DMAE — formally known as Deanol — was the most active ingredient in Deaner, a prescription drug marketed to treat children's learning and behavioral problems. The drug was in circulation for 20 years before it was discontinued in 1983 due to a lack of evidence about its effectiveness.
Meaning the foundations of DMAE are already pretty shaky. Despite that, the ingredient has now been linked with helping in weight loss, with some popular weight loss supplements including the ingredient in their marketing campaigns.
In this article I’ll be diving deep into the science behind DMAE to figure out if there’s any proof behind its benefits.
Is it truly effective for weight loss? Let’s find out
What is DMAE?
DMAE is an abbreviation for dimethylaminoethanol, a compound that the human body generates naturally. One that has a proven impact on improving mood, enhancing memory functions and bettering overall brain health.
Most recently though, the compound has been linked with helping in weight loss by some fat burners — when combined with other ingredients. Some of the claims regarding DMAE are that it helps boost athletic performance in the gym and that it gives consumers a well needed energy boost.
This energy boost allows individuals to expend more energy in the gym and improve the productivity of their workouts.
But does science support these claims? From what I’ve found after reading up the available scientific literature on the compound, DMAE doesn’t offer any real or direct benefits to weight loss. It may, however, boost the production of choline which in turn helps with weight loss.
DMAE and Weight Loss — Is there a connection?
Most of the studies I’ve found focus more on DMAE’s proficiency in boosting choline. Choline is a known precursor to acetylcholine and a compound that’s proven to aid in weight loss. The perfect example is a 1979 study conducted on the efficacy of deanol. The study concludes that when administered to rats in vivo, DMAE significantly increased the concentration of choline in the plasma and brain.
On the other hand, choline’s impact on weight loss can be completely summed up in a 2016 study. The study gathered 3216 participants who were monitored regularly for their total calorie intake and physical activity level. The study concluded that after administration of choline, all of the participants noted a marked decrease in total body fat percentage.
Thus, there is a little bit of evidence that supports DMAE’s impact on indirectly helping with weight loss. But I still don’t consider it to be substantial enough that you start adding the compound in large doses to your diet.
Does it Boost Energy Levels?
The claim that DMAE boosts energy levels is directly tied to its supposed role in boosting the production of acetylcholine. An essential neurotransmitter that regulates many important functions in the brain including muscle contractions and boosting the motor neurons that deal directly with energy production.
Acetylcholine may be an extremely important neurotransmitter in itself, but the claim that DMAE can directly boost its production is not entirely correct. Primarily because the only studies that back DMAE’s impact in increasing acetylcholine have been conducted on animals and not humans. Plus, even those studies can’t provide conclusive proof that DMAE boosts acetylcholine production.
Does it Improve Athletic Performance?
A popular claim weight loss supplements make about DMAE is that it boosts athletic performance. Strangely enough though, I could not find any scientific research or study that proves this claim.
Yes, there is anecdotal evidence that supports the claim. This evidence could’ve come from the positive reviews these popular supplements have accumulated. However, that’s still not a convincing argument.
Why is DMAE Associated with Weight Loss?
There’s some confusion surrounding DMAE’s supposed proficiency in weight loss. Yes. It does aid in the production of choline which in turn helps with weight loss, but both of them are not the same compound.
To explain it further, DMAE is a close structural analog of choline. A compound that unlike DMAE has well documented studies backing its effects on weight loss.
Moreover, the dominant theory is that DMAE is a precursor to acetylcholine. However, as I mentioned above, all the studies that indicate that DMAE increases its production were conducted on rats. While choline has long been proven as a bonafide precursor to acetylcholine through human trials. Which effectively proves that DMAE is just not as effective in helping with weight loss as choline is.
Potential Side Effects
Overall, DMAE is quite harmless when it comes to inducing side effects. Some common side effects you might experience though include an upset stomach, drowsiness and a strong body odor. These side effects only make themselves apparent if you consume high doses of the compound.
Other Proven Benefits of DMAE
While DMAE’s weight loss benefits are rather inconclusive, it does provide some other proven benefits for its users.
Repairs Sagging Skin and Reduces Wrinkles
A 2005 study discovered that a facial gel with 3% DMAE was more beneficial in reducing fine lines than one that didn’t have the compound.
Plus, the study also found that the gel containing DMAE improved lip shape and fullness, even in aging skin. Thus, it's safe to say that DMAE has plenty of dermatological benefits.
Enhances Cognitive Function and Focus
There is some evidence that supports DMAE’s impact in improving cognition and focus. A 2003 study offers conclusive proof in this respect.
In the study, 80 participants were shown seven 5 minute film excerpts of varying emotional contents to evoke various emotional responses. During these showings their brain’s electrical reactions were analyzed and stored.
The process was repeated after 6 weeks of daily supplementation of DMAE. Researchers found that after the 3 month period, participants experienced a marked increase in vigilance, attention and cognition.
To conclude, DMAE is not even close to being a complete weight loss solution. There are a few studies that show its impact in boosting choline production which in turn could boost your energy levels and reduce fat. However, none of these studies provide a direct connection between DMAE and weight loss.
Thus, until I can confirm its efficacy from in-depth human focused studies, I don’t recommend that you include this ingredient in your diet in the hopes of getting slimmer.