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What Works and What Doesn't ?

Weight Loss Supplements
Basic Facts:

  • At times, weight loss medications may be necessary (and possibly helpful) for achieving adequate weight control. This is especially true when exercise is not an option. In such cases, when one relies on diet alone, controlling one's appetite is of utmost importance. Also, a metabolic booster may come in handy, as an alternative to exercise for speeding up metabolism.

  • An abundance of over-the-counter weight loss drugs are available, some of which actually work and may be used as adjuncts in a weight loss program.

  • Also, several prescription weight loss medications have been proven to work reasonably well.

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  • We will review several popular weight loss supplements based on hard facts, and try to establish their true merits in the controversial field of pharmaceutical weight control. However, let me start out by saying that medication should never constitute the mainstay of a weight control program. In the absence of a proper diet and a reasonable exercise program (whenever feasible), medication alone will quite likely fail to deliver the desired results.
  • Keep in mind: There is no miracle diet pill. Any claim that a diet pill will make you loose 20 pounds in one week is pure fantasy. From a medical point of view, the maximum amount of weight you can safely loose per week is deemed to be 2 pounds. And the maximum amount of weight I have actually seen someone loose in one week is 6 pounds. (I am referring to dry body weight, as opposed to water losses which indeed can amount to much higher figures.)
  • Another important fact: Keep in mind that each individual may react differently to weight loss medication. As such, the same medication may prove very effective in one person and only marginally effective in another.

  • Finally, there is the issue of safety:  As you may know, Ephedra and its derivative Ephedrine have been banned by the FDA due to safety concerns. When this happened, a major blow was dealt to the weight loss industry, which was relying heavily on these substances. Ephedra and Ephedrine were quite effective for weight loss due to their strong metabolic stimulant effect. However, these substances also raise the heart rate and blood pressure, and are believed to increase the risk for heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias, and stroke. Due to a legal loophole, Ephedra in small amounts (less than 10 mg per pill) is still being used in certain weight loss products. But these products certainly don't deliver the weight loss results seen with some of the former products.

  • Naturally, the loss of Ephedra left a great void in the weight loss industry. Lately this void was filled by a new substance called Synephrine, a stimulant substance chemically related to Ephedrine. Synephrine is obtained from the plant Citrus Aurantium (bitter orange), and is advertised as having fat-burning properties similar to Ephedrine. Some preliminary studies claim that subjects taking Synephrine have burned 500 additional calories per day, as compared to subjects not taking this substance. By and large, however, there is no coherent body of clinical evidence as yet to support the efficacy of Synephrine.

  • Regarding the safety of Synephrine, its promoters swear by the fact it has no adverse cardiovascular effects, and this may well be the case for the doses used in the respective weight loss agents. At present, there is really insufficient evidence to either refute or support these claims. We do know however that Synephrine, similar to Ephedrine, is a stimulant substance of amphetamine type, and that its isomer Phenylephrin (Neosynephrin) has vasoconstrictor effects and increases blood pressure. Furthermore, it appears that the combination of Synephrine and Caffeine may pose certain risks. The Mayo Clinic has published a report suggesting a link between weight loss supplements containing both these substances and an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and hypertension.

The above being said, let's talk about the available options as far as weight loss agents.

Weight Loss Supplements
Main Types Available:

Based on their mechanism of action, weight loss agents can be classified into several categories:

  1. Appetite Suppressants - act either inside the digestive tract or on the central nervous system to inhibit appetite.
  2. Absorption Inhibitors - act usually inside the digestive tract to inhibit the absorption of fats or sugars.
  3. Metabolism Boosters (Fat Burners or Stimulants) - enhance fat breakdown and energy utilization
  4. Metabolism Modifiers - a diverse group of agents with various mechanisms of action, ranging from optimizing metabolic processes and regulating blood sugar levels, to blocking fat uptake into cells.
  5. Stress Relieving Agents - decrease the secretion of the hormone cortisol (which intervenes in the buildup of abdominal fat deposits).
  6. Combinations of the above - for example, fat burner + appetite suppressant.

Weight Loss Supplements

We will now proceed to review several popular weight loss agents, which are considered (at least by some) to be reasonably effective. We will take a look at each individual agent based on the available facts, and try to separate false claims from reality.


