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Weight Loss Supplements: Green Tea Extract

You may have already heard that green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants, but did you know it might help you lose weight, too?

Although Smithson cautions that there are not enough human studies to prove the effectiveness of green tea extract as a weight loss supplement, she tells WebMD “…there is some thought that regular consumption may promote weight loss by adjusting resting energy usage and increasing the use of energy. The components in green tea extract that have shown some effect on lowering body weight are catechins, caffeine and theanine.” Decaffeinated green tea probably won’t work as well as regular green tea.

Not all studies agree. But one recent report found that daily green tea extract supplements helped obese men and women lose weight and lower their body mass index (BMI -- an indicator of body fat). It might also help people keep off weight once they’ve lost it. Green tea extract also helped reduce amounts of dangerous belly fat, which has been linked to an increased risk of death. Not only that, green tea extract lowered blood pressure and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol at the same time.

Weight Loss Supplements: Meal Replacements

Experts agree: The most proven weight loss supplements are meal replacements, including bars and shakes.

But, they only work when used as directed. In many plans, this means substituting a calorie-controlled meal replacement for breakfast and lunch, perhaps with the addition of fresh fruit. Then enjoy a portion-controlled dinner of around 500 calories.

“There’s very good scientific literature around meal replacements that is encouraging -- this is a strategy for some people that is efficient and safe,” says Steven R. Smith, MD, professor and assistant to the executive director for clinical research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“For folks who adopt that strategy, there’s pretty good long-term success,” says Smith. “The reason for that is that it’s simple, it’s structured and it allows people to continue to enjoy food with their evening meal.”

Weight Loss Supplements: Over-the-Counter Orlistat

Technically, Orlistat is a medicine, not a supplement. However, it’s approved by the FDA for sale without a prescription (brand name Alli), thus many people consider it a diet supplement.

“This is the one that has the data behind it,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, the director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center. “It blocks 25% of the fat calories eaten from being absorbed. You can hang your hat on this data.”

Orlistat helps people lose weight as long as they also follow a diet and exercise. But it can have some unpleasant intestinal side effects. Be sure to follow the product’s recommendations to limit fat intake to minimize potentially embarrassing problems with anal leakage and gas.

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