Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022

The Top 5 Supplements for Weight loss

Written by: Lauren Slayton

Photography by: Jon Paterson

If you are somewhat skeptical about the title of this article, I get it. I’d be dubious too. The truth is most “weight loss supplements” on the market are either speedy or they’re fibers. I’m here to point out the five supplements that can improve your weight loss results once you’re eating well, exercising and sleeping. Any supplement is an accessory, the health “outfit” comes first.


Berberine has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. While not a completely foolproof rationale, it’s often best to stick to supplements that have a long history of use. Berberine is found in many plants including goldenseal and barberry.

There are many randomized trials showing berberine is helpful for weight loss. One of its effects is like the medication Metformin (but without the concerns about B12 absorption that Metformin has). Berberine reduces blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance. Berberine also helps with fat loss also by inhibiting an enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, which is responsible for fat storage. You want to take berberine before or at 2-3 meals for the day. It’s very safe but not recommended for pregnancy or nursing. With any supplement, check with your doctor if you are taking medications.

Vitamin D

The way I describe it is that if people are on the same weight loss regimen, those with better vitamin D status will typically get better results. Researchers from the University of Minnesota expressed that “people with higher vitamin D levels at the start of the study tended to lose more weight than those with low levels, even though everyone reduced their calorie intake equally. In fact, even a minuscule increase caused the study participants to lose more weight”.

Another study from at Laval University in Quebec City found that people who consumed more vitamin D had less belly fat than people who had less. And finally, a study out of Milan few years ago had three groups: one group received no vitamin D, another received low (800 IUs) of vitamin D and the third received 3,000 IUS of D. Only the 3,000 group achieved optimal D levels and only 2 vitamin D groups lost weight.

One way vitamin D works is via a hormone called leptin. With adequate vitamin D your body releases more leptin. Leptin is what I call the “appetite angel” it tells your body you’ve had enough to eat and to stop. I suggest 5,000IUs of vitamin D taken in the morning with food (it needs fat to be absorbed).


Hormones play a key role when it comes to your weight and one of those key hormones is insulin. Magnesium deficiency contributes to insulin resistance and supplementing magnesium can improve it. If you’re wondering if you’re magnesium deficient, it’s a little difficult to test, but about three-quarters of people are deficient since stress and exercise deplete it.

Two other magnesium perks: one is metabolism, when you don’t have enough magnesium your energy and metabolism are a little lower. Supplementing magnesium can support your metabolism. Another effect is via magnesium’s stress reducing properties. Magnesium can improve sleep and anxiety and therefore also impact your weight.

There are many forms of magnesium. I suggest magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. Start with approximately 300 mg of magnesium in the evening.


Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens, are herbs help your response to stress. There’s a whole family of adaptogens, perhaps you’ve heard of ashwagandha, tulsi or holy basil? Each adaptogen works a little differently. Rhodiola helps lower cortisol and likely due to this decreases visceral fat.

The active ingredient in Rhodiola is Rosavin, which has been shown to trigger a fat burning response. It also may reduce cravings for comfort foods (those are higher when cortisol is higher). Rhodiola is mood boosting and a little bit of an upper—because of this, it's best to take Rhodiola in the morning. My favorite Rhodiola is from an excellent company Pure Encapsultations.

B Complex

It’s best to take B vitamins in a complex. This way you get an array of B vitamins. A deficiency in B vitamins can disrupt metabolism. For menstruating women, B vitamins (particularly B6) decrease PMS-related cravings and can therefore mitigate weight gain. Vitamin B6 also improves bloat from PMS. It’s also good to know that if you’re on the birth control pill, it can deplete both B vitamins as well as magnesium.

Similarly to rhodiola, certain B vitamins support the adrenal glands, which in turn regulates the body’s stress response and cortisol. These vitamins are another supplement best to take in the morning as they can rev you up a bit. The best type of B vitamins are known as “methylated.”

When adding supplements to your regime, do so one at a time. I think this is prudent as you can see if you’re having side effects. While everything I suggested is well-researched and safe, we all respond differently. That’s what I suggest to Foodtrainers’ clients. Having said that, so many of our clients find these five supplements are a great compliment to other healthy habits. So, if you’re looking for a little habit spring cleaning, maybe try incorporating these.

Lauren Slayton is a nutritionist and the founder of Foodtrainers.

Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022

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