Weight-management solutions for the natural health-conscious continue to expand in scope as they also become a bit more targeted.
While some may argue that pounds and fat are all the same but in different bodies, savvy retailers and the brand marketers that serve up solutions to them are beginning to understand that in reality, that isn’t the case. People gain weight and fat for different reasons. And for many, it isn’t just as simple as “shutting one’s pie hole.”
Retailers do not necessarily work with customers who are obese—the common weight-conscious consumer is one who arrives in a store because he or she decided to slim down by dropping between 10 and 30 pounds, or a couple of sizes. These individuals create tremendous opportunities for retailers to create loyal customers who are not just going to buy a weight-loss supplement and scamper out the door. Along with the correct supplements, he or she will want to likely buy the healthy and healthier foods and organic produce the retailer provides. Further, if retailers simply sell a weight-loss supplement, it could be the wrong one for the customer and not be as effective, and then he or she will become disillusioned and disheartened—and not only would you lose a customer, this person will grouse to others that “those supplements from that store didn’t work!”
When a customer enters a store seeking weight-loss supplements, take the time to assess why the individual has gained that weight. Here are several common reasons why a healthy adult gains one or two sizes:
• Stress and the excessive cortisol circulating chronically in the system
• Peri-menopause (“middle-age spread” for women, hormonally induced)
• Andropause (“middle-age spread” for men, also hormonally induced)
• The “freshman 15” (college kids gaining weight due to bad eating habits)
• Certain medications
• Smoking cessation (tobacco stimulates faster metabolism; without it, metabolism slows).
Most people do understand that “eating a healthy, nutritious diet, smaller portions, and exercise will make me lose weight.” Many visit natural products retailers because they have indeed been trying that yet, those pounds and fat are clinging onto them for dear life.
Jennifer Weinhardt, BS, MS, research and development specialist with Texas-based Bluebonnet Nutrition said that it’s the modern, fast-paced lifestyle that has become the norm, which is driving increased weight gain. And, this lifestyle is hallmarked by convenience. “Convenience makes pre-prepared foods, fast foods, and take-out, or eating snack foods instead of meals the norm. These types of foods are detrimental not only to the waistline, but also to health. In fact, poor diet along with obesity and physical inactivity are the leading contributors to health issues such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Americans today don’t have time to prepare healthy meals between work, soccer practice, and family events. In addition, individuals are not being conscious of how their daily habits compound and those 10 to 30 pounds ‘creep up.’”
Jeff Brucker, vice president of marketing for Genesis Today in Texas said he believes that generally, when people hit their late 30s and early 40s, they will begin to experience more difficulty dropping weight. “It is at this age range where our metabolism begins to slow down,” he pointed out. “Without corresponding lifestyle changes, this can lead to stubborn weight gain, difficulty losing weight as consumers are coming to the realization that their metabolism is not as efficient as it was in their 20s and early 30s.”
David Foreman, RPh, known as “The Herbal Pharmacist,” suggested to remind customers to do the math: it takes 3,500 calories to make a pound. If the customer eats 100 calories more than she burns each day of the week, she has 700 more calories each week, and at the end of five weeks, she will have gained one pound. If this keeps up, she would have put on more than 10 pounds. Also, he said, remember that added sugars are in many foods, and that one teaspoon of sugar packs 16 calories.
He also said he believes that other factors enmesh themselves into excessive calorie consumption that exacerbates weight gain. “The reasons include hormonal changes (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), emotional issues, addiction (to foods) and stress are also major contributors. Until we help people understand the underlying cause of their weight issues and deal directly with those root problems, then this will continue to be a problem for your customer.”
Metabolism is the key activity impacted by any of the above issues or conditions. As Dr. James Chappell, formulator for Coral, LLC, Nevada, explained, metabolism is the process that the body uses to convert what is ingested (food and beverages) into energy; “during this process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy the body needs to function,” he said. During digestion, food matter is mixed with acids and enzymes, creating glucose from sugars and starches. Glucose released into the bloodstream will either be used for energy, or stored as glucose or fat for later use.
“Even at rest, the body needs energy for all its ‘hidden’ functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells,” Chappell noted. “The number of calories the body uses for these basic functions is the basal metabolic rate (metabolism).”
Weinhardt emphasized that thermogenesis or fat burning helps an individual slim down via supporting a more robust metabolism. Thermogenesis is a process whereby the body generates heat through burning adenosine triphosphate, an energy molecule, from stored calories (glycogen and fat). The adipose tissue will corral and deconstruct its ATP stores for heat. The use of stored energy for heat burns calories, increasing energy expenditure and thereby increasing the basal metabolic rate.
