Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Let's face it, dieting to lose bodyfat is never easy. Not
only are we constantly bombarded by food advertisements that
threaten to destroy our dieting willpower, but are own bodies
conspire against us. It's as if our fat cells enjoined our brains
in a plot to keep us fat. Faced with this seemingly uphill
situation, some dieters resort to outside help. If this "help" is
in the form of anorexic drugs, such as the recently recalled
Redux or fenfluramine, the results could be deadly.

But there are other, more gentle ways of helping our bodies
adjust to the rigors of reduced calorie intake. One way involves
the use of thermogenic substances, which veer the body to
converting fat into heat, an upgraded metabolic effect. Examples
of such substances are a combination of ephedrine (derived from
the ephedra herb); caffeine; and aspirin. This combination has
been shown in many studies to be effective for losing bodyfat,
while preserving lean tissue.

However, the Food and Drug Administration has issued
warnings about such thermogenic combinations, even the most
recent so-called "natural Phen-fen" herbal combination consisting
of ephedra and St.Johns Wort. These government reports indicate
that over 800 cases of side effects have been reported with the
use of ephedrine. A close examination of such reports shows that
many are of dubious origin.

Still, there are contraindications to the various
thermogenic combinations, natural or otherwise. For example,
people with high blood pressure requiring drug treatment, those
with other cardiovascular problems and thyroid disease cannot
safely use thermogenic fat-reducing regimes. But other options
exist for such people.

One example of such a substance is (-) hydroxycitrate (HCA),
a natural analog of citric acid, which is found in many fruits.
HCA is the main acid found in a fruit called Garcinia cambogia,
or Brindall berry, often used in India as a condiment and fish
preservative. Animal studies conducted the past few years show
that HCA inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates into fat
through inhibiting an enzyme called ATP citrate lyase.

HCA may aid fat-loss efforts through inhibiting appetite.
One theory of appetite control is that the amount of glycogen or
carbohydrate stored in the liver is sensed by the brain. Once
this glycogen storage reaches a certain level, the brain appetite
centers are turned off. One way to maximize this process is by
promoting liver fat oxidation, which would spare glycogen and
thus suppress appetite.

This is where HCA enters the picture. In the course of liver
cell metabolism, a substance called malonyl coenzyme A is
produced from both carbohydrates and directly from acetyl
coenzyme A. Malonyl is a precursor for both liver fat synthesis
and cholesterol production. It inhibits liver fat oxidation by
turning off an enzyme that works with carnitine in transporting
fatty acids into the mitochondria portion of cells, where fat is
burned in a process called beta-oxidation.

HCA, by inhibiting ATP citrate lyase, also inhibits the
synthesis of malonyl. This, in turn, favors an increased reliance
on fat oxidation in the liver, since the "brake" on fat
oxidation--malonyl--is lowered. Adding supplemental L-carnitine
would make the whole process more efficient. This process also
provides extra ATP, and promotes the use of other substrates for
liver glycogen synthesis, such as lactate and pyruvate, to be
used more efficiently in the liver glycogen synthesis process.

The same process of adding HCA and carnitine, by increasing
and sparing liver glycogen stores, would also provide more
readily available glucose (resulting from glycogen degradation)
for maintaining systemic energy during extended aerobic sessions.
Since the degree of fat-burning is based on time with moderate
aerobics (i.e., the longer the session, the greater the use of
fat for energy), this sparing of glucose would serve as an
adjunctive aid to making aerobics more effective.

Caffeine is also known to help mobilize bodyfat. What would
happen if you combined caffeine with HCA? This was the focus of a
study presented at the eighth European Congress of Obesity in
Dublin last June. The study involved the use of HCA and caffeine
in 50 obese people. These people took a supplement consisting of
400 milligrams of HCA, 25 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in a
quarter cup of coffee), and 20 micrograms of chromium
polynicotinate, a form of supplemental chromium. They took 2
capsules of the formula or a placebo three times a day, 30-60
minutes before meals. Their diets consisted of 1,200 calories a

At the end of the study, 48 people remained. Those taking
the HCA combination lost 2.2 pounds more than those taking the
placebo. While this amount of weight-loss doesn't sound too
impressive, it is similar to that occurring with pyruvate,
another popular natural weight-loss aid.

Another study at the same European meeting examined the
long-term effects of HCA. This study involved 44 women and 16 men
who took either a placebo or HCA for a few weeks, followed by a
longer trial of 12 months. The short-term portion of the study
resulted in the HCA group losing more weight (87% of which was
fat) than the placebo group, along with significant reductions in
total cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, the HCA group
experienced decreased appetite, an effect not occurring in those
using the placebo.

The longer, 12-month phase of the study revealed an average
weight reduction of 13.8 kilograms (15% of initial weight) at the
end of the study. None of the subjects in either the short or
long phase of the study experienced any side effects. Both this
and the previously described human HCA studies used average daily
total doses of 2,400 milligrams, considerably higher than the
usually suggested 750-1,200 milligrams a day.

Still another natural plant-derived substance from
India may aid fat-loss though another mechanism. Known as
guggulipid, this substance derived from the guggul tree has been
a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Studies
show that guggulipid effectively lowers high blood cholesterol
levels, and the mechanism behind this is the same one that aids
fat loss.

Guggul has the ability to increase the conversion of
inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into the far more active version,
T3. This would have the effect of increasing general metabolism,
and thus aiding weight-loss efforts. An effective dose for this
purpose is 25 milligrams of standardized guggulipid three times a

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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