Often people with diabetes experience fatigue and need to lose weight. It can be tempting to rely on weight loss and energy supplements to achieve results. Discover the good, the bad and the ugly about popular weight loss and energy supplements for people with diabetes.
Americans spend 33 billion dollars a year for weight loss products which include pills, herbs, drinks and supplements which are not regulated by any medical or government board. There are still no miracle energy products and according to the FDA and they state that “weight loss supplements for those with diabetes are often red flags”.
- There is no substitute for a healthy diet, regular exercise, or a good night’s sleep as well as taking prescribed medications in accordance with the instructions provided by your doctor. Many supplements may have contraindications with prescribed medications and cause multiple side effects. Although weight loss and energy supplements may be tempting as the easy way out, always consult with your doctor before taking any type of these products.
- Garcinia cambogia has become a subject of discussion because of its ability to curb hunger and potentially reduce the development of fat cells. Formally know as hydroxycitric acid, Garcinia cambogia is derived from the tamarind fruit. It may reduce appetite, increase the production of serotonin, boost energy and help with weight management. A study in the American Journal of Physiology indicated Garcinia cambogia could help with glucose metabolism. None of these benefits have been clinically proven. There are also findings that show people with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia from this product. As a result, people with diabetes should be cautious and always discuss this supplement with a doctor prior to taking it.
- Nutritional deficiencies are a major concern for people with diabetes. When glucose levels rise, it can lead to diuretic effects that may cause nutritional deficiencies and dehydration. Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, flush out toxins and manage your weight. Talk to the physician about taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement for increased energy and to help you maintain your weight. Other nutrients may help your health and combat fatigue include B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D and magnesium.
- Chromium piccolinate is a trace mineral that may help insulin work well. It has been shown to move glucose into the cells and boost the action of insulin in various trial studies. Talk to your health care team about whether taking a chromium supplement could help improve glucose metabolism to help you maintain a healthy weight. You could choose to eat foods with high levels of chromium including broccoli, greens, mushrooms and whole grains instead of taking a supplement.
- Caffeine is a controversial weight loss and energy supplement that has been shown to be effective and safe in some studies and problematic in others. Caffeine can boost your metabolism and give you more energy. Caffeine is found naturally in beverages such as coffee and tea. Guarana is an herb that contains caffeine. Too much caffeine can disrupt your sleeping patterns and increase blood pressure in many people. A recent study found it may cause blood sugar levels to increase in people with diabetes. Ask your doctor about caffeine and if it can be used for weight loss and extra energy.
- Ginseng is an herb that can boost energy, improve your mood and help fuel your workouts. Some studies indicate it can help people shed pounds and combat fatigue. One study showed ginseng can significantly reduce A1C levels in people with diabetes. However, it can also cause restlessness, insomnia and raise blood pressure levels. People with diabetes have an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Ginseng should only be taken with the advice of a physician, as it can also cause contraindications with certain types of medication, such as Warfarin.
- Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that helps you make energy. A study found a deficiency of this amino acid was linked to heart disease. Another found it can help people with diabetes get better blood glucose control and feel more energetic. CoQ10 is found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon, as well as in poultry and vegetable oils.
Stop cravings that could lead to weight gain by keeping sugar-free candy on hand. Work with a dietitian or a diabetes nurse educator to develop a diet and exercise plan that fits comfortably into your daily routine. This will save you money, frustration and improve your health in the long run.
For some people, weight loss and energy supplements can be a helpful way to shed pounds and fight fatigue. However, they cannot replace a healthy diet, daily exercise, adequate sleep and taking medications as directed by your health care team. Talk to your health care team about the best ways to get energized and maintain a healthy weight.