How Do Weight Loss Pills Work? (2023)

The prevalence of obesity globally, and especially in the United States, is astounding, evidently increasing year-over-year. Illustrated by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults globally are overweight or obese. According to the Centre for Disease and Control (CDC), the percentage of the population who are obese in the United States? 42% and growing.

In contrast, however, the obsession with weight loss and the desire to lose it also seems to be at an all-time high, with more and more individuals investing in weight loss programs, splurging on fat loss supplements, and falling for the latest weight-loss crazes. It’s no surprise, then, that one of, if not the most popular New Year’s resolutions year after year is the goal to lose weight.

There’s no question that there’s an obesity epidemic on our hands, however, with so many solutions available at our discretion, why aren’t they being taken advantage of?

Is it because of the ineffectiveness of the solutions available? Is it due to the lack of research surrounding obesity and weight loss? Or is it because of a lack of education and attention given to the matter?

There’s no doubt that some solutions are more effective than others, however, that is certainly not the problem. Research on the topic of weight loss and the human body is extensive, so we know exactly what is required to lose weight.

How Do Weight Loss Pills Work? (1)

Education and attention, however, may be the culprit, notwithstanding the likelihood of dismay and disinterest on behalf of those who are overweight or obese to become educated; obesity isn’t the only epidemic on our hands, as laziness is a large part of the problem.

With that said, what follows will be a discussion surrounding weight loss and how to accomplish it. More specifically, however, we’ll be diving deep into the world of weight loss pills, how they work, and why some are effective and others are not. To finish, we’ll lay out a bottom-line overview of the most optimal approach to weight loss.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

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What are Weight Loss Pills?

Weight loss pills come in many forms and facets, some more effective than others. In short, however, they are, as the name suggests, pills that aid in the process of weight loss. This is typically accomplished via compounds that suppress appetite, increase internal body temperature (i.e. thermogenesis), or boost metabolism so that the body can burn more calories.

Fat Burner Supplements

Dietary supplements are one type of “weight loss pill” in discussion. Because dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are largely less efficacious, less safe, and less effective, generally speaking, than prescription medication.

Supplement companies across the board can make claims that aren’t necessarily backed by proof of research or science. Additionally, they’re also able to include ingredients that may be inaccurately linked to weight loss and/or formulated at doses less effective, simply to save money and increase profits.

For these reasons, it’s difficult to conclusively suggest whether or not fat burner supplements are “effective”. It’s important to note, however, that some supplement brands are much more reliable than others.


If you decide to implement a dietary fat loss supplement into your weight loss plan, be sure to do your research before purchasing, understanding that no claim is officially backed by science.

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Weight Loss Prescription Drugs

Weight loss prescription drugs, however, are not only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but they are only given under the recommendation and guidance of your primary care physician. This, for obvious reasons, illustrates the efficacy, safety, and effectiveness of this type of weight loss pill in comparison to a standard weight-loss dietary supplement.

While it’s understood that weight loss pills are not and should not be considered or treated as a “magic pill” but instead a small addition to a greater multifaceted strategy, according to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, they may be a good fit for you if your BMI is greater than 30, you have weight-related health conditions, or if your weight-loss progress has reached a plateau.

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The following are weight loss prescription drugs that have been approved by the FDA for short-term and/or long-term use:

  • Benzphetamine
  • Phentermine
  • Phendimetrazine
  • Diethylpropion
  • Orlistat
  • Bupropion
  • Phentermine
  • Liraglutide


The information in this section is not medical advice. Only in consultation with your doctor should you consider implementing weight loss prescription medication to your weight loss regimen.

How do Weight Loss Pills Work

Broadly speaking, weight loss pills, whether that be dietary supplements or prescription medication, work through the ingredients and doses formulated. Depending on the type of weight loss pill in consideration, it may work through several bodily mechanisms.

Typically, however, weight loss pills work by suppressing appetite, increasing satiety, boosting metabolism so that more calories can be burned, and/or by interfering with fat absorption.

What weight loss pills DON’T do is directly target and burn fat without the effort of those taking them. In other words, it’s not a “magic pill”. In fact, taking such a product improperly (i.e. consuming it like candy without the implementation of other weight loss mechanisms) can result in serious side effects and bodily damage.

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That’s why it’s imperative not only to do your research but to collaborate with a professional, ideally a doctor, before taking it.

The Effectiveness of Weight Loss Pills

Weight loss pills that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been shown through research to elicit a positive response compared to the placebo group. In fact, studies thus far have suggested that combining efficacious weight loss pills with lifestyle changes is more effective than lifestyle changes alone.

This is an extremely positive outcome to see regarding the effectiveness of weight loss pills.

