Lose fat fast by supplementing with nutrients that will help your body be a fat burning machine. Best body composition results will come if you strength train, are active on a regular basis, and round out smart eating with key supplementation. Although the supplements covered in this article will help anyone and everyone with body composition, you really need to focus fat loss around a training program and clean eating as well.
This article is the last part in a three part series of fat loss tips. Just as I mentioned in the previous articles, it’s very difficult to out-train a poor diet, and it’s impossible to out-supplement a poor diet if you don’t train.
There is no magic pill that will melt fat from your body without causing serious damage to health, but you will definitely have better fat loss results by supplementing with key nutrients. Yes, there are all kinds of unique nutrients that you may want to cycle into a well-planned diet and strength training program to cut fat, but those are not the point of this article either. This article will give you my top five supplement strategies for optimal body composition and fat loss.
The Run Down on Supplementation for Fat Loss
The point of supplementation is to help you avoid deficiencies that may arise from even the best, well planned diet. Supplementation to support fat loss is based on the desire to assist the body in the following physiological mechanisms:
1) Help the body use the fat stores you have for fuel
2) Increase insulin sensitivity and glucose health
3) Elevate protein synthesis
4) Detoxify and remove toxins
5) Support optimal hormone levels for fat loss
Tip #1: Take Omega-3 Fish Oil
If you only take one supplement, it should probably be omega-3 fish oil unless the majority of your dietary fat intake is from omega-3 fats. Yes, you must supplement with fat to lose fat! There’s evidence that omega-3s are anabolic and will build muscle too.
Omega-3 fats are so important because all the cells in the body are made up of a double layer of fats, and the fat that makes up those layers dictates how well your metabolism will work. If the cell layers are made up of healthy omega-3 fats, they will be more sensitive to insulin. This allows the cell receptors to bind more easily, which improves energy use and fat burning. If your cells are made up of unhealthy fat, they will not bind with insulin easily, which leads to fat gain and elevated cortisol—the stress hormone.
Studies show that supplementing with omega-3s significantly increases lean mass, while decreasing body fat at the same time. Omega-3 fish oil improves the body’s testosterone-to-cortisol ratio by lowering cortisol and it turns on the fat burning genes, while turning off the lipogenic or fat storing genes. For example, one of the reasons people lose muscle mass and have poorer brain function as they age is that the gene signaling pathways that tell the body to start protein synthesis or make connections in the brain no longer “turn on” unless certain nutrients are present. Two of the most important nutrients are omega-3 fats and high-quality protein.
Research studies into omega-3 intake are few but there is evidence that even a small dose of 1.8 grams of fish oil a day for three months can increase fat burning by 22 percent, which suggests that long-term fat loss would be significant. Other studies have shown 2 to 4 kg drops in body fat from taking 3 grams a day of fish oil for three months, which although not huge, would certainly be more dramatic if paired with exercise and a careful diet.
Tip #2: Take a Probiotic
Take a probiotic to lose fat fast. Probiotics aid digestion and support gastrointestinal health so that the body detoxifies better. A probiotic will help you lose fat, have more energy and feel better. Probiotics are the tiny bacteria that naturally occur in the gut, but they can be easily overwhelmed by unhealthy bacteria like E. coli, chemical pollution such as heavy metals, oxidative stress, or high cortisol.
It’s very difficult to lose weight if you don’t have a healthy gut for two interrelated reasons. First, more than half of the neurotransmitters that send messages from the brain to cells and hormone receptors throughout the body are made in the gastrointestinal lining. If you have unhealthy bacteria in the gut, it will negatively influence the production of neurotransmitters, leading to poor cognitive function, low mood, and low motivation. Lack of motivation and poor energy will leave you with a lack of drive to exercise and eat well. Low mood and depression can also frustrate your fat loss goals.
The second reason gut health is essential is that it will improve digestion and help you feel better. You will feel more energetic because your neurotransmitters will be firing at optimal levels, and your metabolism will be supported so that nutrients get absorbed and used by the body in an effective manner.
Probiotics are very effective at aiding the body to detoxify because increasing the amount of good microflora in your gut will significantly increase glutathione, which is the number one internal antioxidant in the body. When you have more glutathione you will be healthier, leaner, and much more resistant to chronic disease.
Tip #3: Take BCAAs and Whey Protein
Boost protein intake throughout the day by taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and whey protein. Research shows that eating a large dose of high-quality protein multiple times throughout the day is associated with lower body fat percentage. For example, a recent study found that people who reached a high-quality protein “threshold” that was defined as at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) more often during the day, had less visceral belly fat and less total fat.
High-quality protein is necessary because you get more bang for your calorie buck by eating this kind of protein since it contains more EAAs per gram of protein. Greater EAA and protein intake helps maximally stimulate protein synthesis, raise metabolic rate, and make the cells more sensitive to insulin.
For the fastest, healthiest fat loss, it’s best to approach protein intake from a number of angles. First, you should eat high-quality animal protein at meals because this will provide omega-3 fats and other nutrients like carnitine, creatine, and carnosine that support body composition and performance. Second, supplement with a protein such as whey after training and if your protein is lacking at meals. Third, take BCAAs during and after training to boost total amino acid intake and lose fat. Research shows that in a large study of 4429 people, those with higher BCAAs in their diets were leaner and had much less chance of being overweight than those with lower BCAA intake.
