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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

7 Best Weight Loss Supplements That Are Healthy and Effective

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7 Best Weight Loss Supplements That Are Healthy and Effective

The proceeding article has been written from my own personal experience with weight loss, along with research I’ve personally conducted, and from conversations I’ve held with individuals in the health and wellness space. The below suggestions for supplements are being given under the pretence that you will in fact investigate these substances further to conclude if they make sense for you personally or not.

I’m a huge proponent of research and information, and also suggest you consider a DNA analysis test such as ones available through companies like Ansestory and 23andme. You can download your raw DNA data, and then upload it to FoundMyFitness Genetics – Genome Analysis Tool by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, or Promethease.

The purpose of uploading your raw DNA data is in order to gather information pertaining to supplementation, dietary habits, and albeit lifestyle decisions that will be optimal/in accordance with your genealogy. You can then apply this information in your day to day life in order to become the best version of you!

Before we dive into the list of supplements, ask the following question first:

Do You Need Supplements?

The short answer is not really, however as mentioned above, you may want to consider certain supplements by the mere fact that they are suggestible for your gene type.

An example of this for me personally is a genetic predisposition to Vitamin D deficiency, which came up in my comprehensive DNA report. With this information in mind, I make an active effort to supplement Vitamin D, and get my butt into some sunlight as often as possible!

So in certain cases supplements may not be totally required, but highly advisable.

When I began losing weight several years back, many thoughts ran through my mind, from bogus weight loss supplements, to even considering the quick and easy liposuction of 40-50lbs.

However when I took a moment to listen to my own instinct and intuition, the truth about these ideologies is that they do not solve the root of the problem – lifestyle choices.

My general opinion on supplementation for weight loss is that one need not focus on substances or external things in order to achieve weight loss.

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When I was losing weight, after having gained it through silly lifestyle choices (to keep things short), my focus was not on supplements but on the consistent effort towards maximal weight loss and fat loss.

In order to maximize weight/fat loss — I’ve discussed many times over the importance of incorporating Intermittent Fasting (Time-Restricted Eating), in conjunction with high activity levels throughout the week.

Simply put, you need to consider how you structure your eating, as well as the amount of exercise, effort, and overall exertion – leading to daily caloric expenditure.

Get yourself in a healthy caloric deficit, not by starving yourself, but by exercising, eating healthy and within a Time-Restricted “eating window”.

7 Supplements To Consider for Weight Loss

1. Caffeine or Green Tea/Extract (Matcha)

This is one of the quickest and most easily accessible supplements for weight loss.

Caffeine can boost the metabolic rate and increase fat burning. However, people become tolerant to the effects, and as such its impact will slowly diminish.

Matcha is derived from the same plant as Green Tea – Camellia sinensis. Matcha tea is low in calories, and high in antioxidants such as Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). Scientists at the University of Colorado found that the EGCG content in matcha is 137 times more than Chinese green tea. These antioxidants can help flush out toxins, boost immunity, and reduce the body’s inflammation, which helps prevent weight gain and accelerates weight loss.

Matcha can boost metabolism and aid in fat burning while also balancing blood glucose levels.

2. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Your body naturally produces alpha-lipoic acid, but it’s also found in a variety of foods and as a dietary supplement typically in pill form.

ALA is an organic compound found in all human cells, made inside the mitochondria – where it helps enzymes turn nutrients into energy. Some research suggests that it may play a roll in weight loss, diabetes and more. There have also been antioxidant properties associated with ALA such as the ability to lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, reduce skin ageing, and improve nerve function.

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You can obtain ALA without supplementation from animal products such as red meat and organ meats, along with plant foods like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Animal studies have indicated that ALA can reduce the activity of the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), located in your brain’s hypothalamus. Meanwhile, human studies conducted showed that alpha-lipoic acid has only a slight impact on weight loss. An analysis of 12 studies discovered that people who took an alpha-lipoic acid supplement lost an average of 1.52 pounds (0.69 kg) more than those taking a placebo over an average of 14 weeks.

