Diet Pills for Weight Loss: Do They Actually Work?

There's shockingly more to diet pills than you thought

diet pills weight loss: do they work?

Do diet pills for weight loss work? Can they help you lose weight for the long term?

Diet pills for weight loss can be taken as an appealing solution to lose those extra pounds without much effort.

In this article, we will discuss the effectiveness of diet pills, their most common ingredients, side effects, and possible benefits. 

Let’s have a look into this.

What are diet pills?

Diet pills are dietary supplements or drugs that promise to reduce or control weight

However, the effectiveness and safety use of some of their ingredients have been subject of much controversy for decades.

Can they be part of the solution to modern obesity?

Obesity is a complex multifactorial problem, most of the time related to lifestyle choices. 

And it’s been on the rise for decades now due to:

  • Increased physical inactivity – greater sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, increasing urbanization
  • Increased intake of energy-dense foods high sugars and fat. 

According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975 and is linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight.

Therefore, recommendations for effective long-term weight loss plans imply adopting healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.

Do diet pils really work?

Diet pills are, at best, tools that may help within a healthy weight-loss program.

Also, the proof of their effectiveness can be questionable.

Prescribed drugs are regulated by the FDA, but supplements are not. 

Manufacturers of weight-loss supplements don’t need to provide evidence of the effectiveness of their products.

As a result, they don’t always carry out studies to find out whether their products work, or the studies are not reliable.

Therefore, interpreting claims on diet pills can be tricky. 

The messages can be misleading or more clinical research is needed to support the claims.

But, in some cases, when lifestyle changes are not enough or someone has reached a plateau, doctors may prescribe certain supplementations.

Now, let’s have a close look at how diet pills work.

How do diet pills work?

Diet pills may affect your body weight by one of the following ways:

Let’s see some examples of prescribed weight-loss medications. 

Orlistat works in your gut to reduce the amount of fat the body absorbs from food. 

Lorcaserin acts on the serotonin receptors in the brain helping you feel fuller after eating small amounts of food.

And new strategies that are considered for future medications are:

  • Stimulating gut hormones that reduce appetite
  • Modify bacteria in the gut to control weight
  • Target genes that affect body weight
  • Combine drugs that affect addiction 
  • Shrink blood vessels that feed fat cells in the body and prevent them from growing

Common diet pills medications and prescriptions

Modern prescribed medications approved for long-term treatments are:

  • Orlistat
  • Lorcaserin
  • Phentermine-topiramate
  • Naltrexone-bupropion
  • Liraglutide

Common over-the-counter diet pills and supplements

Garcinia cambogia

Garcinia cambogia may promote modest weight loss by inhibiting a fat-producing enzyme and increasing levels of serotonin, which can help to reduce cravings.

Caffeine

Caffeine can boost metabolism and may enhance fat burning in the short term.

Raspberry ketones

It may increase the breakdown of fat, but studies have been conducted only over rats.

Green coffee bean extract

Green coffee bean extract may promote weight loss by increasing fat burning.

It can also slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates, but most of the studies, in this case, are industry-sponsor. 

Green tea extract

Green tea extract contains the antioxidant, EGCG, may increase the activity of the hormone norepinephrine, which helps burn fat.

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)

It may both reduce body fat and improve lean mass, which has attracted lots of attention over the last years.

Hydroxycut

This contains several ingredients and has been a very common supplement for weight loss, but there are not enough studies on its long-term effectiveness.

Over-the-counter diet supplements are not FDA approved and can be scams or tainted products

Be aware of the following signs and false claims:

  • Promises of a quick fix
  • Use the words “scientific breakthrough” or “guarantee”
  • Products marketed as having similar effects than prescribed drugs
  • Products marketed through mass emails 

Diet pills side effects

Possible side effects vary for each weight-loss medication. Some frequent ones are:

People suffering from any previous condition should consult with their doctors about the adequacy of these medications. 

In the past, certain drugs have been withdrawn due to the reported cases of side effects after their commercialization.

For example, the appetite suppressants fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were banned in 1997 as a consequence of their association with valvular heart disease.

The studies suggested a prevalence of cardiac abnormalities as high as 30% among users of these drugs.

Benefits of diet pills for weight loss

Diet pills may help people lose weight within a healthy program that includes eating habits, physical activity, and behavioral changes.

And dropping off extra pounds lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and may resolve problems like joint pain or sleep apnea.

In this clinical trial, this phenomenon was studied observing the effect of medications on at least 50 participants during a year. 

On average, people under prescription medications as part of a lifestyle intervention lost from 3 to 9 percent more than people in lifestyle programs without medication. 

When should I take weight loss diet pills?

If you need to lose weight, and you find that a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity are not enough, prescribed medications may work.

Also, when you reach a plateau after a diet and exercise plan, diet pills can promote weight loss.

Consult with your doctor first and avoid the possible side effects.

Takeaway

There are no miracle solutions for the problem of obesity. And any supplementation may help only within a healthy weight loss plan.

Considering this, there are some prescribed drugs and over-the-counter supplements that may promote weight loss.

You can consider diet pills as an option when a weight loss program is not giving enough results. Or when you’ve reached a plateau in their weight loss process.

Therefore, diet pills for weight loss within a lifestyle intervention that includes increased physical activity and healthy eating patterns may help overweight individuals.

(Nutritionist coach and health writer)

Miriam is a certified Nutritionist and coach by ISSA and in Advanced Nutrition by Hong Kong University, and she has dedicated last decade to promote healthy lifestyles and education in nutrition. She is the author of the book series Food Wisdom under the pen name Broccoli People, in which she explains the principles of nutrition in an easy and intuitive way. You can follow her at www.broccolipeople.com.