Have you given more shelf space to weight-management supplements in recent years? If so, chances are they’re being snapped up by customers seeking the latest ingredients featured on The Dr. Oz Show—everything from raspberry ketone to African mango to green coffee bean extract. According to Nutrition Business Journal, U.S. consumer sales of weight-loss meal replacement supplements reached $2.7 billion in 2011 on 14 percent growth, while weight-loss pill-form supplements grew 5 percent to $1.7 billion.
Helping shoppers find nutrients that may speed weight loss—when combined with a diet and exercise program—is great. But keep in mind that some of the most popular new ingredients lack human clinical studies to back their efficacy.
“The real story in the weight-loss category is meal replacements: They underpromise and overdeliver, unlike many of the pills,” says Connor Link, associate editor of NBJ. In fairness, however, a number of “pills” are indeed backed by good research. Go online (try pubmed.com) to check out study abstracts on specific nutrients, and ask manufacturers to send you research on their ingredients or products.
Milk protein (mostly whey) remains the major player for weight loss, but other solid ingredients are gaining popularity and appear to have more legs than, say, raspberry ketone. Here’s a partial list:
- glucomannan, a soluble fiber that helps with satiety
- green tea and green tea extract, which may support healthy metabolism and blood sugar levels
- conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that might help tilt body composition more toward muscle
- iodine-rich kelp, which may help with low-thyroid-related weight gain
- white bean extract, which could help the body stop carbs from breaking down into sugars.