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Here's the third and final part of our series of articles looking at ingredients in fat loss proteins and other fat loss products. So far, we have examined ingredients claiming to ‘block carbs’ and also ingredients claiming to increase thermogenesis – the production of heat by the body resulting in a higher metabolic rate. Let’s quickly review the evidence from Part 2:

Ingredients

Effects & Dosage

 

 

Citrus Aurantium

(Bitter Orange)

  • Weight loss in combination with other supplements
  • Raised resting metabolic rate (RMR)
  • Trend towards increased fat oxidation
  • Raised core temperature
  • Dose – 300-975mg of Bitter Orange Extract

– 1mg/kd/day of Synephrine and no more than

100mg/day

 

 

 

 

Guarana/Caffeine

  • Mild diuretic
  • Transient appetite suppressant
  • Increased thermogenesis
  • Secondary ergogenic benefits on sports performance
  • Possible mobilisation of fats for oxidation
  • Dose – 50-100mg and up to 3mg/kg (Higher doses not recommended)

 

 

 

 

Green Tea Extract

  • Increased thermogenesis
  • Weight loss
  • Reductions in body fat
  • Reductions in waist circumference
  • Dose – At least 90mg of catechins including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

 

In this final part of this series, we will look at ingredients classified as ‘fat metabolisers’ before coming to some overall conclusions about fat loss proteins and products in general.

Fat Loss Proteins

Losing fat and gaining muscle is the pinnacle of a great weight loss plan and health goal. While it is true that fat burning is the preferred energy production mechanism during rest and during most of our daily activities, if we can somehow ramp up this level of fat burning throughout our day, then we increase our chances of losing that weight and achieving our weight loss goals. Not only that, having that weight loss come from losses in fat will have us looking taut and trim. That idea of ramping up our fat metabolism is the basis for many of the ingredients used in fat loss proteins and products. Some of the more common ingredients include:

  • L-carnitine
  • Chromium Picolinate
  • Choline & Inositol
  • Forskolin

L-Carnitine for Fat Loss

Carnitine is a compound which is responsible for the transportation of fatty acids into the mitochondria to be broken down. Mitochondrion’s are subunits within our cells that are able to convert fats and carbohydrates into energy to be used in everyday living processes. Theoretically then, increasing our bodies levels of carnitine should help to provide more fat as fuel for the mitochondria to break down and thus enhance fat metabolism. There has been over 100 years and countless articles aiming to test carnitine and its influence on body metabolism, growth, disease states and the male reproductive system. Unfortunately the evidence surrounding l-carnitine’s ability to contribute to long term weight loss is still under abundant. One extremely popular quoted study stating that 2000mg of l-carnitine supplementation was able to lead to 11 pounds of weight loss is unconfirmed as no references have been produced substantiating those claims. However, Pistone et al (2003)1 was able to show that carnitine supplementation was able to positively effect fat mass and lean muscle mass in over 30 days. Wutzke et al (2004)2 was also able to show in 12 overweight subjects that supplementation with l-carnitine was able to increase fat oxidation rates by 4% without affecting protein metabolism over 10 days. However this increased fat oxidation rate did no translate to any changes in body weight, fat mass or lean body mass. In terms of biochemistry, in order for fatty acid oxidation to begin, an enzyme called CPT-1 (carnitine palmitoyltransferase I) is responsible for attaching the fatty acid to carnitine to be transported into the mitochondria. It is interesting to note that our muscles already have enough carnitine to saturate CPT-1 so that providing extra carnitine into our system may not necessarily increase the rate at which we metabolise fats. However as mentioned by Brass (2004)4, the exact regulation of CPT-1 is still not fully defined and excess carnitine may affect metabolism in ways independent of CPT-1. Furthermore, carnitine may be able to offer other benefits including exercise recovery which can indirectly affect weight and fat loss. While there is some optimistic prospects regarding l-carnitine and its ability to affect weight and fat loss as well as body composition, more research is required. The current level of evidence suggests that doses of between 2-3g/day may be able to exert some effect.

