Scientifically proven natural weight-loss nutrients

Banaba tree for weight loss

It is estimated that up to 50 million Americans attempt to lose weight each year. The best and most effective way to lose excess pounds is to modify eating habits and lifestyle behaviors. But, few have the patience for this, frequently leading them to incorporate weight loss aids - dietary supplements, over-the-counter medications - to assist their weight loss efforts. But do these natural weight loss aids work?

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There is no magic bullet that works for everyone when it comes to natural weight loss aids. However, if you need an extra boost, or something to help curb your appetite, these natural nutrients are backed by scientific research.

Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa): The Banaba tree is a tropical tree native to India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan. The leaves of this tree have been traditionally used in the Philippines as an anti-diabetic and weight-loss aid. Animal studies have demonstrated that an active constituent in banaba - corosolic acid — promotes weight loss. Animals fed a high fat diet while receiving corosolic acid experienced a 15 percent reduction in body weight, with an amazing 16 percent reduction in visceral (abdominal) fat. The weight loss properties of banaba may largely be due to its ability to inhibit cells from transforming into specialized fat storage cells called adipocytes. A 12-week interventional, randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind human trial that included 91 overweight and mildly obese subjects investigated the efficacy of a blend of extracts including banaba. When combined with a calorie-restricted diet the subjects receiving the extract lost an average of about 5 pounds. While not a significant amount of weight was lost, the subjects did experience a reduction in body mass, waist circumference and hip circumference.

Licorice Flavonoid: Licorice is more than a tasty candy. This medicinal herb is used widely for gastrointestinal problems and combats the herpes simplex virus. Licorice flavonoid has demonstrated the ability to reduce visceral fat in animal studies. Visceral fat is often the hardest fat to eliminate from the body, requiring an extremely clean diet to see results. Two human studies found that participants who took 900 mg of licorice flavonoid oil daily for eight weeks experienced considerable decreases in body weight, fat percentage and body mass index. Interestingly, the participants also achieved decreased LDL cholesterol levels. One study investigating the safety of high doses of licorice flavonoid (1,800mg/day, six times the dose used to produce weight loss in other studies) reported that not only was this level safe, but it resulted in significant fat loss among overweight subjects.

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Fucoxanthin: Fucoxanthin is a natural carotenoid derived from seaweeds, predominantly brown seaweed. In animal studies it was discovered that fucoxanthin increases thermogenesis (heat production within the body) and metabolism (calorie expenditure). Scientists believe that fucoxanthin promotes weight loss — particularly visceral fat loss — by targeting a protein called UCP1 that stimulates fat burning and alters lipid-regulating enzymes. In an eight-week human study of 22 female college students, subjects lost 2.2 percent body fat and decreased body weight up to 6.6 pounds. This was accomplished through a combination of dietary therapy, exercise and behavior modifications and 20g of a seaweed powder containing fucoxanthin. While this is not a significant weight or fat reduction, the compliance rate among participants was greater than that seen in weight loss programs that rely on strict calorie reduction.

Garcinia Cambogia: Garcinia cambogia has been flying off the shelves since Dr. Oz called it a breakthrough in natural weight loss in 2012. Some research suggests that Garcinia cambogia does aid weight loss, but the majority of research does not support its use for weight loss. However, studies suggest that this nutrient may cause excess accumulation of connective tissue in the liver, promote lipid peroxidation — the degradation of lipids, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and increases oxidative stress — excess production of free radicals and not enough antioxidants to neutralize them.

Conclusion: The evidence suggests that licorice flavonoid and banaba are leasing natural nutrients to aid weight loss, whereas fucoxanthin requires further research and Garcinia cambogia appears to be ineffective. To truly lose weight, one must reduce caloric intake, while simultaneously increasing caloric expenditure. Your efforts may be enhanced by banaba or licorice flavonoid. Some evidence suggests that eating smaller meals more frequently also encourages weight loss. For more information about this refer to TransformWise: your guide to a wise body transformation.

Considerations: Consult a qualified professional before taking any natural nutrient. The author provides this article for informational purposes only. The content is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness or condition.

References:
1. Yamada K, Hosokawa M, Yamada C, et al. Dietary Corosolic Acid Ameliorates Obesity and Hepatic Steatosis in KK-Ay Mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Apr;31(4):651-55.
2. Chong PW, Beah ZM, Grube B, et al. IQP-GC-101 reduces body weight and body fat mass: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res. 2014 May 2. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Judy W, Hari S, Stogsdill W, et al. Antidiabetic activity of a standardized extract (Glucosol™) from Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves in Type II diabetics: A dose-dependence study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul;87(1):115-17.
4. Bai N, He K, Roller M, et al. Active Compounds from Lagerstroemia speciosa, Insulin-like Glucose Uptake-Stimulatory/Inhibitory and Adipocyte Differentiation-Inhibitory Activities in 3T3-L1 Cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Dec;56(24):11668-74.
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8. Woo MN, Jeon SM, Shin YC, et al. Anti-obese property of fucoxanthin is partly mediated by altering lipid-regulating enzymes and uncoupling proteins of visceral adipose tissue in mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Dec;53(12):1603-11.
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10. Nakagawa K, Kishida H, Arai N, et al. Licorice Flavonoids Supress Abdominal Fat Accumulation in Blood Glucose Level in Obese Diabetic KK-Ay Mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Nov;27(11):1775-78.
11. Tominaga Y, Nakagawa K, Mae T, et al. Licorice flavonoid oil reduces total body fat and visceral fat in overweight subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Obes Res Clin Prac. 2009 Aug;3(3):I-IV.
12. Kim YJ, Choi MS, Park YB, et al. Garcinia cambogia attenuates diet-induced adiposity but exacerbates hepatic collagen accumulation and inflammation. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Aug;19(29):4689-71.
13. Kim JE, Jeon SM, Park KH, et al. Does Glycine max leaves or Garcinia cambogia promote weight-loss or lower plasma cholesterol in overweight individuals: a randomized control trial. Nutr J. 2011 Sep;10:94.
14. Marquez F, Babio N, Bullo M, et al. Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of hydroxycitric acid or Garcinia cambogia extracts in humans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(7):585-94.

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