In the U.S. alone, weight-loss is a $72B industry, and there isn’t a single state where adult obesity runs less than 23% of the population.
So it’s not hard to see why the promise of a quick-fix for weight-loss is so alluring. With so many weight-loss products, such as Panalean Supplement, Leanbean, and Skald how do you know which will work for you?
Today we’re taking a look at MealEnders—a product that claims to help curb your cravings and put an end to overeating once and for all!
The brain child of CEO and founder Mark Bernstein, MealEnders is a patent-pending, dietary food product proffered as the antidote to overeating—a pretty bold claim in the diet space.
Sold in the form of a lozenge and consumed after and between meals, MealEnders are purported to help you beat overeating, master portion control and curb snacking.
According to Tami Lyon, MealEnders Chief Nutrition Officer:
“MealEnders help bridge the gap between physical fullness and satiety. They’re a powerful tool to help you avoid excess calories.” –Tami Lyon, MPH, RD
You should note that MealEnders are not a supplement, but are instead classified as a food. This is important as supplements are not regulated by the FDA, whereas MealEnders has to follow strict compliance guidelines in the manufacturing and marketing of their product.
How do MealEnders work?
Remember how your mom was always nagging at you to eat more slowly? Well as usual, she was mostly right.
You see it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register hormonal signals from the gut that we have eaten to some level of fullness. So when you mindlessly wolf-down your food, there’s a solid chance you are eating significantly more than you need to satisfy your energy demands.
However, we say mostly right because appetite and hunger management can be incredibly complex.
For example, obese individuals often suffer from leptin resistence, making them less responsive to the satiety and/or pleasure signals from this vital hormone.
And factor in that we are all increasingly distracted during meal times—eating on the go, surfing our phone or slouched in front of theTV—it’s no wonder these innate cues are often lost in the noise.
This is where a MealEnders comes into play.
The theory is that eating a MealEnders lozenge toward the end of your meal can help you wait out the natural lag between feeling comfortably full and sated. By keeping the mouth and mind occupied for up to 20 minutes—the overeating period—MealEnders give the body’s natural satiety process time to catch up.
Through a process they’ve coined as the DUO-SENSORY TASTE SYSTEM™, MealEnders utilize both physical and psychological cues to help curb overeating.
- When you consume a MealEnders lozenge after eating, the sweetness of the outer layer acts like a dessert providing some level of satisfaction—a signal we typically associate with the end of a meal.
- Once the outer layer dissolves, the lozenge’s active inner-core releases a cooling and tingling sensation on the tongue that supposedly stimulates the trigeminal nerve to help signal a hard-stop on eating.
Combined with the practices of mindful eating, preparation and restraint, MealEnders can help you to recognize the difference between hunger—the biological need for food—and appetite—the mere desire for food.
MealEnders Lozenges come in four flavors: Chocolate Mint, Citrus, Mocha and Cinnamon.
The outer layer is made from premium dessert ingredients. For example, the chocolate-covered flavors use Guittard chocolate. While the inner core uses a proprietary blend of natural and artificial food flavors that MealEnders calls the Actissert™ Blend.
And as mentioned earlier, MealEnders is a food—not a supplement—and the company is therefore held to the highest food safety standards.
According to the website, MealEnders contains no drugs, stimulants or herbs, and is free from gluten, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. It is also Kosher.
However, as you’ll see from the ingredients below, MealEnders contain milk and are not suitable for those following a vegan diet.
As a diet food, we found it a little surprising to see quite so many processed ingredients in the list.
But MealEnders makes no bones about the product potentially substituting as a dessert—even going as far as to describe the outer shell as the Reward Layer.
Still, there’s no point in us being too alarmist here.
While sugar is sugar and corn syrup is … sugar, there is certainly nothing out of the ordinary in the the MealEnders ingredients. And even though they are using palm oil in their formulation, each lozenge measures 0g of fat, 2g sugar and just 15 calories.
French Vanilla Semisweet Chocolate (Chocolate Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin), Dark Chocolate Coating (Sugar, Non-Hydrogenated Palm Kernel and Non-Hydrogenated Palm Oils, Cocoa, Nonfat Milk, Sorbitan Monostearate and Soy Lecithin, Pure Vanilla), Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Oil, Dried Coffee, and Natural & Artificial Flavors*.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Confectionary Coating (Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Dry Milk Solids, Whole Milk Solids, Ground Cinnamon, Soy Lecithin, and Salt), Corn Syrup, Sugar, Citric Acid, and Natural and Artificial Flavors*.
French Vanilla Semisweet Chocolate (Chocolate Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin), Dark Chocolate Coating (Sugar, Non-Hydrogenated Palm Kernel and Non-Hydrogenated Palm Oils, Cocoa, Nonfat Milk, Sorbitan Monostearate and Soy Lecithin, Pure Vanilla), Corn Syrup, Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and Natural & Artificial Flavors*.
