Friday, January 14, 2011

Diet Products Reviewed

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have fun plans for the weekend, even if that means relaxing and not doing anything. I have to work all weekend, but I can't complain because I had Monday and Thursday off. During my time off I helped Nick celebrate his 32nd birthday, and did some more work on my granola. As you may or may not know from my last post, I plan to sell my granola sometime this year or next. I really appreciated your honest opinions about the $6 price. I think I may be able to sell it for $5.50 instead, but we'll see. It's definitely a work in progress!

Today's post focuses on some of the recent weight loss products that you may have seen advertised at your local grocery store. In the past few months I have been asked the following question by several customers;

"Which of these diet products would you recommend?"

We have an entire shelf full of the same diet pills that you will find at most grocery stores, which of course is tough for someone like me to handle. Obviously as a dietitian I am more focused on helping people lose weight with a healthy diet and exercise, not by taking a pill or a drink. But at the same time I am supposed to help sell products, so...I have to try to be unbiased! I usually start by suggesting to the customer that we meet for a one-on-one consult, which would allow me to create for them a sensible food plan. Most often this option isn't good enough. Because of this I have started to do more research on some of the products we sell.

I was happy to see that Nutrition Action wrote a short summary of four of the most popular diet products. Here is a short review of their findings, as well as my own comments;

Slim Shots

Have you seen these yet? They contain a manufactured ingredient called Fabuless, which is "an emulsion of palm oil, oat oil, and water" (Nutrition Action). This ingredient is said to reach the lower regions of the small intestine and trigger certain brain signals that make you feel full. The Fabuless is packaged into little "creamers" that are supposed to be added to coffee or other beverages.

Evidence? A couple studies did show that people consumed 30 percent fewer calories during the days they consumed this product, but these studies were only one-day long (HA!). Another study showed potential, but then another study showed no effect.

Bottom Line:
More studies are needed, but product this may be worth a try simply because the ingredients are well known and safe. But really, wouldn't you rather just eat the fiber? Fiber does taste good these days (fruits, veggies, oatmeal, etc.)! But at least you know what you are consuming when you take this product.

Acai Berry

Many products containing Acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) claim that they can help you eat less, metabolize food faster, and lose weight. This is simply not true. I mean come on, if it were true wouldn't we all be skinny?! And, wouldn't this "breakthrough" berry be all over the World News and newspapers?! Sometimes you just have to stop and think before you fall for these types of claims. Thousands of people have paid loads of money for these products, only to find out that they had been completely mislead and basically robbed. Don't let that happen to you!

Bottom Line: Acai berries are just like any berry. They will provide fiber (if you actually eat the berry!) and loads of antioxidants, but they will not give you massive energy and help you lose weight. Sorry.


Sensa is basically a blend of starch crystals that are flavorless and scented. The company who makes this claims that you can lose 30 pounds without dieting, guaranteed (read more at The company claims that these crystals enhance the smell of your food, thus triggering an "I feel full" signal in the brain.

Evidence? The only studies that have been done on this product were done by the company itself (never a good thing, you want to look for third party studies!). The large study didn't even compare the Sensa to a placebo, so in my opinion it was pointless (how do they know if any scented crystals could have had the same effect??).

Bottom Line: Let's face it, the reason many people are overweight has little to do with the fact that they don't feel full. Most people continue eating even once they do feel full! Right? And even if some people do have a physiological problem with becoming full (I know some people do), I would wait for more and better studies to be preformed with this product before spending the $60/month.


Finally, a weight loss product that is FDA approved!
Alli was created as an over-the-counter version of the prescription drug Orlistat. Alli is half the dose of Orlistat, which is why it can be sold over-the-counter. Basically what it does is block the absorption of half the fat you consume. While it works quite well, you must remember to follow a low fat diet. Because of this I believe it's not just the pill itself that helps you lose weight, it's also the fact that you are forced to eat less fat. If you don't eat a low fat diet (ie: less than 15 grams of fat per meal) you will have powerful consequences (diarrhea, gas, etc). But if you can stick to less than 15 grams of fat per meal, and continue taking Alli while keeping up with your exercise, this product can truly work well!

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a sensible and safe way to lose weight, try Alli. You can read more about it on their website, You won't see miracles, but if you do it right you can potentially lose about 1-2 pounds per week.

Question: Have you tried any of the above products? Do you have anything to add to this post? Personally I have never tried any of these, for obvious reasons, but if I'm ever in need of taking off a few pounds, I'll try Alli!


