We receive many inquiries about weight loss products and how they interact with the nutrition programs based on hair mineral analysis. There is no single answer to weight concerns because the there is no single cause. Let us review several types of weight loss products and our perspective on their use.
Fat or Starch Blockers. These products prevent the absorption of some of the fat or starch that one ingests. Some do this by blocking the digestive enzymes needed to digest starch or fats. The new artificial fat Olestra cannot be absorbed at all. It provides the taste and texture of fat, but passes through the intestinal tract and is excreted.
Problems with fat and starch blockers and Olestra include loose bowel movements, malabsorption of the fat-soluble vitamins which are normally absorbed with fats and possible allergic reactions to the products. Also, as with diet soda drinks, people falsely believe that since a product is 'diet' they can indulge in other products that are high in fats or starch without consequence.
Appetite Suppressants. Some of these products contain appetite-suppressing drugs, while others contain nutrient minerals and herbs that may help reduce appetite or increase the sensation of fullness. They may contain chromium, ephedra, fiber blends and other substances to help reduce appetite and cravings for food. Chromium and fiber blends are excellent for anyone. Ephedra is excessively stimulating for some people and may be abused.
Metabolic Stimulants. These products are supposed to increase the rate of metabolism so that the body burns more calories. The most common are the amphetamine group of drugs - Dexadrine and others. Others include caffeine, guarana and Brazilian mate. All these can be habit-forming. Exercise and nutritional programs may also be used to enhance the metabolic rate.
Meal Substitutes. Meal substitutes include a wide variety of powders, food bars and prepared, usually frozen meals to substitute for meals that are less conducive to weight loss. Meal substitutes can be helpful providing their use is limited to once a day and one realizes they are not a substitute for fresh, high quality food.
Often products contain combinations of several of the above. We feel these products have a place. However, often they are used symptomatically, instead of addressing deeper causes. They can also be harmful, as they may further unbalance body chemistry. They are best used as a last resort, a temporary measure and as an adjunct to a complete healthful living program.
Lifestyle may be a critical factor in weight loss. A century ago, people ate plenty of fat and even starch in their diet. True, it was of far better quality than the processed starches, white sugar and refined oils eaten today. However, people were also much less sedentary.
Extreme or vigorous exercise is not needed. In study after study, moderate and even gentle regular exercise has a very beneficial effect as it helps oxygenate the body, improve the metabolic rate and many other positive benefits. Inadequate sleep, worry, fear and other lifestyle imbalances can also lead to weight gain.
A good place to begin a weight loss program is to eliminate 'junk' foods from the diet. This includes processed flour products, most of which are heavily laced with sugar, other sweeteners, salt, overheated refined oils, a multitude of additives and preservatives, and often irritating spices.
Eliminating or reducing this group of "foods" reduces the consumption of harmful chemicals, empty carbohydrates, poor quality oils and excessive salt that can lead to water retention. Also, when one eliminates these foods, one is more likely to substitute better quality foods, richer in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Eating organically grown, whole foods, preparing food from scratch and avoiding packaged foods is a further excellent step to control weight and to improve health. Natural, whole foods fill one up faster because they contain more nutrition and more fiber. You will also eat more vegetables and less concentrated carbohydrates. A balance of natural foods tend to balance body chemistry and normalize glandular function. Lower quality foods upset body chemistry, leading to many causes of weight gain including water retention, glandular imbalance and sugar and carbohydrate intolerance. Begin eating better and you will notice the differences in foods.
Eating habits also affect weight. Skipping meals, for instance, can add stress that can cause the body to retain fat. Eating regular, sit-down meals in a quiet, peaceful environment not only improves nutrition, it also reduces stress that can be a factor in excessive weight gain. Other good habits are to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, avoid excess liquids at meals and preferably remain sitting after eating for at least five or ten minutes to let the digestion process get underway before resuming activity.
Biochemical individuality is very important for weight loss. Some people can "get away" with certain eating habits, for example, while others seem to gain weight on the same foods. There are many metabolic typing systems. All share the idea that for various reasons people's dietary and supplement needs differ.
At Analytical Research Labs, we find that slow oxidizers need more protein. They may need small protein meals up to five times a day, to regulate their blood sugar and insulin levels, and to control sweet cravings. They fare better on the low-purine proteins such as chicken, eggs, low-fat cheese, seeds and most white fish. Fast oxidizers need more fats and oils - preferably some with each meal - to regulate their blood sugar and keep their oxidation rate from becoming excessively fast. Fast oxidizers feel better on the high-purine proteins such as organ meats, tuna, salmon, anchovies and other purine-rich foods. Eating in accordance with one's blood type often complements the oxidation principles.
At times, good eating habits and eating according to one's metabolic type are not enough for weight loss. In these instances, a complete metabolic program of diet and supplements may be required, to correct underlying imbalances contributing to weight gain. Emotional factors leading to excessive stress may also need to be addressed. The more complete the program, the more likely its success.