Tip #4 Get Enough of the Big Three: Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D
Get enough zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D—these nutrients are extremely important for fat loss and metabolism. If you are low in any one of these three, which you probably are unless you make an effort to supplement with them, your fat loss attempts will be blunted.
Adequate vitamin D in the body will increase fat burning directly, but it also suppresses the production of enzymes that cause the body to store fat. There’s evidence that higher vitamin D suppresses hunger and increases insulin sensitivity, leading people to eat less. Magnesium also makes the cell receptors more sensitive to insulin, and this mineral has been shown to be inversely linked to body fat—higher magnesium means you’ll be leaner. But the real benefit of raising your magnesium levels is on physical performance, sleep, and cardiovascular health.
Magnesium calms the nervous system and helps regulate heart function, which is why raising magnesium will help you sleep better. Research shows that raising daily magnesium intake to 500 mg can lead to less anxiety in subjects who suffer from insomnia, thereby allowing them to sleep better. An added benefit of less anxiety and better rest is less of the stress hormone cortisol, which hinders fat loss when elevated.
Zinc also plays a primary role in insulin health by improving the production of enzymes that protect the cells, and it helps detoxify inflammatory biomarkers that get in the way of metabolic function. Low zinc can cause numerous other health problems including poor brain function, cancer, and heart disease.
To ensure you get enough of the Big Three, it’s best to supplement with each nutrient separately for the following reasons:
• Most people need to take 2,000 to 5,000 IUs of vitamin D a day to ensure their levels are above 30 ng/ml, which is a minimal healthy level. Some people will benefit more from a higher dose taken twice weekly. For best results, get your level tested and supplement accordingly.
• It’s best to take a blend of different magnesium forms such as magnesium bound with fumarate, glycinate, taurate, and ororate. These forms are better metabolized and more effective in the body than cheaper forms such as magnesium oxide.
• Depending on how low your zinc level is, you may be able to rely on a multi-vitamin for it, but those with abysmally low levels should supplement with zinc for a few months, and then get their levels tested because this is a nutrient that can build up to toxic levels.
Tip #5: Support Detoxification with B Vitamins and Methylated Folate
Support detoxification and fat burning by ensuring you have adequate B vitamins. Although there are a bunch of fat-burning nutrients I could recommend for the last tip—carnitine, taurine, alpha lipoic acid, green tea, coffee, fenugreek—none of those will be as beneficial if you don’t get enough B vitamins.
B vitamins are necessary to detoxify environmental toxins and excess hormones such as estrogen. People who eat a high protein-diet or take extra BCAAs increase their demand for B vitamins, which takes away from the pool needed for detox and may inhibit weight loss. Vitamin B6 is necessary for proper protein metabolism, the use of muscle glycogen for energy (critical for athletes), and the detoxification of hormones such as cortisol.
Additionally, a majority of the population is genetically predisposed to be unable to process folic acid or B9 effectively. If you have this genetic variation, you will need a methylated form of folic acid that can bypass the problem. Low B9 can lead to poor detoxification and high levels of homocysteine, which put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.
B6, B12, and B9 also promote the removal of estrogen down a pathway that is less likely to cause cancer. Effective removal of estrogen will help with fat loss because higher estrogen levels correlate with higher body fat. Plus, the enzyme aromatase, which turns testosterone to estrogen in the body, is higher if you have more body fat.
Once you have the B vitamins covered, research shows that other nutrients such as green tea, magnesium, and alpha lipoic acid are that much more effective for fat loss because the building blocks for detox are in place. Start with a B complex that includes a methylated B9 for best results.
Loenneke, J., Wilson, J., et al. Quality of Protein Intake is Inversely Related with Abdominal Fat. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012. 9(5).
Qin, L., Xun, P., Bujnowski, D., Daviglus, M., Van Horn, L., Stamler, J., He, K. Higher Branched-Chain amino Acid Intake is Associated with a Lower Prevalence of Being Overweight or Obese in Middle-Aged East Asian and Western Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010. 141(2), 249-254.
Soares, M., Murhadi, L., et al. Mechanistic Roles of Calcium and Vitamin D in the Regulation of Body Weight. Obesity Review. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.
Prasad, Ananda. Zinc Deficiency. British Medical Journal. 2003. 326, 409-410.
Ortega, R., Rodriguez, E., et al. Poor Zinc Status is Associated with Increased Risk of Insulin Resistance in Spanish Children. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012. 107, 398-404.
Nielsen, F.H. Magnesium, Inflammation, and Obesity in Chronic Disease. Nutrition Review. 2010. 68(6), 333-340.
Andreasen, A., Larsen, N., et al. Effects of Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM on Insulin Sensitivity and the Systemic Inflammatory Response in Human Subjects. British Journal of Nutrition. December 2010. 104(12), 1831-1838.
Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., et al. Regulation of Abdominal Adiposity by Probiotics (Lactobacillus Gasseri SBT2055) in Adults with Obese Tendencies in a Randomized Controlled Trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 64, 636-643.
Noreen, E., Sass, M., Crowe, M., Pabon, V., Branauer, J., Averill, L. Effects of Supplemental Fish Oil on Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition, and Salivary Cortisol in Healthy Adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010. 7(31).
Smith, G., Atherton, P., Reeds, D., Mohammed, B., Rankin, D., Rennie, M., Mittendorfer, B. Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Increases the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 93(2), 402-412.