Last modified on October 20th, 2023
Are you struggling to lose weight? Whether you’re looking for a natural version of Ozempic or want a weight loss supplement that works a little differently, there are many options. Below, we cover the best supplements for weight loss and explain why each works so well.
Carnitine, also known as L-carnitine, is an excellent weight-loss supplement. The substance helps your body turn fat into energy. Our bodies make it naturally in our kidneys and liver and store it in our heart, brain, and skeletal muscle, and men also store it in their sperm.
Your body might be able to make all the required carnitine, but then you can’t transport it to your tissues to be used. There are also certain health conditions and medications that can lead to low carnitine levels.
L-carnitine helps produce energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria. Your mitochondria then act like your cells’ engines, burning fats to create the energy you can use. Since L-carnitine helps your mitochondrial function, it also plays a role in supporting healthy aging and reducing the development of diseases.
In a review of nine studies, people taking L-carnitine lost an average of 2.9 pounds. Most of these studies focused on older and obese people.
Taking carnitine as a supplement might also boost brain function and protect your brain from cell damage. In a study of people with addictions to alcohol, taking acetyl-L-carnitine helped significantly improve all brain function measures.
Other benefits of carnitine supplements include:
- Heart health. In some studies, taking two grams of acetyl-L-carnitine daily led to significant drops in systolic blood pressure, an important heart health indicator. L-carnitine has been shown to improve symptoms in people with heart disorders like coronary heart disease and chronic heart failure.
- Exercise performance. L-carnitine may benefit exercise recovery, stamina, and muscle oxygen supply. It might also increase the production of red blood cells, which in turn can help transport oxygen to your muscles and throughout your body.
- Type 2 diabetes. L-carnitine might help reduce type 2 diabetes symptoms and risk factors.
Since it’s something our bodies make naturally and can come from foods, Carnitine is considered safe at doses of up to two grams daily. In one study, people taking three grams daily for 21 days didn’t experience negative side effects. Occasionally mild side effects are seen, like stomach discomfort and nausea.
The standard dose of L-carnitine seen in most studies is between 500 and 2000 mg a day.
Berberine is a true standout for anyone searching for the best supplements for weight loss. Berberine is a compound that naturally occurs in many plants, and it may help with weight loss, improve blood sugar control, and have protective effects against many chronic health conditions.
Berberine is an alkaloid with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine.
One of the primary reasons people take it is to reduce blood sugar levels with type 2 diabetes. Different mechanisms allow berberine to be beneficial for diabetes and lowering blood sugar levels.
First, it can decrease insulin resistance, helping insulin be more effective. It might increase glycolysis, the process your body uses to break down sugars in your cells. It reduces sugar production in the liver and can slow the breakdown of carbs in the gut. Berberine can also raise the number of beneficial bacteria found in the gut.
As far as being a supplement for weight loss, in one 12-week study of obese people, taking 500 mg doses of berberine three times a day helped them lose around five pounds on average. Participants also lost 3.6% of their total body weight. Another study found that berberine supplements helped reduce body weight, belly fat, and body mass index, as well as reducing markers of inflammation.
At the molecular level, berberine appears to prevent the growth of fat cells.
Other benefits of taking a berberine supplement include:
- It can reduce your risk of heart disease.
- In animal studies, it’s been shown to help depression symptoms.
- In animal and test-tube studies, berberine helped reduce the growth and spread of different types of cancer.
- Berberine can reduce the build-up of fat in the liver.
- In one study of people with heart failure, berberine helped improve symptoms and reduce death risk.
- Berberine is powerful as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
If you’re going to take berberine, the dose for weight loss is typically between 500 and 1500 mg a day. For example, you might take 500 mg three times a day before you eat. Then, that would be a total dose of 1500 mg for the day.
Berberine is considered very safe, but if you’re taking medication that lowers your blood sugar, speak to your healthcare provider before trying it.
5-HTP is one of the best supplements for weight loss because it works differently than many others.
5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan. It’s an amino acid your body can naturally produce, and then it’s used to make serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical messenger responsible for sending signals between nerve cells.
Low serotonin levels are linked to anxiety, depression, sleep problems, weight gain, and other health problems. If you can increase your serotonin production, it may benefit you in multiple ways, and 5-HTP is a supplement that can help raise your own production of serotonin.
