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Berberine for Weight Loss: Should You Try It?
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Berberine for Weight Loss: Should You Try It?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 26
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8 min

Berberine is known to be a powerful supplement that treats different health problems. Some people believe this compound is the key to losing weight and keeping it off but is that really true? We explain what berberine is and whether you should try it for weight loss.

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Do you need a supplement to help you lose weight?

There are many supplements designed for weight loss, including berberine. This plant-based compound has obesity-preventing properties that might benefit your fitness journey.

Berberine supplements contain bioactive ingredients suitable for a weight loss diet. Depending on the specific product, people usually take these dietary pills before or after meals. But how does this compound help reduce body fat?

Berberine is believed to lower blood sugar, resulting in fat reduction. Everyone may react differently to the supplement due to genetic, age, and health condition factors. Some people might wonder if they can take this supplement for weight loss. 

In this article, you’ll discover whether berberine is good for weight loss.

What Is Berberine?

Berberine is a chemical compound found in plants like goldenseal, barberry, tree turmeric, and Phellodendron. It has many health benefits that support your heart function. People with diabetes usually take this to lower their blood sugar levels.

Although berberine has to be extracted from plants, it still has a distinct yellow color that can be used for dye purposes. This compound shares similar qualities to turmeric and how it reduces total cholesterol. Many people include both turmeric and berberine in their everyday diet.

Berberine also belongs to the group of alkaloids – organic compounds known to have physiological effects on humans. Therefore, you would only take lower doses of a berberine supplement. Too much berberine may trigger uncomfortable side effects in some people.

Supplements containing berberine usually benefit those with certain heart conditions or type 2 diabetes mellitus. It has biological activities that relax blood vessels and prevent high blood glucose. The cardio-protective properties also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

How Does Berberine Work?

Berberine works to stimulate AMP-activated protein kinase – an enzyme that regulates glucose metabolism and cell growth. This may lower blood sugar levels and encourage weight loss. Reduced insulin means your body will burn fat for energy sources. 

Those who have heart disease, liver damage, or kidney problems may take berberine due to it causing minimal drug interactions. Berberine specifically works by reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that might otherwise cause heart attacks or strokes in overweight users.

You can take berberine in the form of capsule-based supplements. This may be the most effective way of absorbing it through your system. People with diabetes or those wanting to lose weight are typically advised to take pills when implementing berberine into their diet.

Berberine for Weight Loss – Should You Try It?

You should try berberine if you want to lose stubborn body fat and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Berberine can regulate bacteria associated with weight gain in the gut. It also prevents too much liver glucose, which slows down weight loss progress.

Not everyone needs to manage blood sugar, but those with type 2 diabetes may need extra support on their fitness journey. Losing weight might raise glucose production, leading to symptoms like frequent urination, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and stomach pain.

Taking a berberine dietary pill might enforce blood glucose control and encourage the body to burn fat for energy. It also obstructs lipoprotein lipase – an extracellular enzyme that boosts triglycerides in the blood. Too many triglycerides can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.

If you have a weak metabolism, berberine can also strengthen that fat-burning process. It targets mitochondria directly – membrane-bound cells that take energy from food. The stronger these cells are, the more likely your body will continue burning fat during rest times.

Berberine is worth trying if you want to reduce your body fat percentage. It’s no “magical cure” for your body, but it interacts with several hormonal pathways that retain fat. People with a body mass index over 30 usually see more results after taking berberine-based supplements.

Berberine Benefits

Berberine has many benefits that can improve your overall health. Even small doses are known to feed your body beneficial bacteria. Certain people, like those with type 2 diabetes mellitus, might need a higher dosage of berberine to regulate their blood sugar and glucose levels. 

Let’s take a look at the five benefits of taking berberine:  

#1 Reduces blood sugar levels

Berberine can lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes.

This interaction may reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and potential heart-related death. The chemical compound also contains antioxidant properties that help the body regulate how much glucose travels through the bloodstream regularly. 

Since berberine stimulates AMP-activated protein kinase, the body uses fat for energy instead of glucose. Unnecessary glucose production usually leads to high blood sugar levels. Berberine is especially great for glycolysis – a process that breaks down sugar inside cells. 

#2 Supports healthy insulin levels

Berberine improves insulin sensitivity by activating the insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This hormone works to stimulate protein synthesis in muscle, but it also binds fatty acids. Your body needs those fatty acids to boost  metabolism and produce enough energy.

The IGF-1 hormone will maintain healthy levels of insulin in your body, preventing hypoglycemia. This condition represents lower blood sugar levels below the average range. Signs of too much insulin are cold sweats, trembling limbs, anxiety, and general confusion.

People also take berberine to reduce insulin resistance. A stronger pancreas means less sugar in your bloodstream, as it doesn’t struggle to produce enough of the hormone. Berberine is great for preventing kidney damage, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression. 

#3 Fights inflammation

Berberine has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation and improve heart health.

This quality may help people suffering from heart conditions like myocarditis, pericarditis, and endocarditis. These diseases focus on the inflammation that reduces the heart’s ability to perform its natural functions, including blood flow and cell oxygenation. 

You can take berberine to strengthen your overall immune system. Stronger immunity means the body will fight inflammation-related diseases and problems. One of these problems includes lung inflammation from smoking, allergic reactions, pneumonia, or damaging bacteria growth. 

