Weight loss pills are supplements designed to burn fat, increase metabolism, and boost energy levels.
There are two kinds of weight loss pills – prescription and non-prescription – and they are not the same thing.
Because prescription weight loss pills typically contain controlled substances and are often addictive, we steered clear of them for this list.
The following, then, represent the best non-prescription, over-the-counter weight loss pills of 2021.
1. LeanBean Fat Burner
LeanBean takes a multifaceted approach to weight loss in the form of glucomannan to produce a feeling of satiety, garcinia cambogia to burn fat, and green coffee to help power your workouts. It’s the kind of holistic approach that separates the truly effective weight loss pills from the pretenders.
What we like: Everything on the ingredient list has a proven track record. Each ingredient complements and bolsters the effectiveness of the others. There are no unnecessary ingredients and nothing that will produce odious side effects.
Flaws: Quality is never cheap.
PhenQ is a relatively new supplement by industry standards, but it’s made quite an impression based on its ability to burn through fat, enhance workouts, improve mood, and increase energy levels.
What we like: PhenQ’s combination of amino acids, minerals, fiber, caffeine, and B-vitamins enables it to burn fat, build muscle and facilitate metabolic activity across the board. Capsicum, with its proven thermogenic abilities, burns fat even when you are idle.
Flaws: Includes artificial coloring. And the Capsimax Blend prevents you from knowing exactly how much of what you are getting.
3. CrazyMass Cutting Stack
CrazyMass Cutting Stack is intended for those who want to reduce their body fat and replace it with lean, hard muscle. This is a four-part stack designed to be taken together with each component addressing a different aspect of weight loss and muscle gain.
What we like: If you are serious about losing fat and getting in shape, CrazyMass has you covered. Their four-part stack includes testosteronxn for building muscle mass, P-Var to cut fat, clentrimix to increase metabolism, and winnidrol to melt existing fat stores.
Flaws: If you are just looking for a way to lose a few pounds to fit into your suit, this is probably a bit much.
4. Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner
Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner safely and effectively boost thermogenic activity, so you can burn fat even while you sleep. That’s the kind of statement that might seem somewhat pie-in-the-sky, but it’s true in this case.
What we like: Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner provides green coffee bean and white kidney bean extract to boost metabolism. It mirrors those two with tryptophan and melatonin to ensure you get a restful night’s sleep.
Flaws: It is rarely a good thing to see the ‘proprietary blend’ label.
5. Old School Labs Vintage Burn Fat Burner
The folks at Old School Labs are serious about burning fat. Their Vintage Fat Burner relies on a half-dozen proven metabolism boosters and fat burners to give your diet the shot in the arm it needs to kick into high gear.
What we like: Vintage Fat Burner uses garcinia cambogia to enhance thermogenesis, raspberry ketones to metabolize stubborn fat deposits, and caffeine to power your workouts and improve mental focus.
Flaws: Tends to sell-out fast.
6. MuscleTech Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite Weight Loss
MuscleTech goes all-in on thermogenesis with their outstanding Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite Weight Loss supplement. It combines the appetite suppressing qualities of L-theanine with the metabolism-boosting ability of caffeine and the fat-burning potential of coleus forskohlii.
What we like: All the ingredients here are known to boost metabolism, burn fat or suppress appetite. Several do all three. The bottom line is that the science cannot be denied, and the results for most people speak for themselves.
Flaws: It rides the line regarding the amount of caffeine we want to see.
7. Orphic Nutrition 100% Pure Garcinia Cambogia Extract
Orphic Nutrition 100% Pure Garcinia Cambogia leverages the power of this ancient weight loss ingredient and surrounds it with a few complementary ingredients to produce a potent weight loss pill that won’t leave you jittery.
What we like: They don’t talk much about the chromium chelate, but they should. It is responsible for helping to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce hunger pangs. It is used here to clear a physiological path so the garcinia cambogia can do its metabolic work.
Flaws: People being treated with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) should consult their doctor before taking garcinia cambogia.