Chromium Picolinate for Shedding Fat

Chromium picolinate is a dietary supplement that has had increasing interest over the last decade or so. Chromium is needed in small amounts in the body as it helps to assist with glucose utilisation via its affect on insulin. It has been suggested that chromium is able to affect the efficiency of insulin and has such can affect carbohydrate and lipid metabolism resulting in follow on effects onto body composition including reduced fat mass with non changing or increased lean body mass. Some studies were able to show positive effects of chromium supplementation on body composition including percent body fat, fat mass and lean muscle mass with or without training5,6. However, other studies have not been able to reproduce similar results. In fact, most of the more recent studies have shown no significant effect of chromium supplementation on body composition.7,8,9 Regarding weight loss, Pittler et al (2003)10 reviewed 10 randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trials which was able to show a slight favour towards chromium supplementation for weight loss of an average of 1.1kg over non supplementation. However, the authors debate whether this relatively small effect has any significance to justify its cost. A similar conclusion was also reached by the International Society of Sports Nutrition11 who suggested that at this current moment, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest chronic chromium supplementation as a way of changing body composition or with weight loss. Interestingly, there has been evidence that chromium picolinate supplementation has had effects on appetite as well as carbohydrate and fat cravings.12,13 It should also be noted that excess chromium picolinate supplementation has been found to cause lethal kidney and liver related issues, but this has been with extremely large doses of up to 4.1mg-7.5mg/kg of bodyweight.14 Currently, it seems that there is no deleterious effects with up to 1mg of chromium picolinate consumed per day, which is more than or equal to what 3 serves of fat loss protein will give you.

Choline & Inositol for Fat Mobilisation

Choline and inositol are two ingredients common in fat loss proteins and as dietary supplements and are suggested to help mobilise fats to be metabolised rather than to be stored. Choline is a water soluble nutrient that has been shown to be required for normal lipid metabolism. Choline deficiency was found to lead to fatty liver, a state where the liver had increases in fat accumulation and associated increase in markers for liver damager. Choline supplementation was able to reverse these effects as shown in several studies.15 One study16 investigated choline and carnitine supplementation, and their ability to affect fat metabolism. The study found that body weight was significantly decreased with consumption of choline and carnitine, however body fat percentage, while also decreased with supplementation over no supplementation was not significantly affected. Inositol is a vitamin like substance that has been implicated in its ability to break down fats in the liver thus fueling the idea that inositol supplementation may be able to help with weight loss. There has not been many studies at all looking at whether this is the case, however, one recent study17 conducted on menopausal women found that inositol supplementation in the form of myo-inositol was able to improve blood lipid levels including triglycerides and high density lipoproteins. Inositol supplementation has also been implicated in its ability to reduce insulin resistance in turn helping to positively affect lipid metabolism as excess insulin produced during insulin resistance results in fat storage and stimulation of formation of new fatty tissue. Regarding inositol’s efficacy in fat loss proteins and other fat loss products, it is still too early to tell whether or not their inclusion is justified. There are however positive outlooks and doses of 2g twice per day have shown some benefits.

Forskolin for Fat Loss

Forskolin is a compound derived from a native plant of India that was traditionally used in traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine as treatments for skin and respiratory disorders. Quite a lot of research has looked at clinical applications for forskolin with reported benefits to blood pressure, glaucoma as well as lung function. Forskolin’s ability to alter cyclic AMP (cAMP) levels has been the centre of focus as cAMP levels are crucial for many biochemical processes within our body including sugar and lipid metabolism. Interestingly enough, there hasn’t been many too many studies conducted looking at forskolin’s ability to affect body composition and weight loss. Recently, two studies have examined forskolin supplementation in terms of weight loss and body composition. Henderson et al (2005)18 looked at overweight and obese females over 12 weeks and found that 250mg of a 10% coleus forskolin extract was unable to lead to significant body composition differences, however may be able to lessen weight gain through altered subjective feelings of hunger, fullness and fatigue. In contrast, Godard et al (2005)19 looked at overweight and obese males over 12 weeks with the same dosage of forskolin and was able to demonstrate significant changes in body fat percentage and fat mass in the forskolin group compared to the placebo group. The men taking forskolin also showed an increase of about 16% in their free testosterone levels compared to an approximately 1% decrease in the placebo group. While not significant, the study also suggests that the results showed a trend towards increased lean body mass with forskolin supplementation. While more research is required to provide any definitive conclusions about forskolin in fat loss proteins and other fat loss supplements, what research has been done has provided some serious encouraging prospects for this plant product.

