8 Natural Products Approved for Weight Loss

Green tea, a natural fat burner

Of Chinese origin, green tea has been known since antiquity and is one of the “fat burners”. This popular term, which most often characterizes plants containing caffeine, refers to an increase in lipolysis (= breakdown of certain fats) and thermogenesis (= production of heat by the body) 1.

How it works?

Green tea leaves contain both caffeine, between 3 and 4%, and catechins, two substances that increase noradrenaline concentrations in the body. This compound increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Studies conducted on rats have demonstrated the anti-obesity effect of green tea 2. Those conducted on humans are less categorical but still seem to be beneficial for weight loss. A meta-analysis of 11 studies showed that green tea catechins were beneficial for weight loss and maintenance 3, particularly during moderate physical activity.

How to consume green tea?

Green tea is mainly used as an infusion. However, it can be found in the form of lozenges or capsules. A cup of green tea contains an average of 50 mg of caffeine 4. It is recommended not to exceed 3 to 4 cups of green tea, which allows you not to go beyond the recommended daily average doses of 300 mg of caffeine. Due to a suspicion of hepatotoxic effects, especially if green tea is consumed on an empty stomach, the FDA ( Food and Drug

Sources

Source: Sources: 1. Medical Economics Company, PDR for herbal medicines: the information standard for complementary medicine. Montvale: Thomson PDR. T. M. Rains, S. Agarwal, and K. C. Maki, “Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review,” J Nutr Biochem, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 1–7, 2011. R. Hursel, W. Viechtbauer, and M. S. Westerterp-Plantenga, “The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis,” Int. J. Obes., vol. 33, no. 9, pp. 956–961, 2009 Wichtl M, Anton R. Plantes thérapeutiques : tradition, pratique officinale, science et thérapeutique. Paris; Cachan: Tech & Doc ; Editions Médicales Internationales; 2003. D. N. Sarma, M. L. Barrett, M. L. Chavez, P. Gardiner, R. Ko, G. B. Mahady, R. J. Marles, L. S. Pellicore, G. I. Giancaspro, and T. Low Dog, “Safety of green tea extracts: a systematic review by the US Pharmacopeia,” Drug Saf, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 469–484, 2008.

Guarana, accelerator of energy expenditure

Guarana seed, a shrub native to the Brazilian Amazon, is also used as a supplement in some slimming diets. It is one of the “fat burners” that promote the breakdown of fat and the increase in metabolic activity, just like green tea.

How it works?

Guarana owes its effects to its high caffeine content. In addition to increased alertness and an acceleration of the heart rate, caffeine is said to be responsible for increasing cellular metabolism and therefore fat loss. Researchers have shown that consuming this compound increases energy expenditure and has an impact on the feeling of satiety 1-2-3.

How to consume guarana?

Guarana can be consumed in the form of a drink, fluid extract, capsules, or effervescent tablets. For an adult, the dose of guarana is 1 to 3 g maximum of powder per day. It should not be administered to hypertensive patients or children under 16 years of age. On the other hand, ESCOP (European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy) does not recommend its use to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Sources

Sources: M. Westerterp-Plantenga, K. Diepvens, A. M. C. P. Joosen, S. Berube-Parent, and A. Tremblay, “Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine,” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 89, no. 1, pp. 85–91, 2006. A. T. Roberts, L. de Jonge-Levitan, C. C. Parker, and F. Greenway, “The effect of an herbal supplement containing black tea and caffeine on metabolic parameters in humans,” Altern Med Rev, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 321–325, 2005. S. Bérubé-Parent, C. Pelletier, J. Doré, and A. Tremblay, “Effects of encapsulated green tea and Guarana extracts containing a mixture of epigallocatechin-3-gallate and caffeine on 24 h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in men,” Br. J. Nutr., vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 432–436, 2005. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, ESCOP Monographs – The Scientific Foundation for Herbal Medicinal Products, 2è édition, supplément., vol. 1. Nex York: Thieme, 2009.

The apple, the ultimate healthy food

The apple is the ultimate healthy fruit. Its pectins are known to regulate intestinal transit but they are also used in food supplements, as an “appetite suppressant” 1.

How do pectins work?

The appetite suppressant activity of apples is linked to their content of pectins, nd plant dietary fibers. Once ingested, these fibers can absorb large quantities of water to form a viscous gel that increases the volume of the food bolus (= chewed food mixed with saliva), reduces the activity of digestive enzymes, and therefore reduces the feeling of hunger 2-3. Two studies in rats have shown that the combination of pectins and apple polyphenols reduces blood triglyceride levels and exerts an anti-obesity activity 4-5. On the other hand, few clinical studies in humans have focused on the issue. One of them demonstrated a conclusive effect but it only involved 35 subjects 6.

