Niacin and Fat Loss

Niacin
Niacin

A while back I wrote a post describing how I lowered my cholesterol without having to use statins.  The most important step I took was to start using a wax matrix niacin supplement.  This single step was largely responsible for bringing my cholesterol to a healthy range.

But I’ve recently run across some information that has caused me to make some slight adjustments in the way I take niacin.  Let’s talk about niacin and fat loss.

Niacin causes a temporary “flush” (tingling, reddening of the skin, and a hot sensation) within a few minutes of ingestion.  For this reason, many unscrupulous supplement companies put niacin in “fat burners.”  The user will assume the flushing sensation is fat/calories burning away.  But the opposite is actually happening–I’ll need to explain this in more detail.

The (limited) research indicates a dose of niacin will temporarily prevent the production of ketones and free fatty acids.1  It may simultaneously encourage the oxidation of glucose (since that would be the only available energy source).  The body “rebounds” somewhere within 3-5 hours, producing a surge in growth hormone (and other hormones associated with fat mobilization), free fatty acids, and ketones.

With this in mind, it does not make sense to take niacin in a fasted state (or right before fasted training).  You are essentially preventing the body from producing/using its preferred fuel source (ketones) when blood glucose is low.  But it may be useful to take it a few hours before you train, taking advantage of this “rebound” effect (timing your training to coincide with it).  I’ve also run across  some anecdotal evidence of guys getting good results from taking niacin along with a high carbohydrate meal at the end of the day.

The information I’m sharing pertains to the use of regular (immediate release) niacin.  What about the wax matrix niacin I use to control my cholesterol?  I’m not aware of any research, so I’m assuming there is a similar effect (maybe less drastic) for a more prolonged period (wax matrix niacin is time-released over 6-8 hours).  In other words, I’m assuming fat mobilization will be suppressed at some level for several hours after taking this supplement (possibly followed by the “rebound” effect).

This is where I see intermittent fasting to be particularly useful.   I follow the Renegade Diet, so I just wait until I have a protein shake in the afternoon (which has milk/carbs) before taking my first dose of wax matrix niacin.  My second dose is taken with dinner.  This would also work well with the Eat-Stop-Eat system of a 24-hour fast–just skip niacin during your 24 hour fast, then resume it on non-fasting days.

Reference:

1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983 Aug;57(2):410-4. Growth hormone, cortisol, and glucagon concentrations during plasma free fatty acid depression: different effects of nicotinic acid and an adenosine derivative (BM 11.189).

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