Go to page content
Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Anita Pee on August 29, 2022

Best Natural Alternatives To Weight Loss Pills

Weight loss pills claim to make you lose weight fast, but do they work and are they even safe? Our experts weigh in.

Weight loss pill alternative min scaled

Weight loss pills can be tempting. They lead you to believe that you will lose weight quickly without changing much of your current diet or exercise routine. Some also claim to target problem areas, like a double chin, cellulite, or muffin top.

And because more than 70% of the US population is overweight, many Americans are searching for new ways to slim down.

However, many weight loss products have been linked to severe adverse health effects. Others simply do not work – or worse yet, make you gain back more weight after you stop taking them.

Luckily, there are several natural ingredients that may help you slim down without risking your health. Read on to learn more.

What Are Weight Loss Pills?

An image of pink weight loss pills from a bottle and blue tape measure to measure waist circumference
Anti-obesity medications are designed to reduce food cravings and the amount of fat you absorb from food.

Weight loss pills include over-the-counter and prescription medications designed to help you lose weight. They work by reducing appetite or food cravings and reducing the amount of fat you absorb from foods.

The FDA has currently approved five prescription weight loss pills. These include orlistat, phentermine-topiramate, naltrexone-bupropion, liraglutide, and semaglutide.

Side effects of these drugs may include diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, intestinal gas, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, trouble sleeping, a tingling sensation, headaches, increased blood pressure, liver damage, increased heart rate, depression, suicidal thoughts, and more.

In addition to weight loss pills, there are plenty of other products on the market that claim to make you skinny or more beautiful. Cosmeceuticals are products that benefit skin health, beauty, and weight. These include lotions or creams containing active ingredients, such as topically applied weight loss gels, creams, and lotions.

With the popularity of weight loss products booming, beauty companies have jumped on the bandwagon to produce these products.

They claim to slim, sculpt and tone problematic areas of the body, such as the tummy, thighs, and buttocks. However, experts warn that there are certain risks associated with using these products.

Do Weight Loss Pills And Products Work?

As stated on the website of the United States Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Advice (FTC), products claiming that anyone can lose weight without changing their habits simply aren’t true. Some of them are probably harmful. Dishonest advertising can appear as false promises and fake online stories.

According to the FTC, claims on weight loss products are false if they make the following promises: 

  1. You can lose weight without dieting or exercising. 
  2. There’s no need to watch what you eat to lose weight. 
  3. You can lose weight permanently by using their products. 
  4. All you have to do to lose weight is wear a cream or take a pill. 
  5. You can lose 30 pounds in 30 days. 
  6. Their products work for anyone. 

The FTC also advises everyone to be careful of fake websites, suspiciously glowing online reviews, and altered images on the internet.

The government agency further reminds consumers that miraculous permanent weight loss without a healthy diet and exercise is just not possible.

Indeed, several studies have confirmed that weight loss supplements have limited benefits. When compared to exercising or a combination of dieting and exercising, the supplements are proven to be less effective.

What Do Experts Say About Weight Loss Pills?

Experts have weighed in on the phenomenon of body sculpting or slimming products.

According to a 2015 review on body sculpting cosmetics, most available products were designed to mask issues related to weight gain, such as double chins, fatty necks, and flabby thighs.

Despite this drawback, the review was optimistic about the novel approaches to anti-cellulite and nature-based products. 

Best Alternatives To Weight Loss Pills

Several natural ingredients reportedly possess safe and plausible fat-burning properties. If you’re interested in supporting your weight loss journey, you might want to consider formulations containing these ingredients: 

Oats

Oats are relatively low in calories and high in protein and fiber. This can keep you full for longer, which helps control your cravings for junk food. A diet with oats is a great option for people with diabetes. A 2016 research study found that both short-term and long-term consumption of oats can control blood sugar levels and reduce weight.

TCM sees oats as a neutral to warm ingredient with a sweet taste. Oats can tonify qi (vital energy) and blood, circulate qi, and calm the spirit.

All these benefits are good for weight loss because fat accumulation is due to excess phlegm and Dampness, as well as Deficiencies in Qi and Blood. “Managing these imbalances will allow your body to metabolize food and wastes properly, which enables you to lose excess weight,” explains TCM Physician Anita Pee.

Caffeine 

Hot green tea being poured from a tea kettle into a white tea cup
Green tea has been shown to help prevent obesity.

Caffeine is an ingredient used to prevent excessive fat cells from multiplying. It also stimulates their degradation by increasing blood levels of the hormone epinephrine.

A 2017 study discovered that caffeine reduces the size and number of fat cells through its thermogenesis effect.

Sipping on green tea has been shown to help reduce body weight. It also provides a host of other benefits, such as boosting immunity and supporting digestion.

Guarana

A plant native to the Amazon, guarana is another well-known natural ingredient that may help with weight loss. It has a rich source of caffeine that can increase metabolism.

A 2019 study revealed that guarana has the potential to be a therapeutic agent to treat obesity. The study said the ingredient works by inducing brown fat activation.

Bio-active keratin

A natural way to tighten the skin is to build more collagen, and one of the ingredients that can achieve this is bioactive keratin.

Derived from sheep wool, bioactive keratin has been shown to stimulate the expression of collagen in humans. Research suggests that it contributes to effective wound healing and improves wrinkles.

Collagen may also help reduce the appearance of cellulite. For best results, consider taking a collagen supplement, eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, and performing exercise regularly.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) 

Niacin or vitamin B3 may also help support a healthy weight. A 2013 study published for the National Center for Biotechnology Information learned that niacin’s weight-loss properties rest on its ability to increase adiponectin. This is an anti-inflammatory hormone that is released by fatty tissues.

