You know the drill: you need to eat cleaner and move more if you want to lose weight.
That’s a given. But what about that extra “boost”?
Enter: natural weight loss supplements.
The three most common ways diet aids work:
1) Revving up the metabolism, so you burn more calories
2) Decreasing nutrient absorption, especially fat, so total calorie intake drops
3) Triggering appetite reduction that results in more feelings of satiation while eating less
The following are 16 of the most popular weight loss aids, along with the available evidence on how well they work:
LeanBean is the trendiest natural weight loss supplement for women.
It has many of the powerful ingredients in the list below, making it a morning ritual with professional bodybuilders and Instagram models.
LeanBean has a formula designed to control diet (suppressant) while accelerating metabolism as well. The result is faster weight loss allowing for increased fat burning all over the body. No harmful additives. All natural.
How it works
Each serving of Leanbean is filled with garcinia cambogia, green tea, green coffee, turmeric, cayenne pepper, konjac, and chromium.
The result: the most powerful natural weight loss supplement of 2020.
And testimonials like these:
1) LeanBean helps you overcome cravings
2) LeanBean boosts your metabolism
2. Instant Knockout
Instant Knockout is more for the dudes.
This fat burner was designed to help MMA fighters melt fat before their fights. Several professional MMA fighters take the supplement, including Diego Sanchez and his training coach Greg Jackson.
We love Instant Knockout because its been proven to work (many times over) and the ingredients are natural and effective: green tea extract, cayenne pepper, glucomannan, caffeine, zinc, chromium, green coffee bean and piperine.
After we vetted all the fat loss supplements for men, this one simply offers the best stack.
The result? Testimonials like this:
Its not the end-all for belly fat (diet and exercise will get you there), but Instant Knockout can give you a “boost”. Worth the daily routine for any man wanting to melt more fat.
PhenQ doesn’t market specifically to men or women, but their ingredient profile is pretty stacked.
We love it because it contains a range of powerful ingredients intended to help you burn fat, stop fat production, boost your energy, improve your mood, and suppress your appetite.
This supplement contains natural ingredients, such as Capsimax Powder, Chromium Picolinate, Caffeine, Nopal, and L-Carnitine Furmarate.
With a range of awesome ingredients and some very compelling reviews, PhenQ is a top-3 option if you want to tackle multiple elements of your weight loss journey while packing a punch with some major caffeine.
Included in many weight loss supplements, green tea extract contains EGCG, an antioxidant believed to help in burning fat. It may also increase norepinephrine, a fat-burning hormone. (1)
Supplements are usually tolerated well unless the user has a caffeine sensitivity, although levels are fairly low.
Three separate studies found subjects taking green coffee bean extract lost an average of 5.4 pounds more than those who took the placebo. (6)
Added benefits include high levels of antioxidants, as well as the potential for lowering both blood sugar levels and blood pressure. (7, 8, 9, 10) Some of the potential side effects are nausea, diarrhea, insomnia and anxiety. (11)
Extracted from a plant in the mint family, forskolin raises cellular levels of a compound called cAMP, which is believed to cause increased fat burning. (11)
When 30 men overweight or obese men took forskolin, their weight didn’t change, but body composition did: they increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass. (12)
A natural and harmless trans fat occurring in full-fat dairy products like butter and cheese, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is believed to cover all three bases: increase the body’s efficiency at breaking down fat, reduce the appetite, and kick up metabolic processes. (15, 16)
When 18 separate studies were reviewed, the average weight loss for subjects taking CLA amounted to 0.2 pounds weekly over a six-month period. (17)
A similar review conducted in 2012 reported participants lost an average of 3 pounds. (18)
CLA can cause digestive problems, and may contribute to the development of fatty liver disease, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
8. Orlistat (Alli)
This pharmaceutical drug is designed to inhibit the breakdown of fat in the gut, leading to fewer calories absorbed from fatty foods eaten.
When data was correlated from 11 studies, subjects taking Alli lost up to 6 more pounds than those taking placebo pills. (19)
Digestive side effects can be intense, including flatulence and loose stools, as well as trouble controlling bowel movements.