Of course, discussing the effectiveness of weight loss pills can’t occur without the mention of the necessity for implementing other weight loss protocols in combination. As outlined previously, this includes exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, and other alternative strategies shown to help with weight loss and fat loss.

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In any case, while the effectiveness of weight loss pills is promising, more research needs to be done on the matter before conclusively suggesting their efficacy for the broader population.

To summarize, the following are several of the potential benefits of weight loss pills:

  • Increased metabolism
  • Lowered blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Improved weight loss and fat loss
  • Joint Pain Relief
  • Improved Sleep
  • Boosted Mood
  • Increased Focus and Energy
  • Reduced Risk of Co-morbidities

Of course, you shouldn’t expect drastic or immediate results when taking weight loss pills. In addition, while the benefits listed above are certainly apparent, they’re not guaranteed.

The Bottom Line

While it’s universally agreed upon that weight loss requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that includes exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, and even behavioural therapies, dietary supplementation under the right circumstances and weight loss medication under the right guidance can be a welcomed addition that may help with weight loss results.

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Following the disclaimers outlined throughout this article, it’s important to beware of dietary supplements that claim extraordinary results. Additionally, before considering prescription medication, be sure to first do all that’s in your power to progress naturally before consulting with a doctor regarding its use. Lastly, understand that even the most efficacious weight loss pills don’t come without potential side effects.

There is no magic pill for weight loss, however, there are alternatives that may help you along the process. If you’re still unsure which course of action to take regarding weight loss pills, consult with your primary care doctor to learn more about its implementation, ensuring safety and efficacy is of top priority.

How Do Weight Loss Pills Work? (2)

Chris Martin, MD

Dr Martin receives his MD from University of Iowa. His expertise includes microbiology, anatomy and clinical psychology. He also dedicates himself to continuous learning in different fields.

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Does taking weight loss pills work? ›

Can diet pills help us meet our goals? Drugs can be a help in obesity treatment, but they are not a magic bullet that allows us to shed pounds effortlessly. A small minority of people do find them a helpful adjunct to a diet and exercise program.

How much weight can you lose from pills? ›

Research shows that some people taking prescription weight management medications lose 10% or more of their starting weight. Results vary by medication and by person. Weight loss of 5% to 10% of your starting body weight may help improve your health by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.

How long does it take for weight loss tablets to work? ›

Most people start to notice fat loss results within two weeks of taking a fat-burning supplement.

How long does it take to lose weight with weight loss pills? ›

Most people taking weight loss medications lose an average of one to two pounds per week. Of course, weight loss medications work best when you combine them with other healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise. Most patients start to lose weight within weeks.

What happens when you stop taking weight loss pills? ›

It's not safe for patients to suddenly quit taking the diet pills. Sudden cessation can trigger intense withdrawal symptoms, and also lead to a case of major depressive disorder. It's also not safe for people going through a diet pill detox to be around harmful, negative influences.

What weight loss pill has the best results? ›

Best Weight Loss Pills
  • PhenQ - Best weight loss pill overall.
  • Leanbean - Best weight loss pill for women.
  • Instant Knockout - Best weight loss pill for men.
  • TrimTone - Best diet pill for belly fat.
  • PhenGold - Best multi-action weight loss pill.
  • PrimeShred - Best metabolism-boosting weight loss pill.
22 Jun 2022

What pill makes you lose a lot of weight? ›

More common prescription weight loss drugs which have been in use longer include: liraglutide (Saxenda), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave), orlistat (Alli, Xenical), phentermine (Adipex-P, Ionamin, Pro-Fast), and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia).

How do I get rid of fat on my stomach? ›

To battle belly fat:
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
  2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
  3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
  4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

Are fat burner pills safe? ›

Some fat burner supplements have been linked to problems like liver damage. Some herbs, like ephedra, that were once used in fat burners are now banned by the FDA because they cause high blood pressure, mood change, irregular heart rate, stroke, seizures, and heart attacks.

How long should you take fat burners for? ›

"People are typically on a fat burner for 4-6 weeks. Once your body gets used to it, you're not going to see the same increase in fat oxidation or increase in metabolic rates. By stopping using your fat burner every now and then, you make sure it will still help you lose belly fat."

How many times a day should you take fat burners? ›

These fat burners are good for those who have trouble staying active throughout the day because of fatigue or other reasons. However, you should limit your intake of fat burners with stimulants to 3 times a week and up to no more than two pills per day.

Which part of body loses fat first? ›

Mostly, losing weight is an internal process. You will first lose hard fat that surrounds your organs like liver, kidneys and then you will start to lose soft fat like waistline and thigh fat. The fat loss from around the organs makes you leaner and stronger.

