Feel like you’ve heard it all when it comes to the battle of the bulge? Here’s cutting-edge news on herbals and nutrients that can help you win the fight for healthy weight loss. Read on to see how grape seed extract, ginger, berberine, and the right fiber can help you shed those stubborn pounds.
Grape Seed Extract
Excess abdominal fat—when you carry most of your weight around your midsection—is one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to diabetes. Rich in polyphenols, grape seed extract can help reduce elevated blood sugar levels that contribute to abdominal weight gain. According to a study from the University of California, Davis, taking a grape seed extract with breakfast may reduce certain stress markers in people with the syndrome. Researchers analyzed the effect of 300 mg of a tannin-free French grape seed extract on a dozen middle-aged people who had at least three factors for metabolic syndrome. Each participant was given either the grape seed supplement or a placebo one hour before eating a high-carbohydrate, high-fat meal. The result? The grape seed extract boosted antioxidant levels in the blood and reduced post-meal blood sugar concentrations compared to the participants taking the placebo.
This study builds on other research showing that grape seed extract protects against fat accumulation and improves both blood triglyceride and plasma lipid levels. But be choosy when it comes to selecting a grape seed supplement. To ensure you’re getting a supplement with superior absorbability, look for these qualities:
- A tannin-free French OPC grape seed extract like French Grape Seed Extract VX1,
- Standardized for OPCs with a low molecular weight,
- Scientifically studied and tested to verify that the product hasn’t been adulterated (for example, substituting red peanut skins for grape seed).
Thinking about fiber may trigger a yawn. After all, what could be more boring? But think again! New information shows that fiber plays an important role in the health of the gut microbiome—and that could also have implications in how we lose weight.
Fiber used to fall into two categories. The first was insoluble fiber, which isn’t absorbed by the body but does add bulk to the stool. The second was soluble fiber, which could absorb water and plays a role in heart and metabolic health. But these new findings report that fiber is also non-fermentable and fermentable. Found in foods like bananas, asparagus, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes, fermentable fiber—or prebiotics—acts as a food for bacteria in the colon. Prebiotics shift the composition of microbes in the gut and help reduce obesity, along with lowering cholesterol and supporting the immune system. The problem is most Americans fall short of the minimum 25 g of fiber recommended for women and 38 g for men. If you are looking to increase your fermentable fiber, add more beans and legumes to your diet. You can also increase the soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet with nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Together, these foods will fill you up and help improve your microbiome—good things when it comes to getting to your ideal weight.
Carrying excess weight contributes to an uptick in free radicals—and that’s why an overweight person is prone to more oxidative stress and inflammation. Fortunately antioxidant properties in ginger can help control these damaging free radicals. What’s more, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can help keep inflammation in check. While ginger doesn’t cause direct weight loss, one small study found that the herb helped overweight men feel full longer. Another study looking into ginger and weight loss showed that ginger can have a significant effect on the waist-to-hip ratio. It aids in faster food digestion all while helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. These findings make ginger a good “add in” to your weight loss toolbox.
With a long history of use in Chinese medicine, berberine has multiple health applications, including weight loss. Found in several plants like European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, and Oregon grape, berberine activates an enzyme inside cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)—often referred to as a “metabolic master switch.” Essentially, berberine works as an energy sensor within our cells. The decline of AMPK activity through aging is one reason changes in appetite, body weight, and energy levels are so common.
In a 12-week study in obese individuals, those taking 500 mg of berberine three times a day lost an average of 5 pounds and 3.6 percent of their body fat. Another study of 37 men and women exhibiting metabolic syndrome showed a drop in their body mass index (BMI) levels from 31.5 to 27.4 when taking 300 mg of berberine, three times a day. They moved from the status of obese to overweight and lost belly fat over the three-month study. With its ability to act as a central regulator of both lipid and glucose metabolism, AMPK is considered to have real potential in the fight against obesity, making berberine an excellent addition to your healthy-weight routine.
Staying at a healthy weight is a difficult journey for many people. Thankfully, with the help of research and a few targeted herbs, this journey just might be a little easier.