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The Truth About Weight-Loss Pills

Magic Pill? Fat Chance

Fat Burners continued...

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a form of citric acid. It comes from a fruit -- the Malabar tamarind -- that grows in Southeast Asia.

Debasis Bagchi, PhD, CNS, is an adjunct professor of toxicology at Creighton University School of Pharmacy in Omaha, Neb. He's also vice president of research and development at InterHealth Nutraceuticals, which makes an HCA-containing fat burner called CitriMax. Bagchi says HCA stimulates the breakdown of fat, although studies of this product have had conflicting and not very encouraging results. He and Person also say it helps suppress appetite.

Heymsfield and colleagues looked at HCA in a study funded by a commercial manufacturer. Using the commercially sold HCA products, they could not find any effect of the product. HCA manufacturers said the researchers had not used the proper forms of HCA, but Heymsfield remains unconvinced.

The Bottom Line

Fat trappers and fat burners are expensive. Most regimens cost from about $50 to several hundred dollars each month. What you get in return may not be worth the cash. While there is some scant evidence that a few of these products have a minor effect, none are the magic bullet that will allow you to lose weight while you munch chips in front of the TV.

Even the experts who like these products agree that they have to be combined with proper diet and regular exercise to work. If you've got the willpower to stay on a diet and exercise routine and have some extra cash to blow, by all means, see if one of the safer of these products will speed up your efforts to get in shape. If you're not going to stick to a diet and exercise routine, you may be better off spending your money elsewhere.

"It all basically comes down to eating a balanced, low fat diet high in complex carbohydrates and getting aerobic exercise daily," says Klauer.

What a surprise.

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