Whether it’s inflammation, allergies, or improving blood pressure, there’s a pretty long list of benefits to taking quercetin.

Most people haven’t heard about quercetin before, but it’s actually one of the most commonly consumed nutrients—well, antioxidants—in the diet and boasts an impressive list of duties to go with it.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: weight loss.

There are no concrete links where quercetin and weight loss are concerned, but there’s a whole lot of potential.

If you’re tired of investing your time and money into weight loss supplements that don’t work or cause unpleasant side effects, there’s a new kid in town that you may want to get familiar with.

This article is all about quercetin and weight loss—what is it, what it does, and how you can use quercetin to support weight loss.

What Is Quercetin?

Quercetin is a pigment that belongs to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. They’re present in all sorts of foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, red wine, and certain types of tea 1.

It’s been shown to be an effective free-radical scavenger that inhibits lipoprotein oxidation and prevents progression of atherosclerosis, but also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant activity 2, which can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions.

Quercetin’s Role In The Body

The main beneficial effect that quercetin offers, along with all flavonoids, comes from its ability to act as an antioxidant.

The human body produces free radicals as natural by-products of metabolism; when you’re digesting, breathing, or exercising, they are created.

And while this is totally normal and happens to everyone, the body is generally equipped to handle it. It has a natural antioxidant defense system that takes care of neutralizing free radicals to prevent damage.

However, based on factors like diet and environmental pollutants, this system can become overburdened and malfunction, which means increasing un-neutralized free radicals contribute to high oxidative stress levels.

And high levels of oxidative stress are a risk factor for chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease 3.

But aside from being a powerful antioxidant, why take quercetin?

1. Inflammation

Free radicals do more than just damage cells. When in excess, they actually induce inflammation, which can present itself in a variety of ways—autoimmune conditions, aches and pains, poor immunity, and more.

Studies show that quercetin supplementation may help to attenuate inflammation by reducing inflammatory markers in human cells, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (turnover) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) 4, 5.

Another study looked at women with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, taking 500mg of quercetin daily for eight weeks 6. Results showed supplementation significantly reduced morning stiffness, morning pain, after-activity pain, and reduced markers of inflammation.

2. Allergies

Struggle with seasonal allergies? You can say goodbye to Benadryl. Quercetin combined with vitamin C is one of the most potent natural anti-histamines you can get.

Research finds that quercetin may have anti-allergy properties that stimulate the immune system, inhibit histamine release, decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines, reduce leukotriene production, suppresses interleukin IL-4, and inhibits mast cell secretion 7-9.

3. Cognitive Health

Need a brain booster? Quercetin could be it. Because of its antioxidant and inflammatory properties, it may help to protect against degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia 10.

Interestingly, coffee is a beverage that’s been shown to be neuroprotective and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, but it’s not the caffeine that’s to thank for that—it’s quercetin 11.

4. Exercise Performance

Despite relatively mixed reviews, some research suggests that supplementing with quercetin could improve exercise capacity.

One study performed a systematic review of all available literature looking at quercetin and endurance exercise capacity and found that all studies combining VO2max and endurance performance measures indicated a significant effect favoring quercetin over the placebo 12.

However, they concluded that even though quercetin provides a statistically significant benefit to human endurance exercise capacity, the effect is too small to actually be considered as a performance aid.

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

It’s evident that quercetin offers some great benefits for overall health and well-being, but can it actually help with weight loss?

Studies suggest it may.

Polyphenols, of which quercetin is included, have been shown to modulate physiological and molecular pathways involved in energy metabolism, adiposity, and obesity.

And there are a few ways in which it may do this 13-15.

  1. Increase aerobic performance—Exercise is a powerful weight-loss tool, and because of quercetin’s capacity to increase aerobic exercise performance, you can train harder and longer, which means more calories burned and more weight lost.
  2. Decrease adiposity—The way in which quercetin modulates adipose tissue levels is slightly complex, but it may help attenuate adipogenesis and decrease expression of adipogenesis-related factors and enzymes, as well as activate the AMPK signaling pathway; AMPK is like the master metabolic switch of the body. Quercetin may help to target different stages in the adipocytes life cycle that may be beneficial for decreasing adipose tissue volume by inducing apoptosis or inhibiting adipogenesis (fat accumulation), or both.
  3. Regulate blood sugar—Blood sugar imbalances can be a huge impedance on weight loss because insulin is, by nature, a fat-storage hormone. Quercetin is reported to interact with many targets in the small intestine, pancreas, skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, and liver to control full-body glucose homeostasis. The mechanism behind how it does this involves inhibiting intestinal glucose absorption, insulin secretion, and insulin-sensitizing activities, as well as improved glucose utilization in peripheral tissues.

