Weight loss is never easy or quick. For those of us who have struggled with portion control and counting calories, the thought of living the rest of our lives under these tight constraints can be daunting.
Yes, if you have ever been overweight it will be much harder for you to maintain your weight loss because your fat cells will always be there just waiting for you to slip up. And yes, if you are trying to lose vanity weight to look like the models on the cover of fitness magazines it will be equally as challenging to keep the extra pounds off.
The good news is that weight loss supplements can help. The Mayo Clinic has found that the right over-the-counter pills can result in statistically significant weight loss. This can be the difference between a successful weight loss and falling back into your old habits because you just can’t see a difference even after committing to your lifestyle changes. So if you’re looking to give yours efforts an extra boost and maybe give yourself a little more motivation to carry on, let’s take a look at what’s out there.
With anything concerning weight loss, I like to give a disclaimer on eating disorders first. For this category, eating disorders often start with laxatives. Of course laxatives can help you to lose weight because they help to usher the calories that you do take in quickly out of your body barring some of their absorption. They can even make you feel good if you’re coming off a diet of processed junk foods. However, long-term use of non-prescription laxatives can result in an eating disorder much like bulimia but for the other end.
Assess your intentions if you are drawn to these products. If you are honest with yourself and you just want the cleanse feeling they provide to start off your diet right, then go for it. Limit yourself to one week, otherwise you may start developing vitamin deficiencies due to your body having inadequate time to absorb your nutrients.
After your week is over, consider switching to fiber-rich foods or fiber supplements. They will continue to allow you to have that “light” feeling while maintaining your weight loss without the consequences of chronic laxative use. For instance, long-term laxative use can cause you to require more invasive methods of stool loosening if you do need them for a medical reasons (if this doesn’t persuade you, just type fecal impaction removal into your search bar because you will never be the same again).
Also, fiber allows you to control your bowel movements better than laxatives, which brings us to a very important warning. Laxative use may cause you to lose control of your bowel movements. If you do want to cleanse this way, consider doing it during a holiday weekend or when you have time to lounge around at home while avoiding public situations- just in case.
Calorie-blockers are another popular option for weight loss. They are thought to act on your pancreas or the enzymes it releases to prevent your body from breaking down nutrients and absorbing them. They sound good, but they rarely live up to their promises. However, prescription weight loss pills can (see below). So why do people continue to waste their money on products that don’t work? First, people get desperate and are willing to pay and do anything to try to lose weight. Never let yourself get to this point.
You can make the choice to get healthy at any point, it’s never too late and you can do it. Just stick it out the right way and you and your body will be much better off in the long run. Second, they usually end up causing loose stool which mimics the effects of fiber. Skip the junk and enjoy the benefits of regular bowel movements the healthy way.
Who doesn’t want to burn up the ultimate enemy to their health goals? Fat oxidizers, like calorie-blockers, are another tempting option. However, these can actually work! Coffee and tea have been found to have the greatest impact on fat burn, even with long-term use. Conjugated linoleic acid has a more minimal impact, but if it is an additional ingredient to the ones that work, then you might want to choose that supplement.
As always, when anything you take has caffeine, make sure you combat its diuretic effect by drinking extra water so you don’t get dehydrated (see more details in Thermogenesis below). But balancing the stimulant with adequate water intake will leave you feeling and looking amazing!
More fantastic news! Thermogenic weight loss supplements can work. I have used them myself and actually enjoy the feeling of producing extra body heat. However, if you are the type of person who is already frustrated or self-conscious about your body sweat, you might want to choose a different supplement option. So how exactly of thermogenics work?
Well, they are usually stimulants. Caffeine has been shown to be the most effective one. They cause an increase in your resting energy expenditure for up to four hours after you take them. Because they are a stimulant, they also allow you to feel energized when you might otherwise be struggling to get motivated to workout.
However, they do increase your heart rate and blood pressure which is a concern if you have medical difficulties with either. Also, you can overdose on this supplement. You should always limit yourself to less than 400mg per day. Don’t get tempted to take more. Also, it is harder to overdose when you are taking in a natural form (such as a cup of coffee) as opposed to supplement pills where it is easier to lose track of how much you’re putting in your body.
To help limit your risk of taking too much, always drink an extra 8oz of water for every cup of caffeine you have (or for every 95mg of caffeine you take). This should be in addition to the 64oz you are drinking every day, regardless. If you start feeling like your heart is fluttering in your chest or you start to vomit, see a doctor immediately.
Sadly, there is no research stating that any of the appetite suppressants out there work. Hunger is one of the greatest enemies to any weight loss; however, as far as supplements are concerned there is little you can do to spare yourself from it. This means you must take different steps to minimize the barriers to your weight loss.
