Did you know that searches for weight loss in India have grown rapidly in the last one year? It seems like everyone wants to get fitter and is willing to try any and every kind of weight loss and metabolism supplement to make it happen.
The post-COVID years have seen an explosion in weight loss and metabolism boosting supplements in the Indian market. And it’s not just the result of the post-pandemic preventive nutraceutical boom, fuelled by a desire for preventive OTC treatments and the influence of social media.
Because social media trends aside, India does have a weight issue. The Sunrise Consumer Health and Nutrition Sector report highlights a rise in lifestyle diseases in India (particularly urban India) with obesity and weight being the top problem: it now affects 21% of the total population, roughly 268 million. And this is one of the reasons why the marketing is growing and why Indians are reaching for weight loss and metabolism boosting supplements.
According to the report, Indian consumers today are banking on “better for you” foods and home remedies to get fitter. On one end of the spectrum are “better for you” foods and beverages targeting wellness. On the other are more pharmaceutical products aimed at disease and illness reversal. And at the cusp, is a rather large piece of the opportunity pie, in the form of functional foods, supplements, and nutraceuticals. This is the next big wave of consumption and opportunity. Google weight loss products and your Google search will throw up a plethora of products, from Ayurvedic fat-burner pills to belly fat tea probiotic sachets to get lean.
According to another consumer insights report from IMARC, the weight loss market in India was valued at $20.8 billion in 2022 and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.6% during 2023-2028, taking it up to approx. $38 billion, with 3 main segments: functional beverages, functional foods, and dietary supplements.
The dietary supplements segment makes up roughly 1/3rd of the pie. (Source) And that includes the whole gamut: meal replacement shakes, weight loss supplements, fat burners, and metabolism boosters. The report also states that key drivers for the growth in the weight management market are:
But the question is: does your metabolism impact your ability to lose weight?
Weight and Metabolism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Here’s the simple science behind weight loss: anyone who burns more calories than they consume, will end up losing weight.
In general, a slow metabolism burns fewer calories, which means more energy get stored as fat in the body and this may make it more difficult for someone to lose weight. On the other hand, someone with a fast metabolism tends to burn calories at a quicker rate, which is why they may eat the same amount of food, but not gain weight as easily.
Your metabolism doesn’t necessarily determine how much weight you will lose. It’s a combination of what you eat (diet), how much + how often you move (exercise), and well…how you were born (genetics).
So, while the availability of metabolism-boosting weight loss supplements is on the rise, it may be wiser to go back to the basics: understand metabolism is, tap into the natural whole foods that affect your metabolism, and then turn to supplements (if you really need them). Let’s get into it.
Understanding Metabolism and Metabolic Rate
The good folks at Harvard Medical define metabolism as “the series of chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life.”
Broadly, metabolism is a bunch of chemical reactions that occur in your body. But it also the process by which your body converts food into energy. And the food you eat, can have an impact on your metabolism and the efficiency of your metabolic rate.
Metabolic rate is a measure of how quickly your body uses energy. It’s the rate at which your body burns calories and many things affect metabolic rate, including age, sex, exercise, and diet.
Now, your metabolic rate can further be broken down into Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR, and Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR.
BMR = Minimum number of calories required for basic functions at rest.
RMR = Number of calories that your body actually burns while it’s at rest.
If you are on a weight loss journey, knowing your BMR is useful: because it can be used to help gain, lose, or maintain your weight. How? By knowing how many calories you burn, you know how many to consume. This is a helpful tool to figure it out.
List of Foods that Boost Metabolism
The food you eat does play a role in your metabolic rate. Certain kinds of foods can boost the overall rate at which we turn the food we eat into energy - and this keeps us more energised during the day. While a balanced diet + exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy metabolism, there are certain foods that can assist you in the journey, because of what they do inside our body.
Here’s a list of metabolism boosting foods you can consume.
Apple cider vinegar or ACV: Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which becomes the main active ingredient in vinegar and gives it added health benefits.
