Weight Loss Supplements

Is This the True Secret to Weight Loss?

Every year, Americans spend about $2.6 billion on weight loss supplements and similar nutrition products. The Journal of the American Diabetic Association says about 15% of adults have at one time or another sought a quick fix from weight loss supplements. Today, weight loss supplement is virtually everywhere. From bitter orange to green tea, and from heartleaf to hoodia, over-the-counter weight loss supplements and herbal formulation are constantly being featured on TV, radio, and online advertisements.

However, considering how widely acceptable these products have become, one may begin to ask if they are actually the true weight loss secret everyone has been craving for. But are these calorie-burning cocktails really working or people are just wasting their money - or even worse, harming their health?

In this post, we will be highlighting what research has to say about weight loss supplements. If you will be able to make the best decision when it comes to weight loss supplements, you need to equip yourself with the best information about these products. And that is what this post will be helping you with.

What Exactly Are Weight Loss Supplements?

Let's assume you don't know what a weight loss supplement is. So let's start from there. A weight loss supplement is any pill, tablet, or capsule that includes chemical or herbal ingredients which are specifically formulated to help decrease your appetite or increase your metabolism. That means they either help you burn more calories or consume fewer calories. In most scientific literature, these supplements are often referred to as thermogenic aids.

They are available in just about any form that you can take by mouth, ranging from pills to powder, liquid, capsules, and teas. While some are taken with meals, some others are prescribed as a meal replacement.

How Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?

The primary goal of any weight loss supplement is to increase the rate of fat loss. They are designed for the purpose of helping you to shed some extra fat without bringing any harm to your health. These supplements achieve this purpose and help you lose weight by:

  • Increasing metabolism to help you burn more fat
  • Reducing appetite, hence reducing how much you eat
  • Reducing micronutrient absorption during digestion
  • Increasing the rate at which the cells release fatty acids
  • Via uncoupling (the process of generating heat from fatty acids within the cell)

  • Do These Supplements Work?

    This has been the major contention about weight loss supplements. While many people have claimed to significantly lose weight from using them, many people reported that they are merely a waste of money. But there have been many studies conducted to prove the effectiveness of weight loss supplements.

    Most of the studies though based on the same premise of giving a group of people a weight loss supplement and then measuring how many calories they burn while sitting or lying down, the studies were conclusive across the board. This makes it easy to draw a general conclusion about weight loss supplements as regards to losing weight. Below are some of the studies that showed supplements can be effective for losing weight.

    What Studies Say About the Effectiveness of Weight Loss Supplements

    Among the several studies conducted on weight loss supplements is the study titled "Acute Effects of a Thermogenic Nutritional Supplement on Energy Expenditure and Cardiovascular Function at Rest, During Low-Intensity Exercise, and Recovery from Exercise." The study seems to be the most comprehensive weight loss study to date.

    In this study, a weight loss supplement containing some of the most popular ingredients you will find in most weight loss supplements today was used. Some of these ingredients include caffeine, Bioperine (an extract of black pepper), capsaicin, and huge doses of vitamin B12 (niacin). The study reported a resting energy expenditure of 6% and a post-exercise energy expenditure of 4-8% higher than the group that was not given the supplement. That showed that the supplement was actually effective in the treated group.

    Another study conducted on caffeine which included 76 obese adults reported a reduction in waist circumference, fat mass, and overall weight in people with higher caffeine intake compared to people with low intake.

    A review was conducted on orlistat, one of the most popular weight loss pills that work by preventing the body from metabolizing some fats we eat. This makes the intestine absorb less fat, hence promoting weight loss. The reviews which featured 11 studies showed that those people that took the weight loss pill lost an average of 2.9% more weight than those who did not.

    What about green tea extracts? Many diet supplements contain green tea due to its potential to increase the body's ability to burn fat, especially around the stomach area. Some studies have shown that drinks containing green tea extract may help promote fat loss around the belly while it also supports general weight loss.

    Are There Any Dark Sides To Weight Loss Supplements?

    Yes! While there have been some good reports about the effectiveness of weight loss pills and supplements, there have also been some pretty bad reports. Most supplements sold for fat loss are either ineffective, not well researched, or even likely to be harmful. Weight loss stimulants in some of these products can adversely affect the cardiovascular system and when administered in high doses, can cause sleep disturbance. It can increase the rate at which fatty acids are released from fat cells and that can have a toll on insulin sensitivity.

    Weight Loss Supplements Are Not Regulated

    Have you ever wondered why most weight loss supplements are sold through cheap-looking commercials on late-night TV, via spam email, or in some shady corner of a pharmacy? That is because most of them are actually shady. They either don't work at all or work too well because they are loaded with powerful ingredients. And to top it all, these pills aren't regulated because they are legally classified as "dietary supplements" and not drugs. That way, the manufacturers don't have to prove the effectiveness or safety of their products to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Another disturbing thing about this is that most weight loss supplements sold online may contain ingredients that have actually been banned by the FDA. For instance, a supplement called Slimming Beauty proclaimed to have "bitter orange" as their major ingredient. Of course, there is nothing wrong with bitter orange. It has been used for centuries as both an energy booster and appetite suppressant.

