“ Brand: Mega-T „
I have to acknowledge that I have accumulated a touch of extra baggage in my passage through life. My wife feels that this has been at least in part due to my dedication to Food and Drinks pages of certain consumer review sites a couple of years ago. The weight of over eighty beer opinions preceded me wherever I went.
I have long been fascinated by the way life is lived on the other side of the Atlantic. I am also intrigued by the commercials that punctuate American television and the subject matter must surely be a reflection of the state of the target audience. Tucked in between the plea to attend the annual close-out sale at the local Nissan (pronounced Nee-Sarn over there) dealer and the invitation to sue the nursing home for negligence now that 105 year old great aunt Maudie has died come the weight reduction plans, exercise apparatus and diet pills. The latter use a variety of blandishments such as "Reduce Stress Inducing Cortisol and Lose Excess Belly Fat" (Relicore) and "When Is A Diet Pill Worth $153 A Bottle?" (Leptoprin). There is even a telesales campaign for "The World's Best Fat Burner Period" (Wu long tea: 60 servings $37)
During our holiday this summer we furthered our education by visiting the local branch of Walgreen's. There were shelf upon shelf of dietary supplements and weight loss aids promising to be "Ephedra Free" (the American Food and Drug Agency has banned the use of Ephedrine in diet medication), help to "Stimulate Your Metabolism" and "Lose Up To 20 pounds In Six Weeks". We chose Mega-T's Ultra which is based on a concentrated tea extract.
Tea has been used throughout history as a medicine in China. They recognised a long time ago that tea can help to control body fatness and an old pharmaceutical book "Bencao Shiyi" states, "Drinking tea for a long time will make one live long and stay in good shape without becoming too fat and too heavy."
There has been some scientific evidence to confirm this too. A recent paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that a green tea diet increases metabolism and oxidizes fat without raising heart rates.
Another study published in the Journal of Medical Investigation from the University of Tokushima School of Medicine, Japan found that people who drank two cups a day of Wu-Long tea experienced 2.5 times greater calorie-burning results than those who drank the same amount of authentic Japanese green tea
It has been shown that the polyphenols in tea are effective in controlling body fat, activating the enzyme that dissolves triglyceride. In another clinical test, 75 overweight individuals between 22 and 68 years drank two packs of Wu-Long tea twice a day for six weeks. They did not diet or take any formal exercise. At the end of the test the thickness of the subcutaneous belly fat layer had decreased by an average of 4 millimetres.
THE MEGA-T PORTFOLIO
Mega-T is a range of formulations based on tea extracts which are manufactured by CCA Industries Inc., in America. The company also makes skin, hair, dental and other beauty products. Green Tea is their standard formula. Ultra is blended as a sustained release tablet designed for maximum weight loss. Also available are Green Tea Liquid Drops which can be added to any other beverage and Mega-G Grapefruit which has added fibre.
The tablet varieties are delivered in a white plastic bottle, tamper-sealed across the neck under the screw cap containing a 45 day (90 tablet) supply. They all carry the characteristic dark blue and green labelling. They are claimed to curb appetite to reduce food intake, boost metabolism to burn off calories and fat, increase energy and eliminate excess fluids. Also included in the box is a leaflet which gives an introductory guide to daily calorie intakes based on age, sex, height and frame size. There is also a suggested fourteen day meal plan and the Mega Exercise Plan.
The regime consists of taking one tablet half an hour before breakfast and another half an hour before lunch, each time drinking a pint of water.
The Ultra Mega-T tablet is a "horse tablet" of a brute. Sage green in colour, it takes a good swallow of water to ease it down. If sucked it does have a vague tea leaf taste. I didn't try chewing one! Each tablet contains extracts of green, white, black and oolong teas in total 775mg per tablet.
Chromium is a metal and essential trace element which is taken into the body in food. It is required for the proper metabolism of sugar, the control of fat levels in the blood and enhances the action of insulin. The recommended daily amount (RDA) is in the order of 30 mcg. This product supplies 500mcg.
Garcinia Cambogia (Brindle Berry, Malabar Tamarind) is a tropical fruit tree native of India may interfere with the storage of fat in the body and aid ridding of fat in food from the gut. It may also help the mobilisation of fat stores for energy during exercise.
Guarana is a berry bearing bush from Venezuela and Northern Brazil. Guaranine is an extract similar to caffeine which is used to flavour colas and soft drinks. Indeed both Coke and Pepsi have their own South American brands which promote this ingredient. It is an appetite suppressant and stimulant.
Eleuthero is the root of a plant (also called Siberian Ginseng) and is used in herbal remedies to increase stamina and energy and reduce stress and depression.
Bladderwrack (a seaweed) and Fo-Ti (Chinese knotweed) are mild laxatives, mild diuretics and may have anti-oxidant properties.
The actual amount of each of the lesser ingredients is not stated. The rear label also notes that none of the benefits have been evaluated by the American Food and Drug Administration.
