A Magic Pill: What You Need to Know About Diet Pills

Don’t you wish you could be like Alice in Wonderland and drink a magic potion and you’d be smaller? Many diet aids claim to do just that. But before you go running to the diet aisle here are a few things you should know:


1. They are not evaluated or approved by the FDA. This means these products do not go under the same safety and efficacy scrutiny as a prescription you get filled from your friendly neighborhood pharmacist. If you are someone who has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other health conditions or are taking any prescription medications you definitely want to check with a doctor first before you start to take anything.


2. Do me a favor and take a box of any diet aid off the shelf. Most will say that it should be used in conjunction with diet and exercise. So how can you possibly know if it’s that high protein, high fiber diet and Zumba that’s doing the trick or your Hydroxycut? You may not have the same results your BFF has even if you are on the same diet and exercise regimen. The good news is that many products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee so if you are unhappy with the results hold on to the receipt and return it.


3. Well you’re going to be. Numerous diet aids contain caffeine or stimulants some with a serving size equivalent to three cups of coffee! For a caffeine novice like myself, I’d be bouncing off the walls! Those of you that frequent Starbucks may want to look elsewhere. It is recommended not to have any other caffeinated products while taking these aids. Caffeine is shown to increase your metabolism, but it also has negative effects including causing irregular or fast heart rate, insomnia, restlessness, jitteriness and increased blood pressure.


4. ….you’ll be running to the bathroom. Detox or cleanses or products like Mega-T contain laxative-like substances that can cause diarrhea. Alli, the only FDA approved product currently available, is like a strainer for fat. You will absorb some, just not all, the fat from what you eat, with the idea being the nasty side effects (loose oily stools) will help you choose a low-fat diet. The booklet provided with the starter kit actually tells you to bring an extra pair of pants with you to work! FYI-I wouldn’t eat a Big Mac and then take an Alli, plan to be in the bathroom if you do.

Diet pills are certainly not for everyone. If you need that little boost to reach your weight loss goal it might be something to consider. Is the diarrhea or jittery feeling worth how you will feel in your skinny jeans? For someone people it is. Take it from a person who has lost 100 pounds in nine months with diet and exercise. My recommendation as a health care professional is this: lifestyle modifications first, drugs second.


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