Myth #4: Supplements Help With Weight Loss

Weight loss supplements provide limited weight loss assistance.

The weight loss supplement industry is a billion-dollar industry.  There is a lot of research out there that seems to support the use of supplements to lose weight.  What is the truth behind the research and should I take supplements?

There are all sorts of different supplements on the market, and all most all of the companies that produce them claim to have the magic bullet that will have a dramatic effect on curing your weight problem quickly.  The problem is most of them have never been studied by an independent, not biased party.   

A few months ago, I reviewed a product that has been out there for years by a large supplement company.  While reviewing the product, I examined the research they claimed made your muscles bugger much quicker than exercise alone.  One study they quoted was on the heart muscle.  The muscle did not get larger but had more blood flow.  Heart muscle is not the same type of muscle as our arms or legs and responds differently.  The company equated blood flow with quicker recovery and faster muscle building.  The second study they quoted was one that they funded.  This study is automatically suspected of having a bias.   

Do supplements work?  Yes and no.  Most supplements increase your calories and provide positive results through the placebo effect. The provider or researcher sells the placebo effect by selling the product similar to how a commercial sells McDonald’s to our children through commercials.  Nearly 30 percent can be sold on the benefits of a sugar pill to cure their pain.  

This bigger issue is the side effects.  They range from an elevated pulse and blood pressure to strokes and liver failure​[1]​.  I just cannot see the risk of living the rest of your life in a diaper or needing a liver transplant being worth 1-2 pounds of weight loss.  

Fact:  Will supplements help you lose weight?  Potentially yes, but they are not a magic pill.  Most weight-loss supplements are useless unless your goal is to fund the retirements of supplement company executives.  A few supplements can have a small effect on weight loss, but the effect is short-lived and you will not maintain it, and it will almost be a few pounds. The best ones may help you lose a few pounds over several months.

I will post more on individual supplements over the next few months.  


  1. [1]
    K. Chatham-Stephens et al., “Hepatotoxicity associated with weight loss or sports dietary supplements, including OxyELITE ProTM – United States, 2013.,” Drug Test Anal, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 68–74, Jan. 2017, doi: 10.1002/dta.2036. [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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