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Sunday
Aug232015

Product Primer: Our Top Supplements for Weight Loss

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what I thought of the latest Dr. Wizard “magic pill” endorsement, I’d be able to fly to your house to discuss this topic with you in person.

The fact is, there’s no magic supplement product, but there are definitely reasons to supplement.

Weight loss programs are simple in theory but difficult in terms of execution. The journey to long-lasting results is not a linear path but for many people is wrought with obstacles, challenges and setbacks. Many of those hurdles are specifically related to our food choices, nutrient adequacy and physiological re-programming.

That’s where strategic supplementation fits in. 

**Disclaimer: the FDA prohibits supplement manufacturers and retailers from claiming products cause weight loss. This post is meant to explain how certain supplements can be helpful components of a comprehensive nutrition and weight management program and in no way claims that any particular supplement or group of supplements causes weight loss.

Supplementation as One Aspect of Healthy Behavior Change

Most adults know the equation for better health and more successful weight management requires healthy eating, consistent exercise and adequate rest, but too often life gets in the way. Motivation and progress can wane. 

The best weight loss plans are based on a comprehensive behavior change approach that’s tailored to the individual. This way, each person successfully applies the most impactful behaviors consistently enough to keep making progress. 

What’s the easiest behavior change to increase the nutrient quantity and consistency of your daily nutrition habits? Eat only organic? Eliminate any and all junk food cold turkey? Nope. As significant as those steps are, both can be pretty difficult for most people to fully accomplish. 

Taking high quality supplements may be the easiest behavior change for the most potential benefit. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge advocate for changing behaviors related to eating an optimum diet - including an abundance of vegetables and healthy proteins. I fully support getting maximal nutrition from our food first!

That said, quality supplements are a worthwhile investment to make your weight loss journey easier – if the supplement plan is crafted through smart logic. Here’s how we go about shaping a weight loss supplement protocol. 

Achieving Optimum Nutritional Balance for Health and Weight Loss

Why supplement? Nutrients are needed to allow cells to do what cells are supposed to do. Only nourished cells give you energy to do what you need to do. Like it or not, your food probably doesn’t give you all the nutrients you need.

The first supplements I recommend are always aimed at providing the nutrients that appear to be missing consistently from an individual’s daily nutrition routine. 

Multivitamins

All my clients start with the daily habit of taking a high quality multivitamin to support their micronutrient needs while we work on tougher dietary habit changes. 

In no way should we expect a multivitamin to be a cure-all for our health woes, nor should we believe they are a complete waste of money. While study protocols and results vary, compelling research suggests the simple act of taking a multivitamin daily can have significant impacts on weight, body fatness, and other health markers. 

The Life Time Fitness Men’s and Women’s AM/PM Multivitamin formulas are designed to deliver highly absorbable forms of the crucial micronutrients active adults need to feel and function their best. It’s quite possibly the most robust multi-nutrient formula under $40 on the market today.

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Another critical nutrient often insufficient in our daily diets is omega-3 fatty acids. Evidence suggests omega-3 fish oil supplementation enhances fat loss when combined with an exercise and healthy eating program designed for weight loss. It’s also used to promote normal inflammation responses and as a therapeutic supplement in many cases of cardiovascular disease management. 

Life Time Fitness Omega-3 Fish oil capsules or Liquid EPA Complex offer high-quality, triglyceride-form omega-3 oils sustainably sourced from small, cold-water fish from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile (sardines, mackerel and anchovies). The capsules have added peppermint oil to reduce any possible unpleasant “fish burps,” and the liquid is a tasty raspberry lemonade flavor. It’s actually so good I’ve drizzled it on a salad! 

Fiber and Probiotics

When I talk with clients about their daily diets, most are woefully inadequate in fiber – a “nutrient” that’s incredibly vital in regulating blood glucose and energy levels, inducing a thermogenic boost, spurring the health and proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria, and is needed to bind up toxins for removal in our bowels. Not to mention, higher fiber intakes are consistently better for controlling hunger. All of this matters a great deal during a weight loss journey. 

