When diet and exercise aren’t enough, a weight loss pill can help you make up the difference between where your weight is and where you want it to be.
Weight loss pills, like many fat burners or thermogenics, work in a variety of ways; some increase your body’s baseline metabolic rate, others fill you up and tamp down on your feelings of hunger, so you consume less food, while others block or slow the absorption of the food you do eat.
It’s a complicated series of mechanisms that govern how your body gains or loses weight.
Fortunately for you, we’ve looked at the best weight loss pills on the market and ranked them according to how effective they’ll be for you.
1. Evlution Leanmode
Evlution’s Leanmode is consistently one of the best weight loss pills on the market. It combines strong, effective doses of supplements that work very well together, and has no worrisome ingredients or extraneous additives.
It’s been widely lauded for its effects, and it’s easy to see why: each of the primary ingredients (green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, conjugated linoleic acid,and acetyl-L-carnitine) have loads of scientific evidence behind their efficacy.
2. MELT Fat Burner
MELT is a well-balanced and fairly simple combination of a small number of effective weight loss supplements.
The blend includes garcinia cambogia, caffeine, capsaicin, and several amino acids, which work together to stimulate a number of different weight loss pathways, including thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and appetite suppression.
Purists might scoff at the inclusion of artificial coloring agents, but aside from that, it’s hard to fault MELT for much.
3. Old School Labs Vintage Burn
While Vintage Burn focuses on stimulating thermogenic effects, it’s quite an effective overall weight loss pill too. Vintage Burn strikes a nice balance between including a variety of effective weight loss supplements without letting the ingredients list get out of control.
If you’ve heard of it, and it’s effective, there’s a good chance it’s in Vintage Burn. What really sets it apart, though, is the converse of this: ineffective ingredients are pretty much nowhere to be found in this supplement, which is great to see.
While other supplements claim to be pharmacy-grade, Alli literally is–it’s an over-the-counter version of a prescription medication that’s been approved for weight loss for several years.
Alli works by blocking the absorption of fat in your gastrointestinal tract. It’s quite effective, and several studies have demonstrated a moderate but consistent amount of weight loss.
The downsides are that it tends to work better with high-fat diets, and it can have some gastrointestinal side effects.
5. Genius Diet Pills
Genius makes a name for itself with innovative and cutting-edge supplements that incorporate new and promising herbal extracts.
Their Genius Diet pills are no exception: the unique combination of the neurotransmitter 5-HTP and the spice saffron promise a totally different pathway to dieting success.
While it’s not well-tested like the more popular supplements, this innovative approach might be worth a shot if the traditional formulations aren’t working for you.
6. Lean PM
While a lot of weight loss pills rely on heavy doses of stimulants like caffeine to keep your metabolism high throughout the day, these leave you high and dry at night.
Lean PM rectifies this by providing a weight loss pill that is focused more on suppressing hunger and improving the quality of your sleep (which, strangely, is related to your ability to lose weight) and less on jacking up your metabolism. It’s a great way to assist another supplement taken during the day.
Atrafen, made by Nutratech, includes a lot of the hot weight loss supplements right now, like raspberry ketone, african mango, and apple cider vinegar, but this focus on the most trendy weight loss ingredients makes Atrafen overlook older, more established and more effective ingredients.
If you are willing to gamble on the new, trendy ingredients being more effective, Atrafen might be a good buy, but it’s cutting edge nor firmly scientifically grounded, so it’s hard to give it a ringing endorsement.
PhenELITE bills itself as a pharmaceutical grade weight loss supplement, and it’s tremendously popular, but yet paradoxically it does pretty poorly when it comes to reviews. When you look at the ingredients, it starts be become clear why.
Though there are some effective combos, like green tea extract and caffeine, a lot of the flagship weight loss ingredients are missing, and the ingredients are mixed up in a “proprietary formula” that makes it impossible to determine the dosage of what you are taking.
This is a no-go for people who want to make sure they are getting the appropriate dosage of the key supplements they need.
9. Hydroxycut Ultra
While Hydroxycut is one of the best-selling weight loss pills on the market, other competitors outdo it when it comes to the quality of the ingredients.
While Hydroxycut has some useful herbal extracts, like raspberry ketone, it’s missing a lot of the best weight loss ingredients, and some of the other ingredients it does have don’t have much evidence behind their efficacy.
The rapid-fire alterations that Hydroxycut has made to its formulation in the last several years haven’t done much to bolster the quality of this weight loss pill.
10. Dub Nutrition Fat Burner
Dub Nutrition’s Fat Burner talks a big game, but the ingredients don’t really hold up to scrutiny.
It relies too much on a megadose of B vitamins to stimulate the body, and while there is an 1800 mg proprietary blend with several weight loss supplements, there’s no telling whether the high quality ingredients are present in doses high enough to be effective.
