There are a lot of products available today proclaiming to help you lose weight. Sadly, the majority offer little to nothing and are based on nothing more than hearsay, biased research (funded by someone with a financial interest in the product), or in some cases, has claims that are completely made up with absolutely no basis whatsoever.
Ultimately, each weight loss product falls into one or more of these types of categories:
- Reduces appetite, tricking your body into thinking it is more full than it is, thereby reducing appetite. In the process, you will tend to consume less calories throughout your day.
- Reduces absorption of calories, typically fat, again as with #1, causing you to consume less calories.
- Increase the metabolism, making you burn more calories and thereby losing weight.
Since not all products live up to the hype, let’s take a look at a few different popular products on the market today:
This product has been around in some variation or another for over 10 years now. As far as its efficacy, this has changed over the years just as its ingredients have. There are also multiple variations of this product, though the most prominent one goes by the basic “Hydroxycut” name.
The Claim: Suppresses the appetite and increases the metabolism.
The Research: One large study showed an average weight loss of 21 pounds over a three-month period. Users have also ranted and raved for years about the “Hydroxycut Hardcore” version, even professional athletes.
Conclusion: This one seems to work. Just be careful with dosing and start out slow, as the stimulants may be too much at first.
Garcinia Cambogia Extract
This product gained its popularity through the Dr. Oz show a few years ago. It is obtained from a small, green colored fruit, in a shape similar to a pumpkin. The actual active ingredient found in these products is a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) extracted from the skin of these fruit.
The Claim: Animal research showed it inhibited an enzyme that produces fat in the body and that the product also suppressed the appetite.
The Research: One large, double-blind study on this dietary product found that the placebo showed the same results as did the extract. Another study lacking a double-blind control group concluded with the subjects losing an average of only two pounds over the course of several weeks, which was most likely a placebo effect.
Conclusion: Don’t trust everything you see on television. Just because someone is a celebrity does not mean they are not credulous or susceptible to bribery from businesses. This product is a waste of money.
On a global scale, caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance. It is most commonly found in common household items such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, as well as many products that have these items as an ingredient.
The Claim: Caffeine is boasted as not only a stimulant that boosts the metabolism, but to suppress appetite, improve memory, and even prevent mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The Research: Studies have shown that caffeine can boost the metabolism by as much as 3-11% in the short-term. However, the body quickly adapts to this and in time, actually becomes dependent on the caffeine as it slows down the body’s metabolism to compensate. So while it works well for a short period of time, in the long run, its efficacy quickly declines.
On an additional positive note, its preventative qualities against mental disease have been shown to be fairly substantial in multiple studies. Some studies pertaining to memory also show that it is effective in improving some aspects of memory and cognitive function.
Conclusion: While it may not get you shedding a ton of pounds, it can certainly be a good way to kick start a weight loss routine or something you can consume in moderation for its other health benefits.
Orlistat (Sold by the product name Alli)
Orlistat is an over-the-counter pharmaceutical drug. It also has a prescription counterpart, Xenical.
The Claim: This product claims to inhibit the breakdown of fat in the body, making your body consume less of the calories taken in from fat.
The Research: There are at least a dozen different double-blind studies on this product that have proven its effectiveness in helping an individual to lose weight. While the difference between the product results and placebos varied amongst the studies, the results were consistently conclusive and significant.
An additional benefit of this product is that it helps to reduce blood pressure to a moderate extent and also reduces the risk of type II diabetes.
While this product undoubtedly works, it is not without any consequences. It has a long list of side-effects, such as oily and loose stools (due to the fat not being digested by the body), gas, uncontrolled bowel movements, and an inhibition of the digestion of several vitamins and minerals.
Conclusion: Due to the side-effects of this product, one must take caution when choosing to use this as part of a weight loss program.