People love short-term quick fix solutions. Pop a pill and you could lose 4-5 pounds? What could be easier than that? It sounds too good to be true. However, there are many products out there, offering a slimmer, leaner body in a bottle of colourful pills. Weight loss supplements and pills are a massive industry. Billions of pounds and dollars are spent on them annually, and they come in all sorts of varieties, themes and flavours. All of them offer the promise of weight loss.
What are weight loss supplements?
Weight loss supplements come in all shapes and forms. They can be pills, that can be taken with or without your food, they can be powdered items which can be mixed with water or milk to give yourself a milkshake, or they can be a food alternative.
They should not be mistaken for protein shakes, which may look similar and are packaged in a similar fashion, but are designed to help people build muscle instead of losing weight.
What is in them?
They are often based on some form of popular fat burning or weight losing chemical or the natural elements we have in our diet that are attributed with weight loss. Some of the common ingredients that can be found in weight loss supplements are:
- Niacin (vitamin B12)
- Green Tea Extracts
- Various ‘popular’ extracts from fruits/nuts/vegetables that are in vogue
As we know, caffeine is found in many items, such as coffee, tea or chocolate. Capsaicin is found in chillies and peppers, whereas bioperine is found in black pepper. Acai berries and raspberry extracts are also popularly associated with weight loss.
What do they offer?
Weight loss supplements are supposed to offer the following advantages:
- A loss of appetite, helping you to eat less food, hence gain less weight. This would also mean that you will still carry on burning the same amount of calories. Less calories go in, more calories go out. Result: Weight Loss
- Increase your metabolism. This means that they help your body burn calories quickly and result in a simple loss of weight.
What are the limitations?
There are obvious limitations. Weight loss supplements or diet pills do not work very well for people who are struggling with weight and are unable to exercise or watch their dietary intake. Others suffering from health conditions, may also find that these pills or supplements do not benefit them. Others who buy the supplements may be looking for a quick solution for all their weight needs.
In all of these cases, the limitations are defined on an individual level. Each person has their own needs and each body works differently. Just like some people are naturally skinny and have a high metabolic rate, others may be big boned and have a slow metabolism, some people’s bodies work better with some chemicals and ingredients versus others.
Weight loss supplements have a lot of sceptics, and that is obvious. However, numerous studies have taken place over years, which measure the effects of the weight loss pills.
The method of study is simple. Two groups are defined, and each group is given the weight loss supplement. One of them is then asked to carry on with their daily lives, and then another is asked to add exercises to their routine. Predictably, the results come back in the favour of those who had been doing exercises.
Another study that is often done is that in which two groups are given weight loss supplements. However, while one is given the real thing, the other group is given a placebo. During this, their metabolism, their blood pressure, heart rate and fat burn is measured. These variables are measured before and after exercise sessions. In these studies, it was often seen that people who had taken the supplement used up extra energy, by up to 4% or even 8 %. It was also noticed that heart rates and blood pressure goes up for the group that had taken the weight loss supplements.
Surely, this means that weight loss supplements work? Yes, and no.
Are weight loss supplements dangerous?
Once again, a lot of studies have taken place on the subject. The interesting thing here is that there is enough concern out there to make people do these tests over and over again.
Like any other item you buy in a shop from the medicine counter, weight loss supplements come with a long lists of side effects. These include everything from headaches and dizziness to seizures, heart attacks and more.
Of course, this is not meant to scare you. All it tells you is that if you are about to take something like this, it is better to consult a doctor and keep an eye out for any of the side effects that may have been caused by the supplements.
Can I take natural alternatives?
Weight loss supplements are either expensive, or cause unwanted side effects. It is often better to try natural alternatives as compared to weight loss supplements. As can be seen in the list above, a lot of the items that are used in weight loss supplements can be found in natural diet. Drink coffee for caffeine, try hot food for capsaicin and just throw a bit of black pepper on to your food for bioperine.
What else can you do to help lose weight?
The answer to this question has always been there, right in front of our eyes. It may not be possible for everyone, and we all have our limitations, but it is pretty simple. The two secrets are:
- Balanced diet
- Regular exercise
Weight loss supplements, or natural alternatives will only go so far. However, if you really want to lose some weight, the biggest change you can make in your life is yourself. Get some discipline, work hard, and that goal of losing weight is attainable. Also, avoid these workout mistakes for optimum results.