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Looking for supplements and herbal remedies for weight loss?

There isn't a lot of science backing up the claims, and some have health risks. So, talk with your doctor if you're thinking about trying any of them.

Also, you should know that the FDA has cracked down on some weight loss supplements that had prescription drugs in them that weren't noted on the label. You can't always tell what you're getting.

The FDA does regulate dietary supplements, but it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.

Here are some common ingredients found in over-the-counter supplements and herbal remedies for weight loss.

Chitosan

This is a sugar that comes from the hard outer layers of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. It’s said to block the absorption of fats and cholesterol.

The research on whether it works for weight loss is mixed. Doses from 1 to 5 grams have been studied.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database says there is “insufficient reliable evidence to rate” chitosan for weight loss. Some studies show it may help, and others show it doesn’t. And many of the studies aren’t very good.

Chitosan usually causes no side effects, but some people get an upset stomach.

Chromium Picolinate

Chromium is a mineral that enhances the action of insulin, a hormone critical to metabolism. Your body also needs it to store carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

There are claims that chromium supplements can:

  • lower appetite
  • help burn more calories
  • cut body fat
  • boost muscle mass

But one review of 24 studies examining the effects of 200 to 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of chromium a day found no significant benefits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database says that chromium is "possibly ineffective" for weight loss.

Rarely, chromium supplements can cause side effects such as:

Also, at least three people have developed kidney and liver damage when taking chromium. People with either kidney or liver problems should not take it.

The WebMD Diet Guide is your ally on your journey to your ideal weight -– with timely, credible healthy eating and weight loss information; unbiased reports on diet plans from A to Z; personalized tools for counting calories, assessing your diet, and evaluating portion sizes; and much more.

Weight Loss Basics

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Deciding to Lose Weight Deciding to Lose Weight How Much Should I Weigh?

Struggling with extra weight and feeling frustrated? Learn about the many health benefits from losing just 10% of your body weight.

Is Your Weight Loss Goal Realistic?

Learn why losing weight slowly is best for long-term results. Discover how to adopt new behaviors, like eating less and exercising more, to boost weight loss.

How to Lose Weight Fast

If you want to be the next “biggest loser” -- and do it fast -- you have to read these rapid weight loss safety tips.

Popular Diet Plans

Heard about the newest diet trends? We've got reviews of all the popular diet plans to help you decide what's right for you.

Choosing a Weight Loss Program

Learn what to look for when selecting a weight loss program. Discover how to stick with the program once you get going.

Get the Truth About Fad Diets

Get the real facts about fad diets, and learn some healthy weight loss strategies that really work.

Can a High-Protein Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Discover how high-protein diets may help you lose weight and feel full. Find out the best sources of protein for weight loss.

Review All Popular Diet Plans A-Z

Which diet plan is right for you? See reviews of all the popular plans.

Diet Pills

Learn all about prescription diet pills. Find out if weight loss drugs may help you and learn about serious problems that can arise.

Herbal Weight Loss Supplements

Because of the uncertainty of the ingredients in weight loss supplements, the FDA strongly recommends that you talk to your health care provider before trying them.

Weight Loss Strategies

Whether it's keeping the weight off or managing cravings, get tips for reaching and keeping your weight loss goals. 

Diet Tips Diet Tips Diet Makeover Health Check

Will you be a diet success story? Assess your diet goals and plan.

Top 10 Habits That Can Help You Lose Weight

Discover the top 10 habits that can help you stay on a diet and lose pounds fast.

Weight Loss Surgery Weight Loss Surgery Is Weight Loss Surgery for You?

Thinking about weight loss surgery? Learn what steps you must take before this surgery can be a reality.

Weight Loss Surgery Slideshow

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Portion control is a critical part of successful weight loss and weight management. The WebMD Portion Size Plate gives you easy-to-understand guidelines to help you avoid some common portion-size pitfalls.

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