Do fat loss products really work?

Fat loss supplements, like their drug counterparts, seek to help with weight loss by increasing energy expenditure (calories burned through thermogenesis or heat production) by wasting energy rather than storing it as fat or making one more apt to move; altering appetite so that the user feels fuller sooner or for longer and reduces cravings; and decreasing absorption of a portion of calories eaten. Essentially the supplement is supposed to make it easier for the user to stick to the lifestyle necessary to achieve their goal. Typically, the user would stop taking the product once the goal is met. As part of a comprehensive program, there may be a few substances that can help while new habits are being formed. However, if one takes fat-loss products in the hope that the product alone will allow them to look and feel amazing, then they will be disappointed.
Yes and no.  Yes fat loss products help you with your existing program.  Just like you need to eat right, do weight training and cardiovascular training it is another tool.  Most people want that quick fix.  However, most people who do get on these supplements should be careful to check it will not have adverse effects on  your body.  Also check what you are taking, some of the ingredients might not be the best for you.  All in all you don't need a drug to lose body fat.  In simplest terms burn more eat less.  If you track what you eat and eat right, incorporate resistance training and a proper cardiovascular program you will see results bottom line.
Everything seems to work with a proper diet and exercise program.  What I find a bit difficult to read and hear after a promotion of a product is that "with a proper diet and exercise program....."  I am relatively convinced that maybe we don't need the product just the diet and exercise program.  I would say that an overwhelmingly large percentage of the claims made by most "fitness, fat loss, muscle gain" products is  just hyperbole.  Focus on a sensible diet that combines a caloric and nutritional overview with your goals and a sensible fitness program that effectively addresses the most important elements of fitness with the direction you have in mind.  Food and fitness works, pills exaggerate.

Lets call them supplements and not products and we do this so we can say "Call a spade a spade."

Supplements are a supplement to your diet and workout routine, no more no less.  Without a good nutrition plan and workout regimen supplements will not work to their capabilities.  But when a supplement is supplementing your diet by giving key nutrients and amino acids that they body does not produce or get through your diet then yes they can be helpful.

Always put your dietary habits as the solution and the supplements to simply help and supply holes or deficiencies in your diet.  Think of supplements as a great suspension system in your car.  Your car can run without it but a good suspension system makes the car perform better and more productive.  You can get to your goals without supplements but sometimes the right product for the right need directed by the right coach can help you greatly.  Supplements are not the answer they are simply an aid.  

Yes, there are a few supplements that do assist the body to utilize/burn more calories. However, the key is to reduce your fat intake with a balanced meal plan, increase your water intake, increase your physical activity and sleep! I suggest to see what your body can do first before taking anything other than a good multivitamin and/or medicine prescribed by your doctor.

After 23 years in the fitness industry, I can tell you just about every fat loss product includes instructions on eating healthy and adding exercise into your daily routine. I am very much against any of the faddy weight loss products that are marketed every day. Results may be quick but are not permanent and can have some hazardous side effects.

The human body is amazing. It knows how to survive when we do not take care of it properly. Many of these products affect your body’s natural processes causing it to take other actions to counter act what you are doing to it.  The bottom line is to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Most important, be accountable to someone who is strong enough to tell you, “You don’t need that can of soda.”

With all that said, supplements can help enhance your body to function as it was intended. Our bodies need many nutrients every day to keep our internal processes functioning. With busy life styles, most people do not take in the proper nutrients through food. It is important to take time to research nutritional supplements and find out what works for you or ask your trainer if they have some helpful resources to get you started.


Brian Tanzer
Nutrition & Dietetics

There are a couple of fat and weight loss products that work, however, maximum benefit is still achieved when they are combined with diet and exercise. A dietary supplement called 7-keto is one of these products. 7-Keto DHEA is a metabolite of, rather than a precursor to the hormone DHEA and therefore does not increase DHEA levels. Two double-blind placebo-controlled studies show 7-keto helps increase fat metabolism and leads to 3 times more weight loss than diet and exercise alone. One other supplement conjugated linoleoic acid (CLA) has been shown to decrease body fat in overweight but otherwise healthy individuals. The important thing to keep in mind is that no supplement can replace a healthy eating plan and regular daily vigorous exercise. A supplement is exactly that, something to supplement, or take in addition to a healthy lifestyle. So despite the weight and fat loss benefits of some dietary supplements, no supplement can make up for a poor diet and lack of physical activity.

