Overweight and obesity are by far the most prevalent lifestyle disorders. There are different vital factors such as genetics, eating habits, age, sex, stress, physical activity, and lifestyle habits that lead to obesity. There are various recognised solutions to prevent the fostering of lifestyle disorders.
For example, changing lifestyle patterns, food behaviour, following a healthy dietary regimen, and engaging in physical activities. But making diet and lifestyle changes is a long term commitment.
Many of us fall off the bandwagon because we are impatient or put ourselves through impossible regimens. Also, we want to see results quickly. So we tend to turn to weight loss dietary supplements hoping to achieve our weight goal easily.
Weight loss supplements are supplements promoted for weight loss without any possible significant changes in lifestyle. These dietary supplements come in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, liquids, powders, or bars. They come in four primary categories. These are:
- Blocking macronutrient absorption
- Suppressing appetite
- Increasing satiety level
- Increasing metabolism
- Promoting thermogenesis
The FDA doesn’t classify them as drugs. The manufacturers are responsible for regulating that the products are safe as described on their labels.
Suppose the FDA found the supplements are harmful to the health. In that case, it can take regulatory measures against the manufacturer for its untrue weight-loss claims about its products.
The FDA doesn’t permit the use of pharmaceutical substances in dietary supplements. Also, manufacturers cannot claim that their dietary supplements can treat or prevent any health conditions.
Benefits and Side Effects of Weight Loss Supplements
These dietary supplements consist of various extracts from herbs, plants, dietary fibre, caffeine, and minerals. Each ingredient falls into four main categories, hypothetically considered to reduce weight or alter body composition. Many weight loss supplements are a combination of multiple components.
A glucose polysaccharide can be found in bacteria, yeast, fungi, and cereals. These are soluble fibres known to increase satiety levels and gastrointestinal transit time and delay glucose absorption in the body. For example, studies show that consumption of barley can reduce energy intake and appetite. In addition, some studies have shown significant effects on blood lipids, blood pressure, and insulin resistance with weight loss as a secondary outcome.
Beta-glucans may cause flatulence. In addition, it does not show any stool consistency, stool frequency, or bloating effects.
Bitter Orange Supplement
Bitter orange contains synephrine. It mimics the action of epinephrine and norepinephrine. In addition, it increases energy expenditure and lipolysis and acts as a mild appetite suppressant. In one of the studies, bitter oranges showed a significant reduction in body fat percentage, fat mass and an increase in BMR. However, there were no conclusive effects on weight loss.
It has been reported that bitter oranges can cause chest pain, headache, anxiety, elevated heart rate, musculoskeletal conditions, ventricular fibrillation, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction and sometimes death.
Caffeine is in various herbal sources such as kola nut, yerba mate, and guarana. Methylxanthine stimulates the central nervous system, heart, and skeletal muscles.
As a result, it enhances gastric and colonic activity. It exhibits diuretic properties. It increases thermogenesis which leads to fat oxidation and contributes to weight loss.
Regular use of caffeine can cause caffeine tolerance which reduces these effects. Caffeine increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation. A study shows that caffeine combined with G-hesperidin has significantly reduced abdominal fat.
Caffeine can cause sleep disturbances, nervousness, jitteriness, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, seizures, and cerebral oedema.
The American medical association recommends a limited caffeine intake to prevent the toxic effects. In addition, it suggests 500 mg/day for adults. At the same time, the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages children and adolescents from consuming caffeine or other stimulants.
Garcinia Cambogia Supplement
Garcinia cambogia fruit contains high amounts of hydroxy citric acid. As a result, it reported inhibiting lipogenesis, increased hepatic glycogen synthesis, suppressed appetite, and reduced weight gain.
A randomised trial showed women receiving Garcinia Cambogia lost weight. Still, there was no evidence related to altered appetite and satiety..
The reported adverse effects of Garcinia Cambogia are usually mild. They include headache, nausea, upper respiratory tract symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Also, it can cause irritability, pressured speech, decreased sleep and grandiosity. In addition, there are reports indicating liver toxicity caused due to Garcinia Cambogia.
