eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource
It is pretty safe to
say that the majority of the population would like to be in good physical
Of all of those who desire to have a great
body (which is basically everyone), an even greater majority of these people
would like to achieve this with as little effort as possible. If safe,
effective weight loss was as simple as swallowing a "magic pill" there would be
no fat people walking around.
A diet pill seems like the answer, but in
reality these drugs can be very dangerous. For example, a commonly used
appetite suppressant, phenylpropanolamine (an ingredient in Dexatrim and
Acutrim), was recently taken off the market when studies showed that it is
associated with an increased incidence of stroke. If you have any of these
products at home, you should throw them away immediately.
Many other over-the-counter weight loss
products contain ephedrine. Herbal supplements may list this ingredient as ma
huang or ephedra. Claims have been made that this substance increases
metabolism thereby causing weight loss. But medical reports have linked
ephedrine with dangerous increases in blood pressure, palpitations, heart
arrhythmias, and seizures.
Many products containing ephedrine are sold
as "food supplements" and not as medicines, which are regulated by the Food and
Drug Administration. This means that the manufacturers of food supplements are
not held to the same safety standards as those that produce
Ephedrine is one of the main ingredients in
todays most popular thermogenics -- products that stimulate
thermogenesis. There are literally tons of thermogenics out there. Some of the
more popular ones are Hydroxycut, Xenadrine, Ripped Fuel, GNC Herbal Rush,
Diet-Phen, and Metabolift.
It should also be noted that in most of
these products ephedrine is combined with caffeine to produce even greater
Thermogenesis is a normal chemical reaction
that occurs in all human beings. Basically, your body does three things with
consumed calories: uses them to meet its daily energy needs; stores them for
future energy requirements; or wastes or burns calories in special cells in the
body known as Brown Adipose Tissue, (BAT). This process is called
thermogenesis, which means the generation of heat.
While thermogenesis works along with the
metabolic process, it is different. Fat buildup occurs primarily when the BAT
cells are not working right or not being activated often enough. The body deals
with the excess dietary calories by storing them as body fat. The function of
the BAT cells is to burn the calories your body doesn't need.
It can be concluded from the research
regarding herbal stimulants that the term "natural" is not necessarily
synonymous with "safe." Given the questionable ingredients of popular dietary
supplements, it is wise for consumers to be cautious about taking them. People
should always consult their physicians prior to taking any supplement,
especially if they are currently taking prescribed medications.
In addition, none of the aforementioned
products will provide benefits for weight loss without the incorporation of
proper dieting and exercise.
Dr. Nancy Tice is a psychiatrist with
extensive experience furnishing medical information and writing articles for
online services. She did her medical training at The Albert Einstein College of
Medicine in New York. She moderates her own support group called "Rx for
Success," writes articles for the
newsletters, holds online meetings and answers questions in our Expert