What to Look For
There are literally hundreds of over-the-counter weight loss products on the market. Most claim that they are safe and work quickly. Look for products that have be proven to be safe with no side effects, such as those containing green tea, guar gum, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), chromium picolinate or 5-HTP. Green tea extract and chromium work by increasing calorie and fat metabolism and suppressing the appetite. 5-HTP works by increasing serotonin levels to the brain and can reduce sugar and other food cravings. As an appetite suppressant, it works fairly quickly.
There are many other ingredients in over-the-counter weight loss products. It is important to remember that over-the-counter products are not subjected to the same controls as prescription drugs. While some of these may work for quick weight loss in some people, they may not be safe to take, especially for long periods of time. Products containing bitter orange and country mallow may sound safe as they are natural substances, however, both can produce unpleasant side effects. Bitter orange may produce similar side effects to ephedra, which has now been banned by the FDA.
Where to Buy
Most supermarkets and drug stores have a good range of weight loss aids. Walgreens has good value for money products including Natrol Green Tea 500 mg capsules, Schiff Green Tea Diet Tablets and Finest Natural Green Tea Capsules. Walgreens also stocks 5-HTP and chromium picolinate. Walmart stocks a good range of affordable dietary supplements including 5-HTP, chromium picolinate and green tea extract. Other mainstream retailers include the Vitamin Shoppe, Atkins and GNC. GNC has a wide range of weight loss products including its own brand.
Over-the-counter weight loss products can cost anywhere from $4.99 to $120.00, or more, depending on the brand and quantity involved. You don’t necessarily need to spend more to get a better product. Many of the cheaper brands are just as effective. Some of the more expensive brands offer a money-back guarantee, but you will have to return the product directly to the manufacturer, rather than the store where you bought it.
You may also want to try some of the cereal bars and protein shakes that are part of some weight loss plans. Look for low-sugar varieties along with whey and rice protein shakes, which you can substitute for one of your main meals.
Remember there is no real substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish, and try to exercise at least three times a week.