Supplements Info & News

Really, Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?

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Surprising Findings From Weight Loss Supplements Study

Do weight loss supplements work?One of the most frequently asked question about diet and weight loss is, do weight loss supplements work? The idea of popping a pill or two a day and then seeing all that fat melt away is alluring indeed. But it is not that simple (is it ever).

There are basically three types of fat loss supplements. (We prefer the term “fat loss” over “weight loss” because you can actually lose weight by losing water or muscle, which in many cases is not healthy.) The word here is “basically” as there are many more types. The three basic types of fat loss products are:

  • Thermogenics: These work by raising metabolic functioning via stimulants such as, caffeine, ginger, or ephedra. Since ephedra is banned in the US, synephrine is often used as an alternative.
  • Appetite suppressants: Needless to explain, this are supposed to help you lose weight by curbing your appetite. Eating less means less calorie consumption, which can lead weight loss.
  • Body composition changers: These are supposed to work by increasing lean mass (muscle) and reducing fat.

Maybe I should mention a fourth type though it is more of a drug than a supplement. This type works by preventing digestion and absorption of fat, which is then excreted in stool.

The first two types of weight loss supplements (thermogenics and appetite suppressants) are perhaps the most commonly used. Some popular weight loss supplements are cross between the two. But back to the question, do weight loss supplements work?

According to a recent study, weight loss supplements work modestly if at all. Okay, don’t leave now as the story is a little more complicated than that.

Of the hundreds of products reviewed by Oregon State University researcher Melinda Manore, many were scrutinized in randomized clinical trials to prove their effectiveness, and only a few products — such as green tea, fibre and low-fat dairy supplements — resulted in a modest weight loss compared to placebo groups.

Manore, whose study was published in Tuesday’s online International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, also notes that most of the supplements that had any weight-loss benefit were also tested as part of a reduced-calorie diet, meaning purchasing such products usually amounted to a waste of money.

“There is no strong research evidence indicating that one specific supplement will produce significant weight loss, especially long term,” her study concludes. “Some foods or supplements … may complement a healthy lifestyle to produce small weight losses and/or prevent weight gain over time.”

“For most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact,” Manore, a professor of nutrition and exercise sciences who is on the science board for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, said in a release.

The full story is posted at CBC News. However, even without having to do extensive studies (and with all due respect to people who did the study), we have held that supplements are not magic pills. Just as you cannot simply take muscle supplements and to build muscle, you cannot simply pop some pills and expect to lose weight. Proper diet and exercise should always be part of the equation.

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