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Herbal Products for Weight Loss?

What's you opinion of the Metasystem Weight Loss Program developed by Dean Tornabene?

Answer (Published 5/7/2002)

The Metasystem Weight Loss Program advertises itself as "the most powerful, natural way to lose weight" and relies on the "success stories" of clients who claim to have lost amazing amounts of weight in a relatively short time and kept it off. The program is not a diet but is based entirely on the use of a number of expensive herbal products offered for sale on the Internet.

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The products are said to increase metabolism, target fat cells (not lean muscle), clear toxins from the body, curb appetite, rid the body of retained water and increase energy. From what I've read, the herbal ingredients in the Metasystem weight loss formulas are parsley powder, bladderwrack, goldenrod, hawthorn berries, licorice root, marshmallow root, as well as citric acid, potassium, chromium picolinate, apple pectin and others.

Iodine in bladderwrack (a seaweed) may stimulate the thyroid, but it is not wise to take extra iodine unless a deficiency exists. Hawthorn can act as a diuretic and chromium can help with insulin resistance, but there is no scientific evidence that any of these ingredients, alone or in combination, have the advertised effect on metabolism, fat cells, appetite or energy or the "toxins" Metasystems' literature blames for weight gain.

Although following a weight loss diet is "optional" with the Metasystem products, clients are advised to boost protein intake whatever their eating plan. That change alone can lead to weight gain, not loss, if the protein foods you add to your diet are high in fat. On this program, exercise is also optional although the clients are told that they will notice an increase in energy and may discover a new desire to exercise.

Metasystems creator, Dean Tornabene is a former Mr. America and is identified on the site as a "celebrity nutritionist" but no professional credentials are listed for him. I'm sure that Mr. Tornabene himself is in excellent shape, but that doesn't mean that buying into his expensive weight loss plan will do anybody else any good.

Metasystem's pricey products are not the magic bullet that will help you lose weight. The only formula that works is eating less and exercising more, and that won't cost you anything.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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