Drugs stores and health food shops have shelves that are overflowing with weight loss supplements that claim to burn body fat, block fat absorption, inhibit carbohydrate metabolism, boost energy, suppress the appetite, flush out excess water weight, and control dietary cravings. But do these products really work as they promise? And is there any danger to giving them a try? Read on to learn more about weight loss supplements.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a clearinghouse for information on natural brand-name products, lists more than fifty weight loss supplements and 125 proprietary weight loss products. According to a recent survey reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately seven percent of Americans use over the counter weight loss supplements. And of those who do use these products, almost thirty percent of them are young, overweight women.
Some weight loss supplements help to control the appetite, but they may have serious side effects. Other can become habit forming, and still others do nothing at all. Here’s a look at the risks associated with common weight loss supplements.
Stomach Fillers: Weight loss supplements that contain bulking agents such as fiber-based products, are known as stomach fillers. These products absorb liquid and swell in the stomach, reducing the appetite. Guar gum is a common ingredient used as a stomach filler, however this ingredient can cause obstructions in the intestines, the stomach, or the esophagus. Avoid any dietary supplement that contains guar gum.
Appetite Suppressants: Some weight loss supplements are appetite suppressants, and they may contain amphetamine derivatives that are highly addictive. They also lose efficacy when used over long periods, so dieters are forced to take more and more pills to achieve results. Appetite suppressants that contain amphetamine derivatives are a high-risk method of weight loss. Some products however contained researched clinically studied mild suppressants and can be used safely such as Slimirex®.
Ephedra, also known as ma huang, is another popular appetite suppressant ingredient found in many weight loss supplements. However, in some cases Ephedra can cause heart palpitations, heart attacks, and stroke. The Food and drug Administration urges caution for anyone who is considering a weight loss supplement that contains Ephedra. People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart trouble, neurological disorders, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism should not use Ephedra. And completely avoid any product that contains both Ephedra and caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration considers these two ingredients to be a “deadly combination.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had some success in suing the marketers of weight loss supplements that claim to burn or absorb fat. Several state attorney generals have also been involved in legal action against weight loss supplement manufacturers. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned over one hundred ingredients that were once commonly found in over the counter weight loss supplements. These banned ingredients include alcohol, caffeine, dextrose, and guar gum. But many federal and state regulations can do little more than work to prevent the really dangerous weight loss supplements off of the market. Unfortunately, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, manufacturers of dietary supplements are not required to provide evidence that their products are safe or even effective. The burden rests on the FDA to prove that a product is either unsafe or ineffective.
Should You Try Them?
If you decide incorporate a weight loss supplement into your weight loss program, be sure to read all of the literature associated with the product. Carefully assess the claims and risks and understand the directions for use. And use common sense; some weight loss supplements require that you follow a very restricted low-calorie diet and exercise several times a week for full effectiveness. But these steps are likely to guarantee weight loss on their own, without the need of a weight loss supplement.
Still, there are some medical professionals that do not see harm in taking weight loss supplements that are made of safe, all-natural ingredients like Slimirex. Natural fiber supplements may be another good choice. These products may or may not leave you feeling fuller longer. But they will be effective at stimulating the digestive system, keeping waste and nutrients moving through the system, and improving regularity.