Do Weight Loss Supplements Even Work?

weight loss supplements
Feeling overwhelmed and confused by the sheer  abundance of weight loss supplement options?  With that abundance comes plenty of misconceptions on their effectiveness and use.  If you’re looking for the ‘magic bullet’, here are a few common weight loss myths and truths behind these misconceptions and even a few weight loss supplements you should consider using!

When it comes to weight loss, let’s be real we all want a short cut.  What’s the fastest, easiest and least painful way to lose weight, without actually doing anything – including sweating or eating less carbs?   Sorry to disappoint you, but there is not too much that can take the place of a calorie reduced diet and a consistent workout plan.  Nevertheless, many of us turn to weight loss supplements to help get the weight off faster.

Feeling overwhelmed and confused by the sheer  abundance of weight loss supplement options?  With that abundance comes plenty of misconceptions on their effectiveness and use.  If you’re looking for the ‘magic bullet’, here are a few common weight loss myths and truths behind these misconceptions and even a few weight loss supplements you should consider using!

Let’s Get Some Things Straight…

Myth #1 – “All weight loss supplements are the same quality; it’s perfectly fine to buy the cheapest.”

Wrong.  Not all supplements are made equal.  Don’t be fooled by these cheap Instagram brands!  There are many different companies that produce supplements and not all have the same standards.  What’s worse many companies will replace quality effective ingredients with cheap fillers and sell them to you at a big profit, while you suffer the consequences of sub-par supplementation.  Always read the label.  Look for the ISO and GMP quality certifications.  These ensure that the product you’re purchasing is being made in a facility that is audited for quality and follows set procedures in their manufacturing ensuring safe and effective supplements.

Secondly, weight loss supplements that actually work require a specific standard of ingredient – which means it requires a certain amount of a certain extract.  What’s more good weight loss products have been clinically tested and researched, using a gold standard research protocol – double blind placebo controlled.  For example, green tea requires a minimum 250 mg of green tea with a 50% extract of the active component EGCG.  Without this active component, or this amount, it’s impossible to reap the weight loss benefits of this supplement.

Myth #2 – “Supplements will help you lose weight even if you don’t exercise or follow a diet.”

While a weight loss supplement will function to stimulate specific pathways of fat burning, it is impossible to get the best possible effects of the supplement if you’re not exercising regularly or following a proper diet.  If you’re looking to lose weight you need to create a deficit that means you need to eat less and exercise more.  A supplement to lose weight will assist by curbing your appetite, increasing energy levels or stimulating metabolic pathways that can help release fat for oxidation or fat burning.  Weight loss supplements can help increase thermogenesis and calorie burning, but not to an extent that it will result in significant weight loss without additional help from your diet and exercise program.   You absolutely can’t do one without the other.

Myth #3 – “Fat burners don’t work, hard work does.”

There are many fat burners that don’t do what they’re supposed to do, but there are lots that do!  The key is to understand the research behind these ingredients and understand if they’re delivering on their promises.  Are the ingredients in the product recognizable?  Are they dosed at the correct amount that is backed by research to elicit a specific metabolic response? Does the company provide the exact amount that they’re putting in the product or are they hiding it in a proprietary blend? It might be hard to differentiate what ingredients do what, but a simple internet search will tell you if there is any research to substantiate the product or the ingredients.  If the company is reputable they won’t have any problem providing you proof of the claims that are being made on the product including research studies and actual dosed amounts.  Remember though just because a product does what it’s supposed to, you still need to complement it with a diet that is calorie reduced and regular exercise!

So… What Weight Loss Supplements Should You Use?

So now that you know the truth, what supplements should you use for weight loss?  Here’s a breakdown of weight loss supplement categories, what they do and what ingredients to look for!

Thermogenic Weight Loss Supplements

Thermogenic supplements help increase your body’s core body temperature aka thermogenesis.  Why is this important?  It means your body is burning extra calories, even while at rest. This is accomplished by increasing the release and activity of a key fat burning hormone known as norepinephrine.  This means fat burning can occur for an extended period of time.

What to Look For?


Capsaicin is the major active ingredient isolated from hot chili peppers.  It has been shown to stimulate catecholamine production – such as norepinephrine aka adrenaline by a receptor known as TRPV-1.  Catecholamine production is important because it stimulates the beta-receptors located in fat tissue.  When TRPV-1 is active it mediates fat burning and promotes fat oxidation in brown adipose (fat) tissue or BAT allowing more fat to be used as fuel.  Studies have shown that ingestion of capsaicin can increase satiety, reduce energy and fat intake, and help improve fat oxidation particularly when consumed before exercise.  Eating hot chili peppers can help, but supplementing with an extract is better.

How to Use It: Take 500 mg, two to three times per day, about 30 minutes prior to eating for maximum results.

