Many people find it easy to lose weight simply by paying attention to what they eat and spending some time in the gym. For others, it can be a tedious task. Counting calories does not always work for everyone, and that is why many people turn to weight loss supplements.
Supplement manufacturers have used many natural ingredients to promote weight loss. Some of these products are supposed to reduce appetite, while others reduce absorption of fat and increase fat oxidation. Not all of them are effective, but some may produce good results. Here is more about some popular natural weight loss supplements:
Garcinia Cambogia Extract
Extracted from a tropic fruit, Garcinia cambogia extract is supposed to help weight loss, because it contains an active ingredient called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). The ingredient is thought to suppress appetite and reduce fat accumulation, by inhibiting an enzyme called citrate lyase.
Supplement manufacturers claim that Garcinia cambogia extract increases serotonin levels, which in turn reduces depression symptoms and prevents emotional eating. Regular consumption is also supposed to increase lean muscle mass, and decrease cholesterol levels.
The truth is that only animal studies have noticed some effects, and human studies have failed to confirm the efficacy of Garcinia cambogia.
To experience any effect, you also need to take enough of it. However, an independent analysis found that most brands contain far less of HCA than claimed, which is another reason you are less likely to experience any results from supplements containing Garcinia cambogia. It is generally considered safe, but some people may develop issues like nausea, headache, gastrointestinal symptoms, and upper respiratory tract symptoms.
Bottom Line: Garcinia cambogia may help with weight loss, but the effects are usually quite insignificant.
This popular weight loss supplement contains natural thermogenic ingredients, and is supposed to work by increasing your metabolism. It contains caffeine that is said to increase thermogenesis, whereas B-vitamins and glucomannan help suppress appetite. A study showed that supplementing with Hydroxycut caused 21lbs of weight loss in 3 months time. It may work differently for different people and even lead to side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, tremors, anxiety, and jitteriness.
Bottom Line: Hydroxycut looks good on paper, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use or confirm its long-term effectiveness.
Found naturally in green tea, coffee, and dark chocolate, caffeine is among the most popular psychoactive ingredients used today. Caffeine is supposed to help with weight loss in many different ways. First, it stimulates your nervous system and makes you feel energized. It means that you can approach your workout sessions vigorously and get better results. Some studies have also found that supplementing with caffeine may lead to a 3-11% increase in your metabolism, which in turn will help you burn more calories.
However, there studies conducted to confirm the weight loss benefits of caffeine have produced mixed results. For instance:
- “In a carefully controlled study, providing a green tea extract (50 mg caffeine/90 mg EGCg) with breakfast, lunch and dinner, the total number of extra calories burned daily increased by about 80 calories.”
It is also important to keep in mind that the amount of caffeine you take will also have an impact on how much weight you end up losing. For instance:
- Among 58,000 health professionals tracked for 12 years, men who increased their caffeine intake from an average of 180 mg a day to 435 mg weighed only about one pound less than men who cut their caffeine from 550 mg a day to 200 mg. Likewise, women who stepped up their caffeine consumption from 200 mg a day to 380 mg also weighed only about a pound less than women who decreased their caffeine from 500 mg a day to 200 mg over the 12 years. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 83: 674, 2006.
Even the studies with positive effects have confirmed that caffeine may only cause modest weight loss in humans, and it actually makes little sense to go heavy on caffeine to enjoy that little effect, especially when it can cause side effects, like nausea, irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, and more. Your system soon becomes used to whatever amount you are taking, which means you have to take more to experience the same effect. It makes caffeine quite addictive.
Bottom Line: Caffeine may improve your metabolism a little and increase fat burning on a short-term basis. The effects are not that significant, but side effects can be severe for people with caffeine sensitivity.
A raspberry is a combination of over 200 molecules, and one of which is raspberry ketone. Many supplement manufacturers have singled out that molecule, thinking that it will help improve weight loss.
Preliminary research showed that raspberry ketone is similar to capsaicin, which is supposed to prevent weight gain. Some animal studies have backed these claims, but there is not enough reliable evidence to confirm the use and benefits of raspberry ketone supplementation in humans.
Some rat studies have shown that raspberry ketone may serve as a weight loss aid. For instance:
- A 2005 study on mice fed a high-fat diet found raspberry ketone prevented weight gain in the liver, and gains of visceral fat (“belly fat”) that surrounds organs, according to the paper in the journal Life Sciences. Another study showed raspberry ketone increased the breakdown of lipids (fat molecules) within fat cells. The 2010 paper in the journal Planta Medica, also found raspberry ketone spurred fat cells to secrete more of the protein adiponectin. Low levels of adiponectin in the body are more common among people who are obese, and those with type 2 diabetes.
However, it is important to mention that a latest study has found that supplementing with raspberry ketone may not cause any weight loss, but you may only gain less weight by including this supplement in your diet. It implies that if you are interested in ‘losing’ layers of fat that you have gained, then you may not find raspberry ketone doing anything for you.