Additionally, she explained, the production of energy from fat requires that fatty acids be transported from the cytosol of the cell into the mitochondria for beta-oxidation, the process of fatty acid breakdown or fat burning. “Although fatty acids need to enter the mitochondria for beta-oxidation, the fatty acids themselves are unable to penetrate the inner mitochondrial membrane. L-carnitine is essential in transporting long chain fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane for subsequent fat breakdown and energy production,” she described.
Inhibiting the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that specifically breaks down fats from the diet is also effective, Weinhardt added. Catabolized fat is stored in the adipose tissue. Here’s the key: this storage will either be used for energy or will cause weight and fat gain.
Although the role of metabolism in weight fluctuations is well understood, science is showing new roles of the physiological role of fat (“adipose tissue”) in the human body, according to researcher and product formulator Vladimir Badmaev, MD, PhD. In addition to storing energy, white adipose tissue (WAT), the predominant type of fat in the body, has been found to have endocrine- and inflammation-modifying, immune activities. “The newly defined role of white adipose tissue stems from the discovery that it secretes hormone-like substances called adipokines (cytokines secreted by fat cells), leptin and adiponectin, which regulate overall energy balance, body metabolism, body composition and weight,” he said. “It is increasingly recognized now that white adipose tissue plays an active role in body composition in two ways, its excess contributes to weight gain but it may activate another type of fat, brown adipose tissue (BAT), which may help combat overweight status.”
The principal function of brown fat is to burn triglycerides, releasing metabolic heat from adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the high-energy molecule, Badmaev continued. BAT content decreases significantly as humans mature; however, as mentioned, the white adipose tissue in adulthood can be induced into the highly metabolically active brown adipose variety—”beige” adipose tissue—in a process of white fat “browning.” The “browning” of white adipose tissue can be induced by environmental conditions, diet and dietary supplements. For example, BAT has been found more prominent in the bodies of people who are often outdoors and exposed to cold weather and in people on calorie restriction diets.
The healthy functioning of white and brown fat may deteriorate due to chronic inflammation, a lesser known but nonetheless increasingly recognized causative factor in obesity. The inflammatory cells infiltrating adipose tissue, a common finding in obese individuals, produce pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha) and IL-6 (interleukin 6). Both cytokines are overproduced in adipose tissue and linked with insulin resistance and obesity. This pro-inflammatory mechanism is further enhanced by leptin, which has opposite effects on inflammation and insulin resistance to adiponectin. The ratio of leptin to adiponectin increases in metabolic decline and obesity. Leptin up-regulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-alpha and IL-6, while adiponectin has anti-inflammatory properties and down-regulates pro-inflammatory cytokines.
“These findings offer new hypothetical approach to combat obesity, targeting adipose tissue for nutritional intervention,” Badmaev said.
Even armed with this knowledge, there are some people who just can’t kick those pesky extra pounds to the curb. This frustration can also lead to extra stress and low mood.
Post-menopausal women, said Weinhardt, seem to have a harder time dropping the last 10 to 15 pounds. Prior to menopause, women may naturally store fat in hips and thighs, but the drop in estrogen is linked to the body preferring to store the extra fat in the abdominal area. This is critical to address with your female customers in this life stage because “abdominal fat has been associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some cancers. Studies also indicate that post-menopausal women burn less fat than their pre-menopausal counterparts. Ultimately, their cells are storing more fat and not burning it off as well, which is why they seem to have a harder time dropping the weight,” she explained.
Men too—anyone over the age of 50, said Foreman and Dr. Cass Ingram, Nutritional Physician, North American Herb and Spice, Illinois, are more likely to have metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. Said Foreman, “middle-aged people seem to have an issue due to lifestyle changes in diet, alcohol and decreased activity levels. We consume too much sugar and starches, which have now turned our bodies into fat factories.”
And as meals-to-your-door programs increase due to the ultimate in convenience for busy folks, there is caution here too. Although their typical foods are much smaller in portion—a piece of lasagna is still a piece of lasagna. Further, it may have preservatives (“anti-nutrients”) and other taste-enhancing chemicals. When consulting with your customer about weight loss and management, remind them that nutrient-density is a priority in foods. Snacking on organic nuts, and enjoying a “dessert pudding” of silken tofu blended with avocado or fruits is preferable to a small brownie trucked in from a warehouse located hundreds of miles away. The good news is, however, there is a growing number of local companies taking this business model (meals to your door) using all-natural, locally grown and made healthy food. If there is such a company in your area, reach out to partner for cross-promotion opportunities.
