Nutrition Articles

Weight Loss Supplements: Fact or Fiction?

588SHARES
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.

Starch Blockers
  • White Bean Extract, White Kidney Bean Extract, Green Tea Extract, Chlorogenic Acid from Coffee, Banaba Extract, Phaseolus Vulgaris, Natural Bean Extract (Examples: Carb Blocker Triple Action, CarboGetic, Carbo Grabbers, Carb Shuttle, CarboVal, Extreme Carb Blocker, Maximum Strength Phase 2 Carb Blocker, Now Phase 2 Carb Blocker, Starch Blocker Plus, UltraCarb, Xenadrine CarboCurb):
    These products claim to prevent the digestion and neutralization of sugar and carbohydrates, therefore reducing the calories available to the body. The undigested carbohydrates are carried to the intestine for elimination. These claims lack scientific research and are false and misleading.
Stress, Craving, and Appetite Controllers
  • Hoodia Gordonii: For years the South African San bush people have used the succulent plant, Hoodia gordonii, to stave off hunger during long hunts.  A few preliminary and unpublished research studies indicate that there may be some type of appetite-suppressing mechanism from a molecule in Hoodia called P57. This molecule supposedly affects the hypothalamus of the brain to reduce appetite. Now this plant from the Kalahari Desert is being imported and made into Hoodia pills, tablets and capsules to supposedly help with hunger control for those trying to lose weight. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support these claims regarding appetite control and weight loss. For now, more evidence is needed to determine if Hoodia is effective for any clinical condition.   Beyond that, there is plenty of fake Hoodia on the market.   News reports suggest that some Hoodia products don't even contain any actual Hoodia.
      
  • Magnolia Bark, Korean Ginseng, Chromium Picolinate, and Chitosan (Examples: CarboGetic, CarboVal, Maximum Strength Phase 2 Carb Blocker, Miracle Tab, Now Chitosan with Chromium):
    These ingredients claim to suppress appetite, reduce stress-induced cravings, and normalize cravings overall. No competent and reliable scientific evidence exists to support these claims.
     
  • Cortisol Control (Examples: CortiSlim, CortiStress, Cortisol Stress Test):
    Cortisol is also called the “stress hormone.” These claims suggest that a persistently elevated cortisol level is the underlying cause of weight gain and weight retention. The supplements further claim to eliminate cravings for certain foods (including sweets and carbohydrates), control appetite, ease eating due to stress, burn calories efficiently, and therefore result in weight loss. While cortisol levels can be a factor, these “control” claims are not supported by documented scientific research. They are considered false, misleading, and deceptive.
Body Composition Regulators
  • Chromium Picolinate and Garcinia Cambogia (Example: Turbo Tone):
    These claim to significantly improve body composition and fat loss, particularly in individuals who may not be as aggressive in making lifestyle changes. These claims lack scientific substantiation, making them false and misleading.
Caffeine Boosters
  • Mate, Yerba Mate, Jesuit’s Tea, Paraguay Tea, Black Tea, Cocoa, Coffee, Cola Nut, Green Tea, Guarana (Examples: Metabolife, Stacker Two):
    The caffeine contained in these products is a stimulant, which raises blood pressure and has diuretic effects. Chronic use of caffeine can produce tolerance and psychological dependency as well. Caffeine was often combined with ephedra (which was removed from the market in the U.S.) for weight loss.
Topical Fat Loss Gel and Cream Ingredients
  • Leptoprin and Anorex (Examples: Cutting Gel, Dermalin, Tummy Flattening Gel):
    These products claim to promote a rapid and visible fat loss on the areas of the body where they are applied. These are false, unsubstantiated claims, without any scientific research.
Weight loss "cures" come and go. Information on weight loss products is available from many different sources, including the organizations below. Before wasting your money, find out if the claims are fact or phony.

Information in the article was obtained from the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-FTC-HELP), US Pharmacopeia (1-800-822-8772), and Consumerlab.com (1-914-722-9149).

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Member Comments

  • I would rather do the healthy life change and not depend on quick fixes to reach my goals
  • These so-called weight loss supplements pills are FAKE. They do NOT work and do NOT hold any nutritional value whatsoever. Do yourselves a favor and STOP wasting your money on this fake ass junk!
  • Hey, many fake and scam website are available and they send you fake products. Don't try any new website without any recommendation from your family or anyone you knew.
    I use this http://bit.ly/Phe
    ntermine4you website when i need my drugs because its affordable and legit website for me.
  • Hey, many fake and scam website are available and they send you fake products. Don't try any new website without any recommendation from your family or anyone you knew.
    I use this bit.ly/Phen
    termine4youlink> website when i need my drugs because its affordable and legit website for me.

















  • JENNIEWHITE1
    I am over weight and it really stresses me when i go out and feels like all people around are staring at me like criticizing me secretly or am i just paranoid. So for my own benefits, i started being conscious what i eat and also looked online that can help me loss weight. I found this All Natural Forskolin Maximum Strength Review ( http://forskoliin
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  • SHUGARTJAN
    I am trying to find out the amount of calories in the food I want to eat so I can figure how much food so I can set up to eat and stay in weight loss range
  • Maybe Ephedra was trouble to people who had trouble with high blood pressure and heart problems (though I don't know why they would take energy pills (and with caffeine?).

    Any diet supplements with caffeine will cause problems. It did not make Ephedra work. It did the opposite actually.

    Ephedra was NOT DANGEROUS. I personally knew NO ONE who had ANY side effects from it. It didn't make you not hungry. It helped your metabolism boost. WITH NO SIDE EFFECTS. It did not heal anything but, with exercise (etc) it really helped you maintain your weight. THIS is why it got removed by the government.

    There are many prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs that harm people badly, today. Ephedra did not. wake up people!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I enjoyed reading this! Please do a follow up with all the new ones you see out there :)
  • Becky you really do a great job on researching these types of articles..
  • Has anyone lost weight on SENSA a diet product out there

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.

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