QUESTION: I just read an article
in a women's magazine that said that taking L-carnitine, Citrimax,
Chromium, and Melatonin would lead to "Fat Loss While
You Sleep." Is this true?
is an amino acid that sort of acts like a shuttle to tranport
fats into muscle cells where they can be burned as fuel. The
promotion of L-carnitine as a great fat burning supplement
is typical of supplement marketers who take the role of a
nutrient and transfer it to a supplement. The reality is,
our bodies are quite capable of manufacturing L-carnitine.
There may be some benefit of L-carnitine supplementation in
athletes who perform intense aerobic exercise with extreme
frequency, but I haven't seen it play a discernible role in
anybody's fat loss program.
Citrimax is HCA. Hydroxy
Citric Acid was researched near 20 years ago by Hoffman-LaRoche
in the hope that they could release it as a fat loss drug.
It appeared to bind with the enzyme that converts carbohydrates
into triglycerides. The research was abandoned as results
were not statistically significant. That opened a door for
supplement sellers to now sell this "highly researched compound"
suspected of playing a role in minimizing fat storage. At
best, this compound might prevent the conversion of some carbs
into triglycerides, but the effects would be marginal at best
and would only potentially occur if consumed with a high carbohydrate
meal. Because HCA is not efficient at completely shutting
down the enzyme, a high carb meal supplying more carbs than
your body is going to burn as fuel would likely lead to fat
storage even with HCA supplementation.
Then there's chromium.
This was a goldmine for supplement companies. In fact, it
was the second most popular mineral supplement, next to calcium,
for years. The amazing thing is, chromium which found its
popularity being sold as a fat burner, doesn't burn fat! Chromium
is a component of GTF, Glucose Tolerance Factor, which aids
in the transport of sugars. It does, therefore, play a role
in both energy production and potential fat release (there
is a very close relationship between blood sugar levels and
fat release potential), but unless you're deficient in chromium,
your body will do a nice job of producing all the GTF it requires.
Of course chromium sellers would like us to believe chromium
deficiency is commonplace, but it is actually quite rare,
and most cases are in individuals who suffer malnutrition
or diabetes. The early chromium ads referenced a study performed
at Bemidgi State University where the group taking chromium
supposedly added significant muscle and significant fat reduction
when compared to the control group. There were some factors
in that study that made it suspect. The real test was whether
those results could be replicated. Despite numerous attempts,
it has not been replicated to date.
Melatonin is a hormone
that is produced by the pineal gland that signals the body
to enter a sleep state. It does tend to decline as we age
and supplementation may play a role in leading to more restful
sleep, but it has nothing to do with fat reduction.
Fat Loss While You
Sleep sounds great, but the truth is, if you get on a supportive
program of eating and exercising, your body can burn fat virtually
all day long. No supplement is going to prove to be the "fat
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