While diet and exercise is often promoted for individuals who are interested in weight loss, these lifestyle modifications are not always effective. It should come as no surprise, then, that some people may turn to diet pills when it comes to achieving and maintaining substantial weight loss. Depending on the severity of the excess body weight, either prescription or over-the-counter diet pills may be used.
Prescription Diet Pills
According to the Mayo Clinic, prescription diet pills may be prescribed for people who have tried -- and failed -- to lose weight with diet and exercise. Individual health history, current prescription medication use, and potential side effects all play a part when it comes to determining which prescription diet pill is best, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Xenical is a gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor, that may also be referred to by it's generic name, orlistat. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use as a diet pill in 1999, Xenical works by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fat. WebMD reports that Xenical has been found to block the absorption of approximately one-third of dietary fat.
According to Med Express, clinical trials have found that Xenical can increase weight loss by approximately 50 percent, when compared to weight loss programs that include diet and exercise alone. To promote an increase in the effectiveness of Xenical, dieters should follow a low-fat diet that is composed of only 30 percent healthy fat, notes WebMD. In addition, Med Express reports that taking one Xenical tablet up to three times a day with each meal can help promote more substantial results when it comes to achieving lasting weight loss.
While there are a number of side effects associated with Xenical use, rare cases of severe liver injury are the most concerning. According to WebMD, individuals who take Xenical may also experience abdominal cramping, increases in gas production and bowel movements, leaking oily stool, and an inability to control bowel movements. Individuals who are pregnant, have gallbladder disease, or are allergic to the ingredients in Xenical should not consume the product, notes Xenical.com. Out of a total possible score of 5.0 for effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction, Xenical has been rated at a level of 3.7, 4.1, and 3.6, respectively, by 65 users on WebMD.
Adipex-P, known generically as phentermine, is an FDA-approved stimulant that functions similarly to certain amphetamines, notes Drugs.com. The website reports that Adipex-P works by targeting the central nervous system and supressing appetite in dieters.
Adipex-P has been proven to promote substantial weight loss in clinical trials, notes Diet Review, when combined with a healthy diet and a structured exercise program. According to Physicians' Desk Reference Health, however, the weight-loss effects of Adipex-P may last for only a few weeks. Once weight loss begins to plateau, the medication should be discontinued to prevent the development of serious side effects and potential addiction. For optimal results, Adipex-P should be taken immediately before breakfast, or up to two hours after breakfast.
Individuals who take Adipex-P may experience various side effects, including a change in their sex drive, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, depression, elation, and insomnia, among others. Those who have arteriosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or a hyperactive thyroid should not take Adipex-P, recommends Physicians' Desk Reference Health. Out of a total possible score of 5.0 for effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction, Adipex-P has been rated at a level of 4.3, 4.7, and 4.3, respectively, by 1,162 users on WebMD.
Belviq, or lorcaserin hydrochloride as it is known generically, is an FDA-approved medication that targets serotonin 2C receptors in the brain, reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the FDA, the activation of this receptor promotes reductions in appetite and feelings of satiety.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of Belviq found it to promote weight loss of at least five percent of total body weight in 47 percent of study participants, compared to a similar amounts of weight loss in only 23 percent of study participants who received diet and exercise counseling alone. This weight loss had substantial long-term effects and was present after a year in most study participants.
Belviq users may experience disturbances in attention or memory, notes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, headache, back pain, cough, and hypoglycemia in diabetic patients are also possible side effects as a result of Belviq use. As with other prescription diet pills, pregnant women are cautioned against the use of Belviq, notes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Out of a possible score of 5.0 for effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction, Belviq was rated as 4.3, 4.7, and 4.3, respectively, by 96 users on WebMD.
Qsymia, or phentermine and topiramate extended-release, is an FDA-approved medication that can promote weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet and a structured exercise program, reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD reports that as with other weight loss medications that contain phentermine, Qsymia promotes weight loss through appetite suppression.
