Benefits Of Lecithin For Weight Loss

What is lecithin?

Lecithin is a naturally occurring compound found in the human body and is an important component in maintaining cell membrane structure.1 It is produced in the liver and as well as its health benefits it helps in bile breakdown, liver fat removal and fat transport into cells.2 

The word lecithin is derived from the Greek word 'lekithos' which means egg.1 Chemically known as phosphatidylcholine, lecithins are a type of phospholipid consisting of phosphoric acid, glycerol esters, cholines and fatty acids.3 

Lecithin is widely used in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries due to its emulsifying and moisturising properties. Lecithin supplements can be purchased, but can also be found naturally in common foods.

Benefits of lecithin for weight loss

It has been theorised that lecithin, as a fat emulsifier, can assist in fat breakdown and help the body burn off excess body fat, as well as reduce cholesterol levels.4 However, there is limited scientific evidence to support lecithin's effect on weight loss. While lecithin supplements have been shown to provide the health benefit of reduced cholesterol levels, their impact on weight loss remains unclear.4

Choline, for which lecithin is a precursor, has shown potential in reducing body mass. A 2014 study found that female athletes who took choline supplementation for a week before their competition experienced a reduction in body mass.4 However, further studies into choline's impact on weight loss have not been conducted. 

It is important to note that weight loss and losing belly fat is achieved through creating a calorie deficit, which is best done through consistent healthy eating and exercise habits. 

Supplements should not be relied upon as the sole means of weight loss. There are many weight loss supplements available on the market that aid in increasing fat burning, reducing appetite and nutrient absorption.5 These fat loss supplements help to create a calorie deficit, either by increasing the number of calories burned or reducing the number of calories consumed.5 The following supplements have been scientifically proven to aid in weight loss:

  • Garcinia cambogia
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • Caffeine
  • Raspberry ketones
  • Glucomannan
  • Green tea extract
  • Conjugated linoleic acid

Other health benefits of lecithin

Lecithin supplementation has been used to alleviate high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and breastfeeding difficulties.4,6 Although less scientifically proven, lecithin is believed to have other health benefits which include improving brain function, preventing dementia, reducing anxiety and fatigue, alleviating digestive problems, and aiding in liver and gallbladder disease.7,8

One study found that the daily 500 mg consumption of lecithin for two months led to a 42% reduction in total cholesterol levels and a 56% reduction in LDL levels, suggesting its potential use in hypercholesterolemia treatment.9 Daily lecithin supplementation was also found to improve the immune system in diabetic rats by increasing their lymphocyte levels by 92%.9 In addition, non-diabetic rats experienced a 92% increase in macrophage activity.9

Additionally, menopausal women who took a daily dose of 1200mg of lecithin experienced increased energy levels, according to one study.8 Lecithin can also help improve liver function by protecting against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis.10 Lecithin could provide digestive support for Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms as one study found the supplement to reduce bowel inflammation by 50% in patients with ulcerative colitis.7,11

When ingested, lecithin breaks down into choline, an essential nutrient. Choline is used by the body to maintain cell structure, metabolism, nerve transmission and fat transport.12 Choline is crucial for breaking down fat in our bodies for energy.13 It is also used in the synthesis of acetylcholine and membrane phosphatidylcholine.13,14 Choline supplementation is therefore used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease and high cholesterol.2

To summarise, while using lecithin as a weight loss supplement is not backed by scientific evidence its other health benefits and breakdown into choline makes lecithin an important supplement to include in your diet. 

Natural sources of lecithin

Lecithin is a natural component of cells in living organisms, and is therefore easily consumed through food. Some natural sources of lecithin include: 

  • Red meat: beef, pork and lamb are rich in iron, zinc, protein and lecithin
  • Eggs: lecithin can be found in egg yolks, along with other nutrients such as selenium, vitamins B, A, D and E, and choline.10 A single egg yolk contains 25% of the daily recommended amount of choline10
  • Sunflower seeds: sunflower oil can be processed to produce lecithin supplements as an alternative to soy derived lecithin. In addition to lecithin, sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium, folate and vitamin E10
  • Organ meats: livers, kidneys and hearts are good organ meat options to incorporate into your diet and are also high in protein10
  • Wheat germ: in addition to lecithin, wheat germ is high in fibre, iron and protein, and can easily be sprinkled in food to increase its nutritional value10
  • Legumes: soybeans and kidney beans are good sources of lecithin.10 Soya lecithin is the most common supplement available on the market
  • Milk and other dairy products: these are also good sources of lecithin, and are high in calcium and protein 
  • Green vegetables: brussels sprouts and broccoli are examples of green vegetables that contain lecithin10

It is important to have a balanced and varied diet, incorporating a range of food to ensure you get a range of essential nutrients. 

