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Best Weight Loss Supplements and Pills: What Works...

Best Weight Loss Supplements and Pills: What Works and What Doesn’t.

There are almost infinite options one can choose from when it comes to weight loss pills and drugs. With companies making big claims and promises it becomes almost impossible to choose the right product.

They claim that their pills or supplements can help lose weight by anyone or a combination of these mechanisms.

By suppressing appetite.

By increasing metabolic rate

By reducing the absorption of nutrients like fat.

In this post, we will put their claims and promises regarding their products to test.

We have known ephedra to be partly successful in helping people lose weight, but it comes with a plethora of side effects and the labels advise that people with any health problems should stay away from it. And the FDA banned ephedra for the life-threatening side effects it comes with.

But the supplement companies are still selling their products making a few tweaks here and there and in some cases changing the component. So, what are we consuming in exchange for our money? Hope or Poison? A little of both, it turns out. Here’s what’s inside of today’s weight loss pills and supplements.

1. Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite Capsule

The Claim: “Super Thermogenesis, Enhanced Focus, Extreme Energy, Powerful Weight Loss.”

Active Ingredients: Green Coffee Extract, Yohimbe.

Present in green or raw coffee, Green Coffee Extract is marketed as a weight-loss supplement under various names. It is touted to people as a hepatic triglycerides suppressant. Hepatic triglycerides can cause many adversities including obesity, heart diseases.

Some studies suggest that the antiobesity effect of GCE may be mediated via alteration of plasma adipokine level and body fat distribution and downregulating fatty acid and cholesterol biosynthesis, whereas upregulating fatty acid oxidation and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) expression in the liver.

However, the efficacy of GCE as a weight loss supplement was put to the test in a study(1) done by Igho Onakpoya Et al. His team used data from human clinical trials, and the results were not very promising.

Though it seems like GCE can promote weight loss, but there are several caveats. The experiments were of very short duration, and the participants were either on a calorie deficit diet or doing some form of exercise. There were no reported adverse effects during the study but that doesn’t make it risk-free.

Another active ingredient of Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite is Yohimbe. A study(2) published in an international journal Research in Sports Medicine, claims that on experimenting the effects of Yohimbine(the active compound in yohimbe bark) on 20 male football players, it was found that the group which was orally ingesting yohimbine pills(20mg) for 21 days had a significant decrease in fat mass, as compared to the group of players who were orally ingesting a placebo. However, there are other studies(3,4) that suggest otherwise.

Yohimbe is also used to treat erectile dysfunction(5). And there are some side effects associated with it one should be aware of. Some of the athletes using Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite found that it increased their heart rate. This increase in heart rate is one of the listed side effects of Yohimbe(6). Other side effects include anxiety and high blood pressure.

Verdict: The studies concerning the active ingredients gave mixed results. If you are willing to try Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite Capsules or Powder, make sure you don’t have any existing health issues. If you have any health related issues it is better to consult your physician before you decide on using it.

2. C4 Ripped Cellucor

The Claim: “Helps you train harder, Support body’s ability to burn fat”

Active ingredients: L-Carnitine, Green Coffee Extract, Capsimax Cayenne Fruit Extract, Coleus Forskohlii Root Extract.

L-Carnitine works by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, which are then burned to generate energy. Now, since it transports fatty acids to generate energy, it is understandable that people think it is a good fat burner. But studies suggest it is not (7).

In one study conducted on 36 women, it was found that using L-carnitine for 8 weeks did not show any sign of weight loss. They walked for 30 minutes 4 times/week. Neither they found a decrease in fat mass nor in mean total body mass. And five of the women who underwent the experiment suffered nausea and diarrhea.

However, another review(8) of 9 studies showed some promising results. LC did help to reduce fat mass and body mass index in the adults who were participating in the experiment. Thus the experiments gave mixed results. Some were promising and others were not. However, there are many other health benefits associated with LC including faster recovery after exercise(9), an increase in oxygen supply to muscles(10), an increase in Red Blood Cells production(11).

We have already discussed GCE above. So, moving on to the next ingredient.

Capsimax Cayenne, a natural extract from red hot chili peppers. It works by improving lipolysis( breaking of triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol). Capsimax also promotes thermogenesis. But does it really encourage fat loss?

A very controlled and strict study(12) was done on 75 candidates ranging between 18 and 56 years of age, including men and women. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 2mg Capsaicinoids or 4mg Capsaicinoids. And the subjects who were given 4mg CAPs for 12 weeks showed a 5.91% loss in body fat percent as compared to subjects who were on placebo.

Capsimax extract has many other health benefits including relief from oxidative stress, heart diseases, sinus infections, and others.

Capsimax is safe to consume because it has the benefits of Capsaicinoids and red hot peppers minus the burning sensation.

Another ingredient in Cellucor C4 Ripped is Coleus Forskohlii. Forskolin (
7-β-acetoxy-8, 13-epoxy-1α, 6 β, 9α-trihydroxy-labd-14-ene-11-one ) the active ingredient in Coleus Forskohlii stimulates cyclic adenosine monophosphate(cAMP) and shows some anti-bacterial functions. It regulates the body’s thermogenic response to food, increases the body’s BMR, and further increases the utilization of body fat(13).

