Last modified on October 20th, 2023
There are potential inositol weight loss benefits, but there are also some things to know before you try this supplement, which we detail below.
What Is Inositol?
Inositol is a carbohydrate naturally occurring in the body and some food.
There are different forms, and every molecule has a chemical structure similar to glucose, the primary sugar in the blood.
You’ll often hear it referred to as vitamin B8, but it’s not a vitamin.
Inositol is found in foods high in fiber and citrus fruits and is a supplement to help with metabolic and hormone-related symptoms and conditions.
Inositol is also called myo-inositol, inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), and D-chiro-inositol.
The Benefits of Inositol
Some of the general benefits of inositol include:
- Effects on serotonin: Inositol affects processes that make your neurotransmitters, which relay messages within your brain. Serotonin is one of the key neurotransmitters affected by inositol. Evidence shows that because of the serotonin effects, inositol supplements may help with anxiety disorders, depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and similar conditions.
- Insulin sensitivity: With insulin resistance, your body has problems responding to insulin, and it’s associated with metabolic syndrome. Inositol can produce molecules that play a role in insulin action in cells, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance.
- Fertility: PCOS is a condition that causes a woman’s body to produce high amounts of certain hormones, and it can cause infertility issues. Insulin sensitivity is thought to be one of the reasons that women with PCOS have reduced fertility, so inositol may be helpful for this reason. In some studies, inositol has been found to improve ovary function and fertility in women with PCOS.
- Depression: We talked a bit about the mental health benefits of inositol above, and these extend to depression as well. In research, taking around 12 grams of inositol daily for several weeks reduced depression symptoms compared to a placebo, likely because it impacts neurotransmitter production.
- Blood pressure: In several studies, inositol has helped lead to small blood pressure reductions
What We Know About Inositol Weight Loss Benefits
If you want to learn more about inositol weight loss benefits, there may be some science to back this up.
Most inositol supplements combine d-chiro-inositol and myo-inositol with a 40:1 ratio.
Since it’s a natural sugar, you might wonder why inositol weight loss benefits exist.
It’s likely due to insulin.
When you eat, your body begins breaking the food down into sugar.
This is blood glucose.
Then, your pancreas is meant to release insulin that helps your body move sugar out of your blood and turn it into energy the rest of your body can use.
If you have a metabolic condition such as PCOS or diabetes, your pancreas might struggle to make insulin.
Your cells might have a harder time using insulin, which is insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is highly correlated with higher weights, but you can also have insulin resistance even if your BMI is normal.
However, if it goes untreated, insulin resistance can still become weight gain and, ultimately, diabetes, even in people who weren’t initially overweight.
There are inositol weight loss benefits because it acts like insulin.
Myo inositol benefits come from the fact that it replaces insulin’s effects, so even if you’ve stopped responding to it as a supplement, the inositol can still perform a similar job, lowering your blood glucose.
Deficiencies in D-chiro-inositol and Myo-inositol have been associated with insulin resistance, complications of diabetes, and conditions like Alzheimer’s, depression, and bipolar disorder.
If you combine inositol with other strategies to lose weight, such as diet and exercise, studies show it’s even more effective.
In one study of PCOS patients who had higher weights, taking inositol supplements over six months led to better outcomes in restoring menstrual cycles and faster weight loss.
Studies have also shown that supplementing can reduce the risk of developing other metabolic disorders if you have PCOS, such as diabetes, and it may help prevent gestational diabetes.
Other Inositol Weight Loss Benefits
While taking a myo-inositol or d-chiro-inositol supplement can help you lose weight directly because it replicates the effects of insulin, there are also indirect ways it can help.
For example, by increasing serotonin levels, you may be able to lose weight. When you have balanced serotonin levels, feel happier, and get better sleep, you’ll have more energy and feel fuller even when you eat less food.
Serotonin is nature’s appetite suppressor, and it can also reduce cravings and help you feel less anxiety and more stable so that you can focus on your well-being.
Inositol supports healthy hormone signaling, so it may have thyroid benefits. Low myo-inositol levels can raise the risk of developing hyperthyroidism, which is associated with weight gain and having a harder time losing weight.
Inositol affects leptin, which is considered one of the key regulators of body fat. Leptin is secreted from fat cells.
It’s supposed to provide feedback to your brain that manages your appetite and the calories you burn. If you have something called leptin resistance, it means your hormonal system is dysregulated.
