What to eat to lose weight: a guide to dietary supplements

We decided to look into the variety of modern dietary supplements and find out what benefits they have, whether there is harm and what, in principle, they are.

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Today, there are many products on the market that promise instant weight loss with the help of specialized teas, capsules and tablets. There are even sprays, the spraying of which should suppress the feeling of hunger, and surreal “sweets for weight loss”. On the other hand, products for a balanced diet are becoming increasingly common: various protein shakes and bars. We tell you more about them and remind you — before taking any of the dietary supplements, a doctor’s consultation is necessary.

Types of dietary supplements

Most of us have a certain stereotype in our minds regarding dietary supplements — these are advertised and ineffective drugs for pensioners. However, in fact, if you exclude artisanal and other dubious manufacturers, dietary supplements help the body cope with the lack of nutrients quite well. The figures for the use of dietary supplements in various countries are indicative: in Japan, 90% of the population regularly take dietary supplements to food, in the USA — 80%, in France and Germany — 60%, and at the same time in Russia — only 3%.

Dietary supplements are divided into two large groups: nutraceuticals and parapharmaceuticals.

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“The first group, nutraceuticals, includes products that contain macronutrients necessary for the body in concentrated form — proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as micronutrients, that is, vitamins and minerals,” says nutritionist, endocrinologist of the highest category and Herbalife expert Alla Shilina, “Such drugs help to provide the body with an optimal level of nutrient intake substances and at the same time do not exceed the permissible daily caloric content of the diet. The second group of food additives — parapharmaceuticals — includes hunger regulators, fat-burning drugs and cleansing teas. These products do not supplement the daily diet, but affect the metabolic processes in the body and brain activity (in the case of hunger regulators).”

In other words, nutraceuticals are the same nutrients that we get from food, only in concentrated form, and parapharmaceuticals are special drugs that stimulate the work of individual organs and systems.

Parapharmaceuticals: varieties and functions

According to the order of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation No. 117 of 1997, the daily dose of parapharmaceuticals, provided they are taken at least 2 times a day, should not exceed the single therapeutic dose, which is determined for the same substances when used as medicines. In addition, unlike medicines, any dietary supplements are dispensed in pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. There are several types of parapharmaceutical dietary supplements.

Regulators of hunger

The purpose of this group of parapharmaceuticals is to suppress appetite. “The active substances in these drugs affect the areas of the brain responsible for saturation,” explains Alla Shilina. — With their help, a person does not feel hungry and eats less. However, appetite regulators are used only when all other means are ineffective, since they can lead to negative consequences. It is better to give preference to natural supplements, but even in this case it is not necessary to exceed the permissible doses and consult a specialist beforehand to take into account the specifics of your body.” 

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Fat-burning drugs

These dietary supplements prevent the body from absorbing fat from food. Their mechanism of action varies: for example, drugs based on orlistat inhibit the production of enzymes that break down fats in the gastrointestinal tract, so fats are not absorbed, but are excreted through the large intestine. In dietary supplements based on chitosan, the active substance binds to fat molecules in the digestive system and also prevents them from being absorbed. However, it should be borne in mind that the use of these fat—burning drugs can cause a number of side effects – for example, flatulence, poor absorption of calcium.

Another effect is given by drugs used in fitness nutrition, the so-called thermogenetics and lipotropics. They activate the metabolism, forcing the body to burn already deposited fats faster. “However, such drugs have an effect only with active sports,” warns Herbalife fitness expert Pavel Fatykhov. — For example, L-carnitine really accelerates the burning of fats and their processing into energy, but if you do not exercise and do not spend this energy on movement, then the body will not produce it. Why does he need extra work? However, for those who exercise, L-carnitine will facilitate sports and accelerate the reduction of fat mass.”

It is important to remember that such drugs should not be taken for a long time so that the body does not get used to independently regulate metabolic processes.

Cleansing supplements

The effect of herbal teas and suspensions for weight loss is based on their laxative and diuretic properties. The main principle of such dietary supplements is intestinal detoxification.

