Nutrition Articles

Weight Loss Supplements: Fact or Fiction?

577SHARES
Whether browsing the Internet, surfing through 500 channels, or flipping through your favorite magazine (or tabloid), you’ll find them everywhere: weight loss supplements that offer quick and easy solutions to shedding unwanted pounds. Simply pop a pill, put on a patch, or tone up with the touch of a cream. Do these "cures" work, or are they more hype than help?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular weight loss products, their claims, their risks…and why they’re NOT such a great idea.
 
Weight Loss Supplements
  • Bitter Orange, Citrus Aurantium, and Sour Orange:
    These products are concentrated extracts from the orange peel. They are often used in “ephedra-free” products, claiming that they increase metabolism, but tests involving people haven’t even been conducted! They contain the stimulant synephrine, which can cause hypertension and cardiovascular toxicity. Orange supplements can also interact with medication. Their risks are even greater when used with other stimulant-containing ingredients such as caffeine and decongestants. Individuals with heart disease, hypertension, and glaucoma should avoid these at all costs.
     
  • Chromium (Examples: Puritan’s Pride Chromium Picolinate, Vitamin World Naturally Inspired Yeast Free Chromium Picolinate, Nutrilite Trim Advantage):
    Claims that chromium increases weight loss and improves body composition have only been backed by one study, while all other studies failed to find any supporting evidence. There are two types of chromium: Trivalent (which the body requires and is considered safe in doses of 200 micrograms or less daily) and Hexavalent (which may cause stomach upsets, ulcers, convulsions, kidney and liver diseases, and death). Hexavalent chromium can be toxic and shouldn’t be used in supplements, but some do contain this dangerous form!
     
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) (Examples: Vitamin World CLA, Nature Made CLA, Now Foods CLA):
    This product claims to promote leanness, but very few studies support this claim. While more research is needed, CLA is generally safe.
     
  • Ephedra/Ephedrine:
    Ephedra may aid weight loss by suppressing appetite, and research has proven its effectiveness when used with caffeine. However, ephedra causes high blood pressure, stroke, and serious heart problems, which is why the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra was prohibited in April 2004.
     
  • 7-Keto Dehydroepiandrosterone (7-keto DHEA):
    Preliminary research indicates that this product may decrease body weight and fat composition by increasing metabolism, but larger research studies are needed (see Ephedra to learn why testing is important).
     
  • Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) and Garcinia Cambogia:
    These products claim to suppress appetite and improve fat metabolism. While studies have shown mixed results, they are generally safe.
     
  • L-Carnitine:
    L-Carnitine claims to inhibit obesity, but there is very little evidence of its effectiveness.
     
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), Pyruvate, and Dihydroxyacetone and Pyruvate (DHAP):
    A few small studies suggest that these supplements may have modest effects on weight loss, but research is needed. Presently, no serious side effects have been reported.
Fat Blockers
  • Alli: For a detailed discussion of Alli, the first FDA approved weight loss pill available over the counter, click here.
     
  • Lecithin, Guar Gum, Psyllium Hulls, Chickweed, and Chitosan (Examples: Chito-Trim, Exercise in a Bottle, Fat Blocker—Chitosan Complex, Fat Grabbers, Fat Trapper, Fat Trapper Plus, Metabo Fat Blocker, Miracletab, Now Chitosan with Chromium):
    These products claim to help break down fat so that it can be absorbed, emulsified, trapped, and eliminated by the body. There is currently no competent and reliable scientific research to support such claims.
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577SHARES

