No supplement is going to cause all your extra pounds to melt away. There is some preliminary evidence, however, that certain supplements, including L-arginine, may slightly improve your weight-loss results when used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking L-arginine, as it may not be safe for everyone.
L-Arginine and Weight Loss
L-arginine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks for proteins in your body. It may help to prioritize muscle-building over fat deposits and limit weight and fat gains due to a high-fat diet, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2009. A review article published in Amino Acids in 2010 came to a similar conclusion, noting that L-arginine may help make the body more likely to burn fat and minimize the addition of new body fat in both people and animals, helping to promote weight loss, although the mechanisms still aren't totally clear. Further research is necessary to verify these results and determine the best dosage for those looking to improve their weight-loss results. Check with your doctor to determine which dosage you should try.
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Eliminating 500 calories per day from your diet will result in a 3,500-calorie deficit over the course of a week, which is roughly what is necessary to lose 1 pound. Cutting more calories than this can help increase weight loss, but following a diet that's too low in calories may slow down your metabolism and make it more difficult for you to reach your weight-loss goals. Men need at least 1,800 calories per day and women shouldn't go below 1,200 calories if they don't want to adversely affect their metabolism, says the American College of Sports Medicine.
Recommended Dietary Changes for Healthy Weight Loss
Taking L-arginine supplements isn't going to have a large effect on weight loss all by itself. For the best results, you'll need to make other changes as well, such as following a balanced, reduced-calorie diet and being more active. A healthy approach is to eat more fruits, vegetables, salads, broth-based soups and other foods that don't have many calories per gram. Avoiding foods that are more energy-dense, such as full-fat dairy products, desserts, fatty meats and fried foods, may make it easier to lose weight while not feeling hungry all the time. A review article published in May 2012 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that this type of low-energy-density diet can be helpful for improving weight-loss results. This is because foods that are low in energy density take up a lot of space in the stomach without providing many calories, making it easier to stick within your calorie goals while still eating enough to feel full.
Increasing Weight Loss With Exercise
Add to the benefits of L-arginine by increasing your daily exercise. A combination of muscle-building exercises and aerobic exercise will help you maintain your muscle as you lose weight; otherwise, about one-fourth of the weight you lose will come from muscle instead of fat. While at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and at least two strength-training sessions per week are recommended for adults, you may need to fit in at least 300 minutes of aerobic activity for weight loss. The more intense an exercise, the more calories you will burn and the greater the calorie deficit you'll be able to create. For example, a 160-pound person will burn about 183 calories per hour doing hatha yoga, 314 calories per hour skiing downhill and 861 calories per hour running at a speed of 8 miles per hour. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor about what types of exercise are right for your overall health and fitness level.
Potential Contraindications and Side Effects for L-Arginine
L-arginine supplements can cause side effects, including diarrhea, bloating, low blood pressure, a worsening of asthma symptoms and pain in the abdomen. They may also interact with medications used for high cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as blood clotting medications, nitrates, Viagra, diuretics and others. People with kidney disease, asthma or herpes or those who have recently had a heart attack shouldn't take L-arginine. It may increase the risk for high potassium levels in people with kidney or liver problems. Always check with your doctor to see if supplements -- including L-arginine -- are safe for you.
- Amino Acids: Beneficial Effects of L-Arginine on Reducing Obesity: Potential Mechanisms and Important Implications for Human Health
- MedlinePlus: L-Arginine
- Journal of Nutrition: Dietary L-Arginine Supplementation Reduces White Fat Gain and Enhances Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat Masses in Diet-Induced Obese Rats
- Drugs.com: L-Arginine
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Energy Density and Body Weight in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable With the Right Lifestyle Changes
- American Council on Exercise: What Are the Guidelines for Percentage of Body Fat Loss?
- Drugs.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour