Do Weight Loss Pills and Supplements Work?

Obsession with losing weight may eclipse our fascination with food. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, weight loss is often on the list. Each year, American wallets get slimmer because of the popularity of weight-loss products and programs.

The weight loss industry is fueled by extreme measures taken by many people. Products that promise rapid or extreme weight loss are being viewed with suspicion and controversy in this climate.

Weight loss pills that aren’t regulated and medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help people lose weight are two different things.

If they follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, people may also benefit from using these FDA-approved medications under the supervision of their doctors. 

The facts about these so-called diet pills are below.

What is Weight Loss Pills?

Weight loss dietary supplements are sold as health aids. You take them by mouth. Typical ingredients include vitamins, minerals, fiber, caffeine, herbs, and other plants.

Supplements are often promoted for improving nutrition, building muscles, and burning fat.

There is no such thing as medicine in dietary supplements. These products are not intended to cure or treat illness.

Do Diet Pills Really Work?

Weight loss supplements have been the subject of much debate over whether they deliver on their promises.

As part of the study, researchers examined 315 existing clinical trials of weight loss supplements and alternative therapies. Most of the studies were biased.

There were only 16 studies that demonstrated weight loss, ranging from less than one pound up to 11 pounds. Participants in the studies did not lose weight consistently.

These 12 ingredients were reviewed by the researchers:

  • Chitosan
  • Chocolate/cocoa
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Phaseolus
  • Phenylpropylamine
  • Pyruvate
  • Green tea
  • Guar gum
  • Calcium and vitamin D
  • Chromium
  • Ephedra or caffeine
  • Garcinia and/or hydroxycitrate

In addition to supplements, studies also examined acupuncture and mind-body interventions like mindfulness and meditation.

For weight loss, most health professionals recommend exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet of moderate portions of healthy foods. You must also change your eating habits and your attitude toward food.

As per the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, people can lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight in six months by following a healthy diet, increasing exercise, and undergoing behavioral therapy.

However, this is not enough for some people. You can ask your doctor whether prescription weight-loss medications, often referred to as diet pills, are right for you. If you meet the guidelines, they might be a good match for you if:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30
  • have both a BMI of 27 or higher and health conditions related to obesity
  • Have not been able to lose one pound per week despite diet, exercise, and behavioural changes

You can determine your BMI by using a calculator provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on your weight and height, the index measures your body fat. 

You might not get an accurate indication of your weight status if you are very muscular. Check with your doctor for the best method for calculating it.

Diet pills are not recommended for pregnant women, teenagers, or children. 

I have also reviewed a lot of other weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

False Claims on Weight Loss Supplements

The Mayo Clinic says dietary supplements do not qualify as medicines, even though they claim to boost energy, aid memory, build muscle, improve sexual drive, and burn fat. Studies on them are rare – if they are conducted at all – and they aren’t monitored for quality or safety by the FDA. As the Mayo Clinic states, “They aren’t meant to treat or cure disease.”

Raspberry ketone is a good example of this. While the product is marketed as a weight loss aid that has been clinically proven, that claim has only been substantiated by a short-term, small study of 70 obese adults. Supplements containing raspberry ketone, caffeine, bitter orange, ginger, and garlic root extract were randomly assigned to some participants. 

Others received placebos. Over eight weeks, the supplement group did lose a bit more weight than the control group – about 4 pounds versus 1 pound – but no one knows which ingredient, if any, was responsible for the difference or whether the weight loss benefits would last over a long period of time without side effects.

In addition to green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia, African mango seed, and many other products, there are many other supplements making similar claims. 

According to Dr. W. Scott Butsch, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, these dietary supplements have little supporting evidence suggesting they are effective in treating obesity.

The public is attracted by the message that weight loss is simple, just eat less. Using that simplistic, uneducated statement, they search the Internet for quick fixes that usually don’t work.

