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We’ve all been there: We enter January optimistically with a list of intentions and aspirations, but by February, many of those lofty goals become a distant memory. This year, do it differently: Elevate your ambitions for 2021 with supplements to help support your goals and boost your resolve.
Goal 1: Exercise More
If getting back on your exercise plan after the holidays sounds daunting, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may help with that. BCAAs include three essential amino acids – leucine, valine and isoleucine – that may help fuel your muscles, promote endurance and reduce fatigue. It’s thought they work in part by influencing brain chemicals that play a role in the development of exercise-related fatigue, thereby enhancing stamina. In some studies, BCAAs reduced muscle damage, lessened soreness after exercise and accelerated recovery. And other studies suggest they may help promote lean muscle mass, reduce body fat and support weight loss and maintenance. Consult your doctor before taking if you are pregnant or on any medications.
Try: NOW Sports BCAA Big 6, $50, nowfoods.com
Goal 2: Reduce Stress
Chill out, calm down and boost mood with rhodiola. Rhodiola rosea is a flowering succulent plant that grows in mountainous regions. The root of rhodiola is classified in herbal medicine as an adaptogen – meaning it is thought to work with the body’s own systems to ease stress and restore balance. It’s rich in compounds that may influence cortisol, the primary stress hormone, and, in a number of studies, rhodiola effectively prevented chronic stress and lowered stress-related fatigue. It may also have powerful mood-boosting benefits: In one study, rhodiola appeared to reduce anxiety, stress, anger, confusion and depression; in another trial, people with mild to moderate depression showed significant improvements in depression, emotional instability and insomnia.
Try: Gaia Herbs Rhodiola Rosea, $30, gaiaherbs.com
Goal 3: Lose Weight
Shedding pounds just might be easier with green tea extract. It’s rich in compounds that have been linked to helping boost fat burning, increase metabolism and support weight maintenance, and it may also help counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that can happen during weight loss. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may enhance the effects of certain fat-burning hormones in the body. Research suggests EGCG may have the potential to improve fat burning. And, in some studies, green tea extract appears to increase resting energy expenditure independent of exercise – meaning you might burn more calories even when you’re not working out. One note: some recent research suggests very high amounts of EGCG may cause liver damage,so stick to products that provide less than 800 milligrams per day to be safe.
Try: Solgar SFP Green Tea Leaf Extract, $17, solgar.com
Goal 4: Eat Less Sugar
According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, an herb can help you kick that sugar habit to the curb. Gymnema sylvestre– known as gurmar in Hindi, which means “sugar destroying” – contains a compound called gymnemic acid that’s structurally similar to sugar molecules. When it’s taken as a tablet, lozenge or other form that dissolves in the mouth, gymnema temporarily fills taste receptors that sense sweetness, diminishing the drive for sugar. Studies report gymnema effectively reduced both desire and consumption of high-sugar foods in subjects; in one study, people who took a gymnema-containing lozenge had a 44% reduction in candy intake. Other studies suggest gymnema may also help decrease body weight, increase insulin production, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce risk of diabetes.
Try: Sugarbreak Resist, $12, sugarbreak.com