Are Weight Loss Pills a Scam?

Are weight loss pills a scam, or do they sometimes work? The idea of taking a pill and shedding all your unwanted weight may seem too good to be true. This is why a lot of people question the efficacy and safety of weight loss medication.

The reality is, in most cases, losing weight requires time, patience, hard work, and dedication. There’s no “quick fix” to getting the perfect body. However, does that mean you can’t trust any weight loss pills that are out there? If you’re struggling to lose weight despite sticking to a strict regime, you might consider something new.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the question, “Do weight loss pills work?” In general, you should do a lot of research before trying any sort of weight loss pills. Let’s go over what you should know before making the decision. But first, what exactly are weight loss pills?

What are Weight Loss pills?


Weight loss pills are just one of the many strategies people use for weight loss. From suppressing your appetite to improving your body’s ability to process carbs, different weight loss pills advertise different strategies.

Most doctors and health professionals do not recommend weight loss pills. The healthiest way to weight loss is a controlled diet with consistent exercise. However, certain struggles push people towards weight loss pills. These struggles include:

  • A BMI of 30 or greater.
  • A BMI of 27 and health issues.
  • Inability to lose at least 1 pound per week after 6 months of diet and exercise.

You should always be aware of the safety concerns that come after dietary supplements. It is important for your supplements to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unregulated supplements are associated with a host of side effects, from gastrointestinal problems to heart issues.

How Do Weight Loss Pills Work?

Whether you’re trying to trim down excess belly fat, or you just want a smaller waist, there are many different ways to lose weight. This also means that there are a variety of different weight loss pills available for people with weight issues. Usually, if your doctor prescribes a weight loss pill, it will be based on their knowledge of your condition. For instance, the kind of treatment you need for an underactive thyroid is very different from pills you would use to help with burning fat.

Most weight loss pills fall into two categories: Fat trappers and fat burners.

Fat Trappers

Fat trappers are diet pills often made with a substance called chitosan. This substance comes from the powdered shells of various shellfish, like shrimp and crabs, and apparently binds to the fat in the food you eat. The idea is that taking this substance will prevent fat in your system from digesting fully, so it passes through your system before being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Though a handful of studies have indicated that chitosan can be effective in improving weight-loss, research available is limited. There’s also a risk that taking this substance could make it harder for your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D and vitamin A.

Fat Burners


Fat-burning pills are usually made from a combination of ingredients, including herb-derived stimulants, chromium picolinate, and essential fatty acids. Some fat burners come with ephedrine and caffeine in them, to help your body burn through fat quickly. According to the manufacturers of these substances, fat burners are supposed to stimulate fat burning, and increase energy.

Experts agree that in most cases, fat burners are helpful when combined with diet and exercise, but they aren’t always safe. Substances like Ephedra have been linked to raised blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes. Many people who use weight loss pills are aware of these risks but take them anyway. You should never be that desperate to lose weight that you gamble with your health, though.

Do Weight Loss Pills Work?

The answer to the question, “Do weight loss pills work?” can be a difficult one to answer. There are many different kinds of weight loss pills out there. FDA-approved supplements are safer, but still might not be safe. Various factors are put into consideration for a personalized diet plan: your health condition, body weight, and your genetics.

Weight-loss medications are generally highly controversial. Many have been taken off the market due to safety issues. Fen-Phen, a well-known weight-loss product using a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine was taken off the market due to associated cases of death, hypertension, and valve damage.

On the other hand, there are some medications available via prescription which do seem to have a positive impact on weight loss. Medicines like Orlistat are available via prescription, or over the counter in the form of “Alli” pills. This medicine helps reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from meals, and it has a decent safety profile. However, the substance only works for some people.

Another issue with diet pills is that even when you lose weight taking the pills, there’s no guarantee you’ll keep that weight off. Maintaining a healthy weight after losing excess fat requires a more long-term strategy of healthy eating and dieting, hence the general belief that there’s no quick fix.

Are Weight Loss Pills Safe?


Though there are countless herbal remedies and supplements available on the web that you can buy without a prescription, it’s always important to talk to a doctor before you consider using diet pills. Even “herbal” options which might appear safe at first glance might not be suitable for you, depending on your medical history. Your doctor might be able to suggest an FDA-approved diet pill (if necessary) based on your situation.

Currently, for short-term use, some of the approved FDA pills include:

  • Phentermine.
  • Benzphetamine.
  • Diethylpropion.
  • Phendimetrazine.

Some pills are also available for long-term weight management use, such as Orlistat, Phentermine/Topiramate, Liraglutide, and Naltrexone/Bupropion. These approved medications will have gone through extensive clinical trials before being released and approved by the FDA. However, the weight loss pills you can buy online don’t have the same level of safety to offer. Around 1 in 10 people in the UK claim to have purchased “fake medical products” online.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency also found during 2017 that 63% of people who took diet pills they bought online had unpleasant side effects.

Are Weight Loss Pills a Good Idea?


There are circumstances where weight loss pills might be recommended to help a person deal with seriously stubborn weight issues. However, most doctors will often avoid prescribing these medications whenever possible. Even the drugs that seem to have a positive impact on most people won’t work for everyone. Additionally, the level of research available into weight loss drugs simply isn’t as extensive as most practitioners would like. This lack of extensive research is one of many reasons why most medical practitioners are uncomfortable prescribing weight loss pills.

Even if your doctor did prescribe a weight loss pill, it might not have the impact you’d expect. These pills can help get you started on your weight loss journey, but they won’t instantly change your body shape overnight. Significant weight loss requires a complete and fitting strategy of diet and exercise. What’s more, you’ll need a plan for maintaining your weight loss, too.

Weight loss pills don’t take the individual bodily processes of different people into account, or the underlying reasons behind their weight gain. This means most of the time, they’re only a supplement for boosting weight loss rather than a solution for weight loss on their own. Your diet pills won’t address any of the psychological issues you might have which lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, and they won’t keep your weight off on their own.

We don’t recommend weight loss pills for a safe and sustainable method of losing weight. We’d recommend staying away from them and trying a healthier and more natural approach. For a long-lasting approach to better weight management, you’ll need a comprehensive weight management strategy built specifically for you by fitness and nutrition professionals.

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