Cleansing biological additives free our body from toxins and excess water, improving digestion and metabolism. However, they do not directly affect the reduction of body fat, so it is better to use them occasionally in order to cleanse the body.

As in the case of fat-burning drugs, it is not recommended to drink cleansing teas for a long time so that the body does not lose the ability to remove waste on its own, and along with excess fluid does not lose the necessary trace elements.

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The main action of this group of dietary supplements is to provide us with all the necessary nutrients without overloading the body with calories. They allow you to achieve an optimal ratio of the necessary elements — proteins, fats and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, that is, to make your diet balanced. These are the same elements that we get with food, only in a higher concentration. Nutraceuticals also include sports nutrition.

According to the law, the dose of nutrients in nutraceutical dietary supplements should not exceed 6 daily human needs for this element. Otherwise, the drug refers to medications. Despite the fact that this norm is enshrined in the law, it is quite conditional, because the daily requirement for a certain substance varies depending on age, gender, even climatic conditions, which means that in some cases it is difficult to draw a clear line between a drug and a biologically active additive. For this reason, before taking dietary supplements-nutraceuticals, it is better to know in advance your individual need for basic substances. This is especially true for vitamins and minerals, since it is easier to calculate the required amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates: in the daily caloric content of the diet, 30% should be protein and fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

Vitamins and minerals

The most popular type of nutraceuticals is vitamins. There are many monovitamin and multivitamin complexes, and they need to be selected in accordance with the needs of your body.

In addition, there are complexes to cover the need for minerals, micro- and macroelements. When choosing vitamin and mineral complexes, it is necessary to take into account their compatibility — for example, calcium is better absorbed with vitamin D, and carotene — with fats.

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Sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fatty acids

These essential fatty acids are essential for the health of the heart and blood vessels: they resist atherosclerosis, improve vascular elasticity and blood circulation.

The main sources of Omega-6 and Omega-3 are flaxseed, peanut, grape, mustard oil, almonds and walnuts, sunflower seeds, fish oil, salmon and tuna fish.  If the sources of valuable Omega-3 and Omega-6 are not enough in the diet, dietary supplements come to the rescue.

Protein shakes

According to Rospotrebnadzor of Russia, more than 80% of the population experience a lack of protein in the diet. At the same time, 95% of our compatriots consume excessive amounts of fatty foods.

“From these data, it becomes obvious that most of us should increase the consumption of high—protein low-calorie foods, that is, lean meat and fish, caviar, dairy products, legumes,” says nutritionist Alla Shilina. — Normally, you need to consume 1-1.5 g of protein per kilogram of weight daily. However, it is not easy to get the necessary amount of this valuable element from ordinary food. Protein shakes, one glass of which can replace a full meal, will help to achieve an optimal level of protein intake.”

In addition, protein shakes are suitable for nutrition after training. “The protein contained in them is quickly absorbed and goes to muscle recovery,” says fitness expert Pavel Fatykhov. “I recommend drinking protein shakes 10 minutes after a workout.”

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Gainers or protein-carbohydrate cocktails

These protein-carbohydrate mixtures are consumed by athletes after intense power loads. Gainers should be drunk by those who have decided to build muscle mass, because carbohydrates are the best fuel for physical exertion, and protein is the building material for muscle growth. But if you do not intend to increase the volume of muscles and just strive for a balanced diet, it is better to limit yourself to protein shakes.

Protein bars

These foods for a balanced diet are also rich in protein and at the same time convenient to use. They can be used as healthy and low-calorie snacks between main meals.

Protein bars are convenient because they have an optimal amount of important nutrients in a concentrated and convenient form and help to eat in a balanced way not only at home, but also at work, on vacation, after training.

In addition to these, there are dietary supplements such as probiotics to improve the intestinal microflora, antioxidant complexes, which also include skin and hair care products, as well as preparations containing dietary fiber. In general, before deciding to take any dietary supplements, we recommend that you consult with a specialist and make sure that their use does not lead to exceeding the individually recommended norm.

You will need

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