In 2008, an issue of Women's World magazine touted the UGA diet, reportedly based on the findings of a University of Georgia study into the combination of phytochemical compounds that may inhibit storage of body fat. The study mentioned multiple combinations, including quercetin, soy isoflavones, and reseveratrol. From that, an industry grew that promoted supplements that contained a combination of these three ingredients as the next miracle weight loss pill.
Present in soy-based foods such as edamame and tofu, soy isoflavones may contribute to modest reductions in low-density lipoproteins, also known as "bad" cholesterol. Other suggested benefits include cancer protection, decreased symptoms of menopause, bone health protection, and antioxidant properties.The substances are weak estrogens, mimicking the role of estrogen in the body, which may explain the benefits in menopausal women.
Found in the skins of grapes and other red fruits, as well as in chocolate, resveratrol has shown promise in animal studies as a beneficial substance that may have anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. Peer reviewed human studies have yielded no significant results as yet, so resveratrol as a miracle substance may not be all that manufacturers of resveratrol supplements promise it to be.
Many plant foods contain natural levels of quercetin, a flavonoid that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that has been shown in animal studies to increase the amount of energy rats expend over a short period of time.
The Stack: Quercetin, Soy Isoflavones and Resveratrol Diet Supplements
In the Women's World article, the UGA diet appeared to be based on a loose translation of the original University of Georgia study. Excited at the prospect of something that would help them lose weight quickly and easily, dieters hit the market in search of supplements that contained a combination of these three substances, although there was very little evidence to suggest using them as a diet supplement led to weight loss. Some companies market pills that are a combination of all three, while others market combinations of soy isoflavones and resveratrol as diet supplements.
Does it Work?
If what you're after is an antioxidant, then chances are this type of supplement will provide that action; however, if you are seeking a weight loss miracle, then you probably won't want to waste your money. No evidence exists suggesting any of the three substances alone or in combination will lead to weight loss. As a matter of fact, you may even experience side effects associated with the individual ingredients of a combination supplement.
Resveratrol side effects may include:
- Tendon pain
- Stomach pain
Soy isoflavone side effects are mostly related to its estrogen content and include:
- Changes in menstruation
- Changes in fertility
- High blood pressure
- Induced ovulation
Quercetin side effects include:
- Increase in estrogen
- Mouth sores
Proceed with Caution
The University of Georgia never created a diet based on the findings of the aforementioned study. Instead, it appears to be a case of someone seizing on vague study findings in an attempt to create a need for supplements containing certain ingredients. This happens in the supplement industry quite often, as evidenced by Acaiburn and other acai supplements promising to deliver fast weight loss with little effort. The best way to weight loss remains a combination of healthy diet and exercise, while the best way to get the nutrients your body needs, including soy isoflavones, resveratrol, and quercetin, is to eat a well-balanced diet containing a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Talk with your doctor about possible contraindications before taking these, or any other, supplements.