Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may be tough, but these natural aids can help you lose unwanted pounds — and keep them off for good
Mother Nature is all about balance, but the pace of modern life can cause you to feel a bit tilted at times. If you are struggling with maintaining a healthy weight, or even if you have only a few pounds to lose, these six natural antiobesity agents can help you shift the scale into equilibrium.
This warm, reddish-brown spice comes from the inner bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum and is used to flavor sweet and savory foods and beverages the world over. What you may not know is that cinnamon is also a powerful metabolic catalyst.
A 2019 research paper published the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of cinnamon’s effect on body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio (WHR) and body fat mass. The review encompassed 1,480 participants from 21 randomized, controlled trials and found that cinnamon consumption significantly reduces BMI, body weight and WHR.[i]
Cinnamon has anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-hyperglycemic effects,[ii] making this common spice a potent ally for individuals with insulin sensitivity who wish to control their weight. Cinnamon may also stimulate the development of brown fat,[iii] a type of fat that is considered essential to healthy metabolism.
High percentages of brown fat are linked to reduced levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which, although essential for many body functions, are linked with obesity, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes at high levels.[iv]
2. Cocoa / Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is made from the solids and butter extracted from cacao beans. These prized beans are actually the dried, fermented seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen native to Central and South America.
Food-grade extracts from the beans include powders, extracts, nibs, butters and solids, all packing enormous health benefits. When used in the making of dark chocolate, cocoa, which is made from cacao beans that have been roasted, may even help you fight obesity and overweight.
A 2018 review and meta-analysis on cocoa supplementation found that dark chocolate reduces body weight, BMI and waist circumference.[v] Dose and duration were important determinants for favorable effects.[vi] When shopping for healthy dark chocolate, it’s best to stick with organic cocoa beans with at least 70% cacao for optimal health effects.
3. Citrus and Citrus Extracts
A ubiquitous dietary trope is replacing a bacon-and-eggs breakfast with half a grapefruit when you’re on a diet. This symbolism was rooted in good sense — citrus fruits have been scientifically linked to fat-burning.[vii] But what is it about citrus that revs up your metabolic engine?
A 12-week study on overweight adults found that supplementation with a citrus extract powder resulted in a significant reduction in body fat compared to placebo.[viii] A 2008 study on a citrus-based dietary supplement saw participants lose weight and reduce their overall body fat.
Researchers opined that the weight loss may be attributable to the extract’s high polyphenol count,[ix] a benefit not available in average grocery store juices. A similar study on healthy women drinking commercial pasteurized orange juice for two months produced no change in body composition.[x]
4. Green Coffee Extract
Green coffee beans are exactly that — coffee beans that haven’t been roasted. These raw, nutty beans are developing a following for numerous health-promoting qualities, including a growing reputation as a weight-loss supplement. Loaded with antioxidant compounds called chlorogenic acids, raw green coffee beans may help rev up your weight loss efforts.
A 2020 review and meta-analysis on studies of green coffee extract (GCE) on anthropometric measures in adults found that the supplement had a beneficial effect on body weight, BMI and waist size. Researchers determined that GCE could provide a safe, cost-effective alternative in the treatment of obesity.[xi]
A separate meta-analysis reviewed 16 randomized controlled trials on GCE and found that the supplement improved obesity indices, including lowering BMI in obese and overweight individuals.[xii] To gain maximum benefit, supplementation periods of at least four weeks are indicated.[xiii]
Soup may be a broad category, but if you are overweight, including soup in your dietary routine can help turn your metabolism into a fat-burning furnace. A 2020 meta-analysis sought to determine the mechanisms behind this association by reviewing 1,873 scientific articles and seven cross-sectional studies on soup consumption and obesity. Incredibly, all studies in the review indicated a significant inverse correlation between soup consumption and obesity.[xiv]
For optimal weight-loss and health benefit, focus on soups with fresh, whole ingredients — not processed, canned varieties. Miso, vegetable stock and pastured chicken or beef broth are all highly nutritious ingredients on which to base a variety of soup recipes. Don’t forget to add vegetables like garlic, onion, carrots and celery to your soup stock. These sulfur-rich vegetables boost the nutritional profile of your stock and enhance flavors, ensuring your soup is a tasty, vitamin and mineral-rich lunch or dinner option.
Spirulina, or blue-green algae, is a nutritional powerhouse that is cultivated in both fresh and salt-water environments. With use that dates to the Aztecs, spirulina has stood the test of time as a nutritional supplement. Modern science has revealed that it may also be a potent ally in the modern fight against obesity.
There have been numerous studies on the use of spirulina as a weight-loss aid, including a 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis that found spirulina supplementation had a significant effect on body fat percentage and anthropometric indices such as waist circumference.[xv] A 2016 study found that three months of regular consumption of spirulina not only improves BMI and weight but also results in improvements in blood pressure and endothelial function.[xvi]
To effect optimal weight loss and keep it off, any supplementation regimen should be combined with dietary adjustments such as fasting or limiting overall caloric consumption and avoiding foods with excess sugar. In addition, including daily intentional movement will provide a boost to metabolism and may even enhance your mood.
When it comes to achieving and sustaining healthy weight, there is no magic pill. But there are helpful allies in the food-based medicine cabinet that can help you stay on course and feel your best while you watch the pounds melt away.
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