If you are one of the millions of people in the country who are currently trying to lose weight, you might be tempted to try a diet supplement. As anyone who has lost weight can tell you, shedding extra pounds is hard work, and it takes a lot of focus and dedication. Counting calories, watching what you eat and getting enough exercise can be daunting. These are just a few of the reasons why the diet supplement business is so popular and enormous; people who are literally desperate to lose weight are looking for ways to help make the process easier and quicker.
Two popular forms of weight loss supplements are appetite suppressants and fat absorption inhibitors. But before you spend your money to buy one of these products, it’s important to look closely at each one to see how they work, if they work, and what their side effects may be.
Appetite suppressants do exactly what their name implies—they help suppress our desire to eat. The pills work on the parts of our brain that controls our appetite—more specifically, by releasing a chemical in the brain that helps suppress the appetite. So even if it’s been hours since breakfast and in reality you are starving, these pills will convince your brain that you are feeling full, so you won’t eat as much.
Some appetite suppressants are sold over-the-counter and others, like Meridia, are through prescription. Some work just for a little while and others are extended-release. In general, they have been found to lead to a reasonable amount of weight loss, but they do tend to come with side effects like increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety, and headache. Another potential side effect to think about is that some people have reported developing a tolerance to appetite suppressants, which means you have to take more and more over time.
Fat absorption inhibitors are drugs that prevent fat from absorbing into the body. Xenical is the only fat absorber that is currently approved for use in the United States. It works by blocking about 30 percent of fat from being assimilated. The weight loss drug Alli, available over the counter, is really Xenical in an OTC form.
If you have seen the ads for Alli, then you know that “oily anal discharge” is a possible side effect. That alone might be a side effect that is enough to make people run for the hills. But if you follow a low-fat diet, this unfortunate side effect is not supposed to happen. Then again, if you followed a low-fat diet without any diet supplements, you should also lose weight. Studies of Xenical have been fairly positive, side effects not withstanding. Additional problems may include abdominal cramping, lowered absorption of some vitamins, and possibly inability to control bowel movements. People who took Xenical were found to lose weight, but there is no research yet that indicates if taking Xenical long-term is safe.
If you really want to take a weight-loss drug, it seems like either Xenical or something like Meridia are both designed to give the same result—a lower number on the bathroom scale. But it would probably be a really good idea to look over the side effects of both medicines, the diet you would be expected to follow at the same time, and if doing just the diet alone would give you the results you are looking for.