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Mailbag: Lecithin for weight loss?

December 15th, 2008

Egg yolks, soybeans and brains: 3 delicious sources of dietary lecithin

Egg yolks, soybeans and brains: 3 delicious sources of dietary lecithin


Two friends and I are trying to win an office bet by losing 10 lbs each before 3 other coworkers do. At our meeting last night, Sheila said she had read or heard lecithin is really good for weight loss, something about it breaks up fat or fat cells?  I hadn’t heard of it before, but I’d like to order some today if there’s anything to that. Is there?


Denise F.

Culver City, CA

Dear Denise,

Lecithin is a terrific natural superfood, almost like several supplements in one since it supplies a mixture of nutritious fats and certain B vitamins.  People have used lecithin supplements for decades. You can find traces of lecithin in many foods. Egg yolks and soybeans (and also brains, when eaten as food)  are among the best sources but people don’t eat very much of those, at least not on a daily basis. That’s a shame since lecithin is useful to almost every cell in your body.  Lecithin is used by the body in a few different ways, but most people use lecithin supplements specifically for for cholesterol-support or brain-boosting.  So, what about lecithin and weight loss?

Lecithin for weight loss is a pretty old idea.  Since at least the late 70′s, we’ve seen lecithin in certain diet formulas (sometimes referred to as lipo-tropics), where its usually accompanied by kelp and vitamin B-6.  While it’s also true that these nutrients – phospholipids from lecithin, iodine from kelp, and vitamin B-6 – could be said to support the breakdown of fat in some indirect way, they don’t rise to the level of being  worthwhile weight-loss supplements, which was established back in the mid 80′s. There are far more effective products with more reliable mechanisms like glucomannan fiber and strategic use of carb blockers.

Lecithin granules look like this. They're flavorless and are a great way to add healthy fats to your protein shake.

Lecithin granules look like this. They're flavorless and are a great way to add healthy fats to your protein shake.

The idea that lecithin could be good for fat loss probably stems from the fact that lecithin is also commonly used in baking and cooking as an emulsifier, that is, to break up and disperse fats and oils. Perhaps the idea was that lecithin could do the same for fats stored in the body.  It’s certainly not going to hurt your results to use lecithin supplements while dieting and exercising, but it would be too much of a stretch to call it a bona-fide weight-loss supplement.

6 Responses to “Mailbag: Lecithin for weight loss?”

  1. March 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm, shellie dresbach said:

    i took lecithin with chromium picolinate for 2 months and lost 20 lbs but i was also going without ground beef and cutting out a lot of my junkfood and exercising too.since then i gained10lbs back b/c i been eating poorly and not exercising and went off the chromium and lecithin.i am going to try it again though starting tommorow.

  2. March 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm, MarkTaylor AllStarHealth said:

    Thanks for the comment Shellie. I’ve spoken to many people who’ve successfully used chromium to lose fat, both with and without using other supplements. I’ve also spoken with people for whom it didn’t seem to help at all. But since you’ve had some success with already, you should definitely consider using it again in the future.

    For one thing, even top-of-the-line chromium supplements are ridiculously inexpensive. For another, it’s a tiny, tiny capsule (or tablet) and very easy to swallow, and you don’t need to take very much at all. Finally, irrespective of whether or not a person is trying to cut fat or not, they need chromium. But chromium is hard to obtain in optimal amounts from diet alone, unless you have a truly bizarre diet. I’m currently using the NOW Foods brand and take 400 mcg per day, or 2 capsules. The 250 capsule bottle costs about 7 bucks and lasts 4 months. You can’t beat that!

    I’d also encourage you to use the lecithin granules versus the softgels since it takes about 12 softgels to equal one tablespoon of the granules. The granules are essentially tasteless and ‘disappear’ into protein shakes, tastewise.

  3. May 08, 2009 at 5:19 am, LoobyLou said:

    I have just started taking Lecithin supplements, but I am also taking Piccolinate Chromium (not sure if that’s the correct translation!) and I also take Spirulina .. and I freuqently add fibre owder to my cereals, soups and smoothies . I wonder if all these things work together? Or are they going to ‘cancel’ each other out??!

  4. May 08, 2009 at 6:17 pm, MarkTaylor AllStarHealth said:

    All of your supplements are working together to improve your nutritional status, digestion and overall health. And if you wanted, you could certainly add as many more supplements as you wanted. As you long as you take each one as directed (with food, without food, etc) and heed any label cautions, you’ll get their benefits.

  5. September 09, 2009 at 6:29 pm, Randy @ Lose Weight said:

    Great advice, Clearly explained and easy to follow. Thank you

  6. January 31, 2012 at 10:37 am, bubble said:

    Useful information, many thanks for sharing them in this article.

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