Despite our best efforts, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task to lose those extra kilos. Unfortunately, it is widely known that the more overweight we are, the harder it can be to slim down to a healthier weight.
There are many supplements available on the market that are said to be able to aid us in our weight loss or weight management efforts by helping to ‘burn’ fat. Below are some common natural herbs and substances used for weight loss and weight management, and it is common to find supplements containing extracts from several or all of these ingredients:
- Garcinia cambogia, or the Malabar tamarind, contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA) in its rind. HCA is said to stop the activity of an enzyme involved in making fat in our body, and it may also help control our blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Additionally, some studies suggest that HCA can increase the levels of a substance called serotonin in our body, which would lead to suppression of appetite. Serotonin also improves our mood, indirectly benefiting those of us who binge on snacks when we are stressed.
- Banaba leaf (that’s banaba, not to be confused with banana!) contains corosolic acid, which is said to be able to help lower blood glucose levels by making the cells in our body take in more glucose from the blood. While this is helpful for people with diabetes, care has to be taken to ensure that the blood glucose levels do not drop too low – consult a pharmacist for more information.
- Green tea is a common active ingredient in many weight loss supplements. It contains an antioxidant substance called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may help boost the metabolism (‘burning’) of our fat and calories. Research also suggests that EGCG may be beneficial to our heart as well.
- Green coffee bean contains chlorogenic acid, which may help suppress appetite, and caffeine, which can help give our metabolism a boost.
But, some caveats
- We don’t have many studies done on humans to verify the benefits of weight loss supplements. They may work for some people, but not others.
- The ingredients mentioned here are considered generally safe for use. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease should, however, consult their doctor before taking these supplements.
- Many studies on the use of supplements point out that they work best when used alongside a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Therefore, we should not use supplements as a replacement for the ‘hard work’. There is no short cut in weight loss, but, getting there is worth every effort made!