Weight loss supplements can be effective when combined with a healthy diet and exercise regimen. However, when it comes to weight loss supplements, the options are seemingly endless.
This leads many of us to ask the question: What are the best weight loss supplements for women? How can women ensure that their money and efforts are being used most effectively in a market that is so challenging to navigate?
There are a few ingredients in particular that have been studied and found to help with weight loss by burning fat, boosting metabolism, regulating appetite or enhancing gut health. Some of the top ingredients include glucomannan, green tea extract, vitamin D, MCT oil, probiotics and apple cider vinegar.
Choosing the right weight loss supplement also involves looking carefully at ingredient labels in order to understand what you’re getting, and choosing a brand with high-quality manufacturing standards.
The weight loss industry in the United States is booming, with Americans spending upwards of two billion dollars every year on dietary supplements for weight loss alone(1). As the options for weight loss supplements and programs multiply while obesity rates continue to skyrocket, it can be hard to figure out what to look for(2).
Research has found that approximately 21 percent of US women have used at least one weight loss supplement at some point in their lives(3). These supplements, which may contain various combinations of herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other ingredients, are readily available in stores and online.
It’s important to understand that there is no “magic pill” when it comes to weight loss. A strategic diet and exercise plan remain fundamental to any healthy weight loss effort.
However, including carefully selected supplements can help to enhance the effects of other healthy lifestyle changes by boosting metabolism, helping to manage appetite or cravings, increasing fat burning, reducing fat absorption or improving gut health.
When choosing a weight loss supplement, remember to take a close look at the ingredient label. Some products may capture the attention of buyers with flashy packaging or clever advertising strategies, while the actual content of their products may not hold up under scrutiny.
It’s also important to choose a brand with high-quality manufacturing and ingredient standards, as the lack of regulation within the supplement industry means that product effectiveness is likely to be inconsistent between companies.
The following are some of the best science-backed ingredients to look for when shopping for a weight loss supplement. It can also be helpful to look for supplements thatcombine two or more of these ingredients in thesame product.
The ingredients listed below are generally regarded as safe for most individuals, however, the risk of side effects or interactions with other supplements or medications should be discussed with a practitioner prior to use.
Glucomannan is a type of fiber that is extracted from the roots of elephant yam. It is a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements as it helps to promote the feeling of fullness, which can lead to the consumption of fewer calories(4).
Research has shown that, when used in combination with a healthy diet, glucomannan can help with weight loss in those who are overweight(5).
Glucomannan may help to create the right environment for weight loss in part through its beneficial effect on gut health. It is a natural prebiotic, meaning that it acts as food for our healthy gut bacteria.
Glucomannan has also been found to help reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as body weight, according to a review published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition (6).
Many of the best weight loss supplements for women contain green tea extract. Green tea and the catechins (natural compounds) found within it can have a positive influence on weight loss by increasing natural energy expenditure as well as fat oxidation(7,8).
Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), the primary antioxidant found in green tea extract, is thought to increase fat burning by promoting activity of the metabolism-influencing hormone norepinephrine(9).
Human studies show that the consumption of green tea extract leads to more calorie burning and more fat loss, especially in the belly and abdominal area(10,11). This is significant because abdominal fat is particularly difficult to lose, and one of the most dangerous types of fat in terms of the health consequences of obesity(12).
For those who are active or include intense exercise in their healthy weight loss plans, green tea extract may be especially beneficial, as the antioxidants contained within can help to both enhance performance and improve recovery by reducingoxidative stress (13).
Make sure to look for aproduct with a high content of EGCG and quality standards that ensure optimal absorption and bioavailability.
Vitamin D has been researched and praised for many different health benefits, but not everyone is aware of the connection between vitamin D and weight.
Many Americans have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D, which we obtain primarily through exposure to sunlight(14).
Research has shown that those who are overweight have lower levels of vitamin D. This insufficiency has been linked to a higher risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and hypertension(15).
Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil, generally extracted from coconut oil, is a popular supplement for enhancing energy levels, boosting cognitive function and improving digestive and immune system health.
Some of the ways in which MCT oil helps with weight loss include by reducing cholesterol levels, lowering triglyceride levels and stimulating the release of appetite-controlling hormones including leptin(20).
MCT oil also helps to optimize gut health and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which plays a significant role in digestion and weight management(21).
For women who are following a ketogenic diet or practicing intermittent fasting as part of their weight loss plans, supplementing with MCT oil can help to keep you in ketosis (a state in which the body burns fat for energy)(22).
MCT oil can easily be added to smoothies, shakes or coffee for everyday use.
The gut microbiome, the collection of bacteria that live within the gut, is linked to weight loss. Those who have an imbalance between beneficial and pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in their microbiomes may struggle with weight loss resistance, and a number of other potential health problems, as a result.
Someprobiotics (beneficial bacteria supplements) mayassist in healthy weight loss and help to treat or prevent obesity(23,24). It’s important to note that there are a number of different probiotic strains available, and not all of them have been researched for weight loss.
Some of the strains that may be beneficial for weight loss includeLactobacillus gasseri, which may help to modulate fat absorption,Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which may have anti-obesity effects andBifidobacterium lactis, which may help to boost metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity(25,26).
Another important thing to look for when choosing aprobiotic ismanufacturing quality, as live bacteria are vulnerable to degradation from things like light, heat and stomach acid if not adequately protected.
Many of thebest probiotic products are also formulated to includeprebiotics, which help to feed probiotics and may therefore enhance their effectiveness.
Apple cider vinegar, often used for its digestive and blood sugar-regulating benefits, may help with weight loss by reducing fat absorption and assisting with appetite regulation and craving control(27).
Apple cider vinegar can be taken in liquid form mixed with water, or may be purchased as asupplement in capsules for those who would prefer to avoid the strong taste and smell of the vinegar.
Generally, a daily dosage of one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with water is recommended. If using capsules, make sure to follow the dosage directions on the label.
One benefit of choosing an apple cider vinegar supplement incapsule form is that it may contain additional ingredients that can help to boost metabolism and burn fat, offering more benefits than vinegar alone.
The weight loss industry in the United States is enormous, and can be overwhelming for women who are looking for supplements to help them reach their weight loss goals.
Although not all weight loss supplements on the market are likely to be effective, there are a number of helpful products and ingredients that can assist with weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
When shopping for a weight loss supplement, it’s important to pay close attention to the ingredient label and to the quality standards of the manufacturer.
It may also be helpful to look for supplements thatcombine two or more of the aforementioned ingredients, in order to experience even more benefits.
Ellie Ellias -Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice