You can support your metabolism with supplements

Metabolism Supplements: Support Your Healthy Metabolic Rate

By: Liz Lotts, RDN; NASM-CPT

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD

Wouldn't it be great if losing weight was just a little bit easier? Well, maybe it can be—and it all comes down to supporting your metabolism.

While there's no magic method or "special green tea" that will make you drop pounds overnight, there are certain things you can do to support your metabolic rate—including adding supplements to your routine.

Let's take a look at how your metabolism works and the most effective nutrients to keep it running at top speed so you can look and feel your best.

What does metabolism have to do with weight loss?

Your metabolism is a series of chemical processes that converts the food you eat into usable energy for your cells. The rate at which your body performs these processes is called your metabolic rate. To lose weight, you need to increase your metabolic rate or achieve a negative energy balance. This is also known as a calorie deficit, when you burn more calories than you consume.

Of course, nutrition and exercise are major contributors to a healthy metabolism. But maybe you've been an avid gym-goer for years, or you've tried every trendy weight loss diet and aren't seeing results anymore. Don't panic. It's not unusual to hit a plateau. Metabolism naturally slows down with age, which means you may need a few extra tools in your belt to keep it revving.

Thankfully, there are certain nutrients that can help increase your body's ability to use the carbohydrates, fats and protein you feed it.

What supplements support a healthy metabolism?

When looking for metabolism supplements, you'll find an overwhelming number of options with a laundry list of ingredients. To narrow it down, we've rounded up the nutrients that have targeted support—and a slew of clinical research to back them up.

  • Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract

    —Boosting AMPK activity with G.pentaphyllum is one of the many ways to help rev up your metabolism. One of the main roles of AMPK, an enzyme found in every cell of your body, is to burn fat—like stubborn abdominal fat. G. pentaphyllum activates AMPK activity, which supports healthy metabolism and body composition.
  • In one randomized controlled trial, participants who took 450 mg of G. pentaphyllum extract over four weeks supported healthy blood sugar levels as well as higher muscle oxygen flux (the total oxygen available to the tissues). But most importantly, the research found increased active AMPK levels compared to placebo.

    That's not all. Another study of participants also taking 450 mg of G. pentaphyllum extract saw reductions in abdominal fat, body fat mass and percentage and BMI compared to placebo. Look for formulas that include this clinically studied dose so you can help support your metabolism at the cellular level.

  • Sphaeranthus indicus and Garcinia mangostana extracts

    —Sometimes certain types of fat—particularly the fat around our middles—can be more stubborn than others. Garcinia mangostana, also known as mangosteen, has received popularity and attention for its effects on weight management.
  • And these claims aren't just anecdotal. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 100 participants with body mass indices between 30 and 40 kg/m2 were given 400 mg of Sphaeranthus indicus and Garcinia mangostana extracts twice per day for 16 weeks.

    All subjects maintained a consistent exercise routine and followed a 2,000-calorie diet. The ones who received the herbal extract blend experienced greater reductions in body weight, waist circumference and hip circumference compared to the placebo group.

    Pro-tip: The research has shown that results are best when these ingredients are combined, so look for formulas that include both of these herbal extracts.

  • Capsaicinoids

    —The thermic effect of food makes up about 10% of your total daily energy expenditure, or the total amount of calories you burn each day. That's right, you burn calories digesting and absorbing food. What's even more exciting is the fact that compounds in certain foods are more thermogenic than others.
  • Capsaicinoids are one of the most well-researched thermogenic compounds. They are found in spicy foods, like hot peppers. Not everyone thinks spice is so nice, though. Luckily, capsaicinoids from red chili extract are available in supplement form. Just 200 mg per day of red chili extract has been studied to support healthy body weight.

  • Vitamins and minerals

    —There are several vitamins and minerals that are important players in the body's metabolic processes. Vitamin B, vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and iron are among the most crucial nutrients. For example, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin are key coenzymes in energy metabolism, which means these particular types of vitamin B help the body break down food.
  • Be sure your daily nutrition contains enough of these vitamins and minerals or find the right daily supplements to fill in any gaps. Your metabolism will thank you for it later.

When should you take metabolism supplements?

Metabolism supplements are best suited for people who are prioritizing their healthy weight goals. It doesn't matter how many pounds you want to drop, adding the right supplement to your routine can help support positive results.

What if you're happy at your current weight? Perfect. Metabolism supplements can also help you maintain body weight. Remember, metabolism naturally slows down with age. If you're feeling those effects, it might be time to lean on metabolism supplements to keep you lean for the long run.

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What are other ways to support a healthy metabolism for weight management?

