Inositol for weight loss

Inositol for Weight Loss and Enhancing Metabolic Health

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Weight Loss Leave a Comment

Inositol improves insulin sensitivity by enabling the body to utilize blood glucose (blood sugar) more effectively, which is one of the critical mechanisms in how it aids in weight loss. Although often overlooked, inositol is a pseudovitamin (not technically a vitamin but a compound beneficial for nutrient intake) that plays a significant role in managing metabolic health and hormonal balance, making it a valuable ally in weight loss. 

Ways inositol could help maintain a healthy body weight:

  • May improve the body's use of carbohydrates and fats
  • Promotes insulin sensitivity and healthy insulin levels
  • Aids in maintaining blood sugar 
  • Supports cellular health and cell signaling
  • May help with mood regulation, which is in some cases linked to caloric intake
  • Supports ovarian function and hormones, which could influence appetite and metabolism
  • Supports thyroid function, which is a primary hormone influencing metabolism
  • May help manage appetite and reduce cravings and overeating, making it easier to maintain a caloric deficit that's necessary for fat loss
  • May contribute to fat metabolism and adiponectin production, which promotes fat loss and an enhanced metabolism

Unlike some treatments that aggressively target hormone-related symptoms, inositol has a “gentle” approach and works harmoniously with your body's natural processes to support overall health. Not only can it potentially assist you in losing weight — including during perimenopause or menopause — but it could offer fertility benefits and the ability to lift your mood and reduce inflammation.

Incorporating inositol into your regimen, whether through diet or dietary supplements, can be a step towards restoring balance and harmony within your body.

This article delves into the science behind weight loss with inositol and explains how this compound can be beneficial for those with hormone-related conditions, including PCOS, thyroid disorders, and perimenopause.

Inositol for Weight Loss: Understanding the Basics

The main way in which inositol promotes weight loss is by improving the body's use of fats and carbohydrates. It helps break down fats in the liver, preventing fat accumulation, which can lead to weight gain. When combined with a healthy diet, it's been found to promote greater weight and fat loss.

Inositol promotes insulin sensitivity and affects carbohydrate metabolism and mood regulation. In fact, research suggests that it works as well as metformin, a commonly used drug for treating insulin resistance.

It can also help manage your appetite and reduce cravings and overeating, making it easier to maintain a caloric deficit necessary for fat loss.

Insulin Resistance

Think of inositol as a key facilitator of communication between your cells, ensuring that messages within your body are delivered efficiently and effectively. When you eat, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin to escort glucose out of your blood and into your cells to be used for energy.

Insulin resistance occurs when your cells do not respond efficiently to insulin, making them unable to bring glucose in for energy. The result is elevated blood sugar.

What is Inositol?

Inositol, sometimes referred to as vitamin B8 (though not officially classified as a vitamin), is a naturally occurring carbohydrate (or polyalcohol sugar molecule) found in our bodies and in various foods.

There are nine types of inositol in existence, but two are most commonly used in supplements: Myo-inositol (MI, which is also the most abundant form of inositol in the human body) and D-chiro inositol (DCI).

Where does inositol come from? 

This valuable compound is found in a variety of foods, including fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and organ meats.While we obtain inositol from our diets, the human body is also adept at producing inositol on its own, primarily from glucose in the kidneys.

Food sources of inositol

How Inositol Works to Support Fat Loss and Hormones

Inositol has several mechanisms of action, including those that help to reduce body weight and keep hormones — such as stress, sex, and appetite hormones — balanced. Below are some of the benefits of inositol for weight loss works.

May Promote Fat Metabolism

Inositol encourages the breakdown of fats and may aid in reducing fat accumulation in the liver and other parts of the body.

In one study looking at the effects of myoinositol on those with gestational diabetes, it was found to be effective at raising adiponectin and decreasing insulin resistance. Adiponectin is a hormone that contributes to insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism.

Potentially Enhances Insulin Sensitivity

According to one meta-analysis, inositol supplementation can decrease body mass indexes (BMI) among people with obesity. This study reviewed several randomized control trials and found that 2 grams twice daily of myo-inositol was the best form and dosage for weight loss.