The two plant extracts in Meratrim are supposed to cut back on the amount of fat snagged from the blood, assist in fat-burning processes, and make it more difficult for fat cells to multiply.
Since the product is relatively new, only one 8-week study has been done, but the results are promising. Meratrim users lost 11 pounds, and more than 4 inches of waist circumference, while following a 2000 calorie diet. (22)
The test group also dropped triglycerides, blood sugar and cholesterol with no side effects reported.
This substance imparts the distinctive smell to raspberries, and a synthetic version is reputed to help with weight loss.
Laboratory studies on fat cells taken from rats indicate the supplement can increase fat breakdown and jack up production of adiponectin, which researchers believe is linked to weight loss. (23)
No studies on the effectiveness of raspberry ketones have been done with human subjects.
This fiber comes from the roots of the elephant yam, and may help with weight loss through turning into a gel that lingers in the stomach, making you feel full. (24)
In three studies, the average weight loss over a 5-week period with subjects eating a healthy diet amounted to between 8 and 10 pounds. (25)
Glucomannan can also improve colon health through nourishing friendly bacteria in the gut (26), but may cause bloating and soft stools.
Found in coffee, dark chocolate and green tea, caffeine is a popular ingredient in supplements for weight loss because it boosts the metabolism by as much as 11% and causes up to 29% more fat to be burned. (27, 28, 29)
Studies show caffeine can contribute to weight loss, though the amounts are not dramatic. (30)
It’s important to keep in mind caffeine is addictive and can negatively impact quality of sleep. Some people experience other side effects as well, including diarrhea, nausea, anxiety and tremors.
The skin of this small, green fruit shaped like a pumpkin contains hydroxycitric acid, which is the active ingredient of diet pills sold as garcinia cambogia extract.
While animal studies indicate the substance inhibits enzymes that produce fat (31), a human study with 130 participants showed no difference in body weight between the group using the extract and the group taking a placebo.
A review of 11 studies indicated average weight loss over several weeks for subjects taking garcinia cambogia extract was about 2 pounds. (32)
A few people reported mild digestive issues, but few serious side effects have been noted: across the board, it appears to be a fairly safe supplement
Extracted from the roots of the yacon plant, which is native to South America, yacon syrup contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which the body can’t digest but that probiotic bacteria in your gut can. It imparts a sweet flavor with about a third of the calories you’d get in sugar.
While only one small study has been done with yacon syrup, the 40 women who used the supplement experienced excellent results.
The 15 women taking a placebo packed on about 3.5 pounds over four months, and the women using yacon syrup dropped 33 pounds. (36)
Since yacon syrup is a relative newcomer to the diet supplement scene, more research is likely to be done in the near future.
A bioactive compound originating in several types of plants, including the berberis shrub, berberine is an alkaloid that impacts the body at a molecular level.
It appears berberine can help drop blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and facilitate weight loss. Obese participants in a 12-week study lost an average of 5 pounds and 3.6% of body fat. (39)
In another study of the same duration, 37 obese men and women diagnosed with metabolic syndrome reduced body mass index (BMI) readings from 31.5 to 27.4 while improving other important health markers. (40)
Some digestive disturbances were reported, including stomach pain, diarrhea and flatulence.
Who should buy a natural weight loss supplement?
If you are aiming to lose weight, but having a hard time meeting your goals, a natural weight loss supplement might be just what you need for that extra boost.
Weight loss supplements can help you on two fronts: they can amp up your body’s natural metabolic rate, acting as a thermogenic to help you burn more calories.
Or, they can suppress your appetite, making you less inclined to eat a lot of calories at your next meal. The best weight loss supplements combine ingredients that generate both these effects for maximum efficacy.
Losing weight can be easy if you are young and pretty fit. People who need some extra help losing weight often don’t have these advantages going for them.
They might be older men whose testosterone is lower than it used to be, and as a result have a lower metabolism and a greater natural inclination towards gaining body fat and losing muscle mass. Or perhaps they are out of shape already, and thus have a hard time burning a lot of calories at the gym.
