Nothing can replace proper diet and exercise for achieving and maintaining safe and healthy weight loss. But there are nutrients that may give a little extra help.
Most North Americans are chromium deficient. This trace mineral was discovered in 1957, and is essential to proper blood sugar control and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Studies have also shown that chromium can lower body mass while increasing lean muscle mass, probably by increasing insulin sensitivity. According to Michael Murray, ND, "improving insulin sensitivity is an important goal in a weight loss program. Loss of insulin sensitivity is the hallmark feature of obesity."
Chromium works closely with insulin in aiding the transport of glucose into cells for metabolism. Without chromium, blood sugar levels become elevated and insulin’s action is blocked. Supplementing the diet with chromium has been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels; improve tolerance to glucose; normalize insulin levels; and increase good cholesterol while reducing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One study revealed that men taking chromium lost an average of seven times more body fat than those taking a placebo.
Garcinia Cambogia (HCA)
Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is extracted from the rind of the Malabar tamarind (Garcinia cambogia), a fruit native to South India. It helps regulate body fat metabolism and blocks fatty acid synthesis from glucose by inhibiting a liver enzyme. It also controls the appetite, including cravings for sweets.
Garcinia cambogia inhibits the formation and build up of fats. It also inhibits the enzyme activity of ATP-citrate lyase, which is responsible for converting carbohydrates and proteins into fat. If more calories are consumed than are burnt, the excess is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
When glycogen stores are filled, the excess calories are converted to fat, and the brain sends out signals indicating hunger. Hydroxycitric acid enhances the ability of the liver and muscles to store glycogen, helping to reduce fat production. It also prevents the brain from sending out signals that indicate hunger and stopping the need to eat.
Hydroxycitric acid can suppress fat production by 40 to 80 percent for eight to 12 hours after eating. In a 1997 study, subjects lost an average of 14 pounds in two months while supplementing with HCA and following a controlled diet. Remarkably, they continued to lose another 16 pounds over the next 12 months of HCA supplementation with no dietary restriction.
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium)
Bitter orange has the benefits of ephedra without the negative central nervous system and cardiovascular side effects. It works in three ways to aid in weight loss: it stimulates weight loss by enhancing the metabolic rate (thermogenesis); builds lean muscle; and increases physical performance by making fat available for energy. Enhancing thermogenesis is believed by many experts to be the most important factor for successful weight loss.
Bitter orange increases the rate at which fat is released from body stores and the metabolic rate (thermogenesis), which burns calories. The increased amount of fat available for breakdown also gives the body greater energy, allowing more energy for exercise and helping minimize the loss of lean muscle tissue.
Bitter orange can also help increase the burning of calories after ingestion of food and may increase resting metabolic rate, allowing calorie-burning even when you’re not active.
Kelp (fucus vesiculosus) is best known for its ability–thanks to the high level of iodine–to assist an under-active thyroid, often a cause of weight gain. Iodine assists in making thyroid hormones, which are necessary for maintaining normal metabolism. By supplying this and other minerals to the body, kelp provides extra assurance to those on a diet that key nutrients are not missing.
Eating Fat and Getting Slim
Be aware of the difference between the fats that are a dieter’s enemy and the fats that are essential to good health. While hydrogenated fats are to be avoided, the essential fatty acids (EFAs), like omega-3 and omega-6, must still be consumed: your health depends on them. These good fats are actually beneficial for all the same diseases that the bad fats are associated with. And they will help you lose weight! Udo Erasmus in Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill adds that while saturated fats slow metabolic rate down, EFAs have the opposite effect.
For example, nuts are high in oils, and many people believe them to be fattening. But a study of 26,473 people found that those who ate the most nuts were the least obese. Other good sources of essential fatty acids include flax seed oil, evening primrose oil and hemp seed oil. Or look for a blend of essential fatty acids in your local health food store to help ensure your body’s good health and safer, more effective weight loss.