When it comes to weight loss, you know the drill. Eat healthy foods. Work out smart. Pray to the scale gods up above. But there’s an oft-overlooked booster to help you on your weight loss journey or jumpstart a weight loss plateau: supplements.
There’s a smattering of research-backed supplements that can help you slim down. Below, nutritionists and doctors weigh in on the best of the bunch. As always, consult with a trusted healthcare professional before adding a new supplement to your routine. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.
Good for your gut, and good for your waistline. “Probiotics, when referring to their supplement form, are living bacteria that provide countless health benefits when ingested. These bacteria are naturally occurring in the gut, but can be replenished through external means,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN at Balance One. “The gut bacteria play many roles in weight regulation in both weight loss and weight gain. One primary reason is the bacteria’s effect on appetite regulation. When the balance of good to bad gut bacteria is off, the short-chain fatty acid production in the gut is amped up, which triggers appetite hormone production. These hormones are typically those involved in increasing appetite and leading to weight gain.” Probiotics can help to reinforce the good-for-you bacteria to reign in the production of those hunger hormones.
For some of our favorite probiotics supplements for weight loss, check out our guide here.
Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, Nutritional Consultant at Mom Loves Best shares that beta-glucan is “another dietary supplement that has been well-researched in helping facilitate weight loss as it can keep you full longer, in addition to improving blood sugar control, lipids, and blood pressure.” she explains, citing this study. “Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber readily available from oat and barley grains,” she continues, noting that it is naturally occurring in many other foods. Beyond oats and barley, some of these include yeast, mushrooms, and algae.
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Already slipping this into your smoothie? The scale is singing your praises. “One supplement that can help facilitate weight loss is whey protein powder as regular consumption can help to retain lean muscle tissue, which translates into increased body strength and increased metabolic rate,” says Wirtz, sharing this study which found that a whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese individuals. “This particular research study showed that taking whey protein powder in addition to a calorie-controlled diet can help facilitate body fat loss while preserving muscle tissue,” she says, adding that for those interested in adding a protein powder supplement to their diet, she recommends finding one that is economical, tastes good, and does not have added sugars and unnecessary ingredients.
Not sure which brand to buy? Check out 10 of the best protein powders for weight loss, according to nutritionists.
This golden superfood is well worth befriending in supplement form. “The plant turmeric can be taken in through supplement form. It can be found in either capsule or powder form and sometimes goes by the name curcumin,” says Best, citing this review on the effects of curcumin on weight loss among patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders. “Curcumin is the name of the active ingredient in turmeric products that give it its benefits. Turmeric can make an excellent addition to an existing weight loss regimen. This is due primarily to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory capabilities,” she adds.
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A cuppa java or tea may do your skinny jeans good. “Caffeine may help with weight loss and help halt weight gain progression over time,” says Wirtz, pointing to this consumer fact sheet on dietary supplements for weight loss from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. “Caffeine is a stimulant that can make you more alert, increase energy levels, burn calories, and increase fat breakdown,” she continues, referencing this study on the association between weight loss and maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation (more on green tea later).
Green tea, specifically, has also been shown to offer promising results on the weight maintenance front. “Green tea has been traditionally cultivated and consumed in China and other east Asian countries for centuries. However, in recent years it has worked its way into the spotlight for it’s weight-loss and weight-management properties,” says registered dietitian Grace Clark-Hibbs, MDA, RDN. “According to a recent research review, one of the most effective ways green tea can prevent weight gain is by essentially restricting certain gut enzymes from doing their jobs. This, in turn, lowers the rate of absorption of fats and sugars and reduces how many calories the body processes. The specific nutrients suspected of carrying out this process are called polyphenols and can also be found in other foods including berries, nuts, and red onions,” she continues, pointing to this review on the weight-loss effects of oxidized tea polyphenols.
“Fish oil is the most common omega-3 fat fatty acid (FA) supplement; however, you can also get it from foods like salmon (and other fatty fish), oysters, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The health benefits of omega-3 FA are vast and include weight management and obesity prevention according to recent research,” shares Clark-Hibbs. “Appetite suppression is one of the properties that may help with weight loss. Research suggests that people who incorporate more omega-3 FA into their diet or take a fish oil supplement stay full for longer and are therefore less likely to snack or graze later. Another property of interest is the effect omega-3 FA have on fat metabolism. Studies show that omega-3 FA help regulate fat metabolism by promoting fat breakdown and limiting fat creation/storage. There is also evidence to show it promotes overall health by decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (‘bad’) and increasing HDL cholesterol (‘good’).”
Loading up on omega-3s in your diet can be a key move to promote good health. Check out the best omega-3 foods to fight inflammation and support heart health.