This week I’m writing about supplementation and today I’m specifically writing about supplements for weight loss. What is effective? What can you effectively ignore?
Let me preface this article by saying that if the benefits of any supplement seem too good to be true, then the definitely are!!
There is a big gap between advertising and what is actually effective for improvement in weight loss. If it seems too good to be true, it definitely 100% is. Most things that are actually legal definitely do not work for weight loss.
Please don’t get sucked into fat burners, or anything that claims to burn more fat than something else. These claims are definitely incorrect and false advertising.
Of course you might get sucked into buying something illegal and does actually work. You definitely do not want to be taking things that are either borderline medicinal or actual drugs designed to treat certain conditions. These things can seriously affect your human makeup and harm your health.
The thing that is most effective for weight loss funnily enough, is maintaining a calorie deficit. Eating and drinking fewer calories than you expend over a given time.
There are some supplements that can help us during this period and those are the ones I’m going to be talking about today.
Firstly we have Omega 3 fish oils. Note that I’ve specifically mentioned Omega 3 fish oils, not cod liver oil or anything else. Look for an Omega 3 that has a good combination of EPA and DHA by checking the back of the container.
There was a study on fish oil supplementation by Noreen et al in 2010, where they found that having fish oil supplementation on top of a weight loss regime helped facilitate weight loss within their group. The people that took fish oils, had a greater percentage of lean body mass and a greater fat loss, compared to the group that didn’t take them.
Of course you still need to exercise regularly and you still need to adhere to eating fewer calories, but according to this study taking fish oils can help facilitate a weight loss.
How much you need to take depends on how much oily fish you’re having per week at the moment. If you’re eating oily fish two to four times a week, things like salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna, you’re probably going to be okay when it comes to your oily fish intake, but you may supplement with a little bit if you choose.
If you don’t eat any oily fish at all, I would very much recommend supplementing. Depending on your status you want to be taking somewhere between 300 milligrammes of combined EPA and DHA up to 1000 milligrammes of combined EPA and DHA.
You can work out the dose you need by looking at the back of your packet. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the best thing for you to go and get is some algae supplementation.
The next supplement we could consider helping us with effective weight loss is vitamin D. Vitamin D is so important to overall health as well and I will cover that again later in the week.
With specific regards to weight loss, there was a study by Ortega et al in 2008, suggesting that women with a better vitamin D status responded much more positively to calorie deficits and lost more body fat.
So again, just like with the study by Noreen at al, the women still had a calorie deficit and they still exercised regularly but they took vitamin D as well. The study showed that women that had a better vitamin D status responded better to this diet and adhered better to this diet losing more body fat.
How much vitamin D should we take per day? Again, it’s variable depending on your current vitamin D status, and it varies depending on your skin colour, funnily enough, so people with a darker skin pigmentation may need more vitamin D. This is because of the amount of vitamin D they can absorb through sun exposure.
So a good baseline is that if you are of European ancestry, ie mostly white and you have a high sun exposure, around 1300iu a day of vitamin D intake in the winter and getting outside frequently in the summer will be fine.
People with a darker skin pigmentation, with low sun exposure need a consistent 2100iu to 3100iu per day, year round.
Have a think about the sun exposure of your current climate and the sun exposure of your current lifestyle, because even though we’re in the sun right now, we are also in lockdown right now.
I would massively recommend you getting out and getting some exposure when you can, either by working outside in your garden, just spending time outside in your garden and/or going for that one walk a day.
Do note though that those of us who are of European ancestry don’t need as much vitamin D during the summer, if we’re getting plenty of sun exposure. We do need more of it during the winter.
In terms of more studies around weight loss there was one done by Carrillo in 2013, which also showed a strong inverse association between a change in your vitamin D status with your waist to hip ratio. A higher someone’s vitamin D status, the better their waist to hip ratio, they were slimmer.
The last supplement we need to consider is caffeine. Caffeine is a very, very effective sports supplement and I’ll write more about that tomorrow in the performance episode. With regards to weight loss, there is some data to show that it can help reduce appetites, which will help you with adhering to a calorie deficit.
There are some studies that show it increases fat oxidation and metabolism. This was done by Astra Patel in 1990. What we need to remember is that fat oxidation just means the body fat gets burned as a means of fuel. It doesn’t necessarily correlate over to body fat loss.
There has been a little bit of study to show that caffeine can give a slight boost in metabolism. However, caffeine dependency is a real risk and it can affect sleep, if you have it too close to bedtime.
Make sure that you only have one to two caffeinated beverages a day, make sure that you don’t have any caffeine after midday at all, because then it’s going to have a negative impact on your sleep.
Sleep deprivation then means you’ll have to have more caffeine the next day in order to wake yourself up and you’ll get into this awful circle of being dependent on it.
That’s pretty much as far as it goes for supplements to help with weight loss. Don’t worry about CLA. Don’t worry about diet whey protein, diet shakes, skinny tees, skinny coffees, fat burners or detoxes or anything like that.
Make sure you get your calories in the right place first, then and only then, think about fish oils, vitamin D and caffeine in order to help your weight loss journey.