The weight management market has gotten a major makeover in the last decade. Consumers looking to lose weight are increasingly shifting away from fast-fix fad diets and fat-burn pills and instead adopting a wellness-focused approach to shedding stubborn pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.
“More and more, people are connecting their weight to how they feel and how they function,” reports Vaughn DuBow, Global Director of Marketing, Microbiome Solutions, ADM. “With that, we’re seeing consumers shift towards a weight wellness approach that encourages adopting positive nutrition and exercise habits to help maintain a healthy weight and support their overall well-being. The weight wellness movement is encouraging these consumers to concentrate on obtaining a healthy weight that enables them to live at their happiest and highest activity levels, rather than focus on appearance. Many consumers also continue to focus their wellness goals on the long-term, recognizing that weight management is a key component in taking a proactive approach to healthy aging.”
That doesn’t mean consumers have given up on using supplements as a helping hand in pursuit of their goals. In fact, the category is booming. The analytic firm Research and Markets reports that the global weight loss supplement market is expected to reach $55.41 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 12.83%.
Natural supplements that can serve double-duty—both optimizing overall health and offering metabolism support or appetite control—are driving this increased demand. “It’s about helping the consumer to do more by delivering products that can also help them to manage their blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and lipid metabolism so that they know they are making a difference in the long run,” maintains Rob Brewster, President, Ingredients by Nature. “We’re making an effort on our end to deliver products that improve multiple aspects of health around weight.”
This is especially true now that research has proven that there are often many physiological factors behind weight gain—and supplements can help address these underlying factors. “Science is just now unveiling physiological differences and individual variations in how people process energy in the form of calories, appetite control, or how one metabolizes fat, therefore illuminating the fact that managing weight involves more than just simple willpower,” explains Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, Ph.D. Candidate, Senior Director of Research & Development, Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation. “Consumers who embark on their weight management journey will look to identify their reasons for weight gain; from there, they can choose their food, workout, and supplement regimen accordingly.”
Stress and age-related hormone fluctuations are two contributing factors to weight gain that may be able to be managed with some nutrition interventions like adaptogens, advises Sugarek-MacDonald. “Supplements like ashwagandha or magnesium may help individuals manage stress and improve sleep, indirectly supporting weight loss efforts.”
Another promising new frontier in weight management is addressing imbalances in the microbiome. “The relationship between our microbiome and BMI, food cravings, mental fortitude, and discipline are intricately related. Indeed, the term adiposity index is associated with select ratios of certain bacteria within our GI tract,” says Chris D. Meletis, N.D., Director of Clinical Education, Trace Minerals. “When we, the human organism, eat, we not only fuel our 40 trillion cells, but we are also feeding well over 100 trillion microbes that make up our microbiome. Research has demonstrated that as the microbiome shifts, so does susceptibility to risks of various health conditions, including metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes.” Growing awareness of the microbiome’s influence on metabolism has more consumers seeking out prebiotics and probiotics as part of their weight-loss regimen.
Of course, there is no “one size fits all” approach to weight loss, so it can take some trial and error for consumers to figure the best fit for them.“There are many ways to tackle weight management and what will work successfully for one individual may not for another. Gender plays a role in weight gain and loss, as does age and genetics,” muses Rajat Shah, Co-Founder, Nutriventia. “Personalization of supplementation for weight control may be growing larger on the horizon.”
To ensure that you’re meeting the needs of all your customers, it’s important to stock a wide range of products that address the varied root causes of weight gain. “Individuals are seeking products that fit the concept of ‘made for me’ and are tailored and personalized to their individual needs and concerns,” explains Sugarek-MacDonald. “When stocking weight management supplements, it is crucial for retailers to prioritize high-quality products with evidence-based ingredients. Additionally, staying informed about the latest research and consumer trends in the weight-management industry will help retailers make informed stocking decisions and better meet the needs of their customers.”
Clean label and transparency continue to be a priority, Sugarek-MacDonald adds. “Consumers are increasingly looking for weight-management supplements that contain natural and clean ingredients. They are concerned about artificial additives, fillers, colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Consumers are also looking for clear and transparent labeling, including information on the source of ingredients, manufacturing processes, and third-party testing for quality and purity.”
