Over the last few weeks we’ve been detailing all of the essentials you need in place to support optimal health and fat loss. This includes sound nutrition, daily exercise, stress management and soooo much sleep! We have already discussed supplements in detail but if fat loss is your main focus it might be wise to consider some of the following also. The science suggests they have the potential to support our body’s biological mechanisms, responsible for achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition.
A probiotic supplement may not be something you would associate with fat loss, however, increasingly studies are suggesting the make up of our gut microbiome impacts upon our metabolism and therefore our body composition. It has been observed that children given antibiotics in childhood are more likely to be overweight by the time they reach adulthood and that they also have a higher risk of most chronic diseases. Interestingly, the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone into its active form also takes place in the gastrointestinal tract, as thyroid hormones are responsible for managing the rate of our metabolism (how many calories we utilise) this would suggest our gut health has the potential to influence this process. An unhappy gut can also lead to inflammation, which may increase cortisol production. Numerous studies have illustrated that a disrupted cortisol rhythm will impact upon our insulin health, which will likely result in weight gain and further health issues.
The key to avoiding all of the above is to keep a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Good bacteria will help protect the body against infection and the ensuing inflammation it brings – it also allows the gut to continue with its essential function of digesting all the awesome Fitter Food you eat. Supplemental probiotics can support optimal levels of beneficial bacteria. It’s definitely worth us mentioning that we’re not referring to the sugary shots of milk drinks offered in supermarkets as we do not consider these to be effective probiotic supplements. There are good studies supporting the following brands:
- Prescript Assist
- Allergy Research
Generally, there are different considerations which will determine which probiotic is fit for the job and a nutritional therapist will be your best guide here. The mechanism by which probiotic supplements actually work is yet to be fully understood but the studies suggest the outcome is a boost in our body’s own protective, friendly gut bacteria. It’s also important to support healthy bacteria with prebiotic foods, including leeks, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root. Many people need to eat these in small amounts initially if suffering from digestive issues.
2. Omega 3 Supplements
We speak at length in our online programmes about the importance of omega 3:6 balance for optimal health and if fat loss is your goal this should be a priority. As well as reducing sources of omega 6 in your nutrition and eating lots of S.M.A.S.H (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herrings) you may need to help your body reset the balance of these two fats at a cellular level with an omega 3 supplement. Not only do omega 3 fats exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect they also support the health of a cell membrane, ensuring that nutrients can move in and out easily and therefore support metabolic efficiency. There are some crazy recommendations that involve mega dosing omega 3 oils and unfortunately as much as we’d love to speed up any mission to reset a faulty metabolism, omega 3’s are a polyunsaturated fats which means they are highly unstable and prone to oxidation. Therefore excessive levels of oxidised fat circulating around the body will likely increase the inflammatory burden. Addressing the balance with a longer term, sensible dose of omega 3 supplements, through consuming oily fish and reducing omega 6 is much safer and way more effective.
Omega 3 fats can be sourced from plant based foods including flaxseed, hemp and walnuts, however, these contain a fat known as alpha linoleic acid which has to undergo a series of chemical conversions to produce the beneficial, long chain EPA and DHA fatty acids that exert the therapeutic effect. The conversion rate is believed to be around 1% so therefore eating foods that contain the long chain fats or supplementing is most effective. By the way, a good vegetarian source is algae, which provides DHA – essential for healthy mood and optimal brain function.
