When you feel overweight and can’t seem to lose the pounds as fast as you’d like, it can be easy to try to find a quick fix to slim down fast, especially because slimming down through exercise and diet can seem overwhelming to some.
That’s why as many as 15% of adults who want to lose weight turn to supplements as the solution according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and we’re even spending $2 billion a year on them.
These supplements claim to work in a variety of ways.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
• Increasing metabolism
• Preventing absorption of fat or carbohydrates
• Stopping hunger cravings by making you feel full
Do they work?
With so much money going into weight loss supplements, you’d expect them to work, but more often than not it’s just wishful thinking. It might be cliché, but the saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” seems to apply to these pills too. Aside from overspending on something that probably won’t work in the long run, these seemingly innocent pills might cause more problems than they’re worth.
Untested, dangerous ingredients
Most fat loss pills aren’t approved by the FDA, which means all their claims aren’t based on any accepted scientific evidence and few suppliers test their products to see if they work before sending them out to unwitting buyers on the market. What’s more, they may actually be harmful to your health in a number of hidden ways says the NIH.
Common ingredients and their dangers
Aside from the risk of interfering with other medications, the NIH emphasizes that a number of ingredients common in the top weight loss supplements may carry dangers of their own.
• Bitter orange – may cause chest pain, raise blood pressure and cause anxiety
• Chitosan – has been shown to cause heartburn, constipation and nausea
• Ephedra – this dangerous substance isn’t safe for humans and causes vomiting, mood changes, and may even cause strokes, seizures, and heart attacks.
• Conjugated linoleic acid – in some people, good cholesterol decreases and your chances for insulin resistance increases
• Garcinia cambogia – although some experience no problems, it may cause liver damage in some
• Yohimbe – may cause headaches, raise blood pressure, lead to heart attacks and heart failure
• BMPEA – according to the Washington Post, many weight loss pills contain this amphetamine, which may not only be addictive, it could also cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.
You may think that knowing the dangerous ingredients makes them easy to avoid. All you have to do is read the label to weed out the “bad” supplements. If only it were that simple. The dangers of fat loss pills are so high because many of the ingredients are hidden under different names.
Hidden drugs, hidden dangers
Unfortunately, it can be nearly impossible to sort out the ingredient list on weight loss supplements, because the names change.
The case of BMPEA
Just look at the ingredient Acaciarigidula. It sounds innocent and ‘official’ enough, after all acacia is just a shrub. However the Washington Post reported that out of 21 supplements that contained this ingredient in Texas, 11 of them also had BMPEA – an amphetamine.
The FDA didn’t take action because BMPEA specifically hasn’t been studied. But as the Post points out, the supplements usually didn’t even identify the ingredient on the label, and certainly didn’t tell buyers how much of this potentially risky drug they’d be ingesting.
The case of ephedra
Another stark example of the carelessness of fat pill suppliers happened in 2004 when the ingredient ephedra led to numerous hospitalizations and was finally banned in the U.S. according to Consumer Reports. However, even though the ingredient was banned, manufacturers still sneak in a similar ingredient under other names.
Consumer Reports goes on to explain that in 2016, a chemical similar to the active ingredient of ephedra, ephedrine, was found in many weight loss supplements under the name oxilofrine. Considering this drug is used to treat low blood pressure in some countries, it may have significant impacts on the cardiovascular system. What’s more, labels sometimes list it under other names, such as methylsynephrine.
Because ingredients can be listed under different names, or even hidden, and because their dose isn’t listed, it makes weight loss supplements even more dangerous.
The real dangers of fat loss pills come from the fact that they aren’t subject to the rigorous testing of other drugs. Manufacturers can throw together pretty much whatever ingredients they want, without seeing how those ingredients might interact with one another, or other medications. Even if some ingredients are harmless taken separately, put together, they may create a whole different, and potentially dangerous, effect.
If you’re still set on using weight loss pills, it’s extremely important to consult with your doctor first, who may be better able to advise you on the ingredients, and how they might help or harm your health. In the end, you’re more likely to experience unwanted side effects than dramatic and sustained weight loss.
If you really want to speed up your metabolism and quench your appetite, the best thing you can do is to exercise regularly and eat more fiber. It will probably cost less and is much safer.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Daisy Grace
Top weight loss supplements