Are Weight Loss Supplements Effective or Risky?

Healthy diet concept

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Weight loss supplements, many, many people try them, even though they have a negative image. The makers of these “miracle pills” don’t make them because they are interested in improving the health of the public or because they really work; they make them because they sell.

Almost all of the weight loss supplements are simply not worth any amount of money and, sorry to tell you this, aren’t going to cause you to lose the amount of weight you are hoping for. In numerous studies, almost all subjects lost only 4 to 7 pounds, and this was water weight, which quickly returned when subjects stopped taking the pills.

Oh, all that advertising? The pictures of men and women who lost 20, 30, or even 50 pounds taking this miracle supplement? These “testimonials” come from “studies” done on subjects who are paid to go on super low calorie diets and take the supplements so they can advertise their amazing results. Ever read the small print on those pictures? It reads “results not typical”. They should actually read “results manipulated to make you buy this product.” At least that would be true truth in advertising!

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently come down on some false advertising of some of these weight loss supplement companies. This has led to the Consumer Protection panel hearing being held in June, to determine exactly what should be done to protect consumers from these types of scams.

It’s interesting to note that the featured testimony at this hearing came from the infamous Dr. Oz, who was positively grilled over his role in promoting some of these weight loss supplements. The FTC states that weeks after a product called “Pure Green Coffee” was promoted on the Dr. Oz television show, this Florida based company began selling their Pure Green Coffee extract at a cost of 50 dollars for a one month supply. It appears that Dr. Oz is guilty of pushing those magic weight loss pills right into your mouth and your money into his wallet.

In fact in one of Dr. Oz’s shows from November of 2012, he was selling a magic pill called Garcinia camboia, with the promise that you didn’t need to exercise or diet. Even more recently, Dr. Oz featured a product that was called “My Rapid Belly Melt 3”. He involved his audience members photographing their stomachs, later these same pictures were photoshopped so they look like people had lost weight as the photos now showed smaller, skinnier versions of these same people.

If you eliminate processed foods and sugar, and replace those foods with healthy fats and whole foods, along with intermittent fasting and high intensity exercise is truly the way to go if you want to normalize your weight. Supplements should be, as their name implies, supplemental to a healthy lifestyle.

Although many people think otherwise, the FDA can and does regulate the diet pill industry. In fact, lately, it has closed down some of the manufacturers of these pills including SlimEasy, Slim Xtreme, Magic Slim, and Super Fat Burning Bomb, among others. Why did they recall these items? It’s not so much that the FDA cares whether they work or not, but because they contained active chemicals that were undeclared on the list of ingredients. One of these was an ingredient called phenolphthalein, which was once used in laxatives but due to concerns over its carcinogenicity, it is no longer approved for sale in the US. Another ingredient is called sibutramine, an appetite suppressant that was withdrawn from the US in October of 2010 due to health problems such as heart attacks, arrhythmia, strokes, and seizures, among other things.

Many of these diet supplements that end up being labeled as hazardous are usually spiked with some other type of pharmaceutical drug or synthetic ingredients. With extremely few exceptions, it’s not herbs or natural vitamins that are shown to be dangerous. To lump vitamins, herbs, and minerals that have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years, in the same batch as these “diet” pills is both inaccurate as well as unfair.

Weight loss supplements have very little to do with living a healthy lifestyle. It’s good to note, however, that vitamins and other types of natural herbal supplements have a fantastic safety record. They might actually be the safest consumable on the market today! A study that was conducted by the European Union shows that pharmaceutical drugs are more than 62,000 times more likely to kill you than vitamin or mineral supplements.

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diet pills

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It’s interesting to note that if you do a Google search of “weight loss supplements” will get you more than 57 million hits. Add the word “magic” in there and you can cut that down to about 8 million results. You can even find weight loss pills that are aimed at children!

Some of these products claim their supplements work like “magic”, other actually have the word “magic” in the product name. No matter who you look at it, using the word “magic” implies that diet supplements work like magic, which means little or no effort on your part. You can just continue on with your life as you always have. Even though that’s probably what got you looking at weight loss pills in the first place.

While multiple surveys show that the use of these weight loss pills is quite common in the US, these same studies fail to support their safety or their efficacy. Most weight loss pills contain ephedra, ephedra like compounds, or caffeine. These are intended to boost your metabolism. For most people, however, this only means you will have trouble sleeping or you will crash on the way down once that pill wears off.

Not only that, but these pills and the stimulants they contain can be very dangerous for people who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or those taking blood pressure medications. You should realize that loading your body with stimulants is not going to improve your health, nor are you going to lose much weight, if any.

Still other weight loss pills are not much more than vitamins, and laxatives. You pay a lot more because it contains the words “diet” and “magic”. Why take a pill when you can actually reap the same benefits by consuming the real food? Why take green tea pills when you can savor some freshly brewed tea in your own home?


SEE ALSO: 10 Easy Changes to Your Meals to Lose Weight


Eating real food will ensure the optimal absorption of vitamins and nutrients. If you eat right, you won’t need a weight loss pill.

The supplement industry would be wise to be as transparent as possible. As for those looking to lose weight, it’s not that complicated. Avoid sugar, processed fructose, processed foods, and grains. Start eating a healthy diet of organic whole foods and replace those grains with moderate amounts of high-quality protein. Add to that as much of the high-quality healthy fats (such as butter and avocados) that you can eat. Once you have addressed your diet, be sure to get regular exercise and then consider taking a few supplements, including a multivitamin, antioxidant support, and probiotics.

The real truth here is that if these weight loss supplements worked, America wouldn’t have a weight problem, now would we?




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