Which Weigh Loss Products Really Work?
Every time that you turn on the television or walk through the supermarket, you are assaulted by a huge number of products that promise a slimmer, healthier you. Our society has trained us to think that if we can pinch an inch, we need to pop a pill or drink a shake in order to get skinny. The problem is, many of the products available don’t deliver what they promise and some of them are even bad for you. So how do you tell the fat-blasters from the wallet-busters? You need to educate yourself.
There are weight loss products available in pills, bars, shakes and patches. Some claim to be “100 percent natural” while others claim to be “scientifically formulated.” Some even claim to prevent cancer or diabetes while helping you lose weight. The answer won’t be found by reading the claims; instead you need to look at the ingredients. By doing this, you can learn to distinguish what might be effective and what will be a potentially dangerous waste of money.
Weight Loss Pills
Probably the most prevalent weight loss products available are weight loss pills. These come in many different packages but most can be separated into two basic categories: appetite suppressants and fat blockers. Some of them are fine and may even be helpful, but many are useless or even dangerous. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to ingredients instead of the claims made on the box.
Many appetite suppressants such as synephedrine and ma huang (also known as ephedra) are amphetamine-like stimulants that may cause heart attacks, strokes or seizures. Ephedra was banned by the FDA in 2004 but ma huang (the Chinese name for ephedra) may still be found in the “proprietary blend” of many weight loss products. Appetite suppressants such as Hoodia work in different ways and may be safe for use though there’s not enough scientific evidence yet to prove that definitively.
Weight loss pills that claim to block fat contain such ingredients as Xenical, Chitosan and guar gum. These ingredients have varying degrees of effectiveness and are frequently accompanied by undesirable side-effects such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramps. Often, these symptoms can be alleviated by eating a low-fat diet and if you read the box, most of these weight loss products suggest exactly that. Unfortunately, many people think that they can take fat blockers, eat anything they want, and still lose weight. This simply isn’t the case.
Weight Loss Shakes
Weight Loss Shakes are typically used as a replacement for one or more regular meals and have been around for many years. Shakes such as Slim-Fast claim that you will lose weight by replacing breakfast and lunch with shakes and then eating a healthy dinner. Weight loss is simple math; you lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume. As long as you would typically eat a breakfast and lunch containing more calories than a meal replacement shake, you will probably lose weight by using this product.
There are two things that you need to look at when considering meal replacements shakes; the first is the amount of calories and fat and the second is the nutritional value. Also remember that our bodies derive nutrition best from natural foods, so just because a product may have 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of something doesn’t mean that your body is going to be able to use it. Also, since the shake is liquid, your body will process it faster and you will be hungry again sooner. These weight loss products aren’t generally bad for you unless you are on a low-carbohydrate diet. They do typically contain sugar but some now offer sugar-free varieties as well.
Weight Loss Bars
There are two basic types of weight loss bars; ones that are used as meal replacements or snacks and new ones that are consumed 30 minutes prior to a regular meal in order to make you feel full and thus consume less food. Standard meal replacement bars are used in much the same way that the shakes are. When considering using these types of weight loss products, look for ones that have higher protein and fiber contents because you will feel full longer than if you eat one that is mostly sugar.
The second type of meal replacement bar is relatively new to the weight loss scene. An example is the Fullbar. According to product labeling, you will eat less food, and therefore consume less calories, if you eat a bar along with 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before meals. The product also cautions you to pay attention to how full you are so that you don’t overeat. Even without the bar, drinking water before meals and eating only until you’re full are good diet tips, and the product lays no claim to containing any fat burners or appetite suppressants.
Weight Loss Patches
Weight loss patches are a relatively new addition to the wide world of weight loss products and manufacturers claim that the patch helps you lose weight faster because the ingredients bypass your digestive system and are absorbed straight into your bloodstream through your skin. Weight loss patches contain the same appetite-suppressing ingredients found in weight loss pills; the method of delivery is just different.
Side-effects reported include nausea, vomiting, skin irritation and skin discoloration and preliminary studies suggest that even if the patch works, it won’t work as well on people who are overweight because the ingredients have to be absorbed into the fatty tissue before making their way into the bloodstream. Because the patches haven’t been around very long, research on efficacy and safety is limited.
The Final Word on Weight Loss Products
Now that you have a general feel for what types of weight loss products are available, you should educate yourself on the ingredients of products that you are considering. Remember that just because a product is “all-natural” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for you; ephedra is a natural product and it was pulled from the market because it caused seizures, strokes, heart attacks and deaths. There are good weight loss products out there but before you put anything into your body, take the time to separate the good from the bad and make an informed decision.