On Nutrition: Weight loss gummies a sticky situation

Corryne P. writes: “I am inquiring about the fat busting products such as keto gummies, GOLO release, Nutrisystem shakes and others. Do they really work? I know people who have tried them but when they stop, the weight returns. How do they work on the body?”

Another reader asks: “Could you please explain the craze going on with Apple Cider Vinegar gummies? A celebrity has come out showing a huge weight loss. A friend ordered these expensive supplements and didn’t lose an ounce. There is so much on the internet and I don’t know what to believe.”

You’re not alone. We’d all love to find an effortless way to lose weight. Reminds me of an ad I saw years ago that poked fun at the weight loss industry. “I lost 200 dollars in one month! Ask me how!”

Most of these products work because they come with a low-calorie plan. And they encourage physical exercise. Nutrisystem, for example, suggests you drink one of their shakes (150 calories, 13 grams of protein) to replace one meal a day. So if I drink that instead of my usual high calorie meal, I should lose weight … or not, depending on what I eat the rest of day.

GOLO Release supplements contain magnesium, zinc and chromium in about the same amount as my daily multivitamin. They also contain herbal extracts such as rhodiola; the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) says it “does not have enough evidence from studies in people to allow conclusions to be reached about whether rhodiola is helpful for any health-related use.”

This supplement also contains inositol. There is some evidence that inositol may help curb insulin resistance — a condition that makes weight loss more difficult. However, a 2022 review of 35 studies of women with insulin resistance in Gynecological Endocrinology found that, compared to the use of a prescribed medication for this condition, “it is not clear whether inositol usage is adequate.”

Another ingredient is berberine, which the ODS states could possibly be effective for blood pressure and cholesterol. This comes with some major warnings, however, related to serious side effects if you take this supplement with certain prescription medications.

As for apple cider vinegar (the liquid), a review of human and animal studies on its effect on weight was reported in a 2020 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition. These reseachers concluded there is not enough reliable evidence to stake a claim on its effectiveness. Yet there is some evidence that apple cider vinegar is probably more effective than a gummy supplement.

And the celebrity who showed a huge weight loss? I’m assuming you mean Kelly Clarkson, who indeed has slimmed down. I even found a “news” report in which she shows off her new figure while holding a bottle of apple cider vinegar gummies.

Fact checkers at several news outlets have since reported that this endorsement was not real, but an alteration of a video Clarkson made to promote her music album. And her publicist notified the media that her client “does not have any affiliation as a spokesperson” for any “weight loss products/programs.”

So how did she lose the weight? In a January 2024 article in People magazine, Clarkson said simply, “I dropped weight because I’ve been listening to my doctor — a couple (of) years I didn’t.” It must have worked.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to [email protected].