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Weight loss supplements

If you're reading this section, you're probably hoping for a safe, effective and cheap weight loss supplement.  Unfortunately, it's not that simple.  There are prescription medications available for weight loss that are highly effective and do have some awesome science backing up their use, but I'll let your doctor talk to you about those options.  The risks and benefits must be weighed in the context of any personal medical history you could have.  Where the water gets muddier is when talking about unregulated weight loss supplements.  They claim to provide guaranteed weight loss by focusing mostly on testimonials, and not mentioning the science.  Even if they do work, at what price?  What are the long term risks?  

When ephedrine supplements came out, they bragged about their weight loss miracles in their 20-something patient study.  The supplement was well tolerated by this small number of people, but once it was unleashed on the whole population, hell broke loose and people died.  How can you identify a 1 percent side effect if there aren't a hundred people in the study?  Weight loss supplements have killed people, yet they're still out there.  They're frequently contaminated with other drugs or don't contain what's listed on their label.  In a study done to test to effectiveness of these supplements, 9 were tested against placebo, and not a single one could beat it.

What about fiber supplements?


Since we already know that fiber adds bulk without adding calories, what about fiber supplements?  What does the science say?  Fiber supplements don't have a great track record in weight loss studies.  Most show a loss of a few pounds a year, and even the most expensive one, PGX, has failed to beat out cheaper fiber supplements like psyllium, sold under the brand name Metamucil.  Buying fiber supplements can be more expensive than other weight loss strategies listed in the Weight Loss Boosters section, and so I'd suggest avoiding fiber supplements as long term crutches, although they could play a role in someone's initial transition.  If someone is motivated enough to pay for and take fiber supplements daily for a year, in order to lose 4-5 pounds, they should maybe look into using that level of determination to apply some of the recommendations made in the Weight Loss Boosters section.

My advice would be to stay away from supplements if you can.  Focus instead on eating healthy plant foods that have a naturally low calorie density, and high fiber content that creates bulk without calories, and can naturally suppress appetite. 

Do slimming supplements work?

H. Gibson-Moore First published: 19 November 2010 Citations: 3 Helena Gibson-Moore, Research Assistant, British Nutrition Foundation, High Holborn House, 52–54 High Holborn, London WC1V 6RQ, UK. E-mail:

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