8. NatureWise CLA 1250
Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA can reduce body fat and enhance energy levels. It’s used here to do both. NatureWise CLA 1250 is a non-stimulant weight loss pill that relies on CLA’s proven thermogenic capabilities to help you toward your weight loss goals.
What we like: This is one of the few truly effective weight loss pills we encountered that achieves its goal without falling back on stimulants. You will feel more energetic and get more from your workouts without the caffeine rush.
Flaws: Conjugated Linoleic acid has been known to have some side effects including diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach.
9. Burn-XT Thermogenic Fat Burner
Burn-XT Thermogenic Fat Burner is another weight loss pill that aspires to raise your metabolic rate without turning you into an insomniac. It does so by pairing proven metabolism boosters with the energy facilitator acetyl L-carnitine.
What we like: This is a great choice for those who want to lose weight and build muscle. It’s the kind of supplement you will find people in the weight room talking about. The combination of ingredients provides the energy you need and the means to utilize it to optimal effect.
Flaws: Should probably be taken with at least a bit of food.
10. Mav Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner
Our final weight loss pill comes from Mav Nutrition. Their Night Time Fat Burner helps speed recovery from workouts, burn fat without creating jitters, and enable deep, restful sleep. It also suppresses appetite and boosts immune function.
What we like: Mav Nutrition employs a combination of metabolism boosters and sleep enablers to keep the fat-burning fire going even while you sleep. Because it is low in caffeine, it won’t upset your stomach or keep you up.
Flaws: We never like to see ingredient amounts hidden behind a proprietary blend label.
Who Needs Weight Loss Pills?
It seems like every week a new hot diet comes along that promises to provide foolproof weight loss. Yet more and more Americans slip into obesity with every passing year. What is needed is some way to provide a foundation for weight loss programs. That way, if a person has a bad food day or is unable to exercise for some time, their weight loss efforts don’t go up in smoke.
Weight loss pills can provide that foundation. By taking a weight loss supplement every day, you ensure that no matter what else happens, you are still boosting your metabolism, burning fat, and moving in the right general direction.
Weight loss supplements are considered safe and effective and can be purchased without a prescription. Unlike prescription weight loss pills, they contain no controlled substances and do not raise the specter of addiction.
How We Ranked
The diet business in the US is a $70 billion industry that encompasses everything from weight loss clinics to weight loss pills. Non-prescription weight loss supplements are leading the charge of the weight loss boom with literally hundreds of different brands, all promising to deliver that slim, sexy you.
Obviously, not all deliver on that promise, and trying to separate the real deals from the wannabes is no small task. Our product review experts arrived at our list through a painstaking process of elimination. We started with more than 50 well-regarded weight loss pills and whittled away until just 10 were left.
To get the process rolling, we took a look at the label. There are a lot of caffeine pills that are being marketed as weight loss pills these days. So if the ingredient list was heavy on the caffeine and light on everything else, we removed that supplement from consideration.
Mind you, there is nothing wrong with including caffeine. It is a proven metabolism booster, and most of the weight loss pills that made our list include it. But it should not be the only active ingredient, or even the primary active ingredient.
Next, we looked for ingredients that are known to produce unpleasant side effects. Trying to lose weight is hard enough without spending the whole day on the toilet or feeling lightheaded or lying awake all night, unable to sleep.
Next, we looked for proven weight loss ingredients like garcinia cambogia and CLA, also known as conjugated linoleic acid. Green coffee bean extract is another proven fat burner. And having a bit of capsaicin in the mix does not hurt either, as it facilitates the metabolic action of other ingredients.
Finally, we looked at the manufacturer’s track record and whether their weight loss pills were produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices facility.
Weight loss pills help curb your appetite. One of the primary benefits of the best weight loss pills is that they help curb your appetite. This is crucial to being able to stay on the weight loss track. Caffeine, HCA in garcinia cambogia, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and other weight loss pill ingredients all have the ability to suppress appetite (1), so you can avoid overeating at mealtime and snacking between meals.
Weight loss pills burn fat. The best weight loss pills increase metabolism, which increases body heat, a process called thermogenesis (2). This metabolic process causes the body to heat up and burn off calories before they are transformed into fat cells and take up residence around the midsection. This effect is even more pronounced if the person engages in exercise. Eating well will also help ensure that any fat that is burned off stays off.
