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Supplements to Lose Weight

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
January 13, 2022
April 30, 2024

Whether you’re self-conscious about your appearance, or you are simply trying to lose weight for surgery or to reduce risk, many people turn to supplements to achieve their goal fast. But be careful - there are some weight loss supplements that are simply a waste of money, or even harmful to the body. Here’s what you need to know.

What to Know About Supplements for Weight Loss

If your thoughts turn to supplements or herbal remedies, keep in mind that research gives many of them mixed reviews. In some cases, there isn't a lot of science to back up the claims, and some have health risks. In the table below, we identify some weight loss supplements that may be safe or unsafe based on research and guidance provided by the NIH, and pharmacy groups. Talk with your doctor first before you try any.

Also, you should know that the FDA has cracked down on some weight loss supplements that had prescription drugs in them that weren't noted on the label. Also note that some weight loss supplements contain a mixture of safe and unsafe ingredients. You can't always tell what you're getting.

Don't rely solely on weight loss supplements. The only safe and proven way to lose weight is by healthy eating and active living.
Safe Supplements for Weight Loss Supplements that MAY NOT WORK Unsafe Supplements for Weight Loss
Caffeine, & others containing caffeine (temporary loss):
Guarana, Kola, Mate, Yerba Mate
African Mango Meridia
Chromium (Small) Beta-Glucans Qnexa (Qsymia)
Carnitine (Small) Calcium Japanese Diet Pill
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (Small) Capsaicin Belviq (Lorcaserin HCl)
Green Coffee Bean Extract (Small) Chitosan Brazilian Diet Pill- Emagrece
Green Tea and Green Tea Extract (Small) Coleus forskohlii Clenbuterol
Pyruvate (Small) Fucoxanthan Dinitrophenol
White Kidney Bean/Bean Pod (Small) Garcina Cambogia Ephedrine/ Ephedra (má huáng)
Glucomannan Fen-Phen (Fenfluramine + Phentermine)
Hoodia Contrave ( Naltrexin HCl+Buproprion HCl)
Probiotics Bitter Orange
Raspberry Ketone
Vitamin D


Supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that food and drugs are. The FDA does not review these supplements for safety or efficacy before they hit the market. Losing weight too fast often has lasting effects on the body. Though we may want to see results as fast as possible, doing this with our weight and experimenting on our body can be dangerous. If a person is selling weight loss supplements, their opinion might be biased as they will benefit from the sale. Never sacrifice your personal health and safety for the sake of looking better faster. Always ask your healthcare provider about any supplements, and consult a health coach or dietitian to construct a healthy weight loss plan.

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