Weight loss supplements are a controversial topic.
A lot of evidence-based people claim that all fat loss supplements are bunk. And while I agree the vast majority of weight loss supplements out there are useless, an objective review of the scientific literature does turn up certain ingredients that can help you lose fat faster.
The problem with most products that contain those ingredients is marketing. Unfortunately, many companies overstate or outright lie about their products’ effectiveness.
Today, we’ll be discussing the seven best supplements for weight loss, as well as three common ones you should avoid.
So, press play and let me know your thoughts!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
2:50 – Is it necessary to take weight loss supplements?
7:13 – Why would it be necessary to take weight loss supplements?
7:57 – Are weight loss supplements effective?
12:21 – Which weight loss supplements do you recommend?
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28:44 – Which weight loss supplements should we stay away from?
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Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today to learn about weight loss supplements. And this is a controversial topic. Many people in the evidence-based fitness space in particular say that all weight loss supplements any supplement that claims to help you lose weight or lose.
Faster is bunk. And any supplement company selling a weight loss supplement of any kind is either ignorant or lying. And so you shouldn’t support them. And while I agree with binary arguments like that for certain supplements like BCAs and EASs, if a company sells PCAs or EAs, amino acid supplements, branched chain amino acids, essential amino acids, if they sell either of those products, they either don’t know what they’re.
They don’t understand the science that they are probably pretending like they understand or they do know what they’re doing. They do understand that the research on those supplements shows that they are completely useless as long as you also eat enough protein and they just don’t care because they want to make money.
However, I don’t agree with that take. When it comes to weight loss supplements, I agree that most weight loss supplements, maybe even the vast majority of weight loss supplements out there are more or less or even completely useless and contain ingredients that have been proven to be ineffective. So not even ingredients that are just under-researched or unresearched, but have been.
To not help humans lose, wait, maybe they help rats. I’ll get into that in this podcast, but not humans. However, an objective review of the scientific literature does turn up certain ingredients that can help you lose fat faster. Now, often the problem with products that contain. Those ingredients are how those products are marketed, the promises that are made.
Often the marketing claims are exaggerated or completely extravagant. The products are never going to work nearly as well as the people buying them think or are expecting them to work. But that is a problem of ethics and a problem of messaging, not a problem that is inherent to the. Ingredients themselves, or the type of supplement, a weight loss supplement.
It depends what’s in it and how is it being sold, what is being promised. And so in this episode, I’m going to share with you seven supplements that have enough high quality evidence in healthy humans to warrant their use as a quote unquote, weight loss supple. Okay, so let’s start this episode with a disclaimer of sorts.
You don’t need any weight loss supplements to achieve your body composition goal, even if you are trying to get absolutely shredded. Just as you don’t need any supplements whatsoever, any sports nutrition supplements to achieve your body composition goal, to achieve your health goal, to achieve wellness goals, you can.
Get into great shape, great health, great wellbeing, without any supplements whatsoever. However, if you have the budget and you have the inclination, there are certain supplements that can help you do those things faster, and in some cases deliver some additional benefits that are difficult or impossible to get through.
Eating whole foods because there are certain things, certain types of mushrooms, for example, like rei Mushroom, you’re probably not going to eat. Spirulina. You are probably not going to eat. There are certain nutrients that are practically impossible to get. In high enough amounts to obtain their full benefits like vitamin b12, vitamin K, and others.
Vitamin D is even difficult if you are not eating a lot of fortified foods, and if you are eating a nutritious diet, you are probably not eating a lot of fortified foods because fortified foods generally are. Processed. And as far as weight loss goes, of course a calorie deficit is what drives weight loss.
That is consistently eating fewer calories than you burn. That is how you get leaner. And exercise can help with that by preserving muscles. So if you’re training your muscles while you are restricting your calories, that will help you retain the muscle that you’ve built or even gain muscle if you are new.
To resistance training. Also, it will burn calories, which helps you maintain that calorie deficit. And then cardiovascular exercise is also great for burning calories. You burn more calories per unit of time doing cardio than weightlifting. So in an ideal world, if you want to maximize your fat loss, You are going to maintain an aggressive but not reckless calorie deficit.
Let’s say eating anywhere between 20 and 30% fewer calories than you burn every day. You are going to eat plenty of protein that’s gonna keep you full, that’s going to help you retain muscle or build muscle. You are going to do at least three hours of strength training per week, at least three one hour sessions per week, and let’s say at least an hour or two of walking every day.
So something around 10,000 steps per day. And in addition to that, let’s say one to three hours of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. If you do those things, you can lose fat rapidly healthily, and without having to deal with many of the. Negative side effects associated with dieting incorrectly with crash dieting.
