From antioxidants and greens to digestive support, these studies reveal some of the latest findings on nutrients to support your healthiest weight.
Astaxanthin burned fat, improved performance
In this study, 12 recreationally trained male cyclists took a placebo or 12 mg of astaxanthin per day, in two alternating seven-day phases, with a 14-day break between the two. On day seven in each phase, the men completed a 25-mile endurance cycling time-trial, with researchers measuring metabolism continuously throughout the exercise.
Compared to the placebo phases, during the astaxanthin phases, time improved by 1.2 percent, taking nearly a full minute off the results. Whole-body fat oxidation rates also increased during the exercise, peaking towards the final stages. Cyclists taking astaxanthin also produced less carbon dioxide (CO2) per volume of oxygen they consumed, meaning they used oxygen more efficiently than those taking placebo.
Reference: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport; July, 2020, Published Online
Spirulina controlled appetite, weight
Obesity increases oxidative stress, which doctors tie to a higher level of immune cell-signaling proteins called macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1). In this study, 56 obese participants, aged 20 to 50, took a daily placebo or spirulina.
After 12 weeks, concentrations of MIC-1 were significantly lower in those taking spirulina, while the placebo group had not changed. Also, participants reported appetite levels, with the spirulina group consistently registering lower appetite scores than the placebo group.
Doctors also measured an important antioxidant in the body: superoxide dismutase, which increased significantly in the spirulina group compared to placebo and compared to the start of the study. Also, those taking spirulina saw significantly lower body-mass index scores, and lower body weight, both compared to the placebo group, and to these measurements at the beginning of the study.
Reference: Journal of Herbal Medicine; December, 2019, Vols. 17-18, 100264
Betaine plus exercise helped women lose body fat
This is the first attempt to measure the effect of betaine supplements on women undergoing supervised resistance training, according to doctors. In the study, 23 women college athletes, with body mass index scores of 25, took a placebo or 2,500 mg of betaine per day.
On non-consecutive days, the women did lower body training twice per week, and upper body training once per week, continuing each set of exercises until momentary muscle failure. None had previously resistance trained.
After eight weeks, women in the betaine group had lost an average of 3.3 percent body fat compared to 1.7 percent for placebo, and 4.4 pounds of fat mass compared to 0.8 pounds for placebo. Women taking betaine were also able to perform more total exercises before muscle failure, compared to placebo.
Discussing the findings, doctors said women taking betaine along with resistance training had enhanced body composition compared to women using resistance training alone.
Reference: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition; 2018, Vol. 15, No. 37, s12970
Vitamins C, D, and metabolic syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome (MetS) have at least three of these five conditions: fat around the waist and abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, and low HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Any of these conditions can deplete stores of vitamins C and D.
In this study, 141 men and women with MetS took 500 mg of vitamin C, or 2,000 IU of vitamin D, per day, with or without 30 minutes of daily endurance exercise. A placebo group either did or did not exercise.
After three months, all vitamin groups with or without exercise saw trends toward improvements in the five MetS conditions. Those in the vitamin D-with-exercise group had the most significant improvements in weight and systolic blood pressure.
Reference: Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome; November, 2018, Published Online
Synbiotics rebalance gut, reduce fat mass
Synbiotics combine prebiotics and probiotics. This is a follow-up from an earlier study that had good results reducing fat in overweight adults after six months taking bifidobacterium with or without prebiotic fiber. Here, doctors followed participants for six more months after stopping treatment.
Participants that had taken probiotics alone continued to see an increase in beneficial gut bacteria. Those that had combined probiotics with prebiotics developed a greater variety of beneficial bacteria, as well as reducing inflammatory factors in the gut.
Doctors identified a particular gut bacteria, Christensenellaceae, with a strong link to lean body mass, lower waist-area body fat, and lower cholesterol. Those in the synbiotics group saw increases in this beneficial bacteria.
Reference: Beneficial Microbes; December, 2018, Published Online
Article copyright 2020 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, or take prescription or over-the-counter medications. For example, many supplements thin blood.
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