Why Weight Loss Patches Are Too Good to Be True

A product that promises to help you lose weight without restricting calories sounds ideal. Stick-on weight loss patches are the latest fad that touts this claim—and they’re popping up all over social media.

These patches may seem like the answer to your weight loss problems, but could they actually replace a healthy diet and exercise plan?

Men’s Health reached out to Philadelphia-based weight loss expert Charlie Seltzer, M.D. and Holly F. Lofton, M.D., Director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health, to get a better understanding on weight loss patches.

Here’s what you should know:

What exactly is a weight loss patch?

Weight loss patches work in a similar fashion to a nicotine patch. They are large adhesives that are placed on a specific area of your body. Unlike supplements that people take orally for weight loss, the active ingredients found in patches are meant to be absorbed through your skin, says Dr. Seltzer.

Do slimming patches work?

According to Dr. Seltzer, there’s no scientific evidence indicating that ingredients found in weight loss patches are effective.

“Everything about weight loss has to do with a calorie deficit,” he says. “What these supplements report to do is either bring down the calorie intake by either decreasing appetite or enhancing your metabolism. Unfortunately, we don’t have any drug that could really do that well.”

Dr. Lofton says that the patches could actually be harmful as most are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“These types of supplements are not vetted,” she says. “We’re not really sure of the potency or the formulation that you’re getting or where it’s derived from. Thus we don’t have studies that are proven to be reproducible.”

Both doctors say you shouldn’t count these ingredients to help with weight loss:

Green tea extract: Older studies indicated that green tea may help with weight loss, but newer research hasn’t supported the theory. Ingesting it in tea form is perfectly safe, but the extract found in some supplements can potentially cause liver damage.

Green coffee bean extract: According to Dr. Lofton, older, unreliable studies indicated green bean coffee extract could help with weight loss. Eventually, this research was debunked.

Japanese Mint: Dr. Seltzer says that Japanese mint is used more for marketing purposes than actual health benefits.

Ephedra: More commonly known as ephedrine, it was originally used by diabetics to help with weight loss, says Dr. Seltzer. The supplement eventually got banned in 2004 by the FDA because people it was tied to heart attacks and strokes.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil: Although CBD has been marketed as a cure-all that helps with muscle cramps, anxiety, and weight loss, there’s no evidence that it works for anything.

Garcinia: Some early research that shows that supplements made from garcinia’s peel may give you feelings of fullness in the stomach, leading to the suppression of cravings and eating less.

Ashwaghanda: Dr. Seltzer says that when taken orally, research shows this ancient herb can help people reduce their “stress eating” and decrease bouts of anxiety. But this doesn’t mean it works when placed in a patch, nor does it prove that you’ll shed weight.

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How do you use the patches and are there any benefits?

Well, it’s pretty simple—you essentially apply the adhesive or band-aid on the skin. The instructions will tell you how long and how often to wear the patches.

Ultimately, there’s no evidence that using a weight loss patch will give you the immediate results you’re looking for.

“There are no magic tricks for quick weight loss that don’t involve the lifestyle to get real results,” says Dr. Lofton.

What’s the best way to lose weight?

Although this seems pretty obvious, maintaining a healthy diet and regular workout routine will give you the best results. There are some great apps to make things easier—like MyFitnessPal or All Out Studio. And you should always consult your doctor or dietitian with any questions or additional support.

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