Need help losing weight? There are hundreds of nutritional supplements available to help you reach your weight loss goals including low-carb meal replacement bars and shakes, thermogenic fat-burning formulas, blood sugar regulating supplements, neurotransmitter regulators for mood and focus, carbohydrate blockers and fat blockers, and EFAs (essential fatty acids).
Bars, shakes and meal replacements:
Nutritional bars, shakes and meal replacements are a good way to supplement a healthy weight loss plan. They are quick, easy, and delicious, providing balanced low-carb nutrition, instant portion control, and vitamins and minerals.
Thermogenics: Rev Up Your Metabolism
Thermogenics are weight loss supplements that work to increase metabolism, causing the body to burn more calories while boosting energy. Many thermogenics also help suppress appetite. The two main categories of thermogenic supplements on the market are stimulants and thyroid regulators.
- Synephrine (or Citrus aurantium, bitter orange): Physiological effect is similar to the banned supplement ephedra. Synephrine increases metabolic rate and caloric expenditure by targeting fat-rich tissues as sources of energy. Synephrine has much smaller effect on heart rate or blood pressure than ephedra and is unlikely to cause jitteriness. Synephrine is thought to have other, complimentary effects similar, such as increased energy levels and suppressed appetite.
- Caffeine, guarana, kola nut, green tea extract: Caffeine is the most popular stimulant used for weight loss. Caffeine moderately elevates metabolic rate, encouraging thermogenesis, but not so much that you’d lose 20 lbs. sitting on the couch. It is more effective as an energy booster prior to exercise, enabling you to work out harder for longer periods of time. Caffeine can be listed under the following ingredient names: guaranine, guarana, green tea extract, kola nut, or yerba mate.
- 7 Keto (or 7-Oxo-Dehydroepiandrosterone): 7 keto, a metabolite of DHEA with fewer side effects, increases metabolism and encourages fat loss. Unlike stimulants that affect the central nervous system, 7 keto increases metabolic rate by affecting the thyroid gland. By increasing the release of T3, the thyroid hormone that has the greatest effect on metabolic rate, 7 keto can be very beneficial as a weight loss supplement.
- Guggul: Made from the resin of the Commiphora mukul tree, guggul supplements contain compounds known as guggulsterones which may reduce blood cholesterol and fat levels, but for fat loss purposes, guggul resin is thought to normalize thyroid function, with a positive effect on metabolism.
Blood Sugar Regulators:
Blood sugar regulators help to moderate the release of insulin, utilization of insulin or to stabilize blood sugar levels. This tends to evening out the appetite and energy levels, reducing cravings for sweets and carbs, all of which promotes long-term fat loss.
- Gymnema: The herb Gymnema controls blood sugar levels by suppressing the transport of glucose from the intestines into the bloodstream. This helps control hunger and cravings.
- Glucomannan: Glucomannan fiber, also known as konjac root is a soluble fiber. Glucomannan fiber absorbs fluids binds with other substances in the digestive tract, adding bulk to help you feel full and to slow digestion. This also helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines.
- Chromium: Chromium is a necessary trace mineral that is hard to obtain from diet alone. Chromium helps to regulate blood sugar and improve glucose tolerance, optimizing metabolism for fat loss.
These supplements help balance neurotransmitters responsible for regulation of mood and appetite, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and/or dopamine.
- 5-HTP (or 5-Hydroxytryptophan): Low levels of the brain chemical serotonin is responsible for depression and increase in appetite. Serotonin levels drop during a dieting phase, and this may lead to increased cravings for carbohydrates and a poor mood. 5-HTP boosts serotonin levels and thereby helps control the appetite. 5-HTP should not be used by individuals who are currently taking SSRI or MAOI antidepressants.
Carbohydrate Blockers and Fat Blockers:
Carbohydrate blockers contain the ingredient phaseolamin, an extract of the white kidney bean. Phaseolamin inhibits the alpha amylase, a key enzyme in the digestion process of carbohydrates. Digestion is slowed, and less carbohydrate is converted to glucose in the body. Since excess glucose is often converted into body fat carbohydrate blockers may help avoid the storage of new body fat. Fat blockers contain the ingredient chitosan, made from the shells of shellfish. Chitosan is thought to bind to fat molecules in the digestive tract, preventing the body from absorbing excess fat. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of chitosan.
EFAs (essential fatty acids):
Essential fatty acids are "good" fats that include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats, found in sources such as fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, evening primrose oil, etc. help to regulate the body’s glucose/insulin response and may also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. When cutting calories, it is important to consume healthy fats such as these so the body does not go into starvation mode. Consuming EFAs will also help keep hunger in check.
- Fish oil/Flax oil: Fish oil and flax oil are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid): CLA is an omega 6 fatty acid. In addition to helping regulate the glucose/insulin response, CLA has also been shown in preliminary studies to promote fat loss and an increase in lean body mass.
There are other fat burning supplements that do not fall into the above categories.
- Pyruvate: A form of pyruvic acid, pyruvate is synthesized in the body and consumed in food. Pyruvate assists in the production of ATP, an important biological energy source, and has been shown in studies to significantly increase fat loss when paired with exercise and a healthy diet. Animal studies show that pyruvate may increase metabolism and reduce insulin resistance. Additional research suggests that pyruvate may also increase exercise endurance, further helping to promote fat loss.