Monday, April 16, 2007

Hoodia Gordonii And Its Affect on Metabolism

When most people talk about a metabolism increasing drug or supplement they are referring to a substance that stimulates the body to burn more calories. These metabolism stimulating supplements, such as caffeine, give us a boost of energy and a small increase in metabolic activity. On the other end of the weight loss and diet supplement spectrum is the appetite suppressant. Hoodia Gordonii, a cactus like plant from the South African Kalahari Desert, is the latest big thing in appetite suppressants. But the question remains is an appetite suppressant good for the body's metabolism?

Up until recently Hoodia Gordonii was used almost exclusively by African Bushmen to help suppress their appetites during hunting trips that would last for several days. They had two reasons for doing this. One, they did not want to eat outside of the communal dining that is a staple of their culture and two, they wanted to make sure they didn't eat what they hunted before they returned to the village. These tribal Bushmen have been using Hoodia Gordonii for hundreds of centuries with no known side effects. Of course they have been eating it for centuries and may have evolved an immunity to any side effects.

In studies that have been done to back up the anecdotal evidence supplied the Bushmen the appetite suppressing qualities of Hoodia Gordonii seem to be real. In one study obese individuals were given a set amount of Hoodia Gordonii everyday and were asked not to exercise. Over the course of the study the subjects taking the hoodia ate 1000 less calories per day then the control group that was taking placebos. This can be helpful for people who are obese or extremely overweight and have a hard time controlling their eating habits.

A potential problem exists though. Because the body's metabolism requires a certain amount of calories to function per day anything that can result in fewer calories being ingested then are needed can cause the metabolism to actually slow down. For people who are trying to lose a few pounds taking Hoodia Gordonii could have the opposite effect of what they want. A slowing metabolism will actually cause the body to start hoarding its energy supplies and turning any excess calories directly into fat stores. The thing to remember is that cutting to many calories can be just as harmful as consuming to many calories.

The body's metabolism will respond best to healthy nutrient dense foods. If one is taking Hoodia Gordonii it is wise to remember that just because you are not hungry doesn't mean your body doesn't need a steady supply of energy. Where it may work best for many people is to suppress the appetite enough to keep them from snacking all day on high sugar and empty calorie foods. This will require a conscious effort to eat healthy snacks and meals to actually increase the body's metabolism for optimum fat loss.

Everything has its place and incorporating Hoodia Gordonii into a weight loss program can be beneficial if used correctly. The best way to lose weight is to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. This has the benefit of increasing the body's metabolism which in turn burns fat. Using an appetite suppressant to help curb cravings can be a valuable part of a good weight loss regimen. But long-term fasting and severe caloric restriction can cause more harm than good. The body needs high octane energy to function correctly and eating healthy is the first step to increasing your metabolism and losing weight.

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By: Andrew Bicknell
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