You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” but that doesn’t stop people from hoping -- and trying -- to find that miracle pill/exercise/diet that will let them eat what they want AND lose weight. Back in the ‘90s, Fen-Phen was that miracle diet drug, until reports of serious heart-valve issues forced it to be pulled from the market. Then came Meridia, which was also eventually pulled from the market in 2010, due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
These days, proponents of natural appetite suppressants are turning toward actual foods -- everything from green tea and cinnamon to hot sauce and flax seeds are touted as the natural way to keep yourself feeling full. It should go without saying that before you take ANY diet or weight-loss supplement of any kind, you should consult your doctor to make sure it’s safe and that it won’t interact with any medications that you’re taking.
How Lipozene Works
Despite the health risks and cautionary tales, that doesn’t keep people from trying to find that “magic pill.” Enter Lipozene. You’ve probably heard about this weight-loss supplement from the barrage of TV ads that promise “dramatic weight-loss results while still eating what you love.”
The popular herbal weight-loss supplement is manufactured by the Obesity Research Institute, and marketed as a “breakthrough” weight-loss product. The main ingredient in Lipozene is glucomannan, a vegetable fiber from the root of the konjac plant. When mixed with water, glucomannan forms an indigestible gel that is supposed to give a feeling of fullness when ingested. However, there are significant questions about its effectiveness as a weight-loss aid, since there have been few scientific studies performed to that end.
A study that the Lipozene website cites was conducted in 1984 and was on glucomannan, not specifically Lipozene. It was also conducted on very small sample size -- 20 obese subjects, who lost an average of 5.5 pounds over an eight-week period.
However, fiber IS an important part of a healthy diet and can help you lose weight -- not because it has any fat-burning properties, but because eating healthy sources of fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, can help you feel more full and leave less room for unhealthy foods in your diet. Studies show that in addition to helping you lose weight, fiber can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, a diet that is high in fiber from food sources, not supplements, can help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
However, Lipozene is a fiber supplement, not a whole food, which means you’re not getting all the nutrients and health benefits of eating a fiber-rich food such as green beans or broccoli.
Side Effects of Lipozene
The side effects of Lipozene are similar to those from eating a lot of fiber: gas, bloating, stomach pains, cramping and diarrhea. But known adverse reactions to glucomannan supplements in tablet form (Lipozene comes in capsules) also include chest pain, vomiting and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
The Lipozene website says that users “must drink 8 oz. of liquid” with each dose. Without adequate liquid, the glucomannan can cause constipation and/or diarrhea.
Glucomannan also lowers blood glucose levels, which can reduce the need for some diabetic medications. But this can cause loss of control of blood sugar levels, which can be a dangerous situation for diabetics. Diabetics should only take Lipozene and other glucomannan-containing products under the supervision of a physician. Since glucomannan expands, it’s not recommended for people who have esophageal or gut issues, since it could cause blockages in the throat or intestines.
Is Lipozene FDA-Approved?
It’s important to know that the FDA does NOT approve dietary supplements and while it may take action if there are adverse situations that involve a supplement, that action only takes place after a supplement is on the market. Companies that make dietary supplements are not required to get approval from the FDA before making or selling their product.
It’s also worth noting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined the Obesity Research Institute $1.5 million in in 2005 for making misleading weight-loss claim about two other diet pills, Propolene and FiberThin, which are also fiber-based supplements.
Early research suggests glucomannan may be somewhat effective for weight loss, but no research has focused on Lipozene specifically. In addition, the advertised claims for Lipozene are more impressive than the research results for glucomannan and rely mainly on anecdotal experiences in personal testimonials. Lipozene is also generally more expensive than many other brands containing the same active ingredient, products which are available at health food stores from well-known supplement manufacturers.
The Bottom Line on Lipozene
While Lipozene IS a fiber-based dietary supplement and there’s proof that fiber is part of a healthy diet, there’s scant evidence that proves that a pill alone can help you lose weight. Meanwhile, there are plenty of studies and research that do prove that you can close weight by eating a diet that is rich in healthy, whole foods -- combined with exercise and other lifestyle changes.