Generations of mothers have promised their balky offspring that carrots would make their eyes strong and fish would make their brains sharp. Popeye promised spinach would grow muscles. Now some food researchers think certain nutrients in food can help you lose weight.
Popeye and mom probably oversold it, but the promise of weight control has merit.
Research has discovered that several different vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals, and anti-inflammatories have a relationship to weight control that is much stronger than mere coincidence.
1. Help to Keep Weight Gain from Harming You
Vitamin C—is a powerful antioxidant. That’s important because if you are overweight, you are also very likely to have or to develop high cholesterol, which antioxidants help manage. Also, a diet that is strong in antioxidant-rich foods can help speed up metabolism and decrease inflammation. Both of those actions support your weight loss goals.
So Vitamin C doesn’t cause you to lose weight, but it helps manage the side effects of being overweight and supports the things that do help you lose.
For instance, people with adequate levels of vitamin C oxidize 30% more fat during exercise than people with low levels[i].
Vitamin C also decreases the risk of diabetes and helps in controlling blood pressure. It’s best to get Vitamin C from your food rather than from supplementation if possible.
In addition to citrus fruit, guava, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes and kale are rich in vitamin C.
2. The Vitamin That You May Need More Of If You’re Losing Weight
Vitamin E—Another antioxidant, vitamin E works in tandem with vitamin C. Everything above applies. It’s useful for controlling blood pressure, too.
It’s ideal to get this vitamin from your diet if possible. Sunflower seeds, spinach, avocados, almonds, butternut squash, kiwi, trout and shrimp are good sources. Adding a little wheat germ oil to salad dressings or drizzling over vegetables is an especially good way to top up.
But dietary vitamin E is a problem for overweight people because this vitamin reacts differently for them. People who are obese are especially likely to fall short as their body may reject vitamin E. The “tissues of obese people are rejecting intake of some of these lipids because they already have enough fat,” suggests Maret Traber, a professor at the Linus Pauling Institute.[ii]
If you are packing some extra pounds or trying to lose them, your diet will need some help. Look for a daily vitamin that will give you at least 15 mg each day.
3. The Good Sidekick for a Diet
Zinc—Taken as supplements or with adequate food, zinc can improve blood lipid profiles—in other words, cholesterol and triglycerides. It seems to be especially beneficial for people who are obese or diabetic.
More interesting if weight is a concern, zinc can boost your results when dieting.
In a study on 40 obese people, those who cut 300 calories per day from their diet and took zinc lost more weight than those who only cut calories. They also did significantly better at losing inches from their hips and waist.[iii]
4. Sweet Succor to Keep You Going
Cinnamon—Natural cinnamon varies widely in chemistry. That makes it hard to summarize its effects. The region where it was grown, the amount of rain it got, the specific variety can all affect its strength.
That said, some benefits are well supported. It has been shown to improve fasting blood glucose levels. It also counters oxidative stress and may reduce fat. All good moves for staying healthy while losing weight.
Cinnamon may not directly cause you to shed pounds; it’s too flavorful to indulge in by the spoonful. But that strong flavor is its superpower. It will help you enjoy your oatmeal, vegetarian chili, coffee or tea without cream, and other foods.
5. There May Be a Magic Drink
Green tea—This may be the winner on the list. Green tea has shown that it can increase thermogenesis and fat oxidation. Thermogenesis is heat production and when it happens it burns calories.
Green tea with caffeine is most likely to help as caffeine supports a higher metabolism and weight loss. Green tea has been so repeatedly studied that one review of the research done in 2017 found nearly 500 articles on green tea and weight loss. The consensus is that the catechin ECGC is the main reason and that tea with caffeine makes it even better. [iv]
[i] C.S. Johnston, Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2005 Jun 24(3), pages 158-65
[ii] David Stauth, Obese people need more vitamin C , but actually get less. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/obese-people-need-more-vitamin-e-actually-get-less
[iii] Khorsandi, H., Nikpayam, O., Yousefi, R. et al. Zinc supplementation improves body weight management, inflammatory biomarkers and insulin resistance in individuals with obesity: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Diabetol Metab Syndr 11, 101 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13098-019-0497-8
[iv] Vázquez Cisneros LC, López-Uriarte P, López-Espinoza A, Navarro Meza M, Espinoza-Gallardo AC, Guzmán Aburto MB. Efectos del té verde y su contenido de galato de epigalocatequina (EGCG) sobre el peso corporal y la masa grasa en humanos. Una revisión sistemática [Effects of green tea and its epigallocatechin (EGCG) content on body weight and fat mass in humans: a systematic review]. Nutr Hosp. 2017 Jun 5;34(3):731-737. Spanish. doi: 10.20960/nh.753. PMID: 28627214