Most of us like the idea of losing a few pounds, but weight loss is often more challenging than we thought. You may diet, exercise, and cut out a handful of your unproductive habits, but ultimately, you may find yourself needing something “extra” to help you reach your weight loss goals. At this point, you may turn to weight loss supplements, but how do you know you’re getting the supplements you need?
The Unfortunate State of Weight Loss Supplements
The weight loss industry thrives on impulsive decisions and desperate people trying to lose weight. As a result, false promises litter the market, and the vast majority of weight loss supplements are either hoaxes or intentionally mislead their customers. There is no “magic solution” for weight loss, and though some supplements can help you lose weight in different ways, not every marketed solution is worth trying—some may even hurt you. Asking the right questions and choosing the right weight loss supplements can help you avoid problems.
Questions to Ask
Before you make a decision on a weight loss supplement, know the answers to these seven questions:
- What are your goals? This is the first, and potentially the most important question. What are you actually trying to achieve here? Are you interested in managing a better figure for the long-term? If so, supplements may only be a short-term solution. Are you interested in getting healthier? Weight loss supplements may not help you do that (unless you’re specifically using health supplements). Are you trying to lose weight quickly? Supplements can come in handy here, depending on how fast—but be wary that “lose weight fast” supplements often carry unpleasant side effects.
- What can you gain with supplements? Think about this carefully, and read into what your supplements will actually accomplish. There aren’t any supplements on the market that actually “melt away the fat,” at least not in any direct way. Most of them claim to help you increase your metabolism, prevent the storage of new fat, or suppress your appetite. These are all indirect paths toward weight loss, and you need to be aware of that going in.
- What are the ingredients of your supplements? Always check the ingredients labels of any supplements you intend to purchase; even if a supplement claims to be one thing, there may be secondary ingredients in the mix, and not every ingredient is good for you. For example, amphetamine and ephedrine are semi-common ingredients for weight loss supplements due to their ability to suppress appetite and increase energy, but they’re both addictive and can be dangerous. If you aren’t sure what an ingredient is, what it does, or if it can be dangerous, do your research and find out—don’t just make an assumption.
- How much evidence is available for these supplements? It’s a good idea to see if there’s any scientific research that can confirm or deny your chosen supplement’s effectiveness. This information isn’t always available, especially for new supplements that haven’t had time for proper testing; however, in most cases, you can find enough information to justify or rule out a supplement’s effectiveness. Always try to find multiple studies here; one set of results can be misleading, or prevent you from seeing the full picture.
- How much do these supplements cost? This is a somewhat minor question, but it’s an important one if you’re planning on taking these supplements in the long-term. For example, if they cost $1 per pill, and you’re expected to take them 3 times a day, that can add up to over $1,000 a year if you’re taking them consistently. Weight loss supplements are notoriously expensive, and very rarely justify their cost with associated benefits.
- Are there any consumer reports on these supplements? Finally, poke around to see what you can find in the vein of consumer reports and reviews. Generally, if a supplement is ineffective, you’ll have no trouble finding low ratings, angry reviews, and maybe even legal action from people who tried and failed to see results from the supplement.
<li>How new are these supplements? Be wary of any weight loss supplements that have just entered the market, especially those claiming some outlandish or naturally unbelievable results. These supplements haven’t had time to be thoroughly evaluated, and may contain ingredients that aren’t fully accounted for. That doesn’t mean that supplements that have been on the market longer are inherently better, but there is more information on them, so you can make a more educated decision about taking them.
It’s notoriously difficult to be objective and obtain all the necessary information when it comes to weight loss supplements; the market is full of false claims, and scientific evidence isn’t always black-and-white. The best you can do is know your goals, inside and out, do your research, avoid any dangerous ingredients, and make the most responsible decision you can with that information.