Losing weight requires a lot of dedication and hard work and may involve physical and emotional costs. It is hardly surprising that many prefer the easy route by taking weight loss supplements.
While almost all weight loss supplements are marketed as beneficial for the body, some may actually be harmful to one’s health. Nutrition experts debunk certain claims about weight-loss supplements and reveal possible health risks.
Myth: Weight loss supplements are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Fact: The US FDA does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. It only steps in when a “dietary supplement” is found to contain harmful substances.
Myth: Weight loss supplements alone are enough to lose pounds.
Fact: Weight loss supplements cannot substitute for healthy eating and regular exercise. Many weight loss supplements’ labels include a disclaimer that they do not guarantee a specific weight loss benefit, that individual results may vary and, to get the most benefit, they must be combined with proper diet and exercise.
Myth: Supplements like hoodia, green tea, and bitter orange aid in weight loss.
Fact: Green tea, bitter orange, and the African herb hoodia have not been scientifically proven to burn fat. In fact, hoodia has not been studied in humans. It is also unclear if it curbs appetite. Green tea contains a fair amount of caffeine, which may result in some weight loss initially, but it will not burn fat. Too much caffeine can affect the heart rhythm and disturb sleep. Bitter orange has synephrine, an alkaloid found in plants, which can be dangerous to health as it increases heart rate and blood pressure.
Myth: ‘Natural’ is safe.
Truth: Some weight loss supplements containing “natural” ingredients like herbs comfrey or kava may be harmful to the liver. Claims that “natural is safe” is not always true. Safety depends on the supplement’s chemical makeup and what it does to the body, how it is prepared and the dosage used. Also, while an individual supplement may be safe, the combination of several products may be risky. People under medication are advised to consult their doctor first before taking any weight loss supplements as they may affect the efficacy of medicines.