How Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps with Weight Loss

How Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps with Weight Loss: The Complete Guide

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When it comes to weight loss there are very few supplements that actually work. 

​After all, if it were as easy as taking a supplement to lose weight wouldn’t it be on the cover of every national newspaper? 

While most of the claims for weight loss with other supplements tend to be overhyped there are actually some supplements that can help you lose weight. 

The supplement we are going to be talking about today is Alpha Lipoic acid and how exactly this supplement stands apart from the rest and can help with weight loss. ​

No, these aren’t miracle weight loss pills – but they act in various ways to help reduce inflammation, and activate mitochondrial energy production to help your body burn fat. ​

Of course, we will be using a combination of scientific studies and my personal experience to show how ALA can help you lose weight.

Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Beyond the benefits of weight loss, this nutrient is very powerful. 

It’s so powerful that it can be used for a variety of conditions and has been well-studied (as far as supplements go).

In some instances, even conventional doctors have started to use this to treat conditions like peripheral neuropathy! (Now THAT is interesting).

​I’m going to talk more about the benefits of weight loss but I want to take a second to describe how I use alpha lipoic acid in my practice. 

the conclusion of a study with highlighted text which shows that 1,800mg of alpha lipoic acid led to modest weight loss.


ALA can be used in conjunction with other supplements (it works better in combination therapy) to help treat and reverse insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the driver behind many chronic medical conditions including cardiovascular disease (1), dementia (2), and weight gain (3).


ALA works particularly well if used to treat weight loss as part of a comprehensive plan.

This means that I will use it in combination with other supplements, hormones, and lifestyle changes for maximum benefit.

Don’t expect to take this supplement by itself and lose a ton of weight. It doesn’t work that way.


​ALA works really well in the setting of insulin resistance, especially if the patient also has evidence of fatty liver disease (we will discuss this below). 

I’ve also found great benefits in women who have high levels of testosterone (likely due to insulin resistance).

Obviously, there are many more reasons to use ALA, but these are the three primary patient populations I have personally had the MOST success with. 

Below you will find a full list of conditions that alpha lipoic acid has been scientifically shown to help:

​Now that you have an idea of the potential that this nutrient has for multiple medical conditions let’s talk about how ALA can help with weight loss. 

How Alpha Lipoic Acid Influences Weight & Helps with Weight Loss

The weight loss effects of ALA are likely due to multiple different factors. 

As you probably are already aware, weight gain and loss are more complex than the simple calories in/calories out model.

Weight gain results from a complex change in hormones usually a direct result of lifestyle disturbances like poor diet (nutritionally deficient), high stress (from a job or other factors), lack of exercise (altering muscle mass), and decreased activity (lack of exercise).

With this in mind, that means supplements (or other therapies) designed to treat weight loss should focus on correcting these hormone imbalances in the body.

This is how supplements can help you lose weight without a change in diet. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about how alpha lipoic acid can influence these hormones…

  • Bottom Line: Weight gain is due to hormonal changes and effective weight loss therapies target these hormonal imbalances. 

#1. Increases Insulin Sensitivity

The effect of alpha-lipoic acid on insulin resistance is probably its most powerful effect in terms of how this supplement influences weight loss. 

ALA attenuates (decreases) insulin resistance (10) and helps lower fasting blood sugar (11).

All of these changes are mediated through insulin and insulin resistance. 

results from a study with highlighted text showing that alpha lipoic acid effects likely stem from its impact on insulin resistance.

​Why is lowering insulin and blood sugar helpful for weight loss?


Insulin is a growth hormone.

It is responsible for cellular growth, especially fat cells (12).

While helpful in small amounts (it can help regulate blood sugar) high levels of insulin (AKA insulin resistance) lead to weight gain and a number of other chronic conditions.

Couple that with the fact that up to 50% of the US population has some form of insulin resistance and you see why this is important.


Insulin resistance is often ignored by many physicians UNTIL you present with type II diabetes (13).

But what about patients with pre-diabetes or high fasting insulin levels that don’t meet the criteria for diabetes by blood sugar testing?

These patients are largely ​left untreated, despite the fact that they still have issues with weight and weight loss resistance. 

For this reason, it is very important for you to understand both your fasting blood sugar levels and insulin levels because there are treatments outside of medications that can help lower insulin levels.


Focusing on diet alone is often not enough to complete reverse insulin resistance and lead to weight loss. 

Up to 50% of patients may experience some weight loss when changing to a low-carbohydrate diet, but that leaves 50% of people who need additional therapies for further weight loss. 

These therapies can be from either supplements or medications designed to treat and reverse insulin levels.

