Question: I am not inclined to take supplements (e.g. stimulants) to lose weight, but I can’t seem to stay with any program long enough to reach my goal weight. Can supplements help?
Answer: Yes, because as you said, you can’t seem to stick to a program. But you knew we would say that because we sell supplements. Both supplements and meal replacement bars and drinks can help you reach your goal. Diet drugs or supplements are incorporated into a weight loss program to assist the participant in complying with a daily routine that leads to weight reduction. In other words, to make it easier to control appetite and burn calories until you feel you have your daily routine under control. At that point you should be able to continue making progress without the supplements (which means burning more calories than you consume). Once you reach the weight or body composition goal, there is no longer a need to burn more calories than you consume. You can now increase your caloric intake to a maintenance level (consume as much as you burn), which should also help relieve the need for supplementation (read "Use of Supplements for Fat Loss", the complete dotFIT position on the use of dietary supplements in support of body fat/weight loss).
There are dietary supplements that have shown great promise in assisting weight loss by helping control appetite through inducing feelings of fullness sooner and longer and blocking calorie absorption, which allows the user the act and satisfaction of eating while reducing the body’s calorie uptake. Additionally, many dietary supplements can naturally increase the user’s ability to burn calories, making it easier to continue to lose fat.
Although standard meal replacements (MR) are not considered supplements since they are actually food, our first recommendation in support of weight loss is to incorporate one or two meal replacement bars or drinks into your daily diet, allowing greater freedom of choice for your remaining calories.
In all studies, meal replacements have been shown to be an extremely effective aid to weight reduction and, in almost all cases, more effective than conventional methods of dietary restrictions (see Figure 1). Additionally, meal replacements have been shown to be just as effective as dietary restriction combined with pharmacological therapy. And most importantly, continuous use of meal replacements may be the most effective means of all treatments when it comes to maintaining weight loss (see Figure 2).
Meal replacements are generally used to replace one or two meals a day and allow freedom of choice for the remaining allotted foods/calories.
Meal replacements allow:
- Portion control: people generally attempt to consume meals to completion, , therefore meal portion size significantly impacts a person’s total calorie intake. Overwhelming evidence validates that the smaller the portions, the fewer daily calories consumed and vice-versa – i.e. people tend to “eat with their eyes not their stomachs”. Use of portion-controlled meals has proven to yield greater weight loss than conventional diet therapy alone.
- Accurate calorie counts of total daily food intake when compared to having to estimate the calories of self-prepared or unmarked meals.
In all six studies the groups using meal replacements (PMR) as part of their overall calorie intake lost significantly more weight than subjects using the reduced calorie diet (RCD) alone. Heymsfield SB (2003)
In a 1-year follow-up in the groups that were tracked, the subjects still using meal replacements (PMR) maintained significantly more weight loss than the RCD group. Heymsfield SB (2003)
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