One of the main ways that 5-HTP helps with weight loss is by increasing how full you feel, so you’ll eat less, losing weight. Low serotonin can increase the production of hormones that lead you to feel hungry, but 5-HTP can counteract hormones that induce hunger, suppressing your appetite and helping with weight loss.
5-HTP reduces the intake of carb-based calories, which helps with blood sugar control.
Other benefits of taking a 5-HTP supplement, aside from weight loss, include:
- 5-HTP is excellent for increasing serotonin levels, influencing mood, and reducing depression.
- This supplement might help with symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, fatigue, and brain fog. Low serotonin levels are thought to be associated with fibromyalgia.
- Taking a 5-HTP supplement can help with migraines because researchers believe these debilitating headaches might be associated with low serotonin levels.
- 5-HTP produces serotonin, and serotonin can be converted into melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate healthy sleep patterns.
5-HTP as a weight loss supplement is considered safe, but you should start with a low dose to avoid potential side effects.
You might start with a dose of 50 mg daily and take it three times daily with food. Then, if needed, you can progress to 100 mg three times a day.
If you take any other medications that raise the production of serotonin, such as antidepressants, talk to your healthcare provider before trying 5-HTP. You don’t want to combine these medications, which can trigger serotonin syndrome, a condition that’s potentially life-threatening.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated linoleic acid is an excellent supplement for weight loss.
CLA is a trans fat that occurs naturally in some animal foods, and it helps with weight loss by blocking the production of fat, increasing how much fat you burn, and stimulating the breakdown of fat. CLA can also increase your feelings of fullness and lower your appetite.
Along with being a natural weight loss aid, people use conjugated linoleic acid when they want to build more muscle. Uniquely, CLA is thought to be able to limit how much fat your body can store, but at the same time, it can preserve muscle.
One study found that taking CLA for three months led to significant decreases in body fat and the secretion of leptin. Leptin is a hormone released by body fat that helps control weight.
In animal studies, CLA has been proven to reduce fasting blood glucose, increase glucose tolerance, and have other benefits for type 2 diabetes.
Conjugated linoleic acid is considered safe in general, but it could slow blood clotting, so be mindful of this if you take blood thinners or NSAIDs. The Food and Drug Administration considers CLA as “generally regarded as safe” or GRAS at doses of between 3 grams and 6 grams per day. Doses of up to six grams a day don’t have any significant reported side effects.
Chromium picolinate is a popular dietary supplement often promoted for its potential benefits for weight loss and improving blood sugar control. It combines chromium, an essential mineral, and picolinic acid, which helps the body absorb chromium more effectively.
Chromium is involved in various metabolic processes, including the regulation of glucose metabolism, and has been shown to have potential benefits for weight loss when taken in supplement form.
One of the primary ways that chromium picolinate may aid in weight loss and be one of the best supplements for weight loss is by improving insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and is involved in metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
When cells become resistant to insulin, as is often the case in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes, the body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels and storing excess glucose as fat.
Chromium picolinate has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which may help to reduce cravings for sugary and high-carbohydrate foods and promote weight loss.
In addition to its effects on insulin sensitivity, chromium picolinate may also help to suppress appetite and reduce food intake. A small clinical trial published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics found that participants who took chromium picolinate supplements experienced a reduction in hunger and cravings for carbohydrates compared to those who took a placebo. Other studies have found that chromium supplementation may help to reduce snacking and binge eating behaviors, which can contribute to weight gain.
Chromium picolinate may also help to promote fat loss and preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss. A study published in Nutrition Research found that overweight women who took chromium picolinate supplements for 12 weeks lost more body fat and had a greater body weight reduction than those who took a placebo. The study also found that the participants who took chromium picolinate had a greater increase in lean muscle mass, which can help to boost metabolism and burn more calories at rest.
In addition to its potential benefits for weight loss, chromium picolinate may also have other health benefits. Chromium is involved in cholesterol metabolism and may help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. It may also help to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A review of clinical trials published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics found that chromium supplementation improved glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes, particularly when combined with other interventions such as exercise and dietary changes.
Yohimbe is a natural supplement derived from the bark of the Yohimbe tree, which is native to West Africa.
