Trim Spa

Trim Spa has certainly gotten a sales boost with Anna Nicole’s radical weight loss.  Was it due in part to Trim Spa?  Who knows.  Did she use Trim Spa while eating right and exercising?  Perhaps.  The bottom line is, it’s a powerful celebrity endorsement and it’s sending millions to seek out the Anna Nicole solution.

As with most "revolutionary products" promising weight loss, Trim Spa has people confused, and while many use it, few understand what they’re ingesting.

The original Trim Spa product was a caffeine + ephedrine stimulant.  When the FDA put the pressure on manufacturers to stop using ephedrine, researchers went back to the drawing board.  The Trim Spa EF (Ephedra-Free) sold today is a very different product than the original.  Here was the ingredient panel of the original:

  • guarana seed extract yielding caffeine
  • ma huang extract containing ephedrine
  • ginger root
  • black pepper
  • long pepper
  • spirulina
  • cayenne pepper
  • kola nut
  • Siberian ginseng root
  • cinnamon twig
  • lemon verbana
  • chamomile flower
  • licorice root
  • tangerine peel
  • chicory root

Most of the herbs have either stimulant or diuretic properties. As with all ephedrine based products, the weight loss is a combination of water loss and reduction in body mass due to calorie deprivation. The stimulants crank up your circulatory system and ephedrine acts on neurotransmission to minimize appetite. Was if effective? That depends who you ask. Was it safe? That also depends who you ask. If you haven't yet read it, you'll find the realities of ephedrine based products here.

The new Trim Spa ingredient panel has very little resemblance to the original.

It does contain some stimulants, although nothing as questionable as ephedrine. 

Theobromine is found in chocolate, and in Trim Spa.  It’s a mild stimulant, similar in structure to caffeine although not as potent.  It also tends to increase urine flow in humans which suggests it has application as a diuretic.  Theobromine also has a “feel good” property to it which is why it’s theorized that chocolate acts as an opioid peptide. In chocolate, and in Trim Spa, theobromine is combined with phenylethylamine, another mood enhancer. Both theobromine and phenyletylamine are included in the "proprietary formula" as "Cocoa Extract."

Trim Spa also contains one primary ingredient from the original.  Caffeine. It's a component of green tea.

Chromium and vanadium are also in there.  Both of these minerals have been sold as fat loss aids, chromium being a component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF) and vanadium theorized to mimic insulin.  These compounds remain unproven and the research often quoted to validate these types of products is sometimes skewed and was rarely if ever replicated.

The most interesting ingredient is an herbal extract of Hoodia gordonii cactus.  It was used originally by tribespeople in the Kalahari desert to ward off hunger during long treks or times of famine.  It appears to have legitimate appetite suppressing properties and has been approached with great interest by the pharmaceutical companies (who keep in mind have not yet found a weight loss drug that “works” despite several releases).  Pfizer obtained the rights to use Hoodia gordonii to create their experimental appetite suppressing drug presently called P57.

Citrus narginine is another ingredient, an extract of grapefruit.  It is also theorized to suppress appetite.

Trim Spa utilizes as a primary ingredient Glucosamine, the same compound being used effectively by many who suffer connective tissue maladies.  There is some vague research to suggest that glucosamine might hold glucose in the digestive tract for a longer period of time allowing insulin to transport glucose efficiently inhibiting the likelihood of fat storage.

Two other ingredients, Glucomannan and Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose are both used in OTC weight loss products to create a feeling of gastric fullness.

My opinion? 

The ingredient list is ingenious.  Combine appetite suppressants, stimulants, compounds that make your stomach feel "full," and diuretics and you can guarantee weight loss.  Will some of it be water loss?  Absolutely.  Might the water loss deceptively lead you to believe the product is contributing to long term and healthful weight loss?  Yup.  If you take in fewer calories than your body is going to utilize will you lose weight?  Sure, but if you fail to meet metabolic demand you risk muscle loss (validated by the scale as “good” while loss of muscle ensures long term metabolic slowdown) and you also risk the alteration of endocrine production to allow the thyroid to further slow metabolism. 

I did say it’s ingenious, but I mean from a marketing standpoint. if the idea is to put out a product that does not contain ephedrine and that demonstrates a reduction of pounds in many people, whether or not it leads to long term weight reduction, or whether or not it leaves users reliant upon the product, then the ingredient list is ingenious.

The challenge is, Trim Spa's ingredients do nothing to increase metabolism for the long term. The weight loss can be deceptive, can include the loss of lean body mass, and can leave you with an altered metabolism, one that becomes quite efficient at restoring lost bodyfat. That doesn't make it bad. For individuals who really do have an appetite control issue, for those who may have flawed neurotransmission warding off a feeling of satiety, an appetite suppressant has its application. New products brought to the marketplace are often developed with some curative or medicinal intention. Once, however, the big-money machine gets hold of a "hot seller," it suddenly is sold as miraculous, as a "must-have," and a solution in and of itself.

Another question that is difficult to find the answer to is . . . did Anna Nicole use the original ephedrine based formula?  If so, is that in any way representative of results people can achieve the present formula?

There are many questions that remain unanswered, and supplement companies will continue to provide answers even if they're unfounded. While Trim Spa may have some virtue for those who understand the ingredients, for those who understand the mechanisms by which these ingredients “work,” and for those who make it a part of an overall program incorporating supportive eating, resistance exercise, and aerobic movement, the illusion that the product is a miraculous weight loss solution is simply that.  An illusion.

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