The sales pitches are irresistible: "Lose 2 Pounds a Day!" "Burn Fat Round the Clock!" "Learn the Amazing Weight-Loss Secret of Hollywood's Sex Symbols!" OK, maybe that's pushing it. But if diet pills could give you Eva Longoria's body, would you bother with the salads and stair-climbing?
Truth is, lifestyle changes are the key to healthy weight loss. Without them, you won't get anywhere. But the six diet-pill ingredients listed here just might help, according to experts at Georgetown University, the University of Mississippi and the University of California, Los Angeles. Want to try one? Check labels to see whether they contain these ingredients, avoid "proprietary blends" that don't reveal their contents, and discuss your weight-loss game plan with your doctor.
What it is: The wake-you-up chemical in your coffee appears to be the most effective weight-loss ingredient. (Health.com: Your vitamin cheat sheet.external link )
Why try it: A stimulant, caffeine speeds up metabolism and can ward off listlessness from dieting. It may suppress appetite, too, and boost the power of other weight-loss ingredients.
Why not: More than 400 milligrams per day (equivalent to three to four cups of coffee) won't help you lose more weight and could bring on jitteriness, headaches, and insomnia. Unfortunately, most products don't reveal their caffeine quantities in easy-to-understand terms; a typical daily dosage of some supplements might have as much caffeine as 30 cans of Coke (1,200-plus milligrams). Skip it if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you're pregnant or nursing.