  1. Like you, I'm not a fan of weight loss supplements I'd rather people spend their money with a nutritionist who can teach them the science and the benefits of a healthy diet.

  2. I never advocate diet pills; I don't think it teaches people how to eat a healthful diet or helps them develop discipline. But I understand that it would be hard in the grocery store setting, where you sell all of those things! :)

    I really liked reading your review and critique of the studies about each one, too. :)

  3. This kind of goes without saying but if you are going to take something like Alli - make sure you are consistent with it! My mom bought it, did it for a couple days, and then basically forgot about. Obviously it's not going to work that way!

  4. I'm like you-- I'd rather cut back on sweets and pump up the exercise when I need to shed a few pounds. Some of the diet products out there just seem so wacky!!

  5. Ive seen allí many times in groceries stores and always wondered what it does. Thanks for this informative post. Although I don't need to lose weight, and that I preferred natural way for weight loss in case needed, I can understand that some people might need am extra help or that they need to lose a great amount.

  6. Re: alli
    Isn't 1-2lbs per week pretty standard for weight loss without assistance?

  7. Great post! Sometimes I am glad I do not live in the US and use a regular grocery store. I do not have to deal with diet products so much. I am all for lifestyle changes. Pills can be great for somethings, but for something that can be controlled without a pill, I am going to encourage that over a pill any day.

  8. Hi. I just found your blog and I love it!

    I once was hooked on weight loss supplements (I was already very thin.) I felt terrible! I'm now a firm believer that healthy diet & lifestyle come first. Weightloss will follow. I have friends who are always on the next best diet product. They might drop a few pounds, but they always seem to gain the weight back plus some. Great subject!

  9. Oh I am so glad for the review! I get questons ALL the time about different products so its good for a bried review! Thanks!! I do not promote any weight loss aids like these, I just thihnk they are so against what nature intended that I cannot support them. Great post gina!

  10. I really like how you combine all the info. I've bever tried any of those diet products and hope that in the future I also stay away from them.

    Hope you have a great weekend Gina!

  11. I've never tried any of these! Just good old diet and exercise (although i've never had to lose weight) It's just how i live my life :)

  12. To be honest, I'm a little scared of all "diet pills" because I just feel like they often don't know what they actually do to people... yikes. I do appreciate getting an knowledgeable opinion though :) I have heard good things about Alli but it's funny that if you have too much fat it will make you sick- that's kind of like my life every day!

  13. i've been thinking about your granola plans and i think people really like "deals" so i think if you go the route like two for 12 or 1 for 6 and 2 for 10 or something like that people will pay the extra couple of bucks for two especially if you market it as like a short run deal or if you include some recipes to use the granola in with it if they buy two

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  15. I'm not in favor of "diet pills," but thanks for your thoughts and info on what these products claim to do.

    I hope you are having fun exploring your granola business!

  16. this is such a fun post!
    ive heard a small amount about those shot drinks but a heck of a lot about acai..which ur basically comes down to just antioxidants and the fact its a least it makes dang good smoothies ;) .. as for Alli..all i know is it makes you have 'anal leakage' when u eat too many fats lol! some things we have to laugh at huh!


  17. Great reviews! I always tell patients something to what you said...if there was a magic pill, berry, etc. wouldn't we not have weight issues and of course all know about it!
    I haven't heard of a few of those so thanks for the review.

  18. It's great to get informational reviews from an expert! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Your mention of Nutrition Action remind me that I need to change my address because I haven't gotten the last few issues - oops! Anyway ...

    Great summary of the research behind these diet aids! It doesn't surprise me in the least that much of the research is suspect. I mean, a one day study and studies done by the company? C'mon! They remind me of a few products that I saw at FNCE this fall, where the sponsors handed out this "official" pack of research studies - but they were all done by the company and full of holes. Geez!

    I imagine it must be difficult working at in a grocery store and having people ask you about products that you feel so-so about. Good for you for doing all this research, Gina, I'm so impressed! :)

  20. Thank you for squashing the acai berry rumors! That trend drove me BANANAS! I haven't tried any of these products, or know anyone who has. If Alli weren't so expensive, I think it would sell really well. Or maybe it does sell really well and I just don't know it :)

    Hope you're feeling better, Gina! It seems like there's something going around. :(

  21. Thanks for the review.The most effective one for me is Acai berry. It doesn't only help in a diet but it can also help treat cancer.

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