While weight loss supplements would include any substance that you can use without a doctor's approval to help lose weight, when we discuss weight loss supplements we generally tend to think of tablets.
Among the more popular and effective weight loss supplements are those that increase the body's metabolic rate. By increasing one's metabolism, the rate at which calories are burned off would be markedly increased. And once you start to burn more calories than you eat, that is a sure-fire way of guaranteeing that you would lose weight. Imagine losing weight simply by doing nothing at all! This method of losing weight is perhaps the couch potato's greatest ally in the fight against the tummy tuft!
For a long time, the most popular substance used in weight loss supplements to increase metabolism was ephedra. This however was banned in America by the food and drug division because it was deemed unsafe for the public to use unchecked. Ephedra, which contains the active compound ephedrine, was proven to be responsible for a wide range of side effects that users were experiencing - from headaches, restlessness and nausea to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
The biggest problem with the use of ephedra was however that its use in weight loss supplements went unchecked for a long period of time, especially since weight loss supplements are not subject to the most stringent food and drug approval tests which meant that at many times it was possible to end up with supplements having inconsistent ephedra levels - some with low levels and others with too much.
In the wake of ephedra, no other substance has been found that could increase the body's metabolism as much. Caffeine is used in many ephedra-free weight loss supplements for the same reason, but it is not quite as effective. Basically though, I guess we can all agree that losing any weight at all while doing nothing is a good thing!
On the flip side of the tablets though, some of the safest and healthiest weight loss supplements continue to be protein-rich shakes and drinks. These may or may not also contain a combination of appetite suppressants or metabolism enhancers among others to maximize the weight loss process. The protein shake is generally intended to be used as a full meal in itself in an attempt to help you maintain how much food you eat while getting the necessary amount of calories a day. Increasing the protein in the diet also has another advantage - it helps to increase the amount of muscle mass in your own body. The more muscle that you build, the more calories that you would burn (muscle burns more calories than fat does).