By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD
Staci Gulbin is a registered dietitian with BumpVitamins.com. Staci is also a freelance writer, health editor, the founder of LighttrackNutrition.com, and the author of The High-Protein Bariatric Cookbook.
Staci has graduate degrees in Biology, Human Nutrition, and Nutrition Education from New York University and Columbia University, respectively. She has treated thousands of patients across many wellness arenas such as weight management, fitness, long-term care, rehab, and bariatric nutrition.
Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss
Whether you’re trying to lose baby weight or just want to feel better, weight management is a hard task for anyone. There are so many diets out there promising unbelievable results, but it may be difficult to figure out what kind of plan is right for you. The thing is, there is no one diet that is best for everyone. A registered dietitian can be a great help in assessing your current dietary habits and providing advice on what dietary supplements for weight loss might work best for you and your unique lifestyle.
Along with healthier eating, certain supplements can help you manage your weight and provide support to your metabolic health. These supplements can help your body become more balanced, reduce inflammation, and decrease your overall risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Read below for more information on such supplements and how you can add them to your weight management plan today.
Experts report that about 15-percent of adults in the United States have used dietary supplements for weight loss at some point in their lives (1). These types of supplements typically contain ingredients like herbs, fiber, caffeine, and minerals and can come in liquid, tablet, capsule, or powder form.
However, many of these supplements may not provide the results you’re looking for. It is important to focus on supplements that have evidence-based research to back them up. A few supplements that research shows may support weight management and metabolic health include:
This supplement is well-known for its antioxidant properties that can reduce inflammation in the body. However, it also shows promise to support weight loss and metabolic health. Green tea is rich in polyphenols as well as catechins and caffeine, of which the latter two may improve metabolism.
In fact, a 2018 study shows that matcha green tea intake the day before and 2 hours before a 30-minute long brisk walk increased fat burning in women (2). The active ingredients in matcha green tea thought to support such results are the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine. Several other studies show that about four cups of green tea daily for two to three months can help reduce body fat and body weight as well as blood pressure in those obese persons with type 2 diabetes (3).
This orange-yellow pigment extracted from turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can support overall health (4). It can reduce the expression of inflammatory compounds called cytokines, in turn helping to reduce risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A 2019 study review shows that curcumin intake in those with metabolic syndrome helped reduce body weight as well as leptin levels, which us a hormone that plays a role in appetite (5). Curcumin also increased adiponectin levels in the body, which is a compound that can protect heart health.
Berry anthocyanins and polyphenols
You’re likely familiar with berries like blueberries as an antioxidant-rich superfood. But its supplement form, due to its antioxidant polyphenol content, may also provide health benefits. A 2019 animal study
shows that blueberry polyphenols can help improve gut health, which in turn can improve obesity and metabolic health (6).
Also, the anthocyanins from fruit like cranberry and blueberries can also improve metabolic health. A 2016 study shows that red raspberry extracts can reduce oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease as well as improve blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and lipid profiles (7).
And it’s not just blueberries and raspberries that can provide such benefits. A 2019 study shows that polyphenol-rich cranberry juice or related extract can benefit metabolic health too (8). Eight weeks daily intake of a cranberry beverage improved blood glucose control, reduced inflammation, and improved levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in overweight or obese men and women.
Beta-glucans are a type of carbohydrate that is found in bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and cereal grains like oat and barley that may help improve metabolic health (1). It’s a type of dietary fiber that shows an ability to reduce appetite and in turn, help support weight loss efforts.
Also, a 2018 study shows that glucan intake, along with vitamin D supplementation, may help improve lipid metabolism and improved overall health (9). Experts suggest that beta-glucans are well-tolerated by most with the most adverse effect being flatulence (10).
How much of each supplement should you take daily?
Since research is limited on many such dietary supplements, there is no set dose that works for everyone. Therefore, for now you should follow the recommended dose on the label. If you start to feel side effects outside of your normal health status, then see your doctor right away and stop taking the supplement to be safe.
Do not take the supplement again until you can determine a safe dosage for yourself or figure out if the supplement is what is causing your symptoms in the first place. If you are sensitive to the supplement, discontinue use of the supplement.
It can also help to talk with your local pharmacist and healthcare provider to make sure such supplements don’t interact with your current medication regimen.
How can you choose the right supplement?
When choosing a supplement, be sure to choose a trusted brand that receives feedback from third-party testing. Such testing can help to ensure that what you see on the label is in the bottle you are buying. In other words, it ensures the potency and purity of the product.
You should also look for such things on the label as National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) registration. Such agencies will ensure that the company making the product you’re buying is following safety standards in the manufacturing process (11).
A final note on weight management and metabolic support supplements
Losing and managing weight is not easy, so any support you can get from either friends, family, or healthcare providers can help. Not to mention that certain supplements can provide support to help you fill in any nutrient gaps in your diet so you can feel your best.
Before you start any new dietary supplement, talk with your healthcare provider to see if it’s a good fit with your current healthcare plan. It’s also important to note that vitamins and supplements should not replace whole foods. So, when possible, consume a variety of nutrients from your diet along with supplements so you can reap the optimal health benefits from whole foods.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (updated October 17, 2019) “Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss.”
- Willems, M.E.T., Sahin, M.A., and Cook, M.D. (September 2018) “Matcha Green Tea Drinks Enhance Fat Oxidation During Brisk Walking in Females.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(5): 536-541.
- Patti, A.M., et al. (March 2018) “Natural approaches in metabolic syndrome management.” Arch Med Sci., 14(2):422-441.
- Silva Figueiredo, P., et al. (April 2018) “An Overview of Novel Dietary Supplements and Food Ingredients in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” Molecules, 23(4):877.
- Akbari, M., et al. (June 2019) “The Effects of Curcumin on Weight Loss Among Patients With Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Front Pharmacol., 10:649.
- Jiao, X., et al. (February 2019) “Blueberry polyphenols extract as a potential prebiotic with anti-obesity effects on C57BL/6 J mice by modulating the gut microbiota.” The journal of nutritional biochemistry, 64: 88-100.
- Burton-Freeman, B.M., Sandhu, A.K., and Edirisinghe, I. (January 2016) “Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links.” Adv Nutr., 7(1):44-65.
- Chew, B., et al. (April 2019) “Chronic consumption of a low calorie, high polyphenol cranberry beverage attenuates inflammation and improves glucoregulation and HDL cholesterol in healthy overweight humans: a randomized controlled trial.” Eur J Nutr., 58(3):1223-1235.
- Závorková, M., et al. March 2018) “Effects of Glucan and Vitamin D Supplementation on Obesity and Lipid Metabolism in Diabetic Retinopathy.” Open Biochem J., 12:36-45.
- Barrea, L., et al. (April 2019) “Obesity Programs of Nutrition, Education, Research and Assessment (OPERA) Group. Nutritionist and obesity: brief overview on efficacy, safety, and drug interactions of the main weight-loss dietary supplements.” Int J Obes Suppl., 9(1):32-49.
- The Public Health and Safety Organization (accessed March 12, 2020) “Supplement and Vitamin Certification.”
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other healthcare providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.