Which Weight Loss Supplements Really Work and Which Don't

Weight loss products may contain a single active ingredient, such as an exotic plant extract, composed of a range of amino acids, caffeine, and minerals.

Which Weight Loss Supplements Really Work and Which Don't
Which Weight Loss Supplements Really Work and Which Don't

Are There 100% Effective Weight Loss Supplements?

Weight Loss products may contain a single active ingredient, such as an exotic plant extract, or be composed of a range of substances, including amino acids, soluble fiber, caffeine, and minerals.

The issue is that many enhancements are ineffectively investigated.For example, the effectiveness was tested on animals or a small number of participants, the exact concentration of the active ingredient was not indicated, or a whole cocktail of components was studied, so it is not clear what exactly worked.

Beneath we list normal added substances, isolated into three classifications:

Effective - there are enough studies confirming the benefits of taking it.

Conditionally effective - there is some evidence of efficacy, but there is little or inconsistent evidence.

Ineffective - there is not enough research, or the results of scientific work are negative.

1. Which Supplements Have Enough Scientific Evidence

Irvingia gabonensis (Irvingia gabonensis)

This is a fruit tree growing in Central Africa. It is believed that the seed extract of this plant inhibits the formation of adipose tissue - adipogenesis - and slows down the emptying of the stomach. This prolongs the feeling of satiety and lowers blood sugar levels after meals.

In one study, taking a 3.15g supplement three times a day for a month increased participants' weight loss by 4% compared to a placebo group. In other experiments, subjects consumed much less—between 150 and 350 milligrams of the extract per day—and still lost significantly more than people on a placebo. And the analysis of scientific works confirmed the significant role of the supplement in weight loss and reduction in waist circumference.

Side effects may include headache, difficulty sleeping, gas, and bloating. A case of acute renal failure has also been reported after 2.5 months of supplementation in an obese patient with chronic kidney disease.


Many weight loss products include caffeine or its plant sources: guarana, yerba mate (Paraguayan tea), and kola nut.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, the heart, and skeletal muscles and increases thermogenesis - the production of heat with the accompanying expenditure of energy. Taking 100 mg of caffeine causes you to burn 9.2 kcal per hour more than a placebo, and this effect lasts for about three hours.

In addition, caffeine can increase fat oxidation through increased sympathetic activity and fluid loss, slow gastric emptying, and promote satiety.

In one study, half a year of taking 192 mg of caffeine and 90 mg of ephedrine a day helped participants lose almost twice as much weight as people in the placebo group. In another study, 12 weeks of regular consumption of 75mg of caffeine along with 500mg of glucosyl hesperidin (a form of vitamin P) significantly reduced BMI and belly fat without any diet or exercise.

The effect was also observed in a shorter period of time: after 10 days of supplementation with guarana, mate, and damiana, participants lost 0.5 kg more than people from the control group, and after 45 days - 4.8 kg more. Moreover, a year later, the weight did not return. And a review of 13 scientific papers showed that caffeine has a positive effect on weight loss, fat loss, and a reduction in waist circumference.

Side effects from supplementing with this ingredient include palpitations, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, tremors, tachycardia, and arrhythmias.


Capsaicin is the substance that makes chili peppers hot. It is believed that such a supplement reduces food intake, and increases post-meal energy expenditure and fat oxidation. And a review of eight scientific studies confirmed that taking capsaicinoids before a meal reduced the calorie content of a subsequent meal by 74 kcal.

Capsaicin gives the best results in combination with other substances and diet. Over 8 weeks of supplementation with capsaicin, caffeine, and catechins (substances from tea), people's metabolism accelerated despite a low-calorie diet. In another experiment, just two weeks of capsaicin and green tea extract helped to lose almost 0.5 kg of excess fat.

The supplement is safe for health, but in high doses (4 mg per day) can lead to digestive disorders.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

This is a combination of linoleic acid isomers that can be present in dietary supplements in the form of fats or free fatty acids. Scientists suggest that CLA stimulates fat breakdown and fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle, reduces lipogenesis, and increases apoptosis in adipose tissue.

In one study of 180 overweight people, a year of CLA supplementation as either free fatty acids (3.6 g CLA isomers) or fat (3.4 g CLA isomers) produced significant results. Participants on free fatty acid supplements lost 6.9% fat and increased muscle mass, while participants on fat supplements lost 8.7% fat.

In another study, supplementation with CLA oils (6.4 g of CLA isomers) for 16 weeks significantly reduced participants' BMI and body fat compared to those who consumed sunflower oil. Similar results were obtained in another experiment, where 12 weeks of supplementation with 3.4 g of CLA provided a loss of 0.69 kg of weight and 0.49 kg of fat.

A review of seven studies found that taking 2.4–6 g of CLA per day for 6–12 months reduced body weight by an average of 0.7 kg compared with a placebo. Slightly more optimistic forecasts were given based on an analysis of 18 scientific papers: eating 3.2 g of CLA per day for six months helps to lose about 0.5 kg of fat per week.

Side effects are rare and include abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Also, CLA can increase some markers of oxidative stress and reduce the fat content of breast milk.

The cis-12 and trans-10 isomers may likewise increment insulin opposition and glycemia in large men with metabolic disorder.


It is an amino sugar similar to cellulose, which is obtained from the chitin of insects and crustaceans. It is believed that chitosan binds to fats in the digestive tract, interfering with their absorption.

In a small study, over 12 days of a 38% fat diet, taking chitosan capsules before meals slightly increased fat excretion in men, but not in women. Moreover, even men would need at least 7 months of supplementation to lose only 450 g of fat.

Two other experiments confirmed the effectiveness of chitosan for women: taking a 3 mg supplement for 8 weeks led to a weight loss of 1–2.5 kg without any diet or exercise. And when chitosan was combined with 2 mg of ascorbic acid, the result was minus 3.5 kg.

Shorter terms do not seem to lead to results: in one experiment, 28 days of taking 2 g of chitosan per day did not affect the weight of overweight women and men. A Cochrane review of 15 scientific papers found that 4–6 months of chitosan consumption reduced weight by an average of 1.7 kg more than placebo.

The range of incidental effects incorporates fart, bulging, gentle sickness, clogging, acid reflux, and indigestion.Since the supplement is often made from seafood, people with allergies to this food may experience similar effects from chitosan in the long run.


Trivalent chromium is an essential mineral that is involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels and enhances the action of insulin. According to the norms of Rospotrebnadzor, the daily intake of chromium for adults should be 50 mcg/day.

Dietary enhancements ordinarily contain chromium picolinate, which incorporates chromium and picolinic corrosive, in spite of the fact that there are different structures, including chromium nicotinate and chromium yeast.It is hypothesized that these substances may increase lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, and reduce appetite, food intake, and food cravings.

A Cochrane analysis of nine scientific papers found that taking 200-1,000 micrograms of chromium picolinate per day for eight or more weeks helped to lose 1.1 kg more than without the supplement. Another review of 11 studies gave less significant figures - 0.5 kg of weight and 0.46% of body fat for a course of 8 to 26 weeks.

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