Inositol For Weight Loss - the Essentials
What is Inositol
Inositol is a type of carbohydrate, which is related to B vitamins. It tastes mildly sweet and typically comes in the form of fine, white powder.
Inositol has lots of different health benefits. It affects important chemical messengers in the brain (like serotonin) and is crucial for brain health. It also helps us manage blood sugar levels and is used for treating the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
How Does Inositol Affect Weight?
Some people take inositol for weight loss. Studies have shown that inositol does indeed help you lose weight - however, it doesn’t work for all people. So, let’s take a closer look at how inositol supports weight loss and how to determine if it may work for you.
Inositol Improves Insulin Sensitivity
The most important way that inositol promotes weight loss is by improving how our cells respond to the hormone insulin.
Inositol plays an important part in the so-called insulin signaling pathway and it has been shown to help with insulin resistance. In fact, many people who suffer from insulin resistance have been found to be deficient in inositol (for example, some people with diabetes type 2 and women with PCOS).
When we are insulin resistant, our cells don’t respond normally to circulating insulin. As a result, glucose in our blood is stored as fat, instead of being used as fuels for our cells.
Most of the studies about inositol and insulin resistance have been performed on patients with PCOS. A study in 2012 (1), for example, took a closer look at inositol in obese patients with PCOS. The results have shown that inositol supplementation resulted in significant improvement in insulin sensitivity as well as in weight loss (decreased body mass index).
Inositol has also been studied in women with metabolic syndrome (2), where 12 month of supplementation caused major improvement in the markers of the syndrome (serum glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR (Homeostasis Model Assessment-Insulin Resistance), triglycerides, total and high density lipoprotein cholesterol). However, in this study, inositol didn't cause significant weight loss in inositol group compared to the group of women that received placebo.
2016 Italian study (3), evaluated inositol treatment for type 2 diabetes. 3 months of inositol supplementation caused a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose levels as well as HbA1c levels (HbA1c shows how successful is glycemic control over longer period of time). Again, this study showed no decrease in body mass index (BMI).
To Sum Up
Inositol may help you lose weight if you suffer from insulin resistance (you might have insulin resistance if you easily gain weight after eating simple carbs, such as bread and pasta made from white flour, sugar and sweets; or you can't lose weight even when following a low calorie diet). However, it doesn't work in all cases; studies suggest that it may work better for people who are obese than those who only need to lose a couple of pounds.
Inositol Decreases Emotional Overeating
Inositol has an important affect on our nervous system. It raises brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This chemical is involved in our mood and sense of well-being and happiness.
Through increasing serotonin levels, inositol lifts mood and even helps with mental health issues, such as depression, OCD and anxiety (4), (5), (6). When we are generally feeling better, we find it easier to control emotional overeating and stay away from junk food – which eventually results in healthy weight loss.
To Sum Up
Inositol may help you lose weight if you tend to eat for improving your mood or you suffer from food cravings.
Inositol Taken Together with Choline Assists Fat Transport and Emulsification
Inositol is often taken together with another substance – a vitamin, called choline. Even though this combination is typically taken for brain health, it also has other benefits.
The body uses inositol and choline to create lecithin. Lecithin is an important component of our cells where it is integrated in the cellular membranes.
Among other things, lecithin also helps the transport and emulsification of fats in our body. That is why many people take it for managing blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Some believe that lecithin helps you lose weight by breaking down fat and flushing it out of the body. There is no research evidence that would support that. However, it is true that lecithin hasn’t been extensively studied for weight loss yet.
To Sum Up
There is no evidence that inositol flushes fat from the body. Through this mechanism alone, inositol probably won’t help with weight loss.
How to Take Inositol for Weight Loss
There is no recommended dosage of inositol for weight loss as it hasn’t really been studied for this reason. Weight loss was most often observed in studies that involved women with PCOS or people suffering for other insulin related disorder (for example, those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes).
In these studies, doses of inositol ranged between 2 and 4 grams daily, with the larger doses bringing better results – improved markers of metabolic imbalance and more weight loss.
Taking Inositol Supplement
Most commonly, people take inositol in the form of bulk powder. The powder is easily dissolved in water or juice. Some also take capsules; typically, each capsule is around 500 mg, so you would need 4 capsules to get to 2 grams daily (and 8 capsules to reach the 4 gram dose).
Inositol has few side effects. Mostly, it may cause some stomach discomfort and loose stool when you are starting out with supplementation. That is why it is recommended that you begin with small daily dose and build your dosage up to reduce the risks of side effects.
Since inositol is a water-soluble substance, it won’t build up to toxic concentrations in the body with time. Excess inositol will simply be flushed out of the body.
The best way to take inositol is on an empty stomach. This will maximize absorption, so you will get the most out of your supplement.
Recommended Inositol Supplements for Weight Loss
There are many inositol supplements on the market. Below, we will introduce 2 highly popular supplements. The first supplement contains inositol in bulk powder, while the second provides inositol packaged into capsules.
Both supplements contain the form of inositol called myo-inositol. This is the form which is generally sold in supplement form and also the one that has been most extensively studied for different health uses.