When do you notice weight loss? ›

The first stage of weight loss is when you tend to lose the most weight and begin to notice changes in your appearance and how your clothes fit. It usually happens within the first 4–6 weeks ( 1 ). Most of the weight loss in this stage comes from carb stores, protein, and water — and to a lesser extent, body fat.

When do you start noticing weight loss? ›

In terms of how your body looks, “it usually takes 4 weeks for your friends to notice weight loss, and 6–8 weeks for you to notice,” says Ramsey Bergeron, a certified personal trainer. “Your friends who don't see you every day are much more likely to see a change than someone you're around all the time,” he adds.

Do you gain weight after stopping fat burner? ›

Will I Gain Weight If I Stop Taking Fat Burners? The answer is possibly, ultimately if the fat burner you're taking is a strong appetite suppressant, then this is more likely to be an issue, but the reality is you're only going to gain weight if you eat more calories than you're using.

Can I lose weight without medication? ›

To lose weight without taking pills, drink water instead of sugary sodas to cut down on calories. You should also try to eat smaller meals throughout the day, which will help you burn off calories more quickly. When you go out to eat, aim to choose healthy options, such as salads or lean proteins, like chicken or fish.

What is the fastest and safest way to lose weight fast? ›

15 Expert-Backed Tips for Safe and Sustainable Weight Loss
  1. Implement Long-Term Lifestyle and Behavior Changes. ...
  2. Focus on the First 5% to 10% ...
  3. Reduce Your Intake of Ultra-Processed Carbs and Sweets. ...
  4. Eat More Plants. ...
  5. Pump Up Your Protein. ...
  6. Drink More Water. ...
  7. Eat a Well-Rounded Breakfast. ...
  8. Stand Up and Move More.
14 Sept 2022

How do I ask my doctor to lose weight pills? ›

Some helpful tips when speaking to your doctor:
  1. Keep the conversation honest. Let your healthcare. ...
  2. Share the issues and challenges you face with cravings and hunger.
  3. What are your weight and health goals?
  4. Discuss your overall health.
  5. Use your personal weight loss assessment to guide your conversation.

Why can't I lose any weight? ›

At the most basic level, not reaching your weight loss goal can occur when calorie intake is equal to or higher than calorie use. Try strategies such as mindful eating, keeping a food diary, eating more protein, and doing strength exercises.

How can I lose my lower belly fat in 2 weeks? ›

But there are some things you can do to speed up the process.
  1. Accept that your behaviors will adjust. ...
  2. Eat more fiber. ...
  3. Walk every day. ...
  4. Begin strength training. ...
  5. Embrace healthy fats. ...
  6. Load up on protein. ...
  7. Okay, now you can do some crunches. ...
  8. Try to limit your stress.
15 Mar 2022

What drink burns belly fat overnight? ›

What Drink Burns Fat Overnight? Drinking turmeric milk, chamomile tea, cinnamon tea, green tea, protein shake, green veg smoothies, and fiber-rich juice helps you burn significant fat overnight.

How can I lose inches off my waist? ›

Eating a healthy, varied diet that is high in fruits and vegetables — including soluble fiber, vitamin D, and probiotics — is the best plan for losing weight from your waistline. Avoiding refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods whenever possible will help you cut calories and get rid of fat more quickly.

How can I drop 20 pounds fast? ›

Here are the 10 best ways to quickly and safely drop 20 pounds.
  1. Count calories. ...
  2. Drink more water. ...
  3. Increase your protein intake. ...
  4. Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
  5. Start lifting weights. ...
  6. Eat more fiber. ...
  7. Follow a sleep schedule. ...
  8. Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
13 Aug 2018

Does loose skin after weight loss go away? ›

For small to moderate amounts of weight loss, your skin will likely retract on its own. Natural home remedies may help too. However, more significant weight loss may need body-contouring surgery or other medical procedures to tighten or get rid of loose skin.

Is caffeine a good fat burner? ›

One study showed that caffeine increased fat burning by as much as 29% in lean people, while the increase was only about 10% in obese individuals ( 14 ). The effect also appears to decrease with age and is greater in younger individuals ( 15 ).

Will fat burners work without exercise? ›

Yes, you can take fat burners without working out.

Some prominent fat-burning ingredients include caffeine, chromium, capsaicin, and alpha-lipoic acid. They stimulate the thermogenesis process to elevate the body's temperature, ultimately leading to weight loss [1].

Who should not take fat burners? ›

Who should not take Fat Burner Oral?
  • iron metabolism disorder causing increased iron storage.
  • an overload of iron in the blood.
  • a type of blood disorder where the red blood cells burst called hemolytic anemia.
  • an ulcer from too much stomach acid.
  • ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition of the intestines.

What burns fat while you sleep? ›

Here are five handy ways you can burn fat while you're asleep.
  • Drink a casein shake. ...
  • Sleep more. ...
  • Eat cottage cheese before bed. ...
  • Resistance training. ...
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.

