Fat loss supplements are everywhere, but which ones actually work? We’ve rounded up five we’d never heard of and looked at the science behind them
Losing weight isn’t easy, and neither is burning body fat with studies suggesting that only 15 percent of the population are successful in their weight loss attempts.
The other 85 percent who have failed on the exercise and diet front, end up looking for other solutions, and this often includes taking dietary supplements.
Lots of fat-loss supplements promise quick weight-loss results – skinny teas and coffees, carb-blockers, fat-blockers – but many of them only work in the short-term or act as laxatives, which is not healthy.
With so many weight-loss and fat loss boosting supplements out there, is there any proof that any work?
It goes without saying, anything that looks too good to be true or claims amazing results such as ‘lose a stone in a week by taking this pill’ should be steered clear of.
And while there is no such thing as miracle fat loss and a healthy diet and adequate exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, there are some supplements that can help make your weight loss journey that little bit easier.
Let’s find out what supplements are are shown to help fat loss.
#1 Forskolin – the fat burner
If only there was a supplement that could help burn fat….
Historically Coleus forskohlii is a herb used in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine to help treat various cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system ailments. It is a plant rich in alkaloids that belongs to the mint family.
Today however, Coleus forskohlii is used as a fat burning supplements. That is thanks to the main bioactive ingredient in Coleus forskohlii known as forskolin.
Forskolin increases cellular levels of a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). A growth in these cAMP levels has been associated with an increased rate of fat loss.
Put simply, the natural plant compound forskolin is said to stimulate the release of stored fat from fat cells. This is the process that occurs whenever the body needs to use body fat for energy.
But what is the evidence that this can lead to overall fat loss in humans?
In a double blind and randomized study, 23 females supplemented their diet with forskolin or a placebo twice per day for 12 weeks. Body weight and measurements were taken before supplementation and at weeks four, eight and 12.
Results found that the supplement containing forskolin, didn’t appear to promote weight loss but may have helped mitigate weight gain in the overweight females.
Indeed, in another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 30 overweight and obese men were assigned to two groups.
One group (15 men) supplemented with 250 mg of Coleus forskohlii extract (10 percent forskolin) twice a day for 12 weeks. The other was a placebo group (15 men) who took the same amount of placebo supplements.
Results found that compared to the placebo group, the men who took forskolin lost significantly more fat, however their total body weight did not change.
These studies suggest then, that supplementation with forskolin may not cause weight loss, but it seems to improve body composition in men and may prevent weight gain in women.
To supplement with Coleus forskohlii, take 250 mg of a supplement that contains ten percent of forskolin, twice a day, for a 500 mg total daily dose. Try Forskolin from Life Extension Muscle Zone. It’s a pure forskolin, so you have to take fewer capsules a day. Also, it’s always worth to look for supplements which are standardized for more than 10 per cent of forskolin.
Suggested dosage: Take one (1) capsule daily on an empty stomach, or as recommended by a healthcare practitioner.
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#2 Synephrine – the metabolism booster
If you are someone who blames your slow metabolism on you weight-loss efforts then you’ll want to keep reading…
A type of orange, bitter orange contains a compound called synephrine, that may be effective in reducing appetite – and you don’t need me to tell you how this can lead to weight loss.
Bitter orange is a tree native to Asia, with bitter orange oil being made from the peel and the flower.
The compound is believed to stimulate thermogenesis which can encourage weight loss by increasing your basal metabolic rate BMR (that’s how many calories you burn at rest), stimulate fat breakdown and suppress your appetite.
Bitter orange supplements containing synephrine are marketed to promote weight loss by reducing appetite and are available to buy over the counter and online. Try synephrine from Apollo Hegemony Muscle Zone.
Suggested Dosage: Take 1 capsule up to 3 times a day.
In a double-blinded, randomized placebo-controlled study, results found that the oral administration of 50 mg of synephrine increased resting metabolic rate with no effect on heart rate or blood pressure in humans.
Because bitter orange (synephrine) has been combined with other compounds such as caffeine in weight loss supplements and in studies, it is difficult to interpret its effectiveness, therefore it is not possible to say that thermogenic and weight loss effects are the direct result of synephrine.
Before deciding to take bitter orange (synephrine), talk to your doctor if you take any medications as it can interact with many other drugs and can raise blood pressure.
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#3 Yohimbine – another fat burner
A growing trend among bodybuilders, yohimbe has been sold as a dietary supplement marketed as yohimbe bark extract, to help with fat loss, weight loss and to improve body composition – sounds impressive right?
The popular supplement is derived from the bark of an evergreen tree found in western and central Africa called the Pausinystalia johimbe.
Often sold in capsule form, yohimbine’s ability to block the alpha-2 adrenergic receptors located in fat cells could lead to increased fat loss and weight loss.
This means that yohimbine works by increasing the adrenaline levels in the body, as well as preventing a regulatory process in fat cells, which would normally suppress fat burning. So what does the evidence say?
One double-blind study examined the effects of yohimbine in 20 obese females who consumed a 1,000-calorie diet for three weeks. Half received supplements containing 5mg of yohimbine and the others a placebo that was to be taken four times a day.
The ten women who took 5mg of yohimbine four times per day lost significantly more weight than those taking a placebo, 7.8 pounds (3.6 kg) compared to 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg).
