Friday, December 19, 2014

Lose 1 cm off Your Waist by Drinking 280 ml High Lycopene Tomato Juice per Day and Eating More - Works in Most, But Not All Young Women - Inflammation Makes the Difference

If you scroll down to the bottom line you will find that tomato juice is not the only high lycopene tomato product.
What if the magic weight loss pill didn't come in pill form, but in form of 100% pure tomato juice, containing 11.6 mg of lycopene per 100 mL? Sounds to good to be true? Well, it probably is, but even though tomato juice is not the magic obesity solution, a recent study from the China Medical University still suggests that it could be part of the solution.

Why? Well if 30 non-obese women lose 1.02 cm off their already relatively slim waists within 8 weeks, while reducing the serum levels of cholesterol, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and thiobarbituric reactive substances and increasing the levels of adiponectin by the mere ingestion of 280 ml of the aforementioned tomato juice, I'd call that intriguing, but in and out of itself still nothing that would make tomato juice a "weight loss miracle".
Learn more about tomatoes and other veggies at

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In contrast to the food intake, which was controlled carefully and shows, as you can see in Figure 1 that the overall intake increased (!) due to the tomato juice, the absence of a control group on an isocaloric beverage is a major downside of the study I would like to mention right away to make sure you don't get overly excited.
Figure 1: The weight loss was not a result of a simple reduction in energy intake. In fact, the 280ml of tomato juice (39kcal/day) were not the only thing the subjects ate more during the 2 months supplementation phase (Li. 2014).
In view of the fact that the dietary intervention was as simple as drinking the 280ml of juice at a self-determined point in 24h and keeping physical activity and diet the same, I believe we can skip over the results, right away.
Tomato juices are more than a healthy beverage for the biggest losers. They would also qualify as a highly effective and healthy intra-workout beverage - at least that's what a previously discussed study by Tsitsimpikou. 2013) some of you may remember would suggest | learn more.
Tomato products for your health: Tomatoes, juices, pastes and extracts have potent anti-oxidant effects - even in healthy individuals (e.g. −9.27% oxidized cholesterol in healthy young men in a double-blind randomized study in the course of which the subjects consumed 160 g/day of tomato sauce | Abete. 2013). Studies indicate that they protect your heart and other organs from damage and their consumption has been associated with reduced rates of various forms of cancer (Giovannucci. 1999). Furthermore the study at hand is not the first to show significant cholesterol lowering effects (Silaste. 2007), of which studies indicate that it is mediated by a direct suppression of cholesterol synthesis and LDL-clearance from the blood (Fuhrman. 1997). A direct anti-diabetic effect, however, is one of the few things that has not yet been demonstrated for tomato products (Wang. 2006).
If you take a closer look at the data in Figure 2 one of the first things you should notice are the words "responders" and "non-responders".
Figure 2: Changes in waist circumference, body fat (%), cholesterol levels, leptin levels and MCP levels in young (20-30 years) female study participants stratified by "responders" and "non-responders" (Li. 2014)
If you scrutinize the data, you will also see that there was a greater loss of body fat and a significantly higher reduction in waist circumference in the "responders", but the reduction of the inflammatory protein Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP1) which is chronically elevated in all sorts of inflammatory diseases, including those associated with the metabolic syndrome was more pronounced in the "non-responders".
"Another unexpected result was that for serum triglyceride levels, which were significantly increased by supplementation, and this effect was seen in responders (body fat change <0), but not non-responders (body fat change ≥ 0)." (Li. 2014)
As Li et al. point out, this effect has previously been observed only in subjects with already high triglyceride levels. The levels of the subjects in the study at hand were yet all way below the critical range of >150mg/dL at the beginning and end of the study.

Figure 3: It's commonly overlooked that activated macrophages (~inflammation) can trigger lipolysis in the adipose tissue (Samuel. 2012).
As a SuppVersity reader you know that transient increases in triglycerides will also occur with other "fat burning substances", because they are a natural result of the increased release of fatty acids from the adipose tissue. An increase in fatty acid release, or a as scientists say, lipolysis is yet also triggered by the activation of macrophages (see Figure 3).

Now, the greater reduction in MCP levels in the non-responders suggests that the macrophage activating monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) was significantly more affected by the provision tomato juice in those subjects who did not lose body weight. Whether this actually is the reason for the lack of fat loss in the non-responders and/or what is behind this difference is yet speculative and not even deal with in Li et al.'s discussion of the results.
You don't have to drink tomato juice to get lycopene. There are lots of other foods that contain significant amounts. And, as mentioned before: Whole foods beat supplements w/ respect to the bioavailability (Gärtner. 1997) and have the added benefit of delivering a whole matrix of healthy ingredients (Viuda-Martos. 2014).
Bottom line: As I already wrote at the beginning of this article, neither lycopene nor tomato products, of which several studies indicates that they are, probably also due to the increase bioavialbility of lycopene (Gärtner. 1997), the more powerful health promoters (Basu. 2006 ;Burton-Freeman. 2014) of the two, are the "magic bullet" so many people are looking for.

I spite of the lack of a control group the study at hand does yet still support the notion that tomatoes, tomato juices and pastes could be an essential part of a diet that promotes rather than triggers weight loss and, more importantly, body fat reductions... and by the way, you remember from a previous SuppVersity article that "Tomatorade(R)" is also an excellent intra-workout beverage for ordinary and extraordinary gymrats, right? | Comment on Facebook!
  • Abete, Itziar, et al. "A regular lycopene enriched tomato sauce consumption influences antioxidant status of healthy young-subjects: A crossover study." Journal of Functional Foods 5.1 (2013): 28-35. 
  • Basu, Antik, and Vicky Imrhan. "Tomatoes versus lycopene in oxidative stress and carcinogenesis: conclusions from clinical trials." European journal of clinical nutrition 61.3 (2006): 295-303.
  • Burton-Freeman, Britt M., and Howard D. Sesso. "Whole Food versus Supplement: Comparing the Clinical Evidence of Tomato Intake and Lycopene Supplementation on Cardiovascular Risk Factors." Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 5.5 (2014): 457-485. 
  • Gärtner, C., Wilhelm Stahl, and Helmut Sies. "Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes." The American journal of clinical nutrition 66.1 (1997): 116-122.
  • Giovannucci, Edward. "Tomatoes, tomato-based products, lycopene, and cancer: review of the epidemiologic literature." Journal of the National Cancer Institute 91.4 (1999): 317-331.
  • Li, Yu-Fen, et al. "Tomato juice supplementation in young women reduces inflammatory adipokine levels independently of body fat reduction." Nutrition (2014).
  • Samuel, Varman T., and Gerald I. Shulman. "Mechanisms for insulin resistance: common threads and missing links." Cell 148.5 (2012): 852-871.
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  • Tsitsimpikou, Christina, et al. "Administration of tomato juice ameliorates lactate dehydrogenase and creatinine kinase responses to anaerobic training." Food and Chemical Toxicology 61 (2013): 9-13.
  • Viuda-Martos, M., et al. "Tomato and Tomato Byproducts. Human Health Benefits of Lycopene and Its Application to Meat Products: A Review." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 54.8 (2014): 1032-1049.
  • Wang, Lu, et al. "The consumption of lycopene and tomato-based food products is not associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women." The Journal of nutrition 136.3 (2006): 620-625.