Spirulina for weight loss?
Spirulina for weight loss?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has established itself in the market as a popular "superfood" that claims to have a number of beneficial properties for the body.

While most algal properties are greatly exaggerated, science confirms or suggests that it can actually contribute to health through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well as its positive effect on the lipid profile.

Animal studies have demonstrated a positive effect on lowering cholesterol and fatty tissue. So far, several human studies have suggested that seaweed can help lower fat. Unfortunately, the results only apply to overweight people, and the change in weight is relatively small.
Previous studies are of a lower rank and have low evidential value. In 2018, however, a large study was conducted to monitor the effect of spirulina on fat burning.

What is being explored?

A randomized, randomized, double-blind, controlled, double-blind study of 52, 27 of which overweight and 25 overweight. All subjects are men.

The main purpose of the tests is to monitor how the administration of Spirulina maxima affects body composition and cardiac activity in combination with or without exercise.
Two groups are formed. One is with training included and the other without. The two groups are subdivided into subgroups, one subgroup taking 4.5 grams of spirulina per day and the other one placebo.

The 12-week dosing period is divided into two parts for 6 weeks, alternating with two parts for a 6-week clearance period. The tests are carried out by an independent research company and the participants receive the daily dose of spirulina in a laboratory and under control.

During the study, each participant in the two training sub-classes performs 30-minute strength training and 30-minute cardio workout. She trains 5 days a week.

The study should identify the changes in:
  • Blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides)
  • Oxidative stress
  • Heart-resistance
  • The composition of the body
Subsequently, the authors exclude the first two results and concentrate on changes in the body and cardiovascular function.

What is it established?

The exercise and non-spiraling group demonstrated a weight loss of about 1 kg, while the control group demonstrated a weight loss of 0.3 kg.
The two subgroups that receive spirulina show significantly better results. The group with spirulina and training shows a weight loss of about 1.5 kg and the group with spirulina only about 2 kg.

In general, all three groups (workouts, spirulina) show positive results, with only the control group being different. A positive effect was seen in both overweight and overweight men.

Again, the three groups, without the control, marked a significant improvement in oxygen consumption. Changes in cardiac rhythm and accumulation of lactic acid in the blood are insignificant in the individual groups. It is interesting to note that only the two groups with spirulina demonstrate an enhanced reduction in time to fatigue in cardiac activity.

What do the results mean?

This is the first study that suggests that spirulina has an effect on body composition and cardiovascular endurance, and an additive like spirulina can provide benefits if exercise is combined with exercise.

The authors have done their best to control several variables, such as having a nutritionist and fitness coaches to help participants maintain a diet and exercise protocols, respectively. In the presence of these factors, the overall improvements due to spirulina are found to be quite small.

Generally, it is considered normal to lose weight in the order of 0.5-1 kg per week with only a few basic changes in daily activity and diet. The study suggests that spirulina has helped to remove about 1kg more over a 12-week period of intake, but it does not provide clarity about the long-term effects of algae.

Most importantly, the study confirms that taking 4.5 g of spirulina per day can help improve cardiovascular activity and accelerate fat burning. More importantly, tests show that algae itself cannot be used as a means of combating obesity and that improvements are statistically low. Scientists themselves confirm that spirulina can only be a complement to a well-established nutrition and training regime.

In sports, spirulina significantly increases VO2max, which is associated with an increase in oxygen consumption and increased aerobic endurance. A similar effect may also have health benefits due to the relationship between VO2max and higher mortality.

The study in question has strengths and weaknesses.

The strengths are:
  • Completed design of the study
  • A controlled intake of the substance
  • Monitoring by specialists
  • Detailed tests

Weaknesses are:

  • Lack of analysis of bioactive compounds in spirulina
  • Homogeneity of subjects (lack of healthy individuals, athletes, adults, and women)

The big picture

Most old studies of spirulina are on animals. Animal tests are the first to establish the relationship between spirulina and fat cells, as well as the strong antioxidant properties of algae. A systematic review even suggests that spirulina can be used as a therapeutic additive for metabolic syndrome.

Preliminary human studies also establish a link between spirulina and weight loss. Two 3-month studies confirm the results. One is tested with high cholesterol, and the other with high blood pressure. While the doses used are small, it can be assumed that spirulina may actually have a positive effect on changes in body composition.

While preliminary studies of spirulina indicate suppression of fat cell development, hypertension, and appetite as well as strong antioxidant activity, other intervention studies to date have demonstrated a decrease in body weight and cardiovascular benefits similar to those in the study.

All this reveals the infallibility of research in this area and the lack of information. Future studies aimed at the optimal dose and duration of spirulina intake, along with the clinical relevance of the resulting changes, are needed.
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