You’ve probably noticed a proliferation of weight loss herb advertisements in magazines, on television, on the radio, and just about anywhere you look on the Internet.
Are these products for real? Can an herb miraculously boost your fat-burning metabolism?
Yes and no. While scientific proof is scarce, there are plenty of herbs which have been associated with increased fat-burning ability. These herbs and herbal compounds are used by bodybuilders and others for whom fat loss is a top priority.
So which fat-burning herbs do the pros recommend? Here are some suggestions from Natural Health Magazine and Bodybuilding.com:
#1: Green Tea Extract
The media has touted the health benefits of green tea, and studies support their claims.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men and women who consumed 390mg of green tea daily lost nearly twice as much weight as those who didn’t take green tea.
Green tea’s benefits come from its catechins, which are antioxidants that speed up the metabolism and make the body burn through fat stores faster.
It is also a mild diuretic and appetite suppressor, which makes green tea an all-around good choice for dieters.
Guggul has a funny name, but it has been an important part of traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for almost 3,000 years.
The plant produces a compound called guggulsterone, which is thought to rev up the liver’s fat metabolism and decrease blood cholesterol levels.
Studies of guggulsteron’s cholesterol-lowering ability are not promising; the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report which found little difference in blood cholesterol levels after eight weeks of guggulsterone therapy.
But proponents of the herb insist that eight weeks is not long enough for guggul to manifest its full capabilities. Also, guggul’s value as a weight loss supplement is backed up by scientific findings.
A study by the University of Nebraska found that subjects who exercised and took 750mg of guggul daily lost six times as much weight as those who exercised and took a placebo.
Who would have thought this common garden weed could be used to rev up your metabolism? Dandelion is thought to be a powerful liver cleanser which might speed up the rate at which the liver turns fat into energy.
Dandelions have long been used to fortify the liver and keep it burning fat at its highest level of efficiency. It is usually taken as a liquid tincture, but dandelion petals can also be eaten in salads.
Fans of dandelion and dandelion root also say it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and helps them metabolize carbohydrates faster.
#4: Bitter Orange
Bitter orange is often advertised as an ephedra-free fat burner. The problem is that it contains substances similar to ephedrine, and can cause heart palpitations and increase the heart rate much like ephedra.
Few studies have been carried out on bitter orange. While the results of one small study did show a promising increase in the subjects’ metabolism, the sample group was small in size, leading some to question the accuracy of those results.
Still, bitter orange remains a popular fat-burner among dieters and athletes.
Get a Doctor’s Advice
There are two important things to consider before adding herbal supplements to your diet and fitness plan.
First, none of these herbs is a miracle cure by itself. They only build on the results you get from a healthy diet and exercise.
Most importantly, consider your health. Herbs are natural, but they can have side effects just like manufactured meds.
Some fat-loss herbs have stimulant effects that can cause nervousness and increased blood pressure.
People with heart conditions should be extra vigilant when researching new dietary supplements. Always get your doctor’s advice before you start taking an herbal product.