Forskolin is quickly becoming one of the more popular fat loss supplements, but why? What is it, how is it supposed to help, and does it work? Read on to find out.
There’s no shortage of supplements to take if you want to lose fat faster.
The list goes on and on.
The marketing blarney can sound pretty good, too. If you’re to take it at face value, all you have to do to shred your belly fat, curb your appetite, and kill your cravings is pop a few pills every day.
Well, the sad truth is this:
No amount of pills or powders alone can give us the lean bodies we want. Only diet and exercise can do that.
Does that mean we should write off weight loss supplements entirely, though?
When you look at the scientific research, you’ll find that some supplements can actually help move the fat loss needle.
You just have to know what to look for and how to use them properly.
And that brings us to forskolin.
It’s often found in fat burner supplements because it purportedly accelerates weight loss, but what is it, exactly, and how is it supposed to work? And more importantly, what type of results can we actually expect from taking it?
Well, you’re going to get answers to those questions and more in this article. By the end, you’ll know whether forskolin is worth your money or not.
Let’s start at the top.
- What Is Forskolin?
- Why Do People Supplement with Forskolin?
- What Are the Benefits of Forskolin?
- What’s the Clinically Effective Dose of Forskolin?
- What Type of Results Should I Expect from Forskolin?
- Does Forskolin Have Any Side Effects?
- The Best Forskolin Supplement
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
- The Bottom Line on Forskolin
- What's your take on forskolin? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Table of Contents
Forskolin is the active ingredient in the herb Coleus forskohlii, which is a plant in the mint family that grows in subtropical areas such as India, Burma, and Thailand.
Coleus forskohlii is most well known for its use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat digestive problems, heart and lung conditions, asthma, insomnia, muscle spasm, convulsions, and skin disease.
As far as supplementation goes, you’ll find they either contain a dried powder made from the roots of the plant, which is about 10% forskolin by weight, or forskolin extract, which is the molecule directly.
Both ultimately have the same effects in the body, but you have to take a larger dose of coleus forskohlii to match the effects of the extract.
Forskolin has been used clinically for some time now, usually for chest pains, high blood pressure, and asthma.
More recently, studies have shown that forskolin can also help you lose fat faster and retain muscle better while dieting, as well as boost testosterone levels, improve mood, and increase bone mineral density.
The primary mechanism by which it accomplishes all this is increasing the cellular levels of a compound called cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cAMP. This molecule is an intracellular “message relayer” vital to various biochemical processes, several of which influence fat burning.
cAMP can even raise your basal metabolic rate through its interactions with another substance called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
ATP is the most basic form of cellular energy in the body, and when it’s plentiful, cAMP levels are naturally low. Conversely, when cAMP levels are elevated, it signifies a lack of ATP (energy), which initiates a process to make more by tapping into fat stores.
So, in the context of fat loss, people supplement with forskolin primarily to raise cAMP levels, which can positively influence your body composition.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much research on the direct benefits of forskolin supplementation.
We know it increases production of chemicals that generally do good things in the body, but we aren’t sure how much of this translates into real world benefits.
That said, the studies that have been done are promising, which is why I believe this molecule is worth writing about.
The most interesting research thus far was conducted by scientists at the University of Kansas, and it looked at how forskolin influenced the body composition, testosterone, bone density, and blood pressure in a group of overweight and obese men.
Subjects took 250 milligrams of Coleus forskohlii twice a day (providing about 50 mg of forskolin) for 12 weeks, and here were the results:
- Their bone mineral density improved by 8%.
- Their testosterone levels increased by 17%.
- They lost lost 9 pounds of body fat.
Impressive results no doubt, but we should keep in mind it’s just one study and some people got much better results than others.
There is, however, additional evidence of forskolin’s fat loss effects.
- A study from the College of Ayurveda that found that daily supplementation with Coleus forskohlii for 8 weeks reduced BMI in subjects by about 2.5%.
- A study conducted by scientists at Baylor University, which found that overweight women taking 50 mg of forskolin per day for 12 weeks gained less weight than those taking a placebo, and also reported less hunger and fatigue and higher energy levels.
Most studies that have demonstrated forskolin’s health and fat loss benefits have used two 25 mg doses per day (either directly as an extract or through larger doses of the herb).
It’s not clear if higher doses would be more helpful, but based on all the available research, 50 mg of forskolin per day would be considered a clinically effective dose.
At this point, the only honest answer is “we can’t say for certain.”
As you’ve seen, studies clearly show that forskolin can benefit your health and body composition, but how much is a matter for further investigation.
That said, I think it’s fair to say that if your body responds well to it (as with all natural supplements, they work better for some people than others), it can make a significant enough difference to include it in your fat loss regimen.
It’s also unclear what effect stacking forskolin with other proven fat loss supplements such as yohimbine or synephrine might have. Most studies have only looked at Coleus forskohlii or forskolin extract by themselves, and haven’t explored possible synergies with other molecules that influence the same physiological mechanisms and pathways.
So, here’s what you can realistically expect from taking forskolin:
- Slightly more fat loss and higher energy levels while cutting.
