The Institute of Medicine officially recognized choline as an essential nutrient in 1998. Since then a lot of research has shown its importance in regulating metabolism and health in general. It is also a key ingredient in a number of popular fat burners. So, the question that I'd like to tackle today is whether increasing the consumption of this nutrient can help you lose weight.
Let’s analyze the science behind choline’s function in our body and its potential correlation with weight loss.
What is choline?
Before we discuss the impact of choline on body weight, we have to establish what it actually is.
To summarize, choline is a water-soluble essential ingredient that doesn’t quite fit into the pre-established categories of vitamins or minerals. Though, due to its role in regulating vital bodily functions, I’ve seen it get grouped with B vitamins.
Our bodies can make a small amount of choline in our liver, but most of it has to come from external food sources.
What Does It Do?
Choline is involved in a number of key functions. For example, choline and its derivatives are required for the creation of blood and cell membranes. It is also a key component in the production of acetylcholine; a neurotransmitter that affects major cognitive functions like memory, motivation, and attention.
That said, what I’m interested in the most is choline’s role in the metabolism of lipids, aka fat. I also found animal research that establishes a direct correlation between preventing cholesterol and fat buildup in the liver and choline.
Does choline help with weight loss?
It’s time for the big question, does choline have anything to do with body weight? After a lot of digging, I came across two pieces of literature that answer this question with certainty.
First is a 2014 study on the impact of choline on 22 female athletes. During the one-week test period, these athletes were given choline tablets daily. Once this supplementation was complete, most test subjects displayed a reduction in their body mass.
Since this study involved athletes, it also established how choline supplementation can rapidly reduce body weight without having any negative effect on body strength. This is valuable information for anyone looking to lose weight with resistance and weight training.
That said, while this study did show a positive correlation between choline and weight loss, it had a fairly narrow scope.
This is where the second study from 2016 comes into play.
For starters, this study had 3214 participants with controlled ages, sex, total calorie intake, and physical activity level. The body composition of these subjects was also measured before and after choline supplementation with a process called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry for maximum accuracy.
So, what are the results?
Unsurprisingly, most of the participants had reduced total body fat percentage. In other words, choline supplementation helped them shed excess fat from their bodies.
How much choline do you need?
Given its role in a lot of other vital bodily functions, the choline levels in your system should be within the normal range. Not to mention its correlation with weight loss that I just established above.
So, how much choline should you consume daily without any issues? Well, it depends on your age:
Potential side effects
Too much of anything is bad, and the same goes for choline. Consuming large amounts of choline (more than 20g) can lead to issues like dizziness, very low blood pressure, depression, and problems with your heart rhythm.
Best sources of choline
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to take medication or supplements to keep up with your recommended daily choline intake. I discovered that there are a lot of food items that contain a fair amount of this nutrient. These include:
With a little bit of cooking creativity, you can include these as ingredients in your daily meals.
Considering all the evidence, it’s safe for me to say that choline consumption can have a positive impact on your weight loss efforts. More importantly, it reduces weight and body fat percentage without negatively affecting body strength, which is a huge plus for athletes and resistance trainers.
Even still, I’d recommend against the use of any choline supplements or medication without the advice of your doctor. Especially since you can get plenty of this essential nutrient from popular food items like beef, chicken, and eggs.