Lose weight with chlorophyll
Green vegetables such as spinach, curly kale and endive, and superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella and wheat grass all contain chlorophyll [structural formula at right]. If you consume a couple of grams chlorophyll every day, then losing weight is likely to be a little easier, according to a human study that researchers at the University of Lund published in Appetite. The Swedes gave 53 overweight women aged between 40 and 65 a daily 5 g of chlorophyll-containing thylakoids derived from spinach, and observed that this dramatically reduced their appetite for sweets and crisps.
Chlorophyll is a group of compounds that make plants green, and which plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Chlorophyll is located in chloroplasts in the cells of plants but also in cyanobacteria such as spirulina. And in the chloroplast the chlorophyll is housed in a thylakoid.
We consume chlorophyll every day in our food by eating veggies. For example: 100g fresh curly kale contains about 250-300 mg chlorophyll.
The Swedes have been experimenting for several years with thylakoid supplementation and suspect that chlorophyll inhibits the uptake of fat in the gut. This means that fats from food travel further along the digestive tract, and as a result stimulate the secretion of hormones that regulate the feeling of satiety such as CCK and GLP-1. [Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:118-23.]
For their study the Swedes asked their subjects to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, to eat vegetables with their meals and to restrict the amount of snacks between meals. Half of the subjects were given a supplement containing 5 g thylakoids 5 minutes before breakfast.
The thylakoids were manufactured by the Swedish company Greenleaf Medical. [gl-medical.com] Greenleaf's spinach-thylakoid supplement is called Appethyl [logo at right]. Appethyl consists of 60 percent chlorophyll.
In the 12 weeks that the experiment lasted the subjects who had been given thylakoids lost more body fat than the subjects in the control group.
The researchers discovered that the supplementation reduced the urge for sweets and salty snacks.
As expected, thylakoids boosted the concentration of the appetite-suppressing hormone GLP-1. Furthermore, they also reduced the LDL, probably because thylakoids stimulate the body to make more bile. Bile is made from cholesterol.
"We demonstrate that consumption of chlorophyll containing parts ofgreen plants, in overweight patients results in significant weight reduction, and reduction in blood cholesterol together with a decreased urge for palatable food", the Swedes conclude.
"The mechanism suggests an increased meal-related GLP-1 release that sustained during the intervention period. Green-plant membranes may thus be a new agent for control of appetite and body weight."
Appetite. 2014 Jun 30;81C:295-304.
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