Lecithin and Weight Loss

The link between lecithin and weight loss seems to be irrefutable if you believe the claims of many supplement manufacturers, but is it?

Lecithin is one of the most popular ingredients in weight loss supplements, so we thought we'd check out the veracity of the evidence used to substantiate its benefits.

We've got a friend who adds a spoonful to her porridge, cereal, smoothies...pretty much everything, really!

She swears it's the reason she's losing weight...nothing to do with the healthy diet and 5 mile daily runs, of course!

So what is lecithin, and does it work?

Lecithin and Weight Loss - How Does it Work...?

Lecithin is a lipid made up of choline and inositol. It's one of the main components of cell membranes and has a number of functions, one of which is to control the flow of nutrients into and out of the cell.

Lecithin occurs in foods such as soya beans, yeast, peanuts, fish and egg yolks as well as foods like chocolate and margarine, where it's added as an emulsifying agent.

You can also buy lecithin as a powder, as tablets or in weight loss shake mixes that have lecithin as a main ingredient.

Most lecithin supplements are derived from soya beans.

Now all sorts of health claims are made for lecithin, including its abilities to:

  • metabolise and transport fat
  • improve physical performance and endurance
  • and improve mental acuity and reaction time
  • All of which sound pretty advantageous for anyone looking to lose a little weight!

    The main basis for the claims linking lecithin and weight loss centre on its role as a fat emulsifier.

    The reason lecithin is added to margarine, for instance is that it enables fats to be dispersed when mixed with water.

    Pour oil on water and it sticks together and floats on top. Add an emulsifying agent like lecithin and it mixes in with the water.

    Great for making margarine or dispersing and cleaning up oil slicks...

    But is it effective for breaking up and carrying off body fat to be metabolised?

    If you believe the supplement manufacturers it is! So...

    Lecithin and Weight Loss - Does it Work...?

    Well, despite the advertising hype there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between lecithin and weight loss.

    Lecithin does not have any potential to metabolise significant quantities of body fat and facilitate substantial - or any - weight loss.

    Now there is some evidence that lecithin in the bloodstream can keep fat solvent, preventing it from clumping together and sticking to artery walls, causing clots and atherosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls).

    Both causes of cardiovascular disease.

    This is the basis of claims that eating soya products reduces your risk of heart disease - check out a soya milk carton next time you're in the supermarket!

    However, there's a quantum leap between fat as an emulsifying agent in the bloodstream and lecithin as some sort of fat burner, mobilising and metabolising subcutaneous fat - the fat between your muscles and skin.

    Search as hard as you like, there's no credible, scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between lecithin and weight loss or fat metabolism.

    Eat a healthy, varied, balanced diet and you'll get all the lecithin you need - around 50mgs a day for most people - to enable normal body function.

    Whilst there's no evidence to take lecithin for weight loss purposes, additional lecithin as a dietary supplement may be beneficial for people taking niacin or nicotinic acid to treat high blood cholesterol levels.

    Lecithin and Weight Loss - The Bottom Line...

    There are certainly health benefits to be had from a regular consumption of lecithin rich foods as part of a balanced diet.

    However, taking lecithin supplements to lose weight is highly likely to be an expensive waste of time.

    The links between lecithin and weight loss are simply not based on any robust scientific evidence.

    The only link between lecithin and weight loss that we could find is that the third syllable of lecithin is 'thin'!

    The one cast iron, evidence based way to lose weight is through a calorie controlled, healthy diet and regular exercise.

    But then, you probably know that already!

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