How to consume apples to promote weight loss?

The AFSSA has not proposed maximum admissible doses for apple consumption. For optimal effectiveness, pectins should be taken before meals and while drinking plenty of water.

Sources

Sources: Sources: French National Academy of Medicine and French National Academy of Pharmacy, “Reflections and proposals on health claims and dietary supplements,” 2010. S. Derbré, “Overview of herbal dietary supplements,” Pharmaceutical News, vol. 49, no. 496, pp. 20–31, 2010. J. M. Lattimer and M. D. Haub, “Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health,” Nutrients, vol. 2, no. 12, pp. 1266–1289, 2010. O. Aprikian, V. Duclos, S. Guyot, C. Besson, C. Manach, A. Bernalier, C. Morand, C. Rémésy, and C. Demigné, “Apple pectin and a polyphenol-rich apple concentrate are more effective together than separately on cecal fermentations and plasma lipids in rats,” J. Nutr., vol. 133, no. 6, pp. 1860–1865, 2003. M. Manzano, ML Jimenez, R. Rueda, and JM Lopez-Pedrosa, “Glucose-lowering effect of apple polyphenols in insulin-resistant obese Zucker rats.”, Clinical Nutrition Supplements, vol. 3, Supplement 1, no. 0, p. 180, 2008. M. Conceição de Oliveira, R. Sichieri, and A. Sanchez Moura, “Weight Loss Associated With a Daily Intake of Three Apples or Three Pears Among Overweight Women,” Nutrition, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 253–256, 2003.

Konjac, an appetite suppressant with high absorption power

Common in Asian cuisine, konjac is used in the treatment of mild constipation but also as an “appetite suppressant” to aid in weight loss. It is a perennial plant composed of umbrella-shaped leaves, but only the tubers are used.

How does it work?

The “appetite suppressant” activity of konjac is linked to its high glucomannan content. These are dietary fibers that have a great power of water absorption thanks to their significant gelling properties. One gram of these fibers can absorb up to 200 ml of water! As a result, konjac causes an increase in the viscosity of the food bolus, and therefore a slowing down of gastric emptying. This induces a greater feeling of satiety and a lesser absorption of sugars and fats, which are found in the stools 2. However, no study has yet managed to prove a real effect on weight loss in practice 3.

How to take Konjac? To avoid any obstruction problems, it is best to consume it in capsule form, as they only allow their contents to disintegrate from the stomach. In addition, it is recommended to drink about 200 ml of water simultaneously with the ingestion of the capsule. The recommended doses are about 1 g, one hour before each meal.

Sources

A. González Canga, N. Fernández Martínez, A. M. Sahagún, J. J. García Vieitez, M. J. Díez Liébana, A. P. Calle Pardo, L. J. Castro Robles, and M. Sierra Vega, “*Glucomannan: properties and therapeutic applications+,” Nutr Hosp, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 45–50, 2004. M. Chua, T. C. Baldwin, T. J. Hocking, and K. Chan, “Traditional uses and potential health benefits of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch ex N.E.Br.,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 128, no. 2, pp. 268–278, 2010. C. A. R. Vasques, S. Rossetto, G. Halmenschlager, R. Linden, E. Heckler, M. S. P. Fernandez, and J. L. L. Alonso, “Evaluation of the pharmacotherapeutic efficacy of Garcinia cambogia plus Amorphophallus konjac for the treatment of obesity,” Phytother Res, vol. 22, no. 9, pp. 1135–1140, 2008.

Nopal and its hypoglycemic properties

A plant that can reach 3 meters in height, the Nopal is frequently used as a supplement in weight loss diets. Its cladodes, a kind of branch that looks like a leaf, are used in medicine because they contain significant quantities of polysaccharides.

How does it work?

Nopal cladodes have diuretic and hypoglycemic properties. This means that they promote urinary secretion and reduce the storage of triglycerides in adipose tissue. A study carried out on rats showed that an extract of cladodes had a hypoglycemic effect at very low doses (6 mg/kg) 1. However, no studies relating to weight loss have yet been demonstrated. On the other hand, its high level of dietary fiber allows it to be used as an appetite suppressant, like konjac or apple.

How to consume nopal?

The recommended dose is 3 g of dried plant per day. In Mexico, nopal cladodes have been consumed for years. Therefore, given the experience with the ingestion of this plant, it can be considered that there is no toxicity.

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