When nothing seems to help you lose weight, it is natural to fall for fad diets and ‘magic pills’. So many weight loss supplements are now available in the market and they all claim to have the finest ingredients to melt away fat. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to prove effective; in fact, most of them are not going to help you lose a single pound.
Many supplement manufacturers use a combination of ingredients and promise dramatic weight loss by suppressing appetite, trapping fat, boosting metabolism, or blocking carbs. The problem is that studies do not support the use of those supplements; in fact, it is found that those supplements may work no better than placebo pills.
For instance, the following study was presented in Stockholm at the International Congress on Obesity:
When there is nothing available to judge the efficacy of certain supplements, it is natural to end up putting your money on something that is ineffective. However, you can save yourself from wasting your hard-earned money by paying attention to the ingredient profile of a supplement. If it contains the following ingredients, you will be better off staying away from it because these ingredients make no difference to your weight.
Found in yeast, bacteria, barley, oats, and fungi, these soluble fibers are found in many top supplements today. Like other dietary fibers, they are supposed to help with weight loss by slowing down the time your body needs to digest food. When it stays longer in your stomach, you experience a feeling of fullness that prevents overeating. Unfortunately, it does not work in reality and has no effect on body weight.
Safety: Beta-glucans are considered safe even when you take up to 10g a day, but you should not continue for more than 12 weeks. The use of beta-glucans may cause flatulence though.
It is supposed to help you lose weight because it contains a stimulant called synephrine. Using it regularly is supposed to increase fat breakdown, burn calories, and decrease appetite at the same time. Unfortunately, it offers no results when used in isolation, but it may offer some benefits when used with other ingredients, such as caffeine. No study is there to confirm that supplementing with bitter orange alone will support weight loss.
Safety: A number of safety concerns are associated with the use of bitter orange, and some of the most common side effects include anxiety, chest pain, bone pain, headache, muscle pain, and higher blood pressure.
Found in many weight loss supplements, the primary function of calcium is to support muscles, bones, and blood vessels. Some supplement manufacturers claim that calcium decreases fat absorption and also increases fat loss. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that calcium supports weight loss or prevents weight gain.
Safety: It is usually safe to take up to 1,000mg of calcium a day, but taking too much of it can cause constipation. Regular consumption may also affect your body’s ability to absorb zinc and iron. Calcium supplements are also likely to increase your risk of kidney stones.
The hot taste of chili peppers comes from capsaicin, and many supplement manufacturers claim that it increases your body temperature and helps burn fat. Unfortunately, it is also among those ingredients in your supplements that make no difference to your weight. Not many studies have been performed to check its beneficial effects, which is another reason why capsaicin is useless.
Safety: You may take up to 33mg of capsaicin a day for 4 weeks without experiencing any side effects, but prolonged use can cause nausea, stomach pain, burning sensations, and bloating.
Obtained from the shells of shrimp, crabs, and lobsters, chitosan claims to help with weight loss by binding fat in your digestive tract. In other words, it reduces the absorption of fat in the body. Studies show that chitosan is mostly ineffective, and even when it works, it binds a little amount of fat, causing no serious weight loss after prolonged use.
Safety: You can take up to 15g a day for 6 months safely, but taking it longer than this can cause bloating, flatulence, constipation, nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. People who are allergic to shellfish may develop an allergic reaction after taking chitosan supplements.
Native to Thailand, India, and subtropical areas, the plant extract is supposed to work by suppressing your appetite. It is also supposed to increase the breakdown of fat. Not many studies have observed the positive benefits of coleus forskohlii.
Safety: You can safely take up to 500mg a day for 12 weeks. It may cause loose stools and frequent bowel movements in some people. Because of the lack of studies and evidence, it is not known how safe it is. Therefore, it is better to avoid its use.
Obtained from brown seaweed, fucoxanthin is supposed to help by burning additional calories. The ingredient has not been studied enough, so it is not possible to confirm if it is going to prove effective or not. Even animal studies have not shown promising results.
Safety: It is considered safe when taken up to 2.4mg a day for 16 weeks, but not much is known about its safety because of very little research done on it.
Often found in weight loss supplements, guar gum is essentially a dietary fiber, known for helping with weight loss by suppressing appetite. It promotes a feeling of fullness and helps you eat less. Studies show that guar gum has no role to play in weight loss.
Safety: You can safely take up to 30g a day for 6 months, but you should not go overboard because too much of it can cause flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and cramps.
Many probiotic strains are available in weight loss supplements that are supposed to improve your immune system and support digestion at the same time. Unfortunately, not much evidence is there to support the use of probiotics for weight loss.