Do fat burners have side effects? ›

Using too many natural “fat burners,” especially supplements, can lead to acute liver failure . Taking yohimbine has been linked to nausea, anxiety, panic attacks, and high blood pressure.

Where is the last place fat comes off? ›

Women tend to lose weight all over, and experience fat loss first in their belly, breasts, and arms. Generally the last area they lose weight is from their lower body (hips and thighs). Depending on body shape, men generally tend to lose fat first from their trunk, followed by their arms and then their legs.

Is face fat the first to go? ›

While everyone loses weight differently, dropping as little as 3 to 5 pounds can show up on your face first, Eboli says.

What are the stages of losing weight? ›

The 4 Phases of Weight Loss
  • Phase -1 – GLYCOGEN DEPLETION. Glycogen Depletion: ...
  • Phase -2 – FAT LOSS. This is the sweet spot for healthy weight loss. ...
  • Phase -3 – PLATEAU. ...
  • Phase -4 – METABOLIC RECOVERY. ...
  • All the Phases of Weight Management:
12 Apr 2018

Does drinking water help you lose weight? ›

Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water. It is a very easy way to cut back on sugar and calories.

Is a 20 pound weight loss noticeable? ›

Your height and weight plays a significant role here. However, on average, you would need to lose something in the range of 14 to 19 pounds to notice a difference in your weight. Think about it in percentages. You will start noticing the difference, as soon as you lose a minimum of 2% to 5% of your body weight.

Is losing 30 pounds noticeable? ›

After shedding the pounds, you might notice a smaller waist or a thinner face before the fat melts away from other stubborn areas. But one thing's for sure—losing 30 pounds or more will make a noticeable difference on pretty much anyone's frame, no matter the starting point or the goal weight.

Is a 50 pound weight loss noticeable? ›

Dropping 50 pounds can have dramatic effects on your body. You are likely to sleep better, especially if you were suffering from sleep apnea. Your cholesterol and blood pressure are likely to drop, and surprising things like memory function and the health of your eyes may even improve.

Do you lose weight when you sleep? ›

Summary. People do lose weight during sleep. However, this is mostly due to water loss through breathing and sweating. While individuals do not burn much fat during sleep, sleep is a fundamental component of well-being, and a lack of it can make maintaining a moderate weight more difficult.

What happens to fat when losing weight? ›

The fat cells in your body store triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So to lose weight, you need to break down those triglycerides. The triglycerides release fat as carbon dioxide and water atoms during fat metabolism or oxidation.

Do weight gain pills work? ›

Weight gainer products may claim to produce a more robust appetite, reduce metabolism, and cause weight gain in specific areas of the body. Just as there is no such thing as spot reduction for weight loss, there is no way to direct weight gain to a particular area of the body through supplements alone.

What is the best way to lose weight? ›

12 tips to help you lose weight
  1. Do not skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. ...
  2. Eat regular meals. ...
  3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg. ...
  4. Get more active. ...
  5. Drink plenty of water. ...
  6. Eat high fibre foods. ...
  7. Read food labels. ...
  8. Use a smaller plate.

What makes you fat fast? ›

“The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight,” the World Health Organization says, “is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.” Put simply, we either eat too much or are too sedentary, or both.

What pill causes the most weight gain? ›

What medications cause weight gain? Antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants , and mood stabilizers are common drugs that have the most potential to increase weight gain. All 12 of the leading antidepressants, including fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro), make gaining weight more likely.

How can I lose 20lbs in 2 weeks? ›

How To Lose 20 Pounds Fast In 2 Weeks?
  1. Make A Commitment. ...
  2. Cut Your Caloric Intake. ...
  3. Up Your Protein Intake. ...
  4. Eat More Fibre. ...
  5. Plenty Of Sleep. ...
  6. Avoid Refined Carbs. ...
  7. Increase The Intensity Of Your Workouts. ...
  8. Set A Nightly Food Cutoff Time.

How do actors lose weight fast? ›

How Do Actors Lose Weight So Fast?
  • Personal Trainer. A personal trainer is a secret weapon in the battle of the bulge in Hollywood, and can help actors drop weight fast. Image Credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images. ...
  • Nutritionist. A nutritionist. ...
  • Personal Chef. Personal Chef. ...
  • Fad Diets. Fad Diets.

How do you speed up weight loss? ›

9 weight loss tips
  1. Eat a high protein breakfast. ...
  2. Limit sugary drinks and fruit juice. ...
  3. Stay hydrated. ...
  4. Choose weight-loss-friendly foods. ...
  5. Eat more fiber. ...
  6. Drink coffee or tea. ...
  7. Base your diet on whole foods. ...
  8. Eat slowly.


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