Betaine HCl and Fat Loss

The following research-backed benefits of Betaine HCl may all contribute to weight loss in different ways:

1. Betaine HCl Stimulates Digestion

Betaine HCl is most well-known for its support for digestion. Aside from being essential for protein metabolism, it stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes and signals (via the hormone CCK) the release of bile. Also, low stomach acid is at the root of many digestive problems with varying symptoms, including constipation, gas & bloating, indigestion, and bad breath. Sometimes weight loss is difficult to achieve because the metabolism of fats and other nutrients is impaired. Dosages for digestive support range from 500mg 3x a day to 1500 3x day.

What is less known is that betaine HCl is a fat metabolizer. Not only does it remove excessively accumulated fat in the liver, enhancing liver function and detoxification, but it also reduces body fat (at much higher doses) and supports the building of lean muscle mass.

2. Reduces Body Fat

A 2019 review of 6 independent studies on using Betaine in humans showed that it was significantly effective in reducing total body fat mass and body fat percentage and could be utilized to normalize body composition.

The dosage used in the trials ranged from 2500mg to 3300mg daily. The most successful studies included exercise in the program.

Effect of Betaine on Reducing Body Fat—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Xiang Gao, Huijun Zhang, and Duo Li, Nutrients, Oct. 2019;11(10):2480

It is also suggested that Betaine could inhibit new white fat production and favor the manufacturing of brown fat. It protects against obesity induced by a high-fat diet and prevents fat accumulation in the muscles.

Du al., Betaine Supplementation Enhances Lipid Metabolism and Improves Insulin Resistance in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet, Nutrients. 2018 Jan 26;10(2).

3. Muscle Gain 

While reducing body fat, Betaine was not found to reduce muscle but rather to increase muscle mass simultaneously, which is most likely why the subjects did not lose weight, only fat. The weight of the increased muscle compensates for the loss of the fat. It is thought that “betaine may also increase muscle mass by reducing homocysteine thiolactone, a toxic metabolite of excess homocysteine.” The study was done with betaine supplementation and exercise.

Effects of Betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone, Jason M Cholewa, Monika Wyszczelska-Rokiel, and Vincent Paolone, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2013;10:39

4. Fatty Liver – NAFLD – Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Betaine is also good support for fat accumulation in the liver. This often accompanies gallbladder problems but is even more prevalent in someone who has had their gallbladder removed. Betaine has shown the ability to break down and remove these fats.

MF Abdelmalek, SO Sanderson, P Angulo et al., Betaine for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Results of a randomized placebo‐controlled trial, Hepatology, December, 2009, Vol 50, Issue 6, 1818-1826

5. Liver Detoxification

Betaine reduces oxidative stress and increases glutathione. This serves to enhance liver detoxification as does the methylation activity of Betaine. Without optimal detoxification, many of the normal bodily processes can be impaired.

Role of Betaine in liver injury induced by the exposure to ionizing radiation, SM Shedid, N Abdel‐Magied, et. al, Environmental Toxicology, 2019, 34:2, 123-130 

6. Supports Methylation

Betaine is a methyl donor, which basically means it assists in the process of methylation, a detoxification pathway in the body. However, one study claims that Betaine goes beyond this function with its ability to help in the methylation defect, as it states Betaine was found to actually ‘alleviate defects in the methylation pathway caused by deficiencies or impaired function of the folate cycle and vitamin B12.”

Betaine, metabolic by‐product or vital methylating agent? Barak AJ, Tuma DJ., Life Sci 1983; 32: 771–774.

7. Reducing Inflammation

Betaine supplementation reduced both triglycerides and markers of inflammation (cytokines). It is postulated that “these effects could result from down-regulation of cytokine production and/or increased clearance of cytokines.” Inflammation results from fat accumulation, and excess fat cells also contribute to inflammation. Reducing inflammation is essential to any long-term weight-loss goal.

Effects of L-carnitine on serum triglyceride and cytokine levels in rat models of cachexia and septic shock, BK Winter, G Fiskum & LL Gallo, British Journal of Cancer volume 72, pages1173–1179(1995)

Zhao G., He F., Wu C., Li P., Li N., Deng J., Zhu G., Ren W., Peng Y. Betaine in inflammation: Mechanistic aspects and applications. Front. Immunol. 2018;9:1070–1082.

8. Insulin Resistance

Supplementation with Betaine has been shown to limit high-fat-diet-induced obesity and to improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are high-risk factors with excess weight. This is also a catch-22; excess weight can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol, weight gain around the waist, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance).

Du al., Betaine Supplementation Enhances Lipid Metabolism and Improves Insulin Resistance in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet, Nutrients. 2018 Jan 26;10(2).

9. Increases Energy

Betaine has been found to increase energy within the mitochondria of cells. It is difficult to include regular exercise in a daily routine without sufficient energy to do so. Also, increasing energy within the mitochondria is equal to increasing metabolism.

Zhang L., Qi Y., ALuo Z., Liu S., Zhang Z., Zhou L. Betaine increases mitochondrial content and improves hepatic lipid metabolism. Food Funct. 2019;10:216–223.

“Current studies reported that the intake of betaine decreases body fat and is beneficial for the treatment of fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome.”

10. Reduces Muscle Aches & Pains

A study found that horses fed diets supplemented with Betaine had reduced lactic acid waste following exercise. This may help with muscle fatigue following vigorous exercise and reduce the associated aches and pains. Dosages recommended are 1500-2000mg.

Effect of dietary Betaine on nutrient utilization and partitioning in the young growing feed-restricted pig, I Fernández-Fígares, D Wray-Cahen… – Journal of animal, 2002 –