About 60% of America’s population are overweight – an alarming number that explains why the weight loss industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. A total of $2.4 Billion is spent on weight loss supplements in the US every year – which shows that many people choose “quick fixes” to address their weight issues.
So what are weight loss supplements and why are they so popular today? Let’s take a brief look into what they’re all about:
What are Weight Loss Supplements?
Many people all over the world are using supplements for weight loss. In fact, it’s the #1 remedy people use to address their weight loss problems.
The most accepted methods to losing weight have always been diet and exercise. A healthy and active lifestyle is the most recommended way to lose weight and achieve a healthy body. But most people don’t really have the time or the right knowledge to properly take care of their bodies. And for those who do diet and exercise, weight loss results seem to arrive so slowly or never at all.
Weight loss supplements address the big gap in the world of weight loss. When diet and exercise don’t work, weight loss supplements seem to boost the effects of a healthy lifestyle – leading to increased weight loss. Some companies even promise quick and effective results even without the help of diet and exercise, making people choose this method of losing weight over exhausting workout programs and expensive diets.
So what are they and why are they so popular? Weight loss supplements can come in capsule, pill, tablet, or even liquid form. They can include natural, chemical or a combination of ingredients that are formulated specifically to combat fat and weight gain. Weight loss supplements are also called diet pills, thermogenic aids, weight loss pills, or anti-obesity drugs.
The reason why they’re so popular is because they provide the easiest and simplest way to lose weight. Simply pop a pill and your body will immediately work its magic to fight fat and help you lose weight. But there’s more to weight loss supplements than meets the eye – what are they made of and do they really work? These are questions that many people often ask. Let’s dig deeper into the world of supplements.
The Kind of Weight Loss Supplements: Prescription Versus Over the Counter
There are two types of weight loss supplements available in the market today: Prescription weight loss pills and over-the-counter supplements.
Prescription weight loss supplements are only available if you have a prescription from a physician. They’re only available at drugstores and they’re only given to patients who are obese or overweight. This means your weight must be at least 30% more than your ideal weight.
These supplements more often contain chemical ingredients and are considered as drugs by the FDA. Two of the FDA-approved weight loss pills in the American market are Xenical and Phentermine. Prescription diet pills do 2 things to the body that make them effective solutions to weight loss:
1. They Suppress the Appetite – They do this through the chemicals that they might contain such as sibutramine and phentermine. These ingredients affect the hypothalamus – the appetite-regulating region of the endocrine system.
When you’ve just eaten a good meal, how do you feel afterwards? You feel full, right? Like you’re content and don’t want to eat any more food. This feeling is caused by the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin by your hypothalamus. The chemicals contained in prescription pills boost the production of this neurotransmitter, making you feel full even when you’ve had little to eat. Thus, making you lose weight by controlling your appetite and stopping your urge to eat more.
2. They Block Fat – Prescription pills like Xenical contain ingredients that inhibit an enzyme called lipase. When you eat food with fat, lipase breaks them down in the intestines and are then sent to your bloodstream where they get absorbed by the body, creating fat tissues that lead to weight gain. When you take these kinds of prescription drugs, this entire mechanism is stopped. So instead of lipase turning food into fat cells, the body instead brings fat to the intestines and are removed by the body through bowel movement.
Prescription diet pills may have an edge over herbal supplements because they act fast and are regulated by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, but they do have adverse side effects that are worth taking a look into.
Over-the-counter or Herbal Supplements do not require a prescription from a doctor and are easily found in any supermarket or health store. They do not need to be regulated by the FDA because they are considered as food rather than drugs. When they fall under this category, they don’t need to present a substantial amount of scientific data to be sold in the market – making them very accessible to the average person who wants to lose a little extra weight.
Common ingredients for over-the-counter weight loss supplements are caffeine, HCA or garcinia cambogia extract, raspberry ketone, Forskolin, green tea, green coffee bean extract, and chitosan. Forskolin for Weight Loss is the latest endorsement from Dr.Oz. A study made on Forskolin shows women and men seeing good results after using the supplement.
They have a range of mechanisms that help people lose weight such as boosting metabolism, slowing fat production, and stopping the body’s ability to absorb fat.
Most of these supplements are labeled as all-natural but that doesn’t mean they’re risk-free. Some natural ingredients pose health risks and just because they’re easily available, it doesn’t mean they’re completely safe. They fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and just because they’re safe to take, it’s always best to do your research before buying any popular natural weight loss supplement that’s circulating in the market.
Who Are Good Candidates for Weight Loss Supplements?
Individuals who are obese or overweight are the ones who can benefit the most from prescriptions weight loss drugs. However, it is important to note that these medication can cause a number of adverse side effects such as an elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, headaches, increased risk for stroke, and many other undesirable health effects. To make sure you are eligible to use these drugs, you must discuss extensively your medical history with your doctor.