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics

Some do, some don't. It depends to some degree on the quality of the product and, more importantly, what other things you do in conjunction with taking it.

What you eat and how much you move your body are both far more important factors in weight loss, and are the only truly long-term and sustainable solutions. I'd recommend being leery of fat loss products overall. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

If you think they do, they will?! Always consult your doctor before ingesting any fat loss products.

I agree with Troy Taylor – NASM Elite Trainer, everything seems to work with proper diet and exercise and quoted the perfect phrase found on majority fat loss product packaging, “…with a proper diet and exercise program”. 

Many products include a general guide to follow, whether it’s a meal plan, exercise program, website instructions, etc... Did the product actually work? Was it the meal plans you followed or the exercise program provided?  Hmmm, interesting! If your doctor allows you to take the product and you lose fat by following all directions of product, it worked!! After product is finished is the issue of many. Try focusing on your dedication and end result, fat loss, not the product, to reduce addiction. Now you’re happy that you lost weight, don’t become an emotional roller-coaster by stopping everything for a month or two, gain it all back and repeat. Consult with a Supplement Advisor, Nutritionist and/or a Personal Trainer to enhance your goal. You lost weight and now you're able to move more, do you want to?!!

Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
Everything works for someone to a certain extent. I honestly cannot not say they do not work. But the question is, should you use weight loss products? My own personal opinion is NO. Weight loss products has caused more damage to people than good. They have been known to cause severe damage to the liver, kidney, and heart. Companies fill these products with all kinds of unnatural ingredients that claim to boost your metabolism which in turn will make you burn more fat. In reality you are spending money on something you do not even know much about. 
The best way to burn fat is to spend more time focusing on what you are eating throughout the day and less time on how many pills you took. I would also recommend at least 30 minutes of intense training at least 4 days per week. Do not let commercials be the decision maker in your fitness goals. use common sense and train smart.

When it comes to fat loss, in the words of Dr. Oz, you just have to "Eat less and Move more."  The main ingredient in most fat loss products is caffeine and some type of appetite suppressant. This is to ensure that you feel fuller quicker (eat less) and spend the energy that the caffeine provides (move more).

Some of them may very well do as they claim. But why take a pill that claims to help with weight loss when you can just be more aware of what you eat. Along with taking the fat loss pills you still have to exercise and eat properly so why not just cut out the middle man (fat loss pills) and "Eat less and Move more". There are foods you can eat that promote a feeling of satiety as well as good digestion. The foods are plentiful nutrient dense and good tasting. They also provide the carbs or energy you need to get you through the day as opposed to using just the caffeine additive.

If you opt to take any type of pills for the support of your weight loss efforts they should be nutritional supplements such as multivitamins or antioxidants only because we don't always get what we need from the food that we eat hence the term supplement.

The only fat loss product that really works is found within oneself, hard work, determination, and lifestyle modification. Even though there are a lot of 'products' on the market none work better than watching your caloric intake and good regular exercise. 

Let's look at the HCG diet. This diet product consists of drops or a shot of HCG and reducing your caloric intake to 500 a day. Basically starving yourself without exercising which will help you lose weight, but is a very unhealthy way to achieve your goal.

I would suggest counting your calories for 3 days (this will help you become aware of the not-so-healthy food choices as well), reduce that total of calories by 500 (women should never drop below 1200 and men should never drop below 1800) and exercise 3 times a week (cardio and resistance training). When preparing your nutrition make sure you are getting your daily carbs, protein, and fat using to assist you is an excellent tool to use.

Of course, with any fitness program, refer to your primary care physician before starting a program.

