Weight-Loss Supplements: General Info

Healthcare professionals receive thousands of questions every year concerning weight-loss supplements. There are thousands of products on the market, all of which promise amazing results, and people are inundated by their ads on television, magazines, radio, and the Internet. Unfortunately, there is no miracle pill that will help you lose weight. If there was, there would not be an obesity epidemic in this country. The best way to lose weight has been, and continues to be, to eat a nutritious diet in proper portions coupled with regular exercise.

Weight-Loss Supplements: Diuretics

Many comprehensive diet programs sell weight-loss supplements as a way to increase revenue. Some products may include vitamins and minerals in the product, which do have health benefits, but not particularly for losing weight. Prescribed weight-loss drugs and over-the-counter herbal products sold in health food and drug stores generally fall into two categories. The first are diuretics, which increase urine volume and cause a loss in water-weight. While appropriate for prescription by a medical doctor in cases of hypertension and diabetes, diuretics will not affect the amount of fat a person carries on his or her body.

Weight-Loss Supplements: Stimulants

The second category that most diet pills and weight loss supplements fall into is that of stimulants. Advertised with claims of being able to "raise" or "speed-up" metabolism, these products almost universally use substances like ephedrine, caffeine, guarana, and kola derivatives that act as stimulants and appetite suppressants. While ephedra has been used as a safe herb in the materia medica of Chinese medicine for thousands of years, it has been abused by weight-loss supplements selling it in unsafe quantities of concentration, and has led to heart problems.

Health Risks in Taking Weight-Loss Supplements

People are commonly hospitalized for combining multiple weight-loss supplements, and unknowingly overdosing on too many stimulants. These symptoms include palpitations, racing heart beak, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, and more. Both diuretics and stimulants can lead to kidney and liver damage, sudden heart attacks, and addiction. "Fat blockers" and "Starch blockers" not only do not work, but also interfere with proper metabolic functions. In scientific studies, chromium supplements have had mixed results. Again, there is no substitute for proper nutrition and exercise when one is trying to lose weight.