Wish your holiday sweater was a little less snug? Good news: Women tell us a daily dose of resveratrol — an antioxidant in wine, cocoa, and berries — allows them to drop one to two pounds every day without even dieting. “It’s actually the easiest I’ve ever lost weight,” says Fari Vatani, 67, a Florida retiree who shrunk from a size 16 to an 8 after a lifetime of failed weight-loss attempts.
Resveratrol supplements have been around for years, but breakthrough technology has made them so much better that more than 100 studies are underway on the new versions. “Looking at the research so far, resveratrol has unprecedented promise for helping people control their weight,” notes James Smoliga, PhD, a nutrition expert at North Carolina’s High Point University. So if you’d like to have your Christmas cookies and slim down too, this may be the perfect option!
Resveratrol does lots of good things inside us. For example, National Institutes of Health research found the antioxidant soothes health-dampening inflammation and helps lower cholesterol. Multiple university tests show it protects our brain and memory. Meanwhile, a University of Texas team found it blocks enzymes that seriously damage cells, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. And that’s just for starters. Of course, there’s also been a lot of attention given to how resveratrol can help us get lean with ease.
Excitement about resveratrol first started after a famous Harvard study found that the antioxidant helped reverse the effects of overeating among fat mice. Their cells suddenly turned more food into energy, their blood sugar and insulin improved dramatically and they went on to live long, healthy lives. Scientists around the world have been trying to explain those findings ever since. Hints and theories abound, but recent tests have focused on beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive tracts and trigger everything from reduced hunger to faster metabolism. University of Alberta scientists now have evidence that resveratrol stimulates a quick 250 percent increase in slimming strains of these bacteria. And that’s a big deal since “an abundance of slimming bacteria is often the only factor setting a naturally lean person apart from a heavy one,” according to A-List Diet author and resveratrol proponent Fred Pescatore, MD.
Most experts recommend a dose of 150 to 250 mg. of resveratrol a day — significantly more than you can get from food. Red wine is the richest source, with no more than 13 mg. per bottle. Choose a supplement labeled trans-resveratrol, the most potent form. A great option that enhances the effect: “Research shows that resveratrol works even better when combined with other antioxidants,” says Smoliga. So enjoy a diet rich in antioxidant-rich plant foods — even popcorn and cold breakfast cereal are great sources — and consider a multi-antioxidant supplement, such as Life Extension Optimized Resveratrol (Buy on Lifeextension.com, $21.60) or Naomi Organic Resveratrol with Quercetin (Buy on Amazon, $29.99). “It’s such an easy thing to do, and the benefits are often amazing!” adds Dr. Pescatore.
Food lover Shelli Appelbaum has been fighting spare pounds as long as she can remember. “You name the program, I’ve done it,” laughs the Florida guidance counselor, 48. So when she heard about resveratrol, “I did some research. It seemed safe and natural and I figured why not?” She ordered supplements and started taking 250 mg. daily. “I had any healthy food I wanted — fruit, veggies, wheat bread, steak,” recalls Shelli, who ate three small meals and three small snacks a day. “In two weeks, I was down 10 pounds!”
Steadily losing 42 pounds over seven months, her pre-diabetes and high cholesterol vanished. “I had more energy during the day and I slept better at night. And when the holidays rolled around, I went to parties and had treats. I still kept losing!” she says.
Down from a size 14 to an 8, Shelli now has this advice for other women, “Just do it! If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll get healthier without having to work so hard. There’s no better gift to give yourself!”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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