Popular Over-the-Counter Diet Aids
There are many over-the-counter products for weight loss. Individual products often contain several ingredients. Some contain 20 or more. It’s important to read the label before you buy.
The one thing all these ingredients have in common is that none of them have been proved to be both safe and effective. And taking any diet aid makes it hard for you to listen to your hunger signals so that you can have a normal relationship with food.
Most over-the-counter diet aids don't work. And those that do work come with warnings about their safety. Doctors don't recommend any of them.
What it claims to do
Is there evidence that it works?
Is it safe for most people?
|Alli||Blocks fat from the food you eat||Yes||May cause side effects|
|Apple cider vinegar||Burns calories, lowers appetite||No||Unknown|
|Bitter orange||Burns calories||No||Probably not; related to ephedra|
|Cascara||Acts as a laxative so you lose water weight||No||Long-term use may cause health problems|
|Chitosan||Blocks fat from the food you eat||No||May cause health problems|
|Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)||Burns fat||No||Mild to moderate side effects|
|Country mallow||Burns calories||Yes||No; contains ephedra|
|Dandelion||Increases amount of urine so you lose water weight||A little||May cause health problems|
|Ephedra||Burns calories||Yes||No; banned in U.S.|
|Glucomannan||Acts as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full sooner||A little||Yes|
|Green tea||Burns fat||No||Yes|
|Guar gum||Lowers appetite||No||Yes|
|Guggul||Aids weight loss||No||May cause side effects|
|Hydroxycitric acid (HCA)||Lowers appetite||No||Yes|
|L-carnitine||Burns fat||No||May cause side effects|
|Licorice||Burns fat||No||May cause health problems|
|Psyllium||Acts as a laxative to absorb water, so you feel full sooner||No||Yes|
|Pyruvate||Lowers appetite, burns calories||A little||Yes|
|Spirulina (blue-green algae)||Lowers appetite||No||May cause side effects|
|Yerba maté||Lowers appetite||No||May cause health problems|
|Author||Christine Wendt, R.D., L.D.|
|Editor||Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN|
|Associate Editor||Pat Truman, MATC|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Ruth Schneider, MPH, RD - Diet and Nutrition|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Rhonda O'Brien - Certified Diabetes Educator|
|Last Updated||December 12, 2009|