In the news: Alpha Lipoic, EPA & Weight Loss:
The Sugar Debates
Trying to Shed Weight? Get the Basics Down First
There are effective ways to loose weight and keep it off and some approaches that just fall flat. Adopting the Mediterranean style diet works, for example. Fad diets don’t. Eating less, eating better and moving more – whether it’s simply walking, or working out in the gym – are also fundamental parts of the equation for successful, long-term weight maintenance.
Once a sound plan for dietary changes and physical activity is in place, there may be additional ways to enhance weight loss efforts, at least in the short term, according to results from a newly published study (1).
Alpha Lipoic Acid May Boost Weight Loss
Nutrition researchers from the University of Navarra in Spain conducted a double blind, placebo controlled trial examining the effects of supplemental omega-3 fatty acid EPA and alpha lipoic acid on weight loss.
Ninety-seven overweight and obese women, all on calorie-restricted diets, were randomly assigned to receive one of 4 different daily treatments: EPA (1.3 g), alpha lipoic acid (300 mg), both the EPA and alpha lipoic acid combined, or placebo for a 10-week period.
The control (placebo) group lost an average of a little over 11 lbs. due to the reduced calorie intake. Women in the EPA only group lost about the same as the controls. Women in the group supplemented with alpha lipoic acid alone dropped significantly more weight than the controls – on average, about 4 lbs more.
Those in the EPA + alpha lipoic acid group also lost more weight than controls (about 14 lbs. on average), although the difference didn’t quite reach statistical significance. The EPA supplements appeared to help offset the drop in levels of leptin, the satiety or ‘feeling full’ hormone, which normally occurs during weight loss. But the researchers also believe alpha lipoic acid’s effects on fat tissue may have been a major contributor to the study’s findings.
Less Sugar, Better Health
The World Health Organization, or WHO, has issued guidelines calling for curtailing added sugar intake to 5-10% of daily calorie intake. It’s estimated that in the US children get about 16% and adults get about 13-15% of their calories from added sugars. WHO isn’t talking about naturally occurring sugars in milk, fruits and vegetables, but rather table sugar, sweets, and high-fructose or other sugars added to foods and drinks.
Recently, a review and meta-analysis of 39 clinical trials comparing the effects of sugar and other (non-sugar) carbs on blood pressure and blood fats, found that higher intake of sugars directly contributes to risk factors for heart disease, independent of their effect on body weight (3).
Some have criticized these findings as not strong enough to back the recommendations made by WHO. But it’s clear that excess sugar contributes to overweight and cavities, quite probably cardiovascular disease, and has also been linked to increased risk of ocular diseases such as AMD and cataract as part of a high glycemic index diet.
One reasonable approach is to work toward WHO’s goals by enjoying sweets less frequently, and working on cutting back on sugary foods and beverages rather than trying to eliminate them altogether.
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