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As a result, consumers might not be aware that the presence of certain herbs means that a product contains caffeine and possibly other stimulants [ 41 ].
Caffeine is a methylxanthine that stimulates the central nervous system, heart, and skeletal muscles. It also increases gastric and colonic activity and acts as a diuretic [ 42 , 43 ]. Caffeine has a half-life of about 6 hours; blood levels increase within 15—45 minutes of consumption, and they peak at around 60 minutes [ 44 ]. Caffeine increases thermogenesis in a linear, dose-dependent fashion in humans [ 45 ]. A mg dose of caffeine, for example, increased energy expenditure by a mean of 9.
Caffeine might also contribute to weight loss by increasing fat oxidation through sympathetic activation of the central nervous system and by increasing fluid loss [ 41 , 45 ]. Habitual use of caffeine however, leads to caffeine tolerance and a diminishment of these effects [ 41 , 43 ]. Efficacy : Caffeine increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation [ 44 ]. However, the extent to which these effects affect weight loss is less clear, partly because clinical trials examining the effects of caffeine on weight loss have all been short and have used combination products.
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After 6 months, those in the treatment group lost significantly more weight mean weight loss 5. A product containing caffeine plus glucosyl hesperidin G-hesperidin, a flavonone glycoside found mainly in citrus fruits reduced abdominal fat and BMI in a clinical trial in Japan [ 47 ]. In this study, 75 healthy, overweight men and women BMI 24—30 received one of five treatments daily for 12 weeks while maintaining their regular lifestyle and eating habits.
The five treatments were placebo and four formulations of 0, 25, 50, or 75 mg caffeine plus mg G-hesperidin. The 75 mg caffeine plus G-hesperidin significantly reduced BMI by a mean of 0. The 50 or 75 mg caffeine plus G-hesperidin also significantly reduced abdominal fat compared to placebo, whereas the G-hesperidin alone or with only 25 mg caffeine did not significantly affect BMI or abdominal fat. These findings indicate that the higher doses of caffeine might be responsible for the observed effects. At the end of the study, participants taking the herbal product lost a mean of 5.
Data from a year prospective observational study provide some insight into the long-term association between caffeine intake and body weight [ 49 ]. On average, participants gained some weight during the study, but men who increased their caffeine intake during the 12 years of follow-up gained a mean of 0. For women, the corresponding mean difference in weight gain was 0.
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However, further research is needed to confirm this finding. For comparison, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 85— mg caffeine. Caffeine can cause sleep disturbances and feelings of nervousness, jitteriness, and shakiness. Combining caffeine with other stimulants, such as bitter orange and ephedrine, can potentiate these adverse effects. Calcium is an essential mineral that is stored in the bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and function.
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Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion [ 56 ]. Several studies have correlated higher calcium intakes with lower body weight or less weight gain over time [ ]. Two explanations have been proposed. First, high calcium intakes might reduce calcium concentrations in fat cells by decreasing the production of parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D.
Decreased intracellular calcium concentrations, in turn, might increase fat breakdown and discourage fat accumulation in these cells [ 59 ]. Second, calcium from food or supplements might bind to small amounts of dietary fat in the digestive tract and prevent absorption of this fat [ 59 , 62 , 63 ].
Dairy products, in particular, might contain additional components that have even greater effects on body weight than their calcium content alone would suggest [ 60 , ]. For example, protein and other components of dairy products might modulate appetite-regulating hormones [ 61 ]. However, the results from clinical trials examining the effects of calcium on body weight have been largely negative. Compared to placebo, calcium supplementation for 2 years had no clinically significant effects on weight.
The authors of four reviews of published studies on the effects of calcium from supplements or dairy products on weight management reached similar conclusions [ ].
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These reviews include a evidence report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality whose authors concluded that, overall, clinical trial results do not support an effect of calcium supplementation on weight [ 70 ]. In addition, a meta-analysis of 41 randomized controlled trials found no benefit of calcium supplementation or increased dairy food consumption for body weight or body fat [ 73 ].
