Advertisements for weight loss products target a wide range of consumers, from body builders to overweight individuals who simply want to shed a few pounds. These supplements can supposedly speed up your metabolism and decrease your appetite, but most of these products do not actually work. Some of them are known to have many adverse side effects and they are usually illegal, but people continue to find ways of purchasing weight loss drugs.
About 15% of adults in the United States have used weight loss supplements at some point in their lives. Part of the allure of these drugs is that they are easier to swallow than the idea of a serious diet combined with a consistent workout routine. Since the obesity epidemic is so pronounced in the United States, it is no surprise that these supplements might be popular.
Unfortunately, the side effects of weight loss supplements can be very serious and often result in more long term problems or even death. Even if the drug is legal and currently looks like it works, you should still be skeptical. They might be legal, but they are usually just drugs that contain slight variations of substances that were banned usually because they were shown to cause death. The reason the variations are not banned is because you would need an incredibly high dosage to cause negative side effects, but light regulations on the United States supplement market has made it possible for companies to put very high dosages in a single bottle of pills. Because of this light regulation, plenty of case reports document reasonably healthy people who took a supposedly healthy weight loss supplement and dropped dead a few days later.
Of course, there are many people who do not die from a weight loss pill, but there are plenty of other reasons to avoid these drugs besides the risk of death. The side effects include irregular heartbeat, increase blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease due to the increased heart rate these drugs cause in order to speed up metabolism. You can also end up damaging your liver, skin, eyes, and ears.
Despite the fact that most medical professionals are speculative of weight loss drugs, the FDA has approved a couple of medications for people who are so overweight that living with the side effects of the drugs is preferred over living with the side effects of obesity. However, there is no such thing as a supplement that will solve all your weight problems without requiring you to put in any work.
Qsymia, for example, is an FDA approved drug that treats obesity in people with other illnesses related to obesity such diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. However, it does not eliminate the necessity for doctor approved exercise and a reduced calorie diet plan. Additionally, even though it works for some people, the number of side effects associated with it turns many people away. These side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, tiredness, tingling in the hands and feet, and constipation. Sometimes, it can also cause difficulty concentrating, memory loss, painful urination, fever, chills, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, bone pain, broken bones, loss of consciousness, changes in sex life, unusual bruising, metabolic problems, vomiting, headache, seizure, weakness, unusual bleeding, lung and heart problems, blindness, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health problems.
Other FDA approved drugs are similar. They all come with adverse side effects and they all require additional exercise and dieting. They work by targeting receptors in your brain related to appetite. People with excess fat tend to be hungrier because fat can confuse your hunger neurons, so these drugs work to remedy that problem and clinical trials show that people on the drug often lose over 5% of their body weight. Unfortunately, people who go off the drug usually fail to maintain their weight loss, so people have to stay on the drug for the rest of their lives, which increases the risk they experience adverse side effects.
These FDA approved drugs are still less adverse than the illegal drugs that people manage to get on the internet. Dinitrophenol (DNP), for example, is a pesticide that is often in weight loss supplements. In the 1930s, scientists discovered that it could be used for weight loss because it significantly increases metabolic rate by making your cells more inefficient at generating energy. This inefficiency causes your cells to work harder and the result is that your metabolism speeds up, but people quickly started experiencing health concerns as a result of the drug and the substance was banned in the United States only eight years after it was introduced. It caused a wide range of side effects, including blindness, severe skin rashes, and death. However, to this day, supplements that contain DNP are easy to access with help from the internet. People continue to use these supplements and it is known to be responsible for the sudden deaths of many bodybuilders.
Some weight loss supplements will not hurt you as long as you do not take too high of a dosage. Caffeine, for example, is linked to short term metabolism increases, so a lot of weight loss supplements contain caffeine. However, a spoonful of pure caffeine is still enough to kill you and the companies who are labeling these supplements are not particularly careful about making sure consumers know the risks of high dosages. The labels also claim that the products contain ingredients such as green tea extract to make people think that the pills are natural and cannot harm you. However, while green tea might be healthy, green tea extract can cause nausea and liver damage. Additionally, most of these supplements do not work that well long term. It might just be smarter to add tea and other healthy foods to your diet.
At best, weight loss pills will only have short term effects unless you also exercise and diet. At worst, weight loss pills can kill you. They may seem tempting, but the labels are usually lying to you and no research shows that anything can replace good exercise and a well-balanced diet.