Natural health retailers with a well-stocked weight-management aisle are in a sweet spot to be a supportive and compassionate resource for customers on their weight-loss journey. “Weight gain happens to everyone, often for reasons, like hormonal shifts, outside of their control,” says Max Willis, Chief Innovation & Science Officer, Better Being Co. “As we’re aiming to do with an upcoming launch, it’s important that marketing around weight loss and weight loss supplements be empowering and not alienating/shaming or exaggerated and unrealistic. Marketing should always be approachable and honest; it should revolve around acknowledging the challenge many face and offering supplements as a supportive, not miracle, step on the path to find and maintain a healthy weight. But more importantly, it should promote these supplements as a part of one’s journey to be their healthiest—not skinniest—self.”
Weighing the Ozempic Effect
Over the past year, the popularity of prescription weight loss medication such as Ozempic and Wegovy has soared. A recent KFF Health Tracking Poll found that seven in 10 adults say they’ve heard a little about this new class of drugs, and 45% of adults say they would be interested in taking a safe and effective weight loss drug.
This widespread interest and demand for prescription weight loss drugs has had both direct and indirect impacts on the weight loss supplement market, asserts Sugarek-MacDonald. “Presently, with the use of data from SPINS, the weight management category is in a major decline. Year over last, the weight management category is down 11% based on dollars, and for unit movement, 13.5%. While this decline may be influenced by a number of factors, not just competition, it stands to reason that it may be heavily influenced by the sudden popularity of these drugs among the masses.”
However, the backlash against these drugs is already starting. A study published in JAMA found these drugs were linked to an increased risk of adverse gastrointestinal events such as bowel obstruction, pancreatitis, and gastroparesis. What’s more, the drugs are expensive, often inaccessible, and carry a risk of additional side effects.
As the pendulum swings back in favor of supplements, retailers should be ready to talk to customers about the advantages of natural. “Supplements are generally more accessible to a wider range of consumers, as they don’t require a prescription and can be purchased over the counter,” notes Sarah Sullivan, Head of Customer Marketing, OmniActive Health Technologies. “Supplements can also offer a more sustainable approach to long-term weight management. They can be part of a lifestyle change that consumers can maintain even after discontinuing prescription medications.”
Supplements can also complement prescription medication use or other weight-loss strategies, points out Sugarek-MacDonald. “For example, supplements like dietary fiber, probiotics, and certain herbal extract such as garcinia cambogia can support digestive health and overall well-being, which may benefit individuals taking weight loss medications or those who do not want to take these types of products at all, instead focusing on diet and physical activity.” Consumers should always consult with their health care provider before starting a new supplement or diet plan.
Ingredients That Support Weight Loss Success
These science-backed ingredients can boost metabolism, curb hunger, balance hormones, regulate blood sugar, and more.
Apple Cider Vinegar: “Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries because of its many health benefits, including healthy bacteria for gut health, weight management, healthy blood sugar levels, and heart health,” notes Dr. Meletis. He says Trace Mineral offers this superfood in two convenient delivery formats: Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies and Apple Cider Vinegar Paks, which provide 1,000 mg of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother delivered in an orange flavor.
Ashwagandha: This adaptogen has been shown to improve the body’s resilience to stress and help to optimize hormone balance. “Ashwagandha is the number-one anti-stress adaptogen, which is particularly useful for customers who are stress eaters,” asserts Shah, noting that one ingredient option is Nutiventia’s branded ashwagandha root extract Prolanza. “Longer-term supplementation with Prolanza has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Previous research has demonstrated that high cortisol levels can induce weight gain.”
Berberine: This time-tested herb has been safely used for thousands of years for a variety of benefits. It is currently generating major buzz, as Julia Craven, VP of Education for Enzymedica, tells WholeFoods Magazine. The herb has been trending on TikTok and other social media channels, major mainstream media outlets are reporting on its benefits, and Google searches are spiking as consumers want to learn more. Berberine shows up often on WholeFoods What’s Selling lists, where independent natural products retailers share their best-selling supplements. But with all the buzz surrounding berberine, Craven stresses that it’s important to sort out where the science stands, and separate out the hype.
