Supplements to help weight loss

  • 21 Dec 2015
  • Reading time 3 mins
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There is no magic pill that will make you lose weight without making changes to your diet and lifestyle. However there are some nutritional supplements that can help support you in your efforts - reduce cravings, reduce appetite and help keep you positive so you don’t reach for a chocolate bar when you’re feeling a bit down.

1. Hydroxycitric acid (HCA for short)

How does it work?
HCA curbs your appetite and slows down the production of fat. It is extracted from the dried rind of the tamarind fruit which you may know from Indian and other Eastern cuisine. It has been extensively tested and found to have no toxicity or safety concerns. It works by inhibiting an enzyme that converts sugar (or glucose) into fat.

How much should I take?
I recommend taking HCA, especially during the first three months of any weight loss diet. You need 750mg a day. Most supplements provide 250mg per capsule, so take one capsule three times a day, ideally anywhere from immediately before, to 30 minutes before, a main meal. It is widely available as a supplement.

Vitamin C

2. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP for short)

How does it work?
5-HTP helps you to ‘think thin’ The two most powerful controllers of your appetite are your blood sugar level and your brain’s level of serotonin, the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. Serotonin is often deficient, especially in those on weight-loss diets. A low level can lead to depression – and increased appetite (which is why many depressed people over eat).

Can I get it from food?
If you are low in serotonin, one of the quickest ways to restore normal levels, and normal mood, is to supplement your diet with 5-HTP. It’s found in meat, fish and beans, although in rather small amounts. The African Griffonia bean, however, contains significant amounts, and extracts of this are sold as 5-HTP supplements.

How much should I take?
5-HTP is much more effective at normalising the brain’s serotonin levels if taken with some carbohydrate, such as a piece of fruit. This will also help prevent the minor abdominal discomfort that a small minority of people get when they take 5-HTP. My advice, therefore, is to supplement both your morning and afternoon snacks with 50mg of 5-HTP. But do not take 5-HTP if you are on serotonin-reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Lustral or Efexor, as it could generate too much serotonin.

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