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Weight Loss Fads

By: Dr. Scott Perryman

Doctors and scientists agree: weight loss is good for your health. Obesity, excess body weight, and a poor diet can have negative impacts on your body, longevity, and quality of life. While weight loss is often far from easy, the long-term benefits are undeniable.

At Whole Health Weight Loss, our medical weight loss team is dedicated to helping our patients achieve significant, life-changing weight loss results, safely and effectively.  

Our patients frequently ask us about the many weight loss products and solutions on the market. In the interest of their health, and their wallets, we dissuade our patients from turning to these weight loss pills, teas, supplements, and other fads for their weight loss needs. We acknowledge that certain supplements and nutrients can help aid in workout performance, increase energy levels, and minorly impact satiation and hunger levels; however, across the board, these products do not achieve significant weight loss and in many instances pose mild to serious health risks. 

The doctors and weight loss experts at Whole Health Weight Loss are committed to sharing weight loss solutions that are the healthiest, most researched, and most effective. Our assessment of weight loss fads is that they are generally not worth the time, risk, or money, and do not accomplish the amount of weight loss many people need to restore a safe, healthy BMI. 

So… what’s the skinny on weight loss fads?

Weight Loss Supplements & The FDA

Dietary supplements are not required to meet the same effectiveness standards as Over-the-Counter and prescription medications.

Prior to the release of dietary supplements, the only parties responsible for the supplement’s quality are the manufacturer and distributor. Once a supplement is on the market, the FDA assesses the product. However, supplements are not regulated by the same rules as OTC and prescription medications. If the FDA determines that a supplement on the market is adulterated or misbranded, only then will the distributor have action taken against them. However, these products do not undergo FDA testing prior to their release and do not undergo the same level of testing as other medical and dietary products, even when they are finally released for sale to the public. 

Are Weight Loss Fads a Waste of Money?

Generally, yes. There is often little to no evidence to back up the claims of these products and practices. If a product promotes easy weight loss, be skeptical


Diet pills claim to control your appetite, help your body burn fat, and curb nutrient absorption. In general, the claims of these pills are backed by questionable studies or poor to no evidence. Common weight loss pills include:

Orlistat: Orlistat promotes weight loss by blocking the body’s ability to uptake fat. Unfortunately, by blocking fat uptake, patients often experience a negative side effect: nutrient deficiency. Fats are a valuable source of vitamins A, K, D, and E, which are vital components of a healthy body.

The most that people lose on average with Orlistat is two pounds: the negative effects of Orlistat far outweigh this small amount of weight loss. 

CLA: CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid, is a fatty acid found in meat and dairy. Some claim that CLA pills help to promote weight loss and build lean muscle. However, CLA can trigger a number of side effects, including digestive issues, fatty liver, insulin resistance, and increased inflammation. The small amount of weight loss this supplement may help you accomplish are not worth these health risks. 

More research is needed to confirm the effects of Forskolin. 

Forskolin: Forskolin is produced from the Indian Coleus plant, a root in the mint family. One study concluded that Forskolin helped people increase their weight loss and muscle mass over a twelve-week period. However, while one study showed patients benefited from Forskolin, another study showed no weight loss benefit from Forskolin at all. The two conflicting conclusions of these studies are among the only studies performed to determine Forskolin’s efficacy.

Meratrim: Meratrim is a combination of two plant extracts, one from the head of the Sphaeranthus indicus flower and another from the rinds of the Garcinia mangostana fruit. A study of Meratrim suggested that Meratrim can help obese men and women control their weight. However, this study was industry-sponsored. More research is needed on the benefits and side effects of Mertatrim.  

Synephrine: Synephrine, or bitter orange, is related to Ephedrine. Ephedrine used to be considered an effective weight loss supplement but has since been taken off the market due to the FDA’s determination that the supplement has serious side effects, including negative effects on the heart. Synephrine itself is a powerful stimulant. Patients may lose weight in the short term, but the long-term effects can be serious, making Synephrine not worth the risk. 

Green Coffee Bean Extract: Green Coffee Bean Extract is derived from unroasted coffee beans. Green Coffee Bean Extract contains caffeine, which some say can help patients raise their energy levels and metabolism. The extract is high in antioxidants and may help to lower blood sugar levels. Other claims include that Green Coffee Bean Extract aids in fat burn-off and that the chlorogenic acid of the bean slows the digestion of carbohydrates. Some people develop an upset stomach or an allergic response after taking green coffee bean extract. While some studies have found that Green Coffee Bean Extract can help people lose up to five pounds more than without the extract, the majority of these studies are industry-sponsored. Green Coffee Bean Extract at most promotes the loss of a few pounds: it is not a significant help for weight loss. 

Natural, often more affordable sources of caffeine and its associated health benefits include coffee, green tea, and black tea.

Glucomannan: Glucomannan is made from the fiber of konjac, or elephant yam. Glucomannan, when taken, absorbs water and sits in the stomach as a gel-like substance. This supplement is touted to help increase satiation to help people consume fewer calories and lose weight. Glucomannan is also said to help support healthy gut bacteria. Side effects include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

While some studies suggest that Glucomannan can assist with weight loss, patients lose at most eight to ten pounds, if they lose any at all. Glucomannan can also have negative interactions with certain medications. 