Verdict: Definitely worth your time and money. But make sure to consult your physician before deciding to use it.


The Claim: “Fat Burning, Appetite Control, Metabolism, Energy, Positive Mood”

Active ingredients: Green Coffee Extract, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, L-Carnitine, Garcinia Cambogia Extract, Green Tea Extract.

We have discussed the efficacy of Green Coffee Extract, L-Carnitine above. So let us jump on the other ingredients.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid(CLA), a type of fatty acid that does not harm the body, rather has several health benefits. A naturally occurring trans fat found primarily in grass-fed cows, goats, and sheep. It is naturally synthesized in the rumen of deer, cows, sheep by the transformation of linoleic acids, oleic acids by enzymes and microbes present in their bodies.

CLAs found in supplements are however chemically synthesized by isomerizing Linoleic acids. They are commercially synthesized from Linoleic acid-rich oils like sunflower oil. This form of CLA is different from the ones found in meat and dairy of cattle. There is a great difference in their isomers, the ratio of their isomers in CLAs. For example: In commercially synthesized CLAs, a mixture of both 9 and 10-CLAs are found in the ratio 50:50 which is normally not the same in case of naturally occurring CLAs.

However, the pros and cons of CLAs are just large. We have tried to summarize both the pros and cons in a table.

Image Courtesy: NCBI

The other ingredient which is rather a very famous one is Garcinia Cambogia.

Garcinia Cambogia is found mainly in India and Southeast Asia. It is sour fruit. And the substance is extracted from the peel of the fruit. It has a compound called hydroxycitric acid which shows to control the appetite to some extent(14).

Several studies show that HCA can help fight obesity using a number of mechanisms.

  • Reduction in appetite by serotonin regulation.
  • Inhibition of lipogenesis
  • Increased fat oxidation

However, these results were mostly obtained from animal-based studies. And more human trials will be required for a better understanding of its efficacy.

Talking about the safety of using Garcinia Cambogia, a study(15) done by Hayamizu et al. on 44 healthy volunteers. And after giving them a high dose of 3000mg HCA daily for 10 days there was no side effect noted.

The next ingredient is Green Tea Extract. Green tea is rich in polyphenol catechins and caffeine. Green tea has several health benefits. But increasing interest is observed in people regarding its use as a fat burner.

However, the results of GTE are very inconsistent(16) when it comes to fat metabolism. Some studies do suggest that GTE promotes lipolysis while others suggest it doesn’t.

Verdict: Lean Mode may seem to be moderately effective when it comes to fat burning, appetite control due to the effectiveness of L-carnitine and Garcinia Cambogia. You can definitely try this product because it contains mostly natural extracts as active ingredients. But doing some research on your side before getting the product will only prove to be beneficial.

4. QuadraLean Thermogenic by RSP Nutrition

The Claim: “Increase Metabolism, Laser Focus, Clean Energy, Thermogenesis”

Active Ingredients: L-Carnitine, Natural Caffeine, Alpha GPC, Capsimax

As we have already discussed the efficacy of LC and Capsimax, that leaves us with two ingredients Alpha GPC and Caffeine.

Alpha GPC is a chemical used for improving memory. At times people also seem to be interested in it due to its ability to enhance the Human Growth hormone. It also increases choline levels as suggested by a study(17).

In this study, 8 men consumed 1000mg GPC and their plasma free choline levels increased significantly after 60 to 120 minutes from ingestion. Plasma Growth Hormones also showed a significant rise after 60 minutes.

It somehow compounds the secretion of HGH when ingested before an intense workout.

The next ingredient is Caffeine. If you rely on a morning cup of coffee to help you through the day then you are already consuming caffeine. It not only helps you stay awake but helps your body in a number of ways.

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It when reaches the brain creates alertness. And is therefore used in some medications to treat drowsiness.

Some studies(18) showed caffeine can help the breakdown of fat. It does so by increasing the blood levels of epinephrine. Epinephrine is a hormone that signals the fat tissues to break down fats.

But when it comes to weight loss in the long term, the body becomes tolerant to its effect(19).

Verdict: Just going through the ingredients of QuadraLean and the studies associated with it, it seems to be very promising. You should try this if you are willing to lose some extra pounds.

So, we reviewed and researched the active ingredients, their composition, how they function in some of the best weight loss pills. And this list will keep growing as we keep adding on more weight loss supplements and pills.

Bottom Line

There seem to be some supplements that can help metabolize fat. But one thing remains constant. None of these will give you your desired results if you don’t increase your activity levels. Try sprinting and some low carb diet to help maximize the effects.

As you go through the studies done, you will notice that most of it, if not all were carried out on patients who were doing some kind of physical exercise or were on some calorie restriction during the period of experimentation.

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Hi, I'm Pankaj Sinha, Co-founder of which discusses everything related to health and fitness and sometimes things related to science. I am from NE, India. I hold a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and these days I am pursuing my masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. I am also pursuing my personal trainer certification. Learn more about me in the about us section.

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