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Are Supplements Effective for Weight Loss?
Article submitted by Truestar Health

The quest for the perfect body is never-ending, and many will adopt any means necessary to achieve it. There has never been any doubt that exercise and proper diet are essential for a healthy body composition, but what about weight loss aids? Many of the products marketed for weight loss do not have research or results to support their claims. However, as I have outlined below, there are a few products available that may actually work to increase fat burning and boost metabolism.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): A study published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology reported that CLA was one of only a few supplements researched and found to reduce body fat and assist in increasing lean muscle mass without a change in caloric intake. It seems CLA directs fats away from storage in fat cells while also increasing fat burning in the skeletal muscle. CLA is naturally present in dairy products and beef. It has also been found to have anticancer and antidiabetic properties and is useful in reducing arterial disease, potentially by affecting cholesterol levels. The dosage required is 1500 mg two times per day with food.

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA): HCA is derived from a fruit from India called Garcinia cambogia. Research has found that it helps to prevent the conversion of carbohydrates into fat by inhibiting an enzyme. The hormone insulin is a signal for fat storage; HCA helps reduce the secretion of insulin in response to glucose. HCA may also help reduce appetite.

Citrus aurantium: This is a natural stimulant derived from bitter orange. Unlike ephedra, which can have serious cardiovascular effects like increased pulse or blood pressure, auranticum is an effective fat-burning (thermogenic) and metabolic stimulant without negative consequences. It works by acting directly on the receptors of brown (thermogenic) and white (storage) fat cells to increase the breakdown of fat (lipolysis). Auranticum may also suppress hunger. The dosage required is an extract of 4% synephrine Citrus auranticum in a 500 mg capsule, 30 minutes before each meal three times per day.

Forskolin: Forskolin is obtained from the root of Coleus forskholii. Forskolin affects cell activity by stimulating an enzyme, cAMP, which acts as a messenger to regulate many vital cellular functions. Forskolin has many uses including treatment of asthma, high blood pressure, allergies and psoriasis as well as weight loss. Forskolin has been found to positively affect fat burning through the action on cAMP which increases the activity of fat-burning enzymes and stimulates metabolism by boosting thyroid function. Supplements of forskolin should be standardized to 4% and taken at 250 mg three times per day.

Green tea: Recent research has found that catechins, the antioxidants in green tea, help increase fat burning and reduce the risk of cancer, high cholesterol and diabetes. Green tea may lower blood sugars by inhibiting enzymes that allow the absorption of starches and may decrease the absorption of fat from the intestine. Green tea also contains theanine which has a calming effect on the body while increasing energy. Typical dosage is three or four cups per day or a 300 to 400 mg capsule of green tea extract daily.

Guggulipids: Guggulipids are a resin extract from the Commiphora mukul tree which have been found to positively affect cholesterol levels and boost thyroid function, thereby increasing metabolism. Guggulipids may also reduce inflammation and have been found useful in the treatment of arthritis and in lowering C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk of arterial disease).

Chromium: Chromium is a mineral that is involved in regulating the body’s response to insulin. Chromium deficiency is very common and often results in insulin resistance, a condition characterized by weight gain (especially in the love handles area) and “crashing” after eating carbohydrates. Insulin resistance may result in type 2 diabetes if not properly treated with diet, exercise and supplements. Chromium picolinate, the most absorbable form of chromium, may help weight loss because of its positive effect on insulin response. Dosage is typically 200 to 400 micrograms per day.

Carnitine: Studies on L-carnitine’s ability to increase fat loss have produced mixed results, though in theory, it should work. An amino acid, L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned and regulates cellular metabolic energy production. Taking 500 mg three times per day or 1000 mg twice per day on an empty stomach in conjunction with an exercise plan may help burn fat.

5-HTP: 5-hydroxytryptophan is a precursor to the hormone serotonin. Serotonin affects our memory, appetite, mood and sleep. Low levels of serotonin may result in increased food cravings, anxiety, depression, excessive appetite or insomnia. Derived from the griffonia plant, 5-HTP has been found in studies to effectively reduce food cravings and aid weight loss. Dosage ranges from 50 to 400 mg per day. It is best taken with food or before bed.

Written by Dr. Natasha Turner, ND

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