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Understanding Your Weight Loss Supplement Options

Understanding Your Weight Loss Supplement Options

, by Dr. Jeff Pearl, MD, 3 min reading time


Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States. According to recent studies, the U.S. is the second fattest country in the world with 36% meeting the current definition of a BMI greater than 30. Obesity increases ones risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Although for many, diet and exercise should be enough to maintain a healthy BMI, poor eating habits gained in childhood, stress, lack of time to exercise or prepare healthy meals all contribute to this problem. Finances also play a role, as it is often cheaper to buy unhealthy food than healthy food, and often one pays more for a bottle of water than a soda.

There are generally four categories of supplements that are currently available to help with dieting and weight loss:

Appetite Blockers/Suppressants

The two newest ones are Qsymia and Belvia.

  • Belvia works on seratonin receptors in the brain to give the sensation of feeling full. A 3-5% weight loss is expected with regular use. So far, no dangerous side effects have been reported (although we have heard that before with PhenPhen) but the weight loss of 3-5% is relatively unimpressive.
  • Qsymia on the other hand has a reported weight loss of around 10%, a bit better. It is a combination of Toprimate (an anti-seizure medication) and Phentermine (the non-toxic component of the original PhenPhen). The problem with these is that one has to retrain their eating habits so that when they lose weight and stop using these agents, they will maintain healthy eating and keep weight off.


These have been around for years. The most potent, ephedra, has been banned. Most are caffeine based and/or promote increased metabolism. The results are mixed and side-effects can be undesired. Herbs and spices that promote ‘heat’ like Ginseng and Cinnamon, Green Tea extract, Guarana and Taurine are typical ingredients.

Fat Blockers

Orlistat (Allil) blocks uptake of fat in the intestines. Unfortunately, if one eats a lot of fat with this agent, loose stools, sometimes uncontrolled, is a common side-effect. In addition, it does not change eating habits by itself. For these reasons, its use has been limited.

Agents that inhibit fat production and/or promote fat metabolism

  • Tonalin CLA is a conjugated linoleic acid from safflower oil. It assists an enzyme adiponectin to breakdown fat quickly. It is commonly referred to as the supplement that hels get rid of belly fat that is often the hardest to lose. It is a personal favorite of mine.
  • Garcinia Cambogia from India and Africa is a pumpkin-like fruit extract that suppresses appetite and reinforces the immune system. Its active component is hydroxycitrix acid which prevents fat deposition from the extra calories one eats. It also decreases the sensation of hunger. It is important to buy a product with at least 60% HCA and around 800mg in dose.
  • Raspberry Ketones stimulate adiponectin production, boosts metabolism, and regulate glucose levels to prevent surge cravings and the highs and low during the day.
  • Green Coffee extract’s Chlorogenic Acid from unroasted coffee beans does contain caffeine but that is not its main mechanism of action. It has the beneficial effects of lowering blood pressure. It is thought to regulate blood sugar and promote fat burning. It is often sold in combination with Raspberry Ketones. This is another favorite combination of mine.

Whatever, you choose to use to help kick-start your diet and give you that extra push to lose weight, use it as directed, consult your physician regularly and be aware of any unwanted or potentially harmful side-effects. Healthy eating habits, healthy foods, portion control and regular exercise are most important to achieve your goals and help you maintain them for life.


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