Does spirulina aid with weight loss?

Posted by Jesse van der Velde on

Imagine how wonderful it would be if there was a magic pill that could help you to lose weight quickly and demonstrably, regardless of your diet or exercise regime. Unfortunately, this type of miracle weight loss cure simply doesn’t exist and, despite the promises of countless weight loss supplements, you’ll never shift those excess pounds by continuing to follow the same unhealthy lifestyle. However, there are some powerful superfoods that, when harnessed correctly, can positively support your weight loss program – spirulina powder is one such fat-busting super green.

Does spirulina aid with weight loss?

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green freshwater alga that’s suitable for human consumption. The alga (also known by its scientific name of ‘cyanobacteria’) can be divided into two different species - Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima - both of which are cultivated around the world for the manufacture of superfood supplements. Spirulina is commonly available for purchase in tablet or powder form.

One of spirulina’s most important attributes, is that it’s extremely rich in protein. In fact, dried spirulina powder comprises between 51 and 71% complete proteins that contain every essential amino acid. And, although spirulina powder typically contains less methionine, cysteine, and lysine than animal protein products, these amino acids are present in significantly higher ratios than other vegetable proteins. Spirulina powder is also exceptionally rich in B vitamins (thiamine and riboflavin) and minerals, such as iron and manganese. Spirulina powder additionally contains a small amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including gamma-linolenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, stearidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid.

And spirulina boasts the highest chlorophyll concentration of all foods and superfoods on our planet. Chlorophyll is the pigment that lends spirulina its trademark green colour and is renowned for its natural cleansing properties. Chlorophyll gives your bowels a thoroughly clean sweep and simultaneously helps to ensure that the harmful effects of free radicals and toxic carcinogenic substances (which are formed in your intestines and liver when you eat red meat for example) are limited. Indeed, a nine year Dutch cohort study (Balder et al., 2006[1]) on 120,852 participants aged between 55 and 69, revealed that those consuming large quantities of red meat and very little chlorophyll were at an increased risk of colon cancer. As it’s rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to regulate your body’s acid-alkaline balance, chlorophyll also helps to turn your blood alkaline. A healthy diet should preferably consist of 80% alkaline and 20% acidic foods, as your organs, tissue and bodily processes all function better in a slightly alkaline body (Schwalfenberg, 2012[2]). Spirulina powder is thus an ideal superfood for those endeavouring to restore and maintain a healthy acid-alkaline balance.

Lastly, spirulina powder contains phycocyanin - a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Animal tests have concluded that the phycocyanin in spirulina strengthens the immune system, promotes the manufacture and repair of bone marrow cells, may help to prevent cancer, has a detoxifying and blood sugar regulating effect, and also acts as an erythropoietin (EPO) within the body (e.g. Gonzalez et al., 1999[3]). Although further research in humans is still required, spirulina does appear to boast many health-promoting qualities.

Can spirulina aid with weight loss?

Thanks to its superior protein content, spirulina powder rapidly ensures that you feel fuller for longer, and are thus less likely to over indulge or snack between meals. Indeed, high protein diets are renowned for their satiating nature and can be extremely effective in promoting weight loss. The main advantage of spirulina over other protein-rich food sources (such as meat, chicken or eggs), is that the protein in spirulina is highly soluble in water. This means that it can be absorbed much more readily by your body, and often within just a few minutes of consumption. Take spirulina powder around 15 to 30 minutes prior to a meal, and you’ll instantly feel less hungry and eat significantly less as a result. The timing of your intake is critical to success, because if you take spirulina immediately prior to eating, then its effect will be minimal, and if you take it directly after, you risk being sick from feeling 'too full'.

Spirulina powder is not only incredibly filling; it also delivers additional energy. This allows you to exercise more and improve your training and workout results, in turn enabling you to burn more fat. Spirulina is actually a supreme, long-lasting source of energy that, unlike coffee (which provides only a short term boost of energy), has no adverse effects.

That spirulina helps with weight loss has also been scientifically proven. In a double-blind cross-over study, two groups of overweight participants were given either 2.8 grams of spirulina or a placebo, three times a day for four weeks. After four weeks, those who were administered spirulina lost significantly more weight than the control group, which was given the placebo (Becker et al., 1986[4]).

How can I take spirulina powder for optimal weight loss results?

Spirulina is certainly no ‘panacea’ and won’t help you to lose weight in isolation. A healthy and varied diet, coupled with plenty of regular exercise is essential to any successful weight loss program. As you’ve just learnt, however, spirulina powder has been scientifically proven to aid with weight loss and is therefore a sensible addition to your weight loss regime.

Spirulina possesses a mildly fishy flavour, which can take some getting used to! Stirring spirulina powder into your favourite green smoothie or shake will make it infinitely more palatable. For optimal results, take 4 grams of spirulina powder, once or twice daily. If you have a specific weight loss target in mind, you may increase this dosage after consultation with your doctor or naturopath. Always choose for a premium quality product, such as Superfoodies organic spirulina powder, which is certified organic and guaranteed contaminant free. 

References

[1] Balder, Helena F., et al. "Heme and chlorophyll intake and risk of colorectal cancer in the Netherlands cohort study." Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 15.4 (2006): 717-725.

[2] Schwalfenberg, Gerry K. "The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?" Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012 (2011).

[3] Gonzalez, Ricardo, et al. "Anti-inflammatory activity of phycocyanin extract in acetic acid-induced colitis in rats." Pharmacological research 39.1 (1999): 55-59.

[4] Becker, E. W., et al. "Clinical and biochemical evaluations of the alga Spirulina with regard to its application in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind cross-over study." Nutrition Reports International 33.4 (1986): 565-574.


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