Which diet aids work?
The only FDA approved diet aid that works is Alli. This used to be a prescription medication, but it’s now available over the counter. Alli works by blocking the body’s absorption of up to 25% of the fat ingested at meals. Unlike some other diet aids, prescription or not, Alli doesn’t work on the mind or the metabolism. The weight loss help is provided by Alli’s effect on the digestive system. Alli has some uncomfortable digestive side effects, especially in users who don’t reduce their fat intake. (Think loose, greasy stools.)
Other over the counter diet ads are tempting, but most of these diet aids don’t work. And even if they do work, sometimes they’re unsafe.
Drug stores and big box retail pharmacies carry so many diet aids it seems like you could take your pick of your favorite product and be on your way to quick and easy weight loss.
Unfortunately, many of these OTC diet aids have yet to be proven as effective for weight loss, and many of them carry health warnings that would scare away even the riskiest customer. Most of these products are not regulated or inspected, meaning that you have no idea what you’re putting into your body.
Let’s take a look at some common diet aids, their efficacy, and their possible side effects.
Common Diet Aids & Side Effects
1. Guar gum
Guar gum is said to block the absorption of dietary fat and increase the feeling of fullness, which leads to a naturally decreased caloric intake.
But guar gum can be dangerous, causing intestinal obstruction if not used properly. And doctors doubt its efficacy as a weight loss aid.
Guar gum is known to cause diarrhea, flatulence, and other gastrointestinal problems even when used properly.
Hoodia is said to decrease appetite by producing a chemical that convinces your body you are full.
But no conclusive studies to support the weight-loss claim.
One big danger with Hoodia is that the market is unregulated.
3. Bitter orange
Bitter orange refers to the extract from a specific citrus tree.
The claim is that bitter orange oils increase the number of calories burned naturally by the body.
Bitter orange is used as an “ephedra substitute” because ephedra has been banned, but doctors say bitter orange may cause the same health problems as ephedra.
The long-term effects of using bitter orange as a diet aid are unknown, and no weight loss claims have been proven.
Chitosan is said to block the absorption of dietary fat.
Doctors say Chitosan is relatively safe, but they are quick to point out that it is “unlikely to cause weight loss”.
Chitosan is known to cause constipation, bloating, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems.
As with most diet aids, the long-term effects are unknown.
According to users, Chromium reduces body fat and helps to build muscle.
While Chromium is considered “safe”, its ability to cause weight loss has been disproved by study after study. Some doctors claim regular intake of chromium can cause behavioral problems.
6. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
Supposedly, CLA reduces body fat, decreases appetite and builds muscle. Sounds perfect, right?
Doctors agree that CLA decreases body fat, but say it isn’t likely to reduce total body weight due to the addition of muscle mass.
CLA is good in the short term to boost weight loss, but it will probably cause you to have some diarrhea, indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems.
7. Country mallow (heartleaf)
Users of country mallow swear that it decreases their appetite while the packaging usually claims it increases the number of calories burned.
Unfortunately, country mallow contains ephedra, which is a dangerous banned substance.
Doctors point out country mallow as a perfect example of a dangerous diet aid and reccommend you avoid it completely.
8. Green tea extract
Green tea extract is said to increase calorie and fat metabolism and decrease appetite.
A shred of evidence supports these, but repeat studies have been unable to back up the original.
Green tea extract is known to cause vomiting, bloating, indigestion and diarrhea.
These extracts are known to contain large or even dangerous amounts of caffeine.
So if you’re looking for a diet aid that works and is safe, the only recommendation that we can make is Alli. But our recommendation is not the same as a doctor’s recommendation, so be sure to seek real medical advice if you have a real medical problem. (We do get a small commission if you buy Alli via our Amazon link too, which we use to pay our writers and researchers, as well as the hosting for our site.)
- Which Diet Aids Work?
- What’s a Healthy Diet that Works?
- What Is a Safe Fast Diet?
- What Are Some Diet Tips that Actually Work?