The Truth About Weight Loss Supplements

Weight loss supplements are popular among those looking to shed a few pounds but do they really work? Learn about potential benefits & risks.

The Truth About Weight Loss Supplements

Weight loss supplements are a popular choice for those looking to shed a few pounds. But do they really work? The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some supplements may help you lose weight, while others may not be as effective. It's important to understand the potential benefits and risks of each supplement before taking them.

Chitosan is one of the most popular weight loss supplements on the market. It is derived from shellfish and is thought to block fat absorption in the body.


, Natural Medicines, an independent group looking at research on supplements, says there isn't enough reliable evidence to rate it. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that chitosan has not been shown to be effective in losing weight.

Chitosan usually doesn't cause side effects, but some people have an upset stomach or constipation. If you are allergic to shellfish, you should not take chitosan, since it is made from shellfish. Glucomannan is another popular weight loss supplement. It is a type of fiber supplement that works by absorbing water in the intestine, which produces a feeling of satiety that can cause people to eat less. Natural Medicines says there is not enough evidence to assess how well glucomannan works for weight loss.

Glucomannan can also make it difficult for the body to absorb medications, so it's important to take your medication 1 hour before or 4 hours after using glucomannan. Side effects of glucomannan may include gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Garcinia cambogia extract is another supplement that has been marketed as a weight loss pill. It contains the juices of a small fruit and is thought to inhibit or prevent a fat-producing enzyme called citric acid lyase. Although garcinia cambogia extract may not help you lose weight, it doesn't seem to cause many side effects when taken in reasonable doses. Pyruvate is another supplement that has been studied for its potential weight loss benefits.

The body produces pyruvate when it breaks down sugar and it is also sold as a supplement to help you lose weight by helping break down fat and increase metabolism. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health, Pyruvate May Have Some Effects on Weight Loss, but existing studies are weak so the results are not conclusive. Side effects of pyruvate include gas and bloating. Hydroxycut is a popular dietary supplement that usually contains plant extracts and caffeine, although caffeine-free versions of the supplement are also available. There are no studies that specifically review Hydroxycut, but caffeine has been studied and may contribute to small amounts of weight loss.

Since the ingredients in Hydroxycut vary, it is difficult to establish the possible side effects. Hydroxycut supplements containing caffeine can cause jitters and increased heart rate. Ephedra (also called ma huang) is a plant that contains substances that can stimulate the nervous system, increase the amount of energy you burn, increase weight loss and suppress appetite. Natural Medicines says that bitter orange is possibly unsafe when taken orally as a supplement, and there isn't enough evidence to know if it works for weight loss. Matteo suggests getting protein from food instead of shakes or protein supplements to avoid overdoing it. PrimeShred is another popular weight loss pill that claims to kick off several effective weight loss processes to help you burn fat and build muscle. Many people who are trying to achieve healthy weight loss struggle to control their daily calorie intake.

A new comprehensive study published in the journal Obesity on June 23 found that dietary supplements don't cause dramatic weight loss as they claim. There are only two prescription drugs that are approved by the FDA for long-term use for weight loss (several others are approved only for short-term use for a few months).