What are Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Weight Loss?

What are Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Weight Loss?

6 min read


11 Jun 2019

Alpha lipoic acid is often marketed as a weight loss supplement. It’s been suggested that the compound helps your body to burn more fat by boosting mitochondrial energy production. It has also been linked with hunger suppression, inflammation reduction, and even anti-ageing benefits. But does it really work?

If you’re trying to lose weight, then you may have considered taking alpha lipoic acid as a supplement. You might be wondering whether it’ll help you burn stubborn body fat and achieve your dream figure. Perhaps you’ve heard about it and just want to know a little more about how it works. Or just want some clarity on whether there’s any evidence to support those compelling alpha lipoic acid weight loss claims.

In this article, we review the health benefits, the science behind it, potential side effects and recommended dosage so you can decide whether it’s worth taking for yourself.


Alpha lipoic acid is a compound with powerful antioxidant properties. It’s produced by the body inside the mitochondria – tiny parts of a cell that convert nutrients into useable energy.

What makes this compound particularly special is that it’s soluble in both water and fat which means it can be absorbed by every type of cell. Most nutrients are only soluble in water or fat but not both so are limited in where they can travel. Alpha lipoic acid (sometimes known as ALA for short) has been linked with a number of health benefits including weight loss.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Health Benefits

Because of its versatile nature, alpha lipoic acid plays a role in a number of different areas of the body. It’s associated with a wide variety of functions and systems with more and more research being conducted on it continually. According to current scientific evidence, alpha lipoic acid benefits include…

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Lowering blood sugar levels
  • Improving nerve function
  • Slowing skin ageing

Reducing Inflammation

Inflammation has been linked to a number of conditions such as cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Research indicates that alpha lipoic acid can reduce inflammation which may, in turn, decrease the risk of related diseases. A review of 11 scientific studies found that ALA decreased markers of inflammation in people who had high levels.

Lowering Blood Sugar

Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. It’s thought that it does this by encouraging processes responsible for fat removal from muscles. Having too much fat accumulation in these cells can make insulin less effective than it would be normally. This makes it a promising area of research for scientists looking into treatments for diabetes.

Improving Nerve Function

Nerves connect every area of the body so it’s crucial to keep them healthy. Studies have found that alpha lipoic acid helps to promote optimal nerve function and can slow the progression of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s even being explored as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and related types of dementia.

Slowing Skin Ageing

ALA may also be beneficial as an anti-ageing treatment. Studies have found that it can fight the early signs of ageing in the skin. Applying creams containing alpha lipoic acid has been shown to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Research also indicates that it protects skin from the sun’s UV rays which speed up the ageing process. It also appears to boost the levels of other beneficial antioxidants like glutathione and vitamin C. However, it seems that it needs to be applied topically rather than digested orally for these types of effects to occur optimally.

How Alpha Lipoic Acid Can Help with Weight Loss and Fat Burning

Alpha lipoic acid weight loss research has uncovered some interesting findings. Much of the hype around the compound is actually due to studies that were conducted on animals. These found that it can inhibit an enzyme called AMPK which is associated with feelings of hunger.

This enzyme also increases the number of calories burned while animals are resting. Although these may be exciting findings, they don’t necessarily translate to humans. Just because a compound acts one way in a rat or mouse, doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect on a person.

Research conducted on humans has shown limited weight loss effects. One review of 12 scientific studies found that taking alpha lipoic acid helps people to lose an extra 1.5lbs (0.69kg) on average over 3 months.

Another large-scale review found that alpha lipoic acid contributed to an average weight loss of 2.8lbs (1.27kg) over 23 weeks. Although it did contribute to decreases in weight, there didn’t appear to be any significant difference in waist circumference. For people who are looking to slim down, there may only be a slight benefit and not one that’s physically noticeable with ALA.

Natural Sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid

If you’re looking to boost your alpha lipoic acid intake, then there are plenty of foods to choose from. They provide natural sources of the compound and can easily be incorporated into a healthy eating plan. You’ll find it in both animal and plant-based foods such as…

  • Red meat, liver, kidneys, etc.
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Rice bran

There are also supplements available that contain a much higher concentration of ALA than foods. Sometimes they have 1000 times more of the compound in them and can provide a more potent boost. However, it’s important to buy any supplements from a reputable source and ensure they’re made from high-quality ingredients.

Effective Dosage for Weight Loss

According to the research, there doesn’t appear to be a fixed alpha lipoic acid weight loss dosage. However, studies have produced results using 1200-1800mg so that may be a reasonable guide to follow. If you’re taking it in supplement form, then there will be dosage instructions on the packet that you should adhere to. But if you have another condition that may be affected by taking ALA (such as diabetes) then it’s important to consult with a medical professional first.

Possible Side Effects

ALA is considered to be safe to take and has minimal downsides when consumed in line with instructions. Some people have experienced alpha lipoic acid side effects such as itching, rashes, or nausea but these are considered mild. Research studies indicate that you can take up to 2400mg without negative health effects, which is more than is required to deliver potential weight loss benefits. It’s not recommended for pregnant women or children.

ALA – Summary

Alpha lipoic acid is a compound with powerful antioxidant properties. It is special because it’s soluble in both water and fat which means it can enter any type of cell in the body. It’s been linked with multiple health benefits including inflammation reduction, blood sugar decreases, nerve function improvement, and skin ageing delays. However, alpha lipoic acid weight loss benefits do not appear to be significant. Although it does have some effect in animals, this doesn’t translate into meaningful weight loss for humans. Natural food sources include red meat, broccoli, and spinach. Although supplements are available, there doesn’t yet seem to be enough scientific evidence to support their use.