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Archive for the ‘Losing Weight’ Category

Lipodissolve – The Facts

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Have you looked in the mirror lately and been disappointed? Maybe at your double chin, or the fat around your inner thighs, or even your love handles? You must have seen advertisements for ‘Smart Lipo”- a procedure that dissolves fat with convincing before and after pictures?  And somewhere in the back of your mind, you might even have considered this procedure. Lipodissolve, also known as injection lipolysis, lipotherapy or mesotherapy (not to be confused with liposuction which is the surgical removal of fat cells) is a procedure that was developed in France in the 1950’s. It involves a series of injections given at the ‘fat’ site intended to eliminate and dissolve fat pockets from different parts of the body such as the abdomen, thighs, arms, chin, etc. Two drugs routinely used in the lipodissolve injection are phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate. Even though phosphtidylcholine is approved by the FDA as a drug to break down blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease, it is not approved as a drug for injection lypolysis. Other ingredients such as vitamins, antibiotics, herbal extracts and minerals may also be used. Lipodissolve is performed in a series of 6 to 8 or more treatments, each costing anywhere from $300 to $1000 and maybe more depending on the area of the body. Some people have claimed to have gotten good results from this treatment; however, others have suffered complications. With limited research available about this costly procedure, and controversy surrounding it, the Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers about false and misleading claims being made about products used in lipodissolve injections, and about other misbranding of these products.

 While the idea of dissolving away fat sounds amazing and promising, and before you dash to the phone and make an appointment, here are some facts that you should first know. According to the FDA, this is “What consumers should know and is alerting consumers that:

  • it has not evaluated or approved products for use in lipodissolve
  • it is not aware of evidence supporting the effectiveness of the substances used in lipodissolve for fat elimination
  • the safety of these substances, when used alone or in combination, is unknown
  • it is not aware of clinical studies to support medical uses of lipodissolve

In addition, FDA has reports of unexpected side effects in people who’ve undergone the lipodissolve procedure. These side effects include

  • permanent scarring
  • skin deformation
  • deep, painful knots under the skin in areas where the lipodissolve treatments were injected

 With this procedure, there are also several unanswered questions- What happens to the fat once it’s treated? Do the treated areas get ‘fat’ again? Does the body absorb the fat or is it excreted? Are there any long term health issues arising from this procedure? The fact is that since there is very limited research available on this procedure, the answers are still unknown.  In fact, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “Patients are advised to avoid these procedures, which are commonly known as lipolysis, mesotherapy or the brand names Lipodissolve and Lipodstabil.  Although marketed as fat loss treatments, these procedures are scientifically unproven, lacking any objective data on safety and efficacy. In addition, none of these procedures has received FDA approval, with the ingredients poorly defined. The procedures may also be offered by persons without sufficient medical training, thereby putting patients at risk of harm.”

The American Society for Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery have also issued similar health warnings and concerns with the use of injection lipolysis. Finally, in April of this year, the FDA issued warning letters to six ‘medical spas’ in the USA for false and misleading claims. So now that you know some facts, make a smart decision about ‘Smart Lipo”!

ACAI- A miracle berry?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

As a fitness professional, I get asked from time to time whether a certain ‘health’ product or supplement will help someone lose weight. One such product which has received much media attention recently and is heavily marketed as a super rich antioxidant is the ‘acai’ (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry.  The acai berry is a small round berry almost similar to the blueberry and is only found in the dense, difficult to access swampy areas of the Brazilian Amazonian rain forest. Acai berry is found on tall slender palm trees that grow up to 30 meters. The Acai berry in this region has been used by the natives as a health food and for medicinal purposes; to cure certain ailments for a long time. This berry is perishable and must be immediately consumed or frozen to retain its nutritional value. It is because of this that the acai berry is difficult to transport from deep in the Amazonian forest to the western world.

 In the modern world, the acai berry has been publicized greatly and has been heavily marketed as a weight loss product. Some of the promises that acai berry products make besides weight loss are that of increased energy, improved metabolism, less fatigue, promoting youth, better sexual function, improved complexion, an exceptional antioxidant and the list goes on and on. Some acai berry products even claim to improve cholesterol, diabetes and prevent cancers! While much confusion exists about this miracle berry, one thing is for sure- there isn’t a shortage of the types of acai berry products available- most of them promising weight loss! For example, there is acai berry juice, smoothies, teas, energy drinks, capsules and even candy, ice-cream and chocolate.  There are websites promoting the endless health benefits of the acai berry enticing consumers to buy in with offers of ‘free trail’ products. With alluring pictures of lean toned bodies and celebrity clientele promising weight loss, many consumers are lured into buying acai products. Some sites even contain ‘warnings’ about other acai products and stating that only their acai products are pure and most nutritious while others are a scam.

