Myth #4: Supplements Help With Weight Loss

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The weight loss supplement industry is a billion dollar industry.  There is a lot of research out there that seems to support the use of supplements to lose weight.  What is the truth behind the research and should I take supplements?

There are all sorts of different supplements on the market and all most all of the companies that produce them claim to have the magic bullet that will have the dramatic effect at curing your weight problem quickly.  The problem is most of them have never been studied by an independent not biased party.   

A few months ago, I reviewed a product that has been out there for years by a large supplement company.  While reviewing the product, I looked at the research they claimed made you muscles bugger much quicker than exercise alone.  One study they quoted was on heart muscle.  The muscle did not get larger, but it did have more blood flow.  Heart muscle is not the same type of muscle as our arm or legs and it responds differently.  The company equated blood flow with quicker recover and faster muscle building.  The second study they quoted was one that they funded.  This study is automatically suspect as having bias.   

Do supplements work?  Yes and no.  Most of the supplements work by increasing your calories and providing a positive results through the placebo effect. The placebo effect is sold by the provider or researcher by selling the product similar to how a commercial sells McDonalds to our children through commercials.  Nearly 30 percent can be sold on the benefits of a sugar pill to cure their pain.  

This bigger issue is the side effects.  They range from an elevated pulse and blood pressure to strokes and liver failure[1].  I just cannot see the risk of living the rest of your life in a diaper or needing a liver transplant being worth 1-2 pounds of weight loss.  

Fact:  Will supplements help you lose weight?  Potentially yes, but they are not a magic pill.  Most supplements for weight loss are useless unless you goal is fund the retirements for supplement company executives.  There are a few supplements that can have a small effect on weight loss, but the effect is short lived and you will not maintain it and it will almost be a few pounds. The best ones may help you lose a few pounds over several months.

I will post more on individual supplements over the next few months.  

Footnotes
[1]Chatham-Stephens et al., “Hepatotoxicity Associated with Weight Loss or Sports Dietary Supplements, Including OxyELITE ProTM – United States, 2013.”

References:

Chatham-Stephens, K, E Taylor, A Chang, A Peterson, J Daniel, C Martin, P Deuster, et al. “Hepatotoxicity Associated with Weight Loss or Sports Dietary Supplements, Including OxyELITE ProTM – United States, 2013.” Drug Testing and Analysis, July 1, 2016 [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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