A dysregulated hormonal system affecting leptin makes it hard to lose weight.
Inositol, specifically Myo-inositol, is one of the few supplements that can help treat leptin resistance.
Another way inositol for weight loss is beneficial is because the supplement can affect sex hormones. It can decrease estrogen, improve estrogen dominance symptoms, reduce testosterone levels in women who have PCOS, and increase sex hormone-binding protein synthesis.
Estrogen is a hormone with a significant influence on fat cells. High estrogen causes fat growth and weight gain. High estrogen levels can also affect your mood and cortisol levels.
Both can play a role in things like motivation to work out, weight gain and loss, and appetite.
Myo-inositol can normalize hormone levels and benefit how your body regulates fat production.
How To Take Inositol for Weight Loss
Overall, inositol supplements are considered safe because it’s a naturally occurring substance, and most people experience few, if any, side effects.
Consider taking up to 2,000 mg twice daily if weight loss is your goal, and always speak to your doctor first. In studies, participants have been given up to four grams of inositol daily to help with weight loss, especially concerning PCOS. Four grams would be equal to two 2,000 mg doses.
When you’re taking this as a supplement, it’s best to take it on an empty stomach. You might take inositol at night because it helps people get better quality sleep because of the effects on neurotransmitters.
How Much Inositol Per Day for Weight Loss?
Studies have used up to four grams of inositol daily for weight loss. That’s 4,000 mg.
Inositol vs. Metformin for Weight Loss: Mechanisms of Action and Comparison
Inositol and Metformin are two different compounds used to address weight management, particularly in individuals with conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or insulin resistance.
Let’s compare their mechanisms of action and their effectiveness for weight loss:
Mechanism of Action: Inositol, specifically myo-inositol, is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that plays a crucial role in insulin signaling and various cellular processes. It is believed to:
- Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Inositol helps improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, making it more effective in regulating blood sugar levels. This can reduce insulin resistance, a common issue in PCOS and obesity.
- Aid in Hormonal Balance: Inositol may support hormonal balance by regulating the production of sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, which can impact weight regulation.
- Reduce Cravings: Some users report that inositol can help reduce cravings for sugary and high-calorie foods, making it easier to adhere to a balanced diet.
Effectiveness for Weight Loss: Inositol has shown promise in clinical studies, particularly in women with PCOS. While it may not lead to dramatic weight loss on its own, it can contribute to a gradual reduction in weight by addressing underlying hormonal and metabolic imbalances.
Mechanism of Action: Metformin is an oral medication commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes and sometimes for PCOS-related issues. It operates through several mechanisms:
- Decreased Hepatic Glucose Production: Metformin primarily reduces glucose production in the liver, lowering blood sugar levels and subsequently reducing insulin levels.
- Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity: It improves insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues, such as muscle and fat cells, which allows the body to use insulin more efficiently.
- Appetite Regulation: Metformin can lead to reduced appetite in some individuals, making it easier to consume fewer calories.
Effectiveness for Weight Loss: Metformin is known to lead to modest weight loss in individuals with type 2 diabetes and PCOS. It is more likely to have a direct impact on weight loss compared to inositol. However, the weight loss experienced with metformin is generally moderate, and the primary goal is to manage blood sugar and insulin levels.
Mechanism: Inositol primarily addresses hormonal imbalances and insulin sensitivity, whereas metformin focuses on reducing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Metformin may have a more direct impact on weight loss.
Suitability: Inositol is often considered for individuals with PCOS or mild insulin resistance. Metformin is typically prescribed for more severe insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and PCOS-related issues.
Side Effects: Both inositol and metformin are generally well-tolerated, but metformin may have more potential for gastrointestinal side effects, while inositol is less likely to cause such issues.
Long-Term Use: Inositol is often considered safer for long-term use, while metformin may require monitoring and possible discontinuation under certain circumstances.
Complementary Use: In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend using inositol and metformin together for enhanced benefits, particularly in individuals with PCOS.
In summary, inositol and metformin have distinct mechanisms of action for weight management. Inositol addresses hormonal and insulin-related issues and may be suitable for mild cases, while metformin is more directly associated with weight loss, primarily in more severe cases of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Supplements to Take With Inositol for Weight Loss
Supplements can be used synergistically with inositol to enhance its effectiveness in supporting weight loss, especially in individuals with conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or insulin resistance.
