Weight Loss Supplements That Actually Work
By: Courtney Sperlazza, MPH
April 10, 2019
- There’s no magic pill for weight loss, but there are supplements that can help your body work better.
- The best weight loss supplements are those that help your body operate efficiently, and are safe to take long-term.
- Keep reading for weight loss supplements that address a few of the root causes of weight gain.
Browse the aisles of any drugstore, and you’ll find dozens of powders and pills that promise to melt fat and take off the weight. While there’s no magic pill for whittling your waist, there are weight loss supplements that can make the job easier. These work by speeding up your metabolism and increasing your fat burn, decreasing your appetite, or reducing the absorption of macronutrients like carbs or fat.
The best weight loss supplements are those that help your body operate efficiently, and are safe to take long-term. Here are weight loss supplements that address a few of the root causes of weight gain — stress, digestive problems, blood sugar, and microbiome.
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Betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl)
Betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a supplemental source of hydrochloric acid, or stomach acid, recommended to people with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria).
More people have insufficient stomach acid than you think. That’s because the symptoms of low stomach acid — heartburn, gas, burping, bloating, etc. — are similar to symptoms of having too much stomach acid or acid reflux. Doctors will often prescribe proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs, medicine that stops your stomach from producing acid) without discerning whether too much or too little stomach acid is causing your symptoms, which can make the problem even worse. What does that have to do with weight loss? If you don’t have enough stomach acid, you skip the first crucial steps of the digestive process that kickstart the breakdown of protein and fat. (Carbs will metabolize just fine.) That’s a problem because protein and fat (especially fat) keep you full. And when your liver stops digesting fat, your body doesn’t get clear signals that you’ve been fed, and you eat more than you need to.
“Upping your stomach acid could result in a 25% metabolism boost, thanks to better protein absorption. Fixing stomach acid issues also increases nutrient absorption,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, nutritionist and NY Times bestselling author of “Radical Metabolism.”
Here’s how to figure out if a betaine HCI supplement is right for you. Take it before meals to get all of the good stuff out of the food you’re eating. That way, your brain will get the signal that you’re full, and your body won’t pack on a spare tire.
Another stop in the digestion path that can keep you from getting vital fats, protein, and nutrients out of your food is in the intestines. When your food makes it to the intestinal stages of digestion, it mixes with digestive enzymes and emulsifiers (bile) that help turn large molecules into small ones. When molecules are small enough, they can cross your membranes into your bloodstream for delivery to the cells that need them.
Lots of conditions can interfere with the production of these enzymes and bile. Your bile flow might be impaired from eating low fat or from eating the wrong kinds of fats. Your pancreas develops scar tissue as you age from normal wear and tear, reducing its effectiveness.
Digestive enzyme supplements can help fill in the gaps. Enzyme supplements will have a range of enzymes to support digestion and are often combined with ox bile to help you digest fats. Enzymes work for the same reasons that betaine HCl works — you’ll eat less if you’re getting all the good fats, protein, and nutrients out of the food you eat. Supplemental digestive enzymes will often contain betaine HCl in the same capsule. Here’s how to get started.
Brain Octane Oil
Contrary to common opinion, dietary fat helps you lose body fat. According to scientists, fat makes up 60% of your brain, it helps stabilize your blood sugar, and it helps you absorb fat-soluble nutrients. Thankfully, the science is in, and dietary advice is turning around. There’s no way around it — you need fat to lose weight.
That doesn’t mean you can gorge on cheese fries and expect good things. The kind of fat you eat matters. What you eat alongside fat matters.
Brain Octane Oil is made of the type of fat, caprylic acid, that skips a few steps in metabolism and goes straight to fuel for your brain and body. You’ll have sustained energy for hours, with no cravings. You can make Brain Octane Oil a part of your day by blending it in your morning coffee. It’s flavorless, so you can use it to enhance the flavor of vegetables, meats, sushi, and salads. Here’s where to get yours.
Researchers have found that chromium reduces body fat and increases lean muscle. Studies have shown that it helps you regulate and use insulin which helps keep your blood sugar stable. Stable blood sugar means fewer cravings. Fewer cravings mean better decisions throughout the day.
Studies show that 1000 mcg of chromium palmitate per day for eight weeks reduced food intake, hunger levels, and fat cravings in healthy overweight women.
Probiotics, supplements that contain beneficial organisms, get all the buzz, but you may not know that they’re completely worthless if they don’t take root in your gut. If good bacteria and fungi enter your system and don’t find food, they won’t grow. They die off, and you’re literally flushing your supplement down the toilet.
That’s where prebiotics come in. If probiotics are the seeds, prebiotics are the fertilizer. Prebiotics are an insoluble fiber (meaning, you don’t digest it) that feed the organisms that boost our immune system and help you convert some of our food into nutrients you can use.
You can encourage your body to grow a strong colony by taking a prebiotic and adding prebiotic fiber to your diet, like raw potato starch, cooked and cooled white rice, green bananas, and raw plantains. Read all about that here.
Ashwagandha helps your body regulate your stress response and the stress hormone, cortisol. That helps you lose weight because too much cortisol signals your body to store fat. Studies show that ashwagandha destroys fat cells and prevents lipogenesis, the formation of new fat cells.
Whether it was the stress reduction or ashwagandha’s effect on fat metabolism, researchers found that ashwagandha helped adults with chronic stress manage their weight. Take 125-250 mg of ashwagandha in the morning with food or blended into coffee to help maintain a healthy stress response, and up to 600mg during particularly stressful times.
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