Key Lime Confectionary Coating (Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Dry Milk Solids, Natural Flavor, Whole Milk Solids, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Color and Salt), Corn Syrup, Sugar, Citric Acid, and Natural & Artificial Flavors*.
* Actissert™ Blend
MealEnders Safety and Side Effects
As a food product, the FDA has classified the MealEnders ingredients as GRAS—Generally Recommended as Safe—for human consumption.
And a review of the principal ingredients on reputable sources like WebMD and Examine.com does not throw-up anything of note other than the usual nausea, diarrhea and gastric distress some people can experience with ingredients like lecithin.
However, the MealEnders website does not go into any significant details about the ingredients, and the exact composition of the “active” center is obfuscated under the guise of the proprietary Actissert™ Blend.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should review the ingredients list carefully and make sure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients used in the MealEnders product.
According to the MealEnders website, the only observed side effect is that of potential thirst, stating:
“Some users report feeling thirsty after the effects of a MealEnder have worn off. This is normal – just drink a glass of water! It might even help the transition along.”
And while some users have reported the cooling and tingling effect of the “active” center as unpleasant, we have not managed to find evidence of any safety concerns associated with this experience.
How to Take MealEnders
You’d think—or certainly hope—that taking MealEnders would be easy. A kind of just pop it in your mouth experience.
And on some level it is that simple.
But you’ll recall from the section earlier on how MealEnders work there is quite a lot going on here.
Technically, you are supposed to be eating mindfully and watching for various physiological and psychological cues as to exactly when to take your MealEnders lozenge.
And when you do finally eat take it, you are encouraged to make your MealEnders lozenge last as long as possible—which means not chewing and instead letting the lozenge simply dissolve on your tongue.
The User Guide—yes, a user guide—puts it like this:
- Identify the moment when you might be crossing over from healthy eating to excess eating and, instead of another serving or snack, take a MealEnder.
- Savor the MealEnder without biting or chewing; allow it to dissolve slowly in your mouth to extend its effects.
Outside of structured meal-times, MealEnders also suggest you have lozenges to hand at all times—ideally between you and your favorite snacks. The premise being that you should be taking a MealEnders lozenge any time you have a snack or when you experience an empty craving for food.
In fact, the MealEnders Chief Nutrition Officer would like you keep them … everywhere:
“You can keep them in your pocket, purse, briefcase, gym bag, and car. At the moment when you need help, they’re there.” – Tami Lyon, MPH, RD
Where to Buy + Costs
You can purchase MealEnders directly at mealenders.com, and they are also available at Amazon.com.
One serving is one lozenge, and each bag contains ~25 lozenges by weight.
On the MealEnders website, the product is available in three bundles:
- Solo Pack – $16.95 + $3.99 shipping ($0.84/count)
- Three Pack – $34.95 (31% discount per pack) + $4.99 shipping ($0.53./count)
- Nine Pack – $89.95 (41% discount per pack) + $5.49 shipping ($0.42/count)
However, with the 3 and 9 pack deals you can opt for Auto Delivery and save an additional 10% on the per-pack price as well as qualify for free shipping.
For the 3-pack deal the Auto Delivery price comes down to $31.46—or $0.42/count—and for the 9-pack deal the price comes down to $80.96—$0.36/count.
When purchasing more than one pack, you can choose your flavors in any combination. E.g. 2 x Mocha and 1 x Chocolate Mint.
The packaging options, pricing and shipping are all different on Amazon.com. This is likely down to the fact that there would be no easy way to mix and match flavor combinations with the Amazon Cart.
There are four packaging options:
- Two Pack – $30.99 ($0.62/count)
- Three Pack – $39.99 ($0.53/count)
- Four Pack – $49.99 ($0.50/count)
- Twelve Pack – $123.49 ($0.41/count)
Shipping is always free (although not Prime), and each of the packs comes in a number of flavor combinations, although not every permutation is available.
Do MealEnders Work?
If you scrolled straight to this section, we understand.
Weight loss is an emotive subject, and tens of millions of people in the U.S. alone are overweight or obese. In fact a forecast based on early long-term trends suggests that more than 85% of adults will be overweight or obese in the U.S. by 2030.
So it’s understandable that we all desperately want there to be an easy answer to not only losing weight, but keeping it off for good.
MealEnders claims to help bridge the gap between physical fullness and satiety, and thereby help you avoid excess calories. It also claims that over time you could even begin to recognize the difference between hunger and appetite—a powerful step toward healthy living.
And they really might help.
But when you cut away all the buzz-words, proprietary blends and hyperbole, a lot of the content on the MealEnders website talks about three fundamental things: mindfulness, preparation and restraint.