 If you are familiar with acai berry, you might have at some point thought about purchasing this miracle product that claims to deliver all. Well, before you do, know this:  The Center for Science in the Public Interestis warning consumers not to enroll online in supposedly free trials of diet products made with the trendy Brazilian berry acai. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that acai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colons, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions. And thousands of consumers have had trouble stopping recurrent charges on their credit cards when they cancel their free trials”.  Along with that, the Better Business Bureau has warned consumers to beware of internet companies that sell these scam weight loss acai berry products. It also warns consumers of bogus blogs with fake ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos.

Certain internet companies also market the acai berry as the most powerful antioxidant. While it is true that the acai berry has some antioxidants, according to the CSPI, the acai berry has only middling levels of antioxidants. You would obtain the same in a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of red wine. Bottom line is that there are no conclusive studies about the acai berry and none that suggest that antioxidants have an affect on weight loss!  

 So what about those natives and indigenous tribes who have benefited from consuming this so called superfood and miracle berry? Is it really the berry or their lifestyle? If we look at the indigenous people who consume this berry, their lifestyle is active, their diet quite clean and healthy. Their toned muscles and fitness is probably a result of their active   lifestyle and not because of consuming a berry. After all, doesn’t exercise and a healthy lifestyle promote weight loss, increased energy, low cholesterol levels, better sleep, increased metabolism, reverse the ageing process, better digestion, and countless other health benefits – all that the acai berry products claim to do?

Body Weight/Body Fat/Body Mass Index (BMI)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

People have continued to obsess over their weight for many years, and still continue to do so. “I need to lose 10 lbs to fit in my jeans”. “If I lost only 5 lbs I’ll be in great shape!” These are comments if we’ve not made ourselves, we’ve definitely heard from our acquaintances. Should you really obsess over just your body weight or is there more to it that you’re overlooking? Let’s take a closer look. Body weight, body fat and body mass index are three ways to assess one’s body composition. But which one should you focus on more closely?

 Body Weight:  Body weight is just that. It is the total weight of one’s body which includes the weight of bones, blood, organs, muscles, water and fat. Even though certain standards have been set for the “ideal” body weight according to one’s body frame; ideal body weight still remains controversial. When one loses weight, one may lose some lean muscle, water weight and fat weight.

 Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a frequently used tool used by health care professionals in assessing weight status in adults. BMI which is derived by dividing one’s body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (BMI=kg/m2) has its advantages and disadvantages. Even though BMI is a good predictor of an individual’s risk of developing chronic disease and health problems based on excess weight one is carrying; it does not distinguish between lean muscle mass and fat mass. With BMI, individuals are classified under the following categories:

 Underweight <18.5
Normal weight 18.5-24.9
Overweight 25-29.9
Obesity >30

(Source: American Council on Exercise)

Since BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle weight, a lean, fit individual, or an athlete with a high amount of muscle mass can be classified as being overweight or obese, whereas in reality they may have a relatively low level of body fat and be at low risk for disease.

 Body Fat:  Body fat which is measured in percentage is simply the percentage of fat your body contains. A certain amount of fat is essential for daily body functions; however, too much fat can increase your risk of chronic disease. How much fat is normal? The American Council on Exercise provides the following ranges for body fat:

  Women Men
Essential Fat 10-12% 2-4%
Athletes 13-20% 5-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32% and Higher 26% and Higher

  Body fat and not so much your body weight is the one that you want to focus on as those that fall in the obese category are clearly at higher risk for heart disease and other chronic disease that are a result of having a high body fat percentage. Also those that are in the obese category may carry body fat around their abdomen, and this alone is a risk factor for disease. On the other hand, some people may not necessary look “fat” but can still have a high body fat percentage and, therefore, be at risk for disease. Going below the levels of “essential fat” for women can also be unhealthy as these women are at risk of osteoporosis and irregular menstrual cycles. Modern scales that measure weight and body fat are a good tool to have at home, but you should know that they have an error margin rate of 1% – 2%.

 So now that you’ve measured your body fat, and you’re in the acceptable category or even borderline, don’t wear that smile on your face just yet, because if you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle your body fat is very likely to creep up in the “obese” category in the next few years! For those of you whose body fat percentage is already in the “obese” category, this should be a wakeup call! Talk to your health care professional about improving your diet and start an exercise program that includes weight training as regular exercise and diet modification is the only way to lower your body fat percentage and maintain it. When it comes to the scale, don’t just focus on your body weight alone; instead understand your body fat percentage. Then aim to lead an active healthy lifestyle and keep in mind that one could be a fit, healthy 150 lb person with a low body fat percentage, or an unfit, unhealthy 150 lb person with a high body fat percentage!