8 OTC Diet Pills You Need To Know About for Successful Weight Loss
Success with weight loss through OTC (over-the-counter) diet pills has been varied for many people trying a wide variety of dieting pills that have been advertised on national news, popular magazines and televised health shows.
The good news for many is that a few prescription diet pills have met with statistically significant weight loss results that have helped patients who are overweight or obese with medical complications that necessitated a pharmaceutical solution when diet and exercise either failed or was physically limited.
But what about OTC formulations of prescription meds or diet supplements claimed to aid weight loss? Do they really live up to their claims? And are they safe?
To answer these questions, medical experts at the Mayo Clinic listed 8 common OTC diet pills used by people wanting to lose weight and gave their professional opinion of their effectiveness and safety. The following is a summary of their findings of 8 OTC diet pills that you need to know about for successful weight loss.
Weight Loss Pill #1: Alli
Alli is the OTC version of the prescription drug Orlistat (Xenical) that has been shown to be effective in weight loss by acting as a fat blocker. Xenical can block up to 30% of the fat calories in your diet by preventing a significant proportion of fat from being absorbed through the intestines. The unabsorbed fat is then passed through the system undigested and is eliminated as part of your body waste.
In comparison to the prescription formulation, the OTC formulation is less effective, but still does result in weight loss of approximately five percent of a person’s initial body weight within a few months.
Mayo health experts rate is as “effective,” but less so than the prescription formulation. Taking it is considered to be relatively safe, but does have side effects such as loose stools, oily spotting, frequent or hard-to-control bowel movements.
Weight Loss Pill #2: Bitter Orange
Bitter Orange is an herbal supplement from the bitter orange tree. Extracts from the peel of the bitter orange are often found in weight-loss supplements due to its stimulant-like effects that the makers of the supplement claim helps dieters burn off calories.
Mayo health experts rate it as “probably ineffective,” and state that it raises health concerns because taking bitter orange could result in a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
Weight loss Pill #3: Chitosan
Chitosan is a dietary fiber extracted from the chitin component of the shells of crustaceans such as crab, shrimp and cuttlefish. Chitosan is proposed to work as a “fat trapper” and reportedly blocks fat absorption in the stomach, which then allows the fat to pass through the intestine and out as waste.
Mayo health experts rate is as “probably ineffective,” with side effects that include nausea, upset stomach, excessive gas, increased stool bulk, and constipation.
Weight loss Pill #4: Chromium
Chromium is mineral found in trace amounts in the human body that is known to enhance the action of insulin toward the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. Claims in some popular health magazines have advertised chromium as a weight loss supplement that causes an increase in burning of calories and a decrease in appetite. These claims were possibly based on a clinical trial that did find supplements of chromium picolinate to help with weight loss when compared to placebos, but the differences were small and the experimental design was potentially flawed.
Mayo health experts rate it as “probably ineffective,” and warn that it comes with potential side effects such as headaches, insomnia, irritability, mood changes, cognitive dysfunction.
Weight loss Pill #5: Conjugated linoleic acid
Conjugated linoleic acid is a group of chemicals found in the fatty acid linoleic acid from which beef and dairy products are rich sources of. Animal model studies have reported experimental results demonstrating significant fat loss with increased lean muscle mass development. However, human studies have shown conflicting results that may or may not support conjugated linoleic acid as an effective diet supplement.
Mayo health experts rate it as “possibly effective,” but warn that supplements containing high doses of conjugated linoleic acid can cause upset stomach, nausea and loose stools.
Weight loss Pill #6: Green tea extract
While Green tea extract supplements make almost daily news about potential cancer preventive/curative properties, it is generally recognized as a rich source of antioxidants and has been promoted for weight loss due to its purported thermogenic (heat producing) fat burning effects as well as appetite suppressing abilities.
Mayo health experts rate it as “Insufficient evidence to evaluate,” and report that in some people it can cause dizziness, insomnia, agitation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Weight loss Pill #7: Guar gum
Guar gum is a fiber from the seed of the guar plant that is not only used commonly as a thickening agent.in many foods and beverages, but sometimes is also used by dieters as a natural laxative for losing weight. The fiber has the ability to rapidly expand in the gut giving a feeling of fullness and acts as a fat blocker in the intestine.
Mayo health experts rate it as “Possibly ineffective,” and warn that use of guar gum can cause abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.
Weight Loss Pill #8: Hoodia
Hoodia is a flowering, cactus-like plant native to southern Africa. Kalahari Bushmen are reported to have eaten hoodia stems as an appetite and thirst suppressant during long hunts. It is commercially available in some appetite suppressing supplements for weight loss and may be found in combination with green tea and/or chromium picolinate.
Mayo health experts rate is as “Insufficient evidence to evaluate,” for both its ability as an appetite suppressant and whether there are any side effects from taking hoodia for weight loss.
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Reference: Mayo Clinic— “Over-the-counter weight-loss pills: Do they work?”