While an effective supplement regimen may get you over the hump, don't give up on or ignore the benefits of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Your metabolism is a complex system, which means it cannot be controlled by just one thing. So, if you haven't already, adopt good daily habits for weight management. Like brushing your teeth, these habits should be automatic and non-negotiable.

  • Follow a healthy diet

    —A common pitfall to weight loss is the loss of lean muscle mass in the process. Lean mass, or fat-free mass, is much more metabolically active than body fat. Therefore, losing any amount of muscle mass will result in a lower metabolic rate. The good news is consuming a high-protein diet as part of an overall healthy lifestyle has been shown to help fight decreases in fat-free mass.
  • It's important to remember that a healthy diet may look slightly different for everyone, depending on your particular health goals or priorities. Generally speaking, though, you should be filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with complex carbs and the last quarter of your plate with high-quality protein.

    The fruits, vegetables and complex carbs ensure you get adequate vitamins and minerals to maintain metabolic function. Meanwhile, protein helps preserve and even increase lean muscle mass. It also requires more energy to digest and has a higher diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) than carbohydrates and fats.

  • Eat metabolism-boosting foods

    —We've already discussed how capsaicinoids, like capsaicin, can stimulate thermogenesis and promote fat oxidation. But which foods contain capsaicinoids? Chili peppers are a common source. Enjoy chili peppers stuffed with cheese and baked warm, roasted and blended into a spicy meat sauce or dice up fresh peppers for salsa.
  • Caffeine is another great metabolism-boosting choice—in fact, a number of randomized controlled trials have confirmed caffeine's ability to increase energy expenditure, thereby promoting weight loss and body fat reduction. Caffeine can come in many forms and while of course, your morning cup of Joe is a common source, don't discount other drinks, like green tea. These drinks not only support your metabolism but can also naturally boost energy levels. (Of course, moderation is key when it comes to caffeine; you don't want to end up with a bad case of the jitters or unable to sleep!)

  • Drink enough fluids

    —Hydration is undeniably important for overall health. Drinking adequate fluids also helps regulate body temperature, lubricate your joints, hydrate your cells and flush out waste. Not getting enough fluids can interfere with healthy detoxification pathways or regular bowel movements. This can lead to occasional bloating and water retention which are, of course, not good for weight loss or weight management.
  • When choosing your fluids, water is always a winner. From a nutrition standpoint, mixed coffeehouse concoctions, juice, soda, sweet tea and lemonade offer very little other than quick-digesting carbs that can impact your healthy blood sugar.

    When you replace these sugary drinks with water, you save yourself a ton of empty calories. That said, any calorie-free drink will do, such as sparkling water or unsweetened black and green tea. For those occasional cravings, you can even enjoy a zero-calorie soda.

  • Exercise regularly

    —Physical activity is a surefire way to burn a large chunk of calories and achieve a negative energy balance. In fact, physical activity can account for 15-30% of your total daily energy expenditure. That doesn't mean you have to exercise every day, though. As long as you find a consistent routine and are training at the right intensity, you'll see the benefits.
  • What's the right intensity? The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise in order to maintain weight. Moderate intensity may include dancing, doing yard work or taking an aerobics class for 30 minutes, five days per week. For those trying to lose weight, you'll need more than 150 minutes and/or more intense activity, like HIIT workouts.

  • Get quality sleep

    —You may be tired of hearing it, but your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Getting quality sleep each night supports healthy blood pressure and immune health and protects memory and cognition. If that's not reason enough to soak up some shuteye, then consider the effects sleep has on your metabolism.
  • Inadequate sleep increases levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for making you feel hungry. Lack of sleep may also lead to food cravings, like sugar. Not to mention, when you're tired, you're less likely to work out and burn calories. All the more reason to put down the phone, turn off the TV and go to bed!

  • Manage stress

    —You can check off every item on this list; but if your stress levels are not under control, all those tough workouts and healthy eating efforts simply won't be as effective. Unmanaged stress can impact your healthy cortisol levels and stimulate the production of other hormones and peptides involved in hunger and metabolism.
  • Feeling overworked or overwhelmed can also lead you to "stress eat." Stress eating usually involves making poor food choices, like grabbing a bag of potato chips instead of carrot sticks, causing you to consume more calories than you need. Find ways to support healthy cortisol levels, and it will be all the easier to support your healthy metabolism.

About the Author: Liz Lotts is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer. She has a passion for helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition and effective fitness programs. In her free time, Liz enjoys running, lifting weights, watching live sports with her husband and traveling to new places.

Credentials/Degrees: RDN; NASM-CPT; Certified Orangetheory Fitness Coach; TRX Qualified Coach; Bachelor’s in Advertising, Marketing & Communications; Master of Science in Dietetics.


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