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Trying to lose weight? 5-HTP could help

3 min read

Trying to get rid of extra weight whether its just a few pounds or a whole lot of pounds is an effort. And while diet and exercise have to form the basis of any weight loss plan if you're going to be successful, a bit of extra help can speed things along.

Weight loss success, which means losing it and keeping it off, is achieved by making long term changes to the quality and quantity of what you eat and the amount of exercise you do. However researchers have given time to investigating other weight loss aids. Cue 5-HTP...

5-HTP is used by the body to make serotonin

5-HTP, its full name 5-Hydroxytryptophan, is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. It is used by our bodies to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is involved with the regulation of mood, appetite and gut function.

5-HTP itself cannot be found in any food sources however the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make 5-HTP, can be found in salmon, turkey, chicken, eggs, milk, seeds and nuts. Supplementing with 5-HTP however removes the need to create it from tryptophan.

5-HTP can suppress appetite

A 2016 trial by researchers from Brunel University, found using brain imaging scan, 5-HTP can alter our brain activity when we look at food, shifting our focus away from high calorie and high carbohydrate foods, and towards healthier higher protein foods.

Another way that 5-HTP may help your weight loss effort is by increasing feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and lose weight. Weight loss can increase the production of hormones that make you feel hungry with makes it difficult to keep on track with your weight loss diet. It's keeping the weight off that is always the hardest bit!

A study in support of this was undertaken by the University of Rome - it found people taking 5-HTP reported feeling full (known as satiety). In the first six weeks of this study two groups were asked to eat as they normally would. The group taking 5-HTP lost more weight than the group taking a placebo. The results were even more marked when both groups were asked to follow a calorie-restricted diet. The researchers concluded that 5-HTP helps switch off hunger, leading to lower calorie intake, in particular carbohydrates, and feeling fuller sooner.

In another study, 20 people with diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either 5-HTP or a placebo for two weeks. The results showed that those who received 5-HTP consumed approximately 435 fewer calories per day, compared to the placebo group.

What’s more, 5-HTP primarily inhibited the intake of calories from carbohydrates, which was associated with better blood sugar control.

Lastly, a number of animal studies have shown that 5-HTP may reduce excessive food intake due to stress or depression.

There is no recommended daily amount to take for 5-HTP, but studies have shown amounts ranging from 50mg to 300mg a day to be effective. Try taking it 30 minutes prior to a meal. 

Do not take 5-HTP without seeing your GP first, especially before taking higher doses and you should not take 5-HTP supplements if you are already taking antidepressants or sleeping tablets, as this can be extremely dangerous.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.