Functional Foods and Nutritional Supplements to help you lose weight 1

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When you are trying to lose weight,  juicing can help you master your appetite. When you need a little extra help to keep your appetite in check, however, certain supplements also can help.

One thing to remember about using nutritional supplements with juicing to try to lose weight, is that no supplement does all the work for you. When you lose weight, it is really a result of your successful planning and your willpower. It is primarily the changes that you make to your diet that free your fat cells to find their way back to balance.

Just as there are no supplements that guarantee weight loss, there are no foods that guarantee your belly fat and thunder thighs will melt away into a desirable, trim contour. There are certain functional foods, however, that eaten in small amounts help you stay on track with your goals. They do this by providing the chemicals needed to regulate brain chemistry.

The reason for using functional foods is not to eat more and more of the food to lose weight. The reason for using small amounts of functional foods is to enable you to keep portion sizes small. Treat them less like a food and more like an especially tasty medicine.

Another thing to remember about using nutritional supplements when you restrict your food intake to lose weight is that different supplements work for different people in different ways and at different times. The supplement or functional food your friend uses to lose weight fast may not work for you, and the supplement or functional food that helps you become slim and trim may not work for your friend.

Nearly every dieter, however, benefits from one of more nutritional supplements and/or functional foods while losing weight. Here for your further consideration is a listing from A to Z of popular dietary aids for weight loss that really work.  These can supplement your juicing program. Always, take the dosage of the supplement indicated on the product label and do ask your doctor before taking any supplement.


5-hydroxytryptophan, better known as 5-HTP, is a chemical the brain uses to make the mood regulator serotonin. When the brain does not make enough serotonin, there is a tendency toward depression, anxiety, obsession with food, and poor impulse control with regard to food. People whose brains do not make enough serotonin to to overeat compulsively, becoming preoccupied with food and giving in to cravings.

When the brain uses 5-HTP to make serotonin, there is generally less depression, less obsessive thinking about food, and better focus on diet goals. If these problems are keeping you from reaching your diet goals, consider taking up to 100 mg of 5-HTP per day, preferably along with 10 to 50 mg of vitamin B6 per day. The brain absorbs 5-HTP best about an hour after you exercise, but it is not essential to exercise to gain a benefit from the supplement.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, R-Lipoic Acid, Biotin, and Nicotinamide

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that cells use to make energy by burning fatty acids. Along with R-lipoic acid, biotin, and nicotinamide, it absorbs free radicals of oxygen released during fat burning and prevents damage to the DNA in the energy-producing mitochondria of each cell. This combination of nutrients really does not help a lot unless you avoid eating long enough that your body starts burning fat instead of storing fat, but it greatly accelerates fat burning when you manage to reduce the amount of food you eat.

For this purpose, “alpha-lipoic acid” is about half as effective as the pure form of the antioxidant, R-lipoic acid. Just take two capsules instead of one. All four nutrients have to taken at the same time, preferably when you have not eaten for at least eight hours, to have maximum fat-burning effect.


Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb typically used to treat anxiety and sleep disturbances. It can also help restore low dopamine levels that cause poor function in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where the brain can override impulses to eat, eat, and eat some more. People who have problems with impulsive overeating sometimes are better able to stick to their diet plans when they take this herb.

Banana Chips

Most of don't associate banana chips with weight control and no manufacturer markets them as a bananasnutritional supplement (at least not yet), but small amounts of banana chips as part of planned meals can help lift the depression some people feel when they diet. Bananas contain small amounts of actual serotonin, the same chemical the brain uses to regulate mood. Eating up to 15 grams (half an ounce) of banana chips with breakfast provides a healthy dose of potassium plus the serotonin that lifts the mood enough to help focusing on goals. Raw bananas have a similar effect—but you should only eat half a banana at a time, and nobody wants to eat the other half later.

