As American’s continue on their quest to find a simple and reliable solution to weight loss, promises of losing a pound per day have been touted by companies offering gummies that they claim were featured on the hit TV show, Shark Tank. Their claim is that the investors on Shark Tank were so excited about the product that they all invested into it. Other ads claim that the fat burning gummies have been created by a student at Cornell University who, through her nutritional studies, discovered the secret to passive fat burning in hydroxycitric acid. The premise sounds like a dream. Take one gummy a day for weight loss and better health.
So, what’s the scoop?
Do these gummies work? Are they safe for consumption? Should you take them or recommend them to your employees as part of a wellness plan?
Let’s first take a closer look at what these weight loss gummies really are. For the most part, they’re all pretty similar. Keto gummies, ACV gummies, fat burner gummies are all gummies made with apple cider vinegar, a known appetite suppressant. Some contain hydroxycitric acid as well. For centuries, it has been believed that the consumption of vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar could lead to weight loss. Then, in 2009 a double-blind study was performed in Japan and found that vinegar consumption was likely to lead to weight loss when done on a regular basis. A 2018 study followed, looking specifically at apple cider vinegar, again with positive results. This kicked off the ACV diet craze that we see today.
What about the hydroxycitric acid, also known as Garcinia Extract? Again, we need to look at the science. Garcinia extract is extracted from a tropical fruit called a Malabar Tamarind that grows in India and Southeast Asia and has long been touted as a treatment for obesity as well as a supplement useful for athletic performance enhancement. However, this study in 2011 and this 2018 study don’t agree with one concluding that Garcinia is not a helpful weight loss tool and the other finding the contrary.
Anecdotally, the messages are mixed. You’ll find dozens of reviews that praise these ingredients as life-saving, fat burning miracles, while others claim they were a waste of their money. Furthermore, many of the positive reviewers admit that they utilized the substance only as PART of their health journey, leaving the reader to wonder if their transformation was due to the miracle Shark Tank weight loss gummies or the diet and activity changes that they instituted simultaneously.
With all of this in mind, you may be wondering “Why not just try the gummies? What could be the harm?”
Let’s start with the most concerning thing. Most of the weight loss supplements on the market are not regulated by the FDA. This means that they can contain substances other than the ACV and Garcinia, many of which have not been thoroughly studied by the FDA. In some cases they contain drugs or substances that the FDA has taken off of the market due to dangers or that are not approved for use in this country at all. Whenever the FDA is notified of a hidden drug ingredient in a non-regulated supplement, it’s added to this list. There are dozens and dozens of supplements found to contain hidden drug ingredients that can be extremely dangerous, such as Sibutramine, a drug previously removed from the market due to its propensity for causing high blood pressure and heart rates leading to strokes and heart attacks.
If we consider the specific ingredient, apple cider vinegar, we find that it too has risks. One of the most common side effects of ACV is delayed stomach emptying, which may be why is causes a decrease in appetite. While it may sound minor, delayed stomach emptying can be serious for those who suffer from gastroparesis, a common condition in those with diabetes. In short, allowing stomach contents to fester for long periods leads to delayed nutritional uptake, difficulty in timing insulin with meals, and increased acid reflux. Even more concerning is that ACV, when taken in high doses over a long period of time has been shown to cause low potassium levels (a lethal condition) and osteoporosis.
For those willing to take the risk, there is another hazard posed by the ACV in these weight loss gummies that could ultimately lead to death and that is drug interactions. Patient’s receiving any of the following medications could find that their blood sugar or potassium levels could be pushed to extreme levels by the addition of apple cider vinegar to their diet:
- and more…
Garcinia extract isn’t much safer. The NIH notes that side effects of taking the un-regulated supplement can lead to liver damage (in some cases, severe), headache, nausea, and diarrhea.
Neither of these substances has been thoroughly tested for use in children or pregnant/breastfeeding mothers.
What’s more concerning, is the fraudulent advertising practices used to sell these products. The claim that the Shark Tank weight loss gummies were loved and invested heavily in by Shark Tank investors? False! The claim that a Cornell University study found a miracle fat burning substance during her studies? Also, false! In fact, that student was never enrolled at Cornell and has made similar claims online about other universities. These misleading marketing ploys make it clear that their claims of curing obesity with a daily, delicious gummy are not be trusted.
What’s the alternative to the fat burner gummies?
If you or your employees need to develop a weight loss plan, these types of supplements are not the way to go. Health and weight improvement comes down to two simple changes. Consume less calories and move more.
The first step in this process should always be a discussion with your doctor in order to ensure that it is safe for you to make these types of adjustments.
Once you’ve spoken with your physician about your plans, it’s time to make changes in your diet. One thing that can be helpful is journaling either on paper or through an app on your phone. Keeping track of what you’re consuming and when you’re consuming it can help you to see where changes need to be made. Do you find that you’re a late night snacker? Maybe you skip meals throughout the day and carb load at night. Are you drinking excessive calories through coffee drinks, sodas, and juices? Use this information to create a solid plan to follow, allowing room for your favorite foods/activities.
Don’t diet, DECIDE.
Many who fail on their diets do so because they are too strict. Deciding to eat nothing but cabbage for 2 weeks (and dealing with the…..well…fallout), or being determined to never again consume sugar starting from day 1 is too much, too soon. That’s why you should never attempt a DIET. Instead, simply DECIDE to make some life changes. Making a decision rather than starting a diet allows you the freedom to adjust and bend according to your body’s needs and your desires. A diet plan will tell you what to eat, when to eat it and when you’ve failed. A decision to make better life choices celebrates the healthy dinner you ate rather than ordering a pizza and allows you to CHOOSE to partake in cake and ice cream at a birthday party without feeling like a failure. Give yourself the gift of choice.
Move, however you please….just do it.
The secondary aspect to a healthier lifestyle is movement. Like most diet plans, exercise plans come in fads and take the world by storm before fizzling out. Remember Zumba? America collectively did the sidestep, arms in the air to that salsa for months! Aerobics, spin, yoga and subsequently goat yoga, and now the post-Covid-19 fad, Peloton. None of these are better or worse than the other, so feel free to pick and choose as long as you get moving. If you’re not interested in or ready for the gym or a class, try some of these….
- Walk around your neighborhood
- Ride a bicycle
- Create and maintain a garden
- Dance to your favorite music while you clean
- Park as far from the store as you can to get in some extra steps
- Take the stairs
- Walk or Run a 5K for charity
- Hike your local nature area
- Go dancing with friends
- Ask colleagues to walk and talk rather than meet in the conference room
- Try these exercises from Anthem that you can do right in your office!
Keep working towards your goal.
If you find it difficult to make exercise a habit, you’re not alone! It can take several weeks or even months before a new lifestyle becomes a comfortable routine. Until then, Kaiser Permanente has put together a list of 7 tips to help make exercise enjoyable.
At the end of the day, living a healthier lifestyle is not about supplements and miracle cures. It’s simply making choices that are healthy for your body and mind. It’s eating delicious, whole foods and taking opportunities in your life to enjoy the world around you through movement. United Healthcare agrees, listing these among their strategies for maintaining a healthy weight as well.
Choose today for yourself, or encourage your employees to make positive changes as part of the decision to live healthier and weight loss will be the ultimate side effect…no gimmicks required.
Tammy McKinney, RN, creator of HelpfulHospiceNurse is a healthcare writer and seasoned registered nurse. With experience in acute care, long-term care, rehabilitation, drug & alcohol, and hospice & palliative care, she combines her medical understanding with her love for writing to educate and inform the public on various health related topics. You can view a snippet of her portfolio here or reach out to her directly on LinkedIn.