Magic bullets - Popping the pill myths (2)

Attempting to lose weight can be a frustrating experience and there is always temptation to look for that magic bullet to solve everything, and solve everything FAST. Slimming pills often offer the allure of rapid weight loss and this can be difficult to resist. Last week we began our review of commonly available slimming pills and took a look at Xenical and Reductil, which are weight loss drugs available in prescription, as well as Fat Magnets and Herbaltrim, which are available over the counter (click here to read last week’s article). Here we continue with Phenteramine, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, Appleslim, and Zotrim.

To achieve weight loss, we have to use more energy than we take in. No matter what any slimming pill manufacturer claims, there are only two ways to rebalance this equation in favour of weight loss – to eat less or burn more energy.

And for this to be successful in the long-term, we need to lose weight slowly and carefully (around 1-2 lbs or 0.5-1 kg per week).

We do not advise that you take any weight loss supplement without consulting a dietitian, a registered nutritionist or your GP.

This is an appetite suppressant, which has recently been withdrawn from use in Britain. It is however, available to buy on-line from abroad.

It works by stimulating the hypothalamus gland and affects certain neurotransmitters that control appetite. It causes reduction in food intake by altering the level at which a dieter feels satisfied. It is generally used for short-term treatment of obesity.

The side effects can be quite severe. Less serious ones include dry mouth, insomnia and nervousness but individuals using this drug can become psychologically dependent on it. The most serious side effect, and the reason for it being banned in the UK, is that it may cause damage to the heart.

While there are existing reports of its success, we strongly advise you to stay away from this drug. It does help individuals to lose weight but since people using this drug can become dependent on it and due to the fears for heart health, it has been withdrawn from the UK market.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA
This is a fatty acid found in dairy products and meat from ruminant animals. CLA supplements are now available in chemists in many chemists and health food stores.

Research shows that CLA helps the breakdown of body fat to be used for energy. It is also thought to improve insulin response and may be a factor in preventing some types of cancer.

Manufacturers claim that CLA can increase the metabolic rate and decrease body fatness while increasing muscle mass. It also helps lower cholesterol levels and helps balance blood sugar in those with insulin resistance. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that CLA reduces fat and preserves muscle. People in the trial experienced an average weight loss of 6 lbs. The down side is that some people can feel slightly nauseous after taking CLA and many experience gastrointestinal upset.

Over all it is too early to say whether taking CLA may be beneficial. To date the research supporting its role in weight loss is isolated and the effects are relatively minor.

This is a combination of apple vinegar and vitamins including folic acid. The apple pectin helps to regulate the digestive system and to metabolise fatty acids. Pectin also slows down that absorption of glucose to the body and therefore helps keep blood sugar levels steady.

The producers say that this pill will suppress the appetite and help absorb more energy from food, regulating the body’s supply. By controlling blood sugar levels it also helps suppress cravings for sweet and salty food.

While there are no adverse side effects and this product should be safe to use, there is no real evidence to support that manufacturers claims.

This is a herbal supplement made from Yerba Mate, Guarana and Damiana.

Individuals using this product take two tablets before each meal and the supplement acts by keeping food in the stomach for longer, improving satiety.

This product has been tested in clinical trials and the results showed that individuals who took part in the trials lost an average of 11lbs in 6 weeks. Some dieters have reported losing more than a stone in one month. Those who have taken it for more than the recommended period said that body weight stabilised. As yet, no adverse side effects have been reported.

This product may be helpful to some individuals trying to lose weight. However, since no diet or exercise advice is given concurrently to its use, in the long-term it will not encourage a change in lifestyle and is unlikely to produce long-term results.

We would like to stress again that here at eDiets, we do not recommend the taking of slimming pills. If you are going to take any weight loss medication, always do so under medical supervision.

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