Weight Loss Pills - Effective Diet Aid or Snake Oil?

Weight loss pills offer a very tempting quick fix for losing weight. But just how effective are they? More importantly, are they safe? Your drug store shelves are filled with bottles full of promises of quick weight loss and glossy photos of super skinny models. How realistic are these claims though? When you are looking at the different brands of weight loss pills, it is important that you understand some of the more popular ingredients that make up some of the more popular supplements.

Bitter Orange

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While it decreases appetite, bitter orange is considered to be an ephedra substitute meaning that it possibly brings with it many of the same health problems that ephedra does. Plus, the long term effects of using bitter orange are currently unknown.


This relatively safe supplement blocks the absorption of dietary fat, but is not a likely candidate to cause any significant weight loss. It may cause constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues and its long term effects are unknown.


There is no evidence to substantiate the weight loss claims and long term use remains unstudied, but chromium does reduce body fat and builds muscle. It is relatively safe, though.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA reduces body fat while decreasing appetite while building muscle, but it can cause diarrhea, indigestion and other gastrointestinal issues. It may decrease body fat while increasing, though, but it is not likely that it will reduce your total body weight.

Country Mallow (heartleaf)

Country Mallow contains ephedra, making it possibly dangerous. It is considered to be somewhat unsafe and it is advised that it be avoided. It does, however, decrease the appetite and increase the number of calories that are burned.


It was once considered to be one of the most effective weight loss pills on the market because it so was so highly effective in decreasing the appetite, ephedra does have its downside. It can cause high blood pressure, irregularities in heart rate, sleeplessness, heart attacks, stroke, seizures and even death. It was banned from the marketplace because of health and safety concerns but has returned to the market recently.

Green Tea Extract

While the evidence of green tea's effectiveness is limited, it is touted as a metabolism booster by increasing the calorie and fat burning while decreasing the appetite. However, it can cause vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea and bloating and may contain a fairly large amount of caffeine.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is said to block the absorption of dietary fat and make you feel fuller, leading to a decrease in caloric intake. It is considered to be safe, but studies show that it is not likely to cause any weight loss. It can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, flatulence and other issues.


This highly popular weight loss pill is said to decrease appetite, but there is no conclusive evidence that will support this claim.

Some diet pills do work, but it is due more in part to the healthy diet and exercise that you should follow than the diet pill itself. Only you can decide if weight loss pills are good for you and your weight loss efforts.

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