When used properly, Qsymia can be highly effective when it comes to promoting lasting weight loss in certain individuals. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that clinical studies evaluating the use of Qsymia found that patients who took the prescription for at least one year experienced an average of nine percent loss of total body mass. Patients who did not lose at least three percent of their body mass after 12 weeks of Qsymia use were instructed to discontinue the medication, as it was unlikely to be effective for them.
Qsymia users may experience dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, insomnia, tiredness, tingling in the hands and feet, and constipation, notes WebMD. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that individuals who suffer from glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, or certain types of heart disease should avoid the use of Qsymia. Out of a possible score of 5.0 for effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction, Qsymia was rated as 3.7, 4.3, and 3.2, respectively, by 54 total users on WebMD.
Though not yet approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Beloranib appears promising when it comes to promoting substantial weight loss. According to Medical Daily, Beloranib works by blocking enzymes that control the release of fatty acids within the body, which subsequently leads to an increase in metabolism.
Medical Daily highlights research that claims that Beloranib can promote significant weight loss of as much as 22 pounds in only 12 weeks and does not depend on a low-calorie diet and structured exercise participation to be effective. This may make it an ideal choice for individuals who suffer from musculoskeletal conditions that make exercise difficult, if not impossible.
Since Beloranib has not yet been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, research on potential side effects and consumer reviews is lacking.
Over-the-Counter Diet Pills
Individuals who do not meet the criteria for a prescription diet pill may still be able to use over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss medications. Unfortunately, even the best OTC diet pills show only modest results when it comes to promoting substantial weight loss.
According to Emax Health, Alli is the OTC form of Xenical (orlistat). Therefore, functions in the same way as its prescriptive counterpart. WebMD notes that Alli is a lipase inhibitor that blocks the absorption of fat in the diet and aids in its excretion through bowel movements.
While Alli does promote weight loss, its lower strength means that the results will not be as dramatic. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that Alli promotes an average weight loss of only 5.5 pounds over the course of a year when combined with a low-calorie diet and a regular exercise program.
Individuals who take Alli may experience itching, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes or skin, brown urine, and light-colored stools, notes the Mayo Clinic. Those who suffer from diabetes, thyroid conditions, heart disease, seizures, are pregnant or breast-feeding, have had an organ transplant, or are at a normal body weight should not take the medication. Out of a possible score of 5.0 for effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction, Alli was rated as 3.4, 4.4, and 3.4, respectively, by 91 total users on WebMD.
According to Consumer Health Digest, Lipozene is composed primarily of glucomannan, a type of fiber found within the konjac root. Lipozene also contains gelatin, stearic acid, titanium dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose, and magnesium silicate, notes Consumer Health Digest. Lipozene works like a dietary gel, thus promoting feelings of satiety and preventing the overconsumption of calories.
The Los Angeles Times highlights research that claims Lipozene promotes, on average, weight loss of four pounds over the course of an eight-week clinical trial. In addition to this modest weight loss, Lipozene users may experience difficulty swallowing, changes in blood pressure, severe diarrhea, and stomach pain, reports New Health Guide.
Women who are pregnant, and those who take prescription medications may be cautioned against the use of Lipozene. Lipozene was given 2.3 out of a possible 5.0 stars on Amazon by a total of 622 users. Unfortunately, more specific ratings of effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction are not currently available.
Green Tea Extract
According to Redbook, green tea extract may be effective when it comes to promoting weight loss. Green tea extract, which contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), can help increase fat oxidation, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is also a rich source of antioxidants, and side effects are few and far between. In Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology, Marcia Nelms, Kathryn Sucher, and Sara Long note that individuals who consume green tea extract in excess may feel jittery, experience nervousness, and have difficulty with falling or staying asleep (page 795).
Before Popping a Pill
Individuals who are overweight or obese should always try to lose weight the old-fashioned way -- through diet and exercise -- before considering a diet pill. It is important to remember that the information outlined above is not intended to replace expert advice from a healthcare provider. In fact, individuals who are interested in weight loss should talk with their providers before adding any of these medications to their daily routine.