As always, the first one is to drink water. If you feel hungry try drinking water first. We often confuse our thirst sensation for hunger- don’t let it fool you. Also, getting plenty of sleep helps you to eat the right amount of calories. You won’t try to compensate for your lack of sleep with quick-energy foods like sugar.
Next, try a little bit of physical activity. Light exercise works as an appetite suppressant; however, more intense workouts will most likely just amplify your hunger.
Also, try to avoid situations that cue you to eat. Eating is obviously critical to our survival. As such, our bodies and minds are very susceptible to seeing food (even on a billboard) and smelling food. You can try stepping away from the TV during commercial breaks to do something active while avoiding not-so-subtle temptations they shove at you. You might even want to take a different path at work to avoid walking by the cafeteria during non-meal times. Essentially, try to avoid temptations as best as you can within realistic parameters for you.
If all else fails, give yourself a health out. Have fruits and veggies available in case your defenses do fall and you need something right away. They worst thing you can do to yourself is to let hunger hit and end up binging out because you didn’t have a plan ready. Don’t let hunger get the best of you.
Prescription weight loss pills can do what calorie-blockers promise to. However, your doctor will only prescribe them if you are truly overweight, not if you’re just trying to lose a few extra pounds. There are typically two different dosage options. Taking 120mg, which is the highest, should prevent 30% of the fat you eat from being digested/absorbed. Taking only 60mg still gets you a 25% reduction, so it mostly depends on your weight loss needs for how aggressive the dosage will be. Obviously the lower dosage comes with less risk for side effects.
Also, if you choose this option you need to be prepared to make the necessary dietary changes. You cannot eat more fat when taking these prescriptions just because they keep you from absorbing all of it. High fat diets put you at a higher risk of experiencing the negative side effects of these pills.
Lesser forms of these prescription ingredients are available over-the-counter; however, some stores have a weigh-in policy before allowing you to purchase them. Keep in mind these are meant to be short-term solutions for truly obese people who struggle with weight loss and need to lose weight for their health. If you do not fall into that category, go for one of the other effective supplement options.
Losing the Loose Skin
It’s always great to lose the extra pounds that are keeping you from your ultimate health goals; however, it is not without its own potential side effects. One of the biggest complaints with weight loss, especially loss that is sped up by supplement use, is loose skin.
This can be psychologically detrimental, especially if you’re having a difficult time accepting your new body. Excess skin is mostly dependent on your age, genetics, and how long you were at your previous weight (the longer you were at that weight, the more likely you are to have loose skin). Working out and gaining muscle bulk can help fill out some of the loose skin in a desirable way.
Obviously this requires strength training; however, not everyone enjoys high weight, low repetition exercises because they are more intense. Also, if you were previously obese you’ll need your doctor’s clearance before jumping into such an intense exercise program. A more extreme option is surgery, but this is typically only chosen by those whose excess skin truly impacts their daily activities like walking and exercising. Also, many surgeons require that you have to keep the weight off for 6 whole months to even be eligible.
Some weight loss success stories swear by collagen supplements. There isn’t much research backing up their claims; however, collagen comes with few health risks. So as long as your wallet can tolerate it you might want to go for this option. Also, some health companies have products like aminogen which is thought to help keep skin tight during weight loss.
This has mostly been found in Japanese research, which is a good sign. However, Japanese diets differ from American ones so the translation of results might not occur. Depending on your situation, your best option might just be to look the best you can. Try exfoliating scrubs that have coffee grounds that will slightly dehydrate skin to allow it to look more taught. Moisturize your skin every day to keep it supple. Use powders afterwards to help keep any folds dry during the day to prevent rashes and excess sweat. Your most beautiful body is a healthy one. Embrace your hard work and don’t be afraid to own what you have.
1. Acheson, K. J., Zahorska-Markiewicz, B., Pittet, P., Anantharaman, K., & Jequier, E. (1980). Caffeine and coffee: Their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 33(5), 989-997.
2. Mayo Clinic. (2016). Over-the-counter weight-loss pills. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/helath-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20046409
3. MedlinePlus. (2016). Orlistat. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601244.html
4. Outlaw, J., Wilborn, C., Smith, A., Urbina, S., Hayward, S., Foster, C., … Taylor, L. (2013). Effects of ingestion of a commercially available thermogenic dietary supplement on resting energy expenditure, mood state, and cardiovascular measures. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(25). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651299/
5. Zhong, L., Furne, J. K., Levitt, M., D. (2006). An extract of black, green, and mulberry teas causes malabsorption of carbohydrate but not of triacylglycerol in healthy volunteers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.