Obesity is a growing issue, not just in the US but around the world. This phenomenon has led to a weight loss market worth billions of dollars. Some of these companies are on the up-and-up, while others prey on consumers’ desperation. There are so many weight loss supplements on the market today but did you know they aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the same degree as prescription drugs? The FDA has to approve of pharmaceuticals or medical devices but a company can put anything in a bottle and call it a supplement. While companies can’t make false claims outright, they don’t have to provide proof of their claims because the government doesn’t require it.
Remember Fen-Phen? This weight loss drug was pulled off the market because it was resulting in increase risk of stroke or heart attack. Well, you may be surprised to know that after a small tweek to the formula it was returned to the market after an FDA-required name change. Fen-Phen was a prescription drug which is how the FDA got involved. So how can you know what is and isn’t good for you to take. The reality is if a pill worked then everyone would take it. The key word is “supplement”. A pill on its own without proper diet and exercise can’t fix obesity. But that little fact doesn’t stop the marketing machine. Let’s explore the truth about supplements
Weight Loss Supplements Can Be Helpful
The right supplement for the right job can help. Before picking a supplement you must understand your need. Some supplements are focused on hormonal balance while some are meant to increase metabolism. In order to understand what your issue is you need to have some tests done. If you have a hormonal imbalance for example, trying to increase your metabolism with stimulants may not have the desired effect. The body is a closed systems made up of sub-systems. If something is wrong with one it may impact the others. A slow metabolism may be a symptom and not the cause. For example, I had blood work done for my hormone levels. I couldn’t lose a pound to save my life. Turns out my T4 levels were low and my cortisol levels were throuh the roof. T4 is produced by the thyroid. This gland helps regulate the metabolism. A low T4 count means a slow metabolism. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It causes the body to store fat and creates a toxic environment. Taking a stimulate wouldn’t help that situation. I had to lower my cortisol levels through nutrition and stress reduction techniques. The thing with cortisol is you don’t necessarily have to be under stress to release it. Watching a horrible story on the news that causes anxiety can increase cortisol production. Foods high in vitamin C are suspected to help lower cortisol levels.
Choosing The Right Weight Loss Supplement Can Be Simple
With so many choices out there it’s difficult to know what to pick. The first criteria is to see if the company has done any scientific testing on its own and makes those results public. Because they aren’t required to submit tests to the FDA, the testing may not be rigorous. But not every company is in it just to make money. Many genuinely want to help people loss weight. The second criteria is to see if any research exists on the compound itself outside of the company. Meaning, if a company is using a particular ingredient(s), such as caffeine, look to see if there is scientific evidence on the use of caffeine in weight loss.
Understand the claims the company is making. If a pill could truly make someone lose 20 pounds in three days everyone would be taking it. Temper your expectations with common sense. Any supplement that claims it can help you shed pounds without a shift in lifestyle such as eating better and more activity is probably bogus. Once you’ve narrowed the field look for third party certifications. There are independent organizations and agencies that evaluate, rank and certify nutritional supplements such as NSF, Consumer Lab, USP, and Labdoor. Some brands will have the seal on the bottle while others don’t. Keep in mind that if a particular product doesn’t appear on one of these sites, it doesn’t necessarily mean its fraudulent. The manufacturer may not have submitted yet. Learn why on their site. There are some good supplements that don’t go the extra mile for the certifications for many reasons. If they have current contact information (phone number, address, email, etc) and someone answers, that may be a good sign, so ask your questions. What about the Doctor Certified seal? Read for yourself, they don’t review the product they review the website content. Again, it doesn’t make them crooks but you need to understand the marketing behind the products.
Rely on consumer reviews but with a grain of salt. Everybody’s body is different. What works great for one person may not work for another. It doesn’t mean the supplement is fraudulent it means it probably wasn’t the right pill for the right reason; or the necessary lifestyle changes weren’t included. Also check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.
Stay away from celebrity endorsed products. Chances are the celebrity has no idea their name and image is being used to promote the product. You can easily find out if the celebrity is really connected with a product. For example, we know Oprah is associated with Weight Watchers. We see the ads. Celebrities get paid a lot of money for advertisements. If a company was paying them to endorse their product it would be everywhere because they want the most bang for their buck.
Don’t chase the fad. Remember your body has a specific need that is not being fulfilled. Your body doesn’t care about the latest super food buzz word. The body is pretty simple. The problem is the body can’t tell you what the problem is, but chasing fads won’t help you. If you can, get blood tests done to show where you have deficiencies. Did you know, for example, that sometimes your hunger is really thirst? Instead of reaching for an appetite suppressant you should be reaching for a glass of water. A small tweek in your food intake can make a huge difference.
Popping The Pill
After you’ve consulted with a physician and done your homework on your chosen supplement the next phase is to stick with it. Take the pills as indicated by the manufacturer and make the appropriate lifestyle changes. Hint: if there were no associated lifestyle changes you picked wrong, start over. Your body will need time to adjust before you see results. Some people will see results immediately while others may see them in a few weeks. Give it at least three months consistently before putting the bottle in the back of the cabinet. The reverse is also true. If you take a pill and lose 10 pounds in one week, please have that checked by a doctor. There may be other reasons you’ve lost that much weight so quickly. Some experts believe people should lose weight slowly (1-2 pounds a week) while others feel there is no adverse impact if you lose more quickly.
Regardless, the point of this point is to help you make good choices that serve you. Supplements can play a role in our healthy lifestyle journey, but they are meant to help not do all of the work. We still have to go to crossfit, eat right and know our numbers. Black women are more likely than any other ethnic group to be overweight or obese. That makes the black female community particularly vulnerable to weight loss scams that target our demographic. Don’t be taken in by fancy marketing, understand how to navigate the weight loss supplement market to make the best choice for you. Many of these supplements are so expensive that making the wrong choice can not only negatively impact your health, but also your wallet.
Did you find this post helpful? Do you have any recommendations for weight loss supplements that have worked or a warning about those that haven’t? Share this post and comment below and let us know your experience. We love to hear from you.
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