#4 Ensures better gut health

Berberine can strengthen the intestinal mucus that holds good flora bacteria.This improvement may reduce bloating, severe constipation, and painful digestion. People with less bloating usually lose some water weight, which stops puffiness around the stomach, face, and arms.

Taking berberine helps balance gut microbes by eliminating free radicals that may otherwise trigger digestive diseases. Some of these diseases might be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

A healthy gut immune system means your body can regulate microbiota, intestinal barriers, and important digestion cells. This will decrease the risk of pathogenic infections like HIV. Taking berberine ensures your gut is full of strong, thriving microorganisms. 

#5 Helps lose weight

One of the main reasons people take berberine is for weight loss.

Berberine is a traditional Chinese medicine originally used to improve someone’s overall health. People began to notice a consistent physical improvement in their body weight management, leading to the new berberine weight loss supplement. 

You can take berberine to enhance your fat-regulating hormones. These are insulin, adiponectin, and leptin. Once the hormones become stronger, they can inhibit the growth of more fat cells. This interaction may encourage your body to burn those extra calories. 

Pairing berberine with a sustainable exercise routine may help you lose more weight. A low-calorie diet with healthy snacks will also encourage further weight loss. Berberine helps fuel the body with energy, meaning you can perform intense exercises and not feel weak.

Berberine Side Effects 

Taking any kind of weight loss supplement may trigger physical side effects

Berberine is a strong plant-based compound that can cause digestive problems. This might be bloating or stomach pain that doesn’t go away. People who have a sensitive gut may have an increased risk of getting diarrhea-like symptoms from the potent ingredients. 

Cramping and constipation are other common side effects of berberine. You might only experience this when taking the supplement on an empty stomach. However, berberine can also disrupt digestion, leading to constipation that triggers back pain

A few less known side effects comprise diarrhea, headaches, and flatulence. These should only last a few days until your body has adjusted to the dosage. If side effects persist or get worse over time, seek medical help and stop taking berberine-based supplements.

Can I Use Berberine for Insulin Resistance?

Yes, metabolic syndrome patients or those who have disturbed blood glucose levels can take berberine for insulin resistance. Berberine encourages the body to produce enough insulin for cell energy. This stops you from experiencing hyperglycemia over time. 

Berberine is great for regulating blood glucose and blood lipid. This constant regulation is very important for people with type 2 diabetes, as their bodies either resist insulin or don’t produce enough of it. Just make sure to follow the right dosage when using it every day.

The hormone insulin also reacts with berberine in your system. It can strengthen your pancreas and prevent too much sugar from entering the bloodstream. You should talk to a doctor about how much berberine to take when improving those natural functions in your body.

Even though berberine sounds amazing for your health, talk to a doctor about how this supplement may work. Not everyone can take berberine due to certain drug interactions. Checking with a professional before implementing new supplements into your diet is always best.

FAQs

Is berberine safe?

Yes, berberine supplementation is safe for most adults. Taking the recommended dosage ensures you don’t experience any side effects like constipation-related headaches. However, talk to a healthcare professional before taking new supplements for weight loss purposes. 

How long does berberine take to work?

The time it takes for berberine to work depends on your age, dosage, gender, and current blood sugar levels. Some people might see physical results after three months of taking berberine. Others may need to wait 5 months until their bodies have fully adjusted to the supplement. 

When to take berberine?

You can take 3 berberine capsules a day before or after meals. This may be breakfast, lunch, and dinner times. Some people suggest taking the berberine supplement 30 minutes before a large meal to help your body absorb the ingredient before focusing on digesting foods.

How much berberine should I take?

Most berberine-based supplements contain 500 mg of the ingredient. If you take three a day, this amount should equate to 1,500 mg. Always talk to a doctor about the recommended dosage, as you don’t want to experience digestive issues, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation. 

Can you take berberine on an empty stomach?

No, you should try to take berberine capsules before or after big meals. Supplements might trigger digestive issues if you consume them on an empty stomach. If you took berberine without eating food first, grab a quick snack to prevent any constipation-related problems.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Some people might take berberine for weight loss.

Berberine isn’t the most common supplement on the market, but it has plenty of health benefits that keep you feeling strong. To boost those weight loss efforts, perform long running sessions and eat lots of nutritious meals full of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and important vitamins.

Any kind of berberine pill works to inhibit the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, leading to reduced fat storage. This should cause significant weight loss that focuses on targeting fat cells in your body. People with diabetes or metabolic syndrome will still notice the same physical results.

You need to talk to a doctor before taking berberine pills. They can recommend the right dosage for your personal health goals. It’s common to experience side effects like constipation and cramping, but if you feel severe pain when taking the supplement, stop it immediately.

Conclusion

So, berberine for weight loss, does it really work?

Berberine has strong herbal-like qualities that can help you lose weight and regulate blood sugar. These beneficial effects may keep you healthy, especially if you suffer from type 2 diabetes. Follow the average dosage daily and record how you feel over a few weeks.

If you have a chronic disease, seek medical advice before using berberine. Berberine combined with pharmaceutical drugs might set off certain side effects. A doctor can give you the right guidance and dosage for taking berberine to protect your heart health.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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