Weight loss pills can give you more energy. Weight loss pills provide you with more energy in two ways. First, many contain caffeine, which is the most widely used stimulant on earth and can help power your weight loss workouts. Second, they help you lose weight. This by itself will make you feel as though an anchor has been lifted and enable your muscles to perform much more effectively.
Weight loss pills can prevent fat creation and storage. A more energetic person is a more active person. Activity pays handsome dividends for your heart and mind. But it also helps prevent calories ingested from being metabolized into fat for later use. Instead, those calories are burned off and never wind up, adding to a person’s love handles.
Weight loss pills enhance workouts. Many weight loss pills contain caffeine. Not as a gimmick, but because caffeine is a very effective and safe stimulant. It increases metabolic activity and enables better, more effective workouts. Exercise should be part of any weight loss program. And weight loss pills that contain caffeine will help you lose weight and help you build a leaner, stronger body.
Weight loss pills improve overall health. Obese individuals should not be stigmatized. But the fact remains that, from a health perspective, there is no positive spin to put on being obese. Using weight loss pills as part of a comprehensive approach to dieting will positively impact virtually every aspect of physical and mental health. Not to mention the fact that it reduces the amount a person has to spend on healthcare.
Weight loss pills help boost confidence. The psychological effects of being overweight are complex (3). But one thing that is known for certain is that being overweight can take a psychological toll on an individual’s self-image and self-confidence. This lack of confidence can impact job performance, career advancement, and the quality of personal relationships. Weight loss pills can help restore physical vitality and confidence.
Weight loss pills may reduce your risk of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in the US (4) and in the world in general. Being overweight is the primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Weight loss pills can help you get your weight under control and keep it that way, thereby reducing the long-term risk that you will develop diabetes.
Weight loss pills reduce sudden cravings. Most overweight people desire to lose weight and return to a healthier state. Most of them get tripped up in their weight loss efforts by sudden and overwhelming food cravings. The good news is that the best weight loss supplements can torpedo those food cravings before they torpedo your diet. Garcinia cambogia, CLA, and other ingredients in weight loss pills stamp out food cravings before they start.
Weight loss pills may improve your sex life. Overweight people are far more likely to complain of unsatisfying sex than people with a healthy body mass index (5). Conversely, those who maintain a healthy BMI tend to have more satisfying sex lives. This hypothesis was confirmed by a 2012 study out of Penn State University that showed women who lost weight did not report an increase in fertility, but did report a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal (6).
Weight loss pills may have brain benefits. The brain needs oxygen to work properly. Being overweight and leading a sedentary life does nothing to deliver oxygen to your brain. Weight loss pills, when used properly, should result in a leaner, more active you. That means better circulation and more oxygen moving to the brain. And indeed, studies confirm that increased activity can result in improved mental performance (7)(8).
Weight loss pills can help burn fat even while resting. The process of thermogenesis we described above has the added benefit of enabling you to burn calories even when you are physically idle. In addition, if you engage in resistance training as part of your weight loss program, you will discover that, because it is so well-vasculated, muscle tissue also burns calories even when at rest.
Weight loss pills can help reduce your risk of cancer. Most people are aware that being overweight or obese is bad for your heart. But few are aware of the link between weight and cancer. Studies suggest that as many as 20% of all cancer cases are related to obesity (9). The good news is that by dropping the excess weight, you greatly reduce your odds of becoming a cancer statistic.
Weight loss pills may reduce your reliance on other pills. Weight loss will not only cut your medical and food expenses, but it could also reduce your reliance on certain medications. Many overweight people depend on medications to treat obesity-related problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood sugar issues. Returning to a healthier weight can alleviate all of these problems and reduce your reliance on different meds.
Weight loss pills can save you money. A study by George Washington University (10) concluded that the average obese woman in the US spends an extra $4,800+ per year when compared to a woman of normal weight. Obese men spend an average of $2,600+ extra. The lion’s share of those extra costs go to healthcare, which is not surprising, since obesity is the cause of so many health problems. Weight loss pills can help you lose weight and save money.