Hoodia Gordonii is quite likely the most popular over-the-counter appetite suppressant available in the US at this time. The P-57 molecule, which is the active ingredient in Hoodia, is believed to work on the hunger center in the brain to inhibit appetite. The promoters of Hoodia claim that in clinical studies, subjects using Hoodia consumed about 1,000 calories less per day... read more

Alli Diet Pill:

This over-the-counter weight loss supplement contains the same substance as the prescription drug Xenical (Orlistat), but at half the strength. Xenical was approved by the FDA for the treatment of obesity, to be used in... read more


More than a weight loss supplement, omega3 fatty acids are nutritional factors which promote the general health and well-being of the organism. The beneficial effects of these agents have been widely publicized: They are recognized especially for their cardio-protective and anti-cancer role, but it appears their action is far more widespread and involves just about every system in the body.

From the point of view of weight control, omega3 fatty acids appear to optimize cellular function and regulate metabolism to maintain good energy levels and prevent the sluggishness often associated with dieting.

Omega3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as wild fish, fish oil, and walnuts. Many over-the-counter supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are widely available in drug stores, grocery stores, etc. Overall, these compounds make a great adjunct to a weight loss program. To learn more about omega3 fatty acids, follow this link.

Leptopril® and Leptoprin®:

Both these compounds have been heavily advertised on TV as being indicated for serious weight loss, in significantly overweight individuals who need to loose at least 20 lbs. ... read more.

Green Tea 300®:

Green Tea 300 has received some great hype lately. Among others, it has been advertised as a product used by Hollywood celebrities for fat-burning and anti-aging purposes. ... read more

Green Tea Lean Drink Mix:

Similar to Green Tea 300®, Green Tea Lean Drink Mix contains high amounts of polyphenols and catechins with antioxidant properties, among which the super-antioxidant EGCG. ... read more


This weight loss supplement represents an innovative solution to weight control. It is neither an appetite suppressant nor a metabolic stimulant. Instead, it inhibits the action of the enzyme LPL (lipoprotein lipase), which shuttles fat into the cells to be stored as fat deposits. ... read more


The Cortislim formula is tackling weight control from a different (and in all fairness rather innovative) angle. This product is supposed to reduce stress levels and decrease the body's secretion of the hormone cortisol. ... read more


Nuphedrine is a combination agent (appetite suppressant / metabolic booster). This dietary supplement replaced the product known as 'Looking Trim/Ephedrine-P57'. As you may know, Ephedrine-containing products have been banned in the United States, as such 'Looking Trim/Ephedrine-P57' is no longer available. The replacement product NuPhedrine combines South African Hoodia (an appetite suppressant) with a patented substance named Advantra-Z... read more


MiracleBurn is a weight loss supplement which combines the appetite suppressant Hoodia Gordonii with the metabolic stimulant Advantra-Z (active ingredient Synephrine). ... read more

Xtreme Lean Phase 2:

This product represents a novel approach to weight control: It works by inhibiting the pancreatic enzyme amylase, which normally breaks down starch into simple sugars... read more


Cenafil is a fairly popular diet product, which contains the appetite suppressant Hoodia Gordonii in combination with 2 other substances... read more


Dietrine was designed to block carb absorption, by inhibiting the pancreatic enzyme alpha-amylase which breaks down starches into simple sugars in the small intestine. ... read more


The Accuslim formula is basically a combination of stimulants (fat burners), with a few other added components. ... read more

Hydroxycut® and Hydroxycut Hardcore:

Hydroxycut is a popular product, partly due to the efficacy of the original (Ephedra-containing) formula, and partly due to the massive publicity campaign mounted by its manufacturers through all possible media channels. Like many weight loss agents, Hydroxycut has been reformulated after Ephedra was banned from the US market by the FDA. The original Ephedra-containing formula was deemed by many to be quite effective... read more

Metabolife Ultra:

Metabolife is a fairly popular weight loss supplement, probably due to the fact it is sold in discount stores around the country. In fact, the company markets multiple products, all of which are basically variations on the same theme, i.e. a rather common blend of vitamins and stimulant agents.
Here is a list of ... read more


LipoTrim is a safe and useful adjunct for any weight control program. However, do not expect any dramatic effects simply by taking this supplement. Here's why: While all the ingredients in this product contribute to the breakdown process of fats, ... read more