A study on the effects of yohimbine was also taken on 20 soccer playing athletes. One group ingested tablets that contained yohimbine at a dose of 20mg, and were taken twice a day in equal doses for 21 days. The other group ingested an equal number of identical-looking pills that contained cellulose.
Results found that the group taking yohimbine had a decrease in body fat of 1.8 percent, plus groupfat mass was significantly lower in the yohimbine group versus the placebo group.
Dosages of 0.2mg of yohimbine per kg of bodyweight have been successfully used to increase fat burning without significant implications on cardiovascular parameters like heart rate and blood pressure. So that’s about 14mg for a 150lb person and 18mg for a 200lb person. Try Yohimbine HCl from Apollo Hegemony Muscle Zone.
Although yohimbine has been shown to be effective, it has been known to cause anxiety and it adversely interacts with many pharmaceuticals, so be sure to check with your doctor first.
Suggested dosage: Take one capsule once a day on an empty stomach. Individuals with high body weight (over 100kg) can increase the daily dose to two capsules. The product should not be taken with food, due to the negative interaction with insulin.
#4 B Vitamins – the metabolism essential
Next up are B vitamins – turns out they are pretty important for weight loss. In fact, almost every one of them (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) is essential for a fully functioning metabolism.
The main function of B vitamins is to help your body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A healthy metabolism ensures that the body uses these nutrients for energy rather than storing them as fat.
In other words, low levels of one or more of these B vitamins will mean your metabolism won’t be functioning at its best which will make losing weight even harder.
For example, vitamin B1 helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, also plays an important role in helping to normalize appetite and an association has been found between the deficiency of some of B vitamins and obesity.
A 2015 study looking into thiamin deficiency in people with obesity found that 15.5 to 29 percent of those who were seeking bariatric weight-loss surgery were deficient in vitamin B1.
B vitamins can be found in a range of different foods, such as beans, lentils, milk, eggs, lean meat, whole grains, potatoes and bananas.
Vitamin B12 on the other hand, is essential for the metabolism of proteins and fats. However it isn’t found in any plant produce, meaning those who follow a vegan diet will struggle to get enough vitamin B12 and should look at taking a dietary supplement.
Dietary supplements containing all eight B vitamins are known as B-complex vitamins. They can easily be found in stores or online.
Try to stay with your RDA recommended by FDA. It’s worth to look for supplements containing active forms of B vitamins, which doesn’t need to be additionally metabolized by our organism.
Why it matters? Because the additional metabolic processes on inactive forms of vitamins results in losses, which can reach even over 90% of initial dose. Such a product is for example B Complex Plus from Seeking Health Muscle Zone.
Suggested dosage: Take 1 capsule with or without food or as directed by your healthcare professional. Do not take within 5 hours of bedtime as it may interfere with sleep.
#5 Capsaicin (Chilli peppers) – the all round fat burner
You may not have heard the name, but you’ll know the taste. Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers that makes your mouth feel hot and spicy – and leaves you glugging water like it’s going out of fashion.
Interestingly, researchers and studies have found that capsaicin is a thermogenic chemical, that means it may help speed up your metabolism, reduce fat tissue and even decrease your appetite.
Although more research is needed to fully understand the process, capsaicin appears to stimulate a receptor in the body known as TRPV1, this increases your body heat quickly.
That’s why when you eat a spicy pepper, it causes your body’s temperature to rise, and when your body temperature rises, your body will then go into a cooldown mode. This is what causes your body to burn more calories.
The evidence is plentiful with many studies finding that capsaicin does indeed burn calories at a faster rate and therefore burns fat.
A 2014 study on fifteen subjects (seven women and eight men) showed that the people who consumed red pepper with every meal felt fuller for longer and experienced fewer cravings.
This suggests that adding capsaicin (chilli peppers) to your diet can suppress your appetite and therefore lead to a decrease in calories eaten and an increase in weight loss.
Another study, found that women who ate fresh chili pepper raised their metabolic rate for up to 30 minutes after eating.
Your metabolic rate affects the speed at which your body converts the food you eat into energy. If you have a faster metabolism, your body is more likely to convert these nutrients into energy rather than store them as fat.
If eating spicy peppers isn’t your thing, capsaicin can also be taken as a supplement and has shown promising results on weight loss and body composition. Try Capsaicin & Ginger from Apollo Hegemony Muscle Zone.
Suggested dosage: Take 1 capsule daily preferably with meal, or as recommended by a nutritionally-informed physician.
Research has also suggested, that capsaicin intake may reduce waist-to-hip measurement ratio. 77 healthy male and female volunteers were randomly assigned to ingest either a low-dose of capsaicin (2 mg), a high-dose capsaicin (4 mg) from Capsimax or a placebo for 12 weeks.
The study found that capsaicin intake at 2mg per day lowered their waist-to-hip ratio at six weeks compared to those who injested the high-dose capsaicin intake or the placebo.
Capsaicin is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation as a food, capsaicin supplements are fine too but may cause side effects such as stomach irritation, bloating and heartburn.
Capsaicin supplements may also interact with certain medications and supplements, s again be sure to check with your doctor first.
Supplements to avoid:
As mentioned in the beginning, any supplement that is offering a miracle weight-loss solution probably shouldn’t be trusted.
There are also substances which can be illegal or just downright dangerous so it’s vital that you avoid these. Dangerous and illegal substances include, DNP, clenbuterol, geranium, ephedrine. Check out the official WADA list of prohibited substances for more.
And remember, always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements or medications.