Additionally, weight loss was most pronounced for those who were overweight, obese, or diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

One of the primary ways inositol aids in weight loss is by improving insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a common issue in conditions like PCOS (which affects up to one in ten women in the U.S. of childbearing age) and can lead to weight gain.

Inositol works to optimize insulin signaling, thereby helping in the regulation of blood sugar levels and reducing the likelihood of insulin-related weight gain.

Takeaway: 2 grams daily of myo-inositol may aid in maintaining a healthy body composition when used along with diet and lifestyle changes.

Supports Cellular Health

Inositol is part of the structural basis for a variety of secondary messengers in our cells. This means it's involved in numerous cellular functions, from gene expression to cell growth, making it a cornerstone of overall cellular, metabolic, and reproductive health.

For example, inositol helps facilitate signals from hormones such as insulin and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the exterior to the interior of cells, helping to improve the responsiveness of cells.Another example is how myo-inositol plays a significant role in the signaling pathways of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), stimulating the growth of eggs in the ovaries, kickstarting the menstrual cycle and triggering ovulation.

Myoinositol Plus

May Help With Mood Regulation

Serotonin, often dubbed the “feel-good” hormone, is made in part by inositol. Considering that serotonin helps you to feel calm and content, adequate levels of inositol can support mood stabilization and may be beneficial in managing conditions like depression, OCD, panic attacks, and anxiety.

If you've ever felt more hungry during your period or noticed significant sugar cravings, that can be the result of serotonin levels dipping. By supporting healthy serotonin production, inositol may indirectly help reduce cravings.

One study also found that inositol has sleep-enhancing effects. Among pregnant women, myo-inositol supplementation improved both sleep quality and sleep duration. Inositol is safe to use in pregnancy, which is why you will find it in many prenatal supplements, including our Prenatal Plus.

Supports Fertility and Hormonal Balance (Including for PCOS)

For women, especially those grappling with PCOS, inositol could aid in regulating menstrual cycles and improve ovarian function.  Lowering insulin can be beneficial for enhancing egg health and possibly increasing the chance of ovulation, making it a beacon of hope for those struggling with fertility issues.

Findings from one study found that among lean women with PCOS, inositol reduced circulating insulin, decreased serum androgens, and decreased metabolic abnormalities, including increased blood pressure and high blood sugar.

Properly balanced hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones can help indirectly support weight loss efforts. Maintaining a healthy weight can further support fertility, as obesity (which can occur with PCOS) is linked to a decline in reproductive health.

While not directly related to weight loss, aside from women with PCOS, inositol may help those undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), although more research is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness. Studies have found that when women undergo IVF and have higher MI levels, they experience improvements in pregnancy outcomes due to increased egg quality, enhanced ovulation, and an increased number of retrievable eggs and embryos.

May Help Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can hinder weight loss as it's linked with hormonal dysregulation, such as increased cortisol levels. Inositol has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in creating a healthier metabolic environment conducive to weight loss.

In addition, when inflammation is elevated, the cells become more resistant to hormonal signals, including insulin.

What Conditions Can Inositol Help Manage?

Inositol has been shown to help as part of a complete treatment plan in the following conditions:

According to research studies, our bodies require more inositol as we age, and our needs increase even more following antibiotic use, high sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, sodium deficiency, or following the development of insulin resistance and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Due to its ability to promote insulin sensitivity, fat loss, and a calm mindset, inositol is especially beneficial for women with the following conditions:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Perimenopause

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Women with PCOS often struggle with insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances, leading to weight gain as well as irregular ovulation. Inositol's ability to improve insulin sensitivity and balance androgens makes it particularly effective for weight loss in PCOS.

Related: How to lose weight with PCOS

Metabolic Syndrome

Myo-inositol is considered to be an effective insulin-sensitizing substance in the approach to metabolic syndrome, which includes a cluster of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid health is closely linked to metabolic rate and weight management. Inositol can support overall thyroid function, thereby aiding in weight loss for individuals with thyroid-related weight issues.

