Supplements Supporting Weight Loss

Supporting weight loss goals is hard. It needs work on diet and lifestyle, understanding stress, a powerful digestion, and balance of hormones. Weight loss is full of setbacks and plateaus and it takes time. The whole process can be frustrating and exhausting.

Positive feedback is a helpful indication you’re on the right track.  In weight loss, this can be the number on the scale, the fit of your clothes, or compliments from others. The amount of positive feedback directly affects satisfaction and continued effort. Making sure you have positive feedback helps keep you on track to your goals.

You have probably seen medication for weight loss too. Whether it’s formulated directly for weight loss, or weight loss was proven to be a beneficial side effect, doctors and patients are getting more interested in weight loss medications. It can be a faster way to achieve results and to receive the positive feedback needed to continue healthy diet and lifestyle changes. 

If you and your doctor feel this is the right option for you, consider the advice from the US Department of Health & Human Services publication on prescriptive medications for weight management and obesity:

  • Never take a weight management medication only to improve the way you look. Weight loss medication should be used to support health.
  • Only take weight management medication to support your healthy eating and physical activity program.
  • Never take weight loss medications if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Weight loss medications often come with documented side effects that you may prefer to avoid.  People find themselves looking to alternatives, such as nutritional supplements. Sorting out whether the specific capsule, powder, or “super food” is right for you can be complicated and expensive.  For the wrong person and application, it can also be dangerous.

Statement of Disclosure

This article is going to cover some of the more common supplements and help answer questions about the application of each.  For practicality, we’ve tried to focus on single ingredients, though many formulas contain multiple ingredients that work together.  Also, we’ve tried to include common vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals. 

Please remember that these are highly concentrated compounds, even if ingredients are food-based.  The quality of ingredients and way you take the supplement are very important.  Don’t ever take any supplement differently from what is recommended on the label of the product unless you’re working with a professional. As always, make sure to consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet. 

Medications to Support Weight Loss

How do they work?  In general, weight loss medications work through one (or more) of these functions:

  1. Reduce appetite and manage cravings
  2. Affect digestion, such as reducing absorption of nutrients (like fats)
  3. Increase fat burning [1]

Supplements to Support Weight Loss

Nutritional supplements for weight loss tend to fit into the same functions, though many will overlap multiple functions.  These are listed in according to their predominant function.

Supplements to Reduce Appetite and Manage Cravings


Supplemental fiber can be useful if you struggle to get enough fiber from your diet. Digesting fiber takes longer, so adding a fiber supplement can keep you full longer and improve appetite and cravings. For weight loss it also helps to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream to prevent sugar highs and lows. keeping a balance to energy. Fiber is important for bowel regularity, a necessary step in detoxification, and feed the beneficial microbes in your digestive tract to help support a healthy gut microbiome. 

You might benefit if
  • You get cravings or hungry between meals.
  • You experience constipation, or less than 1 complete bowel movement a day.
  • You have elevated blood sugar, such an elevated Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) on your lab results, or elevated lipid (cholesterol) numbers.
You might want to avoid if

Some people have a composition of microbes in their digestive tracts that contribute to bloating, gas, or bowel changes with high fiber.  If adding more fiber makes you more bloated, constipated, or creates loose stools, you’ll want to work with a practitioner to support your digestive system first.

Dietary Sources

Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and/or whole grains all contain fiber.  Aim to make ½ of your meal from vegetables.  Nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils are excellent sources of fiber if they’re tolerated digestively. Soaking and sprouting nuts, grains, and legumes can make them easier to digest.

5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP

5-HTP, from the amino acid tryptophan, is commonly known to be found in turkey and thought to be responsible for the sleepiness that occurs after your Thanksgiving meal.  That is because this amino acid helps to support your serotonin/melatonin pathway.  Serotonin is the messenger from your brain that creates a feeling of happiness and melatonin helps you to fall asleep. A perfect match!

When it comes to cravings, 5-HTP is thought to activate parts of the brain that curb appetite. This can make it easier to stick to healthy eating and snack less between meals.  If you’re not sleeping, 5-HTP’s role in sleep support can help you get better rest which helps you better manage stress and cravings.