Safety: It is usually safe to take probiotics, but some people may develop bloating, gas, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Obtained from red raspberries, raspberry ketone is supposed to trigger fat loss and help you lose weight more effectively. Is there enough scientific evidence to support its use? The answer is no.
Safety: The ingredient has not been studied well to tell anything about its safety concerns.
As you can see, there is a long list of ingredients that are commonly found in weight loss supplements but are not effective at all. Most of them are not going to help you lose a single pound, and these supplements may work no better than placebo pills.
However, some weight loss ingredients may work for some people and promote weight loss to a certain extent.
Here are some ingredients that may prove effective, and might be worth investing in. Keep in mind that these could still have various side effects, so it is best to check with a doctor first if you are already taking other medication.
It is supposed to work by inhibiting the formation of fat tissue. Studies have found that even though the use of African mango is not going to make a huge difference to your weight, its regular use may show some effects.
Safety: It is generally considered safe to use African mango on a short-term basis, but some people may develop insomnia, headache, and flatulence.
Known as the most popular stimulant, caffeine is supposed to help with weight loss in many different ways. It stimulates your central nervous system and reduces fatigue, which in turn will make it possible to work with more intensity in the gym. It is supposed to help by promoting thermogenesis – it increases your core body temperature to help you burn additional calories. It is also supposed to increase your metabolism, which helps you burn calories even when you are at rest. Studies show that it might help you lose some weight over time. Even though the effects are not that prominent, it still works better than many other weight loss ingredients.
Safety: Most people can safely take up to 400mg of caffeine a day, but how your body metabolizes caffeine will determine the severity of the side effects. You may develop problems like vomiting, nausea, seizures, insomnia, and rapid heartbeat.
Found in fish, meat, milk, poultry, and dairy products, you do not really need to take a supplement to increase your intake of carnitine. However, some studies have found that supplementing with carnitine may accelerate the breakdown of fats. Again, the effects of carnitine are not that significant, you may still experience some reduction in weight over time.
Safety: Studies show that you can safely take up to 2g of carnitine a day for as long as 12 months. Some people may develop problems like diarrhea, vomiting, fishy body odor, and abdominal cramps.
Another common ingredient in weight loss supplements is green coffee bean extract, which is obtained from unroasted coffee beans. It is supposed to reduce fat accumulation to promote weight loss. At the same time, it converts blood sugar into energy and makes it possible for you to handle strenuous workouts with more authority and ease. Studies have confirmed that supplementing with green coffee bean extract may help you lose a small amount of fat.
Safety: You can safely take up to 200mg of green coffee bean extract a day. Some people might develop problems like headache, insomnia, urinary tract infection, and increased heart rate.
Dietary fibers have their special place in the world of weight loss supplements, but if you really want to take a dietary fiber, you should put your money on glucomannan. It is more likely to help with weight loss because it is the most viscous fiber available today. It swells up quickly after reaching your gut, which in turn keeps you from eating additional calories. Studies show that it might help a little with weight loss, but it surely goes a long way in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Safety: Most people can safely take up to 15.1g of glucomannan a day for many weeks. Some people may develop problems like flatulence, loose stools, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. However studies have shown that 2-4g is the optimum amount for weight loss.
Like all dietary supplements, weight loss supplements can cause several negative effects depending on the ingredients they contain. You need to bear in mind that ingredients like bitter orange, beta-glucans, chitosan, and fucoxanthin may do nothing to help you lose weight but they may interact with other drugs you might be taking. Many other ingredients can interact with OTC and prescription medications. From constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and dizziness to stomach pain, dry mouth, increased lipase, type-2 diabetes, restlessness, and nervousness, weight loss supplements can cause all sorts of side effects. Long-term use may also lead to withdrawal symptoms. That is why it is important to talk to your doctor if you are taking some medication and want to take some weight loss supplements as well.
You should also bear in mind that there is no magic pill to help you lose pounds overnight. Many fraudulent and adulterated products may make big claims, but you should not fall prey to those marketing gimmicks. Weight loss is a gradual process and a combination of several factors. Taking a single supplement and doing nothing to make changes to your lifestyle is not going to make any difference to your weight no matter how ‘powerful’ your supplement is. Understand that weight loss supplements can cost you a lot and are going to produce little to no results. You should first develop a healthy eating plan and follow it religiously to help limit your intake of calories. Choose a right exercise plan and stay active. Once you have done everything else, you may want to include a weight loss supplement in your routine to support your weight loss efforts.
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.