Natural weight loss supplements can drive up your energy levels, boost your metabolism, and make you less inclined to overeat.
While the scientific research that tests weight loss supplements usually examines them in a vacuum, comparing the effect of the supplement alone to a placebo alone, you’re bound to get far better results when you combine a natural weight loss supplement with a broader weight loss program to take advantage of its full benefits.
An appetite suppressant, for example, combines well with an exercise program: as one of the natural responses of exercise is to increase your appetite as a result of your increased caloric expenditure, and thermogenics combine well with a healthier diet.
How we ranked
Our natural weight loss supplements were informed by the best scientific research on plant-based and herbal compounds for losing weight.
First off, we wanted to include only products that used ingredients with a good safety record. Risky supplements, like synephrine or bitter orange, got eliminated right away.
Next up, we looked to the scientific research to find answers on the most effective natural weight loss supplements. Broadly, weight loss generating compounds can be divided into products that boost your metabolism (like thermogenics and fat burners), and appetite suppressants. A select few compounds do both.
When evaluating the scientific research, we placed the most weight on randomized experiments on humans, especially when positive findings had been replicated in multiple studies.
After evaluating the studies that supported each candidate compound, we determined the best product on the market for that product.
These products were selected for purity, quality, and clean supplement design. Most importantly, you want a supplement that’s going to deliver on the benefits that have been uncovered in medical and scientific research.
So, when selecting the best green coffee bean extract or the best raspberry ketones or any of the other top-rated compounds, we made sure you’ll get the best product of each.
A natural weight loss supplement can amplify the efficacy of a weight loss program. Pretty much everyone can recite the basics of losing weight—eat healthier, exercise more, etc.—but nevertheless, many people find weight loss programs very difficult to adhere to.
Some of the most innovative studies on natural weight loss supplements are those that combine them with the kinds of weight loss programs that are already popular, like one study published in 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (41).
This study showed that a supplement high in protein and BCAAs was able to help obese adults maintain more muscle mass while adhering to a low-calorie diet more effectively than a placebo supplement that provided the same amount of calories.
Other natural weight loss supplements can help in other ways, making it easier to burn more calories or eat fewer.
Appetite suppressants can help boost the efficacy of exercise for weight loss. One of the biggest reasons exercise is not as effective as you might think at generating weight loss is its tendency to increase your appetite.
While you do burn a lot of calories if you work out at the gym for an hour, you’ll find that you tend to eat a lot more after you’re done than you otherwise would have.
New research published in 2019 conclusively showed that increased exercise generates an increase in appetite (and thus food intake), which is not related to increased post-exercise physical activity or changes in baseline metabolic rate (42).
This finding makes sense when interpreted in light of your body’s internal regulatory mechanisms: even after exercise, your body is striving to maintain the same “set point” of energy balance.
Appetite suppressants can help tip the scales in your favor by blunting this post-exercise appetite increase. One study, for example, showed that guar (a type of fiber) led to a 20% decrease in energy intake via snacking (43).
Leveraging appetite suppressing effects of substances like forskolin or caffeine is another effective way to keep your exercise routine working in your favor.
Thermogenic supplements can boost your overall energy expenditure. If you are trying to shift the balance between caloric intake and caloric expenditure, natural compounds that stimulate thermogenesis (the burning of additional calories beyond your normal metabolic rate) can be incredibly helpful.
There are a wide variety of compounds that exert a thermogenic or fat-burning effect, but some include green coffee bean extract, green tea extract, and caffeine.
While caffeine seems to be a common thread among these, compounds like green tea extract generate more fat oxidation than would be expected from caffeine alone, as demonstrated by an elegant 1999 study (44).
The study used a three-way crossover design, where subjects randomly took a placebo, a caffeine-only supplement, or a green tea extract supplement with an equal dose of caffeine as the caffeine-only supplement.
The researchers conclusively showed that the effects of green tea extract increased thermogenesis beyond what caffeine can achieve, indicating that this and other fat burning natural supplements can be harnessed to exert powerful weight loss effects.
