6 Weight Loss Supplements You’ve Never Heard Of

We all know we should be eating healthy, but let’s face it—saying no to a burger and ordering the salad instead can be really tough. Choosing a banana over a banana split for dessert can be really, really tough. Nutritious fruits and vegetables help ensure our well-being and keep the pounds off, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little help. That’s where weight loss supplements can come in. But which ones are effective? Which ones are safe? Which ones actually do what they promise to do?

Consult your doctor and pharmacist for advice before starting any new supplement. Here are six to ask about.

Supplement #1: Chitosan
Chitosan comes from chitin, the main component of the exoskeleton, or hard outer covering, of insects, spiders and crustaceans. YUM!? It has been used to lower cholesterol but has also been promoted as a type of dietary fiber that may help reduce the absorption of fat. There is good scientific evidence supporting its use for weight loss, earning it a Natural Standard Evidence Grade of B.

Supplement #2: CLA
If you pay attention to your diet, try to eat healthy and exercise, you may already know how beneficial fatty acids can be. Here’s one that may help you shed the pounds: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), found in beef and dairy products. CLA is a popular supplement that has been used to reduce body fat and manage obesity, and there is good scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness for these purposes.  Natural Standard has given CLA Evidence Grade of B.

Supplement #3: HCA
Dried fruit can be a great snack when you’re trying to slim down, but the rind of a Southeast Asian plant called brindleberry may take your weight loss even further. This plant contains a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has historically been used to treat joint and stomach problems in Indian folk medicine. Today, there is good scientific evidence backing the use of HCA for weight loss, which has earned it a Natural Standard Evidence Grade B.

Supplement #4: Glucomannan
Your search for a safe, effective weight loss supplement might also lead you to a fiber known as konjac glucomannan. Another natural treatment for obesity with a Natural Standard Evidence Grade of B, glucomannan has also been used as a food source—whether fried, baked, or as a candy—and as a gel to be applied to the skin. When taken to promote weight loss, glucomannan absorbs water in the digestive tract, reducing cholesterol and carbohydrate absorption.

Supplement #5: Mango seed fiber
Yet another option backed by good scientific evidence is mango seed fiber, which comes from the African mango tree. Mango seed fiber has earned an Evidence Grade B from Natural Standard for its use in weight loss, either alone or combined with other dietary supplements. It is believed to have numerous additional benefits, including improvement in levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.

Supplement #6: Whey protein
Exercise is a major part of the weight loss process, and if you do weight training in addition to cardio activities, you might already know about the benefits of whey protein. Whey protein is a popular supplement for improving muscle strength, but did you know that it can also help you shed the pounds? It has a Natural Standard Evidence Grade of B for helping to suppress appetite, reducing food intake over the short term.

Choosing the supplement that best suits your needs—in addition to eating healthy and exercising—can help you get to where you need to be in terms of your weight. And hopefully, you’ll be so happy with the number on the scale that choosing yogurt over an ice cream sundae won’t be so tough over time.

Have you ever tried a weight loss supplement? What has—or hasn’t—worked for you? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Catherine Ulbricht

Dr. Ulbricht is co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration. She serves as Senior Attending Pharmacist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Adjunct/Assistant Clinical Professor at multiple universities. She serves on the Editorial Board of Harvard Health Publications, Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, Journal of Integrative Cancer Medicine, Pharmacy Practice News and many others. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Dietary Supplements, indexed by Medline. Her background includes experience in the areas of quality improvement, healthcare informatics, regulatory affairs, clinical trial protocol analysis and drug therapy decision-support. Dr. Ulbricht has also been trained in physical therapy and chiropractic care. Among her many international publications, many have been translated into multiple languages, including German, Japanese and Spanish.

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