Bee pollen is said to be one of the purest and most complete foods ever found, and has long been known for its high nutritional value and medicinal uses. In recent years, it has also gained ground as a potential weight loss resource, especially by advocates of raw food. The science behind it supports this claim. But how does bee pollen really work? More importantly, will it work for you?

Pollen, the male seed of plants and the main source of food for bees, carries high amounts of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, good fats, amino acids, and essential hormones. What’s more, these nutrients exist in just the right proportion for human consumption, so there’s no risk of overdosing on one to get just the right amount of another. This is the case with many foods, the main reason doctors recommend a varied, balanced diet. University studies have shown that lab mice can live a healthy life on nothing but bee pollen, illustrating just how complete it is.

One of the most well-known benefits of bee pollen is its effect on metabolism. Clinical studies suggest that bee pollen speeds up metabolism, which means it can help you burn calories faster. For the last several years, this has been the basis for its use as an energy supplement, especially among the elderly. Several companies have since began developing bee pollen weight loss products, touting its benefits as a “lose weight fast” pill. It is now one of the fastest-selling products on the weight loss market, surpassing wheat germ and other popular supplements.

There are no studies confirming the effect of bee pollen on weight loss, but logic suggests that it does help—if you’re burning calories faster, you would lose weight. Of course, if you’re eating more as a result, any effects would be nullified. As with any other weight loss product, bee pollen works best when accompanied with proper diet and exercise. The latter is especially important because physical activity further enhances metabolism, allowing you to burn even more calories.

Dozens of companies now make bee pollen supplements, but not all of them promise the same results. Stay on the safe side by making sure your brand meets the Good Manufacturing Standards (GMP), a set of quality requirements set by the FDA. A specific set of rules applies to dietary supplements, and all products must adhere to them as of 2010. Just make sure the label is on the bottle, or look up the manufacturer online to see if they’re reputable.

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