A Guide To The Top Weight Loss Supplements In 2023


Medically Reviewed

Dr. Adrienne Youdim is an internist who specializes in medical weight loss and clinical nutrition.
Adrienne Youdim, M.D., F.A.C.P. Weight Loss / Nutrition
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Weight loss is a common goal for many as increasingly sedentary lifestyles and highly palatable, calorie-dense foods can make maintaining a healthy weight challenging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that achieving healthy weight loss should encompass a lifestyle including wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, plenty of movement and stress management. Still, many people turn to supplements hoping for an extra weight loss boost.

Many over-the-counter weight loss supplements, however, lack high-quality, clinical studies on their efficacy, are ineffective and may even be unsafe, according to a 2022 review in the AMA Journal of Ethics[1].

The good news is that in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, there are several vitamins and nutrients that, when taken as a supplement, may support healthy weight loss. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Weight Loss Supplements?

Weight loss supplements are manufactured products, usually in pill, powder, capsule or liquid form, that are meant to be added to your diet to aid weight loss. Common ways that weight loss supplements may claim to work include improving carbohydrate metabolism, increasing fat-burning or energy expenditure and reducing feelings of hunger.

Other weight loss supplements include those that help indirectly by claiming to support your overall health and energy levels and warding off some common effects of dieting, such as fatigue, cravings and potential nutrient deficiencies. Some may include up to a dozen ingredients, ranging from herbs to minerals.

Keep in mind that over-the-counter weight loss supplements are not the same as prescription medications designed to treat people with obesity, known as anti-obesity medications. These medications can be part of the treatment plan for obesity, notes the Obesity Medicine Association, and their safety and efficacy is backed by randomized, clinical trials.

Are Weight Loss Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

Over-the-counter weight loss supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as drugs, and do not require premarket review or approval by the FDA, instead placing the responsibility on the supplement manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe and the claims made are truthful and not misleading.

Adarsh Gupta, D.O., director of Valley Forge Weight Management Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania notes that weight loss supplements—which may include over-the-counter medication, herbs and other products that claim weight loss— should be used cautiously. “It is very important for everyone to understand that these supplements are not approved by the FDA,” he says. “The only restrictions that are placed on the supplement is that the supplements cannot claim to cure a disease.”

How Effective Are Supplements for Weight Loss?

While there have been studies and bodies of research that have looked into the efficacy of weight loss supplements, most are of low quality, notes a 2020 review in Nutrients[2]. The National Institutes of Health’s Office on Dietary Supplements also states that not only is there a lack of quality research on the efficacy of over-the-counter weight loss supplements, the research that is available on their efficacy often consists of limited data from animal laboratory studies (rather than human clinical trials).

“In almost all cases, additional research is needed to fully understand the safety and/or efficacy of a particular ingredient but some may include ingredients that interfere with certain medications,” states the organization on its website.

Building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be the core of any weight loss program, according to Dr. Gupta. “No one can achieve sustainable weight loss without breaking bad habits and developing healthy habits,” he says. There is also no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to dieting. This should be personalized to each individual based on their daily routine, eating habits and food preferences.”

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What Types of Vitamins and Supplements Can Help With Weight Loss?

Many vitamins and minerals play a role in supporting a healthy weight. If you eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet, you likely get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need.

“However, in today’s busy life, most people end up eating similar kinds of food again and again and do not get a well-balanced nutritious meal,” says Dr. Gupta.

Here’s what to focus on, according to experts.


For the general population, registered dietitian Maryann Walsh, owner of Nutrition Counseling in Palm Beach, Florida recommends a quality multivitamin, which can provide important minerals.

A multivitamin will typically contain B-vitamins, which play an important role in energy metabolism,’” says Walsh.

Specifically, look for one with iron. “Iron is crucial for carrying oxygen to the cells in our body, many of which are involved in not only helping us to feel our best, but also to effectively support numerous metabolic processes, including building lean muscle mass,” she adds, recommending  both Nature Made Multivitamin with Iron and Centrum Multivitamin and Multimineral as ideal supplements.


Another critical nutrient that plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight is magnesium, according to Ashley Kitchens, owner and registered dietitian nutritionist at Plant Centered Nutrition in Durham, North Carolina. “Magnesium deficiency can weaken your body’s ability to utilize sugar (glucose) for energy,” she says.

A systematic review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found a reduction in body mass index (BMI) after magnesium supplementation, as well as a reduction in body weight and waist circumference for certain subgroups, including people with insulin resistance related disorders, hypertension, obesity and magnesium deficiency[3].

Many U.S. adults do not get the recommended amounts of magnesium through food and beverages, according to the National Institutes of Health. “If you’re low in one nutrient, this may affect other nutrients,” says Kitchens. “For example, low magnesium levels may inhibit vitamin D’s ability to function properly.” Magnesium is also essential for protein synthesis and energy production. Speak with your doctor about whether you may benefit from a magnesium supplement.

B Vitamins

B vitamins can support a healthy weight balance due to their role in energy production. “Vitamin B3 (niacin) can play an important role in helping the body break down carbohydrates and convert them into energy,” says Kitchens.

Some research suggests a link between low vitamin B12 levels and extra weight and obesity, while other findings are mixed[4][5]. High doses of vitamin B3 and vitamin B1, however, have also been linked to insulin resistance, so be cautious in your consumption—and always talk with your doctor first.

Protein Powder

Protein helps promote weight loss in a few ways: you burn more calories digesting it, it helps you stay full for longer and it supports metabolically active lean muscle. “Because proteins are complex, it takes your body longer to break them down,” says Kitchens. This means that your body uses more energy to break down protein than it does for fat or carbs. Increasing the protein ratio in your diet may add a slight extra calorie burn to your day.

Protein shakes may also help with weight loss because they can reduce hunger and keep you satisfied for longer. “Including protein at every meal and snack can help you feel full and satiated,” says Kitchens.

Lastly, lean muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat mass, so aside from strength training, you want to take in adequate nutrients for lean muscle growth to help burn calories, even at rest.

“If you struggle to incorporate enough protein into your diet through food, this is where supplementing with a protein powder could come in handy, to again, help nourish our muscles and maintain that metabolically active lean muscle mass,” says Walsh.


Fiber provides numerous health benefits, including supporting a healthy weight. “Focusing on eating 30 grams of fiber per day can help support weight loss and help improve your body’s response to insulin,” explains Kitchens. “This can work just as effectively as popular, complex diets that restrict certain foods, food groups or have you follow a strict set of rules,” she adds.

Fiber may help you feel full for longer, meaning you might be more likely to resist snacking—and the extra calories that can come with it. While fiber is available in many foods, you can also opt for a fiber supplement.

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When to See a Doctor

If after implementing healthy lifestyle habits, you still aren’t seeing the weight loss results you’re hoping for, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian before prescribing to any weight loss program, plan or diet. They can help develop a treatment plan that is safe and effective for you.

Prescription anti-obesity medications may be prescribed as an adjunct treatment, depending on your health and body composition for those with extra weight and obesity if certain criteria is met.

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