Each different natural weight loss compound will have a slightly different side effect profile.
Caffeine-containing supplements like green coffee bean extract or multi-ingredient weight loss pills can cause jitters, anxiety, and sleeplessness, especially in high doses, and other weight loss supplements like orlistat and psyllium husk can cause gastrointestinal side effects like bloating and gas.
Make sure you read up on the specific side effects of the natural weight loss compound you’ve chosen; some have a more well-studied side effect profile than others.
Natural weight loss supplements tend to take several weeks to exert an effect. Research into their benefits almost always involves studies that are at least six weeks long, and some are as long as six months.
It may take at least a few months to start seeing real benefits, especially when you’re already on a diet and exercise program.
As such, don’t expect a miracle the first week you start taking a weight loss supplement. However, if you follow the doses used in the scientific literature, and be patient, you’re far more likely to see success.
In most cases, a natural weight loss supplement will work best when taken in the morning. Appetite suppressants are only effective if they are taken fairly early in the day, because the entire point of taking an appetite suppressant is to reduce snacking and calorie consumption at meals later in the day.
As a result, taking one before bed won’t do much good. Also, since many thermogenics involve caffeine or caffeine-containing compounds, you’ll get the most out of these supplements if you take them early in the day.
That way, your energy levels will be higher and you’ll burn more energy during the day. While you could take them at night, you’re likely to wind up sleepless and irritated rather than energized and ready to burn calories.
Q: What are natural weight loss supplements?
A: Natural weight loss supplements can be distinguished from the broader category of weight loss pills by virtue of being derived directly from natural sources.
The majority of natural weight loss supplements come from plants, like forskolin, green coffee bean extract, and psyllium husk, but a few, like BCAAs, can come from animal products.
All natural weight loss supplements offer some type of assistance in losing weight, whether it is an increase in your baseline metabolic rate, a decrease in your appetite, or both.
Q: What is the best natural fat burner?
A: When it comes to burning fat, it’s hard to argue with compounds that are based at least to some extent on caffeine.
While you could just take caffeine pills, research actually indicates that caffeine-based natural compounds like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract offer fat oxidation benefits that extend beyond caffeine’s effects alone.
While both green coffee bean extract and green tea extract are strong candidates, green tea extract comes out on top thanks to its widely-studied safety profile and its long-term health benefits.
Q: What natural weight loss supplements counter appetite?
A: When it comes to countering appetite, a simple approach based on fiber is an easy and low-risk way to decrease your sensation of hunger.
A psyllium husk supplement, for example, provides a lot of fiber, which should reduce your desire to eat. If you want to get more sophisticated you can opt for a natural weight loss supplement like forskolin, which uses a different mechanism to stimulate your satiety (the opposite of appetite).
Q: What are some medically proven weight loss supplements?
A: If you want a supplement that’s been medically proven to work, look no further than orlistat (also known as Alli). It’s similar in design to a carb blocker, except that it blocks fat absorption instead.
While it’s approved by the FDA for over the counter sales, it tends to work best when you are on a diet that’s fairly high in fat. Beyond supplements that have been medically approved as weight loss aids, green tea extract is probably the next best candidate, thanks to the wealth of studies supporting its benefits when it comes to fat oxidation and weight loss.
Q: Do natural weight loss supplements really work?
A: Several scientific studies suggest that the right natural weight loss supplement can provide a small but significant boost to weight loss.
Many people expect a weight loss supplement to work miracles, which sets them up for disappointment—especially if you were hoping for a weight loss pill to completely replace a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
Even the best natural weight loss supplement can only provide assistance; it can’t do all of the work for you.
- Fat burners for men
- Fat burners for women
- Weight loss pills
- Weight loss program
- Appetite suppressants
- Snacks for weight loss
Once you’ve made the decision to take off excess weight, boosting your metabolism and suppressing your appetite through weight loss supplements can help, but should only be a small part of your plan.
Sticking to clean foods (avoid these) and a healthy lifestyle (see the best weight loss tips here) should be at the core of your weight loss.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 natural weight loss supplement recommendation, click here.