Why I Encourage Supplement Industry to Stop Selling Weight Loss Cures
A web search of the term “weight loss supplements” will deliver more than 57 million results. You get nearly 8 million hits if you customize your search to “magic weight loss supplements.” There are even weight loss supplements specifically aimed at children!10
Some of the promotions claim their supplements are “magic;” others have “magic” in their names. Either way, the word “magic” implies that these supplements work like magic with little or no effort on your part. You can just go on living as you have in the past—even though that’s what contributed to or caused your weight gain in the first place.
Yet other supplements are advertised as “magic” pills that can help you build a healthy body by increasing muscle mass.11, 12 Here, body builders tend to be the main audience. Despite all the intense work body builders put into building their bodies, many are still looking for that outside “magic” to give them a leg up on the competition... In reality, this approach rarely if ever works. The supplement industry is in the health business—at least theoretically, they should be.
And as proponents of health, it would behoove them to act in the best interest of not just their customers, but also of the nutraceutical industry at large. “Magic” weight loss pills are more or less a nod to the pharmaceutical band-aid mentality, and actually run counter to the idea of a healthy lifestyle. This is why I stopped selling weight loss supplements, and it’s why I encourage others to stop selling them as well, and to truly embrace proper diet and lifestyle as the answer.
Intermittent fasting, for example, is an incredibly helpful strategy that will produce far better results than any diet pill ever will. The idea that you can just pop a pill and shed excess pounds is Polyanna thinking at its best. In the long run, you can run into problems, especially if the product contains potentially hazardous ingredients—again, most of which tend to be pharmaceuticals.
Most Weight Loss Products Are Stimulants, Like 'Coffee in a Pill'
While surveys13 have determined that use of weight loss supplements is common in the US, studies repeatedly fail to support their efficacy and safety, both in children14 and adults. The most commonly used weight loss supplements15 contain caffeine, ephedra, or ephedra-like substances such as bitter orange to “rev-up” your metabolism. This means you’ll either have trouble sleeping and/or you’ll experience the inevitable crash after the rev-up—hardly the effects you’d expect from a healthy lifestyle.
These types of stimulants can be particularly dangerous for people who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or are taking blood pressure medication. As just one example, Metabosyn,16 hailed as “the most powerful diet pill reviewed,” according to Diet Pill Digest, claims to boost metabolism and reduce appetite. However, it also carries a warning: if you’re sensitive to stimulants, don’t take it.
It’s important to realize that simply loading up on stimulants like caffeine is NOT going to improve your health, even if it helps you lose a few pounds. From my perspective, the cost is just too high—especially in light of the fact that if you eat right and exercise, you will have all the energy you need, and you’ll lose weight, without any of the adverse side effects you might experience when taking a stimulant.
You’re Paying for the Dream...Other weight loss supplements are little more than vitamins and colon cleansers in disguise. Besides the stimulants mentioned, other common “weight loss” ingredients17 include chromium, chitosan, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), ginseng, green tea, hydroxycitric acid, L-carnitine, psyllium (fiber), and St. John’s wort. Basically, you’re just paying extra for the “magic” label. Two examples of the latest diet pill fads that are little more than rip-offs are coconut oil capsules18 and Apple Cider Vinegar Plus.19
Why take a pill when you can reap all the benefits by consuming the actual food?! Ditto for CLA, which you get from grass-fed beef, or green tea, which you can savor by the cup rather than by the pill.
Besides, eating the food will ensure optimal absorption—a critical factor that can be iffy depending on the capsule used for the supplement in question. A 2012 article in Forbes Magazine20 listed weight loss supplements with top scientific ratings, and the majority of these contain active ingredients that are ideally obtained from whole food. In essence, if you eat right, you don’t need a weight loss supplement
For Weight Loss, Focus on Your Diet First...As noted earlier, nutritional supplements can be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle by helping you address specific nutritional deficiencies for example. My stance is that they should not be used in lieu of a healthy diet however. As their name implies, they are supplemental to an otherwise healthy diet. That said, I no longer recommend weight loss supplements and “energy boosters,” as I do not believe they “fit” into a truly healthy lifestyle scheme. Not only are they potentially hazardous, but I believe they are ultimately unnecessary, provided you’re eating the right foods and, ideally, intermittently fasting. As described at length in other articles, to lose weight, you need to:
- Avoid sugar, processed fructose, and grains if you are insulin and leptin resistant. This effectively means you must avoid most processed foods
- Eat a healthy diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:
- Large amounts of fresh organic locally grown vegetables
- Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals)
- As much high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Most people actually need upwards of 50-85 percent fats in their diet for optimal health—a far cry from the 10 percent currently recommended.
How Do You Determine Whether a Supplement Is of High Quality?
If you want to use a vitamin or herbal supplement, you’d be well advised to make sure you’re buying a high-quality product—if not for the reason of safety, then for the reason of maximizing your health benefits. Here are some general guidelines for selecting a high-quality dietary supplement:
Remember, if you are interested in optimizing your health and losing weight in the process, your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and eat a wide variety of whole organic foods. You can use my free nutrition plan and work your way up to the advanced stage. Once you have addressed your diet and are looking for further improvement, odds are you might benefit from some supplements, such as animal-based omega-3 supplement and a probiotic for example. There are many others you could then consider depending on your specific circumstances, including a high-quality multivitamin, additional antioxidant support, and others.
- It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
- Independent third-party labs check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025, and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
- It works! I always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high-quality products that produce good clinical results.
Sources and References
- 1 Claire McCaskill June 10, 2014
- 2 The Atlantic June 18, 2014
- 3 Dr. Oz, Belly Melt Tips
- 4 FDA.gov, Dietary Supplements
- 5 FDA.gov, Recall February 4, 2014
- 6 New York Times December 21, 2013
- 7 Orthomolecular.org June 14, 2011
- 8 FTC.gov
- 9 CNN Health January 8, 2014
- 10 JuniorSlim
- 11 White Magic ECDY98
- 12 Dopamite
- 13 Obesity 2008 Apr;16(4):790-6
- 14 Can Fam Physician. Mar 2009; 55(3): 257–259
- 15 J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):441-7
- 16 Metabosyn
- 17 Am Fam Physician. 2004 Nov 1;70(9):1731-8
- 18 Coconut Oil Capsules
- 19 Apple Cider Vinegar Plus
- 20 Forbes October 1, 2012
- 21 Self July 25, 2011
- 22 Healthy Eating SFGate, White Kidney Beans
- 23 Orthomolecular.org June 14, 2011