  • Bottom Line: ALA can help to lower insulin levels and reverse insulin resistance in some patients. Because high levels of insulin cause weight gain, low insulin levels are very important for long-term weight loss. 

#2. Increases Mitochondrial Energy Production

Alpha lipoic acid is required for proper mitochondrial enzyme function and therefore energy production (14).

Low levels of ALA may slow down mitochondrial energy production leading to several symptoms including the subjective sense of fatigue (or decreased energy) that many people have today.

highlighted text from a study which describes what alpha lipoic acid is and how it compares to other vitamins.

If you are interested in weight loss then you want proper energy production in mitochondria for several reasons:


Proper energy production helps set your basal metabolic rate (AKA your metabolism). 

The constant amount of energy required to keep you alive, breathing, and moving require a lot of energy.

In fact, your basal metabolic rate determines how many calories you burn at rest simply living.

And this amount of calories is significantly more than any calories you burn while exercising. 

This means that your metabolism is paramount in terms of importance when trying to lose weight. ​


​More energy production means a higher sense of subjective energy. 

The symptom of “fatigue” is common and plagues many patients. 

Taking ALA may help boost energy levels which will allow you to get up and be more active, build more lean muscle mass and further improve your metabolism. ​

  • Bottom Line: ALA may help increase metabolism and energy production through its effects on mitochondrial enzymes. 

#3. ​Reduces Inflammation

ALA has been shown in several studies to help reduce markers of inflammation in the body (specifically hsCRP in this study (15)). 

​We all know that inflammation is a “bad guy”, but do you really know why?

Or how about why inflammation is bad when you are trying to lose weight?

High levels of inflammation not only impact hormone levels, they directly impact your fat cells. 

Your fat cells (like other tissues in your body) can become inflamed, and when they are inflamed the medical term is known as adiposopathy or adipositis.

And inflammation in your fat cells is a big deal.

Here’s why:

Your fat cells do more than just give you cellulite. They are responsible for hormonal signals that tell your brain to burn fat and increase metabolism.

High levels of inflammation lead to dysregulation of these hormones and contribute to the condition known as leptin resistance.

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Leptin resistance is one of the main causes of weight loss resistance which basically makes weight loss almost impossible. 

​In addition to the changes in your fat cells, high levels of inflammation also lead to problems with thyroid function. 

Inflammation reduces the conversion of T4 to T3 leading to high levels of reverse T3 – this process further blunts your metabolism and leads to weight gain.

As I’m sure you are aware, proper thyroid function is critical for weight loss because thyroid hormone also has a heavy impact on your metabolism (16) and energy production. 

  • Bottom Line: ALA helps lower inflammation in the body which can help weight loss by reducing fat cell inflammation and potentially improving thyroid function. 

#4. The combination of Alpha Lipoic Acid + Prescription Medications Boosts Weight Loss​

​As mentioned previously one of the best ways to use Alpha lipoic acid is as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medications and/or other supplements. 

This synergy is emphasized in several studies…

The First study:

This study showed that the combination of testosterone + alpha lipoic acid (17) in type II diabetic patients resulted in significant improvement in multiple parameters. 

results from a study describing its impact on total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides.

These patients ​experienced a reduction in BMI (weight loss), an improvement in glycemic control (lower blood sugar levels), an improvement in lipid profile (lower cholesterol), and an improvement in libido (sex drive). 

​This combination therapy is particularly interesting considering that many patients (both men and women) have a combination of low testosterone plus insulin resistance. 

Alpha lipoic acid may promote an increase in testosterone by virtue of its insulin-lowering effects.

The Second study:

In this study, researchers compared the effects of metformin therapy vs metformin + alpha lipoic acid in patients with insulin resistance. 

This study showed that patients using both metformin plus alpha lipoic acid had more weight loss, better cholesterol, and a reduction in blood sugar compared to metformin alone. 

text from a study which compared metformin to alpha lipoic acid.

This is ​actually a big deal if you are a patient with insulin resistance, considering that much of your treatment is reliant upon your practitioner. 

The addition of alpha lipoic acid might have other benefits when coupled with other therapies, medications, and hormones. 

In my practice, I’ve also noted a similar benefit with combination therapy and this is how I would recommend you consider supplementing (compared to taking the supplement by itself). 

  • Bottom Line: ALA can provide a synergistic effect on weight loss, cholesterol, and blood sugar when combined with other medications and hormones like Testosterone and Metformin. 

How to use ALA for the Best Results​

​If you’ve read through this post so far and you feel that alpha lipoic acid may have some benefit then the following information may help guide you further. 

