Science Update

New review demonstrates the effects of betaine supplementation on fat loss

Obesity has increased significantly over the past several decades, contributing to an increased risk of numerous chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and various types of cancers.

In a review published last week, researchers investigated the effect of betaine supplementation on body fat. While previous research has shown a beneficial effect of betaine on reducing body fat in animal studies, this is the first meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effects of betaine on obesity in humans.

This meta-analysis consisted of 6 RCT studies on adults using betaine as the only intervention. It provided data on mean differences on body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body fat, and body fat percentage. Betaine supplementation ranged from 2 to 9.9 grams per day with a treatment duration from 10 days to 24 weeks.

Results showed that supplemental betaine has a significant effect on helping to reduce the total body fat mass and body fat percentage, but not on total body weight or BMI. Researchers demonstrated that betaine supplementation significantly increased lean body mass in one clinical trial. This could explain the unchanged body weight and BMI after betaine supplementation.

In addition, a cross-sectional study in Norway demonstrated plasma betaine levels to be inversely correlated to waist circumference, body fat percentage, and BMI. Betaine supplementation was shown to significantly increase fasting betaine levels, reduce the capacity for fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis, and reduce the uptake of triglycerides. It can also help lower homocysteine levels, promote browning of white adipose tissue, promote protein synthesis, stimulate growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor1 (IGF-1), and increase mitochondrial activity in adipocytes and hepatocytes.

Another nutrient to consider is fish oil. Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on weight reduction. Essential fatty acids should be consumed in everyone’s diets for overall health, but most individuals with insulin resistance and obesity are often deficient. Fish oils help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. 

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Gao X, Zhang H, et al. Effect of Betaine on Reducing Body Fat-A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.