The Melatonin Weight Loss Connection: Does It Help Burn Fat?

The Melatonin Weight Loss Connection: Does It Help Burn Fat?

Melatonin has been promoted for everything from mood enhancement to sleep and digestive aids. It has also been thought to be a thermogenic substance that burns fat and sheds pounds. This article examines the evidence to find if there is a melatonin weight loss connection.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a substance produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates many body processes but is most well known for keeping the circadian rhythm in check.

As we are exposed to light and darkness this internal clock controls tells us when to get tired and when to wake up.

Benefits of Melatonin

  • Melatonin is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Increased levels have been associated with improvements in sleep, blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune function [R, R, R, R].

Is There a Melatonin Weight Loss Connection?

Melatonin may also contribute to weight loss and muscle growth [R, R].

Melatonin Weight Loss

Melatonin helps to facilitate the production of the thermogenic substance brown fat. Unlike normal fat that gets stored in the body, brown fat produces heat that will give the body energy to burn.

So the more brown fat you have the more energy you will burn. As a result weight loss will occur [R, R].

A small study found those with melatonin deficiency and no pineal gland had increased levels of brown fat after taking 3 mg of melatonin daily for three months. Bodyweight was also slightly reduced [R].

Weight loss was prevalent among 81 postmenopausal women with poor sleep when using melatonin. Taking 5 mg for 16 weeks reduced BMI and body weight in both overweight and obese women [R, R].

Melatonin Muscle Growth

Melatonin may protect and improve muscle mass.

An increase in human growth hormone (HGH) has been seen with melatonin supplementation. This compound can improve muscle mass and strength [R, R].

A small study of men taking melatonin had an increase in HGH when taking between 0.1 and 0.5 mg of melatonin [R, R].

Lean body mass increased among postmenopausal women taking either 1 or 3 mg of melatonin for one year [R].

Melatonin May Protect Muscles

Increases in creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatinine after exercise indicate muscle damage. The antioxidant property of melatonin may protect muscles.

Resistance trained athletes given 100 mg of melatonin for 4 weeks had reduced markers of muscle damage when compared with a placebo. Exercise-induced oxidative damage was also prevented with melatonin supplementation [R].

Melatonin Weight Loss Dosage Recommendations

There is no best melatonin dose for weight loss. Doses range from 0.5 to 5 mg. It is best to start with as low a dose as possible to see how it affects you.

Risks and Contraindications of Melatonin

Short-term use of melatonin is safe in some people but it is not without adverse reactions. When choosing a melatonin supplement it is best to look for one with quality ingredients that are tested by a third party like UL, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

There are some things to consider before taking this supplement.

Side Effect of Melatonin Weight Loss Supplements

Side effects have been seen with melatonin short-term use. These include the following [R]:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness

Contraindications of Melatonin Weight Loss Supplements

Melatonin use should be avoided in pregnancy and during breastfeeding. It also can interfere with several medications including but not limited to the following [R, R]:

  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Birth control drugs
  • Diabetic medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Sedatives
  • Verapamil
  • Flumazenil
  • Fluvoxamine

When used with caffeine melatonin’s effects are weakened.

Food Sources of Melatonin

Diet plays a large role in weight loss. If you are looking to increase melatonin levels naturally you can add the following foods to your diet [R]:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Black rice
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Soybeans
  • Nuts
  • Mushrooms

Final Thoughts on the Melatonin Weight Loss Connection

When it comes to melatonin weight loss there is some evidence for its ability to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle. Melatonin is an essential compound needed for optimal health. Those with deficiencies may benefit from supplementation depending on their health status. There is still a lot we don’t know about melatonin and its long term effects. It is best to talk to a healthcare provider to know if melatonin is right for you.


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