You might benefit if
  • You struggle to keep a consistent sleep pattern, or aren’t feeling rested in the morning.
  • You feeling mildly anxious or depressed and reaching for sweet snacks to soothe yourself.
You might want to avoid if

5-HTP is dangerous when used with certain medications, especially anti-depressants as well as migraine, or pain medications.

Dietary Sources

Tryptophan is found in high amounts in turkey and chicken but also in eggs, fish, milk & dairy, oats, tofu, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. Magnesium helps to convert tryptophan to serotonin so add a big handful of greens to the meal.

Supplements That Affect Digestion


The balance of bacteria in your digestive system helps to break down food, support successful elimination, and even helps to make vitamins that your body uses to burn calories. An imbalance of bacteria can contribute to inflammation and uncomfortable bloating which makes everyone feel larger.  Research is ongoing about exactly which strains and what amounts are supportive to weight loss, but some formulas are marketed directly to these health goals.

You might benefit if
  • You experience constipation or loose stools. 
You might want to avoid if
  • You experience gas and bloating.Sometimes probiotics can increase digestive discomfort. This can occur if you already have an imbalance, and the probiotic shifts the balance off even farther.
Dietary Sources

Foods containing microbes that benefit your digestive system include kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, yogurt or kefir, tempeh, miso, natto, or kombucha, and apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”). *For weight loss goals steer away from yogurt or kombucha that contain large amounts of sugar.


Berberine is a compound found in certain types of plants, such as goldenseal, Oregon grape, or turmeric. This compound has been used to support the microbes and cells lining the intestinal tract.

Berberine is used to  lower elevated blood sugar since high blood sugar can increase fat storage, especially around the abdomen.  It can also help curb appetite and cravings. 

You might benefit if
  • You have digestive discomfort or bloating and haven’t improved with probiotics.
  • Your excess body weight is stored mostly around your abdomen, and/or your tests report elevated blood sugar, such as elevated Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C).
You might want to avoid if

Don’t take Berberine if you experience low blood sugar or take medications to treat diabetes. Berberine should also not be paired with medications used to manage blood pressure or cholesterol.

Dietary Sources

Berberine isn’t found in foods commonly part of the diet and is only available in supplement form.

Supplements That Increase Fat Burning

B Vitamins

Your body goes through a sophisticated series of steps to convert the food you eat into the energy you need to be alive and active. Almost all steps involve at least one of the B vitamins. B vitamins can be depleted by medications, a suboptimal digestion, or imbalanced microbiome.

You might benefit if
  • You feel sluggish, low energy, or unmotivated.
  • You notice your muscles are weak despite exercise and strength training.
  • You take any medications that interfere with the application of these nutrients. Ask your doctor and refer to this list from Dr Perlmutter.
  • You follow a plant-based diet as many of these nutrients are best available from animal sources.
You might want to avoid if

There isn’t any reason you couldn’t take a B Complex daily, however look at the other supplements or energy drinks you take or drink for overlap.  Some B vitamins can be harmful in excess.

Dietary Sources

Since B vitamins work together, it’s best to take B vitamins together as a “B Complex,” rather than in isolated forms.

B vitamins are found in almost every food, such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, mushrooms, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus.

Green Tea Extract, or EGCG

Green Tea Extract, or Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), is a compound found in green tea. EGCG is an antioxidant, which means it helps clean up molecules leftover from the chemical reactions in your body that can bump around and damage other cells. This particular antioxidant can boost the effects of the fat-releasing hormone epinephrine. When fat is released from storage, the body can use it for energy.  EGCG is available without caffeine.

You might benefit if
  • You follow a low carb diet.
  • You engage in exercise >60 minutes.
  • You have a fasting window 16 hours or more.
You might want to avoid if

EGCG taken in high amounts can affect the liver.  Always follow the recommendations on the label and talk with your doctor before taking this supplement.

Two to four cups of brewed green tea each day.  We recommend decaffeinated tea if you have trouble with caffeine or falling asleep at night.

Please remember that weight loss is a product of health and balance within the body. Products that market fast and easy results rarely support health and harmony and often result in rebounds when they’re discontinued.

We believe in body weight and a shape that bring you sustainable health and vitality.  Learn more about our approach to weight loss here, or our specially priced package for holistic weight loss here.  

Schedule a free 20-Minute Consultation with Stacy to discuss what might be best for you.