If that’s not enough, here’s an interesting study.

A team of researchers from the University of Georgia found that three potent polyphenols—resveratrol, genistein, and quercetin—work together to decrease fat accumulation in human fat cells.

Individually, they decreased lipid accumulation in fat cells by 17%, 20%, and 17%, respectively, but the combination of all three decreased fat accumulation by a whopping 80% 16.

So, if you want to prevent fat storage in the first place, polyphenols may be a good choice.

The Takeaway Message

Where weight loss is concerned, quercetin has a lot of potential. But is quercetin as good as something like a fat burner?

No. It’s not going to melt away the pounds by revving your metabolism, burning more calories, or stimulating thermogenesis, but what it does do is a bit more behind-the-scenes work to help prevent fat storage and regulate pathways that contribute to weight gain.

However, you still have to be following a healthy diet and exercising regularly for it to work.

No supplement is a miracle worker. It still takes effort on your part, so if you’re putting in that effort, chances are you’ll see some sort of benefit.

References

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  2. M Garelnabi, H Mahini, T Wilson. Quercetin intake with exercise modulates lipoprotein metabolism and reduces atherosclerosis plaque formation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:22.
  3. LA Pham-Huy, H He, C Pham-Huy. Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. Int J Biomed Sci. 2008;4(2):89-96.
  4. CC Chuang, K Martinez, G Xie, et al. Quercetin is equally or more effective than resveratrol in attenuating tumor necrosis factor-{alpha}-mediated inflammation and insulin resistance in primary human adipocytes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(6):1511-1521.
  5. N Leyva-López, EP Gutierrez-Grijalva, DL Ambriz-Perez, JB Heredia. Flavonoids as Cytokine Modulators: A Possible Therapy for Inflammation-Related Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(6):921.
  6. F Javadi, A Ahmadzadeh, S Eghtesadi, et al. The Effect of Quercetin on Inflammatory Factors and Clinical Symptoms in Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Double-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017;36(1):9-15.
  7. J Mlcek, T Jurikova, S Skrovankova, J Sochor. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016;21(5):623.
  8. YB Shaik, ML Castellani, A Perrella, et al. Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006;20(3-4):47-52.
  9. S Chirumbolo. Quercetin as a potential anti-allergic drug: which perspectives? Iran J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011;10(2):139-140.
  10. LG Costa, JM Garrick, PJ Roquè, C Pellacani. Mechanisms of Neuroprotection by Quercetin: Counteracting Oxidative Stress and More. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:2986796.
  11. M Lee, EG McGeer, PL McGeer. Quercetin, not caffeine, is a major neuroprotective component in coffee. Neurobiol Aging. 2016;46:113-123.
  12. J Kressler, M Millard-Stafford, GL Warren. Quercetin and endurance exercise capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published correction appears in Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Mar;44(3):558-9]. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(12):2396-2404.
  13. J Ahn, H Lee, S Kim, J Park, T Ha. The anti-obesity effect of quercetin is mediated by the AMPK and MAPK signaling pathways [published correction appears in Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jan 7;404(1):579]. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008;373(4):545-549.
  14. RA Casuso, EJ Martínez-López, F Hita-Contreras, D Camiletti-Moirón, A Martínez-Amat. Quercetin effects on weight gain and caloric intake in exercised rats. Biol Sport. 2014;31(1):63-67.
  15. HM Eid, PS Haddad. The Antidiabetic Potential of Quercetin: Underlying Mechanisms. Curr Med Chem. 2017;24(4):355-364.
  16. HJ Park, JY Yang, S Ambati, et al. Combined effects of genistein, quercetin, and resveratrol in human and 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Med Food. 2008 Dec;11(4):773-83.