The weight-loss market is packed with diet pills. This one will help you lose more without changing one thing in your diet and the next asks the dieter to reduce calorie intake to 500. With so many options, it can be hard to make a decision, let alone one based on the facts (some companies stretch the truth to get your money). There are ingredients that are clinically proven and you deserve to know which ones they are. We scoured clinical studies, university papers, doctor suggestions and more to give you the complete picture – an unbiased look at the diet pill.
What is a Diet Pill?
The definition of a diet pill is broad. Anything from green tea extract to a formula that contains 10 or 20 ingredients can be considered a diet pill. The focus of this type of supplement is to help the dieter lose more weight by decreasing appetite and/or increasing metabolism. Some work and others don’t and you need to know which is which.
Clinically Proven Diet Pill Ingredients
What you are looking for are clinically proven weight-loss ingredients that WILL work to reduce appetite and/or increase metabolism. The best place to look is medical journals, and that’s exactly where we looked.
Green Tea Extract – If you are looking to lose weight naturally, green tea extract can be a great choice. According to the journal Obesity (Silver Spring), “The continuous ingestion of a GTE high in catechins led to a reduction in body fat, SBP, and LDL cholesterol, suggesting that the ingestion of such an extract contributes to a decrease in obesity and cardiovascular disease risks.”
Caffeine – You’d be hard pressed to find a diet pill that didn’t contain caffeine. This is because the stimulant is clinically proven to boost energy, reduce appetite and help spark metabolism. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism supports the use of caffeine because it has a positive effect on physical performance and stamina; “caffeine has enough strength of evidence to be considered an ergogenic [performance-enhancing] aid.”
Chromium – According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “As many as 90% of American diets are low in chromium.” The medical center goes on to say, “Low chromium levels can increase blood sugar.” This is important because increased blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, can cause polyphagia. Polyphagia is increased hunger and that means you’ll eat more and gain weight. Supplementing with a diet pill that contains chromium can counteract this effect in some dieters.
Pyruvate – The Journal of Obesity reviewed multiple studies completed on pyruvate to determine if it had a positive effect on weight-loss. The results were promising, “In studies published thus far, pyruvate has demonstrated that it may be beneficial for weight loss. In addition, it tends to be well tolerated with minimal adverse effects.”
White Kidney Bean – Simple carbohydrates are packed with calories and, often, little to no nutritional value. White kidney bean extract may help by blocking, or reducing, the amount of carbohydrate utilized by the body. According to the International Journal of Medical Sciences, “The results of this investigation show that, when taken daily by overweight human subjects with the carbohydrate-rich portion of a 2000- to 2200-calorie diet, a dietary formula containing Phaseolus vulgaris extract as the major ingredient produced significant decreases in body fat while essentially maintaining lean body mass. Phaseolus vulgaris extract appears to be a safe and effective aid to consider in weight loss/maintenance programs.”
Ingredients That Simply Don’t Work
Just as there are clinically proven ingredients in diet pills that can help with weight-loss, there are those with no such support. We often call these ingredients a “fad”.
Raspberry Ketones – There are just not enough studies on raspberry ketones to suggest it can help with weight-loss. The reason this ingredient became so popular was because Dr. Mehmet Oz suggested it worked on his popular TV show. Dr. Oz claimed, “I’ve got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” Unfortunately for him, the federal government didn’t like that his claims were not supported by science. In an investigation he, ”admitted that when it comes to weight loss products, hype trumps the evidence, every time.”
Hoodia Gordonii – Hoodia is another one of those ingredients used in diet pills that became popular for all the wrong reasons. Claims of appetite suppression are based on stories of African hunters using the root to suppress appetite on long hunts. According to the National Institutes of Health, this is nothing more than a farce as hoodia gordonii has, “no effect on energy intake or body weight based on results from one study.” There are so few studies on the ingredient that proof of claims is impossible to find.
Acai – The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health says, “No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. Researchers who investigated the safety profile of an acai-fortified juice in animals observed that there were no body weight changes in rats given the juice compared with controls.”
Calcium – Intake of calcium is important to bone health and overall health in general, but it will not help with weight-loss. As reported by the Office of Dietary Supplements, “Overall, the results from clinical trials do not support a link between higher calcium intakes and lower body weight or weight loss.”
Chitosan – Reviews of multiple studies are often the best means of evaluating effectiveness. When chitosan is used as part of a diet pill, it is not necessarily going to impact weight-loss. A journal by the International Association for the Study of Obesity reports, “Results obtained from high-quality trials indicate that the effect of chitosan on body weight is minimal and unlikely to be of clinical significance.”
Conjugated Linoleic Acid – The journal Public Health Nutrition explains the impact of conjugated linoleic acid on weight-loss simply enough, “Experiments in humans have not been able to show a significant effect on body weight, body composition or weight regain.”
Garcinia Cambogia – The Journal of the American Medical Association is not convinced that garcinia cambogia has any effect on body weight. “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”
Yohimbe – Yohimbe is a source of caffeine, which is clinically proven to promote metabolism and energy. Unfortunately, studies only prove it can work in people that typically don’t buy diet pills. According to the print publication Research in Sports Medicine, “yohimbine supplementation appears to be suitable as a fat loss strategy in elite athletes.”
What Ingredients Could be Dangerous?
Diet pills are not just created for ingredients that are either clinically proven or not. There are some ingredients that should be avoided at all costs because they are associated with some potentially harmful side effects.
Synephrine – Synephrine (also known as citrus aurantium) was first used as a replacement for ephedra when the FDA pulled it from the diet market. There are some side effects to consider when this ingredient is used in diet pills. Adam Myers, PhD offers this piece of advice, “C. aurantium has many of the same potential deleterious cardiovascular effects as ephedra, and it also potentially affects the metabolism of other drugs. The public and the medical community should be concerned about the growing use of C. aurantium without adequate data on safety and efficacy.”
Ephedrine/Ephedra/Ma Huang – There are tons of studies and reports into the dangers of ephedra. Though it may help with short-term weight-loss, it doesn’t come without risk. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, “studies and systematic reviews have found an increased risk of heart, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal problems, as well as high blood pressure and stroke, with ephedra use.”
Sibutramine – Sibutramine is not your normal diet pill ingredient. Reviews by the Food and Drug Administration have found that some supplements contain this prescription medication. This drug was sold under the brand name Meridia, which was pulled from the market after dangerous side effects. An FDA announcement says, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending against continued prescribing and use of Meridia (sibutramine) because this drug may pose unnecessary cardiovascular risks to patients.”
Potential Side Effects of Diet Pills to Consider
You have to weigh the risks versus rewards of diet pills. The most common side effects include increased heart rate, jitteriness, increased blood pressure, nausea and vomiting. When you get into the more dangerous ingredients, there are reports of heart-related issues that pose a health risk to dieters, especially if there are underlying medical conditions.
Can Everyone Take Diet Pills?
Diet pill ingredients may be clinically tested, but not on every age group. All studies are completed on dieters 18 years or older. No diet pills are approved for use by anyone under the age of 18 unless under the care of a physician.
Diet and Exercise Must Be Part of the Equation
There’s only so much a diet pill can do to help you lose weight. You must eat less, eat better and move more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a ‘diet’ or ‘program’. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.”
The Final Look at Diet Pills
Diet pills can help a dieter lose weight; plain and simple. The key is to find clinically proven ingredients combined in a formula that is both safe and effective. Watch out for ingredients with no real proof and those that pose potential risk. Never take a diet supplement without looking closely at the ingredients.