Do Weight Loss Pills Work?

Can you really lose weight without diet and exercise?

I think we can all agree that our weight loss journey often feels like an uphill battle. Just when you feel like you’re making progress, the numbers on the scale stop cooperating and that stubborn belly fat refuses to go away. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a pill that could magically lose the weight for us? As it turns out, there are dozens of weight loss “solutions” available on the market. Most of us have contemplated the option at some point; after all, these pills promise to slim you down and shape you up. But do weight loss pills work?

Aside from addressing the effectiveness of these pills, the other question on everybody’s mind is, “Are weight loss pills safe?” We’re going to examine a couple of the most popular weight loss pills on the market. Some of these pills claim to reduce cravings & appetite, while others promise to reduce dietary fat-absorption while increasing fat burn. Once we understand how these pills will affect us, we can determine whether or not they will be a beneficial weight loss tool.

Four Popular Weight Loss Pills

Garcinia Cambogia Extract

If you’re a Dr. Oz fan, then you’ve most likely heard of this weight loss supplement. The Garcinia Cambogia Extract (GCE) claims to reduce cravings and appetite, thus helping you to lose weight.

130 people took part in a 12-week study. Approximately half of them were given GCE while the others were given a placebo (a substance with no therapeutic effect). Every participant followed a high-fiber, low fat diet. At the end of the 12 weeks, there was no difference in body weight between the two groups. The GCE and placebo groups both lost the same amount of weight, which means that their diet was more effective than the pill itself.

On the other hand, Garcinia Cambogia is a natural extract. That means there were no signs of significant, negative side effects associated with consuming it.


If you own a television, you’ve probably seen the smiling faces promoting Hydroxycut. This weight loss pill is high in caffeine and promises to boost metabolism, thus decreasing weight.

Only one Hydroxycut study has been conducted to date. This study took place over a three month period and was comprised of 34 participants. Again, some were given a placebo while others were given Hydroxycut. They were all instructed not to change their diet. After three months, the participants that had taken Hydroxycut lost (on average) 21 pounds.

While Hydroxycut did prove itself to be a somewhat effective weight loss pill, it’s important to note that there have been several side effects reported. These include, but are not limited to: heightened anxiety, jitters, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, fatigue, weakness, and increased irritability.


Most weight loss pills (like Hydroxycut) get their fat-burning potential from caffeine. For this reason, many people choose to take pure caffeine pills as a weight loss solution.

Multiple studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of caffeine pills as a weight loss tool. One study proved that caffeine had a significant impact on increasing metabolism, boosting it anywhere from 3-11% for a short period of time after consumption. Other research has shown that caffeine can boost fat burn up to 25%, when consumed before exercise. While pills are the most commonly utilized form of caffeine for weight loss, drinking black coffee or green tea is just as effective (and perhaps healthier, as well).

If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may experience heightened anxiety, jitters, tremors, nausea, or diarrhea while taking caffeine pills. It is also quite easy to develop an addiction or tolerance to caffeine. You may notice a reduction in the quality of your sleep, too.

Orlistat (Alli)

This is another popular weight loss pill that you may have heard about from TV infomercials. It is said to inhibit the breakdown of fat in the digestive tract, causing you to absorb fewer calories.

A combination of 11 different studies found that, on average, participants lost 6 more pounds as compared to those taking a placebo.

While this pill may help you lose more weight, the side effects associated with it can be extremely unpleasant. They are mainly focused in the digestive tract, like loose, oily stool, increased flatulence, frequent and uncontrollable bowel movements, and more. Due to the fact that this pill allows you to absorb less fat, you will also experience a deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K.

Answering the Question: Do Weight Loss Pills Work?

So, after learning about the studies, do weight loss pills work? While some of the pills above have shown a slight weight loss benefit, no pill is worth the risks and side effects associated with them. To summarize:

  • Garcinia Cambogia is not harmful, however it was the least effective weight-loss pill in the group. 
  • Hydroxycut at-best gives a temporary, slight nudge to your metabolism, but comes along with more than a few negative side effects.
  • Caffeine pills can be detrimental to those with sensitivities. While this is the safest and most effective option, it is by no means a stand-alone weight loss tool. You must maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise routine in order to achieve results.
  • Orlistat (Alli) can also help boost fat loss at first, but it produces the worst side effects out of any of the weight loss pills.

Our Advice

A good rule to keep in mind is that a weight-loss option that promises to be quick or fast is probably too good to be true. We recommend skipping the weight loss pills and supplements. Instead, focus on clean-eating and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

Check out these helpful dieting tips and plans:

Once you’ve got your diet on track, try out these fun & effective workout routines:

Also, stay up to date on all of our latest weight loss tips, recipes and routines by following us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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The SkinnyMs. team believes that all people, regardless of age, size, and fitness level, have the power to transform their lives — they just need the resources to do so. The SkinnyMs. method promotes healthy living through a combination of clean eating and regular exercise. We offer everything you need to be successful.

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