Perimenopause

The hormonal changes that take place during perimenopause, especially a decline in estrogen, can often lead to weight gain and contribute to insulin resistance. Inositol's hormone-balancing effects, coupled with its ability to support blood sugar balance and manage inflammation, can be beneficial during the menopause transition, aiding in overall metabolic health and weight management.

How to Use Inositol to Lose Weight and Maintain Hormonal Balance

While you can obtain some inositol naturally from foods like fruits, whole grains, and nuts, you likely won't be able to eat enough to have significant effects on your weight or fertility. This is where inositol supplements come in handy — such as my formula called Myoinositol Plus — as they help to boost your intake enough to potentially make a difference in your hormones and cellular health.

How Much Inositol to Take

The amount of inositol you should take depends on the reason you're taking it, such as for fertility support, weight loss, thyroid help, or mood enhancement. The most common dose of inositol for weight loss is 1,000-2,000 mg per day.

The typical recommendation for inositol supplementation for PCOS or fertility ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 mg of MI plus 50-100 mcg of DCI each day.

For help with general well-being, weight management, and sleep, I suggest a dose of about 2,000 mg a day, which is known to be well-tolerated and generally effective.

UseHow Much Inositol
Weight Loss1,000 mg twice daily
PCOS2,000-4,000 mg daily
Sleep1,000 mg once to twice daily
Thyroid Support2,000 mg daily

Note that these dosages are carefully calibrated to mirror the natural ratio of inositol found in your body (your body makes much more MI than DCI, with a ratio of our 40:1 MI to DCI). Particularly with d-chiro-inositol, more isn't always better, so stick to a dosage of about 50 to 100 mg/day, the amount that has been shown to be supportive.

Most often, inositol is divided into two daily doses, taken with breakfast and dinner. You can take inositol every day, and you should, as it works best when taken consistently.

Need help choosing an inositol product? My Myoinositol Plus supplement is expertly formulated to include myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in their ideal ratio, plus it's enhanced with additional components that promote healthy blood sugar levels and hormonal balance, including vitamin B6, vitamin D, chromium, and zinc. Additionally, it features specially selected herbs aimed at balancing hormones and is free from unnecessary fillers and binders.

Remember, it's always wise to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you're managing other health conditions and/or trying to get pregnant.

Foods to Boost Your Intake

In addition to supplementing with inositol for weight loss or hormone support, incorporating inositol-rich foods into your diet can be beneficial for complementing your overall nutritional plan. Foods that provide inositol include:

  • Citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole wheat products
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Organ meats

Realistic Expectations for Inositol Weight Loss

Now that you understand how the inositol fat loss connection works, and how it can aid in weight management, let's talk about what to expect when you add more inositol to your routine.

While inositol can be a helpful tool for weight loss, it's important to have realistic expectations. It is not a magic pill but a supplement that can support weight loss efforts, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

Incorporating inositol into a weight loss plan involves more than just supplementation. It should be part of a holistic approach that includes consistent lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, sleep support, and stress management. For help starting and sticking to a healthy diet, check out my Hormone Balancing Meal Plan.

Side Effects of Inositol

In terms of its safety, inositol is generally considered safe with minimal side effects. The most common complaint is gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, cramping, and sometimes diarrhea. These tend to be mild side effects that are easily mitigated by taking inositol in divided dosages. 

It's always wise to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, particularly for those with medical conditions or those taking medications.

Key Takeaways on Inositol for Weight Loss

Inositol can be a valuable supplement for weight loss, especially for those dealing with PCOS, thyroid issues, or perimenopause, which can all lead to weight gain. It has the ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels, which are crucial factors in managing weight, and aids in balancing key hormones that influence metabolism, appetite, and fat storage.

By improving hormonal balance and metabolic functions, inositol can help address issues like cravings and overeating, contributing to a healthier weight management process. For the best results, use inositol for weight loss as part of a broader approach that includes diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle modifications.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.