The proven ways to lose weight are eating healthful foods, cutting calories, and being physically active. But making these lifestyle changes isn’t easy, so you might wonder if taking a dietary supplement that’s promoted for weight loss might help.
Weight-loss supplements contain many ingredients—like herbs, fiber, and minerals—in different amounts and in many combinations. Sold in forms such as capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders, some products have dozens of ingredients.
Common ingredients in weight-loss supplements are described below in alphabetical order. You’ll learn what’s known about whether each ingredient works and is safe. Figuring out whether these ingredients really help you lose weight safely is complicated, though. Most products contain more than one ingredient, and ingredients can work differently when they’re mixed together.
You might be surprised to learn that makers of weight-loss supplements rarely carry out studies in people to find out whether their product works and is safe. And when studies are done, they usually involve only small numbers of people who take the supplement for just a few weeks or months. To know whether a weight-loss supplement can help people lose weight safely and keep it off, larger groups of people need to be studied for a longer time.