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What Is In A Weight Loss Pill?


Are you looking for ways to lose weight? Ways that go beyond the usual lifestyle changes, like diet programs or exercise routines? Weight loss supplements or pills with bragging names like “fat burners” or “fast weight loss” can be enticing.

But, do they ever work? With the Food and Drug Administration`s banning some products like Ephedra, do you think those supplements are ever safe?

What are in those weight loss pills anyway?

I have gathered the most important ingredients currently in supplements for weight loss according to the Environmental Nutrition.

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Here are the 10 most popular ingredients in a weight loss pill:

(1) Chitosan – It is an indigestible fiber made from the shells of lobsters, shrimp and other shellfish. Chitosan is supposed to help weight loss by binding with the fat you eat, blocking its absorption. So far, studies do not support this claim. There are side effects like constipation and gas. For people with shellfish allergies, beware of this ingredient.


(2) Chromium – This is most often present as Chromium Picolinate. It has been promoted to boost lean mass and decrease body fat. Though study findings have been inconclusive, an analysis of several studies recently concluded that supplement with 200-400 micrograms of Chromium Picolinate could result in about a 2.5 lb weight loss per week in some people. Other studies have found a loss of body fat and an increase in muscle tissue, with no change in weight. Still others have found no effect at all. Though some laboratory studies have raised safety issues, numerous human studies suggest it is safe.


(3) Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange) – This is a herbal extract which is a natural source of Synephrine ( a compound similar to ephedrine). It`s the supplement industry`s current replacement to ephedra which was banned. So far, there are no published studies to show how effective this supplement ingredient is. Like Ephedra, its side effects include an increase in blood pressure, thus, Environmental Nutrition is not recommending it.


(4) Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – Both animal and human research hints at a possible role for CLA in reducing body fat and increasing lean body mass. None of the human studies have been long-term. CLA is currently being studied in combination of chromium picolinate. It is naturally found in dairy foods and beef and is generally considered safe.


(5) Garcinia Cambogia – The extract of the Garcinia Cambogia fruit rind contains Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) which supposedly curbs food intake, weight gain and storage of excess calories as fat. However, studies have failed to prove Garcinia Cambogia is an effective weight-loss aid. The most common side effects are upper respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms.


(6) Guarana – Caffeine is the effective ingredient in Guarana plant seeds. It may have a mild appetite suppressant effect over the short term. It was often used in combination with Ephedra until it was banned. The potential side effects are those of caffeine overdose – like insomnia, restlessness, anxiety or panic.


(7) Hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB) – It is a natural product of the breakdown of the amino acid Leucine. HMB supplements are used by body builders in hopes of increasing muscle mass. A few studies have suggested that HMB increases lean mass and decreases body fat when combined with weight training.


(8) Plantago Psyllium – It is a water-soluble fiber from Plantago Ovato seeds. Taken before a meal, it may make you feel full, causing you to eat less. While it is proved to aid constipation (that`s how Metamucil works), it has not been proved as an effective weight loss aid.


(9) Pyruvate – This formula boast that they stimulate metabolism and reduce body fat. Pyruvate is found naturally in food and in the body as a result of the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein. Some studies have shown a weight-loss benefit with Pyruvate supplements. But the people in the studies also exercised and cut back on calories. Also, the dosage used in the studies was quite high, requiring a handful of tablets each day. Some experts say the case of Pyruvate to aid weight loss is weak.


(10) Yerba Mate – Brewed into a tea, bitter Yerba Mate is high in caffeine. This is used in combination with other caffeine-containing herbs, like Guarana and Damiana. It was found in one study to delay stomach emptying time and aid weight loss. The study was short though, only 45 days, so conclusions on keeping the weight off cannot be established.



In conclusion

Though all are relatively expensive and none really are fully proven, of all these top popular weight-loss ingredients, I think chromium picolinate and CLA are probably the most studied. If you are looking for a weight loss aid and not sure what to get, you might want to give these supplements with these ingredients a try. Just do not expect miracles and make sure to check with your doctor first.


If you want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.



6 thoughts on “What Is In A Weight Loss Pill?

  1. Hi Hanna!

    This is really good information for anyone to have if they are looking at weight loss pills. Especially if they are looking to avoid things like caffeine.

    I personally stopped even looking at diet pills years ago. It isn’t a sustainable way to lose weight if it even works to begin with. At best, it works but you gain the weight back as soon as you stop taking them (assuming you didn’t change any of your lifestyle habits). At worst, it doesn’t work and it was a waste of money. And those pills are pretty expensive.

    This is good information to have regardless! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Tina, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is always good to check what is in the pills you are taking. I have only enumerated some of the most popular ones. But nowadays, there are other new ingrediets that is incorparated to new diet pills. It is always to check on what is in it. All the best!

    1. Hi Eli, thanks for visiting my site. The word “safe” has always been the question. What i really think about it is if your body allow these weight loss pills. That is why, it is always a good precautionary measure to talk to your doctor before taking any weight loss pills.

  2. Wow I definitely found this to be pretty informative. I always see these weight loss pills everywhere but never really knew what was in them. It’s crazy to hear how many of these are more like natural supplements. Most of the ingredients are already naturally produced in our bodies.

    I was wondering exactly what that bitter orange was and I like the breakdown. Guarana is in just about every energy drink I see nowadays so it makes so much sense to see it paired with energy and focus I can see it all mashing together

    I see you mention a lot of these case studies but most of them are not long term. I wonder if we can get more testing going if we can get some more definitive answers on the long term effects of any or all of these on the list?

    1. Hi Jaiden, thanks for sharing your thoughts. When i was researching about these ingredients, there are not a lot of papers that say long term studies. Although, these pills are already out in the market, and yet some ingredients really need more research. But the safe side is that most of them are natural, and thus, less side effects on the body.
      There is an article that you check about Bitter Orange. It is an Asian fruit that is believed to be very effective in so many ways, including weight loss. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-976/bitter-orange
      All the best!

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