Cayenne and Szechuan Peppers

Not many of us “inhale” foods that are made with cayenne or Szechuan peppers. The burning effect of hot peppers reduces the amount of food people eat at each meal, usually about 200 calories or so. Season your juices with hot peppers to add flavor but the reduce appetite.

Just be aware that eating hot peppers at every meal causes the nerves in the face to become habituated to the burning sensation so that it ceases to limit appetite. Also, if you are eating your hot peppers on double orders of beef and cheese enchiladas or twice-fried kung pao pork, the extra calories in your entree may offset the appetite-dulling effect of the peppers.


The kind of chromium you take makes a big difference in how well it works. Taking up to 600 micrograms of chromium picolinate every day may help you avoid gaining weight when you become depressed. Taking up to 600 micrograms of chromium nicotinate per day may help you lose more weight when you exercise.

DMAE (also known as Deanol)

Does your skin begin to get wrinkly when you lose weight? Taking DMAE, which the body uses to make a B vitamin known as choline, both improves wrinkles and stimulates brainpower that can increase your willpower to stick to your diet goals.

English Walnuts and Pecans

walnut-xsOne of the findings of about 50 clinical studies is that people who eat small amounts of nuts tend to lose weight even though they consume more fat and more calories. English walnuts and pecans do double duty as improbable diet foods. Despite the fact that they are high in calories, these nuts help with weight control by providing naturally occurring serotonin in amounts high enough to improve mood and to keep appetite under control. The effect of eating nuts as a snack is small but measurable, contributing to about a pound (500 grams) of weight loss per month.

How many nuts is enough? Up to 30 grams (1 ounce) of English walnuts or pecans as a snack each day you are not on a juice fast will probably help you lose weight. Don't eat nuts if you are allergic to them. American black walnuts are even higher in natural serotonin, containing about 4 times more serotonin than English walnuts and 12 times as much serotonin as bananas, but they are hard to find and equally hard to crack, tongs and a hammer usually necessary.

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 Together

Some people panic at the idea of the health consequences of staying overweight. Plagued by feelings of self-doubt and physical symptoms of anxiety such as tense muscles, abdominal pain, headaches, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations, these people ironically eat more the more worried they are about the consequences of weighing too much. Taking GABA, magnesium, and vitamin B6 increase the amount of GABA in a part of the brain known as the basal ganglia and help reduce “anxiety about being anxious” and make dieting easier.

Ginkgo biloba Extractginkgo-leaves-xs

Ginkgo biloba is best known as the memory herb. Taking up to 120 mg of ginkgo biloba extract per day may be helpful when fuzzy memory or lack of focus are problem while you diet.


Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, calming brain activity, and reducing urges to overeat. It is sometimes used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and to relieve pain. Dieters may take up to 3000 mg per day, preferably in the evening an hour before bedtime.

Green Tea

One of the odder secrets of the American weight loss industry is that the formulator of the most popular green tea weight loss supplement is himself about 80 pounds (37 kilos) overweight. However, before he invented and started taking his own green tea weight loss supplement, he was 110 pounds (50 kilos) overweight.

Green tea does not work wonders for weight loss, but under certain circumstances it can be very helpful. It is important to know that:

  • It is impossible to drink enough green tea made with tea bags to have an effect on weight loss. Only Japanese-style powdered matcha green tea mixed with hot water or capsule-form green tea supplements that contain an ingredient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) will work. Your supplement should provide either (1) 200 to 300 mg of EGCG per day or (2) 500 to 600 mg of “green tea catechins” per day as well as at least 100 mg of caffeine per day. You can get this by using 3 tablespoons (about 30 to 40 grams) of powdered green tea per day.
  • Green tea has to be combined with caffeine to accelerate fat burning. Green tea without caffeine green-teamay help maintain weight loss.
  • Too much caffeine, however, cancels out the effects of green tea. Don't drink more than the equivalent of two cups of brewed coffee or two caffeinated sodas (it's really far better to drink no soda pop at all, even diet sodas) if you are taking green tea supplements for weight loss.
  • Green tea works better when dieters also exercise—at least 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Green tea seems to accelerate fat burning in abdominal fat (belly fat) first. It has less of an effect on fat pads in the hips or thighs.

