When it comes to weight loss supplements you either get overmarketed and hyped-up claims
OR, you get these really effective supplements that you would never think actually help with weight loss but they do.
These really effective supplements often fly under the radar of most people and they have no idea that they exist.
As a result, most people end up taking the hyped-up weight loss fad supplements instead of the ones that really work.
What I want to do is talk about some of the most effective weight loss supplements that you’ve probably never heard of.
As always, whenever we talk about weight loss supplements you have to remember that your individual mileage may vary and that not all supplements work equally well for each person.
And that supplements only act as a supplement to an already healthy lifestyle.
When used in this way they make your regular weight loss efforts like diet and exercise even MORE effective.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about my favorite weight loss supplements starting right now:
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Glucomannan is actually a dietary fiber which may seem weird until you understand how it works.
It’s unique among most dietary fibers because it expands when it’s introduced to water.
This has several benefits for you as someone trying to lose weight:
The first is that it puts pressure on the stomach which sends signals to your brain that your stomach is full.
This helps curb your appetite which means you can use it strategically to help reduce how much food you are eating.
The second is that it acts as a glue-like material which slows down the absorption of food.
As a result, you will see a less aggressive rise in blood sugar and a more muted insulin response.
And finally, because glucomannan is a dietary fiber, it also has a positive impact on your microbiome (1).
By acting as a food source for healthy bacteria, it can help your gut which can help you lose weight.
I love glucomannan for weight loss because it works via a different mechanism than most of the other supplements we will discuss here.
It can be used by itself or in combination with other supplements or weight loss medications.
This all sounds great in theory, but what do the studies show?
You’ll get mixed results, as with any natural treatment, but there are several studies that do show that it can help you lose up to about 5 pounds of weight in an 8-week period (2).
It’s not spectacular but it’s pretty darn good for a natural plant-based compound with very few side effects.
I think it’s best to use glucomannan as a way to manage your appetite or to help you while fasting.
This way it helps you stay on track with your diet.
Glucomannan is generally pretty well tolerated but it shouldn’t be used in people who have undergone bariatric surgeries or in those with esophageal problems.
You may notice some bloating if you take it, especially at high doses but this tends to subside over time.
Berberine is a plant alkaloid that acts as a weak AMPK activator.
AMPk is an enzyme in your body that gets activated during exercise (3).
While berberine won’t take the place of exercise by any stretch of the imagination, you can sort of think about it in that way to get a better idea of how it’s working.
Think about all of the benefits that you get while exercising, now just distill that down to a small fraction and you can imagine how berberine helps.
It has a number of beneficial effects as it relates to your weight but some of the most important include its ability to:
- Increase mitochondrial density in lean muscle mass.
- Help suppress appetite.
- Increase the population of healthy bacteria in the gut.
- And assist in the burning of adipose tissue directly.
This is all great but what do the studies show?
One meta-analysis of over 12 studies showed that daily berberine use resulted in a decrease in BMI, waist circumference, and CRP levels (4).
Overall it’s a very solid option for weight loss, especially if you have insulin resistance, diabetes, or blood sugar issues.
If you’re going to use berberine make sure you combine it with exercise as this is how it really starts to shine.
#3. Black seed oil.
Black seed oil is one of those supplements that can do just about anything.
Even though it’s not typically thought of as a supplement that can help you lose weight, there are plenty of studies that show that it can.
Take for instance this one:
This meta-analysis of over 13 randomized controlled trials showed that taking nigella sativa had a significant effect on body weight and body mass index in adults.
The average weight loss in these studies was around 4.5 pounds over 8 weeks putting it in line with glucomannan (5).
Outside of studies, I can tell you that it’s a very powerful anti-inflammatory supplement which is probably why it helps some people lose weight and not others.
If your weight has an inflammatory component, then it’s definitely likely to help through its actions as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Just so that you aren’t confused if you try to purchase this ingredient, you may find it labeled as nigella sativa, black seed oil, or thymoquinone.
Nigella Sativa is the plant that produces black seeds which are then used to create black seed oil.
And thymoquinone is the active ingredient found in black seed oil.
So you will find supplements and studies which use these different names but they are all pretty similar in their effects.
The biggest downside to using black seed oil is the taste.
I’m fine with putting something in my body that doesn’t taste very good if I know it’s healthy, but if you are someone who doesn’t like potent flavors then this one may not be ideal for you.
You can sometimes find it in a gel cap but the liquid is a much better source because of its higher dose.
Other than the flavor, it’s pretty well tolerated.
Yohimbine definitely is one of those weight loss supplements that gets a lot of attention for its ability to act as a fat burner.
I definitely wouldn’t say it works as well as most people try to claim but it does have a very interesting mechanism of action which is different from all of the other supplements that I’ve mentioned here so it is worth discussing.
Yohimbine works by enhancing the effects of your flight or fight response system.
This system is known as the sympathetic nervous system and through its actions on neurotransmitters has an impact on energy production, fat burn, and glucose utilization.
Yohimbine seems to work by increasing fat breakdown by inhibiting alpha-adrenergic receptors.
It’s kind of a double negative so it’s easier to think about yohimbine working by taking the breaks off of your body’s ability to burn fat.
The reason I’m not a huge fan of this particular supplement is that it doesn’t work well in isolation and without other therapies.
If you want to see results when using it then you must combine it with exercise (6).
Now, you should be doing this anyway, but I know there will be plenty of people out there who want to take a supplement without changing their diet or exercising.
If that’s you then yohimbine is not your best option.
If you’re already exercising and you want to enhance the fat-burning potential of your exercise routine then yohimbine is a great option.
Probiotics aren’t really thought of as a weight loss supplement but they absolutely can help.
One meta-analysis looked at over 27 different studies on probiotics and found that 23 (7) of them showed that taking probiotics had a positive impact on body weight.
Those are pretty impressive numbers considering most people don’t even think about using probiotics for weight management.
The mechanism by which probiotics help with weight is not completely understood but it definitely has to do with the impact that they have on your gut microbiome.
The composition of the trillions of bacteria in your gut set the stage for the production of neurotransmitters, the activation of hormones, and the absorption of calories.
So it’s probably the case that probiotics impact every single one of these factors and just lead to an overall healthier state.
The healthier you are, the more energy you have, the easier it is to work out and lose weight, and so on.
Based on my experience, taking an everyday probiotic will likely help your overall health but probably won’t have a big impact on your weight.
If weight loss is your goal then I would recommend using a very potent blend of multiple different species of probiotics with the goal to get at least 100 billion CFU per day or higher.
This is roughly about 5x the standard probiotic dose which is somewhere around 20 billion CFU/serving.
Wrapping it Up & Final Thoughts
So how can you take this information and apply it to your life?
My recommendation would be to find 2-3 different supplements listed above and think about using them together.
By combining weight loss supplements with a different mechanism of action you will increase your chances of seeing the weight loss you are looking for.
And, as always, make sure that you combine the use of supplements with diet, exercise, and fasting of some sort (either intermittent or prolonged).
If you’ve been trying to lose weight unsuccessfully then you may also want to expand your treatments to include the use of hormones.
As I’ve mentioned in other places on my website, the higher your weight, the more likely your hormones are to play in your ability to lose weight.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you tried any of the weight loss supplements I mentioned above?
Are you thinking about trying any now that you’ve read this?
Are you using other weight loss supplements that aren’t listed here? Have they worked for you?
Do you think hormones are playing an important role in your weight?
Leave your questions or comments below!