|I am sorry, but I have to tell you: Significant weight loss does not happen without effort. Even if you take a pill that comes with just this promise.|
Now, it goes without saying that this is not the first sponsored weight loss study. So you may be asking yourselves rightly, why this one made it into the SuppVersity news while most of the other trash did not, right? Well, there are actually a handful of reasons, of which I consider the following two to be most significant:
- The study design: Double-blinded, an impressive number of subjects (n=91; one subject was "lost to follow up after randomization"; Chong. 2014), all caucasian with a mean age of 42.8 ± 11.2 years (31.9% were male), and full details on the ingredients of the supplement - that's nothing you will see with the average "pimp my product" study
- The supplement ingredients: Garcinia cambogia aka HCA, camelia sinensis aka green tea, coffea arabica aka green coffee bean extract and lagerstroemia speciosa aka Banaba are all ingredients you will find in many of the currently available supplements.
Apropos "relevant", what certainly is relevant is the ingredient profile each of the 6 tablets (2x3) the subjects consumed on a daily basis:
Table 1: Subjects' demographics at baseline - age (years), height (cm), body weight (kg; from Chong. 2014)
- C.sinensis extract (100 mg) – at least 15% epigallocatechin-3-gallate and 11% caffeine;
- unroasted C.arabica extract (75 mg) – at least 25% chlorogenic acid and 5% caffeine; and
- L. speciosa extract (25 mg) – at least 5% corosolic acid in a standardized extract
Do not buy non-standardized herbal / natural supplements! You could not only be wasting your money on products without active ingredients, you could - in the worst case - end up with a sloppily produced extract that contains all the bad stuff from the raw material (e.g. all the heavy metals from Chinese green tea | learn more) and not a single microgram of the of the active ingredient.You don't want "green tea" in your fat burner, you want a green tea extract with a standardized amount of catechins in it and if the bottle doesn't say anything about "standardization" / "standardized for", etc. you can be sure that what you are buying is hardly different from the content of the contents of the cheapest tea bags from the supermarket next door - the only difference being: It did not have to pass the rigorous quality control of the supermarket chain!
But let's get back to the study at hand. The subjects consumed what I would call a pretty lame iteration of the SGD, the "standard German diet". It's not as "SAD" as the standard American one, but my fellow countrymen and -women have gained some ground in terms of eating unhealthy over the past two decades; and the fact that "[t]he diet plans were compiled by a dietician and ensured a balanced diet providing 30% of the ingested energy as fat," (Chong. 2014) does not increase my confidence in the overall quality of the foods the subjects consumed at one out of five distinct energy equivalents, i.e. 1500, 1800, 2000, 2200, and 2500 kcal per day - obviously calculated based on the theoretical energy requirements of the subjects.
If we rely on the messed up 3,500kcal per pound of fat calculation I've debunked years ago (read the corresponding article "Busting the 3,500kcal = 1lbs Weight Loss Myth!"), the "diet" alone should have yielded a net reduction in body fat of ~1lbs per week and thus a total fat loss of 12weeks x 1lbs per week = 12lbs or ~6kg of pure fat!
I hope you are not surprised to see that this was exactly not what happened. In fact, after the first four weeks, when the subjects in both groups should have had lost roughly 2kg of body fat, the average study participants in the active and the placebo arm of the study had lost only ~1lbs of body fat and a total of ~1.5lbs of weight.
|Figure 1: Absolute changes in body weight (kg) and body fat (kg) over the 12-week study period (Chong. 2014)|
Programming a 500kcal deficit based on calculated energy expenditure is stupid
Moreover, the fact that the subjects in the placebo arm gained almost 1lbs of body fat does not speak to either, the competence of the "registered dieticians" who compiled their diets, or the subjects' ability to stick to their alleged 500kcal deficit.
|2x-3x higher than RDA protein help men and women lose fat, not weight, but there is a limit to wheer more is actually better | learn more|
This means, compared to the average for whom the equations the dietitians used to calculate their baseline intake may be more or less accurate, their real energy expenditure would be lower than what the equation says.
It's thus not impossible that their weight and fat gain (see Figure 1) was a simple result of the dieticians' stoic over-reliance on unreliable math and a minimal real-world calorie deficit (probably way below 500kcal) that was further reduced by non-adherence - especially in the placebo group.
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