When searching for effective weight-loss advice, there’s so much noise to sort through. And it's not always easy to find a sustainable approach that feels right for you. That’s especially true when new diets and fads pop up on social media, such as the Alpilean "Ice Hack" diet.
The Alpilean "Ice Hack" diet is a buzzy new weight-loss fad that relies on a supplement called Alpilean. "Ice hack for weight loss" gets an average of 49,500 searches each month online, and "alpine ice hack" gets 33,100 searches (it also goes by the "Alpilean Hack" or just "ice hack"). There are half a dozen Instagram pages dedicated to before-and-after photos from users. One fan even called it a “perfect solution for weight loss” in a YouTube review.
But a quick Google will also show you there are hardly any reputable reviews, articles, or scientific studies on the supp, and a huge number of placed advertisements exist touting its benefits.
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You should *always* be wary of a weight loss plan that sells itself as a quick fix or a hack, and especially one that relies entirely on supplements like this one. (Supplements are largely unregulated in the US—while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) technically oversees supplements, the agency doesn’t approve them before they hit the market, so, you can't always know exactly what goes into each product).
Meet the experts: Jessica Cording, RD, is a nutritionist and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Kunal Shah, MD, assistant professor in the division of endocrinology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Women's Health is here to help break down the science with help from an endocrinologist and registered dietitian. Does this "ice hack" work—and is it even safe? (Spoiler! These experts are not sold.)
What is the Alpilean “Ice Hack”?
At a basic level, this diet works around a supplement, which is supposed to “activate the process of thermogenesis in the human body,” according to the Alpilean website, Thermogenesis, in case you’re not familiar, is the process of heat production in your body.
In this scenario, the term refers to the energy required to digest, absorb, and dispose of nutrients in your body. This is the main idea behind the Alpilean method—which claims the supps will help raise your internal body temperature and, in turn, boost your metabolism and allow you to burn fat more effortlessly.
The company states it does not claim the supplements raise your core body temperature, but that they could help raise a low internal body temperature “to accelerate fat-burning results.” The website goes on to explain that "Alpilean aims to normalize your inner body temperature, giving you the same advantage as people with high levels of muscle mass."
The Alpilean website also claims its supplements do the following:
- Speeds up your metabolism
- Blocks fat cell production
- Manages your blood pressure
- Balances your blood sugar
- Gives you high energy levels
- Eases aches and pains
- Alleviates stress and anxiety
What’s in the Alpilean supplement?
Again, supplements are a largely unregulated industry, and it’s hard to say with any certainty what the supplement contains (or any supplements, for that matter). According to Alpilean, the product contains:
- Dika nut
- Drumstick tree leaf
- Citrus bioflavonoids
- Turmeric root
- Fucoxanthin (golden algae)
- Ginger root
None of these ingredients are FDA approved for weight loss, notes Kunal Shah, MD, assistant professor in the division of endocrinology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who adds, "that should not be surprising as supplements are not within the purview of the FDA."
While a few supplements do have clinical trials and studies providing some evidence for weight loss,“none of these ingredients has the backing of any clinical trials," Dr. Shah says.
Nutritionist Jessica Cording, R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers agrees. “There are a lot of things in the supplements but we don’t have a ton of data to support that they work,” she says.
Does the “ice hack” concept actually work?
In short, probably not. The Alpilean method relies on the theory that higher body temperatures result in faster metabolisms and more fat burning. But experts say there isn’t any data to suggest this "hack" actually works—or that raising your core body temperature would even do anything to promote weight loss, Cording says.
While there are some scientific papers making this observation (like a 2009 scientific review theorizing that people with obesity have lower body temperatures), there's no proven link between obesity and a lower body temperature.
In fact, a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no difference in core temperatures of people with obesity and those of normal weight after 48-hours of continuous monitoring.
Are the Alpilean supplements safe to take?
Experts do not recommend taking them. That being said, they are probably not harmful for the average healthy adult.
“For the vast majority of people, these supplements are usually safe enough,” Dr. Shah says. “However, anything with a stimulant—and some sort of stimulant can often be found in non-FDA approved weight-loss supplements—can be potentially dangerous for certain individuals such as those with heart disease and arrhythmias.”
Cording also points out that the supplement “promises a lot,” without a whole lot to back it up. For starters, “you can’t really do a lot of what the company says it can do with a supplement," she explains. Plus, you don't really know exactly what is in the supps. "How do we even know what’s reported to be in the bottle is actually in there?” Cording says.
Finally, consider the fact that there don't appear to be any "well-run, randomized controlled trials for the ingredients in this particular supplement," says Dr. Shah. "That doesn't mean that it won't work, just that there's no prior evidence to show that it will.”
What else should I know before taking the supplement?
Experts recommend leaning into proven weight-loss strategies (read: not a diet supplement). “The vast majority of weight-loss supplements unfortunately do not produce [results],” Dr. Shah says. “If they do work, it is often only a temporary benefit.”
Cording has a similar take. “I’m not a fan of weight-loss supplements in general,” she says. “They don’t work because they don’t address the underlying behavioral changes that need to happen to lead to sustainable weight loss.”
If you want to lose weight, Dr. Shah recommends talking to your doctor about your options. “Diet and exercise will always be the lynchpin to success,” he says.
If you’ve already tried switching up your eating habits and workouts, and are still struggling to lose weight, you may qualify for certain medications that can help you on your weight loss journey, Shah says. “There are now a bevy of FDA-approved medications that can really help with weight loss [while] under the watchful eye of a physician to ensure that you are safe,” he says.
Bottom line: Experts say it’s best to skip the Alpilean hack.