The good news: Berberine is backed by a lot of science support. Craven shared the modern science of how berberine supports overall metabolic and microbiome health in the webinar Berberine: The Master Metabolism Herb, available to view on demand. Enzymedica offers Berberine Phytosome, which boosts bioabsorption by 9.6 times compared to standard raw extracts, according to the company. This allows for a smaller, easy-to-swallow capsule.
Blood orange extract: An extract of Sicilian Moro orange, branded as Morosil, has been clinically studied for weight loss and proven to support weight control along with overall body composition and a healthy hip and waist circumference, Willis shares. “After meticulously reviewing all available research with our Science Advisory Board, we feel very strongly about the efficacy and safety of this product, which is why we’ve included it in two supplements in our upcoming doctor-formulated line.”
Caffeine: “Consumers seek products that deliver natural, sustained energy without the dreaded crash,” according to Shah. “For consumers seeking to achieve a healthy weight, this new definition of ‘healthy energy’ is much more attractive than the previous iteration of weight loss supplements.”
Shah points to Nutriventia’s CaffXtend as a smart option for sustained energy to help consumers power through workouts and other to-dos. “CaffXtend was designed to lead the next-generation caffeine ingredients for natural, sustained energy. It delivers 100% caffeine in a natural matrix and provides 12 hours of enduring physical and mental energy, without the caffeine crash, in a single dose. This is a great supplement for those beginning to work out for the first time, or after years of a sedentary lifestyle, to enjoy energy that they may not otherwise have.”
Caralluma Fimbriata: Slimaluma, a standardized extract of this cactus-like plant, has been clinically shown to support weight management, increase satiety, and reduce stress, according to McNamara.
Chili pepper extract: Capsaicinoids, the natural compounds that give chili peppers their signature fiery heat, can stoke the body’s metabolic fires, says Sullivan. An ingredient branded as Capsimax offers a concentrated dose of natural capsaicinoids and has been shown in clinical studies to support thermogenesis, increase metabolism, and promote fat oxidation.
Chlorophyll: “Ensuring that one is getting their phytonutrients from veggies and fruits is vitally important. I am a big fan of green and red drinks that backfill deficits in our dietary intake. The research also points to how phytonutrients help support a healthy microbiome,” notes Dr. Meletis. He recommends supplementing with chlorophyll (available in both drops and gummies from Trace Mineral) to bridge any nutrition gaps from foods. “Ionic Chlorophyll provides the therapeutic properties of chlorophyll plus a concentrated complex of full spectrum ionic trace minerals. Together, they help support healthy cells, detoxification, weight management, digestion, immunity, and body mineral balance.”
Fenugreek extract: Branded as Trigogen, Gencor offers a novel fenugreek seed extract that has been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy blood sugar response.
Garcinia cambogia: This tropical fruit from Southeast Asia contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is believed to block fat storage. “It’s known for potentially reducing cravings and fatty acid production,” says Sugarek-MacDonald. Super Citrimax, a branded extract of this exotic fruit, is the star ingredient in Bluebonnet’s Skinny Garcinia Weight Management Formula.
Gynostemma pentaphyllum: This herb contains phytonutrients that can switch on an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Often called the master metabolic regular, AMPK activates fat-burning and energy-producing processes during exercise, notes McNamara. “Gencor’s branded G. pentaphyllum extract ActivAMP has been clinically shown to ‘switch on’ the same fat-burning and energy-producing metabolic processes that exercise does and can support metabolic health, weight management, and reduce body fat.”
Lemon flavonoids: The flavonoid eriocitrin, the primary ingredient in Ingredient By Nature’s eriomin, is able to support healthy blood glucose function by addressing insulin sensitivity, generate potent antioxidant activity to balance a rise in reactive oxygen species, and inhibit cytokine production to help manage the inflammation response within a healthy range, says Brewster. “Eriomin recently received its third published human clinical trial demonstrating the blend’s ability to support healthy blood glucose levels and naturally increase glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) up to 22%. GLP-1 belongs to a family of hormones called incretins because they enhance insulin secretion due to factors derived from the gut. This hormone is released in response to food and can reduce appetite and the release of insulin.”
