The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines dietary supplements as products “intended for ingestion that contain a ‘dietary ingredient’ intended to further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet.” Common nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and concentrates, metabolites and extracts.
Should you be taking a nutritional supplement? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) emphasize that a balanced diet should (ideally) provide individuals with all of the nutrients necessary for optimal health. However, nutritional supplements can fill in gaps in your diet and can aid in weight loss when used properly.
What nutritional supplements are best for people trying to drop weight?
Before beginning any supplement routine, talk with your health care provider to determine whether a nutritional supplement is right – or necessary – for you. Then, choose a nutritional supplement that can assist in weight loss – including (but not limited to) fibers, omega-3 fatty acids or creatine.
Taking a fiber supplement may help you shed pounds by making you feel fuller, leading to fewer calories consumed. A 2001 Tufts University study found that participants who increased fiber consumption (through supplements and naturally, through foods) ate 10% less calories than they did prior to beginning the study. The American Heart Association recommends that people intake 25-30g of fiber per day, but most Americans are getting about half of that total. Increase your fiber intake by eating fiber rich foods or through fiber pills(sold at most stores that carry vitamins).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s help weight loss – the fatty acids actually activate fat-burning properties in cells. In a 2012 article published by Women’s Health, the benefits of omega-3s in supporting weight loss are discussed. Omega-3s “also help to boost mood, which may help reduce emotional eating. And omega-3s might improve leptin signaling in the brain, causing the brain to turn up fat burning and turn down appetite.” If you aren’t getting enough naturally from fatty fish like salmon and nuts and seeds, you can consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
Creatine, a supplement popular in the body-building community, is an acid naturally produced in the liver that helps to supply energy to cells throughout the body. Creatine is known to help increase metabolic rate and speed up fat loss. Not a bodybuilder? Creatine is best for people who work out frequently – not those who are trying to lose weight through dieting alone. However, if you are an individual who exercises frequently and is looking to shed fat, creatinemight be an excellent addition to your diet.
It is critical that you discuss nutritional supplements with your doctor or health care provider before buying them. If you are not sure whether the supplement will help improve your diet and enable you to meet your weight-loss goals, do your research to identify the benefits of the supplement, and recognize any potential side effects.