We’ve all been in the market for a magic pill at one time or another. Maybe you’ve tried everything and can’t shed those last 10 pounds, or maybe you just don’t feel like dieting.
Because we’ve all been there at least once, the weight loss supplement market continues to boom. But what works and what doesn’t? Let’s take a close look at seven popular weight loss supplements and how they work in the body.
This weight loss supplement shot to stardom when it was featured on the Dr. Oz show in 2012. It was relatively unknown before and heavily marketed after.
So, what is garcinia cambogia? Well, it’s actually a fruit that looks like a small green pumpkin.
The extract that is marketed for weight loss is taken from the fruit’s skin, and it contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). As such, HCA is the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia extract.
According to science, there are mixed reviews on whether garcinia cambogia can help you lose weight. One review that looked at 12 studies found that this supplement led to an average of a 2lb weight loss over several weeks.
Another study found no significant weight loss difference between those who took garcinia cambogia and those who took a placebo.
Most of us start each day with a cup of coffee, but could upping our caffeine intake lead to significant weight loss? The research says yes. Time and time again, caffeine has proven to boost metabolism and result in modest weight loss.
One study shows that the caffeine in coffee increases the body’s metabolic rate and kept it elevated for three hours after consumption. Other studies can back up the claim that caffeine causes at least a modest amount of weight loss.
Raspberry ketones are a chemical that is extracted from the raspberry, but the same chemical can be extracted from kiwis, peaches, grapes, apples, and other types of berries.
The raspberry ketones you find in supplements may be a synthetic version of the natural substance.
With the surge in popularity of a ketogenic diet recently, it’s easy to confuse the two. Raspberry ketones may even be marketed as part of a ketogenic diet. However, raspberry ketones have nothing to do with ketosis in the body.
Raspberry ketones purportedly work by increasing the body’s levels of adiponectin, which is a hormone that regulates metabolism and blood sugar. It makes sense in theory because higher levels of adiponectin are associated with weight loss and low levels are associated with diabetes and obesity.
Unfortunately, there are no human studies to support using raspberry ketones for weight loss. There has been rat and in vitro studies that show promise, but researchers have had trouble reproducing the effects with oral supplementation in humans.
Choline is macronutrient that’s important for many bodily functions, including fat burning. You can get choline from many foods, including eggs, liver, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and salmon. But if you want a real choline boost, choline supplements are your best bet.
Choline transports fats from the liver and helps form betaine, which is used in a number of bodily processes. It also helps the liver break down fats so that they can be converted into ATP or energy.
One study shows that choline has been effective at causing rapid weight loss among taekwondo and judo competitors.
For many years, green tea extract has been studied for its weight loss benefits. The extract of green tea is believed to work by increasing norepinephrine activity, and norepinephrine is a hormone that helps the body burn fat.
The active ingredient in green tea extract is an antioxidant called EGCG that is believed to aid in weight loss. A 2008 study found that green tea is effective at reducing body weight in the obese. Another study found that catechins from green tea decreased body weight and helped maintain that weight loss.
Green tea extract is generally well-tolerated with very few side effects reported.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a trans fat, but it’s considered one of the healthier ones. You’ll find CLA in cheese and butter. Although these things may be associated with weight gain, CLA may help reduce appetite, boost metabolism and help break down body fat.
One review of 18 studies found that taking CLA supplements resulted in losing about 0.2 pounds per week for up to six months. So, CLA isn’t necessarily a quick fix, but it may result in steady and sustained weight loss over time.
The downside to taking CLA supplements, though, is that the side effects can be undesirable. CLA may cause digestive issues and have harmful effects over the long term.
The bitter orange fruit contains a compound called synephrine that is related to ephedrine. Ephedrine used to be a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements, but it has been banned due to serious side effects.
Although synephrine shares similar characteristics to ephedrine, it isn’t quite as potent, so the side effects aren’t as typically severe. Still, the side effects it does have are related to heart function, so take caution when using synephrine.
Studies have proven that the synephrine found in bitter orange supplements can lead to significant short-term weight loss. One study also shows that synephrine can reduce appetite and significantly increase fat burning.
As it turns out, there may be a magic pill after all. If all you’re looking for is to lose weight, you can do so with any of the proven weight loss supplements on this list (including caffeine, choline, bitter orange and green tea extract). But you should also research any weight loss supplement before wasting your money. Not all of them have been proven to help people lose weight. On this list, we’ve evaluated a few that seem to come up short. This includes raspberry ketones and possibly garcinia cambogia.
When you’re considering a weight loss supplement, you should also consider side effects. For example, the side effects of bitter orange may be more than you’re willing to accept. Instead, you may want to consider effective alternatives with fewer side effects, such as caffeine and green tea extract.