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Kirstie Alley's Weight Loss Kit on Dr. Oz Show-Agave Advice Not So Sweet for Dieters

2012-09-17 20:46
Kirstie Alley’s Weight Loss Kit on Dr. Oz Show

Today on The Dr. Oz Show, special celebrity guest Kirstie Alley dubbed as the "yo-yo queen of dieting" was featured with the promise of revealing her weight loss secrets. Unfortunately, the secrets revealed were little more than stock dieting advice of eating sensibly, maintaining a daily calorie intake of 1,400 calories, and the promotion, but not, Dr. Oz's personal endorsement-of her line of weight loss kit products.

So what’s in Kirstie Alley’s weight loss kits?

Apparently, by what little was said about the Rescue Me™ Kit on the OZ Show and on Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program website, that’s a secret that you will just have to buy into on faith…and with your credit card. However, there was brief mention on The Dr. Oz Show of one component in her Rescue Me™ Kit—the use of agave as a sugar substitute mixed with stevia.

The Rescue Me™ Kit as advertised on The Dr. Oz Show is comprised of four products: Nightingale®, Relieve Me®, Release Me® and Rescue Me™.

On The Dr. Oz Show, Nightingale® is advertised as a natural sleep aid that contains liquid L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid to help you maintain a complete, restful night of sleep. In addition, mention was made of it containing a blend of vitamins and herbs that are formulated to promote restful sleep.

Relieve Me® was described as a natural, vegetarian colon cleanser and dietary supplement in capsule form that promotes a clean digestive system and healthy body while you lose weight.

Release Me® is touted as a natural relaxer consisting of calcium and magnesium that acts to help calm the nervous system and ease muscle tension during weight loss, as well as a way to re-mineralize the body.

But probably the more interesting of the four products briefly displayed on the show was that of the Rescue Me™ elixir—a USDA certified organic weight-loss product that Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program claims will boost a person’s natural energy; is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; and, reduces cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.

On the Dr. Oz Show, Kirstie states that the elixir contains agave and stevia as sugar substitutes to help reduce cravings for sweets. Furthermore, on an online sneak peek video of today’s Dr. Oz Show, Kirstie answers a Facebook fan question of “How do you give up all the sweets you like?” with her advice to use agave with an artificial sweetener as a sugar substitute that won’t mess up your glycemic index:

“If you are really craving a lot of sweets, then I would suggest that you switch over to agave, which won’t screw up your glycemic index, and mix it with some stevia. Stevia sometimes has a strange aftertaste to it, but if you mix with agave--it won’t. And it’s really yummy, more yummy than sugar,” says Kirstie.

While stevia is a fairly well-known sugar substitute in dieting products accepted by the Food and Drug Administration and categorized “generally recognized as safe,” the use of agave has been referred to less glowingly as “…almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing," according to Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health quoted in an article published by The Huffington Post.

So what is agave anyway? And is it really a good sugar substitute that “…won’t screw up your glycemic index”?

The blue agave plant used as a sugar substitute is just one of more than 300 species of agave plants that grow in the southern United States, northern South America, and the hilly regions of Mexico. The core of the plant contains the aguamiel (nectar)—the substance used for syrup production and/or fermented as tequila. Known for its pleasantly sweet taste, agave has been misleadingly promoted as a “natural sugar substitute” when in fact many brands of agave nectar are non-natural having gone through just as much processing as high fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks and many other processed food items.

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According to WebMD, agave has about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to 40 calories for the same amount of table sugar. But because agave is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it.

The agave nectar seen on store shelves advertised as a sugar substitute or alternative, is typically very high in fructose and less so in glucose. The mistaken belief by many is that fructose in any form is healthy and safe. While getting your sugar from fructose naturally in an apple is better than eating table sugar, a good part of that has to do with the fact that the fructose is balanced with the fiber, nutrients and carbohydrates in the apple—not as a condensed processed powdered form as in many agave sugar substitutes.

Another point about using agave as a sugar substitute is that one study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that fructose may be actually less healthy than eating table sugar as a sweetener. Study participants who consumed fructose were found to be more insulin-resistant, were at a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes, and were more likely to gain abdominal fat.

While some sources cite agave as superior to table sugar and other sweeteners by having a lower glycemic index value—a glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how a food raises blood glucose compared to a reference food such as glucose or white bread—not all healthcare providers agree that it should be referred to as a “safe sugar” for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association lists agave among other sweeteners such as table sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, cane sugar, etc. that have to be managed to control your glycemic index.

In all likelihood, the amount of agave used in any of the weight loss kit products such as the advertised Rescue Me™ elixir is very low, as the drink is reported on The Dr. Oz Show to have a total calorie count of only 60 calories. However, to suggest that cutting a sugar craving by mixing some agave with stevia (to mask the after-taste of stevia ) makes little dieting sense and could lead dieters to decide that agave is a good sugar substitute when research and a little investigation says otherwise.

Image source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

References:

The Dr. Oz Show: Kirstie Alley's Weight Loss Secrets

WebMD :"The Truth about Agave”

“Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans” Journal of Clinical Investigation 119(5):1322–1334, (2009); Kimber L. Stanhope et al.

American Diabetes Association: The Hype About Sugar

The Huffington Post: Debunking The Blue Agave Myth

Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison website

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