When supplementing with ALA there are a few things to consider:

Alpha lipoic acid generally has more benefits when it is in a sustained release or delayed release form.

This allows for a sustained level of alpha lipoic acid to be absorbed throughout the day.

In addition, it is also important to make sure that your dose is high enough to get symptomatic improvement. 

​Below we are going to discuss everything you need to know before you start supplementing with ALA. 

How to Supplement with Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • If you are taking it alone then doses up to 1,800mg per day may be necessary (depending on tolerance).
  • Start titration at 600mg per day and increase as tolerated.
  • I find better success combining and adding alpha lipoic acid to berberine. If you use this method then you can get by using less of each. A supplement such as this is ideal.
  • Length of treatment may vary depending on the condition but should last for several months at least.

Make sure the Dosage is high enough

If you opt to use alpha lipoic acid on its own then you will need higher doses to get the desired effects. In this case, your dosage should range from 600mg to 1,800mg.

In some cases, doses as high as 2,400mg per day may be necessary.

Use this as a general guide based on your medical condition…​

Dosage for peripheral neuropathy: 600mg per day minimum for 3+ months

Dosage for insulin resistance: 1,200mg per day x 6+ months

Dosage for weight loss: 1,800mg per day x3 months minimum and should be combined with other therapies, medications, and hormones for optimal results. 

​The length of therapy largely depends on your condition but you should expect to use ALA for at least 3 months minimum and up to 6+ months if you are getting improvement. 

Remember, whenever possible, your ALA should be in a sustained release form.​

Side effects to watch out for

Alpha lipoic acid is generally very well tolerated with few side effects.

The most common side effects include itching, small rashes, and/or urticaria (hives).

These changes usually occur at only higher doses (typically 1,800mg or higher), but can occur at lower levels as well.

In my opinion, many of these side effects are due to a “detox”-like reaction from ALA’s action as an anti-oxidant.

It doesn’t mean that these side effects are necessarily bad but instead may represent a purging of various breakdown products stored in adipose tissue (18).

Adding other supplements to boost results

Just like other medications can be added to ALA to boost results, so too can supplements be added to ALA for even more benefit.

Recall that I generally do not recommend the use of ALA in isolation, so if you know what your medical condition is you can target it with the addition of these supplements. ​

R-Lipoic Acid vs L-Lipoic Acid: What’s the Difference & Does it Matter?

If you spend any time in the literature (or on the internet) then you are probably aware that there are two forms of alpha lipoic acid.

Alpha lipoic acid forms two different enantiomers which are essentially mirror images of each other.

You can think of enantiomers as gloves, one for the right hand and one for the left hand.

r and s enantiomers of lipoic acid one on top of the other.

They are basically the same but fitting a left-handed glove on your right hand doesn’t work quite right just like fitting a right-handed glove on your left hand doesn’t.

The same sort of thing is true in biology with enantiomers.

These different forms of alpha lipoic acid known as R-LA and S-LA are very similar but do have slightly different effects on the body and cells.

This begs the question:

Is one form better than the other and should you focus on one enantiomer over the other?

Yes and no.

There have been a handful of studies which show suggest that the R-LA is better absorbed and utilized by the body and may, therefore, be a better supplement.

But this isn’t the full story.

While it is true that R-LA may be better used by the body, the L-LA enantiomer helps to prevent the binding of R-LA to itself which may increase the bioavailability and use of the more potent enantiomer (19).

If that sounds like mumbo jumbo, let me break it down:

Right now it looks like it’s better to take a mixture of both enantiomers because even though one is more powerful than the other, the one that is less powerful helps the one that is more powerful make it into your body.

The reason this matters is because alpha lipoic acid supplements come in a salt form which contains a racemic mixture of equal parts R-LA and S-LA.

If it is the case that one version is better than the other then it makes sense to try to get more of that version.

The truth is that right now there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that you should use one form over the other and there’s more evidence to suggest that taking both is probably the way to go.

For this reason, I recommend sticking with the alpha lipoic acid salt form which contains equal combinations of both R-LA and S-LA.

Other supplements designed to treat insulin resistance:
  • Chromium: Chromium helps reduce insulin sensitivity. Your dose should be 500mcg per day. 
  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps in a number of ways but can also help weight loss (read more here), start with 200mg per day and titrate up as needed. 
  • Berberine: This supplement has been shown to be as powerful as metformin at lowering blood sugar (19) and Hgb A1c. Use up to 2,000mg per day for maximum benefit. 
  • For best results combine 3+ supplements targeted at insulin resistance, blood sugar, and for weight loss. 
Other supplements designed to lower inflammation:

Patients with non-specific inflammation generally have markers such as CRP, ESR and hs-CRP elevated on their blood tests. 

