Do you recommend a weight loss supplement?

– Brian N.


Hi Brian, I’m so glad you asked my opinion! Powder supplements of actual food components (such as of protein and fibers) can be quite useful in an energy-restricted diet since reduced total food volume can limit intake of certain nutrients. A general multivitamin/mineral supplement providing 100% DRI may also be suitable. These may not directly promote weight loss in themselves but can help the body maintain a healthy status while losing weight and indirectly help by curbing appetite.

Pill supplements of other compounds are nearly the last thing I recommend for weight loss, usually after other interventions have failed. There are many downsides to using popular supplements such as fat burners, appetite suppressants, and metabolism boosters. Due to personal biochemistry, their effects on physiology (positive or negative) may be as great as that of prescription weight loss drugs. The efficacy of a supplement should be weighed against its safety. According to the National Institutes of Health*, the compounds with “possible modest effect” on weight, fat mass or waist circumference include African mango, caffeine, green coffee bean extract, green tea, carnitine, and white kidney bean. Reported side effects include various GI disturbances, headaches, difficulty sleeping, urinary tract infections, increased blood pressure, and liver damage.

* Source: Accessed 3.11.2019

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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