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Supplements for Weight Loss that Really Work

author image David Benjamin
Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of "The Business and Practice of Personal Training" and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.
Supplements for Weight Loss that Really Work
Fish oil pills in a wooden spoon. Photo Credit: bookzaa/iStock/Getty Images

Each year millions of people attempt to lose weight, but only a fraction actually reach their goals. Capitalizing on those unfulfilled goals, weight loss has grown to a multibillion-dollar industry by promising results through a wide array of dietary supplements. With the overwhelming selection of products available, it’s difficult for the average consumer to know which, if any, actually work. Fortunately, as part of a sensible weight-management program, some supplements will deliver results.

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Fish Oil

Fish oil is a widely available, inexpensive supplement that shows promise in numerous areas of health. Prized for its anti-inflammatory effects, fish-oil supplements are derived from fatty fish, such as salmon. In a study published by the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," fish supplementation in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet was shown to have a greater effect on weight loss than reduced calories alone. Fish oil is available either in capsules or bottled oil. Light has a degrading effect on fish oil, so when buying it, look for products packaged in dark, opaque bottles.


Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. While not always considered a viable supplement, caffeine is one of the most potent weight-loss supplements available. In clinical studies, caffeine ingestion has been shown to increase fat mobilization during exercise. According to "The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal," caffeine has also demonstrated the ability to prolong the setting in of fatigue during exercise. These results show that caffeine supplementation not only can improve exercise effectiveness but duration as well. One large cup of coffee supplies enough caffeine to demonstrate these results.

Protein Shakes

While typically thought of as a muscle builder rather than a fat-loss supplement, protein shakes, when used correctly, can be a powerhouse for fat loss. Protein has a satiating effect on appetite, so a shake early in the day can help prevent cravings later on. Protein also has a metabolism-boosting effect not seen with carbohydrates or fat. Remember, though, that protein contains the same amount of calories as carbohydrates, so make sure to use protein shakes to replace other calories, rather consuming them in addition to your current diet. Protein shakes are made from sources such as casein (milk protein), whey, beef, egg and soy. Look for a whey/casein protein blend with little or no sugar or fat. For a fast and healthy shake, try a scoop of protein blended with skim milk and frozen fruit.

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