It is a soluble dietary fibre derived from konjac root and it can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water. It increases the satiety feeling, prolongs gastric emptying time, and may reduce fat and protein absorption in the gut. Though studies show beneficial effects on blood lipid and glucose levels, weight loss effects are consistent. In a small study, obese women consumed 3g/day glucomannan or placebo for eight weeks. The studies showed that glucomannan significantly reduced weight loss than placebo.
One can tolerate glucomannan in the short term. Still, it can cause minor adverse effects such as bloating, belching, loose stools, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal discomfort. Also, esophageal obstruction occurs because of glucomannan in tablet forms.
Green Coffee Bean Extract Supplement
Before roasting, the seeds of the coffee plant have higher levels of chlorogenic acid. It inhibits fat accumulation by regulating adipogenesis. In addition, it regulates glucose metabolism and may interfere with glucose absorption in the gut. In animal trials, green bean extract combined with a high-fat diet significantly reduced weight gain and fat mass. The researchers have concluded that green coffee extract moderately affects body weight. Still, the methodological quality of the studies was poor.
Reports show adverse effects like headaches and urinary tract infections. In addition, the caffeine present in the green coffee beans can act as a stimulant. Therefore, it can cause adverse effects, depending on the dose or if a combination has other stimulants.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplement
It is a mixture of linoleic acid isomers with conjugated double bonds in dairy products and beef. Studies have advocated that CLA promotes weight loss by enhancing lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle. It also reduces lipogenesis and promotes apoptosis in adipose tissue. A placebo-controlled trial evaluated that body fat mass decreased significantly, and CLA as free fatty acid increased lean body mass.
While the toleration level is decent, it can cause adverse effects. Gastrointestinal disturbances include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and dyspepsia. In addition, it may increase insulin resistance, increased lipoprotein levels, and decreased HDL levels, leading to metabolic disorders.
Capsaicin is present in chilli pepper and has a distinct pungent flavour. It is said to have anti-obesity activities because of its ability to increase energy expenditure, lipid oxidation, reduced postprandial insulin response, and suppressed appetite by increased satiety. A randomised clinical trial evaluated the effects of Capsaicinoids, which significantly reduced energy intake. However, it did not quantify weight loss.
Research has reported that this substance has increased satiety. However, it induces gastrointestinal distress, causing abdominal pain, burning sensation, nausea, bloating, and acid reflux rather than releasing satiety hormones. It may also increase serum insulin and reduce HDL cholesterol.
Weight Loss Supplements – Are They Worth It?
Like every other dietary supplement, weight loss supplements can cause adverse side effects and may interact with prescribed medications.
The amount of scientific information available on weight loss supplement ingredients varies considerably. In most cases, evidence of their proposed benefits consists of limited data from animal and laboratory studies rather than data from human clinical trials.
Furthermore, many combinations of weight loss ingredients are not subject to tests yet, so there’s no data on whether the combination supplement is safe or unsafe. In other cases, studies supporting a given ingredient’s use are small, of short duration, and poor quality, limiting the strength of the findings.
Dosages and amounts of active components vary widely among weight-loss supplements, and a product’s composition is not always fully described in published studies. Studies might also use different and sometimes inappropriate assessment techniques to measure the effectiveness of a given treatment.
So, it is better to focus on changing to healthy lifestyle patterns, including a balanced diet, healthy eating habits, clean eating, and regular workout, rather than looking for an easy way to shed the extra weight. Therefore, weight loss supplements are not worth using simply because no appropriate studies describe their weight loss capabilities. Also, one does not know the side effects they may cause to the individual.
One knows very little about weight loss supplements. Are they effective or not, and whether supplements have the potential for physical harm. Most weight-loss supplements are costly, and some ingredients may interfere with counter medications.
Before using it, it is essential to consider the truth behind each ingredient in any dietary supplement. It requires additional research to fully understand a particular ingredient’s safety and efficacy in almost all cases.
People considering using weight-loss supplements should consult with a healthcare professional to discuss these dietary supplements’ potential benefits and risks. Also, it is crucial for people with secondary medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, liver, and heart disease.