With body image constantly on people’s minds, it is no surprise that diet pills are among the most popular types of health supplements on the market today. They seem like a way to make losing weight a quicker, easier process, particularly if you are already making sure to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
However, how much do you really know about diet pills? Are diet pills safe? What do they actually do to make your body shed pounds? Do they even really work?
Types of Diet Pills
There are three main types of diet pills, each type employing a different mechanism. Some diet pills act as appetite suppressants, others work to increase the body’s metabolism, and other pills actually interfere with the body’s absorption of certain nutrients in food. Some diet combine these three different mechanisms in their formulas in hopes that they will help you lose even more weight.
Appetite suppressing diet pills work by entering the appetite control centers in the brain and decreasing cravings. Sibutramine, a common appetite suppressant under the brand name Meridia, was considered effective and safe until it was pulled from the U.S. market in October 2010 because users were at risk of suffering from heart attacks and/or strokes.
Diet pills that boost the body’s metabolism are also known as stimulants. Stimulants, such as amphetamines, were more popular in previous years, prior to many studies that have proven serious dangers that come with stimulants. Ephedrine, for example, is a stimulant commonly found in diet pills; the psychological side effects like depression, nervousness, and problems with the body’s central nervous system. Phentermine is another stimulant that does increase metabolism, but it also puts users at extremely high risk of becoming addicted to it.
Diet pills that stop the body from absorbing specific nutrients are currently popular with consumers. One of the most active ingredient on the diet pill market these days is Orlistat, which stops fat from being absorbed by sending it to be excreted instead. As you can imagine, this can be inconvenient at times since the body’s excretion of the excess fat is mildly uncontrollable, but if users reduce their fat intake, the symptoms improve and they really do start losing weight.
Side Effects of Diet Pills
The bottom line is this: are diet pills worth it? Are diet pills safe? The answer is dependent on which type of diet pills you use.
The majority of stimulant weight loss pills have been proven by researchers to be generally unsafe; they are accompanied by many health risks, such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, glaucoma, insomnia, and addiction to those pills. Fen-phen, for example, seemed like a miracle weight loss solution in the 1990s, but it was banned in 1997 because of its high risk of causing valvular heart disease and eventual death.
Diet pills that work with the body to control what it absorbs from food, however, really do help people safely lose weight. Orlistat, as the active ingredient in brand name medications Alli and Xenical, has helped many people—40 million users worldwide, actually—lose weight, provided that they combine it with healthy diet and regular exercise. Pills like this do come with their unpleasant possible side effects, but a bout of diarrhea is not nearly as bad as a heart attack.
In conclusion, diet pills are not always entirely trustworthy ways to safely lose weight, but if you are cautious and aware of their ingredients and methods, they can offer a helpful addition to your weight loss regimen.