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These Banned Ingredients Were Just Found in Many Weight Loss Supplements, Study Says

You’re going to want to steer clear of these dangerous chemicals.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

If you're looking to get healthy, odds are that a weight loss supplement isn't your best bet. In fact, many weight loss supplements over the last several decades have had serious health consequences. Now, new research has discovered a scary fact about many weight loss supplements on the market: a bunch of them include banned stimulants that could be seriously unsafe for human consumption.

A new study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology examined 17 weight loss and sports supplements that included deterenol—a stimulant drug that has been prohibited by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2004. According to NSF International, the stimulant can cause vomiting, sweating, agitation, palpitations, and even cardiac arrest. So, how did the authors uncover this illegal substance? (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.)

"Remarkably, we simply read the label looking for fancy scientific names for the drug deterenol," study co-author Pieter Cohen, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Eat This, Not That! in an interview. "If the label contained a chemical name for the drug, we tested it, but instead of just finding that one drug, we found nine different ones!"

Yep, in these readily available weight loss and sports supplements, the researchers found an additional nine prohibited stimulants. We won't bother listing them—they all have names like beta-methylphenylethylamine or 1,3-dimethylbutylamine. As Cohen put it, "[You] would need to be a chemist to be able to know all the names to look out for. So, instead, I recommend that you avoid any supplements that suggest it will help you lose weight or will have immediate effects on your workouts."

Instead of putting dangerous and under-vetted supplements into your body, unless a medical expert has explicitly recommended you take a specific supplement, you can focus on making choices that will make your body feel better. For example, you can try these 65 Habits That Can Help You Live A Longer Life.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara
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