These inflammatory markers are frequently accompanied by insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and weight gain (for reasons stated above).

When inflammation is present treat aggressively with 2-3+ anti-inflammatory supplements: 

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Helps reduce inflammatory cytokines. Your dose should be up to 2 grams per day.  
  • Curcumin: Works by activating PPAR-gamma levels to reduce inflammation, and also has been shown to delay the onset of type II diabetes from pre-diabetes. Your dose should be up to 1,000mg per day in a sustained release form. 
  • Quercetin with Bromelain: Powerful antioxidant that can help boost immune function and is especially helpful in patients with GI problems and/or a chronic runny nose. 

Foods High in Alpha Lipoic Acid

If you prefer to try and get ALA through your diet then I’ve also included a list of recommended foods naturally high in ALA.

Foods high in ALA:

  • Spinach
  • Organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli

It should be noted that the sources of ALA in these foods may be somewhat limited, and patients with serious medical conditions will likely need higher or supraphysiologic doses of these supplements for maximum benefit. 

​This means a combination of ALA supplements plus foods high in ALA may be the best approach versus eating foods high in ALA alone. 

​Recap & Final Thoughts

Alpha lipoic acid is a very strong nutritional supplement that can help with multiple medical conditions. 

Due to its various effects on inflammation, hormones, and insulin, and acting as an anti-oxidant this supplement can actually help with weight loss as well.

To get the most benefit from using ALA make sure you find a high-quality supplement without added fillers/dyes, in a sustained release form, and in a high enough dose. 

This will help you achieve your desired results.

Also, remember that ALA can be combined with other medications and hormones like testosterone and Metformin to boost weight loss results.

Now it’s your turn:

Are you using alpha lipoic acid?

Has it helped you with weight loss?

Why or why not?

Leave your questions or comments below! 




















how to use alpha lipoic acid for weight loss + the best form to use

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

P.S. Here are 4 ways you can get more help right now:

#1. Get my free thyroid downloads, resources, and PDFs here.

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79 thoughts on “How Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps with Weight Loss: The Complete Guide”

  1. Hi Dr.Childs,
    I’ve been on T3 only medication (50mcg) for 8 months now but instead of losing weight, I’m gaining weight at a rapid speed and no matter what I do, I go to the gym x3 a week, I do swimming, home exercises etc but I just can not lose even an ounce! Do you reckon I could be insulin resistant? Should I just give ALA a try and see how it goes?

    • Hey Ruby,

      It’s relatively easy enough to test your insulin and blood sugar levels (the tests are standard even for PCP’s), you can always choose to supplement without knowing but whenever possible it’s always better to know what is going on inside your body.

      • Iam 73 years old, and have been taking a combination of ALC/ ALA for a few years now, as I have a family history of dementia (Atherosclerosis): my mother, all four of her sisters, and her father all died with complications from it. So I’m very concerned about avoiding it, and I’ve read several places that it helps prevent dementia. About four years ago, I had oral surgery and hadn’t been able to eat either before or after it for a few weeks and lost about 3 lbs within a matter of days. I assumed it was from not eating. But very gradually, and sometimes in sudden spurts it would drop some more. It was a terrible struggle to gain enough to get back up to 119 (I’m 5’6 1/2). My original weight was 122. Got back up to 119, same thing happened. I finally hung on for a long time at 115. Then about a year ago, it started again. I dropped to 113, 112, 110, and eventually, a few weeks ago, 109, until 3 weeks ago, 107. That’s ridiculous. I’ve been trying al these years to figure out what was causing. Tried all kinds of diets for weight gain, and nothing. Then I read an article that mentioned that ALC/ALA can help weight loss. Light bulb moment. I quit taking it last week, and I’ve already put on two lbs. Sorry, didn’t mean to make this so long, but I can guarantee you, it definitely does work for weight loss. I found out the hard way.

  2. Thank you so much for the updated information on ALA, Dr. Childs! This important info came to me just on time as I am at the crossroad with my Hashi and all extras that are linked with it including weight gain and IR. RESPECT to all you do for people like me!

  3. Do you know if this supplement can be taken at the same time as Levothyroxin? Also, is it better to take it in the morning or at bedtime? Thanks for the great article.

    • Hey Becky,

      I hope you found it helpful. In general you should avoid taking supplements around the time you take your thyroid medication to avoid issues with absorption. ALA can be taken at night or at bedtime without issues as long as it is not taken within several hours after your thyroid medication.

    • Hey Pepper,

      It doesn’t work for everyone, but you have to use it the right way if you want to get the best results. That is in combination with other supplements, at the right dose, with a sustained release capsule and for the right duration of time.

