to be less active than before they started dieting, which might be one factor that kept them from losing weight.

“People seemed to drop their activity levels a bit, which is certainly something to be consciously aware of on a diet,” Betts said. If you use intermittent fasting, then try to consciously insert opportunities to be physically active into your lifestyle.”

In fact, some of the weight loss in the fasting groups came from losing muscle mass as opposed to burning fat, according to study results.

Given these results, keeping up your physical activity and burning calories appears to be an important aspect of any weight control plan, said Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian in St. Louis and former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Physical activity must remain a part of a daily routine, even if fasting, and that is hard for some people,” Diekman said.

People who are hypoglycemic (severe low blood sugar), pregnant or suffering from chronic medical conditions should talk with their doctor and a dietitian before embarking on an intermittent fasting plan, Diekman said.

“Intermittent fasting is not the easiest routine to adopt,” she said. “As a population we are accustomed to eating when we feel the need. Sometimes that need is not hunger, but we still have the urge.

“Shifting to meal and snack spacing requires discipline, monitoring of eating, adjusting eating to family, work and social environments, and an assessment to ensure that nutrient needs are met,” Diekman concluded.

Source: HealthDay

Study: No Good Evidence Weight Loss Supplements Work

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Losing weight is hard, but many weight loss supplements promise to make the journey easy. Unfortunately, there’s little high-quality research to back these claims, a new study shows.

Hundreds of weight loss supplements like green tea extract, chitosan, guar gum and conjugated linoleic acid are being hawked by aggressive marketers. And an estimated 34% of Americans who want to lose weight have tried one, according to the researchers.

“The temptation is great because someone has a megaphone, but you don’t need a celebrity endorsement and/or splashy headlines to tell you how to lose weight. The medical establishment will speak loudly and clearly when there’s something to say,” said study co-author Dr. Srividya Kidambi, an associate professor and chief of endocrinology and molecular medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

To find out if 14 weight loss supplements and/or alternative therapies like acupuncture do what they claim, researchers identified 315 randomized-controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard in clinical research. Of these, 52 studies were deemed unlikely to be biased. Just 16 studies showed differences in weight between participants receiving treatment and those in the placebo arm.

The weight loss in these studies ranged widely, from less than 1 pound to just under 11 pounds. Weight loss was not seen consistently for any one weight loss treatment, and many had conflicting results, with some studies showing weight loss and others showing no such effect.

The studies included in the review looked at chitosan, a complex sugar formed from the hard shells of shellfish; ephedra or caffeine; green tea; guar gum; the tropical fruit extract Garcinia cambogia; chocolate/cocoa; conjugated linoleic acid, a natural substance produced in the gut by digestion of fats; white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris); and calcium plus vitamin D, among others. Alternative weight loss therapies evaluated in studies included acupuncture, mindfulness, hypnosis and meditation.

“The dietary supplement industry is a Wild West of herbs and over-the-counter pills that have a lot of claims and little to no evidence supporting those claims,” said study co-author Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C. “We all want a magic pill, but dietary supplements aren’t the magic pills that they are marketed to be.”

There are things that are proven to help you lose weight and keep it off, Kahan said.

“Support from a dietitian, nutrition education and, in some cases, medication or weight loss surgery can all aid weight loss,” he said.

The study authors issued a statement calling for tighter regulation of supplements and more high-quality studies to assess the risks and benefits of weight loss supplements. The study appears in the June 23 issue of Obesity.

Their work comes on the heels of another study that found weight loss supplements mostly ineffective. That research was presented virtually last month at the European Congress on Obesity and published in the International Journal of Obesity.

In the United States, supplements aren’t regulated in the same way that pharmaceuticals are so there is no way to know if you are actually getting what you’re paying for, said Kidambi.

Most weight loss supplements won’t cause any harm, but many peddle false promises, she said. “If supplements take the place of diet, regular exercise and behavior changes, they will harm you in the long run,” she added.

Some supplements sold online may be laced with ingredients that are harmful and banned in the United States, Kidambi noted.

Weight loss supplements can also be pricey, she said.

It’s buyer beware when it comes to weight loss supplements, agreed Dr. Louis Aronne, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

“There is very little research demonstrating that currently available supplements produce significant weight loss,” said Aronne, who was not involved in the new study.

Andrea Wong is senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing the supplements industry.