Here are some supplements that may work well in combination with inositol:
Chromium is a trace mineral that can improve insulin sensitivity. When combined with inositol, it may help regulate blood sugar levels more effectively, reducing insulin resistance and cravings for sugary foods.
Cinnamon has been studied for its potential to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. When used alongside inositol, it can further enhance the management of insulin resistance.
Berberine is a natural compound derived from certain plants. It has demonstrated efficacy in improving insulin sensitivity and regulating glucose metabolism. Combining berberine with inositol may provide comprehensive support for individuals with insulin-related weight management issues.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fish oil supplements, can help reduce inflammation and support metabolic health. In combination with inositol, they may assist in addressing the underlying factors contributing to weight gain.
NAC is an amino acid that can improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate glucose metabolism. It may complement inositol’s effects in individuals with insulin resistance.
Green Tea Extract:
Green tea contains compounds like catechins that have been linked to improved metabolism and weight management. When used with inositol, green tea extract may boost the body’s ability to burn fat.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that plays a role in fat metabolism. When used alongside inositol, it can help the body utilize fat stores more efficiently.
Adequate vitamin D levels are associated with improved insulin sensitivity. Supplementing with vitamin D and inositol may benefit individuals with vitamin D deficiencies and insulin resistance.
A healthy gut microbiome is increasingly linked to metabolic health. Probiotic supplements can help maintain gut balance and support digestive health, potentially assisting in weight management when used with inositol.
Magnesium is crucial for glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity. A magnesium supplement, in conjunction with inositol, may further promote metabolic health.
What Are the Effects of Inositol on Female Hormones?
Inositol, particularly myo-inositol, plays a crucial role in female hormonal balance, especially in conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and other reproductive health issues. Here’s how inositol can affect female hormones:
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Inositol is known for its ability to enhance insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance is a common issue in conditions like PCOS. When inositol improves insulin sensitivity, it helps the body use insulin more effectively, leading to more stable blood sugar levels.
- Regulation of Sex Hormones: Inositol has been found to regulate the production of sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. In PCOS, hormonal imbalances often result in elevated testosterone levels, which can lead to symptoms like hirsutism and irregular menstrual cycles. Inositol can help restore a more balanced hormonal profile by reducing elevated testosterone levels.
- Menstrual Cycle Regularity: Women with PCOS often experience irregular menstrual cycles. Inositol has been shown to help regulate menstrual cycles by addressing the hormonal imbalances at the root of the problem.
- Ovulation Support: Inositol can promote regular ovulation in women with PCOS, which is important for fertility. By improving hormonal balance, it can increase the chances of successful ovulation.
- Reduction in Androgen Levels: Androgens are male hormones like testosterone that are present in both men and women. Elevated androgen levels in women can lead to PCOS symptoms. Inositol can help reduce androgen levels, alleviating symptoms like acne, excess body hair, and hair loss.
- Fertility Support: For women struggling with fertility issues related to PCOS or hormonal imbalances, inositol can be beneficial. It can help regulate the menstrual cycle and improve ovulation, increasing the chances of conception.
What Form of Inositol Is Best For Weight Loss?
The two most commonly used forms of inositol for weight loss and metabolic health are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. These two forms of inositol are often combined in a specific ratio, as they work synergistically to support various aspects of metabolic health, including weight management. Here’s a brief overview of each:
Myo-inositol is the more prevalent form of inositol found in nature and in the human body. It plays a crucial role in insulin signaling and is known for its ability to improve insulin sensitivity. Myo-inositol is particularly effective in addressing insulin resistance, which is often associated with conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and obesity.
D-chiro-inositol is less abundant in the body but is also important for metabolic health. It helps regulate insulin and glucose metabolism and is often used in combination with myo-inositol to achieve better results. D-chiro-inositol may be more beneficial for individuals with PCOS, as it has been found to reduce androgen (male hormone) levels and support ovarian function.
The Best Form for Weight Loss:
The best form of inositol for weight loss depends on individual factors and underlying conditions. In many cases, a combination of myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol in a specific ratio (often 40:1 or 4:1) is recommended.
This combination has been shown to be effective in addressing insulin resistance, regulating menstrual cycles, and supporting weight loss in women with PCOS.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Inositol for Weight Loss?
Inositol is generally considered safe and well-tolerated when taken at recommended dosages. However, like any supplement or medication, it can potentially cause side effects, although they are typically mild. Here are some of the possible side effects of taking inositol for weight loss:
- Gastrointestinal Distress: Some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, gas, bloating, or diarrhea when taking inositol. These effects are usually dose-dependent, meaning they may be more likely to occur at higher doses.
