Do Fat Loss Pills Really Work?

Are these "weight-loss" miracles all they claim to be?

When it comes to fat loss pills, remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The pitch for most “fat burning” products on the market would like you to believe they’re the fastest, easiest way to lose unwanted fat. The problem is, there are few conclusive studies to prove or disprove their safety and effectiveness. So, if you’re thinking about giving fat-loss supplements a try, proceed with caution. Here are some things to consider.

What are fat pills?

Fat loss pills are supplements that claim to work in three ways: by blocking fat absorption, increasing your body’s fat burning capability or by suppressing your appetite.

  • Blocking Fat Absorption: Products containing orlistat or chitosan supposedly prevent your body from digesting some of the fat you consume by attaching to enzymes that break down your food.

  • Increasing Metabolism: Pills with ingredients like ephedrine, caffeine, synephrine or bitter orange stimulate the nervous system, boosting metabolism to help you burn more fat.

  • Suppressing Appetite: Supplements containing ingredients like phentermine hydrochloride, sibutramine hydrochloride monohydrate or hoodia are designed to trigger specific neurotransmitters which then send a signal to the hypothalamus to curb your hunger.

The dangers of fat pills

It’s important to remember that most fat pills are not subject to the same stringent testing and standards as prescription drugs or medications, and they may very well cause an unhealthy reaction in your body. For example, those pills that claim to block fat absorption can cause serious bloating and diarrhea. These fat-blocking pills may also block your body's ability to absorb essential nutrients.

Pills that stimulate your nervous system can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. They can also cause insomnia. And, when you suppress your appetite, your metabolism also slows down and your body starts using stores of fat and muscle for fuel. Lowering metabolism and increasing muscle loss will actually reduce your body’s ability to burn fat long-term. And, as soon as you stop taking the pills, you’ll potentially gain even more weight.

Bottom line: There is no well-researched information on whether these so-called fat pills work, or how they may affect your body and health long-term. If you’re really serious about losing fat, there is much research proving the healthiest way is still through regular exercise and eating a well-balanced, reduced-calorie, high-fiber diet.

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