People spend an incredible amount of money on weight loss supplements, but are they really worth it? There are many different types of weight loss supplements, but they can generally be broken down into three categories: metabolism boosters, appetite suppressants, and supplements to prevent you from storing calories as fat. Naturally, there are some weight loss supplements that do not fall into any of these categories and some supplements fall under multiple categories, but for the sake of this article, these categories will cover the vast majority of weight loss products.
In truth, every weight loss product has some problems and if you have used these types of products in the past, there is a good chance you did not experience the results you wanted. Some of these disappointments are due to marketers making people think that taking a weight loss product will magically transform your body without effort, but no supplement can make up for poor nutrition and a lack of exercise. These supplements should ideally be used by people already trying to eat right and exercise consistently and if you are doing those things, the better supplements can improve your results a little more.
Of course, many weight loss supplements are essentially worthless and they will not improve your results regardless of how well you eat or how much you exercise. I would say that of the three groups listed above, the supplements designed to prevent your body from storing calories as fat are by in large the worst group of weight loss supplements. They are often promoted as being able to let you eat what you want and the supplement will absorb the calories instead of your body. This sounds potentially useful in theory, but these supplements never live up to their hype.
Perhaps the biggest problem with these supplements, other than them not doing what they promise, is they convey the message that you can lose fat without eating right or exercising. Any effective fat loss plan must include healthy eating and exercise and any product that suggests it can provide good results without you eating right or exercising is something you should definitely avoid.
The other problem with fat blocking supplements is even if they do work correctly and absorb some of the calories you eat, they also absorb vitamins and minerals, which is bad for your health and your ability to lose fat. In addition, the calories that are not stored as fat, still have to be processed and eventually passed through your system. Not only can this be demanding on your body, it can also be uncomfortable and the better the product works, the worse these effects become. The worst part is even when the product does what is should, it doesn't improve your fat loss results significantly, so the best thing to do is simply avoid these products altogether.
The other groups of weight loss products, metabolism boosters and appetite suppressants, are not quite as bad as the calorie absorbers, but they each have some definite problems of their own. They actually have some of the same functions and problems, so I will cover them together. In the most basic terms, weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume and both metabolism boosters and appetite suppressants work to shift the number of calories consumed or burned in favor of promoting weight loss.
Appetite suppressants promote weight loss by making you eat less, which naturally means you will not consume as many calories. Metabolism boosters work on the other part of the weight loss equation by stimulating your metabolism to burn more calories. They also tend to make people eat less, but not in the same way as appetite suppressants. By looking at what these products do, we can see how they can promote weight loss, but there are some significant issues with the way these products work.
One of the biggest problems with these supplements is they can help you lose some weight, but the positive results are usually short-term at best and in many cases people gain back all the weight or more when the stop taking the supplements. Taking appetite suppressants is essentially like being on a very low calorie diet, where you lose some weight at first simply because you are eating so much less than usual. However, your body will eventually shut down your metabolism as a way to conserve energy since you are not eating enough and weight loss can quickly come to a halt even if you don't consume many calories.
To make matters worse, when you stop taking the appetite suppressants, your body will basically try to make up for the lack of food you were eating by increasing your cravings and making you want to eat even more than before you were on the supplement. Naturally this can result in a significant amount of weight gain, especially since your body will try to store many of these calories as fat, in response to not getting enough calories while you were on the appetite suppressant.
Metabolism boosters have a fairly similar effect on your body, although since the supplement is actively trying to increase your metabolism, it helps prevent some of the metabolism decrease. However, metabolism boosters have other problems due to the way they work. The issue with these supplements is the most effective ones are stimulants, such as caffeine and ephedra. Stimulants certainly can increase your metabolism, but the results are very different from person to person.
One serving of a metabolism booster may have almost no effect on one person and it may keep another person up all night with a racing heart beat. Needless to say, taking the right dose is critical when using these products and some people should avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, as with appetite suppressants, even when these products work well, the results typically do not last very long.
The main reason is your body will get used to the supplement (habituated), sometimes very quickly, and then it requires higher doses to achieve the same effects. When this happens, you really have three choices about how to proceed. You can either increase the dosage of the supplement, keep taking the same amount, or stop taking it altogether. If you keep taking the same amount, you will not get the same benefits, so it not worth it. Then you are really left with two options.
When you increase the dosage, you may experience some additional positive benefits, but they will probably not last long and then you will be in the same situation as before. Some people keep trying to increase the dose, but this is really a bad idea and it can cause serious health problems. The final option of stopping the supplement is actually the best choice, because it allows your body to get the stimulants out of your system and essentially get back to normal.
This leads to the other problem with metabolism boosters, which is your body can have a rebound effect when you go off them, similar to what happens when you stop taking appetite suppressants. Typically, the longer you are on metabolism boosters and the higher dosages you use, the worse your body will react when you stop taking them. Again, this causes many people to regain the weight they lost while taking the supplement.
If you use a metabolism booster, the best thing to do is start with a dose that works and then stop taking it immediately when you stop having positive results. Then, your body should have a minimal reaction when you stop taking the supplement and you can focus on maintaining the weight you lost. After your body normalizes, you can try the supplement again and you may experience some additional benefits.
As a side note, I think metabolism boosters (stimulants) actually work better as performance enhancers than weight loss supplements, especially when you take them infrequently, so you body does not get used to their effects. By using them to improve the quality of your workouts you may even get better results than when you use them mainly to increase your metabolism to promote fat loss. In any case, you definitely want to be conservative with any stimulants, because they can easily do more harm than good.
I also want to point out that there is one other general problem with all weight loss supplements, which is people often use them as their primary means to lose weight, when they should be used as an addition to a healthy nutrition and exercise routine and never as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. If you are not doing the everyday things necessary to promote weight loss, then even the best weight loss supplements will be ineffective and a waste of money in the long-run.
In addition, if you cannot maintain your positive results after you stop supplementing, then you need to find a different strategy. None of the weight loss caused by supplementation matters if you are going to gain the weight back, especially when each time you lose and regain weight it becomes a little tougher to do the next time. That said, the better weight loss supplements can help improve your results to some degree, but they almost never produce the incredible results their marketing typically suggests.