Is This Weight Loss Nutrient a TOTAL Scam?
Another week, another supplement that’s purported to help pounds melt away.
These days, weight-loss supplements are a dime a dozen, with each new product purported to be the way to slim down.
The latest buzz is around African mango, also known as Irvingia gabonensis.
Proponents swear that products made from the seeds of this plant can help you slim down quickly – by almost 30 pounds in one month – with no side effects.
Well, that may be bit of an exaggeration.
But the truth is, this is one weight-loss supplement that may actually just live up to hype…well, at least some of it…let me explain.
Tree of Life?
Native to the forests of West Africa, Irvingia gabonensis is a tree that produces a brightly colored tropical fruit resembling a mango. Its leaves and bark have long been used in traditional African medicine to help treat fever, stomachache, and other woes, while its fruit and nuts are valued for their flavor and used in food.
More recently, the seeds from the African mango have moved beyond the borders of that continent and are sold in supplement form. In the United States and elsewhere, these supplements have become the latest natural product said to help spur weight loss.
There is a basis for such claims.
See, scientists believe that African mango encourages weight loss primarily by affecting various hormones that help control appetite and metabolism, particularly adiponectin and leptin. African mango appears to boost levels of adiponectin, which helps burn fat and enhance insulin sensitivity. It also seems to improve the effects of leptin, which can be impaired in overweight and obese people.
African mango also inhibits the enzymes glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (which converts blood glucose to fat) and amylase (which absorbs dietary starches as sugar).
Plus, the plant is a good source of fiber, a common ingredient in many weight-loss products.
But do these mechanisms result in a successful slim-down?
Let’s take a look at the research.
Worth the Weight…
Some small, preliminary studies suggest that African mango supplements might help reduce weight in people who are overweight or obese, especially if they are combined with a low-calorie diet.
For example, one study of 102 obese and overweight people found that those who took 150 mg of IGOB131 (an extract of African mango seeds), 30 to 60 minutes before lunch and dinner, experienced significant improvement in their weight, compared to those who took a placebo (dummy pill).1
Another study of 40 people, published in 2005, found that those who took about 1 gram of African mango, three times a day for one month, lost about 8 pounds more than those taking a placebo.2
Finally, a supplement that combined African mango with another substance, called Cissus quadrangularis, found similar results in overweight adults who took it for 10 weeks.3
Some other small studies have been conducted in animals and people, but so far, these are the only randomized, controlled studies to investigate the effects of African mango in humans—and to meet the gold standard of evidence. And they were all conducted by the same research group – and sponsored by the supplement’s manufacturer.
But, where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire. Compared to most weight-loss supplements, African mango shows real promise – and may be worth a try – but ONLY after you’ve changed your eating habits to minimize any refined carbohydrates you may be eating.
Seeds of Advice…
While more research is needed, African mango can’t hurt, and may very help you shed pounds.
The supplement appears to be safe. Commonly reported side effects include gastrointestinal problems (flatulence), increased urination, mild sleep interruptions, headaches, dry mouth, and mild flu-like symptoms.
The studies above have used an extract of African mango seeds called IGOB131, so look for tablets and capsules labeled as such, and take about 1 gram two or three times a day before meals.
Of course, there are no miracle pills or magic bullets: Like any approach to weight loss, African mango may be most effective when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
In particular focus on eliminating all refined carbs and sugar. Stick to high-quality forms of protein (grass-fed, pastured, and free range), and combine that with plenty of low-glycemic veggies. Leafy greens like spinach, chard, and kale as well as broccoli are especially healthy. Match this with intense, interval training 2 – 3 times as well as often as you can manage.
If you combine African mango with this diet and exercise program, you may just be surprised how effective this little seed can be.
And remember, keep an open mind to new ideas, but ALWAYS do your own homework…and combine that with common sense to figure out what’s best for YOU.
1 Ngondi JL, Etoundi BC, Nyangono CB, et al. IGOB131, a novel seed extract of the West African plant Irvingia gabonensis, significantly reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight humans in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled investigation.
2 Ngondi JL, Oben JE, Minka SR. The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon. Lipids Health Dis. 2005 May 25;4:12.
3 Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Momo CN, et al. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Mar 31;7:12.
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