Even though pills like Contrave, Belviq, Phentermine, and Qsymia require a prescription from a doctor, the research behind these pills is not thorough or satisfying. Patients at most lose 3 to 9% of their excess body weight with prescription diet pills. If you are looking to safely lose weight, and keep the weight off for the long-term, these diet pills do not help patients modify their behaviors, often leading to patients regaining their lost weight. 


Weight loss and detox teas advertise their ability to suppress appetite, increase metabolism, reduce inflammation, and in some cases, reduce belly fat. Most of the teas must be consumed over a 14-day period to get their “full benefit.” In general, the weight loss benefits of these teas are minimal, if they have any effect at all. These detox teas also instruct you to drink plenty of water, eat well, and exercise three to five times a week. These habits are plenty to help trigger healthy weight loss! While healthy gut flora and anti-inflammatory nutrients are beneficial for joint and skin health, it is better and easier to obtain these benefits with a balanced diet. Consume protein, vegetables, and probiotic foods to achieve these benefits naturally, effectively, and more affordably.

Instead of turning to weight loss teas, consider forming a habit of consuming healthy forms of caffeine, like green tea or coffee. These offer more long-term benefits. Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants and A, C, D, K and B vitamins. A good organic green tea is an affordable source of caffeine that has also shown to possibly lower patient’s risk of diabetes. All teas offer the benefit of hydration and can increase your sensation of fullness (because you are full of tea!). 


Weight loss patches often promise to boost metabolism, reduce appetite, or block the body’s ability to uptake carbohydrates like sugar. There is very little to no evidence that weight loss patches promote weight loss. Weight-loss patches are not tested by the FDA and are considered by many doctors to be a waste of money. 


Fasting refers to intentionally only ingesting calories during certain times of the week or day. Some people do a 5:2 plan, where they eat normally for five days and fast for two. Others only consume calories over an 8-hour period and fast the other 16 hours of the day. Intermittent fasting is growing in popularity, but be wary: do not fast to the point that you are dizzy or feel unwell. Intermittent fasting is not necessarily recommended for women, as more research is required to determine if it has a negative impact on hormonal balance. Fasting can help some people to control their eating habits, but if you are at an unhealthy weight, consult with your doctor before turning to fasting as your weight loss solution. 

Weight Loss Fad Diets

Atkins, Paleo, Vegan, Ketogenic… you have likely heard about the dramatic weight loss that these diets have helped people achieve. While the emphasis on protein and fat in these diets is a move in the right direction, these strict diets can strain the body and internal organs, leading to long-term negative effects.

Our nutritional counselors will be happy to speak with you to help you find a balanced, healthy diet that you will be able to enjoy for the rest of your life, without harming your body. 

Are Exercise Supplements Safe?

Exercise is an important part of losing weight and maintaining your results. However, before you purchase everything at GNC, remember that even if these products promote the purity of their ingredients and the scientific research behind the benefits, these supplements may:

  • Not affect you in the way promised
  • Put strains on your heart and internal organs 
  • Affect your mood and add to anxiety
  • Have side effects, such as constipation, diarrhea, kidney stones, blood-thinning, and nausea

One common supplement our patients ask us about is Creatine. When you take Creatine, your body converts the supplement to creatine phosphate. The amino acid creatine phosphate occurs naturally in many meat sources. Creatine phosphate feeds your muscles, helping them recover from high-intensity cardio or weight lifting. Some feel creatine supplements help them raise their metabolism, burn fat, and build muscle. While creatine can help with muscle hypertrophy to aid your performance during a workout, you cannot simply take creatine and magically lose weight or build muscle. Creatine must be combined with a rigorous workout to reap its benefits.

For some people, Creatine has also been correlated with muscle cramping and stomach, liver, or kidney problems. In some cases, creatine can make people gain MORE weight.

Do thorough research and pay close attention to how your body responds to supplements like creatine before making them a regular part of your weekly health habits. The Whole Health Weight Loss team will help you create your healthiest, most effective diet and weight loss plan. 

While certain supplements can help you perform and recover from a workout, these supplements are not weight loss solutions. The weight loss will come from your dedication to regular exercise and healthy eating. At Whole Health Weight Loss, we consult with our patients to free them from weight loss fads and to help them create a healthy, doable exercise and diet plan that they can maintain for the long-term!  

Weight Loss: What Works

If you are looking to lose significant weight, the below is a list of tried-and-true weight loss methods

  • Start your day with a protein-rich meal 
  • Avoid sugar drinks and juices 
  • Drink water
  • Be active three to five times a week 
  • Stick to a diet with fats, meat, and low-carb vegetables
  • Eat slowly
  • Get enough sleep

Medical Weight Loss

Men and women with a BMI of over 30 are good candidates for the assistance of medical weight loss solutions. These include gastric balloons and bariatric surgeries to help patients learn portion control and encourage the body to intake fewer calories, therefore achieving significant weight loss.

At Whole Health Weight Loss, we pair medical weight loss procedures with nutritional counseling and support groups to help patients not only lose weight safely, but to also change their diet and exercise habits for the long-term.

If you would like to achieve real weight loss results, contact us to learn more about how we help our Northern California patients obtain and maintain their healthiest, happiest lives!