With obesity an increasing problem in the U.S., it’s a good idea to know about supplements that can help.
Below you’ll find a list of over-the-counter, natural substances you should be able to get at your local health food store or online. And, each of these supplements show effectiveness in clinical studies.
Once you know the unique properties of each, you can identify those that seem most useful for your unique situation. And I’d love to hear about your experience with any of these (or others you’ve used) by leaving your comments below.
- HCA (hydroxycitric acid): extracted from tamarind fruit rind, HCA blocks an enzyme that triggers fatty acids, cholesterol and triglyceride formation. It also lowers blood levels of leptin (the substance that triggers hunger), while increasing serotonin and fat oxidation. In addition, it increases glycogen production, helping increase your feeling of “fullness.” It’s so effective at this, that study participants taking HCA ate up to 30% less food at every meal.
- MCT (medium chain triglycerides): These are saturated fatty acids found naturally in coconut and butter. They help your body burn more calories – up to 25-30% more. They lead to a drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduction in body fat. And you thought butter was bad for you!
- Green and oolong tea extract: One of the antioxidants in green tea is EGCG. Studies indicate this substance may prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. At the same time, it also reduces body fat and keeps you from making more. Studies show that EGCG supplements increase calorie-burning up to 180 calories a day.
- CLA (conjugated linolenic acid): The June 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition presented a study of 180 healthy, overweight men and women who were given either CLA or a placebo for one year. On average the CLA group lost 5 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of firming muscle – without diet or exercise. Not bad for ‘just’ a supplement…
- Chromium: Twenty-five years of research shows that taking supplements of this trace mineral improves the insulin system, which regulates blood sugar levels. With enough chromium, muscle cells can make muscle, there’s less extra sugar to be stored as fat, and excess fat can be burned as fuel. In a study, women who took chromium lost 84% of their weight as fat, while women not taking the supplements lost 92% of their weight as muscle.
- Chitosan and other soluble fibers: In an effort to clean up oil spills, scientists discovered chitosan, a pulverized powder made from the shells of shrimp and crab. This ultra-absorbent powder soaks up oil, grease, and heavy metals, both in the oceans and in the intestinal track. In 1995 Italian researchers gave either chitosan or a placebo to 150 people, who were on a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet for 4 weeks. Those on the placebo lost 4% of their weight, while those on chitosan lost 13%. Other studies show that chitosan can lower cholesterol by 29%. Psyllium, pectin, and guar gum are other soluble fibers that work similarly.
- 5-HTP (5-Hydroxyl-L-tryptophan): Due to high-stress, many people in America have low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that controls appetite and mood. The result: overeating. 5-HTP is a natural amino acid that boosts serotonin, helping decrease food cravings and also creating a calm state of mind that is less vulnerable to emotional overeating. In an Italian study, overweight women who took serotonin spontaneously began to cut their calories – by more than 1000 calories per day.
- Cacti (Hoodia and Caralluma): The bushmen of the Kalahari desert rely on Hoodia, a form of cactus, to relieve hunger and thirst pangs. Caralluma is an edible Indian cactus that is used in chutneys and pickles and to control appetite, particularly in times of famine. As with Hoodia, scientists speculate that unique molecules in Caralluma affect the hypothalamus, switching off appetite. It can also normalize blood sugar, and after thousands of years of use, there are no known side effects.
- HMB (Hydroxy methyl butyrate): HMB is a metabolite, or a breakdown product of leucine, a component of protein that aids muscle-building. Although found in foods like alfalfa sprouts and catfish, only a supplement can provide enough to protect and build muscle. You do have to exercise to get the benefit of this supplement, but it is especially helpful to those 70 or older as well as AIDS and cancer patients and can lower blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- BCAA (Branched-chain amino acids – leucine, valine, isoleucine): Branched chain amino acids comprise 35% of the amino acids in muscle tissue. Supplying muscles with extra BCAA can help prevent exercise-related muscle damage, soreness after exercise, and can build more calorie-burning muscle.
You’ve probably already realized that there’s no possible way to take all of these supplements to support your weight loss goals. It would be expensive and unnecessary. Besides that, the foods you eat are even more crucial than any supplements you could take.
Even so, by reading the properties of the supplements above, you may find one or two that make sense given your unique situation.
If you’d like help sorting any of this out, I’d be happy to consult with you about your weight loss goals and help you come up with a workable plan. Just call the office at (775) 827-6901 or email me by clicking here.
Of course there is a catch to all this: if you sit on the couch all day eating ice cream and cake, it won’t matter how many of these supplements you take. You’ve got to get up and move as well.