A Dangerous Diet: Weight Loss & Diet Pills

Nutrition Expert Jason Apfel from Lucas James Celebrity Personal Training in Scottsdale, AZ offers some advice when considering fat-burners and weight-loss pills.

Weight Loss & Diet PillsYou’ve heard this from us before, but for the sake your wellness and staying consistent, there is no ‘quick-fix’ when your health is concerned.  The same holds true for healthy, sustainable weight-loss.  Keeping this in mind, ninety-nine percent of all sports-nutrition and health products, including supplements, vitamins and fat-burning weight-loss diet pills are all hype and marketing ploys.  Often, these products boast university or private lab studies to validate their efficacy. However, some reported studies never actually take place or use altered results for advertisement purposes. More so, ‘before-and-after’ pictures for success stories are often used for generating increased sales, but the displayed weight-loss is not truly attributable to the actual products.

Due to a lack of market and product regulation for nutraceuticals and fitness supplements the reported testimonials and benefits of use are often glamorize stories or complete fallacies.  Since, dietary supplements and weight-loss aids are not subject to the same rigorous standards as prescription medications, they can be sold with limited proof of effectiveness or safety.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only monitors product safety once a product in on the market, in terms of banning or recalling detrimental or harmful supplements.

So how do these pills supposedly work?  

Calories and fat are burnt through three ways: Firstly, through maintaining normal body function ie. Breathing, heart-rate etc.  Secondly, through exercise or physical work that uses calories as a source of energy, and lastly through maintaining our internal body temperature and burning calories by emitting body heat.  This last method is what ‘nutrition’ companies focus on to promote their latest, greatest miracle pill. Otherwise known as ‘fat-burners’ these products are typically filled with stimulants such as caffeine, that literally increase your resting heart rate to make you sweat in order to burn more calories.  Most burners and weight-loss products are often untested, and contain trace amount of ingredients that are either harmful, or on the flip side helpful for weight-loss but ineffective in the incorporated amounts.

Weight Loss & Diet PillsA healthy fat-burning alternative: For the same calorie crushing effect try drinking green tea or coffee.  A daily cup of coffee can rev up your metabolism by 5 to 8 percent—enough to burn 98 to 174 calories.  If you are interested in loosing weight or burning fat more efficiently try eating more protein.  It will help increase your protein synthesis, building more lean muscle which means burning fat more efficiently. Gaining three lbs of  increases metabolism by about 7%., meaning you’ll burn roughly 100 more calories per day. Protein also help to keep you fuller longer.  A recent medical study showed eating 5% more protein leads to consuming 10% fewer calories throughout the day.

The bottom-line: Aside from avoiding possible health problems and side-effects due to weight-loss pills, you still have to ‘diet’ or eat fewer calories than your body burns in order to lose weight while taking these products.  If a product helps you to lose weight initially, once you stop taking it, your weight-loss will return rapidly. If you are considering taking a weight-loss product, make sure to speak with your physician beforehand, especially if you have current health problems or are taking prescription medications.


Product Claim Effectiveness Safety
Alli — OTC version of prescription drug orlistat (Xenical) Decreases absorption of dietary fat Effective; weight-loss amounts typically less for OTC versus prescription FDA investigating reports of liver injury
Bitter orange Increases calories burned Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Possibly unsafe
Chitosan Blocks absorption of dietary fat Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Possibly safe
Chromium Increases calories burned, decreases appetite and builds muscle Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Likely safe
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) Reduces body fat and builds muscle Possibly effective Possibly safe
Country mallow (heartleaf) Decreases appetite and increases calories burned Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Likely unsafe and banned by FDA
Ephedra Decreases appetite Possibly effective Likely unsafe and banned by FDA
Green tea extract Increases calorie and fat metabolism and decreases appetite Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Possibly safe
Guar gum Blocks absorption of dietary fat and increases feeling of fullness Possibly ineffective Likely safe
Hoodia Decreases appetite Insufficient reliable evidence to rate Insufficient information

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2010; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2010



About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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