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Losing weight can feel like fighting a losing battle.
You either have to eat far less than you would like, skip all the foods you love or spend more and more of your limited time exercising to burn off excess calories.
For many of us, these challenges too often mean that we give up before the weight even starts coming off, leaving us to live with more fat than we’re comfortable with — and far more than what research shows leads to a healthy long life.
Now though, according to a new study by researchers from by Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University, there could be an easier way to shed that extra fat and slim down without the struggling quite so hard… and it’s all wrapped up in an easy-to-find medium-chain fatty acid supplement.
Naturally occurring lipoic acid and metabolism
The name of the supplement is lipoic acid, also known as α-lipoic acid and alpha-lipoic acid.
And it’s a naturally occurring fatty acid that can be found in foods such as yeast, spinach, broccoli, potatoes and organ meats such as liver or kidney. Some is also produced in the human body.
Basically, lipoic acid sets up shop in your cell’s mitochondria and is involved in energy metabolism, something that has long made scientists wonder if supplementing the nutrient could provide the edge some of us need to spur weight loss.
However, the answer to that question has been up in the air.
What scientists do know after decades of studying the effects of lipoic acid is that it has demonstrated beneficial effects on oxidative stress (free radical damage), lipid metabolism (how your body uses or stores fat) and the body’s circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock).
Researchers have also proven that taking lipoic acid supplements can help stimulate everything from glucose metabolism to antioxidant defenses and anti-inflammatory responses. They say that this makes the powerful little compound a possible complementary treatment for people with diabetes, heart disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Yet, when it comes to weight loss, its abilities were still debated for two reasons according to Tory Hagen, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science:
- First, many existing clinical studies using lipoic acid have focused on volunteers with preexisting conditions like diabetes, making it difficult to determine if lipoic acid supplements simply act as a disease treatment or have other beneficial health effects.
- And second, is the formulation of the supplement. Many previous studies have used the S form of lipoic acid, which is a product of industrial synthesis and not found in nature.
So, for this research, the scientists set out to put all their focus on weight.
Instead of using volunteers with underlying conditions, they only used people who, while they needed to lose weight, were otherwise healthy. And they chose the R form of lipoic acid for the supplement used in the study — the form found in your body naturally.
Are you ready to find out what happened?
After participants took 600 mg of the lipoic acid for a period of 24 weeks, “The data clearly showed a loss in body weight and body fat in people taking lipoic acid supplements,” said Balz Frei, director emeritus of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and one of the scientists on the study. “Particularly in women and in the heaviest participants.”
Yes, it helped people, especially women and those with the most weight to lose. And all they did was take the supplement — no diet or sweating at the gym… just a simple, natural pill each day!
If that weren’t enough to get your attention, other beneficial effects of the lipoic acid supplements were also found.
- Reduced markers of inflammation
- Mild reduction in oxidative stress
To sum it up, lipoic acid appears to be an effective weight loss supplement that also helps tamp down inflammation and cellular damage due to free radical damage — both disease contributors. That’s a lot of power packed into one small supplement.
If you have liver or thyroid problems, talk with your doctor before supplementing with lipoic acid. Take precautions as well if you are on diabetic medication as it can cause a drop in blood sugar.