And, no, I’m not suggesting supplementing with fiber bars. The fact is, I would never tell someone to eat a snack bar with 12 grams of sugar to boost their fiber by 4 grams.  

Instead, while we work on multiple strategies to upgrade a client's daily dietary habits, I often suggest supplemental fiber like FiberMend from Thorne Research or work on adding other fiber sources to his/her day with chia seeds, ground flax seeds or gluten-free oats. 

Some people report unpleasant bloating and gas when they first introduce supplemental fiber, which may suggest dysbiosis or alterations to the mix of bacteria living in their intestines. Such alterations may have a very active role in whole-body metabolism. 

Getting the right bacteria recipe in your gut can be vital to your weight loss. It may even impact how many calories you extract from your food!

Magnesium

This critical mineral can be found in vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and seeds but seems to be one of the most commonly deficient minerals in North American diets today. It’s involved in hundreds of metabolic and enzymatic processes in our body, so it’s considered a pretty important nutrient. 

However, magnesium takes up quite a bit of physical space, which means it’s often only supplied in minute amounts in most multivitamin formulas. (Two hundred milligrams per day is all we could fit in Life Time’s Men’s and Women’s formulas.) As annoying as it may be to take extra pills or powders to get your magnesium status where it needs to be for more optimal metabolism, this one is well worth it. It’s relatively inexpensive, and the only risk with taking too much magnesium in supplement form is loose stool. It’s helpful to discuss the right dosage for you with a registered dietitian.

Vitamin D

Before you rush off and gobble up supplemental sunshine vitamin, you should think about your current daily sun exposure and have your vitamin D levels tested. 

I’m including vitamin D as an important weight loss supporting supplement because if your level is low, you may be fighting uphill battles in multiple areas of physiology, including insulin sensitivity, mood and energy, and even immunity – not to mention bone health. 

Protein Powders

Macronutrient balance matters when it comes to weight loss. Higher protein, lower carb eating strategies are consistently shown to out perform low calorie and low fat diets for weight loss (and other health markers).

To boot, emerging evidence suggests current protein recommendations are insufficient to maintain optimal health. Nonetheless, keeping enough quality protein available is a challenge many busy people have. That’s where protein powders can be handy. If they’re high quality, they may offer the same benefit of eating food protein but with more convenience.

Life Time offers a suite of high-quality protein powders that can fit the needs of any individual’s weight loss program. From the 100% Grass-Fed Whey protein and Fast Fuel line to our vegan-friendly Veganmax or Dairy-Free Fast Fuel, these products can make your protein needs easy to meet no matter how busy you may be. 

For those of you out there who are feeling overwhelmed by the choices and need a simple, get-started solution on your journey, I have an easy suggestion. Simply start your supplement protocol with one to two servings per day of Fast Fuel Lean Complex. This formula includes grass-fed whey protein, a great multivitamin/multi-mineral blend, Cynambra™ to help control blood glucose, Sunfiber® to promote satiety, and enzymes and probiotics to support optimal digestive function.

Functional or Targeted Supplements

I insist people only start a supplement protocol if it’s built from the foundation I discussed above. Too many people skip past the basics and jump to this category of supplements in hopes of finding that magic pill, but it isn’t that simple. 

When I have more subjective and objective data about an individual – like the info we learn through comprehensive lab testing – there are a multitude of other functional supplements I may recommend for short periods of time. These types of targeted supplements may exhibit drug-like, physiology-changing effects on one’s metabolism to enhance energy levels or stimulate faster fat loss. 

Some are therapeutic doses of single nutrients (like chromium or zinc for example) while others are potent botanical preparations backed by clinical and anecdotal evidence. 

Using this combination of detailed testing and therapeutic supplementation can be a game-changer in many weight loss journeys. In a sense, some supplements – when chosen based on individual results – have the power to enhance metabolic systems or processes that no amount of diet or lifestyle change alone can produce. 

Feeling like your supplement strategy needs an update? Schedule a consultation with a Personal Trainer or Nutrition Coach today. Thanks for reading.

In health, Paul Kriegler - Corporate Registered Dietitian

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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