- Headache: Headaches are a rare side effect of inositol supplementation, but they have been reported in some cases. Reducing or dividing the dosage into smaller, more frequent doses throughout the day may help alleviate this.
- Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness or lightheadedness as a side effect. This is less common but can occur, particularly if inositol is taken in large amounts.
- Allergic Reactions: Although extremely rare, there have been reports of allergic reactions to inositol, including skin rashes and itching. If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction, discontinue use and seek medical attention.
- Hypoglycemia: Inositol’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity may cause a drop in blood sugar levels, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is more likely to occur in individuals taking medications that lower blood sugar, such as insulin or sulfonylureas. If you have diabetes or are taking such medications, consult a healthcare provider before using inositol.
It’s important to note that side effects of inositol are relatively rare, and most people tolerate it well. To minimize the risk of side effects, consider the following tips:
- Start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as tolerated.
- Divide the daily dose into multiple smaller doses to reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Take inositol with or after meals to further reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
Can You Take Berberine and Inositol Together?
Yes, in many cases, you can take both inositol and berberine together, and they may even complement each other’s effects, particularly in the context of improving metabolic health and addressing conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or insulin resistance.
Here’s some information about how they work and their potential benefits when used together:
- Inositol, specifically myo-inositol, helps improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.
- It plays a role in hormonal balance, particularly by reducing elevated testosterone levels and supporting ovarian function in women with PCOS.
- Inositol can contribute to weight management by addressing underlying hormonal and metabolic imbalances.
- Berberine is a natural compound derived from certain plants, and it has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate glucose metabolism.
- It can reduce elevated blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic issues.
- Berberine may help with weight loss by enhancing metabolic processes and reducing cravings.
Using Inositol and Berberine Together:
- In many cases, healthcare providers recommend using inositol and berberine together, as they have distinct mechanisms of action that can address different aspects of metabolic health.
- The combination of inositol and berberine can support insulin sensitivity, reduce elevated blood sugar levels, and help regulate hormonal imbalances commonly seen in PCOS.
- Dosage: The specific dosage of inositol and berberine may vary depending on individual needs and the condition being addressed. Your healthcare provider can determine the appropriate dosages for your situation.
- Individual Response: Responses to supplements can vary from person to person, so it’s essential to monitor your progress and discuss any concerns or side effects with your healthcare provider.
Does Inositol Help with Belly Fat?
Inositol, specifically myo-inositol, can indirectly support efforts to reduce belly fat, especially when the accumulation of belly fat is related to metabolic issues like insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, or conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Here’s how inositol may contribute to addressing belly fat:
Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Inositol, particularly myo-inositol, is known for its ability to enhance insulin sensitivity. When your body becomes more responsive to insulin, it can use blood sugar (glucose) more effectively. Insulin resistance, which is common in conditions like PCOS and prediabetes, can lead to increased fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area. By improving insulin sensitivity, inositol can help your body better manage blood sugar and reduce the likelihood of excess fat storage.
Hormonal Balance: Inositol can play a role in regulating hormone levels, particularly in women with PCOS. Elevated levels of androgens, including testosterone, are associated with increased belly fat in some women. Inositol can help reduce androgen levels, which may lead to a decrease in belly fat over time.
Weight Management: Inositol can contribute to weight management by addressing underlying metabolic imbalances. While it may not directly “burn” belly fat, it can help create an environment in which the body is more conducive to weight loss or maintenance.
How Long Does It Take to See Results From Taking Inositol for Weight Loss?
The time it takes to see noticeable results from inositol supplementation can vary widely from person to person, depending on individual factors, the specific health condition being addressed, and the dosage used.
Individuals may often begin to observe improvements within a few weeks to a few months of consistent use. Here are some general considerations:
Insulin Sensitivity and Blood Sugar Control: Inositol, particularly myo-inositol, can rapidly improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Some individuals with insulin resistance or prediabetes may notice improvements in blood sugar levels within a few weeks to a couple of months. However, achieving more significant and lasting results may require several months of consistent use.
Hormonal Balance: If you are using inositol to address hormonal imbalances, such as those related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), it may take a bit longer to see substantial changes. Hormones, especially in the case of PCOS, operate on a monthly cycle. Therefore, it may take a few menstrual cycles (typically several months) to observe significant improvements in symptoms like regular menstrual cycles and reduced androgen levels.