Over-the-counter weight loss supplements are easy to buy – they’re available at the supermarket, or at any health or nutrition store. Individuals can even sell them, most especially from independent distributors online. This means that absolutely anyone can use weight loss supplements for weight loss.
If you want to use supplements to combat obesity, over-the-counter supplements will not give you the results you are looking for. Prescription drugs are the best options for those who need to lose weight for health reasons. For anyone who wants to lose weight to look better, to supplement a healthy lifestyle, or to lose a small amount of weight to fit a wedding dress or go a size smaller, then over-the-counter supplements will work well for you.
It is also important to note that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding must never use weight loss supplements – be it prescription or over-the-counter. These supplements can pose risks for fetal or infant harm.
Anyone who has an existing medical condition must also refrain from taking weight loss supplements unless prescribed by a doctor. These medical conditions include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, and those who are at a great risk for stroke.
How Effective are Weight Loss Supplements?
There have been countless scientific and independent studies done on weight loss supplements. For over-the-counter pills, significant evidence to a brand’s effectiveness may or not may not be extensive but they are required to provide clinical data. This means that if an herbal supplement company states that they use scientific studies to formulate their product, the results of the studies led to positive outcomes but that more studies still need to be done.
Though prescription weight loss pills are specifically made to combat obesity, over-the-counter options are meant to supplement a healthy lifestyle. This means that even though a brand may say that you don’t need to diet and exercise, the effects will be enjoyed at their most potential when paired with a healthy lifestyle.
An average herbal supplement can help you lose weight of an average of 1 -2 lbs. per week. This gives you an average of 5-10% weight loss when you take supplements consistently for a period of one year.
The Pros and Cons of Supplements
One of the best things about weight loss supplements is they have the ability to double the effects of diet and exercise. And even without these two methods of weight loss, they still have an effect on your body that will help you fight off fat formation and weight gain. For people who workout and follow and exercise program, you know how hard it is to really achieve the body you want to get. Weight loss supplements double your results with half the effort and that’s what’s so great about them.
Another advantage of supplements is for obese individuals. Though a pill may not be the miracle solution you’re looking for, it’s always great to know that something else is helping you lose weight and keeping the fat off your body. It gives you the motivation to live a healthier lifestyle knowing that the pills are boosting your efforts to lose weight.
The possible side effects of taking prescription drugs with chemicals or artificial ingredients are risky. Headaches, insomnia, an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, risk for liver damage, and lightheadedness may be too much for most people. Though they are scientifically backed by data, these FDA-approved weight loss drugs actually pose some of the highest risks for side effects in the market.
And for herbal supplements, long-term use has not been studied so it’s not really clear whether or not taking them for many years is effective or safe. Little scientific evidence to their efficacy is also something to think about when you choose to use any over-the-counter weight loss pill.
Many weight loss supplements also lead people to believe that you don’t have to do anything to achieve weight loss. Some people, when they start taking these pills, they tend to rely heavily on the “magic,” that they don’t take care of themselves anymore, thinking the pills will do the job itself. A healthy and slimmer body can be achieved through the combination of diet, exercise, and the right supplementation and sometimes when people take these diet pills, they tend to forget that.
How to Choose the Best Supplement For You
When choosing to get yourself a weight loss supplement, there are certain things you need to consider. Of course, if your doctor prescribes an anti-obesity drug for you, then you don’t really have to choose over-the-counter options.
Never mix supplements, hoping that two pills will double your results. Choose only one supplement and stick to it until you decide to switch to another pill or stop taking supplements.
Here are tips to choosing the right weight loss supplement for you:
1. Do Your Research
Just because a certain weight loss supplement is the most popular and most lauded in the market today, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. If you are allergic to a certain ingredient, then don’t push it and choose something else. Always know all the ingredients that are used in the formulation – they can be found on the label and if you can’t find it or the list of ingredients are not available, then move on to the next supplement.
You can also ask around, read reviews of a certain product, and even ask your doctor. You can also visit the FDA website to see if the pill is approved by the FDA, or if it’s banned.
2. Understand What You Need
Do you want to take a supplement to look better? Or to reduce your waistline? Or to lose weight to alleviate symptoms of an injury? Evaluate what you need and look for supplements that address your specific wants and needs.
3. Only Buy from Reputable Companies
If a new brand is offering ridiculously too-good-to-be-true promises, then wait it out for a while. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and buy every supplement that is touted as the next big thing. Take a step back, do your research, and make sure the brand or company has a trusted reputation.
Weight loss supplements are effective ways to help you lose weight if you take them correctly. Though a pill may work without diet and exercise, the results are most likely minimum. If you really want to take full advantage of the ingredients and the formulation of a good quality supplement, always pair it with a healthy and active lifestyle.
Here is a great video on how you should be eating if you are trying to lose weight. Combine a good supplement, a bit of exercise and a good diet and you will be on your way to success!