What Are ‘Diet Pills’ and Do They Work?

When you think of a diet pill, what comes to mind? Most people might remember popular diet products such as Hydroxycut, Oxy Lean, or other waist-shrinking pills that were heavily marketed as some miracle answer to stubborn body fat. With the promise of drastic results in a short amount of time, many people turned to these pills as the ultimate fix and solution to their weight loss goals. In a 2019 world, where self-image is ever-increasing in value, the demand for these “miracle pills” has never been higher.[1] But do diet pills work?

The best way to determine this is to start with HOW they work. Diet pills work by either suppressing appetite or reducing your body’s ability to absorb fat from the food you eat. 

Weight-loss pills fall into two different categories; nonprescription drugs and dietary supplements.

What differentiates the two is that for nonprescription drugs the company must provide results to the FDA from human clinical trials that show the safety and effectiveness of the drug. While dietary supplements, on the other hand, do not need FDA approval in which the makers of the supplement/pill are responsible for making honest claims about the possible benefits. 

According to healthline.com FDA approved diet pills included:

  • phendimetrazine (Bontril)
  • diethylpropion (Tenuate)
  • benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin)
  • orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • lorcaserin (Belviq)
  • phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia)
  • naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave)
  • liraglutide (Saxenda)

Non FDA regulated popular dietary supplements include;

  • Garcinia Cambogia Extract
  • Hydroxycut 
  • Caffeine. …
  • Orlistat (Alli)
  • Raspberry Ketones 
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract 
  • Glucomannan 
  • Meratrim 
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Dietary supplements such as the ones listed above are more commonly used when it comes to everyday people wanting to lose weight that are not necessarily following a consistent gym and diet protocol.[2] Most of these products can be purchased over the counter or at your local supplement shop making them easy to access opposed to the FDA approved diet pills.Most require a prescription from your doctor but not all. [3] 

Some common ingredients found in these supplements which most people have heard [4] of include:

  • Yohimbe
  • Caffeine
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Carnitine
  • CLA
  • Green Coffee Bean extract and more

These ingredients, when combined with others, have different effects for different people. Learning which supplements work best for you is a valuable tool in helping you reach your weight loss goals. More times than not, trial and error is the best judge in determining this information.

With these pills and supplements readily available in-store and online, it’s easy for people to turn to these pills in hopes of achieving their weight loss goal quickly. The misunderstanding of how these diet pills best work is the biggest issue with the product altogether. See, “diet pills” or “fat burner” supplements are just that, a supplement. These pills are to supplement an already existing healthy eating routine and exercise regiment. Herein lies the biggest problem surrounding these products.

Diet pills, when taken solely on their own, will most likely have little or no effect on a person losing weight through burning fat. When paired with a healthy eating routine and an active lifestyle however, these weight loss products can play a role in someone wanting to decrease body fat, aiding in their weight loss goals.

In today’s society, especially in the United States, we rely on instant gratification. Many people see dietary supplements or diet pills as a miracle drug to get them to their weight loss goal without making any lifestyle changes. Diet pills and dietary supplements are helpful tools that can be used to assist in your weight loss journey but should never be relied on fully when trying to achieve a weight loss goal. When using diet pills or weight loss supplements, be sure to do your research to find one that best suits your goals. If in doubt, always check with a family physician to help decide which products might be best for you.