Weight Management: Inositol can be a supportive component of a weight management plan. The rate at which you see weight-related results can vary based on factors like your diet, exercise, and individual metabolism. Some people may notice gradual weight loss or stabilization over several months, while others may see more rapid changes.
Mental Well-Being: For those using inositol to address mood-related concerns, such as anxiety or depression, it can take several weeks to a couple of months to experience improvements in mood and mental well-being.
How Should You Take Inositol For Weight Loss?
When taking inositol for weight loss, it’s essential to use it as part of a comprehensive weight management plan that includes a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Here are some guidelines for taking inositol for weight loss:
1. Choose the Right Form: Myo-inositol is the most commonly used form for addressing weight management and metabolic health. It’s typically available as a powder or in capsule form. It’s important to select a high-quality, pure product from a reputable manufacturer.
2. Dosage: The appropriate dosage of inositol for weight loss can vary depending on individual factors and health conditions. A common starting dose is around 2 grams (2,000 mg) per day. However, the optimal dose may range from 2 grams to 4 grams daily, or even higher in some cases. Your healthcare provider can determine the right dosage for your specific needs and monitor your progress.
3. Consistency: Inositol is generally most effective when taken consistently every day. Try to establish a routine where you take it at the same time each day.
4. Combining with Diet and Exercise: Inositol should be part of a holistic approach to weight management. A balanced diet that includes whole foods, appropriate portion sizes, and a mix of nutrients is crucial. Regular physical activity, including both cardiovascular exercise and strength training, can help support your weight loss goals.
5. Monitor Progress: Keep track of your progress over time. Pay attention to changes in your weight, body composition, and any improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Be patient, as it can take several weeks or even months to see significant results.
6. Work with a Healthcare Provider: It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting inositol supplementation for weight loss. They can assess your individual health situation, determine the best inositol form and dosage, and ensure it is appropriate for your specific needs. They can also help monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your regimen.
7. Consider Other Supplements: Depending on your specific health goals and needs, your healthcare provider may recommend other supplements to support your weight management plan, such as dietary fiber, probiotics, or vitamins and minerals.
When Should You Take Inositol For Weight Loss?
The timing of when to take inositol for weight loss can vary based on individual preferences and schedules. In general, you can take inositol at a time that works best for you, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Consistency: The most important aspect of taking inositol is consistency. It’s essential to take it daily to achieve the best results. Choose a time that you can stick to consistently, whether it’s in the morning, with a meal, or at another time that fits your routine.
- With or Without Food: Inositol can be taken with or without food, depending on your chosen form and brand. It’s generally well-tolerated and can be taken either way. Some people find it convenient to take it with a meal, while others prefer to take it on an empty stomach. The choice is yours.
- Consideration for Specific Goals: If you are using inositol to help manage blood sugar levels or improve insulin sensitivity, you may prefer taking it before or with meals to enhance its effect on blood sugar regulation.
- Personal Tolerance: Inositol is usually well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as mild stomach upset or gas, when taking it. If this is the case for you, consider splitting the daily dose into smaller amounts taken throughout the day to minimize discomfort.
- Additional Considerations: If you are also taking other supplements or medications, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that the timing of your inositol supplementation does not interfere with their absorption or effects.
Who Should Not Take Inositol?
Inositol is generally considered safe for most people when taken at appropriate doses. However, there are some situations where individuals should exercise caution or avoid inositol supplementation.
Here are some groups of people who should be cautious or avoid inositol:
Allergies: If you are allergic to inositol or any of its forms, you should avoid inositol supplements.
Medication Interactions: Inositol may interact with certain medications. If you are taking medications, particularly those affecting mood or neurological function, consult with a healthcare provider to ensure there are no potential interactions.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: While inositol is considered safe for most pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before using it to address specific concerns or health conditions.
Psychiatric Conditions: Individuals with psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder should use inositol with caution, as it can affect mood and may interact with medications used to manage these conditions.
Children: Inositol supplements may not be suitable for children, especially when not prescribed by a healthcare provider. Their use in pediatric populations should be carefully considered and monitored.
Surgery: If you are scheduled for surgery, it’s essential to inform your healthcare provider if you are taking inositol supplements, as it may impact blood clotting or other aspects of surgical care.
Kidney or Liver Conditions: Individuals with severe kidney or liver conditions should use inositol supplements with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as the kidneys and liver are responsible for metabolizing inositol.