By Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, LDN
Garden of Life Raw Fit is used for athletic performance as well as weight management as it is a protein-based product made from a blend of plant sources including brown rice, flax, amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and other grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. A one scoop serving contains 28 grams of protein. With the average person requiring approximately 45-60 grams of protein per day, a serving of protein powder is a significant contribution to daily needs. Garden of Life Raw Fit is more than a simple protein powder; the supplement label also includes a weight loss and stress management blend, glucose management blend as well as probiotic and enzyme blend. That’s a lot of management in one product – but will it work?
Weight Loss and Stress Management
The key component to the weight loss and glucose (blood sugar) management portion of this supplement is the Svetol® green coffee bean extract. Green coffee beans are unroasted coffee beans which are consequently higher in chlorogenic acid than the roasted variety. Chlorogenic acid is a compound that may work to reduce blood sugars after eating and also with slowing the accumulation of fat, seen in both animal and human studies. In clinical studies, participants using green coffee bean extract at doses ranging from 80-1050 mg daily appeared to lose an average of 2.5 kg more weight than those taking the placebo. In another study, participants saw an average weight loss of approximately 1.5-2 kg (2-4 pounds) over six weeks. However, well designed, long-term studies have not yet been done and research on green coffee bean extract and weight loss is considered preliminary. Safety with any weight loss herb or supplement is always a concern due to past dangers in this category. There is 400mg of Svetol® in the Garden of Life product so it is worth running by your doctor for safety if you have any medical conditions or medications you take.
The stress management portion of this product comes from the cortisol balancing properties in Ashwagandha. This herb is considered an “adaptogen” for its normalizing and balancing ability, particularly to the body’s stress response. Elevated cortisol is associated with a variety of negative effects including premature aging and weight gain so controlling this hormone that stimulates our “fight or flight” primitive response is an area of much interest. Cortisol is released in response to stress and can increase blood sugar and suppress the immune system when it remains at chronically high levels over time. Ashwagandha is known to boost the immune system and provide support for cortisol protection. It is an herb that has been used for thousands of years and is popular in Ayurvedic medicine.
Glucose Management Blend
Aside from the Svetol® green coffee bean extract which may have some blood glucose lowering effects, ingredients including chromium, cinnamon, and daikon radish are added to this product to promote blood sugar balance. Chromium may enhance the action of insulin, or the hormone that decreases sugar in the blood. Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar as well as cholesterol in some studies. Daikon radish has been shown to decrease blood sugar in some research as well. Garden of Life Raw Fit contains Stevia which is a natural sweetener derived from a plant and does not raise blood sugar like cane sugar or other syrups. Sprouted grains in the protein blend lend fiber which can slow digestion and keep blood sugar from rising as high or fast as a product that is more processed. If your blood sugars are highly variable or you take insulin, mention a product like this to your doctor for safety and to avoid dangerous hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Probiotic and Enzyme Blend
Garden of Life Raw Fit contains 3 Billion CFU probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that naturally live in the gut, specifically the colon and are thought to regulate bowel health and even stimulate the immune system. There are many types of probiotics available on the market, but this product is a blend of lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis — two common forms. The product also has a blend of digestive enzymes including prohydrolase, protease, hemicellulase, xylanase. The ending “ase” indicates the presence of enzymes which may aid in optimal digestion when eating.
Garden of Life Raw Fit is a protein supplement with probiotics at its foundation and may have some added benefit for weight management and blood sugar regulation due to other herbs it includes. Be sure to check with your doctor for safety if you take any medications, are getting labs drawn, or have a medical condition. Note that most medications or supplements for weight loss show only modest results and are not a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise. A product like this may be appropriate in conjunction with eating healthfully and being physically active. It contains protein and fiber from natural sources as well as a blend of several herbs and plant products that do have some indications in research for their efficacy.
Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based nutrition writer and dietitian at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care specializing in integrative health and whole food-based nutrition. Ginger earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington and her Master of Science in Nutrition from naturopathic Bastyr University. She serves as President for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ginger is a plant-based dietitian who has a passion for physical activity and cooking. She believes that an interest in unprocessed foods and natural health will help heal the chronic health problems our country has been facing. Follow Ginger on her blog: ChampagneNutrition (www.champagnenutrition.com), Twitter (@GingerHultinRD), Instagram (http://instagram.com/champagnenutrition), and Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/champagneRDN/).