Holidays and weight loss just don’t mix, right? Wrong! Actually, the next seven weeks or so are a great time to practice good eating habits and continue losing weight (with the help of supplements to curb cravings). But, before we get to those, here are a few practical ways to avoid that ‘holiday 5’ we all gain during this time of the year.
A few simple tips include:
- Eat a handful of nuts before a big meal
- Offer to bring a healthy side dish to the party
- Limit portions to the size of your fist
- Fill up on veggies versus calorie-loaded sides or desserts
- Skip seconds
But you don’t have to white-knuckle your way through holiday parties, resisting all of those delicious, decadent goodies alone. Of course, staying hydrated, limiting alcohol intake and getting enough sleep helps boost will power. And supplementing with specific nutrients is extremely beneficial as well.
‘Tis the season to enjoy all the festivities while staying fit and healthy. That’s why I’ve put this list together of the 5 best supplements* to curb holiday cravings:
Protein is a fundamental nutrient needed in your body to build muscles, repair soft tissues and burn fat.1,2 Researchers have found that by eating more protein study subjects noticed a fuller feeling after meals. They also reported improved thermogenesis (fat burning), as well as a boost in their overall metabolic profiles.
Protein supplements have also been shown to help maintain steady blood sugar levels after meals, reducing cravings for carbohydrate-dense or sugary foods.3
One thing that is important to remember is that not all protein supplements are created equal. When shopping for a protein supplement, avoid inferior sources like soy, or casein. Studies have confirmed that they are inferior to whey protein for weight loss.4
Pro tip: Drink a protein shake before going to a party to help you stay clear of calorie-laden temptations!
2. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
It may sound strange, but fat can actually help you lose weight! Essential fatty acids are a vital nutrient needed by the body for many different purposes, including keeping skin supple, improving brain function, increasing metabolism and burning fat.5,6,7
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in natural foods including seeds and nuts, as well as fatty fish, but most people do not get enough of this type of essential fat in their diets alone. This is why I developed an omega-3 supplement of krill oil that delivers powerful weight loss results.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are also shown to cut cravings, and reduce the appetite, thus leading to less calorie consumption.8,9
3. Green Tea Extract (EGCG)
Green tea is one of the most widely-consumed beverages on the planet. It is packed with powerful nutrients able to offer a range of health benefits. These include higher energy levels, improved immunity and even better fat burning abilities.10
Researchers have found that green tea also works to help reduce food cravings by promoting insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.11
Green tea extract contains the potent antioxidant nutrient known as EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate. This nutrient is responsible for boosting the body’s production of a hormone called CCK (cholecystokinin) that signals to your brain when you are full. Responsible for the feeling of satiation, EGCG may be the key to beating the holiday battle of the bulge.12
EGCG from green tea also stimulates your metabolism by increasing thermogenesis – the cellular energy needed to burn fat. It’s a double-whammy for weight loss!13 And rest assured, it’s in Bio X4, our weight management probiotic.
4. Green Coffee Bean Extract
Green is the color of all coffee beans before they are roasted and turned into a morning cup of joe. In this raw state, coffee beans contain the highest amount of a chemical compound known as chlorogenic acid, responsible for some powerful weight loss effects.14
Numerous studies have shown that green coffee bean extracts are linked to less absorption of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. The effects of this include balanced blood sugar levels and fewer insulin spikes, both of which cause cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods.15,16
5. Vitamin D
It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Researchers have found that a deficiency in this vital nutrient is associated with some serious health concerns, including depression, fatigue, an increased risk of heart problems, and unwanted weight gain. With so many people deficient in Vitamin D, researchers are calling it a worldwide pandemic.17
Researchers have found that Vitamin D promotes long-term weight management by influencing the way weight-loss hormones function in the body. These include insulin, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and leptin.
