Supplementation for Fat Loss
We live in a generation where everything is instant and quick. We go on the internet and can find any information at the click of a button (although the majority of its accuracy is questionable). There are ‘drive-throughs’ for food and we can click a button on an app summoning a Taxi at our location in 5 minutes. Whilst travelling around USA I have seen ‘drive-throughs’ for ATMs, dry cleaning, parcel pick ups and most worryingly of all… drive-through off-licenses.
I see this culture with people trying to lose body fat. I know a lot of people buy pills and shakes hoping to find a miracle cure. Although cleverly marketed by targeting people’s insecurities, the vast majority of these claims are not supported by any scientific evidence. I have often thought about creating a supplement called ‘Placebo’ with the catch line ‘The supplement that guarantees to deliver whatever you desire; just believe and it will work’. People would definitely buy it, making me rich, and it would be actually one of the only supplements that is supported by thousands and thousands of Academic Studies. Ethically, I can’t find it in myself to do it.
Primarily I need people to understand that supplements should be just that: a supplement. Unless your training and nutrition are correct, supplements are worthless. They should form the finishing touches to your food pyramid.
However, here are some popular supplements that are compounded with scientific evidence:
Green Tea– Contains caffeine which is a stimulant and has a thermogenic effect helping to increase energy expenditure(1). Also contains catechins; 200-300mg of EGCG (a catechin found in green tea) has shown to maintain cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as having anti-diabetic effects(2).
Cocoa – rich in polyphenols, which are anti-aging, full of antioxidants and can subsequently lead to eating less. Cocoa has been shown to reduce blood lipids (fatty acids) reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and can also improve cholesterol levels(3,4). Disclaimer – this doesn’t mean milk or white chocolate which is predominantly sugar, go for 75% + dark chocolate or cocoa nibs.
Carnitine – helps the body to utilise fats as energy and improves recovery by reducing circulating levels of muscle damage and suppressing ammonia levels(5). Also been shown to increase testosterone(6), a hormone associated with increased lean muscle and lower body fat percentage.
Apple-Cider Vinegar – been shown to improve serum lipid profile (levels of fats in the bloodstream) in normal and diabetic rats by decreasing circulating levels of fats and ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and increasing ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol(7). Rats respond similar to humans during testing…especially Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Chilli – Meals containing chillis have been shown to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation (maybe because you have to sprint to the toilet). Regular consumption can reduce the insulin response after a meal, reducing excessive fat storage(8).
Cinnamon – studies show that it increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation, it is also fantastic at regulating insulin levels therefore reducing the bodies propensity to store fat(9)(shout out to all the diabetics amongst you). For the record Cinnamon Grahams don’t count.
Grapefruit – Studies in humans have shown that grapefruit prevents insulin driven fat storage and also increases fat breakdown(10).
MCTs (Medium chain triglycerides eg coconut fat) – increase fat transportation so that it is used as energy. Studies show that replacing dietary fat with MCTs increases fat oxidation at rest and during exercise and increases the BMR in athletes(11).
Just to reiterate my initial point, these supplements are worthless without a healthy diet and exercise. You aren’t going to make a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream healthy by sprinkling it with cinnamon. You need to make sure you are exercising and eating well.
If you liked this blog please share it and follow for my future blogs. There will more blogs on all aspects of training and nutrition, however if you feel that a subject would be a great blog, please suggest it. Also if you would like more individualised advice please get in touch.
1 – Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2010). Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. Physiology & Behavior, 100(1), 42-46.
2 – Wolfram, S. (2007). Effects of green tea and EGCG on cardiovascular and metabolic health. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(4), 373S-388S.
3 – Mursu, J., Voutilainen, S., Nurmi, T., Rissanen, T. H., Virtanen, J. K., Kaikkonen, J., ... & Salonen, J. T. (2004). Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy humans. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 37(9), 1351-1359.
4 – Ding, E. L., Hutfless, S. M., Ding, X., & Girotra, S. (2006). Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Nutrition & metabolism, 3(1), 2.
5 - Broad, E. M., Maughan, R. J., & Galloway, S. D. (2008). Carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism during exercise after oral carnitine supplementation in humans. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 18(6), 567-584.
6 – Kraemer, W. J., Spiering, B. A., Volek, J. S., Ratamess, N. A., Sharman, M. J., Rubin, M. R., ... & Vingren, J. L. (2006). Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(7), 1288-1296.
7 – Shishehbor, F., Mansoori, A., Sarkaki, A. R., Jalali, M. T., & Latifi, S. M. (2008). Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats. Pakistan journal of biological sciences: PJBS, 11(23), 2634-2638.
8 – Ahuja, K. D., & Ball, M. J. (2006). Effects of daily ingestion of chilli on serum lipoprotein oxidation in adult men and women. British journal of nutrition, 96(2), 239-242.
9 – O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M., & O’Keefe, J. O. (2008). Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 51(3), 249-255.
10 – Dallas, C., Gerbi, A., Tenca, G., Juchaux, F., & Bernard, F. X. (2008). Lipolytic effect of a polyphenolic citrus dry extract of red orange, grapefruit, orange (SINETROL) in human body fat adipocytes. Mechanism of action by inhibition of cAMP-phosphodiesterase (PDE). Phytomedicine, 15(10), 783-792.
11 - Jeukendrup, A. E., Thielen, J. J., Wagenmakers, A. J., Brouns, F., & Saris, W. H. (1998). Effect of medium-chain triacylglycerol and carbohydrate ingestion during exercise on substrate utilization and subsequent cycling performance. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 67(3), 397-404.