      Taking it by itself in a small dose will not lead to significant weight loss.

  4. I have had a thyroidectomy in 2012 & am on Levothyroxine & finding it hard to lose weight I am also on a blood pressure medication – would ALA help & is it available in NZ?

    • Hey Barbara,

      I have no idea if ALA is available in NZ, but it shouldn’t be hard to figure out through some research. ALA may help if your weight gain is due to insulin resistance.

      • Hey Dr. Childs,

        Let’s say i find a good doctor who treat well my hypothyroidism with the right medication & dosage + i’m doing all the others things ( diet , Hit , fasting with IF , supplement , good sleep ).
        Can i heal my hormonal problems, depression, chonic fatigue, loose weight for real and be done with it ? Or i’m gonna be stuck with all them bad symptoms + medecation for life ?
        Thank you so much.

        • Hey Rodrigo,

          Symptomatic management is actually relatively easy to control provided you know how/what to treat. Getting you off of therapies is another issue entirely and largely depends on what problems you had to begin with and how much you are willing to change.

          For instance – it would be wishful thinking to assume you will be able to get off of thyroid hormone or testosterone therapy if you are unable to give up refined sugars/carbs, etc.

    • I have bought it in Australia in health food stores so I have a feeling you can get it in NZ – look for the biggest health care store near you – have to say they aren’t near as good as the ones I have found in Europe but they still work!

  5. Hi Dr. Childs, can you speak to the difference between regular alpha lipoic acid and R-lipoic acid? I was told the latter is better and double the strength and absorbency.

  6. Hi. Dr Childs, just read that ALA could actually have a negative effect on the T4 to T3 conversion. What is your opinion on it?

    • Hey Joanna,

      One study showed lower T3 levels when T4 was combined with ALA, but that same study showed that other ALA + T4 had better effects on the body than ALA or T4 alone. I think this is largely blown out of proportion due to a lack of understanding about how thyroid hormone works. I’ve used ALA with many thyroid patients successfully without any issue.

      • Thank you for your answer. One more concern, I have a sluggish liver, wich is confirmed by my lab tests and high rt4, low ft3 despite taking T3 medication. I am concerned about ALAs ability to detoxify, will my liver be able to get rid of the toxins if I start taking ALA? Thank you for all the wonderful information and the very structured way you are presenting it!

        • Joanna Seib – I’ve had hypothyroidism for over 20 years due to RAI, and I have found that milk thistle helps my liver tremendously. My doctor done tests of my liver and it was showing signs of high enzymes. I took milk thistle and my next test was NORMAL! Also Berberine is good for insulin resistance and liver.

  7. Hello, I love all your information! I have been diagnosed with hashimotos since 32 (I’m turning 50) and love all the information I’ve read. What caught my attention is that your post said that alpha lipoic acid helps with peripheral neuropathy. My son who is now 22 years old, was diagnosed with stage 2C testicular cancer when he was 18. He had chemotherapy bepx3 and the Platinum caused pretty intense peripheral neuropathy in his feet/lower legs that he still struggles with today. He was prescribed Lyrica and gabapentin which both gave awful side effects so he stopped the meds. He also suffers from pretty severe Raynaud’s from the bleomycin. My questions (if you can answer) are is ALAcid worth trying for his situation, and is the dose the same as what you mentioned in the post? I apologize in advance if it’s off topic from what you were trying to discuss, but I have researched for 3 years about what could help my son with his neuropathy issues.thank you for reading either way.

    • Hey Christine,

      I’m glad you enjoy it. In regards to peripheral neuropathy there are actually many therapies that can help ease (in some cases reverse) peripheral neuropathy completely – many of these are back with literary studies. ALA is one of those therapies that can potentially help, but like most complex issues treatment usually requires a combination of therapies for the best results. For peripheral neuropathy, you would usually need higher doses of ALA and used in combination with other therapies.

  8. I’m happy to have found this article. I have my own success story. My history: Graves Disease with ablation, 2002, I take daily levothyroxin, dx insulin resistan with metformin started in 2013, insulin 18. Life long weight issues. I got it down to 14 and creeping back up over 18 months. I was loosing some weight during this battle. I added organic cinnamon 500 mg w ALA 150 bid. 3 months later my insulin was 9. October 2016 level was 7. Since 2013 I have lost 50#. My doctor is supportive of my wholistic approach wherever possible and my metformin is being tapered down. I love sharing my story.

  9. Loving reading all your brilliant articles. I have hashis adrenal issues and am on bioidenticals to help low addition to this my fasting sugar a low 100s–not bad but I have blurred vision and candida symptoms when I eat sugar. What is the difference between ala and r lipoic acid? Which one would beneift me best with my issues?