Vitamin D helps to transport glucose (blood sugar) into cells, where it can be burned as energy, instead of stored inside fat cells. It also improves insulin sensitivity.18,19
People with low levels of Vitamin D may have abnormally high levels of PTH (parathyroid hormone) – a hormone known to trigger reactions that signal to fat cells, “Store more fat!” rather than to release it for energy.20
Low levels of Vitamin D may also lead to an increase in cravings as it inhibits leptin. Leptin is another weight loss hormone responsible for signaling the brain when you are full and to stop eating.21,22
Adding a Vitamin D supplement to your current diet may help cut holiday cravings for high-carbohydrate or sugary foods because of its ability to influence weight loss hormones so effectively.23,24
Supplement for Success
Don’t let holiday weight loss goals hold you back from enjoying all of the wonderful treats at the table. Just keep a few of these supplements around to cut cravings and remember to limit portion size! And finally, don’t forget those digestive enzyme supplements—especially before a party—to keep your system running smoothly with all those rich foods.
*Always check with your own doctor if you’re unsure about taking new supplements.
2 Douglas Paddon-Jones, Eric Westman. Protein, weight management, and satiety. 2008 American Society for Clinical Nutrition.
3 Anders H Frid, Mikael Nilsson. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type-2 diabetic subjects.
4 David J. Baer, Kim S. Stote. Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults. J Nutr. 2011 Aug; 141(8): 1489–1494. Published online 2011 Jun 15.
5 Green Tea | NCCIH. NCCIH. 2016. Accessed November 22, 2016.
6 Guebre-Egziabher, F., et al., Nutritional intervention to reduce the n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio increases adiponectin concentration and fatty acid oxidation in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2008. 62(11): p. 1287-93.
7 Matheson, K.M., et al., n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids increase thermic effect of food in men with metabolic syndrome. Can J Diet Pract Res, 2011. 72(4): p. 201-4.
8 Parra, D., et al., A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Appetite, 2008. 51(3): p. 676-80.
9 Harden, C.J., et al., Effect of different long-chain fatty acids on cholecystokinin release in vitro and energy intake in free-living healthy males. Br J Nutr, 2012. 108(4): p. 755-8.
10 Gunnars K. 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed November 22, 2016.
11Liu K, Zhou R. Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):340-8.
12 Monica C. Chen, S. Vincent Wu. Bitter stimuli induce Ca2+ signaling and CCK release in enteroendocrine STC-1 cells: role of L-type voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels. American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology Published 14 September 2006 Vol. 291 no. 4.
13Shixian Q, VanCrey B. Green tea extract thermogenesis-induced weight loss by epigallocatechin gallate inhibition of catechol-O-methyltransferase. J Med Food. 2006 Winter;9(4):451-8.
14 Adriana Farah, Mariana Monteiro. Chlorogenic Acids from Green Coffee Extract are Highly Bioavailable in Humans. 2008 American Society for Nutrition.
15 Johnston KL, Clifford MN. Coffee acutely modifies gastrointestinal hormone secretion and glucose tolerance in humans: glycemic effects of chlorogenic acid and caffeine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Oct;78(4):728-33.
16 van Dijk AE, Olthof MR. Acute effects of decaffeinated coffee and the major coffee components chlorogenic acid and trigonelline on glucose tolerance. Diabetes Care. 2009 Jun;32(6):1023-5.
17 Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. Odsodnihgov. 2016. Accessed November 22, 2016.
18 Catherine A. Peterson, Aneesh K. Tosh. Vitamin D insufficiency and insulin resistance in obese adolescents. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Dec; 5(6): 166–189.
19 Belenchia AM, Tosh AK. Correcting vitamin D insufficiency improves insulin sensitivity in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):774-81. Epub 2013 Feb 13.
20 Maetani M, Maskarinec G. Association of leptin, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and parathyroid hormone in women. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(2):225-31.
21Supplementation With Vitamin D Improves Leptin Resistance. May 2009. ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00907270.
2210 Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms You Can Identify Yourself. Jul 20, 2016.
23 Forrest KY, Stuhldreher WL. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):48-54.
24 Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD, DrPH; Robert H. Fletcher, MD, MSc. Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults Scientific Review. JAMA. 2002;287(23):3116-3126. June 19, 2002.