Most of us know adequate protein, a calorie deficit, regular exercise, and good sleep are the keys to shedding excess body fat. It’s not a quick fix; it takes commitment and consistency.
That said, there are a handful of supplements that may help to “hack” weight loss.
Today, we’ll explore the weight loss properties of resveratrol, an anti-aging compound that may also reduce metabolic problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
We wrote in detail about the health benefits of resveratrol in this article on the best resveratrol supplements. However, we needed a separate post to explore how this functional ingredient may curb the obesity crisis.
Resveratrol is a phytochemical found in red grapes (and wine), known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the reason red wine has a reputation as a heart-healthy beverage (in moderation).
In the last couple of decades, over 100 studies on resveratrol have found benefits for glucose metabolism, blood pressure, cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular health.
But its major claim to fame is its powerful life-extension properties. Resveratrol mimics calorie restriction by activating “longevity” genes called sirtuins – like SIRT1 – responsible for regulating inflammation, metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and fat storage.
So, if it can mimic calorie restriction, does that mean resveratrol improves weight loss?
That’s a question keeping researchers up at night.
For starters, research suggests resveratrol may support exercise endurance by increasing the time it takes for muscles to fatigue.
The more you can exercise at full tilt, the more fat you’ll lose, right?
Well, there’s more to it. The anti-obesity effects of resveratrol look to work via several pathways. Bear with me. I’ll break it down.
A cell-based study found resveratrol inhibited the formation of new fat cells. Let me say that again. Resveratrol stopped mature fat cells from forming. It also triggered the death of existing fat cells.
Resveratrol may also help your cells use glucose for energy (instead of storing it as fat). Research shows it improves insulin resistance and long-term blood sugar control in people with obesity and type-2 diabetes mellitus.
Finally, resveratrol may alter the composition of the gut microbiota. The trillions of microbes in your digestive tract do way more than help with digestion. In research on mice, resveratrol altered the gut microbiota in favor of microbes that reduced weight gain and improved insulin sensitivity. Pretty cool.
Most of the research has used cell and animal studies. So, whether this translates to weight loss in “real life” is still up for debate.
A 2016 systematic review study suggests resveratrol has negligible effects in humans.
However, a 2019 meta-analysis and systematic review found resveratrol reduced body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body mass at doses below 500 mg per day.
Another 2020 meta-analysis of 36 placebo-controlled trials found resveratrol significantly decreased body weight, BMI, fat mass, and waist circumference.
Interestingly, the 2020 meta-analysis found resveratrol had no effect on circulating leptin and adiponectin levels. These are hormones involved in appetite and glucose regulation. So, its effect on weight loss may be less to do with the secretion of hormones and more with the other reasons mentioned above.
Your metabolism is the furnace that keeps your body and brain firing on all cylinders. If it’s sluggish, you may feel fatigued and struggle to shed weight. No one wants that.
Luckily, resveratrol may stimulate your metabolic rate.
In this study, 150 mg of resVida® daily for one-month improved markers of metabolic function in obese men, all without changing their diet or exercise habits.
Don’t get us wrong. Resveratrol isn’t a miracle supplement that burns fat while you sit on the couch. But it may give you a boost if you’re already implementing other lifestyle changes.
The research supporting resveratrol as a weight loss supplement has shown that it may have some benefits, but it’s not a panacea. But implementing good lifestyle habits consistently is far more beneficial than any supplement out there.
With that said, we’ve written about other supplements that may indirectly promote weight loss (and reduce comorbidities like heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome). This may be via improved exercise performance, reduced muscle loss, or greater fat oxidation and insulin sensitivity.
These may be worth adding to your wellness arsenal (and they stack well with resveratrol):
You can check out those articles for more on each of those supplements.
Resveratrol is found in plenty of foods (some you probably have in your kitchen). Red grapes, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, dark chocolate, peanuts, and pistachio nuts have resveratrol.
A diet rich in resveratrol (and other polyphenols) may support your health in the long run. That said, you can’t get anywhere near the high doses of resveratrol used in studies from diet alone. Nor will drinking copious glasses of red wine help you lose weight.
Supplements are worth considering if you’re looking for a specific outcome, like reducing hypertension or dropping a pant size.
Dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means there’s no recommended dosage for a trimmer waistline. Limited clinical trials suggest a daily dose of up to 500 mg of resveratrol is most effective.
However, we need more clinical trials to establish the ideal daily dose of resveratrol for weight loss.
In general, resveratrol supplements are safe for most people when taken at the suggested dosage. And even doses up to 5 g/day haven’t shown notable side effects.
However, resveratrol may interact with certain medications. If you want to try resveratrol for weight loss, speak to your doctor.
Contrary to what Instagram ads want you to believe, there is no weight loss quick fix. If you don’t eat well, lift weights, move your body every day, and sleep well, a supplement won’t give you the body composition of your dreams.
That said, research points toward resveratrol as a promising pro-metabolic and anti-obesity supplement. Plus, if you only eat resveratrol-rich foods occasionally, supplementing may support your overall wellness.
Check out our list of the 11 best resveratrol supplements. All the products are made according to strict safety standards using bioavailable trans-resveratrol.