  10. Hey Dr.Westin Childs,
    I really enjoyed reading your article. It was easy to follow and gave the big picture of how lipoic acid causes weight lost. I would really appreciate if you would guide me to some articles that go in depth in the mechanism because I am doing a literary review and need some help finding articles.

  11. I am currently taking 137 & 150 of synthroid on alternating days. Can I take this supplement along with my medication.

    • Hey Christine,

      Yes, this supplement can be taken if you are on Levothyroxine but it should not be taken at the same time as this medication (take them 4 hours apart).

    • It’s a great supplement and certainly worth a trial, just make sure you use a high quality supplement like the one I recommend for best results.

  12. Greetings from Russia.
    My daughter is type 1 diabetic and in my country ALA is a common way of assisting therapy for her. Every year as a must she stays in hospital for two/three weeks and has ALA
    IV(1200mg), then she continues taking it as pills (600mg)for about three months. She is skinny enough and we can’t notice any weight changes. But her improvement with her vision and feet sensitivity is evident.
    My husband is diabetic of 2nd type and he takes conjugated ALA every other month to reduce feet numbness. Works ok. He is obese and ALA helps him in his fight with weight gain, esp. when he is in so called plateau ( when weight freezes)
    As for me I’m in my early 40th, healthy and used to be slender of 50 kilos but gained around 10 more kilos during last three years and so I started taking CALA to stop food cravings and to lose weight. I take it every day 600mg on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before any meal with a full glass of water. And for about two hours after I don’t eat anything containing calcium or metals. In two weeks I lost two kilos, I stopped devouring and that constant thinking of food left me.
    Now as I see your recommended dosage, I’m thinking to double my CALA intake. Of side effects I can share skin thinning on finger tips that crack now when I do work around the house, the rest is same regular as before. I like how my body is thinning back to my usual. My mood is a little better then before but this might be because of spring that always gives me better mood.
    One more notice is that one mustn’t drink alcohol with CALA otherwise you may collapse.
    And for insulin dependent diabetics – please be careful, use common sense and control your blood sugar! My daughter needs less insulin when she takes the supplement. Several times she wakes up in the middle of the night with hypoglycemia.
    Personally we take CALA at the drugstore.
    Thanks for reading so many letters and good luck.

    • Hi Tatiana,

      Thanks for sharing your story! I’m glad it seems to be working for both you and your daughter.

  13. Hi!

    I started taking ALA about 3 weeks ago and I worked my way up to 1800mg. I suddenly have hives and I am itchy all over. I noticed in your article that you mentioned that can sometimes happen. When this happens with your patients do you generally advise them to just power through it instead of stopping the ALA? Will the hives only last a few days??

    Thanks in advance.

  14. Does is matter what time of day you take it? For example: all tablets together, before breakfast, bedtime, empty stomach, etc.

  15. Dr Child’s,
    The ALA that is recommended in the article from Pure Encapsulations doesn’t appear to be sustained release. Not sure if the formulation has changed or? Is this still what you would recommend? If not, what is your current preference?

  16. Dr Childs, what other medication/supplement should I be taking with ALA to aid with weight loss? You mentioned Testosterone. In what dosage? Also any other med/supplement you can suggest to take with ALA to help with weight loss? Thank you!!

  17. Dr. Childs,
    I was told that my liver function is elevated as well as my cholesterol and triglycerides are both high. I am not overweight, 104 lbs, 5’3, I exercise 30 minutes everyday and I do not eat any fried foods, no fast food, no red meats. I eat low fat, high protein. I also have a heart condition, microvascular coronary artery disease that causes unstable angina. I was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. I read about ALA and that it could help with the liver, I also read it showed promise in research studies with Multiple Sclerosis. I am thinking if my liver was functioning properly then my cholesterol and triglycerides would probably come back down as well. What dose would you think would be right for me to try?
    Thank you in advance for your response

  18. I’m confused about when and how much to take. Some say it’s best on empty stomach and some say with a meal. Some also say don’t take close to when you exercise. My glucose is slightly elevated but need to lose weight. I exercise 5 days a week and still no weight loss, that’s why I thought Lipoic Acid would help

  19. Hello ~ thank you for so much useful information Dr!!!! I have had consistent high DHEA-S levels and high CRP levels also. I’m wondering if the ALA will help with lowering both of those? My MD said it is good for joint pain but doesn’t know about it affecting the other issues. I’ve been struggling with weight loss resistance no matter what I do and have insulin resistance as well. I also have MTHFR and have been told I have an issue with gluten according to recent blood work. Thank you so much for any input you may have.

