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Is Meratrim Effective for Weight Loss?

This over-the-counter weight loss supplement has some solid research to back it up. But it's probably too soon to declare victory over obesity. 

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
December 5, 2017
Episode #456

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photo of pills with text what is meratrim?

LeeAnn recently asked me to weigh in on the latest herbal weight loss supplement called Meratrim. LeeAnn, who is a professor of nutrition, is appropriately skeptical about such things. But when she went to investigate, she discovered a handful of published clinical studies to support the claims. So, is this new herbal supplement the weight loss miracle we’ve all been waiting for?

What is Meratrim?

Meratrim is a proprietary blend of two botanical extracts. The first is called Sphaeranthus indicus, also known as the East Indian globe thistle. It has a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. (I talked about the science of Ayurveda in a previous podcast.) Some preliminary research done in mice suggests that it might be useful in controlling blood sugar levels.

The other ingredient is an extract from the mangosteen, one of those tropical “superfruits” that is purported to have a long list of health benefits, including anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. So far, however, the research has been mostly limited to animal and test-tube studies.

What Does the Research on Meratrim Say?

But what happens when these two promising but largely unproven compounds are combined? The manufacturers of the supplement have funded some independent research to find out. Back in 2013, researchers at UC Davis tested the supplement vs. a placebo in 100 obese individuals. The subjects included both men and women, all in their late 30s. The average weight was about 81 kilograms or 180 pounds.

The study ran for eight weeks and during that time all the participants had all of their meals delivered to them. They were given about 2000 calories a day. Although that’s not an extremely low-calorie diet, it was fewer calories than these individuals would have been consuming before the study. Half the participants took the Meratrim and the other half took a placebo. They were also instructed to get thirty minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, every day.

Not surprisingly, they all lost weight. But the group taking the supplement lost a lot more. While the placebo group lost about 2% of their beginning weight (or about 3.5 pounds), the supplement group lost over 6% of their starting weight (an average of 11 pounds). That’s pretty dramatic.

A second study was conducted in India in 2016. This time, the 60 subjects were overweight but not obese and the study ran for 16 weeks instead of right. The subjects were given instructions about what and how much to eat but they were on their own in terms of preparing their meals. They were also asked to exercise moderately. Despite the differences, the results were very similar to the first study. Although the overweight participants lost weight more slowly than the more obese subjects in the first study, by the time all was said and done, the group taking the supplement lost about 6% of their starting weight and the placebo group lost less than 2%.

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