Weight-loss supplements contain many ingredients—like herbs, fiber, and minerals—in different amounts and in many combinations. Sold in forms such as capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders, some products have dozens of ingredients. Common ingredients in weight-loss supplements are described below in alphabetical order. You’ll learn what’s known about whether each ingredient works and is safe. Figuring out whether these ingredients really help you lose weight safely is complicated, though. Most products contain more than one ingredient, and ingredients can work differently when they’re mixed together.
You might be surprised to learn that makers of the 2020 Medically Proven Weight Loss Supplements List rarely carry out studies in people to find out whether their product works and is safe. And when studies are done, they usually involve only small numbers of people who take the supplement for just a few weeks or months. To know whether a weight-loss supplement can help people lose weight safely and keep it off, larger groups of people need to be studied for a longer time.
Interpreting claims on weight-loss supplements
When a dietary supplement is marketed as “clinically proven” to cause weight loss, there should be some type of clinical evidence to support it. Such a claim, however, provides no details about the clinical research.
For example, raspberry ketone supplements are marketed as clinically proven, natural weight-loss products. As of December 2017, the results of only one clinical trial with raspberry ketone had been published. The results include the following information:
- The eight-week trial used a multi-ingredient supplement with raspberry ketone, caffeine, bitter orange, ginger root extract, and garlic root extract, as well as other herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
- Seventy obese adults were randomly assigned to receive either the supplement or an inactive ingredient (placebo).
- All of the participants were placed on a restricted diet and exercise program.
- Forty-five people completed all eight weeks of the trial.
- Among people completing the trial, the average weight loss in the supplement group was 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilograms).
- The average weight loss in the placebo group was 0.9 pounds (0.4 kilograms).
- The weight loss in the treatment group was modest, and the trial was only eight weeks, which isn’t long enough to know if the supplement will help with weight loss long term.
- Plus, the supplement included multiple ingredients, making it impossible to judge which ingredients helped the weight loss.
There are a ton of supplements on the market that claim to help you lose weight and burn fat. Some of the more popular ones include green coffee bean extract, Garcinia cambogia, raspberry ketones, and Hydroxycut.
Take 100 to 200 mg orally every 3 to 4 hours (1-2 large cups coffee). Caffeine supplements work best if used before exercise and earlier in the day so as to not affect your sleep. Caffeine is a common ingredient in pre-workout drinks. However, you need to be careful not to have too much. (Check out this article to help determine the right dosage for you.) For this reason, we don’t include caffeine in our all-in-one training formula: Complete Essentials.