Many people struggle with being overweight. Obesity affects 30%, or 1 in 3 adults in America. 17% of American children are obese and these numbers are on the rise, to epidemic status. It is no wonder then that manufacturers have jumped on this as an opportunity to make money – heaping mounds of money – selling diet and weight loss supplements to millions of us. Before you see another late night infomercial; before you spend another dollar on the latest miracle pill; there are some truths you need to read up on and commit to memory regarding supplements for weight loss.
Weight Loss Industry
As any medical or healthcare professional, including personal trainers and nutritionists will tell you, the very best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat a fresh, clean diet and lead an active lifestyle. To effectively reduce body fat, you must burn off more calories than you take in, simple as that. However, many popular weight loss supplements promise fast and easy fat loss with little to no exercise! Don’t be fooled. The companies that are manufacturing and selling “miracle” weight loss supplements know that being overweight makes people miserable. So for a price, they promise their products will solve all our problems. This is a billion dollar business. It’s successful because it takes advantage of people struggling to lose weight, which is literally 100 million people in the U.S. alone. According to U.S. News Money Report, Americans are spending $60 billion dollars a year on weight loss efforts. That’s billion, with a B.
Herbal and Natural Supplements
The average consumer reads the words “herbal” and “natural” and assumes that this means “safe.” It does not. One very common and serious side effect is liver damage. Prolonged use of these supplements has caused liver failure and in some patients, liver transplants were necessary to save their lives. These facts were founded by Dr. Tse-Ling Fong, MD who investigated a supplement called Lipokinetix made from a tea extract. Sounds harmless, right? Tea? Another “natural” ingredient allowed in these supplements is caffeine. Caffeine gives you a temporary boost that feels like energy when in fact it’s only raising your heart rate and blood pressure, often to dangerous levels. Other herbs like Hoodia promise to decrease appetite, but there is no science behind these claims. These are just three examples out of thousands of “healthy weight loss supplements” being sold on television, radio, magazines and the Internet.
Loopholes and Fine Print
There is a serious breach in consumer safety when it comes to weight loss supplements, in that none of them are required to obtain FDA approval. The FDA, or Food and Drug Administration has some regulations in place as far as manufacturing standards in this country, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of truth in the promises that manufacturers make about their products. The makers of diet pills and supplements know all the loopholes in the FDA requirements, and always have fine print. Take the time to read it. Most fine print says “results not typical,” or “used in conjunction with diet and exercise.” The print is small and only flashes briefly in the ads because they don’t want you to read it! Some advertisers even go as far as using makeup, lighting tricks, even compression undergarments to make their “customers” (paid actors) appear to have lost weight instantly.
The reality is that whether you need to lose 5 or 50+ pounds, your money is better spent on a good pair of walking shoes and eating a clean, fresh, whole food diet. Making these changes and sticking with them will not only help you lose weight, it will form good habits for the rest of your life. Here are some tips:
- Cut out or limit refined sugar
- Limit starchy, white foods – make your plate colorful
- Eat fresh foods such as fruit and veggies as close to their natural state as possible – nothing processed
- Get a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps every day – this alone will leave you weighing 20 pounds less than you did previously in just a year
- Get enough sleep – people who get adequate sleep have lower BMI (Body Mass Index) and tend to weigh less than people who don’t
If you’re still unsure about taking a weight loss supplement, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first about the safety, and effectiveness of the supplement’s specific ingredients. The Internet is not likely your best resource for medical facts – you need to hear it from your doctor or pharmacist who will be able to check the product against any medical issues you may have or possible interactions with your current medications. It’s also smart to have regular blood tests to monitor your liver, kidney, blood sugar and heart health if you are taking weight loss supplements. The bottom line is this: medical science has proven that diet and exercise are essential aids on the road to weight loss; of course this same science dually cautions against taking shortcuts with diet or weight loss supplements.