It is commonly used for weight loss and is believed to increase metabolism, suppresses appetite, and promote fat burning.
Here are some of the potential benefits of Yohimbe for weight loss:
- Increased metabolism: Yohimbe has been shown to increase metabolism, which may help people burn more calories and lose weight. This is believed to be due to the ability of yohimbine, the active compound in Yohimbe, to stimulate the production of norepinephrine, a hormone that regulates metabolism.
- Appetite suppression: Yohimbe may help to suppress appetite and reduce cravings for high-calorie foods. This may be due to the ability of yohimbine to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which can help to regulate appetite and mood.
- Fat burning: Yohimbe is believed to promote fat burning by increasing the release of fatty acids from adipose tissue, which the body can then use for energy. This may help to reduce body fat and improve body composition.
- Improved exercise performance: Yohimbe may also improve exercise performance, which can contribute to weight loss. Studies have shown that yohimbine can increase endurance, improve energy levels, and reduce fatigue during exercise.
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is known for reducing stress and improving overall health and wellness. In recent years, ashwagandha has gained popularity as a natural supplement for weight loss. Here are some of the potential benefits of ashwagandha for weight loss:
- Reduced stress and cortisol levels: Stress and high cortisol levels can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress and cortisol levels, which may help to promote weight loss.
- Increased metabolism: Ashwagandha has been shown to increase metabolism and improve thyroid function, which can help to burn more calories and promote weight loss.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Ashwagandha may also help to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the development of insulin resistance. This condition can lead to weight gain.
- Appetite suppression: Ashwagandha may help to suppress appetite and reduce cravings for high-calorie foods. This may be due to its ability to regulate the production of certain hormones that control appetite.
- Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation can contribute to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Ashwagandha has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.
Inositol is a nutrient classified as a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. It is naturally present in various foods, including fruits, grains, and nuts, and can also be synthesized by the body. Inositol has gained attention in recent years for its potential benefits for weight loss.
Here are some of how inositol may help with weight loss:
- Regulation of blood sugar: Inositol may help to regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. This can help to prevent the body from storing excess glucose as fat, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Reduction of stress and anxiety: Inositol has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and may help to reduce stress and anxiety. High stress levels can lead to overeating and weight gain, so reducing stress levels can be an important part of a weight loss program.
- Reduction of binge eating: Inositol has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of binge eating episodes in people with binge eating disorder. Binge eating can contribute to weight gain, so reducing the frequency of binge eating episodes may help with weight loss.
- Improved fat metabolism: Inositol may also improve the body’s ability to metabolize fat, which can help with weight loss. It has been shown to increase the activity of certain enzymes in fat metabolism, leading to increased fat burning and reduced fat storage.
- Improved hormone balance: Inositol may help to balance hormones that can contribute to weight gains, such as estrogen and testosterone. This can help to regulate the body’s metabolism and promote weight loss.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a compound found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. DIM supplements have become popular in recent years for their potential health benefits, including weight loss. Here are some of how DIM may help with weight loss:
- Regulation of estrogen levels: DIM may help to regulate estrogen levels in the body. High levels of estrogen can contribute to weight gain, particularly in women. By balancing estrogen levels, DIM may help to promote weight loss.
- Increased fat burning: DIM has been shown to increase the activity of certain enzymes involved in fat burning. This can help to increase the rate at which the body burns fat, leading to weight loss.
- Reduction of inflammation: DIM may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to weight gain. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of health problems, including obesity.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: DIM may improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the development of insulin resistance. This can also help to promote weight loss by reducing the risk of excess glucose being stored as fat.
- Appetite suppression: DIM may help to suppress appetite and reduce cravings for high-calorie foods. This may be due to its ability to regulate the production of certain hormones that control appetite.
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play a crucial role in various bodily functions, including metabolism, energy production, and nervous system function. Here are some of how B vitamins may help with weight loss:
- Improved metabolism: B vitamins, particularly B1, B2, and B3, are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They help to convert food into energy that the body can use, which can help to improve metabolism and promote weight loss.
- Increased energy levels: B vitamins are also important for maintaining energy levels throughout the day. When the body is low on energy, it can lead to cravings for high-calorie foods and overeating. By increasing energy levels, B vitamins may help to reduce the risk of overeating and promote weight loss.