An image of healthy diet foods, a water bottle and exercise equipment
Natural weight loss pills are most effective when used in combination with diet and exercise.

Herbs 

Another natural ingredient linked to weight loss would be herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that obesity is a symptom of an underlying health condition, rather than the main problem itself.

When treating weight gain, TCM physicians will first identify an individual’s issue before recommending the ideal herbs. Obesity is mostly caused by a dysfunction in the Liver, Spleen, and stomach. If the issue lies in the stomach, for example, suggested products will be those that promote digestion.

Some ingredients used in TCM claim to be able to break down fat and tone skin. These include natural red pepper oil, natural ginger extract, seaweed essence, and cranberry essence.

They’re supposed to be able to break down and burn excess fat, promote blood and lymph circulation, and accelerate metabolism. 

You may also add an herbal slimming essence drink to your diet. This is an easy way to activate fat burning, reduce appetite, and boost metabolism.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is another helpful tool to help you lose weight naturally.

Many studies have shown that acupuncture together with other positive lifestyle changes can significantly reduce excess weight. While the mechanisms are still being studied, many researchers believe one of the ways in which acupuncture works is by optimising the satiety centre in the brain. It effectively prevents you from overeating, regulates hormonal levels and improves the body’s metabolism, thus increasing the rate of calorie-burning.

Here are two acupoints you can use to support healthy weight:

You can find this on the back of the hand, between the thumb and index finger bones.
  • He Gu (LI4): Helps soothe the Liver to dispel Stagnated Qi, aids the Spleen in dispelling Dampness and Phlegm
Near the medial aspect of the lower leg, in the depression of the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia. 
  • Yin Ling Quan (SP9): Propels Spleen qi to dispel Dampness, phlegm, and stagnant fluids

Weight Loss Is Best Achieved Through Diet And Exercise

Like most things in life, losing weight requires effort. If you ever see weight loss products claiming they can change your life without having to alter your diet and exercise, you may want to steer clear.

However, the natural remedies listed in this article may help give you better results than diet and exercise alone. Be sure to consult your doctor first, especially if you are currently taking prescription medications.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Firm Truth Or Flabby Excuse?” that first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website

References

  1. Premium Beauty News. 2022. Indonesia and Malaysia: At the forefront of halal beauty innovation [online]. Available at: <https://www.premiumbeautynews.com/en/indonesia-and-malaysia-at-the,19799
  2. The Australasian College of Dermatologists. 2014. Cosmeceuticals [online]. Available at: <https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/atoz/cosmeceuticals/
  3. Pubmed. 2021. Comparing effectiveness of fat burners and thermogenic supplements to diet and exercise for weight loss and cardiometabolic health: Systematic review and meta-analysis [online]. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33427571/
  4. Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Advice. 2019. The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads [online]. Available at: <https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/truth-behind-weight-loss-ads
  5. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences – UPM. 2019. The Use of Weight Loss Products Among Overweight and Obese Patients in Malaysia [online]. Available at: <https://medic.upm.edu.my/upload/dokumen/2019010811354704_MJMHS_Jan_2019.pdf
  6. Cosmetics and Toiletries. 2015. A Review of Natural Current and Future ‘Body-sculpting’ Cosmetics [online]. Available at: <https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/research/literature-data/article/21835402/a-review-of-natural-current-and-future-body-sculpting-cosmetics
  7. Walsh Medical Media. 2017. Underlying Mechanism of Coffee as Inhibitor Adipogenesis for Complementary Medicine Use in Obesity [online]. Available at: <https://www.walshmedicalmedia.com/open-access/underlying-mechanism-of-coffee-as-inhibitor-adipogenesis-forcomplementary-medicine-use-in-obesity-2157-7439-1000425.pdf
  8. Pubmed. 2019. Guarana supplementation attenuated obesity, insulin resistance, and adipokines dysregulation induced by a standardized human Western diet via brown adipose tissue activation [online]. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30868680/
  9. Pubmed. 2012. Wool-derived keratin stimulates human keratinocyte migration and types IV and VII collagen expression [online]. Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22621188/
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2013. Niacin Increases Adiponectin and Decreases Adipose Tissue Inflammation in High Fat Diet-Fed Mice [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742781/
  11. Eu Yan Sang. 2017. Chewing The Fat [online]. Available at: <https://www.euyansang.com.my/en_MY/chewing-the-fat/eysweight9.html
  12. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH). Prescription Medications to Treat Overweight & Obesity.
  13. International Journal of Obesity. 2009. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis.
  14. The Washington Post. 2020. Most American adults are overweight.
  15. Nutrients. 2016. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial.

Share this article on

Was This Article Useful to You?

Want more healthy tips?

Get All Things Health in your mailbox today!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Articles

Visceral fat min scaled
Weight & Fitness

Is Estrogen Dominance Causing Your Weight Gain?

Estrogen is a necessary hormone that is responsible for cardiovascular health, reproductive health, and more. But too much may be impacting your ability to lose weight. Learn how to correct estrogen dominance here.

Read More
Low testosterone min scaled
Weight & Fitness

How to Tell If You Have Low Testosterone

Low testosterone levels don't just affect your self-esteem. For many men, it can lead to health conditions, such as low energy, increased body fat, and even osteoporosis. This article provides expert tips for boosting low testosterone levels.

Read More

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.