  20. I have been taking ALA since September along with intermittent fasting low carb high protein diet. I take 1200mg a day. 600mg in the AM and 600mg at bedtime. I exercise every third day 2000 meters on a rower and do several core exercises. I have lost 30 pounds and 4 inches along my waist line. great supplement to a good realistic diet with moderate exercise.

    • Hi Cory,

      Thanks for sharing! ALA is great but as you said it should always be combined with the lifestyle changes that you mentioned in your comment. Awesome results, by the way! It’s not easy to lose that much weight.

  21. Hi! I want to combine Berberine and ALA for weight loss (I have PCOS). I’m taking them as separate pills so I want to please know what daily dosage I should be taking for each pill for this to be effective?

  22. Hello,

    Thank you for all of that info! I took ALA for about a month with L-carnitine while on a strict 1200cal diet, watching macros, and HIIT based workouts…I lost ten pounds in 5wks…(I have PCOS)…now I’m 137 and have been feeling dizzy and lightheaded with a relatively low dose (400mg)/day… do you suggest stopping it? Does it need to be taken with a little bit of carbs?

  23. Hello,
    I’m a little confused about the ALA supplementation. You suggest opting for the sustained release capsules, but the brand you recommend is Pure Encapsulations (which I love), but it’s not sustained release. So now I’m torn – go for the supplement that I know has no fillers, etc or go for the sustained release. What do you suggest?

  24. Hi Doctor,

    I currently fast for 36 hours 3 days a week. I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks along with a LCHF diet and I haven’t lost a pound. I have struggled with an extra 20lbs for the last five years (after the birth of my second child). I’m so frustrated with my doctors asking me what I eat and if I exercise. That is not the problem and no one believes me. I’m sure my issues are hormonal. I was thinking of adding berberine, ALA, and magnesium citrate to my diet. I’m no pre-diabetic and my fasting insulin is fine. This is purely an attempt to fix my hormones (which is hard because I’m not sure what’s broken). Can I take these supplements while fasting?

    • Hi Tonya,

      Yes, you can take most supplements while fasting (but try to avoid those with protein or fat in them). Also, the amount that you are fasting may be counterproductive. Overfasting is the same as calorie restriction which can further cause metabolic damage and make weight loss more difficult.

  25. You have the best information on the web that has helped me find the right doctor to treat my Hashimoto’s correctly. Thank you for your time in helping all of us. I’ve had neuropathy in my right foot for 2.5 years after a running injury. I really want to take R-ALA and l-carnitine together in hopes to help the small nerve branches to regenerate, but I don’t want to mess up my thyroid numbers because I’m doing well. Can I take these 2 supplements together at bedtime? And the second dose late morning? Thanks so much!

  26. I’ve Tremendous success with this ALA and as an athlete and a person who has Neuropathic pain, how long can we stay on it I’m taking 800 mg daily?

  27. Hi, recently I have been diagnosed with T2DM with HbA1c of 6.8/51. I was overweight, BMI 28.5. In three months I managed to get my BMI down to 24 and my HbA1c down to 5.3/34. I am off metformin now but I’ve been taking ALA for about 3 months now, 600mg twice a day, in addition to Berberine 500mg 3 times a day, Vit D and Chromium, Magnesium Aspartate and Potassium etc. I have a feeling my progress has stalled, my FBG is still high, sometimes I get below 100 but most of the time it’s between 100 and 110. This is most frustrating as the recent addition of Berberine does not seem to improve it much. Most of my progress I achieved before I started taking supplements, by exercising and low carbing. Adding supplements seems to have no or little effect. Any advice Dr. Childs? Best, Mike.

  28. I’m currently taking Armour thyroid. I typically take it first thing in the morning and an hour before I eat. I just started taking Alpha lipoic acid (1,200 mg @ 2X’s a day). I take the ALA about an hour to an hour and a half AFTER I take my thyroid medicine. Is that okay? Also, I was recommended to combine taking ALA with Garcinia Cambogia and Tumeric with forskolin. Does that sound like a good combination? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Michelle,

      If your goal is weight loss then that might be a reasonable set of supplements to take. I’m not a big fan of garcinia cambogia but it can work for some people.

  29. I have reactive hypoglycemia, with a fasting BS in the morning of 81. I am taking berberine currently to help with this. Do you recommend taking ALA with berberine as well or will that cause a drop in blood sugar?

  30. Is it ok to take 600mg of alpha Lipoic acid a day if you don’t have any medical issues and if you are not overweight but want to lose fat along with the other benefits it has?

