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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Inositol for Weight Loss: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

Inositol for Weight Loss: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

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Written by Edna Skopljak, MD
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Fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
Last update: November 3, 2023
5 min read 577 Views 0 Comments
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Discover how inositol could be the answer to your weight loss dilemmas

inositol for weight loss

If you’re managing a health condition, are constantly busy, or find yourself struggling with willpower, weight loss can be an extremely tough journey. 

With endless apps, diet plans, and supplements on the market, there are several potential solutions that may make this easier. However, when delving into the nuances of these solutions, it can be challenging to decipher which are actually effective. 

One such supplement is inositol, which could play a part in weight management and insulin resistance alongside other important lifestyle changes. We explore the role of inositol in weight loss, examine its benefits and side effects, and explain exactly how to include this supplement in your daily routine safely.

Can Inositol Help You Lose Weight? 

Although some studies suggest that inositol is effective for weight loss, the evidence is not conclusive, and more research is needed to establish a direct connection. However, inositol may be an effective weight loss supplement for those with conditions such as diabetes, PCOS, or metabolic disorders that cause obesity.

As it can mimic the effects of insulin, inositol steps in and helps to lower blood sugar levels. One thing to note here is that managing your blood sugar is only one element of weight loss – you’ll also need to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and drink plenty of water to be successful.

Nonetheless, research indicates that adding inositol to a 6-month weight loss plan can help to accelerate weight loss while also restoring regular menstrual cycles for those with PCOS.

Who shouldn’t take inositol?

While inositol shows promise for weight loss and treating the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, it may not be safe for everyone. You should always check with your healthcare provider before taking this supplement, who can advise you on its suitability.

Inositol helps with PCOS by reducing androgen levels, which may combat infertility. However, the supplement can cause dangerously low androgen levels for those without this condition and could therefore decrease the success of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) for women trying to get pregnant.

It’s also important to note that inositol shouldn’t be used by women taking dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). This supplement increases testosterone levels in the ovaries, while inositol lowers them, hence canceling each other out.

What Is Inositol?

Inositol is a type of sugar that is naturally found in your body, as well as in certain foods and supplements. Cell signaling, mood regulation, and blood sugar management are just a few of the many bodily processes in which it plays a crucial role. 

It can also be found in capsule or powder supplement form, which offers a higher quantity of the carb than through diet alone. Inositol molecules are an essential part of your cell membranes and have a chemical structure similar to that of glucose, the main sugar found in blood. 

There are many types of this carbohydrate, but the two most prevalent within the body are myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI). Both influence the actions of chemical messengers like serotonin, which controls mood, digestion, and sleep, as well as insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that is responsible for blood sugar management.

What Inositol Is Used For

As it exists in various forms, inositol is important for many processes within the body and offers a whole host of benefits. For instance, they could rebalance levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, potentially making sugar an ideal alternative treatment for depression, anxiety, and compulsive or panic disorders.

Inositol’s efficacy is also noteworthy in minimizing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition where the ovaries produce abnormal amounts of male sex hormones known as androgens. This often leads to the development of ovary cysts, causing irregular periods, excess body hair growth, and fertility issues.

Inositol may be helpful in treating metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that occur together and increase your chances of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. From high cholesterol and blood pressure to excess body fat, studies show that the supplement may lower these risk factors.

How Much Inositol Can I Take Daily? 

While a typical daily diet contains approximately 1 gram of inositol, to experience the benefits of inositol, you may need to take a higher supplemental dosage. 

Much of the research studying the supplement has used up to 18 grams per day.  However, when taking 12 grams or more, some mild gastrointestinal side effects have been reported.

The exact amount of inositol you’ll need each day depends on what you’re taking it for, so consult your doctor to find the right dosage for you. Those using it as a treatment for PCOS or weight loss typically require lower doses than people struggling with mental health conditions, for example.

How can I get inositol naturally?

You can find small amounts of inositol in a range of whole, healthy foods, which are ideal as part of a low-calorie diet. To get more of this carbohydrate, try to eat some weight-loss fruits and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruits, melon, squash, tomato, and broccoli.

Along with being high in heart-healthy fats, nuts like almonds and peanuts also contain inositol, as well as beans and whole grains like brown rice, bread, and oatmeal.

How Long Does It Take for Inositol to Work? 

Inositol is water-soluble, meaning your body will absorb it pretty quickly. Nonetheless, you won’t see instant results, and it can take up to 3 months of regular inositol supplementation before you begin to experience its benefits for PCOS, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome.

How quickly inositol works to help lose weight also depends on whether you consistently eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. If you incorporate these factors into your daily life, you’ll likely lose weight faster and improve insulin sensitivity.

To maximize results, take inositol each day with a glass of water and on an empty stomach. Avoid sweetened or fizzy beverages, as they can stop the supplement from being absorbed and therefore reduce its effectiveness

What Are the Side Effects of Using Inositol for Weight Loss? 

Inositol supplementation is generally considered to be safe, causing minimal side effects when used in low doses. But, on the downside, it may cause some fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and digestive upset in higher doses, including:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence (excess gas)
  • Diarrhea
Expert image border HR_author_photo_Edibel
A Word From Our Dietician 
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

From reducing your risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease to improving fertility, there are several reasons why you might be trying to lose weight. Inositol supplements are a convenient way of making this a little easier, mainly due to their effectiveness in improving insulin sensitivity.

However, it’s worth pointing out that to lose weight, you’ll need to be in a caloric deficit. In simple terms, this involves burning more calories than you consume, which can be achieved through building a regular exercise routine and sticking to a weight-loss diet.

Improving your mental health should also be a priority. Insulin resistance is linked with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause weight gain, particularly around your midsection.

FAQs 

How much weight can you lose with inositol? 

The amount of weight lost while taking inositol varies from person to person, based on a variety of factors. This includes your starting weight, body mass index (BMI), diet, and exercise routine. 

Is metformin or inositol better for weight loss? 

Research comparing inositol and metformin, a medication used to manage type 2 diabetes and treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is mixed in terms of their effectiveness for weight loss. While some studies champion both, others prefer metformin for weight loss and inositol for menstrual cycle regularity.

What should inositol not be taken together with? 

You shouldn’t use inositol if you are on medications or supplements to increase your testosterone levels, such as DHEA. Inositol also shouldn’t be taken with sweetened drinks, as their sugar content can reduce its effectiveness.

Conclusion: Should You Take Inositol for Weight Loss?

Thanks to its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, inositol may be a safe and effective supplement for aiding weight loss, with minimal side effects.

However, whether or not it could help you should ultimately be determined by a healthcare professional, who can decide on the suitability, safety, and dosage of this supplement for your unique needs. 

Besides taking inositol, losing weight relies on a variety of factors, so users should also eat a healthy, low-calorie diet, exercise regularly, and lower their stress levels. 

Written by Edna Skopljak, MD
Edna Skopljak, MD, is a medical advisor for the Health Reporter, a general practitioner who also worked as a medical doctor at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology. In addition to clinical work, she has years of experience in medical research as an editor at a prestigious medical journal.
The article was fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
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HR_author_photo_Edna
Written by Edna Skopljak, MD
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Fact checked by Edibel Quintero, RD
Last update: November 3, 2023
5 min read 577 Views 0 Comments
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