Personally I use ALA on and off when I’m looking to cut weight.

3. Glutamine

Generally speaking, Glutamine is beneficial because it improves the maintenance of muscle mass, which in turn helps burn more fat.

By introducing Glutamine to your diet it will also yield anti-inflammatory benefits and help reduce cravings for high-glycemic carbohydrates.

Foods that are high in glutamine include meat, seafood, milk, nuts, eggs, cabbage and beans.[1]

4. Krill Oil

High in omega-3 fatty acids, which yields various health benefits, including improved heart and brain health, a reduced risk of depression and even healthier skin.

Researchers have suggested that fish oil omega-3s may help people lose weight more easily.

Studies have concluded that while both fish-sourced and krill-sourced omega-3 fats are effective in reducing fat levels, krill is more effective. The mechanisms of how this is so had not been made clear in the study, but suggested long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) can reduce activity in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of a group of neuromodulatory lipids and receptors that influence appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.

Researchers found that, when parameters associated with obesity were considered, krill oil reduced heart fat levels in rats by 42 percent, compared to 2 percent for fish oils.

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I personally shifted from Alaskan Wild Salmon fish oils to Krill Oil due to the fact that it’s more potent and overall more effective, though the cost of the supplement is slightly more.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Many would note that apple cider vinegar is a low calorie drink; however, my focus on noting this supplement is relating to suppressing fat accumulation which was found in animal studies.

A team of researchers also investigated the effects on obese Japanese in a double-blind trial. Daily intake of apple cider vinegar may be practical in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.

Additionally, some studies suggest that apple cider vinegar helps stabilise blood sugar levels, and primarily after consuming a high carbohydrate meal.

There’s many other benefits of apple cider vinegar to note, however they don’t directly correlate with weight loss, so for now I’ll leave them unmentioned, but encourage you look further into this powerful supplement.

6. L-Carnitine

This supplement is a bit speculative, and I haven’t had too much personal experience with it, thus it’s towards the bottom of the list.

L-Carnitine plays a crucial role in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria – which acts as engines within your cells, burning fats to create usable energy. This helps move more fatty acids into your cells to be burned for energy, so it’s suggested this would increase the ability to burn fat and thus lose weight. However, results of both human and animal studies are mixed in this case.

This is one of those supplements that may work for one person, but not another, and it’s highly discussed and debated in the bodybuilding and fat loss community.

I suggest you look further into L-Carnitine, and perhaps experiment on a trial to see if you notice any improvements in weight loss and fat reduction.

7. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) [Bonus]

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. This supplement is gaining popularity and has become widely regarded as a contender for the weight-loss miracle pill.

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Though I personally do not think such a magic pill exists, it’s certainly fun to throw around the term ‘miracle’ and generates a lot of buzz in doing so.

During a trial, one group of overweight women lost 9% body fat in one year’s time without any adjustments in lifestyle or eating habits.

Now, don’t take this as a suggestion to not improve lifestyle, as I introduced this article with the pretence that it’s the most important aspect of losing weight.

In a few small animal studies, CLA has been shown to prevent heart disease and several types of cancer, while appearing to enhance the immune system. Human studies are not as conclusive as they used body fat scales (such as DEXA – Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) to measure improvements, which are inherently not that accurate.

This is another one of those supplements I suggest researching further, and trialling in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments to see if it works for you.

The Bottom Line

Once again I can’t stress enough that merely supplementing for weight loss will not yield exponential results – you must exercise, move your body, and I highly advise introducing Intermittent Fasting/Time-Restricted Eating if you haven’t already done so.

Please research more into these supplements to determine if they make sense for you. And I don’t suggest using all at once as you won’t be able to accurately gauge which are most effective – cycle through them by taking one, two, upwards of 3 supplements at any given time. If you want to experiment, then switch after a couple months of use.

I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss journey and if would like to learn more about the above supplements, take a look at my video here:

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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