Lecithin can also be bought in various forms such as granules, softgels, pills, capsules and powders.12 Most commercial lecithin is derived from soybeans and is a common emulsifying agent in processed foods.3 Common uses of commercial lecithin include chocolate, chewing gum, margarine and whipped topping.1 Foods that have lecithin as a food additive will not contain large enough quantities for it to be considered a good lecithin source.1

Side effects and other concerns

As a non-essential ingredient, lecithin does not have a daily recommended allowance.4 Although lecithin is generally considered safe, it can cause some possible side effects such as diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, nausea, abdominal bloating, and pain, as well as a decreased appetite.4

The main concern regarding the use of lecithin supplements is the cost, as there is little evidence to support its effectiveness for weight loss. Individuals with egg or soy allergies should be cautious when taking lecithin supplements, as many forms of lecithin are derived from these sources.12 If you have any health conditions or are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to consult with a doctor before taking lecithin supplements. Choline is a component of lecithin, and a deficiency of choline can lead to kidney and muscle damage, as well as liver problems.13 The possible side effects of lecithin deficiency are not well-known. 

It is important to note that lecithin supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which makes it difficult to find a supplement with high purity and safety. Before taking any new supplements, it is advisable to consult with a medical practitioner to determine their necessity and ensure their safety.'


While the link between lecithin and weight loss is unproven, lecithin has numerous other health benefits that may make supplementation worthwhile, depending on your current health conditions. However, if weight loss is the main reason for lecithin supplementation, a better alternative may be to use supplements scientifically proven to assist in fat burning. Other supplements to consider for weight loss and fat burning are garcinia cambogia, green tea extract and caffeine.

In general, lecithin supplements are considered low risk, but it may be worth discussing this supplementation with your doctor. While there are numerous supplements available to support weight loss, the most important thing is to create a calorie deficit through a combination of diet and exercise.


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  2. Mathew L. Non-Soy Source of Lecithin [Internet]. Healthy Eating | SF Gate. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  3. Lecithin [Internet]. Britannica. 2023 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  4. Corey W. Lecithin for weight loss: potential benefits and side effects [Internet]. Healthline. 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  5. Kris G, Lacy R. 12 Popular Weight Loss Pills and Supplements Reviewed [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  6. Kathryn W. Lecithin Benefits [Internet]. Healthline. 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  7. Miranda DTSZ, Batista VG, Grando FCC, Paula FM, Felício CA, Rubbo GFS, et al. Soy lecithin supplementation alters macrophage phagocytosis and lymphocyte response to concanavalin A: a study in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Cell Biochem Funct. 2008 Dec;26(8):859–65.
  8. Cheryl F. Lecithin: benefits, side-effects, uses, dosage [Internet]. Holland & Barrett. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  9. Mourad AM, de Carvalho Pincinato E, Mazzola PG, Sabha M, Moriel P. Influence of soy lecithin administration on hypercholesterolemia. Cholesterol [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2023 Feb 9];2010. Available from:
  10. Kelsey K. 6 Foods That Are High in Lecithin [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  11. Stremmel W, Hanemann A, Ehehalt R, Karner M, Braun A. Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) and the Mucus Layer: Evidence of Therapeutic Efficacy in Ulcerative Colitis? DDI [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 9];28(3):490–6. Available from:
  12. Sherry C. Lecithin: Uses, Benefits, and More [Internet]. Verywell Health. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  13. Lecithin - health encyclopedia - university of rochester medical center [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:
  14. Bjelland I, Tell GS, Vollset SE, Konstantinova S, Ueland PM. Choline in anxiety and depression: the hordaland health study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2023 Feb 9];90(4):1056–60. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Christina Weir

Master of Science - MS, Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management, University of Warwick

Hey there, I'm Christina (Krysia), and I'm thrilled to be an article writer for Klarity! I recently completed my master's degree in Biotechnology from the University of Warwick, and currently, I work at The Francis Crick Institute in Science Operations. I love being involved with the institute's exciting biomedical research and have a passion for Science Communications. My goal is to simplify science so everyone can join in and learn something new!

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