It seems to be everywhere these days, in the form of gummies, fizzy tablets and in its true form, as bottled vinegar. It boosts digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer, but you need to keep in mind it can be acidic nature. So it can irritate your GI tract. It can also wear away your tooth enamel over time, and some people with tooth sensitivity can find it irritating.
MCT oil: MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is easily absorbed and metabolised by the body. MCT oil can increase something called thermogenesis, which is how your body distributes heat via energy production. So when you consume MCT oil, your body ends up burning more calories compared to other foods.
Green tea: It’s a good source of caffeine and catechins, a kind of antioxidant. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase energy levels and alertness. When it’s combined with catechins it stimulates the central nervous system, which can lead to an increase in your overall metabolic rate. This is why it may be a good idea to replace your 4pm latte with green tea.
Coffee: The caffeine in coffee works double-duty to promote alertness and boost metabolism. T stimulates the central nervous system, which increases hear rate and blood circulation, and this in the long run, can increase your body’s metabolic rate. As is the case with green tea which is consumed clear and without milk, It’s better to consume coffee black: Frappuccinos are not what you want if you’re looking to boost metabolism! Caffeine in general can promote satiety, decrease feelings of hunger, and cut down on cravings.
Ginger: Ginger is a spice that is a great digestive aid and aids metabolism. How? It boosts the feeling of satiety, which means you feel fuller for longer periods of time (which means you are less likely to snack in-between, so you can avoid eating junk that will add empty calories to your day). It also helps reduce cravings. It’s also a great digestive that can soothe your tummy and manage gas, bloating and nausea.
Chia seeds: These tiny seeds are a great source of fibre and Omega 3s, and also contain essential nutrients that can help boost your metabolism. Fibre-rich foods matter: they can serve as prebiotics, which support the microorganisms in our gut microbiome that help with digestion and metabolism. A healthy level of prebiotics can help our gut microorganisms efficiently turn food into fuel.
Chillies and peppers: Mirchi for metabolism? Yes. Chillies contain an active compound called capsaicin, which is where the health benefits lie. Studies show capsaicin increases thermogenesis, and acts as a diaphoretic, which helps you sweat more and detox.
Dark chocolate: No, not Cadbury Bournville but real, well-sourced dark chocolate that contains more cacao than milk and sugar. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and flavonoids, which work together to increase blood flow, break down fat cells, and regulate your blood sugar levels. Polyphenols and flavonoids can also interact with cortisol receptors, preventing them from binding with cortisol, which can lower fat storage and boost metabolic rate.
Minerals and Other Nutrients that Help Manage your Metabolism
Whole foods are the best way to maintain a healthy diet and metabolism, but there are certain targeted supplements that can help you boost it, like the amino acid L-carnitine and essential minerals like chromium and magnesium. We’ve broken it down below.
L-carnitine: it’s an amino acid produced by the body that’s also found in food and supplements. And some studies suggest it can help with weight loss and improved metabolic function. Carnitine plays a critical role in energy production. It is an essential cofactor that helps transport long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria or fat cells, so that they can be oxidised to produce energy. That means the more your body uses those fat cells, the more chances you lose fat and get fitter.
Chromium: Chromium is a mineral used in the body to unlock energy from food. Chromium can support healthy metabolism and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Metabolism consists of two processes: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the breaking down of compounds, while anabolism is using those compounds to build structures. Chromium works on the catabolism side of the process, ensuring you get energy that’s available in the food you eat.
Some great natural sources of chromium are grape juice, orange juice, ham, and beef; and in supplement form, it’s most commonly taken as chromium picolinate.
Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that impacts your functioning a whole lot, from regulating blood sugar levels, to athletic performance. It’s a multi-tasking mineral that can affect everything from how well you sleep to how well you poop! It’s is important for metabolic function because without it, the chemical reactions that produce energy in the body cannot happen. This make it essential for metabolism and energy production.
It’s found in a variety of food sources, from leafy greens to nuts, seeds, and beans, but many of us don’t get enough through our diet. In supplement form, magnesium citrate is one of the most popular type, since it’s easily absorbed by the body.