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When it comes to losing that extra bit of weight that plagues you, there is only one plan of action — change your diet and exercise more. Supplements help enhance the work that you’re doing to drop the pounds, says Harry Preuss, M.D., professor at Georgetown Medical Center and research fellow at the National Institutes of Health.
However, not all natural weight loss supplements work in the same manner. Your individual needs — whether you need to speed up your metabolism, control food cravings, regulate your blood sugar or build or maintain muscle — can determine which supplements you should choose to get the best possible results.
Below are some of the best scientifically proven options for natural weight loss, which can help you reach you weight loss goals, whether used alone or as part of a more complete program as outlined in Dr. Preuss’s book, The Natural Fat-Loss Pharmacy.
Category: Insulin Regulators
How It Works: Ultimately, cinnamon’s claim to fame is its ability to control blood sugar, but it’s this benefit that makes this spice a valuable tool for natural weight loss. The fat cells in your abdomen are particularly sensitive to high insulin levels, and are very effective at storing excess calories that become fat.
According to research, cinnamon may actually mimic insulin, says Dr. Preuss. “It stimulates insulin receptors on fat cells in the same way that insulin does, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and into the cells.”
What to Take: Take a standardized, water-soluble cinnamon extract, on a daily basis. Getting the full weight loss benefits of cinnamon is not be as simple as sprinkling cinnamon on your food. Cinnamon contains volatile oils which may be toxic when taken consistently or in very high doses.
How It Works: Chromium is an essential trace mineral which helps your body metabolize fat, turn protein into muscle and convert sugar into energy. It also plays an important role in regulating insulin function. In addition, chromium may add appetite suppressant to its list of benefits as a natural weight loss supplement. Recent research has shown that daily supplementation with chromium can reduce food intake, hunger levels and fat cravings.
What to Take: Chromium targets the loss of fat instead of all important muscle. For weight loss, take at least 200 mcg a day, of a niacin-bound form of chromium, such as ChromeMate®.
Category: Natural Fat Burners
3. Green Tea
How It Works: EGCG (epigallocathechin gallate), the primary component in green tea, burns more calories by boosting metabolism and can actually act as a natural fat burner by killing fat cells, stopping the creation of new fat cells, according to Dr. Preuss.
How can green tea do this? Well, EGCG is thought to block the action of an enzyme that breaks down noradrenaline, a hormone made by the adrenal gland that stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which controls heart rate, muscle tension and the release of energy from fat.
What to Take: Taking at least 450 mg daily seems to yield the best results in terms of increased fat burning. Research has shown that it may be beneficial to take green tea extract after a high fat meal.
Category: Carb Blockers
4. Phase 2®
How It Works: An extract derived from white kidney beans, Phase 2, also known as phaseolamin, neutralizes carbohydrates like those found in starchy foods like potatoes, breads, pasta, rice, corn and crackers. Studies have found that those taking Phase 2 lose twice as much weight, experience greater decreases in BMI and waist/hip/thigh circumference and drop their triglyceride levels three times lower than those who don’t take the supplement. Phase 2 has also been shown to help decrease insulin resistance.
What to Take: Dr. Pruess suggests taking 1,000-1,500 mg before eating.
How It Works: The amino acid 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan) dramatically reduces your cravings for starches and sugars — those goodies that tend to help you pack on the pounds — by creating more serontonin, a brain chemical that affects mood and food cravings. According to Dr. Preuss, 5-HTP makes you feel fuller, sooner.
What to Take: Take 100 mg of an enteric-coated 5-HTP product three times a day, 20 minutes before meals.
Category: Appetite Suppressors
6. Super Citrimax® (HCA)
How It Works: Super Citrimax is a patented product composed of an active ingredient, HCA (hydroxycitric acid), that prevents extra sugar from being stored in fat cells. Instead, it stores it in muscles and in the liver as starch, where it’s easily broken down and used for energy as needed.
HCA also seems to help people to eat less without feeling hungry. It may be that excess carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles send satiety signals to the brain, turning off appetite. Or it may be because HCA raises blood levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that’s often low in people with depression. So serotonin has a calming effect, and may help reduce emotional eating.
What to Take: Dr. Preuss recommends taking Super Citrimax in doses of 750 mg 30-60 minutes before a eating.
How It Works: Slimaluma is a proprietary standardized extract of the caralluma cactus which growns in India. Classified by the Indian Health Ministry as a “famine food,” caralluma reduces appetite when there is very little — or even too much — food around by affecting the hunger mechanisms in your brain.
What to Take: Look for products that contain Slimaluma, which is a standardized extract of caralluma, and follow the recommended dosage on the label.
Category: Muscle Builders
How It Works: By interfering with lipoprotein lipase, a substance which causes the body to store fat, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) helps release existing stored fat and use it for energy. In addition, it helps change your body composition so that you have more fat and calorie burning muscle. CLA is good if your weight loss goal is measured in inches rather than numbers on a scale since it improves your body composition, increasing muscle and decreasing fat.
What to Take: If you decide to supplement with CLA, take 1,000 mg daily, divided into three doses for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
9 and 10. HMB and BCAAs
How They Work: HMB (hydroxymethylbutyrate) is a metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine, and BCAAs (branched chained amino acids) are a combination of three essential amino acids—leucine, isoleucine and valine. These compounds have been shown to prevent muscle breakdown and trigger muscle building, things which are especially important as you age. Taking these supplements can help your body build more calorie-burning muscle.
What to Take: Take 2 grams of HMB once a day. As for BCAAs, Dr. Preuss recommends that you pick a brand you trust and follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Your fight to lose weight doesn’t have to be a hopeless struggle! There are many safe and effective natural weight loss aids that can help you shed pounds or maintain your weight loss. While choosing one (or a few) of these supplements can help you lose weight, you’ll want to pair them with a sensible diet and exercise plan to see more drastic (as well as long term) results in your efforts to lose weight naturally.