A Powerful Natural Antioxidant for Health and Beauty

Lose Weight with Alpha Lipoic Acid

Antioxidant alpha lipoic acid can help you lose weight.

Obesity is a complicated condition. It over-sensitizes the immune system, leading to systemic inflammation and insulin resistance. In fact, some medical doctors and researchers contend that it is comparable to a less-severe version of bacterial sepsis(iv.95)

Fortunately, lab, animal, and clinical research suggest that alpha lipoic acid (alpha lipoic acid) can help you fight weight gain and obesity. Alpha lipoic acid works with other nutrients (especially B vitamins) to ensure healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. (iv.37)

Shedding Calories Alone Isn't Enough

Experts point out that while following a high-protein, low calorie diet can help with weight loss it's only part of treating obesity. They suggest that for therapy to be successful, it must deal with the following issues at the cell level: (iv.95126-127)

  • Inflammation,
  • Dysfunctional immune system response.
  • Dysregulation of hormones and enzymes involved in appetite and metabolic rate.
  • Harmful changes in how cells metabolize and use fats and carbohydrates that lead to metabolic syndrome (e.g., insulin resistance).

Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic conditions are intimately linked with obesity. These include: (iv.95127)

Clinical studies of weight loss.

Combined with obesity, they create a chronic inflammatory environment referred to as metabolic syndrome. The wide-ranging negative health effects of metabolic syndrome increase the risks of organ failure and death from other diseases and traumatic injury. (iv.95)

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help Lose Weight?

Research shows that nutrients such as alpha lipoic acid can help control obesity in one or more of the following ways: (iv.128)

  • Blocking absorption of fat and/or glucose (similar to Orlistat, a weight-loss drug that reduces fat absorption).
  • Stimulating the production of body heat.
  • Suppressing appetite (similar to sibutramine, a weight-loss drug that suppresses appetite).
  • Inhibiting visceral belly fat, which promotes metabolic syndrome and further weight gain.

In addition, researchers indicate supporting liver health and controlling metabolic disorders (such as diabetes) can help battle obesity. According to one anti-aging doctor, a liver full of toxins can't function properly. One of the liver's main jobs is to break down fats and carbohydrates. (iv.64129-130)

So how does alpha lipoic acid perform? Results from clinical and case studies show that unlike some weight-loss drugs, alpha lipoic acid successfully fights obesity on multiple fronts:

Table IV.15: Evidence of Alpha Lipoic Acid's Weight Loss Effects
Dosage & Details Study Outcomes
Clinical Trial

1200 or 1800 mg/day oral alpha lipoic acid in 400-600 mg doses 30 minutes before meals for 20 weeks, combined with a reduced calorie diet (no less than 1200 calories/day, 55-60% carbohydrates). (iv.50)

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 360 patients with BMI ≥ 30 or patients with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or high cholesterol and BMI of 27-30. (iv.50)

Weight. (iv.50)

BMI. (iv.50)

Although both doses of alpha lipoic acid produced weight loss, those taking 1800 mg/day lost significantly more weight than those who took the placebo. Also, the higher-dose alpha lipoic acid group of patients had a greater percentage of those who lost 5% or more of their initial body weight. (iv.50)

There were no serious negative side effects reported. The most common side effect was itchiness or hives, and wasn't dose-dependent. (iv.50)

Clinical Study

800 mg/day oral alpha lipoic acid for 4 months. (iv.131)

Clinical study involving 445 men and 682 women, 53% of participants obese and 43% overweight (pre-obese), according to BMI. (iv.131)

Weight: (iv.131)

  • 8% in overweight participants.
  • 9% in obese patients.

BMI: (iv.131)

  • 2 points in overweight participants.
  • 3-4 points in obese participants.

Waist circumference (indicating belly fat): (iv.131)

  • 6-7 cm (approximately 2.4-2.8 inches) in overweight participants.
  • 9-11 cm (approximately 3.5-4.3 inches) in obese participants.

Blood pressure(iv.131)

Clinical Study

In a small clinical study, patients taking medication to treat schizophrenia were also given alpha lipoic acid supplements daily for 12 weeks. (iv.132)

Weight. (iv.132)

BMI. (iv.132)

Cholesterol levels(iv.132)

Insulin resistance(iv.132)

Alpha lipoic acid helps suppress appetite by suppressing AMPK enzymes in the hypothalamus in the brain. Because of this effect, researchers suggest that alpha lipoic acid could counteract the weight-gaining side effects of certain drugs. (iv.132)

AMPK in the hypothalamus (animal studies). (iv.3)

Appetite. (iv.3)

Metabolic rate. (iv.3)

Weight. (iv.3)

AMPK is a kinase enzyme that acts as a cellular fuel sensor. Working with and similar to the hormone leptin, AMPK helps regulate appetite and metabolic rate. Obesity is usually linked to leptin resistance and impaired AMPK activity in the brain and in skeletal muscles. (iv.3133)

When activated in the hypothalamus part of the brain, AMPK increases appetite and reduces energy expenditure. Alpha lipoic acid blocks AMPK activation in the hypothalamus and reversed this effect. For example, rats given alpha lipoic acid dietary supplements weighed less than rats fed the same amount of food without alpha lipoic acid. This suggests that alpha lipoic acid may help burn more calories. (iv.3)

AMPK in skeletal muscle cells (animal studies). (iv.62)

Metabolic rate. (iv.62)

Body fat. (iv.62)

Low levels of AMPK in skeletal muscle cells are linked to metabolic syndrome conditions (i.e., diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and atherosclerosis). Oral alpha lipoic acid also improved glucose metabolism. Interestingly, the diabetes drug metformin also increases AMPK activation in muscle cells. (iv.62134)

The Bottom Line

Does this mean alpha lipoic acid can help everyone lose weight? It appears that long-term use of alpha lipoic acid may help in the battle of the bulge some people, but not necessarily everyone. Results of smaller studies in people with diabetes have not always resulted in changes in BMI, even at 1200 mg/day doses. This may be because: (iv.50135)

  • Difference in the timing of doses (morning and evening, not necessarily 30 minutes before meals).
  • Alpha lipoic acid's weight loss effects may work better in combination with a reduced-calorie diet.
  • Shorter treatment times (e.g., 4 weeks) may not be long enough to see weight reduction.
  • Underlying diabetes may require different doses. In one study, 1800 mg/day of alpha lipoic acid reduced the marker for average blood glucose levels in obese diabetics. Maintaining healthy glucose levels may help.

If you have diabetes, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements that have an effect on blood glucose levels.

A study where neither the researcher nor the subject/patient knows who is receiving the placebo and who is receiving the tested substance. (iv.33)
Hemoglobin-A1c. (iv.50)
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