Examine publishes rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies each month, available to all Examine Members. Click here to learn more or log in.

In this article

Can alpha-lipoic acid supplementation shed some pounds?

The evidence for alpha-lipoic acid's effect on weight loss is conflicting. This meta-analysis casts some light on the issue

Study under review: Alpha-lipoic acid supplement in obesity treatment: A systematic review and metaanalysis of clinical trials

Introduction

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring antioxidant[1] synthesized in small amounts by plants and animals, including humans. It plays an important role[2] as a cofactor for several mitochondrial functions necessary for energy production and the metabolism of amino acids. Additionally, ALA can directly neutralize[3] free radicals and regenerate[4] other important antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and glutathione, as shown in Figure 1.

One hypothesis[5] to explain the exacerbation of obesity and associated complications is that a low-grade inflammatory state promotes oxidative stress that blunts the use of fat as an energy source and facilitates fat storage. It has been proposed[6] that oxidative stress increases as body fat accumulates, which contributes to the development of cardiometabolic diseases. Therefore, antioxidants like ALA have been suggested[7] to have potential therapeutic value in treating obesity.

Aside from antioxidant functions, ALA could hypothetically benefit obesity through its effects on AMPK in fat, muscle[8], and the liver that result[9] in improved glucose uptake and fat oxidation. ALA has also been demonstrated[10] to inhibit AMPK in the hypothalamus, leading to the suppression of appetite and food intake in rodents. The reduction in food intake appears to range from 18[11]-30[12]% relative to unsupplemented control animals. Additionally, ALA may be able to reduce[13] glucose absorption in the intestines secondary to inhibiting its transporter. Other research[11] in mice has reported that ALA supplementation increases energy expenditure and reduce fat synthesis[14] in the liver.

Several clinical trials looking at the effect of ALA supplementation on weight loss in humans have been conducted, but their results have been conflicting. The study under review is a meta-analysis that sought to address this issue by quantifying the efficacy of supplemental ALA on bodyweight and BMI in adults, using data from randomized controlled trials.

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring antioxidant believed to have potential for the treatment of obesity. ALA supposedly works by reducing the oxidative stress associated with obesity, suppressing food intake, reducing nutrient absorption, increasing energy expenditure, and reducing fat synthesis. The study under review is a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that sought to quantify the efficacy of ALA on bodyweight and BMI in adults.

Who and what was studied?

Become an Examine Member to read the full article.

Becoming an Examine Member will keep you on the cutting edge of health research with access to in-depth analyses such as this article.

You also unlock a big picture view of 400+ supplements and 600+ health topics, as well as actionable study summaries delivered to you every month across 25 health categories.

Stop wasting time and energy — we make it easy for you to stay on top of nutrition research.

Try free for two weeks

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What were the findings?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What does the study really tell us?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

The big picture

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What should I know?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Free 2-week trial »

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Other Articles in Issue #35 (September 2017)