Most of us have an Achilles’ heel when it comes to losing weight. For some it’s cravings, for others it’s a sluggish metabolism. Whatever your particular obstacle, herbal formulas can help.
Boost your metabolism with GREEN TEA EXTRACT
HOW IT WORKS: Green tea contains compounds called catechins, a class of antioxidants which have been associated with an increased metabolism and the ability to stimulate fat burning. In a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a group of men who consumed 690 milligrams of green tea extract per day lost more weight in three months than a control group (an average of 5.3 pounds versus. 2.9 pounds). Previous studies have shown that green tea causes weight loss in women, too.
BEST BUY: Puritan’s Pride Green Tea Extract capsules or Herbal Authority Green Tea liquid (puritan.com)
DOSAGE: Two 400 mg capsules a day; 10 to 20 drops twice daily. Take capsules or add liquid extract to one cup of tea or combine it with food. “I like to put it in soups and spaghetti sauce,” says Letha Hadady, author of Feed Your Tiger: The Asian Diet Secret for Permanent Weight Loss and Vibrant Health (Rodale, 2007).
WATCH OUT: Green tea can alleviate water retention, but it also may cause diarrhea and nervousness.
Burn fat with FISH OIL
HOW IT WORKS: Fish oil’s omega- 3 fatty acids help change the way the body uses fat: Instead of storing it, the body burns fat as fuel. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, Australian researchers found that both fish oil and exercise independently reduced body fat. But a combination of the two—the study subjects walked briskly three times a week for 45 minutes and consumed 1.9 grams of fish oil daily— was even more effective. “Fish oil also seems to stop some kinds of fat cravings,” says Julia Ross, director of Recovery Systems Clinic in Mill Valley, Calif.
BEST BUY: Nordic Naturals Omega or Ultimate Omega Fish Oil soft gels (nordicnaturals.com)
DOSAGE: 1000 to 2000 mg daily.
WATCH OUT: Start with a low dosage; higher dosage may disrupt sleep, says Ross.
Stop cravings with L-GLUTAMINE
HOW IT WORKS: When blood sugar levels drop, cravings tend to follow because your brain isn’t getting the fuel it needs. “L-glutamine, an amino acid, instantly fuels the brain, which stops the code red that makes you crave sweets and starchy foods,” says Ross. Evidence also suggests that L-glutamine might facilitate weight loss by affecting the conversion and storage of calories. In a 1996 study at Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that supplementation with L-glutamine caused weight loss in mice.
BEST BUY: NOW 500 mg L-glutamine capsules (nowfoods.com)
DOSAGE: Two 500-mg capsules three times a day between meals for one to two months. For the fastest effect, let the capsules dissolve under your tongue.