Losing weight can dramatically improve your emotional and physical health, but it's often a slow process. Millions of American adults use dietary supplements to lose weight, choosing a range of products that claim to decrease appetite, block fat absorption or increase metabolism. But with hundreds of products on the market, how do you determine which one to choose?
Here are some myths and facts about weight loss and weight-loss supplements that may help you cut through the clutter:
Fiction: You can lose weight fast ... and keep it off.
Fact: It takes time to lose weight safely, and keep it off. Losing a pound or two per week is actually an excellent rate of weight loss. If you lose any more than that, then it is very likely that the weight loss will not be permanent -- it will come right back. Rapid weight loss is not healthy -- it often means you are losing water and lean muscle mass, not the desired fat mass. Intense weight loss of more than three pounds per week over several consecutive weeks can be damaging to your organs and cause health problems.
Be cautious about promises of quick results, such as "lose 10 pounds in one week" or "this celebrity sprinkled her way to weight loss." If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for overblown claims on the label, such as "miracle fat burner" or "miracle cure." If you're unsure about a product, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Or, research the supplement manufacturer to see if they have conducted studies to support the claims they are making. If you are not making lifestyle changes as well, your weight loss is less likely to be maintained.
Fiction: You have to overhaul your diet and give up your favorite foods.
Fact: You don't have to overhaul your diet. In fact, studies have shown that making significant changes in your diet does not work over time. It is very hard to stick to diets, especially fad diets. Instead, simple changes work, including portion control (eating less) and moderate exercise. If you eat fast food, don't supersize.
Fiction: All weight-loss supplements are the same.
Fact: There are no magic pills, but there are a few (very few) good ones. Many weight loss supplements and products on the market have no scientific backing and just rely on hype. When choosing a weight loss supplement, look to see if there are scientific studies behind it and whether they have been published in a scientific journal. Look for products that base their claims on clinical evidence for the formulation they are selling. For example, there is limited, if any, clinical evidence to support many of the most popular weight loss ingredients, such as green coffee, raspberry ketones or HCG.
Also, be wary of side effects. Many supplements on the market contain stimulants. Avoid products with excessive levels of caffeine, which can cause increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Others cause gastrointestinal problems because they block the fat from entering your body. Check the label: If a supplement does not identify its ingredients or calls them a "secret formulation," steer clear of that supplement.