Gurmar (also known as Gymnema sylvestre)

Gurmar is an Ayurvedic herb sometimes called “slayer of sugar.” Taking gurmar reduces the sensitivity of the tongue to the sweetness of sugar, and reduces the boost to brain function that is obtained by eating sugar. The mistake dieters make when taking gurmar is to focus exclusively on eating less sugar without taking care of the reason they want to eat sugar, which is to increase dopamine production in the brain. Take gurmar to reduce sugar cravings but also take Mucuna pruriens (described below) to avoid depression and tired feelings when not eating sugar.

Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)

Hydroxycitric acid, also known as HCA, is extracted from the Garcinia cambogia fruit. This pumpkin-shaped yellow fruit grows on a tropical vine also known as brindleberry, brindall berry, gambooge, goraka, kodumpuli, or Malabar tamarind. It is traditionally used to treat female hormonal imbalances, intestinal parasites, and edema, especially swelling accompanying PMS.

HCA is also of value for accelerating weight loss, but it works by preventing the process through which fat cells assemble triglycerides (the kind of fat that stays inside the fat cells) from free-circulating fatty acids (the kind of fat that travels through the bloodstream to provide energy for muscles). If you are trying to lose weight by eating a little less of everything, the HCA will probably help you take off weight faster. If you are on an Atkins-style diet, then HCA is probably of much less value to your weight loss efforts. Take up to 1500 mg a day if you are on a calorie-restricted diet that contains lots of juices and healthy carbs, but don't bother with this supplement if you are managing your weight loss by eating mostly meat and cheese.


Inositol is a B vitamin that has particularly strong effects in a part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate gyrus. Overactivity of this part of the brain is associated with holding grudges, obsessive worry, and a condition mental health professionals term “oppositional defiance.” It is often associated with nighttime eating, in which people gorge in the middle of the night but are not hungry in the morning or early afternoon. Inositol, along with either 5-HTP or L-tryptophan supplements help calm this kind of overeating behavior.

Iodine, Selenium, Zinc, and Copper

If you have dry skin, dry hair, frequently daytime fatigue, and a tendency to pack on weight even when you don't eat excessively, you may have low thyroid function. Thyroid function should be diagnosed by a physician, but in borderline cases that do not require taking a thyroid hormone replacement, these four supplements will help. It is also helpful to avoid eating raw cabbage, raw broccoli, English walnuts, and strawberries, as well as any product made with bleached (brominated) white flour, since these foods contain compounds that prevent the thyroid gland from receiving the iodine it needs to make thyroid hormone.

Kiwi Fruitkiwi

Like bananas, English walnuts, and pecans, kiwi fruit are high in naturally occurring serotonin, the same chemical occurring in both the plant and the human brain. Choosing kiwi fruit for your fruit selection will help provide your brain with the serotonin you need to remain in charge of your food choices, avoiding depression, food obsession, and compulsive overeating. It is better to eat kiwi fruit along with your meals rather than to use them in making juice for your juice fast because of their relatively high natural sugar content.


L-theanine is an amino acid found in trace amounts in green tea. The small amount of L-theanine found in green tea drunk as a beverage is not enough to change brain chemistry in ways that have an impact on appetite, but L-theanine supplements boosts the brain's production of neurochemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. In turn, GABA induces feelings of calm and control helping to control compulsive overeating. This allows people not to eat foods they don't like, leaving them on their plate, or to leave items on a buffet table untried to be sampled on the next visit. A typical dosage of supplemental L-theanine is 50 to 200 mg per day.


L-tryptophan is the amino acid the brain uses to make 5-HTP and serotonin. It can be very helpful in stabilizing mood, increasing sleep, and preventing the urge to “attack” food. Certain foods such as turkey contain large amounts of L-tryptophan, but this form of the amino acid is most often used by the body in the liver to make niacin (vitamin B3). Taking up to 3,000 mg per day may help some people lose weight.


