If health news is on your radar, you’ve probably heard of Ozempic — the extremely popular type 2 diabetes drug that’s now used for weight loss. According to the media, it’s a true wonder-drug.
However, what’s often swept under the rug is the potential for severe side effects and complications that have been linked to Ozempic and similar weight loss drugs. These include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, an increased risk of thyroid tumor development, and even suicidal ideation.
While these medications have been helpful for many, others may prefer more natural options, or those with a better safety and side effect profile. On that note, we recommend psyllium husk, a fiber supplement that can help you safely, gradually, and effectively lose weight.
Here’s what you need to know about psyllium husk and weight loss.
What is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium husk is a dietary fiber supplement made from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, which is native to India.
It’s a rich source of soluble fiber, so in the presence of water it swells to form a gel.
Psyllium husk supplements are often taken to help support healthy digestion and to lower LDL cholesterol to reduce risk of heart disease, but they also have a number of benefits for people who may be trying to lose weight.
Weight Loss Benefits of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk has many potential health benefits that could help promote weight loss when paired with lifestyle changes, such as exercise and reducing calorie consumption.
In fact, several studies have shown that psyllium husk may help with the management of metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms such as high blood pressure and waist circumference, which is often seen in people with an obese body mass index (BMI) (1).
Additionally, one animal study done in 2022 showed that psyllium husk fiber could also help prevent further fat accumulation in obese mice. More human studies are needed, but these results are promising (2).
Here are some of the specific effects of psyllium husk that may help with weight management.
Psyllium husk can help you feel more full, which could lead to a decrease in calorie intake and, eventually, weight loss.
Because of its soluble fiber content, it swells and forms a gel in the stomach and bowels, which reduces hunger (3).
For weight loss, it’s most helpful if taken directly after a meal to help you feel more satisfied.
Psyllium may also possess anti-inflammatory effects (4).
Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity and many obesity-related chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease (5).
Including psyllium as part of an overall anti-inflammatory diet pattern and lifestyle may be helpful to improve your overall health and cellular function.
Blood Glucose Control
Finally, psyllium husk may help to improve blood glucose levels.
Many types of fiber, including psyllium husk, are also considered prebiotics — or food sources for the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine (6).
While our bodies can’t directly digest these fibers, our gut microbes can. In doing so, they produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) (7).
SCFAs have a number of positive effects on health, including helping the body to manage and balance blood sugar levels (7).
In many people who are overweight, insulin resistance is also a problem. Insulin is a key hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and high levels of insulin — such as those seen in insulin resistance — also trigger the body to store sugar as body fat.
Strategies that help to improve blood glucose control may help to restore insulin sensitivity, preventing fat storage and improving overall metabolic health (8).
How to Use Psyllium Husk
So, what’s the best way to use psyllium husk supplements for weight loss? Here are some things to consider.
Dosage and Frequency
For weight loss, it’s best to take psyllium with or immediately after a meal.
Generally, it’s a good idea to start with a low dose of roughly one teaspoon per serving, mixed into an eight to ten ounce glass of water.
However, you may be able to increase this gradually to two teaspoons per serving, three times daily.
For reference, most psyllium husk powder supplements contain about three grams of fiber per teaspoon.
Potential Side Effects
If you’re not currently eating a lot of fiber, taking too much psyllium husk per day can lead to significant digestive issues such as gas, bloating, excessive bowel movements, and constipation.
It’s important to start very gradually if your body isn’t used to a high fiber diet. You may want to start with just one teaspoon once daily, then gradually increase your dose and frequency over several weeks.
Purchasing Psyllium Husk Supplements
There are several different psyllium husk supplements available, but they’re not all created equal.
Most people prefer powdered psyllium husk supplements, which can be easily mixed into a beverage. Psyllium is also available in capsules, but you’d have to take several capsules to get the same amount of fiber as a serving of the powder provides.
You can also purchase plain psyllium husk granules, or flavored mixes (such as Metamucil). It may be easier to take one that’s flavored, but the plain ones are less expensive.
Finally, look for supplements that are manufactured by reputable brands or that have undergone third-party quality testing. Here’s just such a popular brand.
Is psyllium husk good for losing belly fat?
When paired with healthy lifestyle changes, psyllium husk may help promote weight loss. However, you can’t specifically target belly fat without surgery. Natural weight loss will lead to gradual fat losses in all areas of excess fat, including the belly.
How much weight can you lose by taking psyllium husk?
How much weight you can lose varies depending on your lifestyle, diet, genetics, sleep, stress levels, and how much weight you need to lose. It’s important to remember that — without lifestyle changes — psyllium husk alone will not cause weight loss.
How many days does it take for psyllium husk to work?
Psyllium husk may start to work immediately, especially with regard to appetite regulation. If you are already taking adequate amounts of fiber before starting psyllium husk supplementation, it may take longer for you to experience noticeable effects.
About the Author
SaVanna is a registered dietitian and freelance writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. Her professional interests include whole food diets and holistic nutrition, and she’s written for many high profile media outlets and brands. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and weightlifting in her free time. Read more about SaVanna.