“Natural” weight loss supplements: Do they work? “Natural” weight loss supplements: Do they work?
The world of weight loss has opened the door to a multimillion-dollar industry, which preys on people looking for help in speeding up their... “Natural” weight loss supplements: Do they work?

The world of weight loss has opened the door to a multimillion-dollar industry, which preys on people looking for help in speeding up their weight loss goals. The popular show Dr.Oz is known for promoting “natural” weight loss supplements which claim to be “miracle” aids for reducing body weight. The three most popular supplements used are Green Coffee Bean Extract, Garcinia Cambogia, and Raspberry Ketones. The label “natural” has become very popular in the supplement industry, promoting a healthier alternative to weight loss supplements. Yet specialists are not convinced on the validity of the claims these companies make.

Green Coffee Bean Extract comes from unroasted coffee beans, which have a higher concentration of chlorogenic acid in them. It was first promoted popularly on the Dr.Oz show in 2012 as a “miracle” fat burner. Companies claim that the higher concentration of chlorogenic acid within the coffee bean extract will help slow the release of glucose within the blood stream, which in turn would increase metabolic activity within the body. Such claims and publicity have made this supplement one of the top selling natural weight loss aids on the market.


Yet on January 26 of this year, The Federal Trade Commission of America (FTC) had charged Lindsey Duncan and the companies he was controlling for falsely advertising the effects of their green coffee bean supplements, and using big television programs like Dr.Oz to refer to as their backup. Under the FTC settlement, Duncan and his companies were charged nine million dollars for making deceptive claims on the efficiency of their product.


Though due to the popularity of the product, there have been some tests conducted to experiment on the effectiveness of Green Coffee Bean Extract. In a double blind, placebo controlled study on 16 overweight adults, the supplements had showed some potential in reducing body fat. The study posted in the U.S National Library of Medicine was a controlled 22-week examination, with six-week treatment periods of a high dose (1050mg) of the supplement, low dose (700mg), placebo pills, and 6 wash out weeks. The patients had proved to lose a noticeable amount of weight without changing their dietary or exercise habits.


Raspberry Ketone is one the first “hyped” products promoted on the Dr.Oz show as the “miracle fat burner in a bottle.” The ketones come from red raspberries and suppliers claim it aids in weight loss and the increase in lean body mass (muscle mass).


Still there is not sufficient evidence on the efficiency of the supplement. There was a study conducted on mice in October 2010. The mice were put on a high fat diet while given doses of the raspberry ketones. Though it did not produce much weight loss results, what was concluded from the study was the lack of weight gain from the high fat diet. No thorough human studies on the ketones have been properly conducted yet.


Lastly Garcina Cambogia also promoted on the show is a tropical fruit that also goes by the name Malabar Tamarind. Companies that sell the product claim that it aids in weight loss by suppressing ones appetite and also blocking the body’s ability to make fat. The key ingredient marketed in the supplement is the hydroxycitric acid (HCA) within the rind of the fruit. The HCA has the ability to block a fat producing enzyme in the body called citrate lyase.


Though in studies conducted on the supplement the weight loss results are not that significant. The Journal of Obesity published a review on a study conducted with the supplement. The subjects were found to lose just two pounds more than the subject not using the supplement.



I have literally tried everything you can imagine when it comes to natural weight loss supplements. I tried the Raspberry Ketones, The Garcina, The Coffee Bean, everything, but it really didn’t make that much of a difference. In the beginning I was seeing results but I gained the weight right back after I stopped using the pills,” says Humber College student Lindsay.


The promises of weight loss and the amount of publicity coming for these products have made them well known to the female demographic, which are key targets for weight loss companies. Though the successes of these supplements vary from subject to subject, the results are usually temporary.


“ To be honest these pills work until you take them but the way they work is not at all healthy. As far as I know about these diet pills, they tend to loose a person’s water weight. As you know humans composed of 80% of water, which is a necessity for all the vital organs to work. But these pills make people to diuresis and get rid of all the water in their body for them to see instant effects,” says Registered Nurse Manreet Garcha.


There are also health risks that impose on users of such supplements. The excess loss of water can cause the body’s cells to dehydrate which can have significant effects on organs says Garcha.


The main one being a renal failure because all this water leaves the body through your kidneys and the more pills you use the more water your kidneys need to excrete thus causing your kidneys to work harder and lastly they fail from over abuse,” says Garcha.


Instead it is recommended by registered professionals to have a balance in ones lifestyle to obtain a healthy weight that will last.


Registered Dietitian Liz Young, who works for Eat Right Ontario says, “For healthy weight loss its really getting back to the three crucial parts of knowing what are considered healthy food, what portions are suitable for you, and physical exercise.”


Young recommends people to do their research online on the possible side effects of using such drugs. Due to the lack of proper research Young tells patients to really consider the long-term effects of taking these supplements.


Though there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of these “natural”, “miracle” supplements, they are constantly publicized in different media platforms. Professionals do suggest consulting trained and educated specialists when it comes to taking any supplements. The sure fire way to reach ones desired goal weight is still maintaining a balanced lifestyle of diet and exercise.

Nima Rajan