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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • STEVANMCGRATH
    There is a huge market of diet supplements. You have many difficulties in choosing one that is good for your health and can really help lose weight. I had read many product reviews that contain Garcinia Cambogia. It claims to suppress appetite and improve fat metabolism. The following link will guide to towards the best diet pills http://consumerhe
    althdigest.co
    m/weight-loss
    -reviews/ - 9/15/2014 6:59:29 AM
  • EX-SKINNY60
    MINDY681 on 3/14/2013 asked if anyone out there has tried SENSA. No one answered her. I have not tried it yet, but I admit that I am tempted. Out of all you dieters can this SENSA REALLY work? The cost for it is like $89-plus. I think about it a lot when my appetite gets the better of me. - 10/30/2013 3:44:44 AM
  • MARYJUNE206
    Still it is best to stick to the basics and natural. These diet pills may be effective but not for long. Although there are some that are natural like Insane Amp'd. It worked with proper diet and exercise. - 9/30/2013 6:38:05 PM
  • We as a society want a fast solution that doesn't require work - no dieting, no exercise, just a quick solution to weight loss. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. Taking a so called weight loss supplement does nothing to help us understand the reason behind our overeating, and many people who take these just end up gaining the weight back. And the health ramifications of some of these dangerous supplements just aren't worth it. - 9/17/2013 12:57:17 PM
  • MARYJUNE206
    This is a handy article. There are a lot of diet supplements out there that it is very overwhelming to choose which ones are good, fitting, and can really help lose weight.

    As a health buff myself, I am scared to try these supplement pills but then there are healthy/natural supplements that came to market and I was really anxious to know if this can work without any harsh side effects.

    I tried Bella Amp. The first pill supplement I used and I wish I have known/read this article so I would perfectly understand well the insane amp'd diet pills side effects before even trying one.

    Again, thanks for the share. - 8/30/2013 3:11:45 PM
  • They put all these things out there to see how fast they can draw peoples to buy them. I don't like taking the pills the doctor give me. So I know what they have out there forget it. - 5/3/2013 4:29:46 PM
  • I enjoyed reading this! Please do a follow up with all the new ones you see out there :) - 5/3/2013 8:53:05 AM
  • Becky you really do a great job on researching these types of articles.. - 3/20/2013 9:26:42 PM
  • Has anyone lost weight on SENSA a diet product out there - 3/14/2013 10:23:41 AM
  • I am very glad I read this, I am not a huge believer in the "diet pills" but I do take some supplements. and I am glad that the one I take they said they did fot find to be hurtful
    I have take CLA I think it has helped I still work out and eat right which is the number one thing to help with weight loss
    - 9/26/2012 2:38:36 PM
  • I agree these remedies are misleading and just a tactic to get money (as is most any other product on tv) However to say that any one of them is false, misleading and deceptive simply because it lacks scientific substantiation is a almost as bad as the vendors saying it works without the scientific substantiation. It would be better said that substantial research has not been made to determine the extent of the effects of the product.

    Every prescribed medication, antibiotic, immunization or any other treatment, including Cancer treatments, started out without scientific substantiation yet they were not false and continue to be used until they are proven otherwise. (Yes i know there are others out there that do not trust those remedies either)

    Let me just state, I think it is dangerous to to take anything without proper research. And I don't endorse any of these product or believe that they work. - 7/28/2012 11:24:42 AM
  • ive been on Phentermine 37.5 for just over a month now and have not had any problems. in fact i lost 8lbs during that month . while i take this medicine as an apetite suppressant i am learning to pay attention to when im full and watch my caloric intake. i think its very helpful! i love it! - 5/11/2012 9:04:23 PM
  • BLUEGREEN73
    i just started a weight loss pill to help me control my hunger(s) in the evening is my hardest part. These pills seem to work for me so far. i agree with everyone, Just watch your calories,and the amount you eat, Which is hard for me so i hope i get ALOT of support here because i need it. Thank-You - 4/16/2012 9:10:19 AM
  • Ive yet to find anything i comfortable with. - 1/18/2012 9:54:05 AM
  • Bubba Smith-the retired football player and actor from those "Police Academy" movies died as a result of ingesting too many diet pills at once. He was found in his home. A terrible cost to pay just to lose weight.

    I've been on that supplement roller coaster and have experienced many of the side effects. I'm starting over this year; hopefully to a healthier new me. - 1/13/2012 12:35:04 PM

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