An Oregon State University researcher has reviewed the evidence surrounding hundreds of weight loss supplements and found no evidence that any single product results in significant weight loss. What's more, many have detrimental health benefits.
A few products, including green tea, fibre and low-fat dairy supplements, can have a modest weight loss benefit of 3 to 4 pounds (2 kg), but most of these supplements were tested as part of a low calorie, weight loss diet.
The researchers say for most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact.
Supplements were looked at that fell into four categories: products such as chitosan that block absorption of fat or carbohydrates, stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra that increase metabolism, products such as conjugated linoleic acid that claim to change the body composition by decreasing fat, and appetite suppressants such as soluble fibres.
Many products had no randomized clinical trials examining their effectiveness, and most of the research studies did not include exercise. Most of the products showed less than a two-pound weight loss benefit compared to the placebo groups.
What people want is to lose weight and maintain or increase lean tissue mass, said the researchers. Yet there is no evidence that any one supplement does this. And some have side effects ranging from bloating and gas to very serious issues such as strokes and heart problems.
The key to weight loss is to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats, reduce calorie intake of high-fat foods, and to exercise. Depending on the individual, increasing protein may be beneficial (especially for those trying to not lose muscle).
The bottom line: the only way to lose weight permanently is to make a lifestyle change.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.