Quercetin is a flavonoid that is present naturally in a wide variety of foods like apple, grapes, nuts, berries, onions, broccoli and black tea.
Research studies indicate the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, cardioprotective, anti-carcinogenic, immune regulatory activity of quercetin along with all these effects it also increases mitochondrial biogenesis (increase in the formation of mitochondria).
Mainly the chemical structure of quercetin (presence and location of -OH group) is responsible for its antioxidant activity .
6 Ways Quercetin Helps In Weight Loss
Quercetin is believed to bring about weight loss in the following ways:
1. Quercetin helps burn calories
A sedentary lifestyle is another contributor to obesity.
The energy expenditure in sedentary individuals is little compared to active individuals.
This leads to a negative energy balance i.e. when the energy intake becomes more than the energy spent.
To maintain this energy balance, it is required to increase the energy expenditure of sedentary individuals which involves switching to an active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, adherence to this active lifestyle was found to be a problem due to many reasons, hectic work life being one of them.
However, there are other ways to expend more energy. Boosting the energy required by our body during rest and during digestion of food is one way.
An animal study that treatment with quercetin exhibited a higher energy expenditure than without it.
What does this mean? Quercetin supplementation was found to increase energy expenditure. This suggests a potential role of quercetin in anti-obesity treatment.
2. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory action
Recent researches have found that obesity is characterized by low-grade inflammation. Therefore, phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory action are being widely investigated for their potential role in anti-obesity treatment.
Quercetin reduced the circulating markers of inflammation in the blood.
It also enhanced the expression of adiponectin which is the principle anti-inflammatory agent produced by fat cells.
What does this mean? As quercetin poses anti-inflammatory activity, there is a possibility that it might be used to treat obesity characterised by inflammation.
3. Quercetin is the best plant-based antioxidant for weight loss
Quercetin has also been found to aid in weight loss.
An animal-based study was conducted to determine the effects of different flavonoids naturally present in foods on energy and lipid metabolism.
Either of these flavonoids- quercetin, hesperetin, epicatechin, apigenin and anthocyanins were fed along with a high-fat diet.
A significant reduction in body weight was observed in all the groups treated with flavonoids as compared to the control that wasn’t fed any flavonoid.
However, off all the flavonoids Quercetin brought about the most reduction in weight.
What does this mean? Of all the flavonoids that were tested Quercetin, was found to be the most effective in bringing about weight loss.
4. Quercetin inhibits the accumulation of fats
Quercetin when taken along with resveratrol, inhibited the maturation of pre-adipocytes into mature adipocytes and caused the death of mature adipocytes (fat cells) by interfering with mechanisms at the cellular level.
It inhibits adipogenesis (Formation of fat cells) by interfering with AMPK and MAPK signaling pathways at the molecular level.
Not only did the combination of Quercetin and Resveratrol inhibit adipogenesis but it also caused a reduction in the fat depots of the body.
It increased the secretion of adipose tissue triglyceride lipase a hormone that brings about the breakdown of triglycerols thereby preventing the accumulation of triglycerols in the adipose tissue.
What does this mean? A combination of Quercetin along with Resveratrol inhibited the formation of mature fat cells, which subsequently resulted in weight loss. Quercetin increases the secretion of the enzyme, triglyceride lipase that breaks down fat, thus aiding in weight loss.
5. Quercetin increases fat burning capacity
It was discovered that consumption of 500 mg of quercetin twice a day increased the VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen that is utilised by an individual) in untrained individuals as a result of an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis.
This enhancement in fitness without exercise training can be used in disease prevention such as obesity.
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, it takes in nutrients and breaks them down to produce energy. Fatty acid oxidation (breakdown of fat to generate energy) occurs in the mitochondria.
Targeting mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation provides a novel strategy to combat obesity.
Therefore, the increase in mitochondria biogenesis may subsequently increase the amount of fatty acid oxidation.
What does this mean? The effects of Quercetin-induced increase in mitochondrial biogenesis are two-fold. One, it increases the VO2 max in untrained individuals, that increases that exercise performance which might in turn help in combating obesity. Second, more mitochondria will lead to more Fatty acid oxidation (break down of fat).
6. It regulates obesity-related genes
High fat diet increases the level of expression of the hepatic gene-cyp2b9.
This gene is involved in lipid metabolism and is present in the liver and white adipose tissue.
The reduction in the weight of the mesenteric fat may be attributed to the reduction in the expression of this gene.
What does this mean? Quercetin, may reduce the expression of cy2b9 gene which might be attributed to the observed reductions in the mesenteric white adipose tissue weight (visceral fat).
The dosage of Quercetin In Weight Loss
A dose of 150 mg of quercetin on healthy individuals was observed to be safe but ineffective.
An experiment conducted on healthy individuals a quercetin supplementation 0f 1,000 mg per day (in the form of two doses 500 mg each) for a trial period of 7 days did not pose any toxic effects and enhanced their athletic performance.
Consult a health practitioner before taking quercetin supplements.
Quercetin intake should be avoided by pregnant and lactating women. People with kidney problems should also avoid its consumption.
Very high doses of quercetin- above 1 g, were found to have adverse effects on kidney functioning. Other side effects of quercetin might include headache and upset stomach.
It’s advisable to take quercetin dosages with periodic breaks. Recent studies suggest a loss of protein function due to a by-product of quercetin.
Can Quercetin really help in weight loss?
However, there have been mixed reviews and conclusions on the effects of quercetin for weight loss and its effect on the expression of certain genes. For instance, another study conducted on exercised rats showed the complete opposite results as listed above.
These inconsistent findings from the studies maybe are due to the difference in the range of fitness of the subjects, differences in research design, different methods in the preparation of quercetin extract, etc.
Certain studies proved quercetin to be effective in weight, others did not. The conflicting results can be attributed to the lack of human-based trials studying the effects of quercetin for weight loss in particular.
However, no toxicity was observed during any study whether animal-based or human-based.
Suggesting the safety of its consumption. Its effectiveness in weight loss is still debatable.