It is also important to understand that you only get a synthetic version of raspberry ketones, which may not be as effective as what you find in raw raspberries. It also means that not all raspberry supplements are going to perform in the same way.
Bottom Line: Only animal studies suggest that raspberry ketones increased breakdown of fat, but in the absence of enough human studies, it is hard to say anything about the role of this supplement in supporting weight loss.
Derived from konjac root, this water-soluble dietary fiber is a bulk-forming laxative, which is supposed to work by increasing feelings of fullness and prolonging gastric emptying time. Some studies have shown that taking up to 4g of glucomannan a day may help promote weight loss, especially when combined with low-calorie diet.
- Two published studies have tested glucomannan in dieters who were consuming 1,200 calories a day. (The typical American eats 1,500 to 2,750 calories a day, depending on sex and age.) Those who took 1.5 to 4 grams a day of glucomannan before meals lost three to four more pounds over five to eight weeks than those who took a placebo. But in seven other studies where the participants didn’t cut their calories, glucomannan had no effect on weight. So much for no change in lifestyle needed.
Therefore, you can see that calorie restriction is an important factor to consider when you try to lose weight with glucomannan. It is probably due to this fact that many studies have failed to notice any results. For instance:
- The authors of a 2015 systematic review of six randomized controlled trials with a total of 293 participants concluded that 1.24 to 3.99 g/day glucomannan for up to 12 weeks does not have a significant effect on body weight compared to placebo (Source, Source).
Supplementing with glucomannan may cause some side effects, such as flatulence, loose stools, abdominal discomfort, and constipation.
Bottom Line: Glucomannan supplementation may help lose weight, but only when it is combined with a healthy diet.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea supplements are quite popular among people trying to lose weight. Green tea extract is supposed to work because it contains caffeine and catechins, such as EGCG. Catechins are supposed to help by reducing fat absorption, whereas caffeine is thought to increase thermogenesis and fat oxidation. A typical brewed cup of green tea provides you with about 45mg of caffeine and more than 240mg of catechins. The combination of caffeine and catechins is considered effective for weight loss. For instance:
- The authors of a meta-analysis of 6 randomized controlled trials with a total of 98 participants, found that caffeine alone or in combination with catechins significantly increases energy expenditure in a dose-dependent fashion compared with placebo (Source).
It is important to mention though that many studies have confirmed that supplementing with catechins alone is not going to change your resting metabolic rate.
- A 2012 Cochrane review analyzed the results from 14 randomized controlled trials of green tea preparations, in a total of 1,562 overweight or obese participants (Source). The trials lasted from 12 to 13 weeks, and doses of green tea catechins ranged from 141 to 1,207 mg. Green tea supplementation reduced body weight by a mean of 0.95 kg more than placebo.
This shows that while green tea extract is going to help induce weight loss, the effects are not going to be that significant. It is generally safe to use a supplement containing green tea extract, but people with caffeine sensitivity may experience some side effects.
Bottom Line: Green tea extract may increase fat burning to a certain extent, but it may help you lose belly fat and play a role in keeping it off.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Mainly found in dairy products and beef, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) targets adipose tissue and helps reduce body fat mass. There is some evidence suggesting that supplementing with CLA may help boost metabolism, reduce appetite, and promote the breakdown of fat.
Animal studies have shown positive results, but human studies have not noticed significant reduction in weight though. A review study showed that supplementing with CLA helped lose 1.3 kg of weight, as compared to a dummy pill. Keep in mind that taking CLA may lead to some digestive side effects. Long-term use may also cause problems like increased inflammation, fatty liver, and insulin resistance.
Bottom Line: CLA may be an effective weight loss supplement, but it can cause side effects over the long term. Moreover, it only leads to a small reduction in weight.
Obtained from bitter orange, synephrine is supposed to work by working as norepinephrine and epinephrine. In simple words, synephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn increases energy expenditure. Some studies have found that it may suppress appetite as well. Bitter orange is now used as a substitute to ephedra, which is a banned ephedrine alkaloids. Synephrine is a considered different because it has different pharmacological properties, as compared to ephedrine.
It is important to bear in mind that many studies have been conducted on synephrine, but they are rather inconclusive because most of them have used synephrine with other ingredients as well.
- The authors of a 2012 review of 23 small human clinical studies involving a total of 360 participants, concluded that synephrine increases resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure (Source). The authors of an earlier review of animal studies, clinical trials, physiologic studies, and case reports concluded that synephrine alkaloids have a “suggestion of some benefit to weight loss,” but the available data are very limited and cannot be considered conclusive (Source).
It is worth noting that synephrine is closely related to ephedrine, so there can be many possible side effects. As it is a stimulant, it is possible to become addicted to it.
Bottom Line: Like other stimulants, synephrine may support weight loss, but there can be many serious side effects, especially when used on a long-term basis.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.