Olive Leaf Extract:

It has been shown that Mediterranean diets rich in olive oil can be supportive for fat loss, improving body composition and resulting in greater fat loss versus diets that are lower in fat.  Olive oil seems to have an effect on UCP or uncoupling protein.  In animal studies, it has been shown that extracts of Olive Leaf cause an increase in UCP-1 activity in BAT and cause greater release of norepinephrine.  Olive Leaf extract has also been shown to increase oxygen consumption indicating greater fat oxidation in obese animal models.  There’s nothing wrong with using more olive oil, but also adding the supplement to your regime will help also.

How to Use It: 30 to 45 mg of Olive Leaf Extract standardized to Oleuropein.

Appetite Suppressing Weight Loss Supplements

One major problem when it comes to dieting is controlling hunger and appetite.  Appetite-suppressants can increase the availability of key neurotransmitters involved in cravings and mood, in turn preventing you from overeating more than you should.  Appetite suppressants can also help increase mood, which can become depressed when following a restrictive diet, especially if you’re diet is extremely low in carbs.

What to Look For?


Also known as 5-HTP, this amino acid can pass the blood brain barrier and convert to serotonin – a key neurotransmitter involved in the control of appetite, mood and even sleep.  Supplementing with 5-HTP has been shown to effectively cut appetite and reduce food intake.  It has also been shown to enhance mood and promote deeper sleep.  5-HTP is a great supplement for those following low carb diets suffering with cravings and lack of sleep!

How to Use It: 50 to 100 mg taken three times per day 30 minutes before meals.

Garcinia Cambogia:

This tropical fruit, native to South East Asia delivers the active ingredient hydroxycitric acid or HCA. Research has shown that HCA can help reduce appetite and cravings by boosting levels of serotonin via elevation of 5-HTP. It also supports fat burning by preventing the ATP-citrate lyase enzyme from synthesizing fat.  Supplementation can result in less fat accumulation or body weight gain when excess calories are consumed.

How to Use It: 500 mg of 50 percent extract of hydroxycitric acid, three times per day.

Energizing Weight Loss Supplements

Energy levels can fall when dieting. Energizing supplements can give you a boost, but that’s not all they can do.  These supplements can help increase the breakdown of fat via lipolysis, allowing for the availability of more energy during workouts and greater caloric burning. This also results in preservation of lean muscle tissue, as the body switches from burning protein or carbs to burning more fat as fuel.

What to Look For?


Carnitine is an amino acid that is non-stimulating, but can increase availability of energy in the body by moving fat from storage over to the powerhouse cells, the mitochondria, where the body can burn off that fat as energy. This can increase fat burning, while also enhancing energy levels particularly for intense, endurance type workouts like cardio sessions.  The research is a bit lacking, but you may find this ingredient in your pre-workout product, combined with a few other key ingredients that can help stimulate metabolism.

How to Use It: 1 to 2 g before workouts.


You probably already know the benefits of caffeine for increasing energy levels, but caffeine actually has some fat burning effects too. Caffeine works synergistic with other fat burning ingredients including Green Tea.  Caffeine blocks a key enzyme, cAMP, which is involved in degradation of norepinephrine, allowing it to stay active for longer. Not only do you get prolonged energy, you also get increased fat burning.

How to Use It: 100 to 200 mg taken every two to three hours, or prior to workouts.

Estrogen Balancer Weight Loss Supplements

Estrogen is a key female hormone, and too much of this hormone can actually work to prevent fat burning.  Why?  When estrogen is in excess it binds to fat burning receptors blocking fat burning pathways from releasing fat for oxidation.  By reducing excess estrogen, this can help open up fat burning receptors allowing them to be switched back on.

What to Look For?


This super-antioxidant that is isolated from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can effectively reduce excess estrogen metabolites by modulating estrogen metabolism and increasing liver detoxification enzymes to help neutralize harmful estrogen metabolites. Additionally, Indole-3-Carbinol has also been shown to have potential for reducing body weight and fat accumulation. Specifically, it has been shown to reduce pro-inflammatory adiocytokines in fat tissue, which can increase fat synthesis or production.  In animal models, Indole-3-Carbinol decreased body weight and fat accumulation in fat tissue.

How to Use It: 300 mg per day.

Green Tea Extract:

This supplement is perhaps one of the most popular fat burning ingredients and for good reason. Green Tea is rich in the active compound epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG.  This ingredient works via two mechanisms:  by blocking the COMT enzyme that can degrade norepinephrine and by increasing the amount of fat that gets used as fuel during exercise and rest. In addition to its impressive thermogenic effects, this super antioxidant is also an aromatase inhibitor.  It has been shown that women taking higher amounts of EGCG also had lower levels of estrogen.

How to Use It:  250 to 500 mg of Green Tea Extract standardized to 50% EGCG.

You don’t have to use all these supplements but using them could help put that extra edge on your weight loss efforts!

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Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen


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