Part Two: weight loss pill benefits and side effects
Though they work through a variety of mechanisms, one thing weight loss pills have in common is tilting the calories in / calories out equation in your favor. Reducing calories in can come from supplement ingredients that suppress your hunger or reduce the amount of calories you actually absorb. Increasing calories out, which is the mechanism by which most weight loss pills function, can happen by increasing your energy expenditure or your fat oxidation.
One of the more frustrating things about weight loss generally, and weight loss pills in particular, is their relatively slow pace. Even a very effective and well-established weight loss pill can take a while to work.
The data behind its efficacy is strong; according to a systematic meta-analysis of scientific studies published in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a 3×120 mg per day dose of orlistat nearly doubles the likelihood that you’ll achieve what doctors deem “clinically significant” weight loss over the course of a year on the supplement. This amounts to ten percent of your body mass (2).
The good news is that weight loss pills don’t need to have earth-shattering effects to improve your health. According to a study by Gerry Oster and other epidemiology researchers, a sustained 10% weight loss (which you could achieve by taking Alli for two years) would reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and significantly increase your life expectancy (3).
A different study by D.J. Goldstein shows that even small amounts of weight loss–less than 10% of body mass–decrease cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, and drop blood lipid levels. All of these changes are highly beneficial when it comes to your long term health.
As for how a weight loss pill can help you achieve your weight loss goals, a quality weight loss supplement must target one or more of the mechanisms which affect energy balance.
As described in a scientific review by Robert Saper and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, there are four primary mechanisms that a supplement can manipulate to result in weight loss.
These are increasing metabolic expenditure, increasing satiety (feelings of fullness), blocking the absorption of fat or carbohydrates, and increasing fat oxidation (4).
One of the reasons that a combined weight loss pill may work better than individual supplements taken alone is that the correct balance of ingredients could target multiple mechanisms at once.
The most obvious example of supplements that increase energy expenditure is thermogenic supplements. These can range from basic and widespread compounds like caffeine, to more esoteric herbal extracts like huperzine A and forskolin.
These supplements activate different biological pathways, but they all lead to the same outcome: increasing your body’s baseline metabolic rate, so you burn more calories per day, even when you are sedentary.
Increasing satiety is the purview of fiber and neurotransmitter-modifying supplements. These can be complex, exotic compounds that tweak your brain chemistry, but they don’t have to be.
Something as simple as a whey protein supplement has been shown to increase satiety, thus decreasing your desire to eat more later in the day and resulting in a lower total energy intake.
As reported in a 2007 article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, consumption of whey protein triggers the release of amino acids in the stomach that start a signalling pathway that leads to a feeling of fullness and a disinterest in eating more (5).
Blocking the absorption of fat and carbohydrates is trickier.
Alli, mentioned earlier, is a perfect example–it blocks the absorption of dietary fat, allowing it to pass through your digestive system without being absorbed into body fat. The upside of this is that you can lose weight even if your diet isn’t what it needs to be.
White kidney bean extract is an example of a carbohydrate absorption blocker: it lessens the fraction of carbs that your body actually absorbs after consuming a carb-rich meal.
The downside of all supplement ingredients in this category is that they are highly dependent on your diet: Alli, for example, isn’t going to be effective if you are on a low fat diet.
Ditto for white kidney bean extract and a low carb diet.The other issue with absorption-blockers is that there can be unintended side effects that result from the unabsorbed nutrients making their way through your digestive tract.
Burning fat directly is perhaps the most ideal way to lose weight. Weight loss pills that are hypothesized to be able to achieve this include raspberry ketone, green coffee bean extract, and especially green tea extract.
In the case of green tea extract, this fat-burning effect has been documented in multiple studies, and according to research published by scientists at the University of Geneva, works especially well when combined with caffeine’s thermogenic effect (6).
The different types of weight loss pill ingredients come with their own drawbacks.
Thermogenics, when used incorrectly, can be dangerous, but high quality supplements won’t use questionable ingredients or dosages.
If a thermogenic is stimulant-based (e.g. caffeine), it may keep you up at night if you take it too late during the day. Satiety-modifiers, on the other hand, are fairly free of adverse effects.
A supplement that blocks carbohydrate or fat absorption can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating and gas, since the unabsorbed nutrients can be eaten by gut bacteria instead.
Fat oxidizers can suffer some of the same problems as thermogenics, but again, a high-quality weight loss pill will be formulated to avoid this.
One of the particular appeals of a weight loss pill is that you, the consumer, don’t have to worry about the exact dosage of each ingredient–the nutritionists and food scientists are supposed to take care of that for you.
Low-end weight loss pills may not have the appropriate dosage of their ingredients, but with a top-rated weight loss pill, you can just follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.
A weight loss pill can give you the boost you need to achieve your weight loss goals.
Though the various ingredients you might find in a weight loss pill work through different mechanisms, the ultimate goal is the same: by decreasing the energy going into your body, or increasing your body’s energy expenditure, you’ll be on track to lose more weight in less time.