I bought one box of Ultra Mega-T tablets and resolved that I would resolutely take them twice a day as directed for the duration of the six week course.
I estimated from the calorie chart that I should be looking at an intake of about 2000 calories a day. I have to admit that I looked at the Menu Plan and immediately rejected it; it being repetitive, not particularly adventurous and - split into six small meals a day - did not fit in with my routine. Instead my wife and I made the positive decision to regulate our diet ourselves. We have persevered with either Weetabix or Bran Flakes with semi-skimmed milk for brunch and then a main meal of fresh seafood or poultry served with salad or boiled vegetables. For hunger we allowed fresh fruit or carrot sticks. I also gave up alcohol but replaced this with carbonated water.
I take regular prescription medication (a statin, an anti-hypertensive, a diuretic). I checked my blood pressure on a home monitor. On Day 1 I weighed myself. I recorded my initial collar size, chest, waist and thigh measurement.
I have not taken up any additional activity or formal exercise. I did however start a daily journal with the intention of using it for the basis of this review.
The first point of assessment was as I was coming to the end of my six week Ultra Mega-T regime. Did I lose the promised 20 pounds? Well, not quite - but I had lost 17½ pounds. I was quite happy with this figure as most authorities agree that slow and steady weight loss is more likely to be maintained in the long term than sudden crash diets. More significantly though is where the weight has gone from. I had dropped one shirt collar size, one inch of chest, one and a half inches of waist and three quarters of an inch of upper thigh.
Given my training and background I have to declare my innate scepticism for all things herbal or alternative. I did read around the subject and looked up the listed ingredients in the tablets to check on warnings and possible side effects. The level of chromium is quite high (although no dangerously so) and well above the RDA. Because of this I would not wish to take multiple courses of Mega-T products. Six weeks is probably enough. If you haven't lost weight by then, well it isn't going to work for you. There are no particular dangers with the herbal ingredients although many authorities counselled that there was no scientific proof of their efficacy in the uses described.
We have significantly altered our eating habits with a greatly increased consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. We have not noticed the lack of fats - no pizza, chips or cream. After the first few days I have not wanted beer in the evenings.
By twelve weeks, my gentle weight loss has continued. At the last weigh-in, I am pleased to announce that the poundage shed has reached twenty nine!! Yes: just over two stones. I am now at the stage when I realise that a second extra hole has to be made in the belt and trousers are getting distinctly baggy.
I did not recognise any complications or side effects whilst taking the tablets. My blood pressure has stayed stable.
So, does Ultra Mega-T work? From a pharmacological or active ingredient point of view in all honesty I do not know. I would be quite prepared to accept that it does what it says and that the usually sage Chinese have known these truths for centuries. Actual proof has to be the preserve of a large properly controlled trial and as far as I can ascertain that has never been done. The claims made in the advertising of these products does appear to be largely anecdotal.
However I can confirm that I have lost an agreeable amount of weight (and have trimmed my beer reviewer's appendage in the process). We did not count calories rigorously but probably did not exceed 1500 a day.
There is no doubt that whatever method of dieting you choose the most critical component is willpower. Anything which helps to bolster that willpower will also help your ultimate goal. It is just as likely that Ultra Mega-T works as a placebo; certainly just drinking that increased amount of fluid tends to suppress your appetite. Once started, a journal was also a powerful incentive to keep going. It became my 'debt of honour' to persist and it was quite surprising how comforting "fifteen days since last alcohol" was to me in the early days. I can now share these conclusions with you.
As for the future, my ultimate target is to reduce my weight by a further 10 pounds or so. We will maintain our current dietary regime and will continue to shun the alcohol and most fatty foods. There will be two changes. Firstly I shall not be taking any further supplements for the reason given above. Secondly as we have access to a treadmill, I will now start a graduated but regular exercise regime.
I will also keep the journal going so watch out for future developments. As for this review I think it's worth five stars - and those are awarded to me for effort!!!
In the United States:
Ultra Mega-T 45 day supply (90 tablets) Walgreens, drug stores, major supermarkets $16.99
By internet: Amazon.com $14.12 plus p&p
POSTSCRIPT 1. MEAL PLAN DAY 12
Breakfast: 6oz Vegetable Juice; Boccoli & ham frittata; Decaffeinated tea or coffee
Mid morning snack: 1-2 Turkey roll-ups (turkey breast slice with romaine lettuce)
Lunch: Greek salad; Sugar free jelly
Mid afternoon: 6 small mozzarella cheese balls
Dinner: Grilled shrimps, grilled tomatoes, steamed asparagus
Dessert: 4oz Lemon zest ricotta
POSTSCRIPT 2. THE MEGA EXERCISE PLAN
In two parts, the flexibility warm up exercises consisted of ten actions (arm circles, achilles stretches, trunk benders) followed by eight callisthenics (pushups, side leg lifts). You should do 10 repetitions of each exercise resting for about 30 seconds between each set.
MEGA-T is a natural, drug-free dietary supplement.