Here's what you should know if you are considering OTC or prescription weight loss supplements.
You probably already know that the best way to lose weight is to exercise frequently and eat a diet that promotes weight loss.
According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association 1, if you commit to doing these two things, you can lose 5 to 10% of your body weight within the first six months of your weight reduction journey.
But like many others, you may find it difficult to stick to a low-calorie diet and exercise routine and get discouraged when you don't see weight improvements right away.
Since it's human nature to look for the quickest and easiest answer to a problem, you may be thinking of starting to take diet pills — which promise to expedite your weight loss with as little as taking a pill in the morning.
Americans spend $2B+ annually on diet pills, and 15% of US adults have taken a weight-loss dietary supplement at some point, but do diet pills work? Keep reading to learn the answer!
Do Weight Loss Pills Help, and Are They Safe?
To be clear, there are two types of diet pills you can take, over-the-counter weight-loss supplements and prescription weight-loss medications.
Prescription Weight-Loss Drugs
These have been given the thumbs-up by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and there is proof that they can aid in weight loss of 5–10% for those who are obese.
Since it lowers the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses, a weight loss of 5% or more of one's body weight is considered to be significant.
If you routinely exercise and eat healthily but haven't lost weight and your body mass index (BMI) is higher than 30, a doctor can prescribe weight-loss medication for you.
If you've got a BMI greater than 27 and an obesity-related ailment, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, they may also prescribe weight loss pills.
The pills will aid in your weight reduction by increasing satiety, lowering appetite, increasing fat burning, and inhibiting the body's ability to absorb fat from the meals you eat.
Some of the FDA-approved, effective prescription weight-loss medications include:
- Naltrexone-Bupropion (Contrave). According to studies, naltrexone and bupropion help with weight loss by increasing satiety, decreasing appetite, and boosting fat burning 2.
Participants in a one-year clinical trial of this drug shed an average of 6.1% of their body fat. They started losing weight four weeks after starting Contrave, and they didn't hit a weight loss plateau throughout the trial.
- Orlistat (Xenical and Alli) is a prescription weight-loss drug that decreases fat absorption. The undigested fat is then eliminated through bowel movements.
In one study 3, participants who used orlistat together with a healthy diet and consistent exercise began to lose weight within two weeks. They on average lost 5.6 kgs (11.9lbs) in six months compared to 2.4 kgs (5.3lbs) in a group that only exercised and dieted.
- Phentermine/Topiramate (Qsymia). You can lose weight by taking phentermine and topiramate, which suppress your appetite and increase your feeling of fullness.
Participants in a one-year trial 4 who took a daily pill containing 92 mg of topiramate and 15 mg of phentermine lost 10% or more of their body weight during the year.
Although these prescription weight-loss pills have been scientifically shown to be effective, not everyone should take them. For instance, using prescription weight loss medications while nursing, pregnant, or trying to get pregnant is not advised.
While using them, you can have certain adverse reactions like nausea, headaches, diarrhea, stomach pains, dizziness, dry mouth, and constipation.
Note: The pills don't take the role of exercise and a balanced diet when it comes to losing weight. When your doctor prescribes them, they should discuss with you how to utilize them in conjunction with a lifestyle program for the best outcomes.
Are Over-The-Counter Weight Loss Pills Effective?
You can get a variety of non-FDA-approved diet pills at your neighborhood pharmacy or online. Be careful, however, about what you choose to put in your body — the safety of these dietary supplements cannot be assured since they've not been examined by the FDA.
The FDA does keep an eye on the OTC dietary pills that are sold and removes those that are determined to be dangerous from the market. Just know that there is little in the way of scientific evidence that OTC diet supplements are effective.
However, many people I know who have tried the more well-known diet supplements, like Trimtone, Leanbean, and Modere Trim (a formula), have reported success. Furthermore, a sizable number of favorable online reviews attest to the efficiency of these supplements in how they aid weight loss.
For instance, a friend of mine who used Trimtone dropped 13 pounds (6 kgs) in three months. They used the supplements in combination with exercise and a diet that ensured they consumed fewer calories, as is often advised by the manufacturers of these products, so I'm unable to claim with certainty that the supplements caused them to lose weight. But the fact that dietary supplements contain components recognized to aid in weight loss is what leads many to believe they work.
For instance, Trimtone contains caffeine, which, according to research, helps you eat less by reducing the levels of ghrelin 5, a hormone that alerts the brain when it's time to eat.
Thermogenesis, the process of burning calories, is also triggered by caffeine, which aids in faster fat burning.
For more info, see our article "Does Trimtone Actually Work? An Honest Review".
Several all-natural substances, including Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Capsicum, Apple Cider, Glucomannan, Turmeric, Zinc, Green Coffee Beans, Garcinia Cambogia, and Green Tea, are also found in Leanbean, Modere Trim, and other popular diet supplements.
These ingredients also work to suppress hunger, increase fat burning, and decrease the absorption of fat.
If you decide to try OTC diet pills for weight reduction, keep in mind that it is difficult to lose weight and that the supplement you're taking may not be effective for you or that the weight loss you experience may be minimal.
Similar to prescription weight-loss medications, you should avoid over-the-counter diet pills if you're expecting, and you should stop using them immediately if you develop headaches, insomnia, anxiety, or other side effects.
If you use them for a while and then stop taking them, ensure you keep up your healthy eating and exercise routines to avoid regaining weight.
Last but not least, consult your doctor or pharmacist before beginning to take any diet pills, especially if you're already on any medications.