A meta-analysis of 33 randomized trials and longitudinal studies lasting 12 weeks to 6 years found that calcium from foods or supplements had no overall effect on body weight [ 74 ]. However, in subgroup analyses, calcium did reduce body weight in some groups, including children, adolescents, adult men, premenopausal women, women older than 60, and people with normal BMI [ 74 ]. Overall, the results from clinical trials do not support a clear link between higher calcium intakes and lower body weight, prevention of weight gain, or weight loss.
High intakes of calcium can cause constipation and might interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc, although this effect is not well established. High intakes of calcium from supplements, but not foods, have been associated with an increased risk of kidney stones [ 56 , ].
Capsaicinoids give chili peppers their characteristic pungent flavor. Capsaicin is the most abundant and well-studied capsaicinoid [ 78 ].
Capsaicin and other capsaicinoids have been proposed to have anti-obesity effects via their ability to increase energy expenditure and lipid oxidation, attenuate postprandial insulin response, increase satiety, and reduce appetite and energy intake [ ]. Other research suggests that capsaicin increases satiety by inducing gastrointestinal distress e. Efficacy : Most research on capsaicin and other capsaicinoids focuses on their effects on energy intake and appetite, rather than body weight.
A meta-analysis of eight randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials evaluated the effects of capsaicinoids on ad libitum energy intake in a total of participants who had a normal body weight or were moderately overweight [ 78 ]. Doses of capsaicinoids ranged from 0. Overall, consuming capsaicinoids significantly reduced energy intake by a mean of 74 kcal per meal; body weight was not assessed, so the impact of this calorie reduction on weight loss cannot be quantified.
The authors noted that the results suggest that at least 2 mg capsaicinoids are needed to reduce calorie intake but that the studies were very heterogeneous. However, the calorie reductions did not significantly affect body weight at either 6 weeks or 12 weeks. It might also increase serum insulin and reduce high-density lipoprotein HDL cholesterol levels.
Otherwise, capsaicin and other capsaicinoids appear to be safe. Research is underway to reduce the pungency and "chili taste" associated with capsaicin while retaining its potential biological effects [ 81 ]. Carnitine is the generic term for several compounds, including L-carnitine itself, several acylcarnitines e. It is composed of the amino acids lysine and methionine [ 84 ]. Carnitine is naturally present in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, and milk and dairy products; small amounts are present in some plant foods.
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Humans synthesize carnitine from its constituent amino acids, so dietary carnitine intake is not necessary. Almost all cells of the body contain carnitine, which transports fatty acids into the mitochondria and acts as a cofactor for fatty acid beta-oxidation [ 85 ]. Because of these effects, carnitine has been proposed as a weight-loss agent.
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A systematic review and meta-analysis combined the results from nine carnitine supplementation clinical trials in adults including the two described above that assessed weight loss [ 85 ]. The trials included a total of participants. In eight trials, the daily carnitine doses ranged from 1. Overall, study participants who received carnitine supplements lost an average of 1. Additional research on carnitine for weight loss is warranted. Rarer side effects include muscle weakness in patients with uremia and seizures in those with seizure disorders.
Some research indicates that intestinal bacteria metabolize carnitine to form trimethylamine N-oxide TMAO , a substance that might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease [ 91 ]. This effect appears to be more pronounced in people who consume meat than in vegans or vegetarians. The implications of this effect are not well understood and require more research. Chitosan is a manufactured polysaccharide that is commercially prepared from the exoskeletons of crustaceans. It is purported to promote weight loss by binding to some dietary fat in the digestive tract, preventing its absorption [ 16 , 41 ].
Chitosan might also decrease cholesterol absorption [ 16 ]. Chitosan capsules taken before meals total of 2. However, the amount of fat that the chitosan trapped would result in a loss of only 1 lb body fat over about 7 months. Chitosan had no significant effect on fecal fat excretion in the women compared to the control group. At the end of the study, those in the treatment group lost a mean of 1 kg body weight compared to a mean weight gain of 1. In this study, chitosan treatment reduced body weight mean weight loss about 2.