L-tyrosine is an amino acid that the thyroid uses in making thyroid hormone, which in turn increases the rate at which the body burns sugar. The problem with taking L-tyrosine supplements is that they can trigger migraine headaches, “feed” melanoma tumors, and cause dangerous interactions when taken with certain older-style antidepressants. Do not use L-tyrosine unless directed to do so by your physician.


Magnesium is the calming mineral. Up to 1,200 mg a day may reduce tension and nervous eating. To avoid stomach upset, do not take more than 400 mg of magnesium in a single dose.

Magnesium and Phosphatidylserine Together

Some people have trouble staying on their diets because they are “nervous eaters.” This is the kind of behavior exhibited when someone needs to keep looking in the cupboard or the refrigerator because they know they are hungry but they don't know what they are hungry for. A quick dump of sugar, salt, and fat causes the release of dopamine in the brain, and temporarily quells anxiety by helping increasing short-term focus. As soon as the effect wears off, however, nervous eaters need to eat again. Constant nervous tension increases the release of adrenaline which accelerates the growth of belly fat.

Taking magnesium and phosphatidylserine supplements (which have to be purchased separately) helps prevent the changes in brain chemistry that lead to the anxiety that causes nervous eating. Be careful about taking more than 600 mg of magnesium at a time to avoid diarrhea.

Mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens is an Ayurvedic herb, also known as kapkachhu. It is the bean of a legume known as the cow-itch vine, so called because it makes cow udders or testicles (depending on bovine gender) itchy when they attempt to graze it.

The bean contains an unusually high amount of naturally occurring dopamine, the same chemical that the brain makes as a reward chemical. The amount of dopamine in a standardized capsule of Mucuna pruriens, however, is only about 2 to 3% of the amount of dopamine used in the same-sized dose of L-dopa or Artane. The herb also contains serotonin that is chemically identical to the serotonin the human brain makes as a mood regulating chemical, 5-HTP that the human brain uses to make its own serotonin, and a small amount of nicotine.

Large amounts of L-dopa cause major changes in brain chemistry. These have not been observed from the herb. Taking the herb seems to focus attention on tasks at hand, help the brain register satisfaction with food and drink (and sexual intercourse), and to increase the body's product of testosterone slightly. Most importantly for weight loss dieters, it usually provides just the right boost to dopamine that enables goal-directed behavior, such as sticking to your diet that you know will result in weight loss. It helps bolster lagging motivation and to assist control over cravings by increasing the feeling of reward.

This Ayurvedic herb is especially helpful if you have indulged in so many pleasurable foods that your brain doesn't register pleasure easily. It provides the dopamine boost without your having to eat a tasty food and helps you feel better about your lifestyle choices without your having to make food choices. Avoid taking this herb, however, if you suffer a combination of impulsive eating along with compulsive eating, since stimulating dopamine production may make impulse control more difficult.


N-acetyl-cysteine, also known as NAC, is a potent antioxidant that reduces blood pressure by opening blood vessels and increases oxygenation by opening airways. It is useful for treating addiction to foods that activate opioid receptors in the brain, such as wheat, beef (more specifically, the blood in beef), milk, and, oddly enough, spinach. Take up to 1,200 mg a day, preferably in two 600-mg doses.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

The human body uses omega-3 essential fatty acids to make the hormones that regulate and limit inflammation. A little inflammation is essential to good healthy, since inflammatory processes seal off the skin when it is cut, prevent bleeding, and activate the immune system to fight infection. The problem with most modern diets is that they provide about twenty times as much of omega-6 essential fatty acids the body uses to make pro-inflammatory hormones than the omega-3 essential fatty acids the body uses to make anti-inflammatory hormones.

fresh-mackerel-1The omega-3 essential fatty acid that is most involved in fighting inflammation is known as eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. The body can convert omega-3 essential acids from plant sources such as flaxseed oil into EPA, but up to 98% of the original fatty acids are lost in the conversion process. The most efficient source of the anti-inflammatory EPA the body need to prevent belly fat from becoming clogged with white blood cells is fish oil, taking in doses of up to 10,000 mg per day. Taking fish oil helps reduce the swelling in fat pads that makes up to 1/3 of the total mass over the abdomen, on the hips, or on the thighs.

