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Superfood Powders for Weight Loss

Last updated: January 8, 2019

Superfood powder

The best path to sustainable weight loss is a balanced diet and regular exercise. But what if you could supplement your healthy diet with all-natural powders that can help burn body fat, for example by kicking your resting metabolism into high gear, or by boosting fat burning during exercise?

That's where the so-called weight loss superfood powders come in. These powdered foods contain nutrients and phytochemicals that are thought to promote weight loss in one way or another, and the fat-burning effects of some of these foods have even been tested, though mostly only in animal studies.

Here are 7 superfood powders that have some scientific backing to support their purported weight loss benefits:

1. Moringa Leaf Powder

Made by dehydrating and grinding the extremely nutritious leaves of the Moringa tree, moringa powder has a green color and an earthy, slightly bitter flavor. Moringa powder is typically used to boost the nutritional value of smoothies, soups and breakfast dishes, but some people also mix it with hot water to make herbal tea.

While not particularly tasty, pure moringa tea is said to promote weight loss. However, the scientific evidence supporting the use of moringa for weight loss is rather limited, though a couple of studies have shown that moringa extracts can promote weight loss and fight insulin resistance in rodents.

2. Spirulina Powder

Another green superfood powder that holds promise as a weight loss aid is spirulina. And, unlike the potential fat-burning properties of moringa, the weight loss benefits of spirulina have actually been evaluated in studies involving humans, with promising results.

In one placebo-controlled study, 2.8 grams of spirulina three times a day resulted in a small but statistically significant reduction of body weight in the obese study participants over the four-week trial period (1). Another study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that spirulina helped burn fat burning during exercise in moderately trained men, while preserving the body's glycogen stores (2).

So, if you're on the fence about whether you should try moringa or spirulina for weight loss, the bottom line is that the evidence supporting the use of spirulina for weight loss seems a bit more solid at this point.

3. Matcha Powder

Yet another green superfood powder that has been touted as a natural weight loss aid is matcha. Like moringa powder, matcha is made by drying and grinding dehydrated leaves, in this case leaves of the tea plant.

Matcha powder can be whisked into hot water to make a frothy beverage that has been part of the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries—and that has more recently gained popularity among dieters. The idea that matcha can help you lose weight is based on the fact that matcha contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, which are thought to help speed up metabolism, thereby helping you burn more calories.

This got tested in a recent study which found that matcha did indeed enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation in women during a 30-minute walk (3). However, the researchers also stressed that the "metabolic effects of matcha should not be overstated" when related to weight loss.

4. Camu Camu Powder

Available in dried, powdered form at health food stores, the camu camu fruit is loaded with vitamin C. Ounce for ounce, fresh camu camu contains more than 40 times the vitamin C of oranges and more than 20 times the vitamin C of the kiwi fruit.

But that's not all this South American superfood has going for it. Research done on animals now suggests that camu camu may also promote weight loss by altering gut microbiota and increasing energy expenditure, though this has yet to be tested in humans (4).

5. Turmeric Powder

Not only has fresh turmeric been used as both food and medicine for centuries, also turmeric powder has been available for a very long time. So, unlike many of the other weight loss superfood powders listed here, turmeric powder is by no means a novelty.

The most famous health benefit of turmeric powder is probably its ability to fight inflammation, but this bright yellow powder has also been researched for its potential to fight obesity.

In 2010, scientists from Tufts University reviewed the existing research on turmeric, curcumin and weight loss (curcumin is the main active component of turmeric), and reported that not only has curcumin been found to affect energy metabolism in cultured fat cells, but that also animal studies suggest curcumin may have anti-obesity effects (5).

6. Aronia Berry Powder

Sold both as dehydrated whole berries and as superfood powder, aronia berries are right there on top of the list of the world's most antioxidant-rich foods. The antioxidant properties of aronia berries have been largely attributed to their high concentration of anthocyanins, the same flavonoid pigments that also give many other purple berries, such as acai berries and blueberries, their strong antioxidant properties.

Anthocyanins have been studied as a potential weight loss aid, with promising results. In fact, a paper published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders concluded that many in vitro and in vivo studies reveal an array of mechanisms through which anthocyanins could prevent or reverse obesity and related pathologies (6).

7. Broccoli Powder

Fresh broccoli is a great weight loss food because it's low in calories, high in fiber, and ranks low on the glycemic index. In addition, broccoli, along with a few other related foods such as collard greens and kale, contains a compound called glucobrassicin. This sulfur-containing phytochemical is a precursor to an interesting compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C).

I3C is perhaps best known for its anti-cancer properties, but it has also been researched for its potential anti-obesity properties, with promising results. For example, in an animal study published in the journal Nutrition, I3C resulted in weight loss and reduced fat accumulation in obese mice who were fed a high-fat diet (7). Another animal study, published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, produced similar results (8).

If you want to reap the potential weight loss benefits of I3C by using broccoli powder rather than fresh broccoli, freeze-dried organic broccoli powder might be most beneficial: a study that compared the glucobrassicin content of non-organic and organic freeze-dried broccoli found that freeze-dried organic broccoli contained significantly more glucobrassicin than its non-organic counterpart (9).

  1. E. Becker et al (1986). Clinical and biochemical evaluations of the alga spirulina with regard to its application in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind cross-over study. Nutrition Reports International, 33: 565-574.
  2. M. Kalafati et al (2010). Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42(1), 142-51.
  3. M. Willems et al (2018). Matcha Green Tea Drinks Enhance Fat Oxidation During Brisk Walking in Females. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(5):536-541.
  4. F. Anhe et al (). Treatment with camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) prevents obesity by altering the gut microbiota and increasing energy expenditure in diet-induced obese mice. Gut, published Online: 31 July 2018.
  5. M. Meydani and S. Hasan (2010). Dietary Polyphenols and Obesity. Nutrients, 2(7), 737-751.
  6. H. Guo and W. Ling (2015). The update of anthocyanins on obesity and type 2 diabetes: experimental evidence and clinical perspectives. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, 16(1):1-13.
  7. H. Chang et al (2011). Antiobesity activities of indole-3-carbinol in high-fat-diet-induced obese mice. Nutrition, 27(4):463-70.
  8. Y. Choi et al (2012). Indole-3-carbinol prevents diet-induced obesity through modulation of multiple genes related to adipogenesis, thermogenesis or inflammation in the visceral adipose tissue of mice. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 23(12):1732-9.
  9. M. Meyer and S. Adam (2008). Comparison of glucosinolate levels in commercial broccoli and red cabbage from conventional and ecological farming. European Food Research and Technology, 226(6), 1429-1437.
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