Are Fat Burners Really a Quick Fix?


Fat Burners

Posted:

02.20.12

Written by:
Sabrina Zaslov

It’s not surprising that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. While the focus should be on healthy eating and exercise, many people turn to fat burners/weight loss aids such as Alli, Hydroxycut, Apidexin, Ambi-Slim, etc. in hopes of making the process quicker and more effortless.[i]

Let’s take a look at what the research says regarding some popular ingredients found in fat burners/weight loss aids:

Bitter Orange (citrus aurantium)
Claim: Weight loss; suppress appetite; increase muscle mass
Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate
Safety: Possibly unsafe due to stimulant effects and may cause elevated blood pressure, heart rate, stroke, etc.;

Caffeine
Claim: Weight loss
Effectiveness: Possibly effective
Safety: Likely safe in dosages under 250-300 mg

Caralluma
Claim: Weight loss; suppress appetite
Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate
Safety: Possibly safe; some intestinal side effects reported

Chitosan
Claim: Blocks absorption of fat from diet resulting in weight loss
Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate
Safety: Possibly safe; caution with shellfish allergies

Chromium
Claim: Increases calories burned, decreases appetite and build muscle
Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate[ii]
Safety: Possibly safe; caution with shellfish allergies

Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA)
Claim: Decreases body fat and increases muscle mass
Effectiveness: Possibly effective
Safety: Possibly safe; may increase insulin resistance/blood sugar levels

Garcinia Cambogia (Hydroxycitric acid)
Claim: Weight loss; suppress appetite
Effectiveness: Possibly ineffective
Safety: Possibly safe short-term; insufficient information regarding long-term use

Green Tea Extract
Claim: Decreases fat deposit in central abdominal area
Effectiveness: Possibly effective when using caffeinated green tea
Safety: Likely safe in dosages under 250-300 mg

Guarana
Claim: Weight loss
Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate
Safety: Possibly unsafe in large doses long-term due to amount of caffeine

Orlistat
Claim: Decreases absorption of fat from diet resulting in weight loss
Effectiveness: Effective
Safety: FDA warns that rare cases of severe liver injury have been reported

Yohimbe
Claim: Weight loss
Effectiveness: Insufficient evidence to rate
Safety: Possibly unsafe; associated with elevating blood pressure, heart rate, stroke, etc.

Sources: Consumerlab; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database 2012; Food & Drug Administration.

Remember that even if some of the ingredients in these products help you lose weight initially, you will probably have to keep taking them to keep the weight off, which may not be practical or safe.[iii] Make sure to include your Nutritionist and Physician in your weight loss plans as they can not only provide support, but also determine if any of the ingredients interact with any medical condition you may have, any medication you may be taking, as well as any diagnostic test results. If you attempt to lose weight by changing the types of foods you eat, you might also ask your doctor if any vitamin  supplements are advised.[iv]

Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for losing weight.[v] The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is through lifestyle changes by eating healthy, watching portion sizes and being physically active.[vi] Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are two important factors in “sticking” to a weight loss program.[vii] Even though it is not magic, it seems to work.


[i] Source: “Checkup on Health: Can Diet Pills Help You Lose Weight?” http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20090513_dietpills/index.html

[ii] Source: “Chromium supplements: chromium, diabetes and weight loss.” January 2007. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/chromium-supplements

[iii] Source: “Weight Loss Aids.” July 2012. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21790

[iv] Source: “Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins.” February 2009. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm118079.htm

[v] Source: “Ephedrine and its Use in Weight Loss.” http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/ephedrine_wt.htm

[vi] Source: “Fat Burning Update.” January 2012. http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/fatburningupdate.html

About the Author

Sabrina Zaslov

Sabrina Zaslov MS, RD, CDE has extensive experience consulting with individuals and groups on sports nutrition, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight management and wellness. She provides the personalized attention that has become the trademark of Lifewellness Institute. Sabrina Zaslov

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