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Commentary | Oct. 1, 2021

The top four things to know about weight-loss supplements

By Operation Supplement Safety at the Uniformed Services University

Are you trying to lose weight, get “cut,” meet body-composition standards—or just be healthier? Weight-loss supplements might be a tempting solution. However, before you take a supplement marketed for weight loss, here are the top four things you should know. 

  1. There’s little evidence that they work.
    1. Some ingredients commonly marketed for weight loss but have either inconsistent or lacking research include: 
      1. Capsaicin
      2. CLA
      3. Garcinia cambogia
      4. Green coffee bean
      5. Raspberry ketone
  2. They often contain stimulants.
    1. In general, taking too much or too many stimulants can put you at-risk for side effects. Examples of the stimulants that often appear in weight-loss supplements include: 
      1. Rauwolscine
      2. Yohimbine
      3. Hordenine
      4. Theobromine
      5. Phenethylamine (PEA)

  3. Some weight-loss ingredients are prohibited for use by military service members.​
    1. Examples of such ingredients include: DMAA, DMBA, ephedra, and methylsynephrine. 
    2. In general, military regulations prohibit the routine use of prescription medications for weight loss and only approve their short-term use under very specific conditions. See the Coast Guard Medical Manual COMDTINST M6000.1F, especially Chapter 10, Section A.3.h and Section B.1.c.(3), for more information. 

  4. They can’t replace diet and exercise.
    1. Weight-loss supplements are not “miracle pills,” and their impact do not compare to the below key methods for losing weight and keeping it off: 
      1. Follow a balanced eating plan
      2. Follow a structured exercise program 
      3. Be patient and realistic with your goals 

For more information, please see the OPSS articles about weight loss on Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) does not provide medical advice, and the information provided by OPSS is to be used for educational purposes only. The content in this article is not a substitute for professional healthcare consultation.
*Editor’s note: This article is a part of a series from the: Operation Supplement Safety at the Uniformed Services University. Please see the other articles in the series.