What are the Best Weight Loss Supplements?

Americans spend more than $40 billion a year on diets and diet related products. A large percentage of the money spent is on diet pills or “weight loss supplements.” With so much money spent on weight loss supplements, one would think that America would be on the skinny side. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Here are the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

•Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 34% (2007-2008)
•Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight (and not obese): 34% (2007-2008)
•Percent of adolescents age 12-19 years who are obese: 18% (2007-2008)
•Percent of children age 6-11 years who are obese: 20% (2007-2008)
•Percent of children age 2-5 years who are obese: 10% (2007-2008)

Although most weight loss supplements and other diet products don’t work long-term, consumers still buy them in hopes of finding a quick fix or the one magic pill that will finally work. The problem is, when it comes to long-term weight loss, there are no quick fixes. The healthiest type of weight loss is slow weight loss. Diets have a low long-term success rate, whereas permanent lifestyle changes have a high one. Still, millions of Americans prefer to try their luck with weight loss supplements and other weight loss gimmicks. If you are considering taking this route, you should first consider the dangers of each type of supplement.

Types of Weight Loss Supplements

Diet pills come in many forms ranging from appetite suppressants and carb blockers to fat blockers and metabolism boosters. Many of are made with Ephedrine. Brand names include, Adiphen, Metabolife, MeTrim, Herbalife, Thermalean, Lipodrene, Zymax, Genicil, Patent Lean, Thermoslim, Ultra Lipo Lean, Trim Life, Hydroxy Cut, Xenadrine, Herbal Phen-Fen, Shapefast, Thermoburn, Thyro-slim, Trim Spa, Natural Trim, Thermo-Lift and many others.

Ephedrine (e-fed’rin) a-methylamino-l phenyl-l propanol, is an alkaloid from the leaves of Ephededra equisetina, E. Sinica, and other species (family Gnetaceae). It is also called Ephedra & Ma Huang, the plant source for the Alkaloid ephedrine. It is indigenous to China, India, and parts of Southeast Asia. According to the FDA, products containing ephedrine extracts have causes side effects such as heart attacks, strokes, and even death. They are amphetamine-like compounds with powerful and potentially lethal stimulant effects on the central nervous system and the heart. These compounds act as stimulants that can cause rapid or irregular heartbeat (heart arrhythmias).

It dilates the bronchial muscles, contacts the nasal mucosa, raises the blood pressure and is a cardiac stimulant. Further, these compounds often cause psychological side effects such as depression, nervousness, insomnia, and rapid heart rate. When taken in combination with caffeine, ephedrine can over-stimulate the central nervous system, leading to potentially life-threatening results.

Many companies are now offering Ephedrine free supplements, but they still have some of the same side effects as appetite suppressants such as Dexatrim and Acutrim, which can produce symptoms such as increased heart rate, dizziness, high blood pressure, nausea, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, dry mouth, and diarrhea.

There are many prescription diet pills on the market as well including the popular and most commonly prescribed prescription appetite suppressant Phentermine. It is sold under the brand names Lonamine and Adipex. These supplements, like most others, suppress the appetite and stimulate the central nervous system. Keep in mind that each diet pill has its own set of potential side effects. Many, especially stimulant-based diet pills, are habit-forming and lend themselves to abuse. Abuse of these drugs may lead to psychological and/or physical dependence.

Some diet pills block fat and carbs or claim to boost the metabolism. The problem with suppressing the appetite is that appetite suppression leads to the consumption of fewer calories. Most dieters think you can lose weight long-term by severely restricting calories. Severe calorie restriction will actually have the opposite effect on your body. When you consume too few calories, your metabolism actually slows down. As your metabolism slows, the amount of weight you lose also slows down. Eating too much or eating too little may have devastating effects on the body as well. In order to lose weight safely and keep it off, you should consume a moderate amount of calories. This number is rarely less than 1,200 calories per day. Food provides the fuel your body (and metabolism) needs to function properly.

Fat Blockers

Fat blockers like Xenical have side effects as well including oily spotting, anal leakage, intestinal cramping, and gas with discharge, nausea, diarrhea, oily discharge, fecal urgency, loose and oily stools, fecal incontinence, frequent bowel movements, and inability to control bowels. Some may see this as more of an inconvenience than a risk, but it actually is a risk. The essential vitamins, A, D, E, and K are “fat soluble” vitamins. This means they are carried, along with fat, into the bloodstream. If you are limiting fat absorption, you restrict the absorption of these essential micronutrients. They play a major role in metabolism, immune function, and overall health.

Several studies have concluded that people using fat blockers only end up blocking 30 percent of the fat they take in. Controlled studies also prove that the difference in weight loss for fat blocker users and non-users is only 1-2 pounds.

Carb Blockers

Carb Blockers include Ultra Carb, Carbo Lock, Carb Away, Ultimate Carb Phaser 1000, Carb Cutter, and Carb Eliminator. They have some of the same effects as fat blockers. Carb blockers claim to reduce between 30-45 grams of carbs from entering the body. The FDA does not regulate the supplement industry, so the FDA has not studied many of the pills on the market. Manufacturers do not know if carb blockers work long-term or if they may have long-term effects. Short-term effects, however, include gastrointestinal distress, heartburn, excessive gas and diarrhea. There are no studies or testimonials to prove whether these supplements keep the weight off long-term.

For more information about weight loss programs, supplements, and how to lose weight the healthy way, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.


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