For example, when you pick through the website How To Use section or the User Guide, the narrative is littered with advice that has LONG been understood to be the fundamental principles of weight management:
- Eat mindfully and with intent
- Watch for cravings and learn to differentiate between hunger and appetite
- Reduce portion sizes and eat until 80% full
- Don’t clear your plate
- Skip unhealthy desserts
- Split meals when dining out or save the other half for another meal
- Plan your meals and avoid keeping trigger foods in the house
- Drink more water
- Swap-out snacks for healthy alternatives
… and the list goes on.
But That Stanford Study…
On their website, MealEnders presents a comprehensive summary of a clinical study conducted by the Stanford School of Medicine’s Prevention Research Center.
According to the study, participants:
- Cut calorie intake 231 cal/day on average without increased hunger
- Exhibited increased mindfulness and restraint in eating behavior
- Reported reduced consumption of unhealthy desserts and snacks
We won’t argue that the study cites some interesting statistics. It even states that the consumption-decrease was sustained after participants were no longer using MealEnders, suggesting that MealEnders lozenges has a lasting effect on eating behavior.
However, it was ONE study.
And not only was it a single study, it was a small study with just 42 participants.
A small study with no control group, and no placebo.
The “gold standard” for testing interventions in people is the “randomized, placebo-controlled” clinical trial. That means volunteers are randomly assigned—that is, selected by chance—to either a test group receiving the experimental intervention or a control group receiving a placebo or standard care. A placebo is an inactive substance that looks like the drug or treatment being tested.
Let’s put it like this, what did you think was going to happen when Stanford invited 42 overweight people to try a new intervention that was going to help them lose weight?
Not just any people either. People that actively wanted to lose weight, were looking for assistance in weight control/management, and hoped to get better control of their appetites and eating habits!
How do you begin to unpick the intervention—the help, support, training in mindfulness and healthy practices—from the effects of the Actissert™ Blend in MealEnders?
Without a randomized, placebo-controlled study, you simply can’t.
What Consumers are Saying
To get a sense of what consumers are saying, there are two sources of review data we can look at: MealEnders and Amazon.com.
MealEnders.com says “Check out some of our reviews!” and goes on to list 138 five-star reviews. But from the language it’s not clear whether “some” implies there are many more reviews—potentially with lower ratings.
Nonetheless, from the MealEnders reviews we can see, the product has strong, positive, consumer sentiment.
However, jump over to Amazon and we see a very different picture.
Looking at the Two-Pack bundle, we have 565 reviews averaging just three stars. Worse still, there are almost as many one-star reviews as there are five stars.
Here’s what some of the one-star reviewers had to say:
- “i didn’t like them, some reason they left my tongue sore..”
- “They don’t take away the urge to eat. They numb your tongue for s few minutes. Would not buy again.”
- “I had high hopes for these but for me it is no different than eating a jr mint. Just a tingly center. It is all in you head, if you can convince your mind you are done eating they will work. Just not worth the $ to me. They do taste good.”
- “I saw these on Shark Tank, figured I would give them a try even though they were not chosen. I used these for over a week as suggested and did not see any effect at all. IF they had helped curb my appetite I would have ordered more I will finish them, but will not order again. Save your money.”
- “Didn’t curb appetite or cravings at all. If you do anything enough times after you finish eating and force yourself to not eat more past that specific event, before long it becomes habit and your body adjusts. You’re better off drinking a glass of water to signal the event versus eating one of these.”
- “These taste like liquid garbage dipped in chocolate. I would suggest giving them out to your enemies and saying they are asian candies. Then watch their face as the chocolate melts and the regret sets in.”
So as you’d expect, not everyone is going to like MealEnders, nor will everyone find them effective in helping to manage cravings and avoid overeating.
The Bottom Line
The rules for losing weight have not changed, and achieving a negative energy balance through calorie restriction and/or increased daily activity is still the principle mechanism in play.
In fact, the National Weight Control Registry tracks the methods and behaviors of over 10,000 successful dieters who have lost more than 10% of their body weight and kept it off for more than a year.
The headlines of their research findings may or may not surprise you:
- 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
- 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
However, it is neither useful nor wise to pretend that simply eating less and moving more is remotely easy. For if it were, we would surely not be suffering an epidemic of obesity.
In that vein, MealEnders positions their product as little more than a tool to facilitate sustainable weight management practices. A clever tool—no doubt—and one specifically designed to help keep your mind and mouth occupied during that critical 20-minute window of potential overeating.
So if you are overweight and have struggled repeatedly with overeating, endless snacking and poor hunger management, MealEnders could definitely be worth a try.
And with a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee, the risk is very low.
Just know that without a firm commitment to fixing a broken diet, the chances that a single tool like MealEnders will solve all of your problems is really very low.