For example, if you do what I just said, you are going to be hungry from time to time, especially as you get deeper into a cut that is inevitable. But you will never be ravenous. You shouldn’t have any major issues with cravings because of course you can include. Yummy little treats in your meal plan as often as you want, so long as you don’t allocate more than maybe 10 to 20% of your daily calories to those things.
You can also take breaks from your diet now and then. Let’s say you’ve been dieting consistently for four or 5, 6, 7, 8 weeks, and you’re feeling a bit run down. You are a bit hungrier than usual. Just in general, a little bit crankier, lower energy. Maybe your sleep has gotten a little bit worse. Take a break for a week.
Bring your calories back up to your maintenance level, so the approximate number of calories you are burning every day. Erase the calorie deficit basically. Most people do that by just adding some carbs back into their diet and do that for seven days or 10 days, and chances are by the end of that one week-ish period, you are going to be feeling better again and you can get back.
Tier cut, you can go back into the calorie deficit and just rinse and repeat that until you reach your goal. So that is the 20% that gives you 80%, really probably, let’s say 90, maybe even 95% of fat loss Now supplements. Why add supplements into the mix? And what can you expect from the best fat loss supplement regimen?
Well, the why is the right supplements. Are going to help you lose fat faster. They, they do work. Now. The effects are smaller than somebody wanting to sell you. These supplements would probably admit, but it can help. There are also a couple of supplements that can help reduce hunger and reduce cravings, which just helps you better stick to your diet, which of course, speeds up your results over time and also just makes the process a little bit more enjoyable or maybe just a little bit less painful.
Now, in terms of bottom line results, I think that it is fair to say that with a. Fat loss supplement regimen, you can lose anywhere from an extra half of a pound to a pound of fat per month, not per week, but per month. And I know that doesn’t sound very exciting, that is not going to sell very many fat loss stacks, but I do think it is an accurate expectation, a realistic expectation for most people, and it allows you to decide whether you want to bother buying.
The things I’m going to talk about and swallowing them every day. Now, one thing I will say personally and also just having heard from and worked with so many people over the years, the additional fat loss I think becomes more meaningful when you are lean, wanting to get very lean for a couple of reasons.
One, you are dealing with stubborn. That is fat, that is harder to mobilize and burn than other less stubborn fat stores in the body. I don’t wanna go off on a tangent on that, so if you wanna learn about that, head over to legion athletics.com, search for Stubborn Fat, and you’ll find an in-depth article that I wrote.
I’m sure I’ve recorded a podcast based on that article as well, so you can find that stuff [email protected]. But so you’re lean and you mostly just have to lose stubborn fat at this point. You’ve lost a lot of the less stubborn fat, the easier to lose fat, and that stubborn fat can really take its sweet time.
However, if you add supplements and. Couple of supplements in particular that I will mention in this podcast. It can noticeably speed up the loss of that particular fat. So if you’re a dude, and let’s say you are 12 ish percent body fat and you’re really wanting to make the push to get to 10 or below 10, you are starting to see your abs come in and there’s a big difference.
In your abs at 12% versus 10% versus 8%. It’s very noticeable because most men store a lot of their stubborn fat in their lower abdominal region in particular, and that’s why a guy who goes from 20% to 18%, if you’re just looking at his stomach, you don’t even. See a difference. 18 to 16, you see a little bit of a difference.
16 to 14, a little bit of a difference, but again, once you get down to 10% or so and you’ve lost a lot of the less stubborn fat, you haven’t lost all of it, of course, but a lot of the less stubborn fat stores throughout your body, more of the fat that you continue to lose is going to be from the stubborn region, the abdominal region.
Previously, and so you really start to see a change in your abdominal region. In women, the same phenomenon exists, but the circumstances are a little bit different, so the ranges are a little bit higher. So when a woman is, let’s say, around 22% body fat, And is trying to get down to 20 or below 20%, that’s when she will usually start seeing more stubborn fat loss than when she is fatter and getting to 22%.
And in women, a lot of the stubborn fat is in the hips and thighs and butt area, not. So much the lower abdominal, anywhere in the abdominal region. And so then what I’ve found again personally in working with many people over the years is if somebody is very overweight and has a lot of fat to lose, they can be very aggressive with their calorie deficit and they can lose upward of two plus pounds of fat per week and adding supplements into the mix again, it will speed things up maybe a little bit, but it’s not very significant when they’re losing one to two pounds of fat per.
However, when that same person is now lean, wanting to get very lean and they now have to accept anywhere from a half a pound of fat loss to no more than a pound of fat loss per week, and they’ve been dieting for a bit, even with diet breaks, it’s been several months and it is starting to wear on them.
