Americans have struggled with the scourge of obesity since the 80’s, when the USA literally gave up on healthy eating and turned to high-calorie fast foods.
The problems of obesity as a severe health condition have led to numerous studies aimed at discovering safe methods of dealing with obesity and overweight people in general.
A few of these studies have revealed interesting results showing the benefits of alpha lipoic acid for weight loss and overall wellness.
However, one thing about the results obtained in all the studies involving alpha lipoic acid (ALA or a-lipoic acid) as a weight loss supplement is that they have been inconclusive; despite the seemingly positive outcomes.
Professionals in this area of study agree that more research and controlled clinical experiments (on human subjects) are required to guarantee best (and consistent) results.
They’re also quick to add that this remedy may not have similar effects on everyone. This may probably be due to the uniqueness of our genetic make-up and response to different stimuli.
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What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha-lipoic acid is a critical coenzyme needed for mitochondrial energy production, but primarily known for its function as a strong antioxidant.
Numerous independent surveys have revealed impressive unique properties of a-lipoic acid that make it a potent supplement in the treatment and management of migraines, blood pressure, weight loss, bone health, glaucoma, stroke, diabetes (type 2), damaged nerves (neuropathy) or dementia, relieving oxidative stress, and kidney complications among others.
Please Note: Alpha occurs naturally in animals and it is a vital co-factor in numerous key homeostatic functions.
Our primary focus is however on the benefits of ALA for weight loss. So, how does this connection between a-lipoic acid and weight loss really work? What is the science behind it?
Benefits of ALA for Weight Loss
According to several research findings, a-lipoic acid has been used successfully as a weight loss supplement; two of these studies particularly stand out.
One study conducted in 2015 and published in the Obesity Society Journal used a control group (placebo) and an intervention group that received doses of ALA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acid) in varied combinations for 10 weeks.
The results gathered from all 97 trial participants (obese/overweight women) who completed the exercise (parallel, short-term randomized double blind placebo-controlled trial) showed that although both groups lost weight due to the adjusted dietary and lifestyle changes, the ALA group, after receiving a daily dose of 300mg of ALA, lost 4 pounds (on average) more than the control group (an average loss of 15.4 and 11.4 pounds respectively).
A cohort study carried out by a Korean team in 2011 and published in the AJM (American Journal of Medicine) also reported a positive correlation between a-lipoic acid supplementation and notable acceleration of weight loss in both men and women.
A total of 360 overweight participants divided into 3 groups completed this experiment.
Two groups received a-lipoic acid in doses of 1800mg and 1200mg respectively (administered in spread-out small doses of 400-600mg before meals), and lastly there was the control group.
At the end of the double blinded 20-week trial, it was discovered that the placebo group had lost an average of 2 lbs, the 1200mg ALA group had lost 4 pounds on average, and the 1800mg group had lost an average of 6 pounds.
It is however important to note that only about 50 percent of the total weight loss was attributed to reduced fat mass.
Another 4-month study conducted on 1127 obese subjects by an Italian team of researchers in 2010 (and published in Current Pharmaceutical Design), also revealed that pre-obese and obese teenagers were able to lose between 8% and 9% of their total body weight after taking a daily ALA dose of 800mg for the duration of the trial.
This translated to an average loss of 15 pounds!
So, how does alpha lipoic acid fit into the “weight loss magic potion” equation?
How does it actually help you lose weight?
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ALA Science Explained
Modern science has attempted (and to some extent managed) to hypothesize (with near accuracy) the different ways that ALA helps in body fat reduction. The two most popular theories include;
#1 – Appetite suppression: Less calorie intake (having less hunger pangs and eating less food) logically means fewer opportunities for fat build up and eventual weight loss. ALA is known to act on the hypothalamus (part of the brain) to suppress feelings of hunger.
#2 – Increased Energy: By playing a major role in the increment of mitochondrial energy production function, obese people using ALA have more energy to move round and probably exercise a little to burn calories and body fat. The energy production process (which also sets your basal metabolic rate) is definitely expected to produce some heat which can theoretically help burn fat deposits directly while at rest.
More studies citing the key role played by a-lipoic acid in insulin suppression also show the significance of using ALA for weight loss.
Regardless of these encouraging results, it is imperative that you note this one simple fact: Alpha lipoic acid is not sufficiently effective on weight loss on its own…lifestyle and dietary changes that include a few exercise programs are still necessary for more desirable results.
Key ALA Facts to Consider
Although there are no known adverse effects of prolonged ALA use, a few people have reported side effects such as gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, itching or skin irritations, and nausea among other minor conditions.
It is therefore advised that you talk to your physician or health professional before starting on any dietary supplementation or medication regimens.
There are clearly numerous benefits of alpha lipoic acid for weight loss, but as research continues to remind us, these positive results may not be for everyone.