Dr. Ezinne Meribe: On Supplements & Weight loss Pills – Are You Willing to Risk Your Kidneys?

Every diet pill comes with a very clear instruction – eat clean and exercise. If these pills really work, why do they still ask you to eat clean and exercise? I have worked with thousands of women from across the globe and also lost weight myself, through eating clean and exercising. We’ve all kept if off without pills. So, why punish yourself?

A particular website promoting fat burning pills published this “If you aren’t eating right or exercising, don’t expect a fat burner to do much”. Aha! Then why waste all that money you would have used to jet off to Seychelles?

Again, did you know that for fat burners to work, there is a level of activity you must maintain else they’d just be stored as fat in the body? Also note that fat burners are stimulants and may tamper with your hormones. You may argue that you are taking it as an appetite suppressant; however, how long are you willing to give up your self-control (and good money) for a pill?

A few questions you should ask before buying or agreeing to a weight loss pill.
– Was this pill recommended by a ‘licensed nutritionist’?
– Who or where is the licensing body?
– Did you seek a second opinion from maybe an endocrinologist?

According to the NHS, “many different types of anti-obesity medicines have been tested in clinical trials, but only one has proved to be safe and effective”. With a caution: “If you haven’t lost weight after three months, it’s unlikely to be an effective treatment for you . . . it may be necessary to stop your treatment.” Furthermore, they wrote: “a significant number of subjects gained weight after stopping the drug, with some regaining up to 35 per cent of the weight they had lost’. This buttresses my motto that weight loss is about ‘behavior remodeling’ not pills or plans.

Did you know that diet pills do not have any board approval?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate many over-the-counter products, including herbal supplements (diet pills). Basically, you have no idea how much of the active ingredient is actually in the product, whether it will work, and most importantly, if it contains harmful substances. An FDA investigation found that nearly 70 kinds of diet pills were actually spiked with dangerous drugs.

The research done on them is almost always industry-sponsored making it a biased research in favour of the company – not you, not your health. Moreover, the research is usually done with very small data and not conducted long-term. When done in rats, the doses were massive to be deduced as effective for humans. Even when the active ingredients in these supplements may have worked in the laboratory, the commercial versions may not be effective and there is no way to physically distinguish between the high quality and low-grade ones. But remember, the pills always come with an advice – eat right and exercise.

• For example, raspberry ketone supplements in the market is based on the result of one clinical trial as of December 2017. This study was an 8-week trial involving seventy obese adults who were randomly assigned to receive either the supplement or an inactive ingredient (placebo) all of whom were placed on a restricted diet and exercise program (red flag). Of the 45 people who completed the trial, average weight loss in the supplement group was 4.2 pounds while in the placebo group was 0.9 pounds (0.4 kilograms).

Well, I’m glad to let you know you can calmly lose 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilograms) in 8 weeks without a restrictive diet and an insane exercise program. Some of these weight loss pills claim they contain the foods abundantly available to us. If that is true, why can’t we simply eat these foods, feed our body with intention and keep the weight off? You don’t need pills/supplements in any form to support your weight loss, eat real foods. Indeed, food is medicine and if you take the time to do your research, you will find several ways to nourish and heal your body with real foods.

Side Effects
The main ingredients found in various weight loss pills are used for their stimulant effect and the side effects have been associated with strokes, heart attacks, preventing absorption of fat soluble vitamins, fatty liver, insulin resistance, increased inflammation and other side effects like; irritability, anxiety, increased heart rate, sleep problems, dry mouth, heartburn, skin reactions, trembling and sweating.

Lastly, pills are for impatient people looking for a quick solution, only to gain the weight and even more, in a few days and I know you are not impatient. Consistency and a lifestyle change will get you there and keep you there.

Even if a celebrity is seen on TV promoting the pill, they are just doing their job and earning a living. It is not exactly how they keep the weight off. You are the sole proprietor of what you feed your body with. Don’t give up that authority to someone else. At least ask questions. Stop putting yourself at risk.

What you should be doing instead? Kickstart your weight loss journey by cutting out all forms processed foods and added sugars. This will aid weight loss and help reset insulin resistance, enabling your body to burn stored fat. The weight you really want to lose was not gained in one day and no miracle pill can make it disappear overnight.
Whatever name they come in – pills or supplements, always seek professional opinion from a licensed health practitioner, don’t put your life on the line for short term gain only to need kidney transplant in a few short years. The long-term risks that can be avoided are definitely not worth it.

NB: There is no one size fits all approach for weight loss. If you need to lose weight for health reasons – metabolic diseases, hypertension, diabetes etc. – make sure you are working with your doctor as well. This management should be multidisciplinary.

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