Brucker agreed, noting that the most efficient way to reach these consumers is to create partnerships with the meal services. “Outreach should educate consumers about synergistic supplements to the whole foods they are purchasing at the time they are receiving their weekly shipment. Educational and promotional materials in the delivery boxes along with a tailored email campaign to these consumers with promotional offers clearly highlighting specific products would create consumer affinity and purchase intent,” he said.
Some Supplement Options
A cross-promotion team that would also include local nutritionists, fitness centers and trainers make for outstanding opportunities to attract new loyal customers who will likely want to add effective dietary supplements to their slimming-down program.
Black Seed Oil, combined with Black Seed Plus from North American Herb & Spice, targets people with abdominal weight gain “especially while supporting the body that is dealing with metabolic syndrome,” said Ingram. Black Seed Plus Oil is paired with red sour grape and brown cumin to help with healthy weight control. Also, adding in raw yacon syrup, Yac-O-Power, aids a healthy weight loss—as much as 10 pounds in a two-month period.”
Chappell explained that he created Coral LLC’s Cinnamon6 to normalize blood sugar levels and assist in calorie burning, thereby supporting healthier, more robust metabolism. “As we burn calories more efficiently, we can maintain a healthy body-fat ratio,” he stated. Cinnamon6’s role in healthy weight management is maintaining proper glucose levels. When these levels fluctuate high and low, the metabolic/caloric burn rate changes and is less effective. Barring any major health challenge or hormonal imbalance, as we improve our metabolism, we burn calories more efficiently,” he summarized. “As we burn calories more efficiently, we maintain proper BMI (body mass index) or ideal body weight or body/fat ratio.”
Bluebonnet’s Skinny Garcinia Vegetable Capsules features patented Super CitriMax that is standardized to 60 percent (750 mg) hydroxycitric acid (HCA). This combination formula also contains L-carnitine, chromium, choline, inositol, vitamin B6, methionine, plus the important electrolytes magnesium and potassium. Weinhardt explained, when combined with proper diet and exercise, this non-stimulant formula may help support healthy weight management by:
• Decreasing fatty acid synthesis while also burning fat and converting it to energy. HCA has been shown to inhibit ATP-citrate lyase, which may curtail fatty acid synthesis from glucose; therefore, reducing cellular fat production.
• Helping insulin transport glucose into cells where it can be used for energy. Augmenting the action of insulin helps promote healthy glucose uptake by the cells in the body. If insulin is not as effective as normal, glucose remains in the bloodstream and is eventually stored in adipose tissue adding to one’s girth.
• Supporting healthy levels of serotonin in the brain that helps to curb appetite but also to promote a sense of well-being from daily emotional, physical and environmental stressors
Bluebonnet rounds out its weight-management supplement category with thermogenic Standardized Cayenne Pepper Fruit Extract Vegetable Capsules and Standardized EGCG Green Tea Leaf Extract Vegetable Capsules. They may increase energy expenditure by stimulating thermogenesis and counteracting the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs during weight loss. The company also offers L-carnitine (500 mg) an amino acid that produces energy from fat, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). “When combined with a balanced diet and exercise, Clarinol CLA has been shown in clinical research within eight to 12 weeks to help reduce body fat, build lean muscle, and improve overall body shape,” Weinhardt noted.
Genesis Today’s weight management products, said Brucker, address one or more of the following pathways: appetite control, blood sugar management, energy and metabolism, and mood support. Sustained weight management should be addressed from a holistic, 360 approach. Its Nature Trim 5 is a multi-dimensional formulation that targets each of these aspects (appetite control, blood sugar, energy/metabolism, and mood support). The company’s Garcinia Cambogia formula combines black pepper and chromium to enhance metabolic function.
Genesis Today recently debuted a new product to its weight-management portfolio called FitTrim, which features CardiaSlim. “CardiaSlim is a unique plant-derived ingredient that has been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies to support healthy triglyceride levels and promotes weight loss without the use of any harsh stimulants,” Brucker explained.
No matter what supplements your customer who is actively losing weight uses, the dreaded plateau often interrupts, and this period when the body is basically taking a rest is natural but not welcomed because it is not well understood by consumers and it often causes the person to give up. Here, patience is definitely the virtue, and the long-range health and well-being benefits are the rewards. VR
For More Information:
Bluebonnet Nutrition, (281) 240-3332
Coral LLC, (800) 882-9577
Genesis Today, (512) 689-1547
North American Herb and Spice, (800) 243-4780