Fat Metabolisers & Athletes

Fat loss is often a difficult task for many people. Losing fat for athletes, bodybuilders, resistance trainers and even just a sedentary individual is made difficult by the often concurrent losses of muscle protein that can occur with weight loss. However, if there was some way in which fat oxidation was able to be increased, this could not only improve your chances of achieving your weight loss goals, but also alter the ratio of fat to muscle protein lost during the process. While consumption fat should not be feared per se as good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have quite beneficial properties, excess consumption is what everyone should focus on. It is also important to distinguish between those ingredients which lead to greater fat oxidation and those ingredients which claim to lead to reduced fat digestion and absorption. The latter group of ingredients is not routinely recommended due to their abilities to alter nutrient intake. Excess consumption of ingredients and supplements which reduce fat digestion and absorption puts you at risk of nutritional deficiencies, especially of fat soluble vitamins. With that in mind, supplements containing l-carnitine have some excellent prospects if they are able to promote greater fat utilisation for energy production. More comprehensive studies in the future will help to determine the overall efficacy and mechanism by which increasing l-carnitine can help with weight loss and sports performance. In terms of supplements and products containing chromium, while there is some good evidence of improved body composition and reduction in cravings leading to weight loss, as with l-carnitine, more studies need to be conducted to establish a uniform dosage of chromium supplementation. A proper toxicity profile also needs to be established. Until then, do exercise caution with chromium and chromium containing supplements if you do not have chromium deficiency. Regarding choline and inositol, studies are few and far in between and as such, it is still too early to extrapolate the full extent of the benefits of these two ingredients. In contrast, the studies on forskolin have shown it to be an extremely interesting and potentially potent ingredient for weight loss. It is definitely an ingredient to be keeping an eye on.

Fat Loss Protein Guide

Below is a comprehensive summary table of all the information contained within this series:

Fat Metabolisers

Ingredient

Effect

L-Carnitine

  • Improved body composition
  • Increased fat oxidation
  • Possible improvements in exercise recovery
  • Dose – 2-3g/day

 

Chromium Picolinate

  • Reduced body fat percentage
  • Improved body composition
  • Trend towards weight loss
  • Evidence of reduced carbohydrate and fat cravings
  • Dose ≤ 1mg/day

 

Choline

  • Decreased body weight with carnitine
  • Reduction in body fat with carnitine
  • Dose ~ 1g/day

 

 

Inositol

  • Improved blood lipid fractions
  • Improved insulin response
  • Dose – 2g twice a day

 

 

 

 

Forskolin

  • Altered feelings of hunger, fullness and fatigue in favour of weight loss.
  • Decreased body fat percentage
  • Decreased fat mass
  • Increased free testosterone
  • Trend towards increased lean mass
  • Dose – 250mg of a 10% Forskolin extract

 


 

 

Thermogenics

Ingredients

Effects & Dosage

 

 

Citrus Aurantium

(Bitter Orange)

  • Weight loss in combination with other supplements
  • Raised resting metabolic rate (RMR)
  • Trend towards increased fat oxidation
  • Raised core temperature
  • Dose – 300-975mg of Bitter Orange Extract

– 1mg/kd/day of Synephrine and no more than

100mg/day

 

 

 

 

Guarana/Caffeine

  • Mild diuretic
  • Transient appetite suppressant
  • Increased thermogenesis
  • Secondary ergogenic benefits on sports performance
  • Possible mobilisation of fats for oxidation
  • Dose – 50-100mg and up to 3mg/kg (Higher doses not recommended)

 

 

 

 

Green Tea Extract

  • Increased thermogenesis
  • Weight loss
  • Reductions in body fat
  • Reductions in waist circumference
  • Dose – At least 90mg of catechins including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

 

Carb Blockers

Ingredients

Effects & Dosage

 

Phaseolus Vulgaris (containing phaseolamin)

  • Weight loss
  • Improved insulin response
  • Decreased triglycerides
  • Decreased waist circumference
  • Dose – 500-3000mg/day

 

 

Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)

  • Decreased body weight
  • Improved BMI
  • Reduced food intake
  • Improved cholesterol levels and their fractions
  • Increased leptin levels (greater satiety/fullness)
  • Dose ≤ 3mg/day

 

Optimising Fat Loss

For those of you looking to lose weight and lose fat, it is going to be a long and most likely arduous journey to achieving your goals. But there is no doubt that once you do, all the hard work and effort you put in with proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes will all be worth it. While the process will be difficult, make it easier for yourself and consider the above nutrients to boost your results. If you need to adapt your training and diet to fit your goals, why wouldn’t you also adapt your supplementation program? By combining those ingredients in or with a protein, you give yourself the best possible chance of meeting your protein demands and ensuring that you are always in protein balance without compromising your efforts to lose fat mass and reducing your body fat percentage. The above list of nutrients capable of effecting weight loss/fat loss is anything but comprehensive, but it is a great start. Always remember to exercise caution when taking new supplements for the first time and always be aware of dosage and any side effects.