- Slightly better muscle mass retention
- A potential increase in testosterone levels.
- Lower hunger levels.
Forskolin isn’t a game changer, of course — no supplement is — but when you’re looking to lose fat as quickly as possible, every little bit helps.
So far, there have been very few side effects reported with forskolin supplementation.
The most common side effect (which is still relatively rare) is diarrhea, due to its ability to increase the rate at which food moves through your digestive tract.
I should note, though, that this isn’t an issue for most people who are dieting, because restricting calories decreases gut motility. In other words, dieting cancels out this effect for most people.
Regardless, if you run into this problem, you may want to stop taking forskolin, or at least stop taking it with caffeine.
Forskolin also decreases blood pressure, which isn’t a problem for most people, but if you already have low blood pressure or kidney disease, you should talk with your doctor before taking forskolin.
And as with any supplement, you should always check with your doctor before you start taking forskolin if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications.
Most forskolin supplements are sold primarily as fat burners.
You now know why.
And the first thing you need to understand about these types of supplements is this:
No amount of weight loss pills and powders are going to make you lean.
If you’re trying to lose fat, pill popping, even to excess, is not going to be enough.
There just aren’t any safe, natural “fat burning” compounds powerful enough to, all on their own, cause meaningful weight reduction.
Now the good news:
Based on my experience with my own body and having worked with thousands of people, I feel comfortable saying that an effective fat loss supplementation regimen can increase fat loss by about 30 to 50% with little to no side effects.
That is, if you can lose 1 pound of fat per week without supplements (and you can), you can lose 1.3 to 1.5 pounds of fat per week with the right ones.
Well, forskolin is one of the “right” ones.
And that’s why I included a clinically effective dose of 50 mg of forskolin extract in my fat burner PHOENIX.
It also contains several other ingredients that help you lose fat faster and fight hunger and cravings, including…
Synephrine is a chemical compound found in certain types of citrus fruits (particularly the bitter variety).
It increases both basal metabolic rate and lipolysis, inhibits the activity of certain fat cell receptors that prevent fat mobilization, and increases the thermic effect of food (the “energy cost” of metabolizing food).
Naringin is a type of molecule known as a flavonoid and is found in grapefruits, oranges, and the skin of tomatoes.
Research shows it stimulates the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of fat cells and activates a receptor in fat cells that regulates fat mobilization (the PPARα receptor).
Through these mechanisms, naringin also works synergistically with synephrine and hesperidin to further boost your metabolism.
Hesperidin is very similar to naringin.
It’s flavanoid found in the same fruits, and it also stimulates the production of adiponectin and activates the PPARa receptor.
Studies show it improves blood flow and reduces inflammation in blood vessels, too.
EGCG is a molecule found in green tea, certain types of nuts, and carob.
It’s one of six similar molecules known as catechins, and it’s the one most implicated in fat loss effects.
In other words, EGCG keeps fat-burning chemicals in your blood for longer periods of time, where they can continue to break down fat cells for energy.
Salicin is an anti-inflammatory agent found in foods like berries, olives, and mushrooms, and it is produced from willow bark.
Like aspirin, salicin is metabolized into salicyclic acid in the body and thus is often used as a natural analgesic and blood thinner.
Research shows that salicyclic acid inhibits the production of molecules called prostaglandins, which can hinder the metabolic effects of ephedrine and ephedrine-like compounds such as synephrine.
Through this mechanism, studies show that salicyclic acid amplifies the metabolic boost caused by ephedrine and ephedrine-like compounds.
I mentioned earlier that the synergism seen in the ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin “stack” also applies to synephrine.
Well, caffeine, synephrine, and salicin is the natural version of this, and that’s why we’ve included both synephrine and salicin in PHOENIX.
Hordenine is a molecule produced naturally in the body and found in foods like barley, millet, and sorghum, and some types of cacti.
Similar to EGCG, hordenine inhibits the activity of an enzyme responsible for breaking down chemicals that induce lipolysis.
This allows these fat burning chemicals to remain in your blood for longer periods and therefore mobilize more fat cells.
5-HTP is a compound involved in the metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in foods like milk, meat, potatoes, pumpkin, and various greens.
It’s converted into serotonin in the brain, which is one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in feelings of happiness.
This is why research shows that 5-HTP increases the feeling of fullness from food and thus can help you control your food intake.
It can also reduce your cravings for carbohydrates in particular.
The bottom line is if you want to lose fat faster without pumping yourself full of stimulants or other potentially harmful chemicals…then you want to try PHOENIX.
If you’re skeptical of any and all fat loss supplements, you should be.
Most are bunk, and some are even dangerous.
Forskolin, however, is a relatively new player in the shemozzle of weight loss supplementation, but the research we have on it thus far is promising. It looks to be a worthwhile inclusion in your fat loss regimen.
Don’t buy into the hype, though. Forskolin isn’t going to “triple your fat loss” or “melt stubborn fat off your body.”
When combined with proper diet and exercise, and especially when combined with other proven “fat burners” it can help you lose fat a bit faster.
And that, in time, can result in greater progress toward the body you really want.