It’s really important to buy a pharmaceutical grade fish oil that is filtered for heavy metals, dioxins and PCB’s. The following are all reputable brands (in our opinion) and for most people a dose of 1-3g daily is sufficient:
- Nordic Naturals
- Minami ** Also offer a good vegetarian Omega 3 supplement called VeganDHA
- New Chapter
3. Chromium GTF
Chromium is an essential nutrient involved in normal carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Chromium nicotinate – usually provided as a glucose tolerance factor (GTF) formula -is proposed to be the most biologically active form of chromium. Many studies have observed the therapeutic effect of chromium with regard to type 2 diabetes; in one study a daily dose of supplemental chromium for two weeks alleviated diabetic symptoms to the point where exogenous insulin was no longer required. Further studies have observed a decrease in weight gain, changes in the distribution of body fat, improved glycaemic control and an increase in insulin sensitivity. Symptoms of chromium deficiency are also very similar to those of type 2 diabetes including; elevated blood glucose, insulin and triglycerides.
An important aspect of fat loss is insulin control and this is something we’ve covered in previous blogs. It’s believed chromium supports this by increasing the number of insulin receptor sites on a cell and assisting in the removal of glucose from the bloodstream by improving the recruitment of something called intracellular GLUT4. You can think of these as a taxi inside the cell that travels up to the membrane and plays an integral role in transporting glucose into and around the cell where it needs to be, so that it may be used as fuel. You could say chromium helps to hails that taxi (terrible analogy as usual).
Good brands include Higher Nature, Solaray, Nutri Advanced, Solgar, Now and Biocare.
Magnesium, to quote Dr Carolyn Dean, is ‘a bit of a “miracle” mineral.’ As a cofactor for over 800 enzyme systems in the body, it’s safe to say most vital metabolic functions require magnesium. In terms of fat loss, magnesium activates enzymes that control the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also plays a role in insulin health by activating the chemical reaction that allows insulin to shuttle glucose into cells to be used as an energy source.
As magnesium helps calm and relax the body it can also indirectly aid fat loss by supporting healthy cortisol levels and improving sleep health. It has also been used therapeutically to help address food craving and overeating driven by stress and the associated blood sugar issues that accompany it.
Magnesium is also frequently used to treat adrenal fatigue, anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, headaches, insomnia, asthma and PMS. Check out Dr Dean’s “The Magnesium Miracle” for more information on the wonders of magnesium.
Magnesium can exert a laxative effect on the gastrointestinal tract and so maybe best taken topically as a spray (Better You or Ancient Minerals), in an Epsom Salts Bath or in an ionic compound such as Trace Minerals Research Ionic Magnesium. Others buy a chelated magnesium such as malate, glycerinate or taurate. Good brands include:
- Nutri Advanced Megamag Range or Magnesium Glycinate
- Allergy Research Magnesium Malate Forte
- Phil Richards Magnesium Relax
5. Protein Supplements
When pursuing a fat loss higher protein consumption is often helpful in keeping blood sugar levels stable, encouraging appetite control and increasing lean body mass. Also, if you are chronically stressed your body will start to break down lean tissue, with collagen proteins being used up faster than they can be replaced which hinders your healthy body composition goals. We usually recommend increasing protein intake to around 30-35% of total calories to encourage weight loss, improve metabolic efficiency and support intense exercise. Bear in mind that this isn’t necessary as a long-term solution and as your body composition improves it’s essential to adapt your macronutrient intake to ensure you have adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats. Protein can be sourced entirely through nutrition, however, in our experience using protein supplements in the form of powders often helps people hit their protein target more easily and is much more convenient. After all, a protein smoothie is pretty much a healthy, ready meal.
The key with protein supplements is the quality. We always recommend you source from a reputable brand that doesn’t add artificial sweeteners or other nasty ingredients. Whey has some fantastic health benefits – it’s the most bioavailable for a start and it helps to support the immune system and boosts the body’s production of its master detoxifying nutrient; glutathione. Great brands include Pulsin, Dr Mercola, Phil Richards, Nutri Advanced and Now. Whey is not well tolerated by some people, especially those with issues consuming dairy products and so a vegan protein powder maybe preferable in this case. Rice, hemp or pea protein are widely available, good brands include Pulsin, Sunwarrior, Vegasport or Rawlicious.
So there you have it. Five fat loss supplements. Let us know if you have any questions.