When it comes to managing weight with supplements, many people go the route of caffeine, caffeine, and more caffeine. It’s understandable, considering caffeine (and other stimulants) ramp up our metabolism. But if caffeine makes you jittery—or if you’re already overloaded on the stuff—there are a few other supplement options that can support your goals.
EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate)
Some of green tea’s weight loss-supporting cred comes from its caffeine content. But other reasons for green tea’s many health benefits? Antioxidant plant compounds called polyphenols—the most well-known of which is EGCG. (Antioxidants help fight damage from free radicals and support our cardiovascular health and immune function.)
This powerhouse antioxidant does you some good in the weight-management department by helping your body ward off the stress of a reduced-calorie diet or frequent workouts, according to Brian Tanzer, M.S., C.N.S., manager of scientific affairs for The Vitamin Shoppe. “When you’re exercising and consuming fewer calories to manage your weight, you may not be taking in enough antioxidants, so having extra antioxidant support is helpful,” he says.
Plus, EGCG blocks your body’s uptake of the hormone norepinephrine, which is released to shift your body into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode when it’s faced with stress—like working out. Because norepinephrine boosts your heart rate and blood pressure, it also kicks up your metabolism. So, by keeping norepinephrine circulating in your system, EGCG helps your body stay stimulated, and burn more calories, Tanzer explains.
Check this out: According to a study published in Clinical Nutrition, obese women who supplemented with 857 milligrams of EGCG daily for 12 weeks saw better improvements in waist circumference and body mass than those who did not.
Picking A Supp: Many supplements list just “green tea extract” on their labels, but if you want to maximize the benefits of EGCG, look for a supplement that specifically says it’s standardized to 50 percent EGCG, says Tanzer. You’ll want at least 500 milligrams of EGCG throughout the day, so look for two to three daily doses of between 500 and 1,000 milligrams total. Just keep in mind that in many supps, EGCG is paired with caffeine. Look for something that’s just straight-up EGCG if you’re staying stimulant-free.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
CLA is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid naturally found in animal proteins like beef and dairy products. Yes, we’re talking about a fat in relation to weight management. Why? “CLA inhibits an enzyme that’s involved in activating fat storage,” says Tanzer. Basically, CLA can reduce how much of the fat you consume actually gets stored as fat.
CLA is well-researched, with a meta-analysis published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluding that CLA consumption has a small, but notable impact on body composition. For example, a study published in Journal of Nutrition found that when postmenopausal women consumed 5.5 grams of mixed CLA daily for 16 weeks, they experienced better improvements in body weight and fat mass than those who did not.
Picking A Supp: Since the dosage that’s been effective in studies is fairly high, you’ll want to look for a CLA supplement that provides between three and six grams total per day, says Tanzer. (Often that’s broken up into one or two grams at a time, two or three times per day.)
Made from the amino acids lysine and methionine, L-carnitine is a natural-occurring compound that helps the body turn fat into energy. (It’s also found in red meat.) “Basically, L-carnitine carries fatty acids into the mitochondria, which is the cell’s furnace, where they can be turned into cellular energy called ATP,” says Tanzer. Because of its role in fat metabolism, L-carnitine may play a role in body composition and support weight management, according to a review published in Obesity Reviews.
Plus, being well-stocked on L-carnitine is also especially important if you’re doing lots of cardio—since your body relies mostly on fat for fuel after an hour or so, when you’ve probably burned through your glycogen stores, Tanzer says. (Glycogen is the fuel we store from carbs.)
Picking A Supp: L-carnitine is a common component of preworkout formulas, so there’s a chance you’re already taking some! To make the most of its benefits, though, Tanzer recommends supplementing with between one and three grams of L-carnitine per day. Since many preworkouts don’t include quite that much, you can also find L-carnitine in some recovery supplements or as a stand-alone liquid.
Like with any supplement, just make sure to talk to your doc before adding these to your daily regimen.