At Functional Ingredients magazine, we're looking forward to our September Condition Specific Directory. In it, we take a look at what’s coming down the pike in terms of ingredients to address a number of different health conditions. One of the biggest (this pun never gets old) is always the weight loss category.
There are any number of ingredients and products made with them to help people lose weight, maintain a healthy weight and healthy blood markers, like good cholesterol numbers and healthy blood sugar levels. At the risk of using another pun, the need is huge. The daunting obesity statistics keep piling up.
But here’s our dirty little secret: The best weight loss ingredient is free.
Expending more calories by moving more each day is the first step toward healthy weight management, and it is good for you in a number of ways. Humans were genetically adapted for endurance exercise. Our mostly hairless bodies and copious sweat glands meant we could run down game in conditions that would push most other animals into heat exhaustion. It’s a good thing we had some sort of physical advantage, because when you compare humans with most of the other animals of our East African savannah home, we’re pretty underwhelming.
A recent study compared brain endocannabinoid levels after running among ferrets, a species that rarely runs and spends most of its time sleeping underground, dogs and humans, both species that, from an evolutionary standpoint needed to run in order to survive. Ferrets will run if you make them, but they derive no pleasure from it, whereas both humans and dogs receive powerful rewards in the form of brain chemicals. We’re wired to run, as the researchers put it.
Another recent study showed that working your muscles via exercise also improved learning and spatial memory in mice. So endurance exercise can not only make you feel good, and it apparently can help you think better, too.
Unfortunately, modern man seems to have lost that connection of movement with abundant life. It is possible to live life now without expending any calories at all to get your food. Don't be fooled, though. Comfort is your enemy, not your friend.
Functional ingredients' role in weight loss
Those ingredients I mentioned earlier can act as aids to a movement/exercise program, but cannot supplant it. Be suspicious of those TV ads that claim otherwise (those companies are probably just after your credit card number). Every responsible purveyor of dietary supplement ingredients I have talked to without fail will say that their products can help, but that caloric restriction and more exercise must form the basis of any rational weight loss plan.
So get off the couch and move. It feels good because it is in line with who and what you are. As far as our physical nature is concerned, baby, we were all born to run.