Green coffee bean extract was recently the hot weight-loss supplement du jour. This year, yacon syrup in both its liquid and pill form is having a major moment, but is it a miracle super food or just another passing, and possibly dangerous, diet fad?
Yacon syrup was originally intended to be used as a detoxifying, cleansing diet to rid the body of toxins and to improve digestion, similar to today’s fad cleansing diets. Extracted from the South American yacon root (similar to a sweet potato in appearance), yacon syrup is much like molasses in consistency and has a similar effect on digestion in that it increases defecation.
Some limited studies and dieter reviews claim that yacon syrup, especially in its purest form with 100% with no added ingredients, results in rapid weight loss, as much as one pound per day. Lab studies conducted on rats and when given to a group of women revealed that taking this supplement does, in fact, lead to weight loss, among other health benefits, when added to their diets.
A 2009 yacon syrup study resulted in average weight loss of 33 pounds and 4 inches from the waist when given to 40 overweight pre-menopausal insulin-resistant women; 15 women were given a placebo syrup with no active ingredients. The placebo group actually gained an average of 3.5 pounds over the course of the clinical trial.
The group that lost weight was given 3-4 teaspoons of yacon syrup, the so-called miracle food, per day over a four month time frame, resulting in an average monthly weight loss of 8.25 lbs., which while impressive is not impossible to do when eating properly and exercising on a regular basis or following any other “crash” or dangerous diet fad, for that matter.
While both groups were advised to mildly restrict calories and adhere to a low-fat diet, it is unknown what either group’s overall daily caloric intake and fitness activities actually consisted of, which leaves room for speculation as to whether or not the yacon syrup was truly responsible for the weight loss. Caloric restriction and/or burn are the key underlying factors to weight loss regardless of the use of yacon syrup.
While yacon syrup seems to produce weight loss results, any fad diet or weight-loss supplement can garner results when stringently adhered to over a period of time; the key is being able to maintain the weight loss beyond a short time period, and there have been no studies conducted indicating that yacon syrup maintains weight loss beyond a few months’ time.
The 2009 double-blind placebo-controlled experimental test results claim that the “long-term consumption” of yacon syrup produced beneficial health results in the test group including weight loss, decreased waist circumference, lower body mass index (BMI), increased defecation, and increased satiety; however, the study’s definition of long-term consumption is based on a mere 120-day trial period, so even scientific research has not yet proven yacon syrup’s efficacy for long-term (up to and beyond 12 months) weight loss maintenance.
The added benefits of increased defecation and increased satiety like suppressed appetite are due to the high soluble fiber content in yacon syrup, which is found in many other natural, healthy foods. Of course, increased satiety leads to the overall daily consumption of fewer calories, which is an added benefit of any food containing soluble fiber. Furthermore, eating fewer calories leads to decreased body weight, waist circumference, and BMI. Increased stool frequency means reduced symptoms of constipation (weight retention and bloating), and therefore, a seemingly lower body weight. There have been reports that the syrup can also cause digestive distress.
Based on these facts alone, not to mention that there is no scientific evidence to support yacon syrup as a long-term weight loss-supplement, it seems that yacon syrup could possibly be effective in weight loss for the short-term, but the real test will be in determining if the supplement helps those who have lost the weight to keep it off.
While studies show that it doesn’t have any potentially dangerous short-term side effects, beyond the risk of increased flatulence and stomach discomfort similar to eating beans and other foods high in soluble fiber, it is indeterminate whether yacon syrup is really any different or better than other fad diets and weight loss supplements. There is also the concern that it might be a dangerous diet fad, especially for those taking blood-sugar lowering medication, as studies have indicated that yacon syrup might lower blood sugar. It is really left to the discretion of the individual potential consumer whether or not they want to try this potential miracle food, even if only to lose the weight rapidly similar to following any other trendy, fad diet. As always, it is important that consumers check with their personal physicians before starting this or any other weight loss supplement.
By: Rebecca Savastio