Why Most Diet Pills are Either Illegal or Ineffective (2 of 3)

Continuing from diet pills that are effective but illegal (for a good reason), we are now on the second part in which the diet pills are legal, but are they effective? The multi billion US dollar industry behind it surely are trying to convince you that they are effective.

The Ambiguously Effective Drugs

Beta Alanine

Other Name: 3-aminopropanoic acid, CarnoSyn

Naturally occurring substance. If you look at the science behind it, sounds reasonable, it should work as the manufacturers claimed that it will increase the amount of work the user can do at high intensity. More work done at high intensity = more fat burned during your training session. Bodybuilding.com highly recommend this. So what’s not to like about it?

In 2007, an industry funded study published in Journal of Applied Physiology with 15 male athlete test subject over 4 weeks of supplementation basically failed to show any effect on the athlete’s isometric endurance and actual 400 m race time. Another 2012 meta study done in UK also basically showed that “β-alanine supplementation has no benefit on measures of exercise performance”. Last, in 2014, a US Department of Defense study also failed to show any justification for Beta Alanine consumption.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

This is another naturally occurring chemical that is basically found in abundance on herbivores. Hence if you eat and drink meat and milk from grass fed cows and goats, you should be getting plenty of CLA in your diet. The metabolic pathway that shows CLA consumption can lead to fat loss also seems credible in theory. The nutrition industry continued with saying that the problem is that most of our beef consumption are now from grain fed cows which has far lower CLA, hence we need this supplement to put our body back in Balance. Interesting since from what I know, grain feeding cows are only wide spread in USA. Most of the cows I saw in Ireland and Indonesia are being fed with grass.

A 2007 meta study done by University of Wisconsin over the previous 18 qualified studies simply found that for fat loss purposes, the CLA consumption efficiency is only 0.05 ± 0.05 kg/wk. I.e. your fat loss can be anywhere from 0 to 0.1 kg per week. That’s far lower than what a good diet, rest and exercise can give you. As for other improved athletic performance, colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer prevention, and multiple sclerosis treatment, University of Michigan simply concluded that the evidence is sketchy at best.

Garcinia cambogia

Other name: Hydroxycitric acid (the active ingredient)

Just like the great green coffee extract placebo that has never been clinically proven to be effective, Garcinia cambogia was popularized by the great snake oil salesman Dr. Mehmet Oz. The scientific claim of its effectiveness is from the fact that animal studies show that it can inhibit a fat-producing enzyme in the body and increase levels of serotonin, potentially helping to reduce cravings.

Of course how animals react to certain chemical can be very different with how human body react to it. and in this case, a 1998 study by Columbia University already concluded that this product is no more effective than sugar pills.

Raspbery Ketone

Other name: 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butan-2-one; RK

It is a major aromatic compound of red raspberry (Rubus idaeus). And despite the promotion you have been hearing at many “health” outlets, there has only been exactly one publicized research by Ehime University in 2005 regarding its effectiveness on rats. So it could be effective or just like Garcinia cambogia, it could only be effective on rats.


Of course there are many other “diet pills” on the market that are priced sky high and claimed to be effective. Listing all of them here will probably bore the readers. I am not claiming that they are all ineffective. I’m just saying that the most popular ones apparently that are proven to be save are not. Are there exceptions, stay tuned for part 3.

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