- Reduction of stress and anxiety: B vitamins, particularly B6 and B12, have been shown to have a calming effect on the body and may help to reduce stress and anxiety. High stress levels can lead to overeating and weight gain, so reducing stress levels can be an important part of a weight loss program.
- Improved digestion: B vitamins are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. They help break down food and absorb nutrients, which can help prevent nutrient deficiencies contributing to weight gain.
- Regulation of hormones: B vitamins, particularly B6 and B12, are important for regulating hormones that can contribute to weight gain, such as cortisol and insulin. By regulating these hormones, B vitamins may help to promote weight loss.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fatty acids found in various foods, including fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. They are considered essential because the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained through diet or supplements. Here are some of the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for weight loss:
- Reduced inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity, and metabolic syndrome, so reducing inflammation may help to promote weight loss.
- Increased metabolism: Omega-3 fatty acids may also help increase metabolism by boosting levels of a hormone called leptin, which regulates metabolism and appetite.
- Reduced appetite: Omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce appetite by increasing levels of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which is released in the small intestine and signals to the brain that you are full.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for regulating blood sugar levels and preventing weight gain.
- Increased muscle mass: Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to increase muscle mass, which can help to boost metabolism and promote weight loss.
Magnesium is an essential mineral in many bodily processes, including metabolism, energy production, and muscle function. While magnesium has not been widely studied specifically for its effects on weight loss, some evidence suggests that it may have potential benefits.
Here are some ways in which magnesium may help with weight loss:
- Improved metabolism: Magnesium is involved in many metabolic processes, including the breakdown of glucose and the production of ATP (the molecule that provides energy to cells). Studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation may increase metabolic rate, potentially leading to weight loss.
- Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce inflammation in the body, potentially leading to weight loss.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Magnesium may also help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for regulating blood sugar levels and preventing weight gain.
- Reduced stress: Stress has been linked to overeating and weight gain. Magnesium may help to reduce stress by regulating cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body.
- Reduced water retention: Magnesium may also help to reduce water retention, which can lead to bloating and weight gain.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits when consumed adequately. Recent studies have suggested that certain strains of probiotics may have potential benefits for weight loss by regulating gut microbiota and improving metabolic functions. Here are some ways in which probiotics may help with weight loss:
- Regulating gut microbiota: The gut microbiota plays an essential role in digestion and metabolism. Imbalances in gut microbiota have been associated with obesity and metabolic disorders. Certain strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, have been shown to improve gut microbiota and promote weight loss.
- Reducing inflammation: Inflammation has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Probiotics may help to reduce inflammation in the body, potentially leading to weight loss.
- Regulating appetite: Some studies have suggested that certain probiotic strains may help regulate appetite by reducing cravings and promoting feelings of fullness.
- Improving insulin sensitivity: Probiotics may also help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for regulating blood sugar levels and preventing weight gain.
Several specific strains of probiotics have been linked to weight loss. These include:
- Lactobacillus gasseri: This strain has been shown to reduce abdominal fat and body weight in overweight adults.
- Bifidobacterium lactis: This strain has been shown to reduce body weight and body fat in obese adults.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This strain has been shown to reduce body weight and improve insulin sensitivity in overweight women.
- Lactobacillus fermentum: This strain has been shown to reduce body weight and improve insulin sensitivity in obese adults.
In addition to general weight loss, probiotics may also have potential benefits for menopause weight loss and PCOS weight loss.
Menopause is associated with hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Some studies have suggested that probiotics help to regulate hormones and reduce menopause-related weight gain.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. Probiotics may help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, potentially leading to weight loss in women with PCOS.
In conclusion, while many supplements on the market claim to aid in weight loss, it is important to approach them cautiously and do thorough research before incorporating them into your weight loss plan. Some of the most promising supplements for weight loss include protein, chromium picolinate, 5-HTP, yohimbine, ashwagandha, berberine, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, probiotics, and B vitamins, among others.
These supplements may offer benefits such as regulating appetite, improving metabolic functions, reducing inflammation, and promoting healthy gut microbiota.
However, it is important to remember that supplements are not a magic solution for weight loss and should be combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure safety and effectiveness.