It is taking its toll. That phase of lean to very lean is where I think, and many people have told me the same. Fat loss supplementation is most valuable, not necessary, but has the most to. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, please do consider supporting my sports nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat and get healthy, the right ones can help.
And that’s why over 350,000 discerning fitness folk have chosen Legion. Well, there’s that and there’s our 100% natural products, our clinically effective ingredients and doses, and our Noha. Money back guarantee. But wait, there’s more. Because right now Legion is holding its big annual spring sale. We do this once per year, and that means you can save up to 50% on some of our most popular products, including our protein powders, our pre-workout, our post-workout, our fat burners, multivitamin, joint support, and.
So if any of that sounds interesting to you, skedaddle on over to buy legion.com, b u i legion.com and take advantage of the savings before something that you might want runs out of stock. I know, I know. But seriously, every big site-wide sale we do, Legion does a few of them per year. Results in at least a flavor or two or three or a product variation or two or three running out of stock.
And we’ve tried to prevent that from happening with fancy software that does fancy analyses, but those analyses were never right, and so now we’ve just accepted it. We do our best to keep everything in stock, but every single time there’s some inexplicable surge in demand for certain flavors, certain variations, and so all.
Is to say again, just head over to buy legion.com now. Lock in your order. Lock in your savings and enjoy. And so that is just some context I wanted to give before getting to the specific supplements I want to talk about. And let’s start with caffeine, of course. Because everybody loves caffeine. It is a central nervous stimulant.
It can increase metabolic rate that can help you lose weight, lose fat, because you are now burning more calories. That makes it easier to maintain a. Deficit. However, what you may not know is if you use caffeine regularly, research shows that the metabolic boost gets smaller, and so technically if you wanted to maximize caffeine’s metabolic benefits, you wouldn’t.
Just use it every day. You wouldn’t take hundreds of milligrams every day for weeks or months or years on end, you would cycle your use. So you would maybe use up to 500 milligrams, maybe one to three times per week, maybe before your most difficult workouts. Or you’d have less than that every day, maybe 100 to 200 milligrams per day for a week or two, and then you would stop for a week or two.
And I think that those. Scientifically sound recommendations, but not very practical because we like our caffeine. I like my espresso, and I do not like decaf espresso. I mean, it can be okay, but it is never quite the same, and so have your caffeine every day if that’s what you most prefer. If you don’t care and you’re willing to have it, maybe just.
To max three days per week, or you are willing to have it every day and then not have it for one to two weeks, then you can do that. But if that does not work for you, then just have it every day. But understand that the metabolic benefits do shrink with continued use, especially continued use of large amounts.
Alright, the next supplement on my list is one of my favorites, and it is Yohimbe, which is a naturally occurring substance that is found in several. Plants that are native to central and Western Africa, including the bark of the Yohimbe tree. Now the details of how Yohimbe speeds up fat loss are, are kind of technical and you can learn more about them in that Stubborn Fat article and podcast that I mentioned earlier [email protected].
But the gist is Yohimbe. It has some stimulatory effects. So there’s a met. Boost, but the primary way it helps you lose fat faster is it deactivates a mechanism in fat cells that prevents them from being mobilized, from releasing their fatty acids, which then can be burned. So in a sense, you know, him being, it kind of helps.
Take the breaks off of fat loss so your body’s natural fat burning mechanisms and chemicals can work more effectively. And research shows that it is particularly effective at targeting these stubborn fat cells that I was talking about earlier, the fat cells that are just resistant to your body’s fat.
Chemicals and so Yohimbe is particularly effective when you are lean, wanting to get really lean. That is when you will really notice a difference if you are conscientious in your use of it. If you are training at least three days per week, if not five days per week or even six or seven days per week.
By training, I don’t mean strength training, I mean a combination of strength training. So you’re doing, let’s say three to five strength training workouts per week and doing anywhere from one to three cardio workouts per week. And you are doing your walking if you include Yohimbe in that regimen. And if you are using it at least three times per week, if not five or six or.
Times per week, which you can do. You are going to lose fat faster and you are going to lose stubborn fat faster. If you have gone from lean to very lean at least once, if not several times without supplements, and then you add caffeine, which appears to be synergistic with yohi mean if you add caffeine and Yohimbe, just those two supplements, you take ’em together into a cut from lean to very lean.
I promise you, you are going to notice how the stubborn fat disappears faster. So if you’re a guy, your abs are going to show, and then eventually the skin’s gonna get thin. And if you’re going really low, you’re gonna start seeing ab vascularity faster. And if you’re a woman, you are going to see. The same effect and not vascularity, but you’re just gonna see your hips and your thighs and your butt.
