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Does Niacin Burn Fat? (4 Things You Need to Know)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 19, 2022

In many years of working as a personal trainer, I have taken many supplements to sustain my health and to keep my body composition on point.

One of the supplements I've taken is niacin, primarily to successfully improve my metabolism.

I usually recommend adding niacin to weight loss plans for my clients who want to reduce body fat faster and have more energy.

To be able to explain in more detail how this vitamin works to burn fat, I spent two weeks researching the topic and consulted a dietician to go through the scientific literature.

Quick Summary

  • The B vitamin niacin, or vitamin B3, may aid in fat burning because it helps boost metabolism, improve blood circulation, and lower fat levels in the blood.
  • However, taking niacin in high doses can pose adverse effects such as flushing, itching, and causing blood uric acid and glucose levels to rise.
  • Niacin can be effective at helping people reduce body weight when combined with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and a fat burner supplement.

Is Taking Niacin Supplements Good for Reducing Body Fat?

A person holding a black tumbler in a gym

Taking niacin can be good for reducing fat because it can help increase physical activity and lower calorie consumption.

Research suggests that niacin can boost metabolism, allowing you to burn calories from your diet and get the energy you need to fuel your workout and daily activities [1].

It has also been shown that supplementation can help improve blood flow and hormone levels [2] [3].

By improving blood flow, you can tap into your body's fat stores for energy, while having balanced hormones can enhance your mood, curb your appetite, and reduce your calorie intake.

How Does It Affect Fat Burning?

A buff male lifting a dumbbell

Niacin affects fat burning by increasing the level of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD, which plays a vital role in lipid metabolism [4].

NAD plays a crucial role in the function of mitochondria, the part of the cell where energy is produced.

It generally helps regulate energy metabolism and aids in DNA repair, which is vital to normal body processes, including lipolysis or the breakdown of fat [5].

Niacin can further affect fat burning by improving circulation throughout the body.

A study done on mice showed that increasing blood flow in brown fat requires more energy and burns more calories.

Researchers suggest that tapping into brown fat may also help reduce the amount of white fat in the body, a surplus of which leads to obesity [6].

Another way that this vitamin can promote faster weight loss and fat loss is by stimulating the production of “happy” hormones in the blood.

According to research, niacin stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin [7]. These hormones play an essential role in promoting feelings of well-being which can result in appetite control and less calorie consumption.

Does It Have Other Health Benefits?

Niacin supplementation has other health benefits, such as elevating good cholesterol (HDL) levels and lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.

Due to its ability to increase HDL and decrease blood and liver fat, niacin may be effective in managing diabetes, improving insulin sensitivity, and lowering the risks of heart diseases [8].

"Niacin clearly increases HDL cholesterol and reduces triglycerides in individuals with type 2 diabetes."

- Dr. Gloria Vega, Professor of Clinical Nutrition

However, people need to take high doses of niacin to treat high cholesterol levels in the blood, which may cause certain adverse reactions.

Can Niacin Intake Cause Negative Side Effects?

A woman in a gym drinking

Niacin intake can cause negative side effects like flushing, pruritus, and higher levels of blood uric acid and plasma glucose, which it has in common with other B vitamins.

When taken at higher doses, it can cause “niacin flush”, or extreme redness of the skin.

This is due to vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels, which increases blood flow throughout the body.

It can also cause temporary skin itching that is not harmful to health [9].

Furthermore, studies have shown that taking a niacin dosage of more than 1000 mg can result in glucose intolerance, hepatic insulin resistance, and liver disease [10] [11].

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FAQs

How Long Before a Workout Should I Take Niacin?

You should take niacin 15 to 30 minutes before your workout because your body absorbs nicotinic acid quickly once ingested, resulting in optimal niacin blood levels [12].

This causes your blood vessels to widen, increasing blood flow in your body and providing you with an extra "pump" during strenuous workouts.

Can I Take Niacin on an Empty Stomach?

You can take niacin on an empty stomach, but this increases your chances of experiencing side effects such as stomach upset.

Increasing dietary niacin intake or taking extended-release niacin with a meal or snack can help you avoid temporary adverse effects.

Is Niacin Treatment Effective for Weight Loss?

Treatment with niacin can be effective for weight loss because it aids metabolic processes such as energy production, fat metabolism, and appetite suppression.

However, taking enough to facilitate weight loss may cause adverse effects.

This is why I usually advise my clients who want to lose weight to add natural fat burners to a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Over the years, we’ve learned that the products we tested can naturally increase metabolism, reduce hunger, and help stop carbs from being absorbed.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26828517/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325829
  3. https://www.livescience.com/51825-niacin-benefits.html
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25308486/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1096719208001935
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301120046.htm
  7. https://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.neuropsych.12090212
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/niacin/art-20046208
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2779993/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4211901/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069761/
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/niacin

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