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Supplements for Weight Loss: Do They Work?

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By Apollo Pharmacy, Published on - 07 January 2022

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The most effective and proven ways for losing weight are eating healthy foods, cutting down on calories, and being physically active. However, a few people may find it difficult to make these lifestyle modifications and may consider taking supplements to facilitate weight loss. 

Dietary supplements are health aids consumed in the form of tablets, capsules or bars, which contain active ingredients like vitamins, minerals, caffeine, fibre, and herbs. These supplements are known to decrease appetite, burn fat, reduce fat absorption, and speed up metabolism while providing nutrition and energy.

Why do some people seek supplements for weight loss?

Weight loss supplements are preferred by many because they are: 

  • Less  demanding when compared to lifestyle modifications
  • Available without a prescription
  • Mostly made from natural ingredients and are perceived to  be safe

How do weight loss supplements work?

Weight loss supplements work by:

  • Decreasing appetite
  • Reducing dietary fat absorption
  • Enhancing fat burning
  • Speeding up metabolism.

Recommended reading: Does Intermittent Fasting Help with Weight Loss?

Supplements for weight loss

The most commonly used supplements for weight loss are:  

  • Chitosan: Though there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of Chitosan, a dietary fiber, on body weight, it is believed to reduce dietary fat absorption in the body. 
  • Chromium Picolinate: Chromium is known to enhance the effect of insulin hormone that is necessary to convert food into fuel for energy. Chromium picolinate supplements are known to reduce appetite, burn more calories, increase lean muscle mass, and cut down body fat.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Conjugated Linoleic Acid supplement contains linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid that helps to reduce body fat while increasing muscle mass. Linoleic acid also makes one feel fuller aiding in weight loss.
  • Green tea extract: Caffeine and catechins in green tea are associated with weight loss. These components work by reducing appetite, decreasing fat absorption, and increasing calorie and fat metabolism. 
  • Green coffee bean extract: This extract contains caffeine and chlorogenic acid. Caffeine burns fat, contributing to weight loss. On the other hand, chlorogenic acid reduces fat and glucose absorption in the gut. It also improves metabolic function by lowering insulin levels. 
  • Whey protein: Whey protein powder is known to encourage fat loss while preserving muscle tissue. The protein content helps one feel full, suppressing the urge to eat large meals or snacks regularly which leads to consuming fewer calories.
  • Probiotics: Though the evidence is inconclusive, probiotics are known to help lose weight by altering gut bacteria which enhances nutrient absorption and increases energy expenditure.


Supplements for weight loss do not undergo the same scrutiny as drugs, hence their safety is not completely known. Some weight loss supplements may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, or constipation. Therefore, it is important to discuss with a doctor before taking any supplements for weight loss. This is especially important for people with pre-existing health conditions, those taking prescription medications, or women who are pregnant and breastfeeding.

Read More on Weight Management


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