Rhodiola and Green Tea with Caffeine Together

Some overweight people tend to be bored, distracted, and off task until there is an opportunity to eat food. Then they spring into action to eat huge amounts of food until they cannot eat any more. In terms of brain activity, this kind of behavior results from low levels activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is involved in activities termed “executive function.” Interventions to treat various kinds of attention deficit disorder reduce this kind of overeating, as does supplementation with both rhodiola and green tea with caffeine. Since the problem is not enough brain activity rather than too much, in this case up to 200 mg of caffeine a day usually helps prevent overeating.

Sage Tea

Sage tea (made by brewing 1 teaspoon/3 mg of dried sage leaf in 1 cup/240 ml of hot water) is a traditional brain tonic. It usually improves mood, memory, and focus. Do not use sage tea if you have a history of seizure disorders.

SAM-e and Vitamin D Together

Some people tend to overeat when they develop seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. This is a kind of depression that comes on as days grow shorter in autumn. Lack of exposure to sunlight causes the mood regulating hormone serotonin to be converted to the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. People who have SAD start feeling sluggish, tired, and unfocused. They develop cravings for sugar, because sugar helps the brain absorb the amino acid tryptophan that it uses to make 5-HTP and serotonin.

The changes in brain chemistry also induce instability in a region of the brain known as the limbic center, which increases impulsive behaviors of all kinds, including impulsive eating. A person suffering seasonal affective disorder may drive past a Dunkin' Donuts shop, for instance, and feel a sudden, uncontrollable urge to buy a dozen doughnuts and eat them.

Getting 45 minutes to an hour of strong sunlight or spending 45 minutes to an hour under a sun lamp will help offset the changes in brain chemistry that cause SAD. Also helpful are taking s-adenosylmethione (SAM-e) and vitamin D, from 100 to 400 mg of SAM-e per day along with up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day.


Satiereal is a nutritional supplement made form saffron, the dried stamens of crocus flowers. This golden yellow spice colors rice dishes and also treats depression, stomach irritation caused by spicy food and compulsive desires to eat, especially sugar cravings. A typical dosage is 100 mg twice a day.


Foods you never would think contain vanilla are made with vanilla as a flavoring agent, including almost any kind of ice cream, some brands of fish sauce (the kind made with fermented fish that is typically used in Asian cooking), white bread, and ketchup. The reason manufacturers add vanilla to unlikely food products is that most babies at some time are fed formula, and almost every brand of formula is flavored with tiny amounts of vanilla. Our brains come to associate vanilla with being care for and with being the center of attention, and later we get the same feeling when we eat a Big Mac with fries.

You can't undo the way vanilla affects your brain, but you can use it to feel good. Vanilla scented candles and vanilla-flavored smoothies trigger the same changes in your brain that you once associated with being held and fed. If anxiety, insomnia, and impulse control are issues in staying on your diet, using vanilla when you can may help.

About Andy Williams

In a processed food culture, simply eating may not be enough. Dr. Andy Williams is a scientist with a strong interest in Juicing and how it can supply the body with the nutrients it needs to thrive in modern society. You can subscribe to his free daily paper called Juicing The Rainbow and follow him on Facebook orTwitter.

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One thought on “Functional Foods and Nutritional Supplements to help you lose weight

  • Benny Kevin

    Green tea is highly rich in anti-oxidants which have more herbal values. It is the healthy beverage that helps to shed out your body weight. Green Tea Supplements will be very useful to all those who want to shed their weight in a quick and safe way. Being obese is very dangerous to health.