That whole region is going to trim up, is going to lean up faster. That said, I should note that while Yohimbe is generally safe, some people do not respond well to it. Research shows that some people feel. Anxious and it even can contribute to impulsivity in some people, particularly in people with anxiety or panic disorders.
So if you have either of those issues, I would say just stay away from your, him being, I know, I, I just hard sold it. But again, if you have issues with anxiety or any sort of emotional disorder, Probably better to not use it. Studies also show that Yohimbe can increase blood pressure, so it’s contraindicated for people with heart conditions.
And if you have any type of condition that makes you think maybe you shouldn’t use Yohimbe, just check with your doctor. That said, research shows that a moderate dose of say 10 to 20 milligrams, that’s what most people are going to take somewhere between 0.1 and 0.2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
So that dosage range is generally well tolerated. And if you’re curious about products, which Yohimbe products you should consider, you can buy it as a standalone ingredient. At least a couple of companies out there, if you search on Amazon, will sell it. I also sell a product with Yohimbe, along with two other ingredients called Citocoline and hmb.
That product is called Forge, and if you want to check it out, you can find it at buy legion.com/forge, B U Y L E G I O n.com/forge. Okay, the next supplement on my list is Ty Jin, which is an herb that is native to Thailand, and traditionally it’s been used to improve virility and physical performance and support.
Weight management and research shows that it can help with weight loss because it contains several active compounds known as methyl flavones. And studies show that these can increase energy expenditure by causing an effect in fat cells that is known as uncoupling, and it can also decrease. The rate of fat storage by influencing a receptor known as P P A R Y.
Now, normally I would go off on technical tangents explaining uncoupling and P P R Y and how these things work exactly. But for the sake of time, for the sake of brevity, Just understand that studies show that Tai Jining can increase your metabolic rates, so increase the amount of calories that you burn and it also can just decrease the amount of fat that is stored from the food that you eat.
And it is also safe. In one review study of Tain it found that you can use up. To 1.35 grams per day without any adverse side effects, and that is way higher than the dosages that have shown to aid in weight loss, which are usually between 102 hundred milligrams per day. Now as far as individual products, again, you can buy this as a standalone supplement or you can get it along with several of the other supplements I’m going to be talking about, uh, in the rest of this episode in a product of mine called Phoenix.
If you want to check Phoenix out, buy legion.com/phoenix. Okay. Grains of Paradise is up next. This is an herb in the Ginger family and it’s common. Used as a spice, but research shows that it also can increase energy expenditure. In one study, it, uh, was about an extra a hundred calories per day, so not that much, but enough to warrant consideration, right?
If you think about, well, that’s an extra 700 calories per week. That’s about a fifth of a pound of fat for taking a natural, safe supplement. Not bad. Research also shows that grains of paradise can be particularly effective at reducing visceral fat levels. So visceral fat is fat that is covering organs, and that is really an unhealthy type of fat.
Body. Fat in general is not unhealthy. Too much is, but visceral fat. We really want to minimize the amount of fat around our organs. Now, fortunately, if you just bring your body fat levels down to a healthy range, you are probably also going to have healthy amounts of visceral fat. There are some other weird things going on, so you don’t have to do anything special to lose visceral fat.
It’ll reduce along with all the other fat that we lose when we diet, but it’s just worth mentioning that grains of paradise has been shown to be particularly helpful with reducing. Visceral fat and how Grains of Paradise does. This, again, is pretty complicated, but it influences certain types of receptors on fat cells that are involved in energy regulation and also perception of temperature.
And this is also another ingredient that you can find in Phoenix if you wanna check that out. Let’s move on to for Scholin, which is a substance that is found in an Indian herb called Coli for Coli, and that has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat heart and respiratory disorders. And research shows that for scholin can also accelerate fat loss and it may be able to increase testosterone levels as well.
The evidence. Is light for that, but there is evidence meaning that it, it isn’t something that has been replicated a number of times and well established, but there is evidence to suggest that forskolin may increase testosterone levels in men. I should add, and it works in an interesting way, what it does is it increases the blood plasma and the intracellular levels of a molecule that’s.
Camp C A M P, that stands for cyclic adenosine mono phosphate. And that in turn stimulates the production of cellular energy, which of course means more energy expenditure, which helps you better sustain your calorie deficit. And how that in turn may influence testosterone levels is unclear. Scientists have some speculations, but again, there, there may be a mechanistic connect.