  31. How come you don’t specifically reccomend the R- Lipoic acid form. Apparently this is superior to just the regular Alpha Lipoic acid. And using thi form, would the dosages be smaller since the R form is more potent?

  32. Hi Dr. Childs

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I was taking ALA 600 mg for about a month with inositol and seemed to be tolerating well. When I went up to 1200mg I broke out in rash, hives and edema all over my body. I took prednisone and anti-histamines (H1 and H2 blockers because th reaction was so severe) for one week straight and just have started to feel better. Is this a normal reaction? Should I stop taking ALA altogether or can I go back to 600mg once I have fully recovered?

  33. HI Doctor Childs-
    Very informative article thank you. Could you weigh in briefly about what type of ALA you are recommending? I’m seeing a lot of research that concluded that the R form of ALA (R-alpha-lipoic acid) is more bioavailable. Pure Encapsulations makes the R-form also. Is there clear evidence ALA is better? Maybe the information I’ve seen is biased to sell R-ALA and not balanced.
    Thank you- you are a trusted resource, we are telling our friends and family about your great work.

  34. Hi,

    This article was comprehensive with good references. However, no mention was made of the important fact that ALA exists in two different forms: the enantiomers (R)-(+)-lipoic acid (RLA) and (S)-(-)-lipoic acid (SLA). Only the R-lipoic acid is physiologically active. Most supplements provide a 50-50 mix of the two forms – so half of the supplement is useless for the body. The R-lipoic acid is considerably more expensive, but it is the only active type of ALA.

  35. Someone I know has non-diabetic neuropathy and I was going to tell him about this as a possible treatment (he’s tried almost everything with no success). I did a little more research on his behalf and saw something about a “stabilized” type supplement. Is that different than the one you recommended? Is it better for neuropathy? Thanks!

  36. Hi. Thank you for a very useful article. I am however unsure: should/can one use these supplements (For instance ALA in Combination with Berberine) while Fasting? Or will they lower your blood sugar too much? Should you lower the dosis while fasting?

  37. Hi Dr. Westin Childs,

    Thank you for the information. Does ALA have other metabolic purposes that can not be fulfilled by EPA and DHA?

    “Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) … needs to be converted into EPA or DHA before it can be utilized by your body for something other than energy.

    … Only a small percentage of ALA is converted into EPA — and less into DHA …

    When ALA is not converted to EPA or DHA, it is simply stored or used as energy like other fats.”

  38. I read all the above comments and it seems strange that the Dr. never answered the comments made about R- ALA versus regular ALA or the stabilization issue. This is an alert for me and discredits the information on this website. If I’m going to follow the recommendations of a Dr., I should be able to get all the information on what I consume.

    • Hi June,

      Sorry, I just saw this comment. There’s no reason other than I have 500 articles and get hundreds of questions every day between my blog, social media accounts, and emails, and I’m only able to answer so many of those questions. I do my best to answer as many as possible but can’t get to all of them due to volume.

    • In regards to both responses above- how does either of ALA types
      exactly Interact with other supplements, Levothyroxine, etc.?
      I have been on ALA 1,200 mgm. for NDPN, for almost 2 years with extremely low results. Diet control and exercise added, any helpful suggestions Dr. Child’s, please. Added Bento and B12
      Also,about 1yr. ago. Hashimoto’s since 1980, Lymes vaccine test
      ‘ victim’, Fibromyalgia and severe osteoarthritis. Mild Melancholy
      depression, controlled hypertension and mild Sojourns. Not a fun camper anymore. Any response may help, please.

      • Hi Eleanor,

        By NDPN, are you referring to nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy? If so, you may want to consider alternative treatments like PEMF and vibration therapy.

        In regards to your other question, supplements should never be taken with levothyroxine including ALA. They can be used together but should never be taken at the same time.

        There is at least one study that has shown that ALA may impair T4 to T3 conversion but I’ve never personally seen this effect clinically. I’ll write a blog post on the topic at some point in the future. If you wanted to be on the safe side you could either take a T3-containing medication or simply watch your free T4, free T3, and reverse T3 levels while taking it.

  39. Hi, would ALA be helpful with weight loss and inflammation from spinal stenosis and sciatica? I think losing weight would be helpful with my back issues. I have a pinched nerve too. I’m not diabetic but do take cholesterol medication. Any advice? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Debra,

      It really depends on the situation. Most of the time, back pain is considered multifactorial so even if inflammation is playing a role, it’s probably not the only contributing factor. There’s no way to know for sure if it would help without trial and error, really. It definitely won’t cause your body any harm in using it but it may not be as effective as you’d hoped. But, either way, you aren’t out much for the effort.


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