Every now and again, a weight loss product comes along with a claim so bold, it’s difficult to ignore it.
Especially with summer around the corner and certain Adverts Which Won’t Be Named - *cough* - screaming in our faces about being ‘beach body ready.’
This week, it's all about Slim-Fizz, a ‘gastric band in a glass’ that claims to simulate the feeling of fullness by expanding in your stomach.
The dissolvable effervescent tablets, that look a lot like that hangover-easing Berocca in your desk drawer, but instead of eliminating your strong desire for a 2pm snooze, claims to help you shed the pounds by making you eat less when you take one before a meal.
So, is Slim-Fizz the 'miracle cure'? Dr Helen Webberley, the GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, says not - and warns that we should be very wary.
“The main ingredient of Slim-Fizz, a weight loss product from Proto-col, is Glucomannan, a gel which expands in the stomach to fill it and reduce feelings of hunger,” she says.
So what is glucomannan?
Most commonly used as a thickener in Japanese cooking due to its ability to absorb water, it’s a sugar made from the root of the konjac plant. When it’s used in weight loss aids as an appetite suppressant, it does much the same thing as it does in the kitchen, but this time inside your stomach, absorbing water and expanding into a soluble gel to form a ‘bulky fibre’ before being expelled via the, erm, usual route.
There are things to be cautious of. If you don’t drink enough water with glucomannan, for example, the fibre can literally clog up your digestive system, causing internal blockages and in rare cases, choking by blocking your throat.
There are also concerns it can make other medications ineffective and because it’s a fibre, suddenly increasing your intake of it by taking Slim-Fizz three times a day can also cause diarrhea, bloating and stomach pains. It could also be dangerous for people with diabetes as it can lower blood sugar levels. In short, as with most diet pills, it’s far from the simple skinny hack it presents itself as.
“It has not been medically evaluated in clinical trials and its safety is unknown,” says Webberley. “There are fully evaluated licensed weight loss medications, and doctors would advise people to ask the help of a doctor before ingesting chemicals with unknown safety profiles. It has only shown effective weight loss when used in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet, which alone would achieve weight loss anyway.”
Which means that boring as it may sound, running round the park, whipping up a vegetable juice in your blender and restricting Dorito binges to weekends only are far more likely to give you the figure you want than any supposed ‘miracle cure’.
“Most of us realise really that these type of diets are not sustainable on a long term basis and a balanced diet and appropriate exercise is the only realistic way of achieving a healthy weight loss,” says Mary George, of eating disorder charity Beat.
She warns that as with all diet pills, though, Slim-Fizz is likely to appeal to the vulnerable and the desperate.
“The claims that this type of product make can prey upon those who are desperately looking for any way in which to lose weight and can mistakenly believe that this is the answer,” she says. “Although in reality it could be a dangerous path for someone who is already underweight to follow.”
In short? Pass us the blender.
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