If you’re struggling to lose weight or successfully doing so but want a little boost or some help getting beyond a weight loss plateau, there are a number of foods and supplements that have good evidence behind them for supporting weight loss. In my experience, the number one issue for weight loss is reducing your carbohydrate intake, but we’ll focus on some more advanced strategies here.
Protein: When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to lose fat and preserve or increase muscle mass. In order to favor that balance, it’s important to eat sufficient protein, ideally spread throughout the day rather than primarily at dinner. In addition, protein requires more calories to digest it (20-30% of its calories) than fats (0-3%) and carbohydrates (5-10%), the other macronutrients. As a result, the net calories that you absorb from the protein you’re eating will be less than other foods. Megan Hall, Scientific Director at Nourish Balance Thrive recommends eating 1.8-2.2 grams of protein daily per kilogram of body weight if you’re trying to lose weight. This is probably a lot more meat than you’re used to eating: a 150 pound person would need to eat 123-150 grams of protein a day (FYI – 6 ounces of meat is around 50 grams of protein). Of course you can get your protein from non-meat sources as well like nuts, beans and legumes, but you will end up eating a really large (and complex and healthy) amount of carbohydrates at the same time. Vegetarians and vegans would likely benefit from the addition of protein powders to their dieting toolbox. For vegetarian food options, tofu is a good choice for a high protein to carb ratio.
Turmeric/Curcumin: Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin (the active compound derived from turmeric), has been shown in mouse and human studies to enhance weight loss and increase body fat reduction. For the humans, the weight reduction of curcumin plus a weight loss program in 30 days (over just a weight loss program alone) went from 1.88% to 4.91%, while the increase in body fat reduction went from 0.70% to 8.43%.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Consumer Labs affirms that apple cider vinegar (ACV) may reduce or slow the rise in blood sugar after eating and may modestly help with weight loss. They recommend taking 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. diluted in 1.5-8 ounces warm water before meals. They also recommend that you not let the vinegar linger in your mouth and to rinse afterwards, as it can erode tooth enamel. Note that they did not find ACV powder and pills to be an equally effective form for weight loss. They also caution against using ACV for diabetics without adequate blood sugar surveillance because of its alteration of blood sugar levels.
Probiotics: There is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful in weight loss due to their impact on the gut microbiome. In a placebo-controlled, double blind, 7-day study of Equilibrium Probiotic, 72% of participants reported a reduction in food cravings and mild weight loss.
Berberine: Used for centuries in Chinese medicine, this powerful compound found in many plants and known to help blood sugar regulation (perhaps even as well as Metformin), has been shown in several studies to help with weight loss. In one 2012 study, participants consuming 500 mg of Berberine three times a day lost an average of 5 pounds, while simultaneously improving their triglyceride and cholesterol levels. In another 2012 study, participants lost an average of 4 kilograms over those who consumed a placebo.
Fiber: While losing weight, it’s also important to consume foods with plenty of fiber, or supplement with additional fiber. Toxins are stored in fat cells, and if you have a higher toxic burden you may find yourself feeling unwell while losing weight unless you consume sufficient fiber to flush it out. One of my favorites fibers is psyllium husk, which can be mixed with a full glass of water or mixed in smoothies, ideally 1-2 tablespoons a day. It thickens up quickly so drink it down right after mixing if possible.
If you need help meeting your weight loss goals, I specialize in helping clients lose weight without cutting calories or eliminating any food groups. You can set up a free, 1-hour Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss Breakthrough Session anytime to talk about what’s been keeping you from meeting your weight loss goals and hear about how health coaching can help.
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