Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Capsaicins, Piperine & Carnitine: Rather a Health Than a Fat Loss Stack?

That's not what the ultimate weight loss diet looks like. The pill remains a supplement, i.e. something to supplement (and support) your dietary and exercise efforts, nothing more, but - as long as you pick the right one for your type and goal - also nothing less (photo ehow.com)
Let me first remind you of the fact that something that works in your obese neighbor does not necessarily work as effectively in someone like yourself, a devoted physical culturist who is only a couple of steps away from the six pack he has always been dreaming of. Let me also emphasize the fact that taking the supplement alone, i.e without the -600kcal reduction in energy intake all of the 86 overweight subjects (healthy males and females aged 25–45 years, with a body mass index greater than 25 kg/m² less than 35 kg/m²) had to stick to, there probably wouldn't have been any weight loss at all. And lastly, let me also formulate the hypothesis that the various health benefits, such as the increases in insulin sensitivity, the improvements in the leptin/adiponectin ratio or the decreasing LDL levels would probably have been less pronounced without the game-changing reduction in energy intake.

Simple Truth: The right diet, not the right supplements is the key factor in losing body fat

Apropos reduction in energy intake, one of the most underrated but practically highly relevant beneficial effects the administration of the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG from green tea), capsaicins, piperine, L-carnitine and a few minor ingredients (see figure 1, left) probably brought about certainly were the psychological benefits, such as the 3.3 pts decrease on the Beck depression inventory (BDI-II), since the ability and will to adhere to a diet - whether this may be for 8 weeks as in the study at hand or (preferably) for life - obviously hinges on the question: "Can you stick to it?"
Figure 1: Energy content (primary axis in kcal) and macronutrient composition (secondary axis in g) and ingredients of the of the weight loss supplement (Rondanelli. 2012)
That said, the diet composition in figure 1 (left) certainly raises another question: "Would it even be wise to adhere to this diet for longer than 8 weeks?" I mean it stands out of question that living on a caloric deficit for the rest of your life is not an option. If you look a the macronutrient composition of the diet, on the other hand, my personal  prognosis is that this program will not yield long-term success. Not because it's high in carbs, but because it is too low in protein and lacks an exercise component - typical mainstream dieting = typical mainstream failure - with or without "bioactive food ingredients" (Rondanelli. 2012).

Fat loss or anti-diabesity stack? That is the question!

The combination of a lack of exercise stimuli and a relatively low dietary protein intake (certainly below the threshold limit of 10g+ of EAA per meal) is probably also the main reason for the slight loss in lean muscle tissue, a phenomenon  - and that's interesting, although the difference did not reach statistical significance - occured only in the supplemented  group.
Figure 2: Changes in body composition (left) and selected markers of glucose management and fatty acid metabolism, adipokine expression and inflammation (Rondelli. 2012)
Now, there are obviously dozens of potential reasons for the minimal muscle loss in the supplement group. In my humble opinion the most likely explanation does yet relate to the very same increase in resting energy expenditure (+120.6kcal/day) that's (alongside the metabolic improvements, cf. figure 2, left) behind the additional 600g of body fat, the subjects in the supplement group shed in the course of the 8-week dietary intervention.

"600g in 8 weeks? Are you kiddin' me?"

Yep, you read me right, 600grams is all the supplement yielded as far as additional fat loss is concerned. That, plus the fact that neither this, nor any of the differences in between the changes in anthropometric data reached significance does tell you something about the actual weight loss effects even obese and insulin resistant subjects can expect from taking an epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG from green tea), capsaicins, piperine and L-carnitine based dietary supplement.

What? That's pathetic? Well, it would be if these changes were not accompanied by way more important and statistically significant different effects on the insulin sensitivity of the 41 overweight subjects in the supplement group who completed the study.

As far as the inhibition of diet induced weight gain and insulin resistance are concerned, there is no synergism of green tea and the L. plantarum, a probiotic. Green tea does the job, the bacteria stand by and watch in awe (read more)
Bottom line: As I've pointed out numerous times before. There are a different types of weight loss adjuvants, with one of the most general, if you will "fundamental" distinctions between (a) those weight loss supplements that have a more or less pronounced direct effect on the energy balance (=carb/fat blocker, beta-agonists, thyroid mimetics, appetite suppressants etc.) and (b) their healthier cousins that promote your weight loss efforts by ironing out acquired metabolic obstacles, such as leptin and insulin resistance. And though you could certainly make a point that green tea exhibits some features of both categories, the overall stack used in this study belongs to the second category and it's efficacy is therefore going to drop the healthier (=less inflamed, insulin & leptin sensitive) you are, when you start dieting.

You may want to keep that, as well as the (un-)fortunate truth that there simply is no "fat burner pill" on the market that will do the allegedly hard dieting and exercising for you, in mind, whenever you pass by the storeboard with the virtual or real shelves of a supplement store and are tempted to invest 50$ or so into yet another "next generation fat burner"... without having a diet and workout plan and the will to stick to it, you can just as well save the 50$.

References:
  • Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Perna S, Faliva M, Solerte SB, Fioravanti M, Klersy C, Edda C, Maddalena P, Luciano S, Paola C, Emanuela C, Claudia S, Donini LM. Improvement in insulin resistance and favourable changes in plasma inflammatory adipokines after weight loss associated with two months' consumption of a combination of bioactive food ingredients in overweight subjects. Endocrine. 2012 Dec 28. [Epub ahead of print]