Weight Loss Supplements: Hype or Help?

Advertisements for weight loss supplements are everywhere. You can’t look through a magazine, sit through a television program, or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing their enticing claims. Not to mention walking through the pharmacy isle at the local store, it can be overwhelming. However consider this, if all these products really work, then why are there still so many overweight people? Through personal experience, and with my work as a personal trainer, I have dealt with this subject on numerous occasions. People often ask me what I think of certain over the counter weight loss supplements.

I always start out by saying that real weight loss is not as easy as these supplement manufacturers make it seem. What I find is that marketers for these types of supplements pray on peoples desire to do just what they have always done, and yet still lose weight. They make it sound so good, but unfortunately their claims are highly inflated. I always told my clients to please ignore them. In many cases, these so-called supplements, can cause more harm than good. It is difficult to tell who will experience the adverse side effects and who will not, therefore you must weigh the risks versus benefits carefully.

Consumers need to be aware of the mechanism of action for all categories of weight-loss supplements available. They typically fall into one of four categories depending on how they work.

1. Products that block the absorption of fat or carbohydrate.

2. Stimulants that increase thermogenesis (how the body burns fat).

3. Products that change metabolism and improve body composition.

4. Products that suppress appetite or give a sense of fullness.

Each is designed to either improve how the body handles the food that is consumed or to decrease the desire for food itself. The problem is that weight-loss supplements have been highly researched with no convincing evidence of their benefits, especially in the long-term, and in many cases  Biofit they have been associated with health complications. Numerous factors complicate the research results associated with the efficacy of weight-loss supplements, such as small sample sizes, short intervention periods, little or no follow-up, and whether or not the supplement is given in combination with an energy-restricted diet or increased exercise expenditure.

In light of these facts, the best supplement that anyone can make is to increase their daily intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy and lean protein. Eating a wide variety of colorful natural foods will promote optimal body functioning. I endorse the benefits of improving the “quality of your nutrition,” over taking some type of supplementation for weight loss. Some natural foods or supplements such as green tea, fiber, and calcium supplements or dairy products can complement a healthy lifestyle. Used consistently, they can produce small weight losses or prevent weight gain over time. This type of intervention is the healthiest option and will likely result in the best chances for long-term benefit.

Supportive habits, such as using a variety of fresh spices, herbs, and vegetables like garlic, cinnamon, chilies, cayenne pepper, and green tea are more natural options, than the chemical concoctions that weight loss supplements regularly consist of. Because our diets consist of so many processed and calorie dense-nutrient deficient foods, the body often operates at sub-par level. By going natural, you will give your body what it needs to run at its optimum level.

Instead of spending money on supplements I encourage clients to improve the nutritional value of each meal. By using a plate method you can naturally boost your body’s function. Divide your plate in half. Fill the right half with non-starchy vegetables or fruits. Divide the left half again and in the top put a palm size amount of lean protein and on the lower half, a fist size amount of starches, such as potatoes, rice or pasta. By following this nutrition prescription, you will fuel your body with what it needs and not gunk up your system with additives.

It seems simple, but we all know how hard it is to make those kinds of choices in light of all the tempting options that surround us. Not to mention busy schedules and eating on the run. For these reasons, a good vitamin and mineral supplement can help, especially when combined with a increased focus on adding more good nutrition, versus focusing on all the “need to avoid” items. This valuable shift in thinking can redirect the mental cues that are associated with eating.

The only benefit I have seen from OTC medications is perhaps a placebo effect; people think they are getting something that will help, so they respond accordingly with their actions. If that is that case, and you see results, don’t have any adverse side effects, and want to use something to get you focused, I say go for it. Otherwise, my advice is to not waste your time or money.

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