- Diet & Weight Loss
How Weight Loss Pills Fail Dieters
Weight loss pills seem like the easy answer when it comes to losing weight quickly and easily. There are plenty out there to choose from which include those that suppress your appetite to those that claim to block fat from absorption. But, do they work? Just as importantly, are they good for our health? The problem with weight loss pills is that the standards for FDA approval are really low. All the manufacturer must prove is that there are no impurities, they were produced in a quality manner (whatever that means) and they are labeled. The effectiveness you see on the manufacturer's site is normally based on testing done by the manufacturer itself, so the question still remains, are they effective?
Orlistat: The Most Popular Weight Loss Drug
The Mayo Clinic lays out over-the-counter weight loss pills pretty well. There are several popular supplements. Overall, most of them are ineffective or there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not they work. There are a couple that work. First, Alli is a popular fat blocker. It's the watered down version of the popular prescription weight loss drug called Xenical. Alli and Xenical contain orlistat. Orlistat is a chemical that suppresses the enzymes that break down triglycerides in the intestines and excretes them as undigested rather than absorbing them. Alli has been shown effective in studies, but only contributes to a four to six pound weight loss, overall. The prescription brand of orlistat, Xenical, was attributed to a seven to eight pounds lost.
Now, the bad stuff. There are, as you can imagine, gastrointestinal side effects to this drug including loose stools, stool leakage, abdominal cramping, etc. People who took the prescription drug, Xenical, long-term suffered less side effects after about the fourth year. The FDA is also investigating orlistat for its relation to liver damage and possible liver failure, and Xenical put a warning label on their bottle about this in 2010. Orlistat also blocks the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) as well.
In 2007, Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) criticized the drug-makers of Alli for selling it over-the-counter. As with many prescription weight loss supplements, Xenical was thought to be useful for obese individuals, or those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. It was even shown to prevent diabetes in obese people by up to 40%. However, PAL's point is that now everyone, including teenagers, people with eating disorders or those who just need to lose a couple of pounds are using Alli, possibly to the point of abuse, and really to only lose a couple of extra pounds, if that.
Another popular weight loss pill was known as Ephedra or Ma Huang. It was found to be effective at tricking the body in to believing it was full. Appetite suppressants are some of the most popular supplements out there. It is difficult, after all, to reduce calories and stick to a diet long-term. The FDA eventually banned the sale of this weight loss pill.
Of course, one weight loss pill is banned and another sprouts in its place. Bitter orange and country mallow (heartleaf) have also been deemed unsafe by the FDA. Remember, just because it's marketed as natural or herbal does not mean that it is safe. Most times the safety issues are only realized once thousands of people have been taking it and find there's a collective problem.
Safe Supplements and Alternatives
Safe diet pill sounds like a huge oxymoron to me. As much as I've been tempted, I've never taken a weight loss supplement. Coffee is my vice, and caffeine has been shown to minimally increase the metabolism, though that is not why I drink it. I do have heart palpitations related to anxiety, and while the caffeine is probably not great for that issue, I'm thinking weight loss pills would be even worse. If you have heart issues, definitely don't take weight loss pills. Some have been linked to heart related problems and even stroke. Green tea has also been shown to increase the metabolism slightly and it is safe. It has been successful at reducing the triglyceride level in the bloodstream as well.
Other supplements that have been shown as possibly or likely safe include Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), Chromium and Guar Gum. There is little evidence to show that Guar Gum is effective. It claims to be a fat blocker and increase feelings of fullness. Chromium is another that has insufficient evidence to prove whether it works or not, but claims to burn calories faster and build muscle. CLA has been featured on Dr. Oz and other talk shows. It is possibly effective and likely safe. One study showed it increased lean body mass as much as 9 percent.
Why Weight Loss Pills Fail:
*Weight loss results are minimal with pills alone
*They are potentially unsafe and harmful to the body
*They don't teach us how and what to eat
*The body builds up tolerance to weight loss pills resulting in having to increase dosage or gaining back the weight
*The potential for weight re-gain is tremendous
*Tracking food and calories is a safer alternative to supplements
*Exercise will build lean muscle better than any pill
Try getting these appetite suppressants in your diet. For instance, capsaicin, naturally suppresses appetite and increases the metabolism; you can find it in chili peppers. Chia seeds expand the stomach naturally increasing the feeling of fullness. A piece of whole-wheat toast before a meal has the same effect. Supplements don't have to be a part of weight loss. Try changing eating habits and daily exercise routines before trying a pill. There is no magic pill, and there never will be.
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