Weight Loss Product Myths

If only there were a magic pill, a spell or a drink in a bottle that would take all the willpower and work out of weight loss!

The illusion that such a chemical concoction exists is partly why the American diet industry is a multi-million dollar operation. But don’t be fooled: even products that are approved by the FDA as bonafide aids to weight loss are completely useless unless you’re willing to do the work to make healthy lifestyle changes, too.

An Overview of Popular Products

A good step toward choosing a healthier lifestyle is simply becoming an informed consumer. Reading labels and paying attention to the products and foods you consume is a way of getting smart about what you put in your body. Similarly, being informed can help you protect yourself against diet scams and fraudulent advertising.

Here are a few categories of weight loss products that it pays to research before purchasing. Find out which ones may actually help you to lose pounds and which will only lose you money!

Diet Pills and Patches

Unfortunately, diet pills are not subject to the same stringent regulations as regular drugs and prescriptions sold over the counter.

Thus, it’s especially important to be aware of false advertising when purchasing these products. The Internet is rife with diet pill scams. Although the FDA can take a product off the market if it’s proven to have harmful effects, plenty of harmless, yet ineffective pills currently on the market slip under the radar and into consumers’ hands.

The best way to discern whether a diet pill or patch is worthy of your investment is to note its name and the ingredients and check it out with your doctor next time you’re in for a visit. This is especially important if you’re taking other medications because, with unauthorized drugs, there’s no telling what kind of negative chemical interactions or side effects may result. Before you make a purchase, be sure you understand the potential effects of a diet pill or patch.

Dangerous Diet Aids Banned by the FDA

According to Consumer Reports, only two diet aids have ever been banned in the United States. After several deaths related to the herbal supplement ephedra, the FDA banned it in 2003. In 2004, the FDA banned androstenedione, a body-building supplement.

Diet Supplements

Diet supplements are often marketed as the natural way to lose weight. In 2006 alone, Americans spent $22 billion on diet supplements, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

The problem with many diet supplements is that it’s difficult to know what’s actually in them. Unlike prescription drugs, there aren’t any laws concerning the disclosure of supplements’ ingredients. Most pills contain a variety of different ingredients, including:

  • chemical additions (such as laxatives or caffeine)
  • herbs
  • minerals
  • plant extracts
  • vitamins.

There’s often no way of telling how these combinations of ingredients may interact in your body or interfere with other medications you’re taking.

Keep in mind also that any ingredient may be touted as herbal and natural but may cause adverse side effects in certain individuals. Bitter orange, for example, is an herbal supplement that contains a chemical similar to ephedrine, found in ephedra, and can cause high blood pressure and arrhythmias (heart rhythm disturbances). To avoid developing negative health complications, research products you are considering taking and consult your physician before taking any diet supplements.

Hypnotherapy Weight Loss

Hypnosis is a trance-like state in which attention is more focused and the mind is more relaxed and open to suggestion.

Hypnosis can be used to help individuals overcome destructive behavior patterns or rid themselves of unhealthy habits. While researchers are not entirely clear about how hypnosis works, according to preliminary studies, it may have some effect on changing unhealthy behavior patterns like overeating.

Hypnotherapy should always be performed by a professional. Results seem to be most effective when the patient is committed to making additional diet or lifestyle changes in addition to undergoing the hypnotherapy weight loss.

Meal Replacements

The basic rule for losing weight is that you have to take in fewer calories than you consume. Meal replacements involve eating shakes, soups and bars in the place of one or two meals a day. Most meal replacement programs also allow for a light, healthy dinner containing no more than 600-700 calories.

Meal replacements should contain less than 400 calories and must be nutritionally complete. Although they are not intended to provide a long-term alternative to regular meals, many dieters report short-term weight loss success by using meal replacements.

Prepared Meals

Food Technology recently published a study on pre-prepared, convenience and takeout foods. The study showed that these foods have become commonplace on American dinner tables. While most Americans eat dinner at home, only one in three cooks from scratch, according the study.

The quality of prepared meals varies greatly from brand to brand. Consumers should always consult nutrition information and avoid high-calorie or junk foods when selecting prepared meals.

With our busy lifestyles it can be difficult to make time for reading labels, asking questions, and making informed decisions. But in the long run, such caution and consideration pays off. Making healthy choices about how we diet and what we put in our bodies greatly impacts the quality and length of our lives!