Pills, Patches & Magnets: Do Weight Loss Products Really Work?

TW: Disordered eating, weight loss, body image.

When we hear the words ‘weight loss’ we all have a pretty immediate reaction. Some of us think about Ab King Pro infomercials. Some of us snort at the suggestion and think ‘bullshite!’ I think many of my readers, however, will have a fairly complicated reaction to the word. It’s up to you if you want to read any further – this article is clearly going to be about weight loss, and I’m sure it will be triggering for some of you. Another thing you ought to be aware of is that there will also be a photo of my toes and my ears, which may be unpleasant to say the least. Nonetheless, we’re a post-sex-and-the-city cosmopolitan generation, and while we might advocate for things like #freethenip and practice #selflove, you only have to look at disordered eating statistics to know that our personal relationships with our bodies are a bit of a mess. So, with this in mind, think about whether or not you ought to read on – but before you do, make yourself a cup of tea, and remember: you are beautiful the way you are.

To begin: some backstory. A few weeks ago, I was drunkenly shopping online, and decided it would be an entertaining blog experiment for me to try some ridiculous weight loss products to see if they actually worked. Now – some of this is influenced by my brother’s wedding date, which is coming up in December, and so I’ve been #shreddingforthewedding to fit my bridesmaid’s dress.  Once my shopping arrived in the mail, I set about recording my weight, and my calories in vs calories burned (thanks to my FitBit and MyFitnessPal) every day. The four products I trialed were the Irwin Naturals System Six weight loss pills from iHerb, Slim Patches($0.52c p/10), Weight Loss Toe Rings ($0.43c a pair) and Weight loss earrings ($1.90) from Aliexpress.

DAY ONE – Sunday
Calories In: 1492
Calories Out: 2138
I weighed in at 97.1kg, which made me feel a little bad about myself because it’s the heaviest I’ve ever been. I know numbers don’t define you and yada yada – but I figured I ought to be honest here. I took 3 of the Irwin Naturals System Six pills, which contain a bunch of vitamins and minerals, as well as almost all of the ‘natural’ weight-loss supplement ingredients that you tend to get in iHerb products – Pantothenic Acid, Selenium, Chromium, Fish Oil, Garcinia extract, White Tea extract, Green Tea extract, Rhodiola extract, Advantra Z Bitter Orange extract, L-Carnitine, L-Tyrosine, Choline, Inositol, Cayenne powder, Ginger powder, Guarana, Yerba Mate extract, Spirulina, Betaine, and BioPerine. They tasted VERY FISH OIL-Y  and I had to wash them down with coffee. I also put on my magical magnetic earrings and my magical magnetic toe rings, as well as two slim patches on my stomach (which is probably one too many). I didn’t feel hungry for most of the day, which may be partly due to the oxycodone I’m on for my fractured ribs. I also felt very warm, and to be fair it was 31 degrees, but I’d like to think that some of that was a thermogenic (?!) byproduct of the supplements.

DAY TWO – Monday
Calories In: 1168
Calories Out: 2490
Woke up 100g lighter, which was neither rewarding nor disappointing. Took four of the magical pills, then immediately had a coffee to wash the taste out of my mouth. I put on my magical magnetic earrings and two slim patches, and had my toe rings on from the day before – it seems that you can shower in them and sleep in them etc. The slim patches are about the size of a packet of gum, and are pictured below and throughout this post. I tried to do a little more reading up on them, because all the packet really says is that the ingredients are ‘medical non-woven, adding plant compound essential oil, such as oregano oil, Holland Pakistan oil (?), orange oil, nutmeg oil, clary sage oil, bergamot oil, [and] citronella essential oil.’

I am skeptical about how a little patch of essential oils is meant to impact your weight loss, and possibly other aspects of one’s life – the packet also claims that they’re ‘suitable for the obesity… workplace, edema, middle-age spread, rebound, and so on.‘ Do not fret, I’ll be sure to tell you in 20 years if they impact my middle-age spread. I didn’t eat much today because I was working on a paper and didn’t really get ravenously hungry or anything. The higher-than-usual body temperature trend continued even though it was only 27 degrees today (32+ is ‘hot’ in Brisbane – below 20 is ‘freezing’), and it may be related to my high-chili diet, but something was most definitely influencing my digestion today. I suspect it may be the slim patches, although I still really don’t understand the science there.

DAY THREE- Tuesday
Calories In: 945
Calories Out: 2692
97.4kg this morning, which was mildly upsetting. I tried the slim patches overnight this time, and found the following explanation on AliExpress, which means that my more-effective-than-usual digestion may be related to these patches: The use of 3 day: defecation and increased frequency of defecation, and after each defecation, the toilet can see floating around on the thin layer of oil. This shows that in vivo intestinal oil has begun to break down and eliminate. The use of 5 days: you will find one every day to reduce stomach, waist circumference is also smaller waist curves begin to be felt. The use of 10 days: My goodness, I could not believe a whole lost 5 kg, waist circumference is also from the original 2-foot 4 to return to a one-foot 9, is even more amazing is, the skin becomes smooth and delicate resilient. The use of 30 days: complete more than its own expectations, convex-convex completely gone, create a devil figure, a new different you.’