Most fat loss products out there tell you they can do miracles, and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If you are looking for long term results, being healthy and feeling good, then eating healthy and exercise is the right path for you to lose fat. Creating a healthy negative energy balance is the key, burning more calories than you consume, through exercise and making sure that your body gets the right amounts of micro and macro nutrients to function correctly is the best way to eliminate those extra pounds.

Also when you decide to use weight loss products you have to research about the side effects and ask yourself if it is worth to risk your health using something that may not even work.

The question is, Are you willing to work the product? I’m not going to completely deny that none of these products work. But if you are doing nothing, it will do nothing for you. You still have to put in work. Just make sure you do your research. All products are not good for you.

Devin Alexander
Nutrition & Dietetics

Most do not. There are rare exceptions. But many fat loss products also have severe side affects (some diet pills have been found to create bi-polar tendencies, etc.). It's best to avoid quick fixes and eat whole foods while being active.

I guess it depends on what you consider a fat loss product.  My ideas of some great fat loss products are my vibram five finger shoes that I run in.  Cardio vascular exercise such as running is great at burning fat, and proper footwear is important.  I also love my resistance bands (I use bodylastics) and my TRX suspension trainer for strength training.  Strength training is also good for fat loss.  If you are asking about diet pills and supplements, personally, I prefer to stay far away from them.   My recommendation is to look at the research on the product and see if there are long-term studies.  Does the product really do what it says, and is it really safe?  A study for a month doesn't give me any confidence in long-term safety, I'm more interested in a study over a decade or more.  I'd rather burn fat thru exercise and healthy diet, than take a risk that the latest diet craze pill turns out to be something harmful.

While most products claim to be the "magic pill" you need to lose fat, it is important to remember that the supplement industry is not regulated. This simply means that the claims put on products are not always true and there is no organization that stops them :) However, there are people who claim to benefit from fat loss products. Research has shown that ingredients such as caffeine and yohimbe do in fact increase the metabolic rate (rate at which you burn calories). This is due in part to the fact that they give your system that little energy boost you need. Anybody who has experienced success with fat loss products usually follows the diet and exercise plan that accompany the product itself. This is usually an eat-less-move-more plan which we all know results in fat loss in general. Another argument is that taking a fat loss supplement can improve your mind set: meaning you DO more because you FEEL like more is being done with this product. Fat loss products containing caffeine also help ease the "fuzzy mind" associated with low carb diets.

All in all, check with your doctor before trying these products as they can have serious adverse reactions and harmful drug interactions. If you want to increase your metabolic rate naturally, eat LEAN and life HEAVY.


Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Unfortunately, there are many products out in the market that just don’t live up to their claims. Often, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Whether a pill, potion or workout product – there is no magic to fat loss, only hard work, dedication and healthy choices. Fat loss comes from burning more calories than you consume. If you burn 3500 more calories than you eat each week, you can lose one pound of fat. So the greater the deficit between the calories you eat and the calories you burn, the more fat you can lose. Many products are developed to either help you burn more calories through enhanced exercise or eat fewer calories through appetite control or calorie wasting. These methods may work initially at supporting your fat loss goals, but may have side effects that are often deemed undesirable like jitters from caffeine. While some products may be considered valuable support mechanisms, they can’t change your body composition if you are not staying within your body’s daily calorie budget for fat loss. Either way, the best fat loss product is one that you can’t necessarily buy – it is making sure that your body is in a calorie deficit each day until you hit your fat loss goal. 
Most diets and diet products work if used as directed. The problem arises when you end the diet. Weight gain occurs due to lifestyle habits. During a diet these are modified to comply with the diet. Unfortunately, after the diet is complete and you have achieved your goal, the tendency is to revert back to the habits that got you overweight in the first place. Those got you overweight once and they will get you overweight again. The only way to keep your weight under control is to modify your lifestyle permanently.

Good question. The answer is no, not by themselves. There is no magic pill. A good diet and exercise program is the only way. Of course an appetite suppressant used in conjunction with a good diet and exercise program might be helpful to some, but proper nutrition is key to any success. Losing weight and keeping it off requires some basic lifestyle changes. It's hard, but worth it. I actually run Team Fit for Life, an online weight loss community. Call me at (707) 293-6322 to learn more.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.