Prebiotic fiber: “Prebiotic fiber is increasingly in focus for weight management and digestive health support. Our research finds that prebiotic fiber is the number one ingredient consumers want to add to their diets to help support digestion, weight management and provide satiety,” says DuBow. He adds that ADM’s proprietary fiber, Fibersol, has been shown to promote the growth of gut microbes that are positively associated with health. “Fibersol has also shown to help minimize blood sugar spikes after meals in individuals with normal blood sugar levels. And studies have shown that 10 grams of Fibersol with a meal may stimulate the production of satiety hormones that are associated with delayed post-meal hunger in healthy adults.”
Probiotics: Certain beneficial bacteria strains have been shown to support metabolic health, says DuBow. He points to ADM’s spore-forming probiotic, DE111, as one possible option to support weight management. In a recent study, female athletes who consumed DE111 in post-workout recovery beverages showed decreased body fat percentage compared to the control group4. The study also showed an increased rectus femoris thickness, which suggests an increase in lean muscle mass, compared to the baseline. “We have recently launched a new Active Lifestyle blend that incorporates ES1 (Bifidobacterium longum CECT 7347), BPL4 (Lactobacillus casei CECT 9104) and BPL15 (Lactobacillus rhamnosus CECT 8361), which has been shown to support certain biomarkers related to post-exercise oxidative stress,” adds DuBow. “This clinical research demonstrates the blend’s potential to support aspects of exercise and recovery.”
Salacia chinensis: This Ayurvedic herb (branded as Metavive from OmniActive) has been clinically shown to support healthy glucose and insulin levels.
3 Keys to Growing Weight Management Supplement Sales
Marketing weight management supplements requires a careful touch to avoid making customers feel stigmatized or triggered. “Weight wellness can involve a variety of factors that may affect physical and emotional well-being, and many consumers are seeking tailored solutions to meet their specific concerns,” notes DuBow. “In fact, nearly half of consumers believe that every individual is unique and requires a customized approach to their diet.” Here, insiders share three savvy ways to capture the attention of new customers starting their weight loss journey.
1) Lean into education. Weight loss science has advanced, and helping customers understand the nuances of the physiological causes of weight gain can make supplements feel like a more vital part of their diet and exercise plan. “One idea is to host an in-store event with a registered dietitian who can speak to an overall approach to improved weight management, including a proper diet, exercise, and dietary supplements that support their goals,” suggests McNamara. She also advises using print and social channels to highlight new products and recent published clinical data on ingredients that have been shown to support weight loss.
2) Foster community support. Accountability and emotional support is often an important part of a successful weight loss plan, so why not make your store part of your customers’ journey in a fun way like creating a club to track weight and fitness goals, Shah recommends. That might mean hosting weekly meetups for community members to offer support to each other or setting up a Biggest Loser-type contest with prizes along the way. “People enjoy the bonding that comes with shared experience,” explains Shah. “Encourage sharing social media posts about weight-loss journeys, and challenges along the way. For some, plateaus, which are normal, are frustrating and many give up. Here is where the supportive hive mind will help keep them on track.”
3) Stock up on health indulgences. When starting out on a diet and exercise plan, consumers are looking for products that are easy to incorporate into their wellness routine. It can help to have a wide range of protein bars, drink mix-ins, and gummies that are easy to take on the go.
“Consumers are seeking not only more convenient functional dosage formats, but they’re looking for guilt-free indulgence that can help them obtain their fitness and weight wellness goals,” says DuBow. “Emerging and trending formats in this space are delivering on calls for great taste and can help promote healthy weight. These include low-sugar gummies, stick packs, clusters, and even beverages with positive sensory attributes.” WF
“Weight wellness can involve a variety of factors that may affect physical and emotional well-being. Consumers are seeking tailored solutions to meet their specific concerns.”
–Vaugn DuBow, ADM