ALA May Help With Losing Weight

It’s been called the “super antioxidant” because, unlike other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, alpha-lipoic acid, ALA, is both water and fat soluble, enabling it to work throughout the body. It occurs naturally in each cell of the body, and it functions to turn glucose into energy and rid the body of the toxic waste products, free radicals, produced during this conversion.

Potential health benefits of ALA

A February 2015 study out of Spain found ALA supplements promoted weight loss in obese women. For years, ALA has been regularly used in Germany to treat peripheral nerve damage, which causes the tingling feeling and numbness in the hands and feet suffered by many diabetics. Studies suggest ALA may also help lower blood sugar levels, and it may be a potential treatment for glaucoma, stroke, dementia and other brain disorders. It may be useful in managing erectile dysfunction and some cancers.

The Pamplona study

The epidemic of obesity is worldwide and contributes to multiple health problems including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea and some types of cancer. Previous studies with rodents showed that ALA supplements, added to a diet of reduced food intake, stimulated energy expenditure and reduced the feed efficiency (the rate at which food is stored as fat), which promoted weight loss. Researchers at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, designed a study to determine if results would be the same using human subjects.

The 10-week study divided the 97 participants, all overweight women, into four groups. One group took ALA supplements; one group took Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid; the third group took both supplements and the fourth group served as a control group and took no supplements. All women followed a diet that reduced their caloric intake to 30 percent less than their energy expenditure.

APA combined with a reduced-calorie diet shown to promote weight loss

After 10 weeks, the groups that took ALA alone or combined with EPA, showed the greatest weight loss, on average 15.4 pounds and 14.3 pounds respectively. The control group lost 11.44 pounds; the EPA-only group lost 11.88 pounds. It’s important to note that all participants followed a reduced calorie diet. The study does not claim that taking supplements without any lifestyle changes will promote weight loss.

Possible harmful side effects of ALA

ALA is widely available as an over-the-counter supplement. Some users have reported negative side effects including skin rashes, diarrhea, insomnia and fatigue. If you are considering using ALA, it is best to consult your healthcare provider about dosage and possible interactions with other medications. Diabetics who are taking medications designed to lower blood sugar may experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when adding ALA to their diet. ALA may also interfere with chemotherapy and thyroid medications.