I have been receiving many questions about using acai berry as a tool for weight loss. Apparently, Oprah had a show on the Acai Diet where acai was mentioned as a supplement that could be used for weight loss. I have also seen many more acai supplements being marketed for weight loss claiming amazing decreases in fat. They make that classic claim…pop a pill and the weight will just fall off. So the question on everybody’s mind is “Is there any validity to this claim?
What is Acai?
Acai, pronounced Ah-sigh-ee, is a berry fruit that is found in Brazil and eaten for its health promoting qualities. Acai is, in fact, a fruit that is very high in antioxidants called proanthocyanidins which are believed to protect the body from inflammation, cancer, heart disease and even diabetes. There certainly is science to support the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of this Brazilian fruit (J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 24;56(18):8326-33). But will an Acai Diet promote fat loss? Is there any proof of this?
No, I am afraid not. Being a pharmacist who specializes in nutritional supplementation I am always looking for natural solutions that are supported by science. In fact, I would say that I am heavily biased in favor of nutrition and nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, with the acai diet the best we can do is hypothesize. We can say two things about acai with some certainty:
- Acai is a good antioxidant
- Acai is a good anti-inflammatory
We can also say that inflammation worsens insulin resistance and thus acai may help with weight loss by decreasing inflammation. Is it proven though? Absolutely not. It is important to note, however, that acai is traditionally blended with guarana. Guarana, being a good source of caffeine, could increase metabolism a bit. Even with a small dose of guarana in many supplements, expectations of weight loss are still a long shot.
Each area of the world seems to have a fruit that is reveled for its benefits to longevity and vitality. In the Himalayas it is the goji fruit. In Hawaii and Tahiti it is the noni fruit. In the United States it is the blueberry. All of these fruits make great whole food antioxidants and contain thousands of healthy compounds from antioxidants to amino acids to healthy fats. The likelihood, however, that they will result in significant fat loss is very small. So, at this time I cannot recommend the acai diet for weight loss, however, if you want to use acai for general health and vitality then I say “go for it!”
If you have used acai for weight loss please leave your comments in our blog! We would love to hear your experience, good or bad. If more research comes out suggesting that acai can be beneficial for fat loss, I will revisit the subject and post a blog.