By Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
The winter has arrived and, for many, that means being exposed to an abundance of tempting treats that can sabotage your fitness goals. Beyond being tempted by calorie dense foods that do nothing for your health and fitness, during the winter there is a propensity to overeat, even though outside activity tends to decrease for many.
It’s no secret, that the best way to avoid packing on 10-15 lbs of fat over the winter is to keep your diet on point and workout regularly—So, here is a list of 6 key supplements that can help keep your appetite in check while promoting fat loss and without making you an insomniac.
What it is: A trace mineral that is available in low amounts in many foods.
How it works: When supplemented, chromium enhances the action of insulin to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. As such, chromium reduces carb cravings and enhances fat loss. So, overall, chromium curbs your appetite and helps to burn fat!
How to take it: Reports on the effective doses range between 50–300 micrograms per day. For best results, split your daily dose into 2 or 3 smaller doses and take 30 minutes before eating.
What it is: Caralluma fimbriata is a succulent (fleshy) cactus used by tribes in South India to suppress hunger and enhance endurance.
How it works: In a recent pharmacological review published in the Journal of Medicinal Food it was reported that pregnane glycosides are the compounds responsible for caralluma’s appetite suppressant effects. Animal studies have illustrated that pregnane glycosides act on areas of the hypothalamus (in the brain) involved in hunger and satiety. In a study published in Appetite, subjects who took 1g per day of caralluma fimbriata extract for 60 days had an almost 10% decrease in hunger by day 30 and 20% decrease by day 60.
How to take it: Human studies used 1g per day (100:1 extraction), however potencies may vary with level of extraction. Take as directed.
CAPSAICIN: This naturally occurring capsaicinoid is what makes chili peppers hot. In chemical terms, it is known as 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide.
How it works: When we ingest large amounts of capsaicinoids, they activate specialized receptors in the body that lead to the release of a peptide transmitter called substance P, which activates receptors that increase the release of the catecholamines– norepinephrine and epinephrine. Catecholamines not only provide potent appetite suppression, but also bind to adrenergic receptors on fat cells to promote the activation of lipase, leading to the release and mobilization of fats from fat cells into the circulation, to be burned as energy. Thus, supplementing with capsaicin provides appetite suppression with a “side order” of fat burning.
How to take it: The potency of capsaicin is measured in Scoville units or heat units. The average capsaicin supplement has about 40,000 Scoville units per dose, however comparable products that use Capsimax patented capsaicinoid extract contain about 300,000 Scoville units per dose—which increases potency without feeling the burn. For best results use 30-50 mg of Capsimax, 3 times per day, 30-minutes before meals.
GYMNEMA SYLVESTRE EXTRACT: Gymnema Sylvestre is a slow growing, perennial plant found in central and peninsular India and is used in folk, ayurvedic and homeopathic systems of medicine.
How it works: Gymnema Sylvestre contains compounds called gymnemic acids, which lower and stabilize blood sugar levels, decrease sugar absorption, and reduce sugar cravings. This is because the structure of gymnemic acid molecules resembles that of glucose molecules. In fact, gymnemic acid stimulates receptors located on the taste buds of the tongue and prevents their activation by sugar molecules, leading to decreased sugar absorption and cravings. The blood sugar lowering effects of gymnemic acids result from increased insulin secretion from the pancreas, increased regeneration of insulin producing Beta islet cells in the pancreas, and greater glucose utilization. Gymnemic acid can also bind to specialized receptors in the intestine, which further prevent absorption of dietary glucose.
How to take it: Take 100 mg of Gymnema Sylvestre, 3-times per day, 30-minutes before meals. For best results use Gymnema Sylvestre supplements that have been standardized to 75% gymnemic acids.
GLUCOMANNAN: This soluble fiber is derived from the tropical east Asian perennial konjac plant that can take on more than 200x its weight in water.
How it works: Being a fiber supplement, glucomannan is great for creating a feeling of “fullness” and thus suppressing the appetite. Furthermore, its water absorptive characteristics provide bulk that cleanses the digestive tract and colon. In a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study published in the Jounal of the American College of Nutrition, glucomannan greatly improved blood lipid levels and regulated blood glucose to normal levels in type 2 diabetics. In another placebo controlled trial published in La Clinica Terapeutica it was confirmed that a low calorie diet yielded greater weight-loss and was better tolerated in individuals who were taking glucomannan.
How to take it: Take 1-3 grams of glucomannan with 250-500ml of water, an hour before meals.
GREEN TEA EXTRACT: Green tea extract comes from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the same tea species used for black tea.
How it works: Green tea is non-fermented and non-oxidized, so it retains several unique and beneficial bioactive components that are absent in black tea. Specifically, green tea contains high concentrations of pharmacologically bioactive polyphenols including, epigallocatechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Although green tea has caffeine, green tea extract is caffeine-free and contains a standardized concentration of high potency EGCG. EGCG has been shown to increase fat burning, especially when taken prior to cardiovascular exercise. Further, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, illustrated that EGCG, promotes the release of appetite suppressing hormones, like cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 and peptide tyrosine-tyrosine (PYY), from the digestive tract.
How to take it: Take 300-500 mg of green tea extract, 3 times per day—30-minutes before meals. For best results, be sure your green tea extract is standardized to at least 45% EGCG.
Chen HL, Sheu WH, Tai TS, Liaw YP, & Chen YC (2003). Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects–a randomized double-blind trial. J Am Coll Nutr 22, 36-42.
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Dutt HC, Singh S, Avula B, Khan IA, Bedi YS. Pharmacological review of Caralluma R.Br. with special reference to appetite suppression and anti-obesity. J Med Food. 2012 Feb;15(2):108-19. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1555. Epub 2011 Dec 22. Review.
Kuriyan R1, Raj T, Srinivas SK, Vaz M, Rajendran R, Kurpad AV. Effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake and anthropometry in adult Indian men and women. Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):338-44. Epub 2006 Nov 13.
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