It is also possible that they are dangerous. Mayo Clinic reports that even so-called “natural” supplements can cause serious health problems, such as liver damage. 

The FDA banned Ephedra, a weight loss herb marketed under the name Ephedra, in 2004 after it was linked to mood changes, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, strokes, seizures and heart attacks.

Common Ingredients in Weight Loss Pills

Herbal ingredients and other compounds are included in weight-loss supplements. Common ingredients include: 

Green tea extract 

Extracts from green tea are commonly used in fat burners. Burning calories and reducing fat absorption may be achieved with this ingredient. However, weight loss will not be that significant. By taking brisk walks every day, you’d burn more calories.


The stimulant effects of caffeine can help burn calories. Nevertheless, supplements often contain a lot more caffeine than natural sources such as tea, coffee, and chocolate. There is a danger of an elevated heart rate when you consume too much caffeine.  


Your metabolism is aided by this compound, and you gain energy from it. It’s naturally produced by your liver and kidneys and can be found in a lot of meat and dairy products. There is limited evidence that it helps you lose weight. If you consume too much carnitine, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fishy odor.  


The bark of an evergreen tree contains this plant compound. There is very little research on this ingredient, which is found in many weight-loss supplements. In addition, it is potentially hazardous. A common side effect of Yohimbe is headaches, anxiety and agitation. At higher doses, it can even cause kidney failure and heart problems.  

Soluble fiber 

Soluble fiber is an ingredient in some fat burners. Although fiber does not increase fat burning, it does help control appetite. Additionally, soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of fat from your diet. Common fiber-rich supplements include:  

  • Beta-glucans
  • Glucomannan
  • Guar gum

Other ingredients 

Many other ingredients can also be found in weight loss supplements, including:

  • Capsicum
  • Chromium
  • Conjugated linoleic acid
  • Forskolin
  • Fucoxanthin
  • Garcinia cambogia
  • Kelp
  • Raspberry ketones

There are dozens of ingredients in many supplements, so it can be difficult to determine how they will affect your health.

There are numerous herbs and other ingredients in weight-loss supplements, and the dosage isn’t always stated. These fat burners over-the-counter are not recommended.

Weight Loss Supplement Risk and Side Effects

Aside from the lack of evidence supporting these pills’ claims of easy weight loss, some of these supplements pose significant health risks.

Between 2004 and 2015, around 1,000 people aged 25 and younger reported health issues linked to dietary supplements in a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The number of hospitalized people was 166, and 22 people died.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the vitamin, herbal, and supplement market.

When there is no oversight, it can be difficult to determine which products and brands are of high quality, and which ones could potentially harm your health.

Dietary supplements are branded as food, not drugs, by the FDA. Accordingly, FDA does not evaluate whether they are effective, safe, or of high quality.

FDA-approved weight loss pills

Each weight-loss medication works differently. It either suppresses your appetite or reduces your body’s ability to absorb fat from food. Sometimes antidepressants, diabetic medications, and anti-seizure medication are prescribed to aid weight loss.

Weight-loss drugs approved by the FDA for short-term use include:

  • benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin)
  • phendimetrazine (Bontril)
  • diethylpropion (Tenuate)

Following drugs have been approved by the FDA for long-term use:

  • orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave)
  • liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia)

Final Words: Should You Take Weight Loss Pills?

Researchers have found that dietary supplements do not result in dramatic weight loss as claimed.

It’s rare for people who take these supplements to lose any significant amount of weight, according to the research.

Supplements are classified as food in the United States, and not as drugs, so they’re not regulated by the FDA.

There has been research showing that weight loss supplements can actually have negative health effects and that they cannot replace other proven weight loss methods, including diet, exercise, and FDA-approved medication or weight loss surgery.

Losing weight is not easy. In general, we have too high expectations, and we should not blame ourselves if we don’t lose weight quickly.

If you are interested in prescription weight-loss medications, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide you with more information about how to lose weight safely and effectively.

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