I am not a scientist but being the academic I am, I put ‘slim patch’ into the University Library website to see if any research existed on whatever is in these slim patches. This site reckons that a similar slim patch is 76.9% effective in clinical trials, while this one confirms my suspicions that things you put on your skin have little impact on what goes on inside your body. I suppose I’ll keep on trialling these patches and see whether they do anything to my body apart from (possibly) making me warm? The prospect of a ‘devil figure’ also sounds interesting. At any rate, I’m pretty sure they’re making my body get rid of something, which may be TMI, but I mean, I do pride myself on being very honest in these blog posts.

DAY FOUR – Wednesday
Calories In: 1145
Calories Out: 2726
Woke up and had six of the System Six pills, which is the recommended dosage. The pills are $25 for 100 so I’m kind of trying to ration them out a little by taking four sometimes, which is Extremely Scientific and Good For This Experiment. Weighted in at 95.5kg this morning, which is expected if you don’t eat a lot for two days. I think it’s the case that these System Six pills are supressing my appetite, although I’m still a little fuzzy on the science of the magnets and the slim patches. If the slim patches are working, it’s only to expel excess water out of my body. Maybe some of it is placebo? Who knows. To be honest I haven’t been wearing the magnetic earrings all day every day because after a while they start to hurt my ears just from the pressure. I’m looking forward to this thing being over so I can stop wearing these silly, tiny pieces of metal.

DAY FIVE – Thursday
Calories In: 882
Calories Out: 2497
Woke up at 94.7kg this morning which I was v pleased with. I think most of the impact is coming from the System Six, which is suppressing my appetite, and the slim patches, which are somehow acting as a kind of laxative-type thing. This really doesn’t make sense to me but FORREAL something is going on here. Traditional Chinese Medicine knows what’s up.

DAY SIX – Friday
Calories In: 2108
Calories Out: 3481
Woke up at a lower weight again – 94.2kg. I’m no mathematician or nutritionist but I’m not sure how good it is for you to lose 3kg in a few days. I suspect a lot of it is water weight, as well as my (stupidly) low calorie intake for the past few days. I’m going to aim to eat more – at least 1200 calories a day – because eating less than that isn’t particularly good for anyone’s health. What is surprising is that even though I’m not operating on a lot of calories, I still have a lot of energy.

DAY SEVEN – Saturday
Calories In: 2007
Calories Out: 3571
Well, the finishing weight for this challenge was 94.6kg. I am very sick of wearing the toe things and the weird magnetic earrings. I’m also sick of the Dettol-esque scent of the slim patches, pictured below. I did a 7km walk round the river with friends today though, and that’s pretty impressive on a red wine hangover. Is that the System Six helping me out there? Probably.

Overall, I lost 2.5kg in a week. In terms of the math, I burned 17,109 calories, and consumed 9,747 calories, leaving a defecit of 7,362 calories. A kilo of fat is roughly 7,700 calories, so by that logic the gimmicky things definitely did something – of course, it’s entirely possible (and likely) that it’s just water weight or muscle loss instead, but I really do think that at least a kilo of that is legitimate weight loss, because of the numbers alone.

The verdict here? I’m really not sure about the magnets – maybe they helped suppress my appetite, and for the low cost I guess the toe rings were worth the gamble but the earrings hurt too much for me to use long-term. The slim patches were doing something – although they did leave a weird little square patch on my stomach days after I finished using them, and I’m not sure if it was water weight or actual fat burning that was going on. For the low price, they’re probably not the worst thing to waste weight loss money on, but they’re also not the best-smelling and there’s not a lot of information about what’s in them. It’s also very frustrating having to run to the bathroom frequently, even if it does get your step count up for Workweek Hustle fitbit challenges. With this in mind, I’d probably still buy them again, and I might try them on their own to check how effective they are that way, particularly because they’re so cheap.

What I do think made the biggest difference is the System Six. I just ordered another three bottles off iHerb – If you’ve never used iHerb before you can support this blog by using my code here. Logically speaking, the System Six is most likely to have impacted my appetite and my energy levels, and there’s so much fish oil, B vitamins and other good things in them besides the more weight loss-y ingredients like cayenne and bitter orange that I think they’re a solid multi-vitamin type supplement to support your health during weight loss, even if the actual impact they make on the numbers isn’t substantial. I’ve used other Irwin Naturals products in the past too – their green tea fat burners are great – and like the brand. The only two downsides are that you have to take the pills in the morning or they’ll keep you up at night, and the enormous pills are pretty stinky with all the fish oil (so not that appetizing in the morning). Wash ’em down with a cup of tea and you’ll be right.

With this in mind – you’re perfect the way you are, and you don’t need gimmicky weight loss patches or magnets or pills to make you look or feel different. This review was the product of drunk online shopping, but it ended up being a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I’d love to hear your thoughts or opinions on the experiment and the post – let me know in the comments below!

Hi! I'm Elese, a blogger/philosopher/dubious advice-giver/PhD student/MUA/designer lady based in Brisbane, Australia.