The answer is a firm "maybe." While no pill can take the place of proper nutrition and regular exercise, there are a few supplements that might help you make the most of your weight-loss program. "Certain minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids can increase metabolic function and [help you] burn fat more efficiently," says Mackie Shilstone, director of health and fitness for the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans and author of The Fat Burning Bible: 28 Days of Foods, Supplements, and Workouts That Help You Lose Weight.
"I still believe in the old-fashioned way of weight loss—burning more calories than you consume," says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas. "If some of these supplements can help in that direction, fine." Here are a few metabolism helpers worth investigating.
Metabolism Boosters/Fat Burners
While 99 percent of total calcium is found in teeth and bones, the rest is crucial to myriad body functions including those that aid in weight loss. Research has shown that women taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily have lost as much as 17 pounds over four years, notes Shilstone.
Cautions: Too much calcium can hurt kidney function and decrease absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Dosage: Take 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily with meals; Shilstone prefers easily absorbed calcium citrate for people 50 and over. Adding magnesium (400 mg) works with calcium to aid relaxation and exercise recovery, he says.
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