Study opens up 5-HTP as body composition ingredient for trained adults

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Lacheev / Getty Images
© Lacheev / Getty Images

Related tags 5-HTP body composition Sports nutrition Sports nutrition products

Supplementation with 5- HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) may reduce body fat mass, the first such report of body composition improvements in trained men and women.

Data published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements​ indicated that 100 mg per of the amino acid 5-HTP led to significant reductions in body fat, but not lean body mass, total body water, and % body fat.

“Our investigation is the only one to the authors’ knowledge that has studied healthy exercise-trained men and women and additionally assessed body composition,” ​wrote scientists from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

“The loss of body weight in our investigation was not due to a loss of water weight because total body water did not change in either group.”

The new study used the consumer product Cleanmood by California-based Nura Labs. 5-HTP derived from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. ​According to Nura, the ripe, dried seeds may contain up to 15% 5-HTP when measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Nura claims its Griffonia simplicifolia-​derived 5-HTP is the only organic 5-HTP on the market.


5-HTP is an intermediate in the metabolism of L-tryptophan to the key neurotransmitter serotonin. By raising serotonin levels in the brain, 5-HTP may positively affect sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.

According to the Nova Southeastern University researchers, 70% of the 5-HTP that is consumed orally is delivered to the bloodstream.

5-HTP dietary supplement products are traditionally marketed for mood support, and the Dietary Supplement Label Database from the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements contains 728 for 5-HTP-containing supplements currently on the market.

The new study is reportedly the first​ to examine the potential benefits for body composition in exercise-trained men and women, showing the potential for the product in this active and engaged cohort.

Study details

Led by Dr Jose Antonio from the Department of Health and Human Performance at Nova Southeastern University, the researchers recruited 48 trained men and women to participate in their study. The subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 100 mg per day of 5-HTP (Cleanmood) or placebo for eight weeks, and instructed to not change their training or eating habits.

Body composition, assessed using a multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance device (InBody 270), was found to significantly improve as a result of 5-HTP supplementation with an average decrease of 0.7 kg, compared to an average increase of 0.2 kg in the placebo group.

In addition, while there were trends for improvement in both lean body mass and percentage body fat in the 5-HTP group, these changes did not reach statistical significance over the course of the study.

Commenting the results, the researchers described the fat mass loss in the 5-HTP group as “puzzling”,​ since total energy intake did not change in the groups, leading them to speculate that this may be linked to increases in energy expenditure even though the volunteers were told not to change their training habits.

“Based on the limited data from this investigation, daily supplementation with 100 mg of 5-HTP may affect body composition,” ​wrote the researchers.

Source: Journal of Dietary Supplements
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/19390211.2022.2076760
“The Effects of 5-HTP on Body Composition: An 8-Week Preliminary RCT”
Authors: C. Evans et al.

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