Fifty percent of all adult Americans and 80 percent of teenagers admit to being on a diet at any point during the year. The quest for thin is apparently still “in” and going strong.
Statistics like that are staggering and are the main, driving force behind the thousands of weight-loss supplements readily available over the counter at any pharmacy or health store.
But it’s tough to make any sense out of this diet mess we’re in. Which supplements can you trust and what should you take, and how often? What works for you may not work for the next dieter. In reality, we purchase things that are well advertised and have visually attractive bottles. And the pill manufacturers know and take advantage of this little fact; we, as Americans, are not well versed in using dietary supplements correctly.
If you’re reading this article, there’s a distinct chance you’re on a diet of some kind and a strong possibility you’re using a dietary supplement. It’s always important to be an educated consumer, so read on to see how diet pills work and if they’re right for you.
The active ingredient
is almost always caffeine. It’s a major component to the success of diet pills. Hyper-stimulate the body — fool it into having more energy. Depending on the supplement brand, there may be more caffeine in a single pill than in an entire medium cup of joe. And many brands call for two pills before meals. How much coffee did you want to drink again?
Generic stimulants, such as caffeine and in some drugs ephedra, are used to combat fatigue. Fatigue is a common side effect of diets (especi
ally intense ones). Lowering sugar intake, which is akin to most diets, reduces energy levels drastically, leaving you feeling a little down. Very few vitamin or stimulating additives will replace your energy like good nutrition.
Essential vitamins and minerals
vary depending on who you are. If there’s any chance your kidneys or liver aren’t functioning at their best, you need to check with your doctor before loading up. Supersaturating yourself with vitamins A through Z doesn’t do anything more than taking the FDA’s recommended daily dose — now that’s a vitamin for thought. Chromium picolonate isn’t the fat burner it’s claimed to be. Outdated research mildly suggested that chromium may speed up your metabolism — and it does; it has about as much of an effect as adding a little lemon juice to a glass of water. Lemons are a natural metabolism stimulant. Hopefully there will be some lemons left when you go to the supermarket.
Rebuilding your muscles with amino acids is a critical step in keeping yourself healthy, but it doesn’t have to come in pill form. Humans need naturally occurring amino acids such as the ones found in most meats, specifically steak, and vegetarians can get them through various protein-based products. So don’t get too excited when you read the phrase on the bottle indicating there are non-naturally occurring amino acids inside — your body can’t use them anyhow.
Gloucester resident Joe DiVincenzo is a physical therapist and clinical specialist in manual therapy. He writes “On the Mend” weekly. Questions may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org