Weight loss pills may help you live longer. The pills themselves are not a fountain of youth, but by helping you lose weight, they will be helping you extend your life (11). Overweight men are three times more likely to die of heart disease than normal weight men. And obese individuals of both sexes have a significantly greater risk of developing and dying from cancer than do people with a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Weight loss pills can help you build new, healthier habits. Sustainable weight loss requires a multipronged approach. Weight loss pills can jump-start and help maintain the process. But you will also need to eat healthier and exercise. If a person does anything long enough, it becomes a habit. So just like overeating and being sedentary became a habit, eating well and exercising can become a habit too, a new habit that pays robust long-term dividends.
Weight loss pills can help you enjoy food more. Various studies have demonstrated that the more a person eats and the more they weigh, the less they are able to appreciate the taste of the food they’re eating (12). It is thought that overuse of the tastebuds desensitizes them. Weight loss pills that help a person suppress appetite and lose weight may indirectly help them regain their taste for food.
Q: Do weight loss pills work?
A: Some do and some do not. Some are well-researched and include ingredients that have a proven track record of delivering weight loss. Others are little more than caffeine pills. They may make you feel jittery and energetic in the short term. But that feeling will dissipate as the caffeine wears off. The best, most effective weight loss pills use ingredients like garcinia cambogia and CLA and are but one component of an overall weight loss program.
Q: Are weight loss pills safe?
A: Yes, for the vast majority of people over the counter weight loss pills like those above are safe when used as directed. They also do not carry the risk of addiction that some prescription weight loss pills do. That said, if you are taking SSRI antidepressants, you will want to talk to your doctor before taking any weight loss supplement that contains garcinia cambogia. Several studies suggest the two produce a potentially dangerous interaction (13).
Q: Can I lose weight on weight loss pills alone?
A: It is possible to lose weight by only using diet pills. But any weight loss is likely to be minimal at best. The most effective approach is to use weight loss pills in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise to optimize weight loss. Building good diet and exercise habits will also go a long way toward ensuring the weight stays off. And that, after all, should be the ultimate goal.
Q: What is garcinia cambogia?
A: Garcinia cambogia is known as Malabar tamarind in India, where it has been used as a flavoring agent for centuries. The rind of garcinia cambogia can be dried and ground, yielding a substance called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA has long been treasured for its ability to reduce appetite and promote weight loss. In recent years, HCA has come to the attention of weight-conscious Westerners resulting in a multitude of weight loss supplements that use it as the main ingredient.
Q: How long does it take garcinia cambogia to work?
A: Technically garcinia cambogia should start working as soon as you start taking it. But it is not a magic pill that will cause the fat to melt away in front of your eyes. It works slowly but steadily. Studies suggest (14) that if you keep using it for six months and watch what you eat, it should produce weight loss, reduced fat stores, decreased visceral fat, and more stable blood glucose levels.
Q: What is conjugated linoleic acid?
A: Another popular ingredient in weight loss pills is conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. CLA is a type of trans fatty acid that, unlike other trans fatty acids, is believed to have numerous health benefits, including the ability to reduce some types of cancerous tumors (15). CLA can also reduce body fat, enhance workout effectiveness for weightlifters and provide heart benefits (16).
Q: Is it possible to lose weight too fast?
A: It is. Most health professionals recommend losing 1-2 pounds per week, max. Losing weight any faster than that could result in losing muscle mass instead of fat (17). You might also lose water weight, which could manifest as dehydration. In addition, losing weight too fast might trigger overwhelming hunger pangs. Or you could actually wind up nutrient deficient, which could have a number of negative cascading effects on your health.
Q: How much should I weigh?
A: The body mass index (BMI) will give you a good idea what a healthy weight would be for you. The BMI uses height and weight to determine levels of body fat (18). A BMI greater than 25 indicates a person is overweight, while over 30 indicates obesity. Another method to determine if you are overweight is to measure waist circumference. Anything larger than 35 inches is considered overweight for a woman, and anything over 40 inches indicates a man is overweight.