Wong, who has no ties to the research, pointed out that the new study did not include all of the dietary supplements on the market today, some of which may aid in weight loss efforts.

“Consumers should be wary of products that promise to make weight loss easy and to always talk to a health care practitioner for advice on responsible supplement use and weight management programs,” she said.

Source: HealthDay

Reviews Find No Evidence Weight-Loss Supplements Work

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

You’re getting no real benefit from taking weight-loss supplements like garcinia cambogia, green tea extract, glucomannan, conjugated linoleic acid or chitosan, two new reviews show.

Most of the clinical trials studied didn’t show these supplements producing any weight loss among users, the researchers said. In the rare cases where people did lose weight, they didn’t drop enough pounds to have a positive impact on their health.

“The results of our systematic review highlight that taking herbal medicines or dietary supplements is not an effective weight-loss strategy,” said lead researcher Erica Bessell, a doctoral student with the University of Sydney in Australia. “We would recommend that people trying to lose weight should save their money and seek out evidence-based care instead.”

This first comprehensive review of weight-loss supplements in 16 years combined the results of 121 clinical trials involving nearly 10,000 adults, according to the researchers’ presentation on Saturday before a virtual annual meeting of the European Congress of Obesity. The results have also been published in the International Journal of Obesity and the Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism journal.

Weight-loss supplements are a $41 billion global industry, the researchers said in background notes. Hundreds of different weight-loss supplements are sold in the United States, and estimates suggest that about 15% of Americans trying to drop some pounds have tried one.

“People pay a lot of money on it, and they may put themselves at health risk as well because there’s limited regulation of dietary supplements in the United States,” said Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, in Washington, D.C. “The fact that they are unlikely to get any benefit at all makes the practice of using them, spending a lot of money for them and potentially putting yourself at risk something that needs to be better appreciated by the public, I think.”

Of all the supplements studied, only white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) resulted in statistically significant weight loss compared to placebo, the researchers found. However, people only lost about 3.5 pounds, not enough to make a difference for their health.

Supplements with no scientifically proven benefit included:

  • Tropical fruit extracts like garcinia cambogia, mangosteen and African mango.
  • Green tea extract.
  • Plant-based substances like yerba mate, veld grape, licorice root and East Indian Globe Thistle.
  • Chitosan, a complex sugar formed from the hard shells of shellfish.
  • Glucomannan, a soluble fiber derived from the roots of the elephant yam.
  • Fructans, which are carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural substance produced in the gut by digestion of fats.

“Though most supplements were safe for use in the short-term,” Bessell said, “very few were found to produce clinically meaningful weight loss. Those that were found to result in weight loss had only been investigated in one or two trials. Many trials were assessed to have a high risk of bias, and the design and conduct of the trials was often inadequately reported. Thus, there is currently no evidence to recommend any of these supplements for weight loss.”

The largest proven risk from these supplements is to your pocketbook, the researchers added. But not in all cases.

In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of ephedra, a weight-loss supplement derived from an evergreen shrub used in Chinese and Indian medicine, due to serious safety risks that included heart attack, seizures, stroke and sudden death, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Another supplement that poses safety problems are fructooligosaccharides, which at high doses have been found to cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms, Bessell noted.

However, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, Bessell and Kahan noted. The agency only steps in when consumers complain.

“Any product can be marketed, and the FDA can only remove products from the market if there is evidence that the product is unsafe or if the product label is misleading in terms of listed ingredients or claims of benefit,” Bessell said.

Experts say some safety concerns regarding supplements arise from the fact that what’s on the label might not be what’s in the capsule you swallow.

According to Kahan, “Because of deregulation of the supplement field, we don’t even know that what’s on the package is actually in the supplement. That’s where harm can occur with any of them.”

There’s also the potential that a supplement might react to one of the prescriptions you’re taking, Bessell added.

“The possibility of drug interactions may be present with some supplements, so health professionals and consumers should be aware of this,” Bessell said.

“At the most basic level,” Kahan said, “consumers need to be aware this is a situation of caveat emptor. People often believe inappropriately that if it’s being marketed that it’s safe, that the FDA has approved it or signed off on it, and that’s not the case in terms of dietary supplements.”

Andrea Wong, Ph.D. is senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents the supplements industry. Commenting on the new study, she said consumers should make decisions on supplements on a case-by-case basis.