There. Moving on to Fuco Xanthin, which is a vitamin A like molecule. It’s called a carotenoid, and it’s found primarily in seaweed. It’s what gives brown seaweed it’s color, and when Fuku Xanthin enters a fat cell, it produces an effect known as uncoupling. I mentioned this earlier and that in. Increases the amount of energy that the mitochondria, the little power centers in our cells burn, which then can accelerate weight loss by again, increasing energy expenditures.
See, there’s a theme here. We want to burn more energy when we want to lose weight because that makes it easier to sustain that calorie deficit. Generally speaking, the more food we can eat when we want to lose weight. The better. And so that’s why research shows, for example, that people who simply diet tend to do worse than people who diet and exercise.
One of the big benefits is that exercise burns extra calories and then you can eat more food. You are using exercise to really drive that calorie deficit as opposed to eating way less. Then if you can take some supplements that increase your calorie expenditure even further in addition to the exercise, that means you can eat just even a little bit more food while still losing weight at a rapid but healthy rate.
So anyway, with Fuxin, there are no safety concerns. Several studies show its safety use, no adverse side effects. Well, I think I forgot to mention safety with Forskolin. Of course, it’s very safe to take. I would not be recommending anything on this podcast that is not. Take. However, in rare cases this is, this is for Scholin.
Now, just because I forgot to mention this, some people who take it do not respond well. They’ll get diarrhea sometimes they’ll get a little bit nauseous. There have been reports of vomiting, constipation, headache, fatigue, very rare. But if for whatever reason you take Forskolin and you experience any of those things, you might unfortunately be one of the extreme outliers who simply cannot tolerate it, and so don’t take it.
Okay. Next up on my list is five H T P, which is a compound that is produced in the body when. Our body metabolizes the immuno acid tryptophan, and that’s found in various types of food, milk, meat, potatoes, pumpkin, various greens have tryptophan and five htp then is converted into serotonin in the brain, which is one of the principled neurotransmitters involved in the feeling of happiness.
And so, When you’re dieting, research shows that your body produces hunger hormones, right? It wants food. It does not want to be in a calorie deficit. It just wants to stay the same. Five H T P research shows can help nullify those hunger hormones, which then can increase feelings of fullness. So you’ll just generally, Fuller, if you respond well to five H T P, which of course then helps you control your food intake.
Research shows that it can also be particularly effective at curbing cravings for carbs in particular, and that, of course can help you lose weight faster by just sticking to your diet and just having a better go of it, not experiencing as much hunger or as severe. Cravings and five HTP is perfectly safe for most people.
However, if you take large doses like more than 600 milligrams per day, you may experience some negative side effects, but for weight loss purposes, you would take a hundred to 200 milligrams per day. There’s no reason to. Take 600 milligrams. So just don’t do that. And as you have probably guessed, my weight loss supplement Phoenix also has five HGP in it has a clinically effective dose.
Alright, so those are seven of my favorite weight loss supplements. And I wanna wrap up with a few that you should stay away from. Do not buy products with any of the following supplements. And I would even say do not buy products from a company that sells the following supplements because they either don’t know what they’re.
Or they do know what they’re doing and they just don’t care. The first is Hoodia, which is a cactus like plant that grows in a desert in Africa, and several studies show that Hoodia is not only an ineffective supplement for weight loss. It is not going to help you lose weight or lose fat faster. It also can be dangerous, so doesn’t help you lose fat, it harms.
Don’t take it. Don’t buy any supplements with it. And again, I would say don’t buy anything from a company that sells hoodie. The next clunker on my list is conjugated linoleic acid, c l a. This is a fatty acid that’s found in meat and dairy, and research on c l is all over the place. You can find a couple of studies that suggest it actually may help you lose fat faster.
You can find several studies that show that it appears to be only as effective as a placebo, and then there’s at least one study that suggests that C may lead to fat gain. Like you might get fatter by taking c L. The data’s all over the place. Don’t know what to think about it. That’s why I don’t sell c a.
I don’t recommend C. There are many better options and the last. Loser is Garnia. Kimbo very popular, has been very popular for a long time, and this is a, a small yellow fruit. It is in many, many weight loss supplements, especially if you go on Amazon and you see all these sketchy Amazon brands selling products that look like they were designed by.
Fiber rejects. And the reason Garia Cambogia got so popular is, well, it started with animal research. It’s great with rats. It works well with rats, and then there were some human trials that suggested it can help with weight loss. But subsequent research that wasn’t as. Flawed or biased as those initial human trials that were used to pump Garia Kimbo showed that it is not worth a plugged nickel.
So again, don’t waste your money on it as a standalone supplement. Don’t buy any weight loss supplements that contain it, and I would say don’t buy anything from a supplement company that sells Garen, cambogia, or anything with Garia Kimbo. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share.
Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.