The allure of weight loss shakes and pills is strong to any chronic dieter because they contain quick fix weight loss tricks that are marketed to make you think you can get slim with very little effort. But do you really understand how they work and what dangers lie behind their use?
Fad diet weight loss regimes can have significant long term health effects and cause nasty side effects including weight regain after their use.
Fat blockers consists of pharmacological substance called ‘orlistat’, which works by reducing 30 percent of the absorption of dietary fat. Studies have proven that its use can promote an average weight loss of up to 4.8kg in the first month and 7.2kg by three months. This may sound like a miracle in a bottle; however, there is a long list of side effects. Some of the nastiest include loose oily or fatty stools, possible uncontrolled bowel movements and flatulence with discharge.
As you can imagine this could subject you to some very embarrassing social situations. What is not taken into account is that they can also cause vitamin deficiencies with chronic use. Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are at risk due to the poor absorption of dietary fat.
Appetite suppressants are brain altering. They work by blocking neurotransmitter pathways of serotonin in the brain. Weight loss results from false feelings of fullness, which causes a reduction of food intake. Appetite suppression is the greatest within the first few weeks of drug use, after which its effects diminish. They have shown to decrease body weight by up to 10 percent; and while a weight loss of this magnitude can be very enticing, the side effects can include insomnia, drug addiction, and irregular heart beat.
Most importantly, when you stop taking them how will you handle the return of hunger? It is difficult to maintain weight loss when you lack appropriate dietary and exercise tools. Hunger can be the sole driving force for weight regain.
Stimulant weight loss pills
Stimulant weight loss pills work on elevating the body’s metabolic rate by increasing heart rate and incidental activity and are often caffeine-based. Studies have shown that moderate amounts of caffeine can support weight loss alongside with a healthy diet and exercise. However, some stimulant pills contain the equivalent caffeine levels as consuming ten short black coffees (i.e. 600mg)! This excessive amount of caffeine can increase blood pressure and impact your cardiovascular health. Stimulants like this can also cause restlessness and anxiety and affect sleep.
In addition, caffeine increases cortisol levels in the body and this hormone breaks down lean muscle tissue, enhances fat storage and stimulates appetite. The bottom line? They can, in fact, make you fatter!
Weight loss shakes
Weight loss shakes function on a very low-calorie dieting system (e.g. less than 800 Kcal per day). Often diets consist of three weight loss shakes a day (replacing real meals) and two snacks. Throughout the progression of the 12-week program, normal meals are reintroduced gradually, until reaching a maintenance phase. Studies using weight loss shakes have shown weight losses up to 21.1kg in 12 weeks. However, what you may not realise is that weight loss shakes are often lack appropriate levels of vital nutrients such as calcium, iron and fibre. In consequence, they may cause health problems such as constipation, anaemia and osteopenia.
It is important to understand that any weight loss following a meal replacement program, will consist of both fat and lean muscle. The loss of muscle tissue will slow down your metabolism, which can then become problematic when you reintroduce normal food, as it is typically higher in energy. The excess energy which the body cannot use, therefore, will then be stored as fat. So you become at risk of regaining the weight you lost, plus more!
So, although you may see immediate results if using the above fast-fix strategies, diet gimmicks such as these can never be long-term solutions to weight loss as they do not teach you how to deal with normal food in everyday situations.
It’s important to also realise that all the studies mentioned previously, actually used dietary counselling and exercise in conjunction with the gimmicky products to cause the reported weight loss. So why not just skip the weight loss shakes and pills and give yourself the best odds of losing weight forever? The only way to lose weight safely and keep it off in the long term is healthy eating and exercise. It may not sound fancy, but it certainly works.