Q: Are weight loss pills addictive?
A: Over the counter weight loss pills like the ones we profile above are non-addictive. The same cannot be said for many prescription diet pills. Prescription diet pills contain ingredients such as benzphetamine (19) and methamphetamine (20). These and other prescription diet pill ingredients are considered addictive and classified as controlled substances by the DEA. So stick to the safe and effective OTC brands.
Q: Can I take more than one weight loss pill at a time?
A: You should never take more than one weight loss pill at a time. If the weight loss pill you are currently taking is not producing the results you are after, don’t add another one. Stop taking it, give your body some time to settle down and try a different one. While OTC weight loss pills are not addictive, they contain various types of metabolic stimulants that need to be respected. So stacking them up willy-nilly is never a good idea.
Q: Is there a weight loss pill that can create ketosis?
A: One of the biggest diet myths currently circulating is that there are pills you can take that will cause you to slip into ketosis. Ketosis (21) is the foundation of the ‘keto diet’. It is caused by starving the body of carbohydrates; it’s preferred fuel source. When there are no carbs to burn, the body shifts gears and metabolizes fat for fuel instead. However, there is no pill on earth that will initiate ketosis. That can only be done by virtually eliminating carbohydrates from your diet.
Q: Why do so many weight loss pills contain caffeine?
A: The answer to this is simple: because caffeine is a stimulant. It gets your heart going, puts a fire under you, and gets you up out of your chair. Any type of movement is better for weight loss purposes than being sedentary. As the saying goes, “It’s not age that kills you, it’s inactivity.” Caffeine promotes activity.
Q: Will I have to take weight loss pills forever?
A: How long you need to take weight loss pills will depend on how much weight you need to lose and how effective the weight loss pills are in your case. If you have a lot of weight to lose and seem to be enjoying steady weight loss, you should be able to take the weight loss pills until you reach your goal. If you have not seen any appreciable weight loss in 8-12 weeks, you should consider trying a different product.
Q: What happens if I stop taking weight loss pills?
A: That depends entirely on your behavior. If you return to leading a sedentary life, return to your former high carb diet, and stop exercising, you are pretty much guaranteed to put any lost weight back on (22). The secret to locking in the gains you will enjoy from weight loss pills is not to forget all the other things that helped you lose the weight: healthy food, exercise, and diligence.
Q: Don’t I need a prescription for weight loss pills?
A: Some types of weight loss pills contain controlled substances that require a doctor’s prescription. These are typically only prescribed when the need is great and immediate. The weight loss pills on our list are available without a prescription in all 50 states. They are considered safe for the vast majority of people and contain no addictive or otherwise controlled substances.
Q: Can weight loss pills really increase metabolism?
A: Increasing metabolism is one of the cornerstone principles of successful weight loss. Numerous studies have shown that some of the most common ingredients in weight loss pills do increase metabolism, just as their manufacturers claim they will. Caffeine is one of the best at raising a person’s metabolic rate (23). Other ingredients like the HCA in garcinia cambogia have also demonstrated the ability to increase metabolism (24).
Q: Can weight loss pills reduce the risk of diabetes?
A: The link between obesity and diabetes is well-established. So is the fact that if an obese person can lose weight, they greatly reduce their odds of developing diabetes (25). Weight loss pills can help you lose the weight necessary to cut your risk of diabetes. And that will have an array of positive effects on your overall health in both the short and long term.
Q: Are weight loss pills expensive?
A: Prescription weight loss pills can be quite expensive. But the type of non-prescription, over the counter weight loss pills on our list typically cost less than a quarter a day. That is a significant value when you consider all the long and short term benefits you will enjoy from restoring your weight to healthy levels.
Weight loss pills are an effective, affordable way to realize the many benefits of a slimmer, healthier you.
Keep in mind, however, that they are designed to be but one component of an overall weight-loss strategy that should include healthy eating and plenty of exercise.
The weight loss pills on our list have all demonstrated an ability to enhance metabolism, burn fat, reduce appetite, and pull the rug out from under food cravings. Use the information this guide to determine which of them is right for you.
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