This weight loss supplement is a combination of multiple stimulant agents and one appetite suppressant.
Here's a list of the main ingredients: Advantra-Z (active ingredient Synephrine), Green Tea extract, Caffeine... read more

Xenadrine EFX:

Xenadrine EFX is a relatively inexpensive and widely available fat burner, which can be purchased at discount stores around the country. The product, which formerly contained Ephedra, has been reformulated after Ephedra was banned by the FDA. The stimulant repacing Ephedra is... read more

Xenadrine NRG 8 Hour Power:

Cytodine, the makers of Xenadrine, refer to Xenadrine NRG as "the next generation in energy and weight loss products". According to them, the product starts acting in 30 minutes and continues providing increased energy levels for... read more


This weight loss supplement has been heavily advertised on TV as the ultimate drug for weight loss. The nightly advertising campaign boasts substantial weight loss benefits, adding that 78% of each pound lost was pure fat. We will take a closer look at the validity of these claims, and at the role of Lipozene in a weight loss program. ... read more

Phentermine (Adipex):

Phentermine, a powerful central nervous system stimulant, is quite likely the most commonly prescribed weight loss agent in the United States. It is marketed under many different brand names, including Adipex-P (immediate release formula), Anoxin-AM... read more

Sibutramine (Meridia):

Sibutramine (marketed under the brand name of Meridia) is a prescription weight loss medication reserved for severely overweight individuals, whose health is at risk because of their weight. It is generally recommended for persons with a BMI over 30, or for those with a BMI over 27 who also suffer from hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol. ... read more

Weight Loss Supplements
Diet Pills We Do Not Recommend:

Some over the counter weight loss supplements contain combinations of substances that may be dangerous for one's health. In particular, we are referring to any agent containing a combination of Ephedra and Caffeine, or Ephedra and Green Tea.

Ephedra (also known as Ma Huang after the plant it is extracted from) is a powerful metabolic stimulant from the amphetamine family. Both Ephedra and its derivative Ephedrine increase heart rate and blood pressure, and as such increase the risk for cardiac arrhythmias, heart attack and stroke. These effects are compounded by Caffeine and/or Green Tea, which have the same stimulant metabolic action. The result is a rather risky combination, which may be effective for short-term weight loss, but also carries a high risk of cardiovascular side effects. Since overweight or obese individuals have a higher cardiovascular risk to begin with, it seems this very group of people should stay away from such medications at all cost.

Ephedra-containing dietary supplements were banned by the FDA in April 2004 due to safety concerns. A legal battle ensued and the ban was lifted one year later, in 2005. Then, in August 2006, a federal court upheld the FDA's ban on Ephedra. However, the previous 2005 court ruling contains a provision which prohibits the FDA from enforcing the ban on dietary supplements containing 10 mg or less of Ephedra. As such, quite a few Ephedra-containing products previously discontinued have resurfaced on the market, with the only difference they now contain 10 mg of Ephedra per pill. Now let's do the math: If taking 2 tablets of such a substance 3 times a day, you would be taking 60 mg of Ephedra per day. Does this dose pose a danger to your health? The answer is: Possibly. This being said, it's probably safer to give up on Ephedra altogether.

Here are a few examples of Ephedra-containing agents on the market at present (please note the list below is not exhaustive):
  • ECA fuel (also known as ECA stack) - contains Ephedra, Caffeine, and Aspirin
  • Extreme Power Plus - contains Ephedra and Green Tea
  • Clenbutrx™ - contains Ephedra and Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Lipodrene® - contains Ephedra, Caffeine and Green Tea

Please note: All the above combinations are considered risky by the FDA. These weight loss supplements are even more hazardous for overweight and obese individuals, who have increased cardiovascular risk to begin with. Therefore, such products have no place in a weight control program. There are many other, much safer weight loss supplements that can be used (see the list at the top right of this page).


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Weight Loss Supplements
Basic Facts

Weight Loss Supplements
Main Types

Weight Loss Supplements

Hoodia Gordonii

Alli Diet Pill


& Leptoprin®

Green Tea 300®

Green Tea Lean
Drink Mix





Xtreme Lean
Phase 2





Metabolife Ultra

Lipo Trim


Xenadrine EFX

Xenadrine NRG


Phentermine (Adipex)

Sibutramine (Meridia)

Diet Pill We Do Not Recommend





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