    However, Slimming Beauty also contains a very high amount of sibutramine, a weight loss aid, and prescription-strength stimulant. In 2010, the FDA banned sibutramine after a study showed that it increased the risk of stroke by 16%. Since the FDA doesn't have any power over supplements, sibutramine is now being included in Slimming Beauty without anyone questioning.

    Some Ingredients in Weight Loss Supplements That Have Been Banned By the FDA

    While some weight loss supplements are harmless and effective in helping to lose weight, some contain ingredients that have been banned by the FDA because they have some harmful effects. Some of these side effects may include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, diarrhea, liver damage, sleeplessness, kidney problems, and rectal bleeding.

    Below are some ingredients you need to watch out for when buying your weight loss supplements because they have been banned by the FDA:

  • Ephedra: this was banned in 2004 after been found to increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Even in a small dose, ephedra was considered to be too dangerous to be included in any supplement.

  • Hydroxycut: this ingredient was recalled and banned in 2009 after it was reported to be causing some adverse effects like jaundice and hepatitis.

  • Fen-Phen: the two major ingredients in this weight loss pill is Fenfluramine and Phentermine. These two ingredients can cause heart damage and lung disease and so have been banned but the FDA.

  • Merida: this is a weight loss supplement that was banned because it contains sibutramine which could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

  • Garcinia Cambogia Extract: in 2009, FDA warned against the use of Garcinia Cambogia Extract because it was found to be increasing the risk of liver problems while also causing some other side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, stomach upset, and headache.

  • 5 Tips to Remember When Choosing Weight Loss Supplements

    #1: Be careful when a product sounds too good to be true
    This is usually the first warning sign to watch out for. If the product seems exaggerated or sound unrealistic and uses such phrases like "totally safe" "quick and effective", you need to be cautious. Be skeptical about information from personal "testimonials" highlighting the benefits of the product. Remember that testimonials and unsupported claims cannot be compared with objective, evidence-based information.

    #2: Check for the possibility of the product containing banned ingredients
    I already highlighted some ingredients that have been banned by the FDA because of their adverse side effects. There are also many more if you take a step further to make some research. When choosing a weight loss supplement, look out for hidden compounds or prescription drugs that may cause harm to unsuspected consumers.

    #3: Always buy from a reputable source
    Even though there are some supplements that work well without any known harm, buying such supplements from the wrong guy may mean a lot of harm. The supplement market is gaining a lot of popularity today and so there are several people venturing there only for the money and won't care about what type of product they sell to consumers. The best way to overcome that is to buy from a trusted source at all times.

    #4: Talk with your health care provider
    Before using any weight loss supplements, you might want to consider speaking with your healthcare provider first. Your healthcare provider can assess your weight and health risks, and tell if you really need to lose weight or which supplement to choose. You may not feel very comfortable speaking with your doctor about your weight, but remember he or she is actually there to help improve your health. And that involves helping you shed unnecessary body weight and cutting down the risk of chronic diseases.

    #5: Supplements alone might not work
    There is no miracle recipe when it comes to losing weight. Even if you find the right weight loss supplements for you, it is important you combine its use with the right exercise routine. When dietary pills are combined with exercise, it is always much easier to achieve healthy weight loss that way.

    Are There Any Weight Loss Supplements I Can Recommend?

    I actually don't like recommending weight loss supplements for people. I prefer people do the job themselves by following the simple tips mentioned above to figure out what supplements are best for them. But to help some individuals, here is a list of some supplements that have received good reports from both scientific studies and consumers:

  • Pyruvate: this is effective in helping to break down fat and boosting metabolism.
  • Glucomannan: is an effective weight loss supplement that works by helping you feel full, hence reducing your appetite to want to eat more.
  • TruVision Weight Loss: this is another safe and effective weight loss supplement that helps increase your metabolism.
  • Alli (orlistat): this is one of the most popular weight loss pills on the market right now. It is both effective and safe for consumers. It works by preventing the body from breaking all the fats you eat. Hence preventing the intestine from absorbing so much.
  • Raspberry ketones: Raspberry ketones are the substance found in raspberries. But now, they have been formulated and sold as a weight-loss supplement. This supplement works by breaking down fat and boosting the production of adiponectin, a hormone that has been associated with weight loss.

  • Bottom Line

    Weight loss supplement both have its praise as well as its dark side. While some supplements are very harmless and effective, some are just a waste of money. Studies have found some of them to be harmful to health because they contain some harmful ingredients. Although some of these ingredients have been banned by the FDA and not expected to be found in supplements. But because these products are not regulated, their manufacturers can tuck them into the supplements without anyone questioning them.

    Therefore, before you buy a weight loss supplement, ensure you have done your homework. Always speak with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement.