The Truth About Some Popular Dietary Supplements

Here is a very helpful and informative chart on some of the most popular dietary supplements:




How it Works

What To Expect

How Much To Take

Keep In Mind


It helps you feel full because it consists of the indigestible parts of plants.  It also may produce fat-burning by-products in the colon.

14 additional grams of fiber each day helps people eat about 10% fewer calories and lose 5 extra pounds in 4 months.

Try for 35 grams of fiber per day – mostly from whole grains, fruits, veggies, and beans.  If your diet is weak on fiber, take psyllium 3 times per day with meals.

Drink plenty of water with your fiber or you’ll end up with digestive troubles.


An essential nutrient that helps regulate insulin – a hormone responsible for transporting sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells.  Chromium seems to help boost metabolism.

You may not lose weight, but your clothes may fit better!  Some studies show that chromium helps people lose fat, not muscle; you’d lose both with a typical diet.

A 600 mcg daily dose divided into 3 parts for weight loss; switch to 200 mcg daily for maintenance. Always take it between meals and separate from other vitamins and supplements.

Many weight-loss studies fail to show a benefit but experts believe chromium builds muscle.

Green Tea

The key is ECGC, an antioxidant that helps your body burn more calories by ramping up your metabolism.

Several small studies suggest that ECGC helps burn an extra 180 calories a day – enough to help you lose 18 pounds in one year.

Take 325 mg per day (along with 100 mg of caffeine, which seems to improve the effects) in three installments before meals.

Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

Hydroxy-Citric Acid (HCA)

Found in a number of tropical plants, HCA blocks an enzyme that turn carbs into fat.  HCA may also increase levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, dampening the urge to overeat.

A study found that taking HCA while eating 2,000 calories a day and walking 5 days a week helped participants lose 8 pounds and 5% of their body mass index in 8 weeks.

Calcium and potassium help with HCA absorption, so try a supplement that combines these ingredients.  Take 2.8 grams per day, split into 3 doses directly before meals when your stomach is empty.

Very high doses may upset your stomach but there are no serious side effects.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

A natural component of meat and milk from cows, goats, and lambs that seems to prevent fat from being deposited in fat cells.  According to studies, CLA attacks abdominal fat.

A 12-month study of 180 overweight people (most women) showed an average loss of 4 pound and 9% body fat.

The usual recommendation is 3 grams per day (split into 3 doses) with meals.

CLA may raise levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, which could up your risk of heart disease.

Resistant Starch

This is actually a type of fiber that your body doesn’t absorb.  Resistant starch is found in foods like cold cooked potatoes, navy beans, and lentils and provides the same benefits as fiber.

How much weight you can lose is unclear, but the effects may be similar to those of regular fiber.

Americans already get 3-8 grams per day but could benefit from double that amount.

It isn’t available in pill form, but you can buy it in bulk and add it to food or smoothies.  Be careful not to over-indulge, which could lead to bathroom issues.


This nonprescription medication prevents the intestines from absorbing about 25% of the fat in your diet.  Instead, it just runs through your system.

Estimates by the Mayo Clinic suggest you’ll lose an extra 3 pounds per year if you use Alli while dieting and exercising.

Take one 60 mg pill with meals up to 3 times per day.

Fat should make up no more than 30% of your diet.  Otherwise, you can end up with greasy stools.

For complete health and beauty, use this guide to take the supplements that best fit your lifestyle.

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