Fitness & Nutrition

Finding the Best Herbs for Weight Loss

By Heather Dileepan
Gesina Kunkel

There seems to be no end to diet fads and advertisements for pills and other supplements claiming to help you lose weight fast. While some of these methods may work in the short term, many weight loss products promote harmful practices and ingredients that don’t provide a permanent solution or support a healthy lifestyle. That’s why we’ve pulled together our favorite natural herbs for weight loss, which notably work best when combined with healthy food choices and a consistent exercise regimen.

7 Herbs and Spices That Help You Lose Weight

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is derived from the inner layer of bark found in some evergreen trees, although we often see it in powder form. Studies have shown that cinnamon can have a positive impact on blood glucose levels for patients with type 2 diabetes. It can also help stabilize blood sugar levels, slowing food absorption so you feel full for longer. Try sprinkling it on coffee and tea, mixing it with dressing for a fruit salad, or adding it with your favorite smoothie recipe to enjoy its benefits.

While the science is slim, some also claim that combining cinnamon with honey can help suppress appetite and prevent weight gain, so try mixing this delicious combination into warm or cold drinks for an additional (and tasty) weight loss aid.

Start with 1–6 grams of powder per day, and be careful not to exceed this; high doses of cinnamon can be toxic. Cinnamon is also available as a supplement in pill form, but you may want to talk to your doctor first before giving it a try.

2. Ginger

Ginger has long been a favorite flavor enhancer in Asian cooking, but it’s recently been called a superfood for its many healing properties. Research shows that ginger helps fight nausea in pregnant mothers or patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments. It’s also an anti-inflammatory herb that’s rich in antioxidants, which can make you feel full longer and act as an appetite suppressant. In fact, its been shown to fight obesity and promote weight loss.

Ginger is versatile and easy to integrate into your diet. Buy ginger root at your grocery store and shred or cut it finely to add to food. Drink it as a tea, or infuse your water with ginger for a flavorful drink that will help you stay hydrated and healthy.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Capsaicin, the main ingredient in cayenne, is said to be a thermogenic chemical that can help increase metabolism, decrease appetite, and burn calories. It also produces similar effects as ginger in that it reduces the desire to eat while helping you feel full, according to studies.

Cayenne pepper is often used in cleanse diets, but you can also add the powder to your food, shakes, and tea for a spicy and healthy enhancement. If spicy food is not for you, take a capsaicin supplement, used daily in 30-120 milligram capsules or 0.3-1 milliliters of liquid tincture.

4. Black Pepper

Most cooks consider pepper a necessary spice for enhancing the flavor of food, but black pepper is also packed with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber that can help you lose weight. Black pepper contains piperine, which studies show enhances metabolic rate, reduces body fat, and lowers cholesterol.

There are several ways to incorporate black pepper into your diet beyond adding it to your food. Add a drop of black pepper oil to water, or make a black pepper tea combined with honey, ginger, and other herbs. If you’re brave, you can also eat black peppercorns. Eat 2-3 every morning and chew them thoroughly before swallowing.

5. Green Coffee Extract

Green coffee extract comes from unroasted coffee beans and is one of the most popular herbal supplements available. It’s well known for promoting weight loss and fat burning. Green coffee beans contain caffeine and a compound called chlorogenic acid, which boost metabolism, reduce the absorption of carbohydrates, and cut down fat cell storage in the liver.

Green coffee extract contains caffeine but in lower doses than regular coffee. Still, some users have reported side effects like anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia after taking it, so avoid using it if you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

6. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb used in India by practitioners of Ayurveda medicine, and it’s been prescribed to reduce stress and improve focus, among other things. It also reduces cortisol levels, which is the hormone that controls our fear and flight response. Too much cortisol leads to an increased storage of fat in the midsection, so ashwagandha can help reduce overall belly fat, particularly for those experiencing chronic stress.

Ashwagandha is typically found in a pill supplement, with recommended daily doses of about 400–500 mg. Talk to your doctor before taking the pill to confirm that the dosage matches your usage goals.

7. Dandelion

We’re used to pulling dandelions out of our grass and yards, but this weed has many health benefits that most people are unaware of. For instance, dandelions may help fight infections, reduce swelling, and stop urinary tract infections (UTIs). It acts as a diuretic, which can be good for reducing water weight and stabilizing salt levels to reduce bloat. There’s also some evidence that drinking dandelion tea can give you more endurance and energy to boost your metabolism and reduce body fat.

Dandelion tea is typically safe to drink without side effects. However, drinking too much can cause an allergic reaction or an upset stomach, especially if you suffer from a ragweed allergy. Also, because dandelion acts as a diuretic, make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Herbs for Weight Loss

When it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there’s no disputing that the key is to eat a consistent, healthy diet and regularly exercise. However, when paired with natural herbs and spices, these practices can elevate the fat burning and metabolism boosting effects for more promising results. Herbs for weight loss can also help you maintain your long term weight goals over time, and provide a safe alternative to unhealthy pills or crash-diet methods.

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