Do Stacker Diet Pills Really Work?by Lisa Sefcik
Stacker 2 diet pills are herbal dietary supplements promoted for weight loss. NVE Pharmaceuticals, which makes Stacker 2 and similar over-the-counter weight loss supplements, uses caffeine as this supplement's active ingredient. Caffeine probably won't give you the weight loss results you want, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI. And another ingredient in Stacker 2, bitter orange, may be unsafe to use.
Stacker 2 herbal supplements aren't diet pills in the traditional sense of the word. The FDA has approved a limited number of prescription weight loss drugs that have a proven record of efficacy. However, there's a big difference between prescription weight loss aids and products like Stacker 2. The manufacturers of dietary supplements do not have to seek approval before selling a product. Therefore, you have no assurance that Stacker 2 is either safe or effective.
Stacker 2 History
The ingredients in Stacker 2 herbal dietary supplements have changed since NVE Pharmaceuticals first released them to the consumer market. According to a March 2004 article in "Forbes," NVE was the first company to sue the federal government after the ephedra ban, arguing that products like Stacker 2 were safe when used properly.
Stacker 2 used to rely on ephedra, a stimulant also known as ma huang, as its active ingredient; the supplements have since been reformulated to be ephedra free. Ephedra has been linked to numerous heart attacks and deaths.
Ingredients and Use
The ingredients in Stacker 2 herbal dietary supplements include a proprietary blend of bitter orange, kola nut, artillery plant extract and white willow bark. Each capsule of Stacker 2 contains 200 mg of caffeine -- the equivalent of two to four 8-oz. cups of coffee -- and TriGuggulyptoid complex.
The manufacturer recommends taking one capsule after every meal, not to exceed three servings a day. Avoid using Stacker 2 if you're pregnant or nursing. It is also unsafe for people diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, recurring headaches, glaucoma, enlarged prostate or depression or any other psychiatric disorder.
Caffeine increases your metabolism -- but only slightly. According to CSPI, consuming 100 mg of caffeine burns between 75 to 110 extra calories. However, this metabolic effect is only temporary, decreasing as your body develops a tolerance for caffeine.
Bitter orange, or Citrus aurantium, contains synephrine, which is structurally similar to the epinephrine in ephedra. In a September 2004 article in "Experimental Biology and Medicine," Georgetown University researchers indicated that there's little evidence to indicate that bitter orange can help you lose weight.
Bitter orange may increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure and cause migraines, fainting, heart attack and stroke, says MayoClinic.com nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky. According to her, bitter orange and caffeine are a very dangerous duo, increasing your risk for the above adverse effects. Prescription and nonprescription medications and other dietary supplements may not be a good mix with Stacker 2.
What Really Works
The safest formula for weight loss is cutting calories and increasing your level of physical activity -- you can lose a pound a week simply by shaving 500 calories from your diet each day. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is a reasonable goal. "Natural" and "herbal" weight loss supplements aren't necessarily safe. Talk to your health care provider before you use Stacker 2 or a similar supplement to lose weight.
- Forbes.com: The Ephedra Battle Moves to the Courts
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Stacker 2 Ephedra Free
- Federal Trade Commission: Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads
- Harvard Medical School: Ephedra Ban
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Caffiene
- PubMed: Citrus Aurantium, an Ingredient of Dietary Supplements Marketed for Weight Loss
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images