“There are safe, beneficial weight management dietary supplements on the market, along with supplements that help to fill nutrient gaps for consumers who do not get all the nutrients they need from food alone, especially when they are limiting calories or engaging in strenuous exercise,” Wong said. “Individuals should look for evidence supporting the specific weight management product they are considering, rather than rely on review articles that group together numerous disparate products and make sweeping conclusions about the effectiveness of an entire category.”

At the same time, Wong said, “CRN reminds consumers to be wary of products that make claims that seem too good to be true and to always talk to a healthcare practitioner for advice on responsible supplement use.”

Source: HealthDay

Calories By the Clock? Squeezing Most of Your Calories in Early Doesn’t Impact Weight Loss

Restricting meals to early in the day did not affect weight among overweight adults with prediabetes or diabetes, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting will be held virtually, Friday, November 13 – Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.

“We have wondered for a long time if when one eats during the day affects the way the body uses and stores energy,” said study author Nisa M. Maruthur, M.D., M.H.S., associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “Most prior studies have not controlled the number of calories, so it wasn’t clear if people who ate earlier just ate fewer calories. In this study, the only thing we changed was the time of day of eating.”

Maruthur and colleagues followed 41 overweight adults in a 12-week study. Most participants (90%) were Black women with prediabetes or diabetes, and average age of 59 years. Twenty-one of the adults followed a time-restricted eating pattern, limiting eating to specific hours of the day and ate 80% of their calories before 1 p.m. The remaining 20 participants ate at usual times during a 12-hour window, consuming half of their daily calories after 5 p.m. for the entire 12 weeks. All participants consumed the same pre-prepared, healthy meals provided for the study. Weight and blood pressure were measured at the beginning of the study; then at 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks.

The analysis found that people in both groups lost weight and had decreased blood pressure regardless of when they ate.

“We thought that the time-restricted group would lose more weight,” Maruthur said. “Yet that didn’t happen. We did not see any difference in weight loss for those who ate most of their calories earlier versus later in the day. We did not see any effects on blood pressure either.”

The researchers are now collecting more detailed information on blood pressure recorded over 24 hours, and they will be compiling this information with the results of a study on the effects of time-restricted feeding on blood sugar, insulin and other hormones.

“Together, these findings will help us to more fully understand the effects of time-restricted eating on cardiometabolic health,” Maruthur said.

Source: American Hear Association

How Long Should You Fast for Weight Loss?

Two daily fasting diets, also known as time-restricted feeding diets, are effective for weight loss, according to a new study published by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study reported results from a clinical trial that compared a 4-hour time-restricted feeding diet and a 6-hour time-restricted feeding diet to a control group.

“This is the first human clinical trial to compare the effects of two popular forms of time-restricted feeding on body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors,” said Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences and corresponding author of the story.

Participants in the 4-hour time-restricted feeding diet group were asked to eat only between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Participants in the 6-hour time-restricted feeding diet group were asked to eat only between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In both the study groups, patients were allowed to eat whatever they wanted during the 4-hour or 6-hour eating period. During the fasting hours, participants were directed to only drink water or calorie-free beverages. In the control group, participants were directed to maintain their weight and not change their diet or physical activity levels.

The participants were followed for 10 weeks as weight, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammatory markers were tracked.

The study, published in Cell Metabolism, found that participants in both daily fasting groups reduced calorie intake by about 550 calories each day simply by adhering to the schedule and lost about 3% of their body weight. The researchers also found that insulin resistance and oxidative stress levels were reduced among participants in the study groups when compared with the control group. There was no effect on blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.

There also was no significant difference in weight loss or cardiometabolic risk factors between the 4-hour and 6-hour diet groups.

“The findings of this study are promising and reinforce what we’ve seen in other studies — fasting diets are a viable option for people who want to lose weight, especially for people who do not want to count calories or find other diets to be fatiguing,” Varady said. “It’s also telling that there was no added weight loss benefit for people who sustained a longer fast — until we have further studies that directly compare the two diets or seek to study the optimal time for fasting, these results suggest that the 6-hour fast might make sense for most people who want to pursue a daily fasting diet.”

Varady and her colleagues also reported that there were no major adverse health events reported by study participants during the study and that the mild adverse events — such as dizziness or headaches — were limited to the beginning of the trial.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

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