Diet pills. Weight loss supplements. All promise a quick fix. Lose 10 pounds in 7 days, they say. You don't even need to change your diet. Wow! Is this some kind of magic pill?
Sounds a little too good to be true, and it is!
Just take a look at these stats.
$104 BILLION. That's how much money Americans spent on supplements and similar nutrition products in 2013.
About 15 percent of adults have sought a quick fix from a weight-loss supplement or diet pill at one time or another, says the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
But, are we wasting our money—or worse, harming our health?
A 2015 New England Journal of Medicine study found that more than 7 out of every 10 supplement-related ER visits were linked to weight-loss or energy products. Yikes! That number is way out of control and it doesn't need to be like that.
In a time when New Year's Resolutions are beginning to fail, there is no need to turn to diet pills and dangerous weight loss supplements as a last resort.
Erin Thole, RD, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Des Moines, Iowa, lets us in on the secrets about some of the most common weight loss supplements and what they can do to your health.
DANGEROUS WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENTS
The appeal: This medicinal plant, grown in southern Africa, is scientifically known as Hoodia gordonii. It has been touted to decrease appetite through a chemical released that targets the fullness area of the brain.
The reality: "It isn't surprising that many individuals fall victim to fad diets and weight-loss supplements, like hoodia, as a result of our society's focus on weight. The bottom line is that if a product or diet sounds like a quick fix that is too good to be true, it probably is," Thole warns. Plus, there are plenty of counterfeit versions of hoodia sold, especially online. Hoodia can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and possible increases in heart rate.
The appeal: Derived from raspberries (obviously), this chemical has been proven, in test tube trials, to speed up metabolism to burn fat faster.
The reality: "There's not nearly enough data to prove that this is worth your money," Thole says. No human studies have researched whether this is effective—or even safe for—people. "When it comes down to it, there are no foods or pills that can magically burn human fat."
The appeal: Also known as ma huang, this herbal stimulant is derived from an evergreen shrub. It was used 5,000 years ago in China and India to treat conditions like congestion and colds, according to the National Institutes of Health. More recently, people have turned to ephedra to help cut weight while boosting energy and physical performance.
The reality: As of 2004, the Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra "due to possible adverse effects, including mood changes, hypertension, irregular heart rate, and even stroke, seizure, and heart attack," Thole warns. Especially steer clear of mixing ephedra with caffeine or other stimulants.
The appeal: Some have turned to this herbal option as an ephedra substitute after ephedra was banned.
The reality: Different name; just as dangerous, Thole says. "It has chemical properties and actions that resemble ephedra, including hypertension, anxiety, stroke, heart attack, and irregular heartbeat."
Garcinia Cambogia Extract
The appeal: Derived from a tropical fruit, GCE has been sold as a tool to "block the body's ability to make fat while decreasing appetite and increasing the body's ability to use glucose for energy," Thole says.
The reality: In 2009, the FDA warned consumers to cease and desist use of GCE due to potential liver problems and troublesome side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, headache, and upset stomach. "Currently, studies are mixed on its benefit and don't show significant weight loss with GCE," Thole says. "Certainly avoid this if you are taking other medications, as negative drug interactions may occur. Many people have some sort of pre-existing condition, which is another reason why I generally do not recommend weight-loss supplements."
The appeal: "Alli is a version of Orlistat that claims to decrease the absorption of dietary fat in your intestines," Thole says.
The reality: While the FDA has approved Orlistat for use by the general population, bathroom breaks could certainly get more complicated. Common side effects: Loose stools and difficult-to-control bowel movements. And more rarely (and seriously), Orlistat may lead to liver damage. Worth noting: "For nonprescription meds [Orlistat is available over the counter], the drug company must provide the FDA with results of clinical trials showing the safety and effectiveness of the drug," Thole says. "Nonetheless, the claims that help promote the drug—say, a certain amount of lost pounds or a percentage metabolism boost—are not subject to FDA regulations."
The appeal: Caffeine, a stimulant, has been glorified as a potential appetite-squasher. It has also been linked to a slight boost in calorie-burning during digestion and increased workout endurance.
The reality: It's most likely not going to be detrimental to your health, but taking more than you're used to, whether via coffee or caffeine pills, could cause jittery feelings, sleep troubles, upset stomach, and more. Plus, any proven weight benefits have been only short term, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Caffeine for weight loss…worth the risk?
We mentioned above why caffeine is appealing to someone wanting to suppress their appetite or burn more calories. While it may not harm your body too much, there are some dangers when consumed in excess through a diet pill or weight loss drug.
Just take a look at the long list of side effects.
Side effects of excess caffeine:
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- nervousness or anxiety
- serious allergic reactions (difficult breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, rash, hives, or itching)
- rapid heart rate or palpitations
- increased blood pressure
- chest pain
- High or low blood sugar levels
Symptoms of caffeine overdose:
- frequent urination
- irregular or fast heartbeat
- muscle twitching
- ringing in the ears
- stomach pain
- trouble sleeping
Too much caffeine can be fatal and some diet pills are loaded with an undisclosed amount of caffeine, which is scary.
The dose that leads to toxic effects is different for each individual. Generally, amounts of caffeine greater than 2,000 mg can cause serious toxic effects, including heart rhythm irregularities, seizures and even death; however, individuals sensitive to caffeine may exhibit adverse effects at lower doses.
There's no need to risk your life and health by trying to lose a few pounds. It's just not worth it.
If you’re looking to lose weight, refer to these proven, safe strategies for longterm weight loss and maintenance:
- Manage your stress to lower your weight.
- Eat foods that burn fat instead of storing it.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Eat all natural appetite suppressants, like leafy greens.
- Move your body on a daily basis.
- Practice proper portion control.
- Eliminate processed foods and eat a clean, whole foods diet.
- Drink 2 cups of Oolong tea every day.
No need to worry about side effects like feeling jittery, elevated heart rate, irritability or increased blood pressure. Nope!
Drinking Oolong tea or taking Oolong tea capsules daily is pretty much THE EASIEST thing you can do to safely boost your metabolism, burn more calories, lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, boost your energy and immune system, reverse aging from the inside out, and strengthen your teeth and bones.
It is an all-natural, safe, effective, and super easy way to get healthy and STAY healthy in the long run.
Why risk your health and possibly your life in order to lose a few pounds? You could do some serious damage to your internal organs by trying all kinds of weight loss supplements, thinking they are the ticket to a hot, summer body.
Take it from me. I tried anything and everything to try and lose weight 5 years ago. I tried Hydroxycut, SlimQuick, Garcinia Cambogia, Sensa, SlimFast, laxatives, Nutrisystem, powdered protein shakes, etc.
Literally nothing worked and I hated how nervous I felt all the time. My heart raced. I was anxious. I didn't lose any weight. I just lost A LOT of money on the crazy claims I thought would work.
The only thing that helped in the long run was finding Okuma Nutritionals and committing to drinking tea twice a day. I literally haven't been sick with a cold since then and I've been able to drop 34 pounds for my wedding and 40 pounds after my daughter was born. (Read about my story here.)
It's the one thing that has remained constant in my life (aside from my husband and family) amidst moving, daily stresses, and job changes.
I cannot go a day without my tea. I feel lousy without it.
All I can say is try it (if you haven't already) and see for yourself the amazing ways it can help you. Don't buy into the billion dollar weight loss industry just to put the weight back on again in a few weeks.
What are some of the weight loss supplements you have tried in the past? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & happiness,
P.S. Pick up your own box of Oolong tea right here!