1 Pistone G, Marino A, Leotta C, Dell'Arte S, Finocchiaro G, Malaguarnera M. ‘Levocarnitine administration in elderly subjects with rapid muscle fatigue: effect on body composition, lipid profile and fatigue.’ Drugs Aging. 2003;20(10):761-7.
2
Wutzke KD, Lorenz H. ‘The effect of l-carnitine on fat oxidation, protein turnover, and body composition in slightly overweight subjects.’ Metabolism. 2004 Aug;53(8):1002-6.

3
Villani RG, Gannon J, Self M, Rich PA. ‘L-Carnitine supplementation combined with aerobic training does not promote weight loss in moderately obese women.’ Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Jun;10(2):199-207.

4
Brass EP. ‘Carnitine and sports medicine: use or abuse?’ Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:67-78.

5
Kaats GR et al. ‘A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study of the effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition: A replication and extension of a previous study.’ Curr. Ther. Research. 1998: 59(6): 379-388
6
Hasten DL, Rome EP, Franks BD, Hegsted M. ‘Effects of chromium picolinate on beginning weight training students.’ Int J Sport Nutr. 1992 Dec;2(4):343-50.

7
Walker LS, Bemben MG, Bemben DA, Knehans AW. ‘Chromium picolinate effects on body composition and muscular performance in wrestlers.’ Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Dec;30(12):1730-7.

8
Volpe SL, Huang HW, Larpadisorn K, Lesser II. ‘Effect of chromium supplementation and exercise on body composition, resting metabolic rate and selected biochemical parameters in moderately obese women following an exercise program.’ J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug;20(4):293-306.
9
Trent LK, Thieding-Cancel D. ‘Effects of chromium picolinate on body composition.’ J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1995 Dec;35(4):273-80.

10
Pittler MH et al. ‘Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: Meta-analysis of randomized trials.’ International Journal of Obesity (2003) 27, 522–529. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802262

11
Kreider RB et al. ‘ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations.’ J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 7.

12
Anton SD, Morrison CD, Cefalu WT, Martin CK, Coulon S, Geiselman P, Han H, White CL, Williamson DA. ‘Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety.’ Diabetes Technol Ther. 2008 Oct;10(5):405-12.

13
Docherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR. ‘A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving.’ J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 Sep;11(5):302-14.

14
Vincent JB. ‘The potential value and toxicity of chromium picolinate as a nutritional supplement, weight loss agent and muscle development agent.’ Sports Med. 2003;33(3):213-30.

15
EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to choline and contribution to normal lipid metabolism (ID 3186), maintenance of normal liver function (ID 1501), contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism (ID 3090), maintenance of normal neurological function (ID 1502), contribution to normal cognitive function (ID 1502), and brain and neurological development (ID 1503) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2056. [23 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2056.

16
Hongu N, Sachan DS. ‘Carnitine and choline supplementation with exercise alter carnitine profiles, biochemical markers of fat metabolism and serum leptin concentration in healthy women.’ J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):84-9.

17
Giordano D, Corrado F, Santamaria A, Quattrone S, Pintaudi B, Di Benedetto A, D'Anna R. ‘Effects of myo-inositol supplementation in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome: a perspective, randomized, placebo-controlled study.’ Menopause. 2011 Jan;18(1):102-4.

18
Henderson S, Magu B, Rasmussen C, Lancaster S, Kerksick C, Smith P, Melton C, Cowan P, Greenwood M, Earnest C, Almada A, Milnor P, Magrans T, Bowden R, Ounpraseuth S, Thomas A, Kreider RB. ‘Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women.’ J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005 Dec 9;2:54-62.

19
Godard et al. ‘Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men.’ Obesity Research (2005) 13, 1335–1343; doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.162

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