Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Considering Diet Pills For Weight Loss? Consider the Facts


    Our society thrives on instant gratification: same day delivery, direct deposit and even instant messaging. We have that same urgent mentality when it comes to our weight: we all want to be thin, right now. So in an effort to get skinny - and get there fast - many turn to diet pills.

    With the promise that we can "lose 10lbs in 7 days...Guaranteed!" it's hard not to get sucked into the diet pill frenzy. Our desire for instant results has led to a multi-billon dollar industry with literally hundreds of different diet pills on the market all claiming to be the answer to the secret of quick weight loss.

    Many diet pills claim to be "all natural" or "100% safe," most are not. Natural doesn't always mean safe: there are plenty of substances found in nature that are deadly. Further, many diet pills are full of dangerous chemical concoctions. And even more are really just expensive placebos with great marketing campaigns.

    With so many diet pill options available, are there any are effective, safe or wise choices?

    A Look at Over the Counter Diet Pills

    The over the counter diet pill selection is enormous. Go in almost any grocery store and you'll see dozens of colorful bottles on the shelf with labels displaying super-fit models all promising their product provides "guaranteed weight loss."


    As of 2010, Alli was the only FDA approved OTC diet pill on the market. Alli is a lipase inhibitor with the active ingredient Orlistat. Orlistat's claim to fame is that is works by disrupting the digestive system so that your body cannot absorb the fat in your food (and it's associated caloric impact). The benefit of using a product that contains Orlistat is that because it works with your digestive system, as opposed to your nervous system, Alli users don't experience the shaking or jittery feelings that are often associated with taking diet pills.

    While some have found success-using Alli, it's not a weight loss panacea. For every happy Alli user, one can find three or four that had a very negative experience. It seems that the real power behind Alli is in the fact that while using the drug you must eat a low-fat diet or you will suffer from severe side effects. In addition to potentially embarrassing bowel-related incidents, some side effects can be quite serious including liver damage or even liver failure, according to USDA.


    Zantrex-3 is another very popular OTC weight loss product. Zantrex-3 markets itself as a "super-charged, super-result supplement." And according to their website, this diet pill is "way beyond everything on the market today." Zantrex-3's marketing says it's the #1 ephedrine-based diet pill, but the real muscle, and threat, behind Zantex-3 is caffeine, excessive amounts of caffeine. One dose (and you are supposed to take two doses each day) contains as much caffeine as 3-4 cups of coffee! So while Zantrex-3 may help you lose weight in the short term by giving you tons of energy, it will also give you the jitters, feelings of restlessness, cold sweats and a possible dependence on caffeine.


    How about a diet pill that will not only help you lose weight but will improve your skin as well? That's the claim of DecaSlim. According to their website, DecaSlim promises you will "lose belly fat and acne in 7 days!" The genesis of DecaSlim's name is also its "secret" weapon. Within each pill there are extracts of 10 Superfoods. The superfood extracts include: green tea, safflower oil, fiber, blueberries, broccoli, spinach, flax seed, tomato, garlic and resveratrol (found in red skin of grapes and other fruit). The good news is DecaSlim is not dangerous. It's also not effective as a weight loss pill. It's really just a multi-vitamin. It has no proven track record on helping people lose weight. It doesn't claim to help the user burn far or suppress appetite, which is good because it doesn't. It is healthy to eat the foods that DecaSlim uses but over the long haul, it is probably cheaper and much tastier to incorporate the superfoods into a healthy diet instead of swallowing them in pill form.

    A Look at Prescription Diet Pills

    Currently there are only two types of diet pills the FDA has approved as prescription weight loss drugs. It's important to note, however, that just because a diet pill is FDA approved does not make it 100% safe. The FDA has approved several drugs over the years only to take them off the market due to dangerous side effects.


    The FDA approved Xenical as a prescription diet pill in 1999. Xenical is the prescription form of Orlistat, which blocks dietary fat from being absorbed by your body. In addition to causing severe side effects, if taken incorrectly, even proper usage of Xenical can also reduce the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and beta-carotene. So most Xenical users are required to take a vitamin supplement two hours before every Xenical dosage. Further, Xenical requires a commitment to eating low-fat foods. So while it may help users lose weight there is still much debate about whether the weight loss is a result of the drug or by the lifestyle change.


    Phentermine works by stimulating the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure and ultimately decreasing appetite. Because this drug is highly addictive it is only prescribed for short-term treatment of obesity. There is promise no long-term success. And even the website says it is to be used in combination with diet, exercise and behavior therapy.


    There are currently many more diet drugs in the development and testing stage and undoubtedly many more will make their way to our grocery stores and doctor's offices. So this brings us back to our original question:

    With so many diet pill options available, are there any are effective, safe or wise choices?

    The answer is no. While there are some drugs on the market that will provide short-term results, true weight loss doesn't come in a bottle. It comes from a lifestyle change. Long term, permanent weight loss comes from eating healthy and exercising. When you come right down to it, weight loss pills will only make one thing weigh less, your wallet.

    Author: Sue Ridgeway

    Weight Loss Tips
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