Do diet pills really work ?

Excessive weight gain is a concern to many people and there are many reasons why people gain weight.  Research has also shown that there are different ways weight can also be lost; one of such ways is through the use of diet pills which have become a trend in recent times. A lot of speculations have been made as to whether diet pills really work and whether they come with numerous side effects which make their efficacy of no use.

With a variety of weight loss conceptions out there, it is important you know what works for you and if it’s appropriate for you to use them. We live a world where many people resort to extreme measures to lose weight. To this end, you should always consult your medical practitioner whichever method you decide to go for. Eating less and engaging in more physical exercise are the basics of weight loss; but diet pills? Will they also work for you?

What diet pills really are

There are several misconceptions as regards what diet pills really are and how they work.  Diet pills or weight loss medications refer to medications that help to reduce or control weight. They work by altering one of the fundamental processes of the human body, weight regulation, by altering either appetite, or how the body absorbs calories. Diet pills are available in many different forms, particularly prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements.

  • Prescription drugs refers to those which are strictly controlled and are only available with a doctor’s prescription. A doctor has to monitor you closely before you can use them. For example, Meridia and Xenical are only available under a doctor’s prescription.
  • Over-the-counter drugs on the other hand can be administered without a doctor’s prescription and can easily be obtained in local drugstores or supermarkets.
  • Herbal diet supplements are also available without a prescription. They are often labelled as “all natural” and are available in different varieties in health food and nutrition stores.
Girl with blond wavy hair in white lace dress, posing on wheat field and looking away. Blurred background blue sky with white clouds

How do diet pills work?

There are many speculations regarding the efficacy and mechanism of action of diet pills. However, different diet pills work in varying ways depending on which ingredients they contain. Majority of diet pills work by suppressing your appetite, increasing fat burning, or reducing the absorption of calories.

Some work as appetite suppressants: this category work by blocking the re-uptake of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine; thus make you feel very full and satisfied after eating. They function particularly on the appetite-regulating region of the brain called the hypothalamus; making you feel full so you eat less. Examples of these include sibutramine (Meridia), diethylpropion (Tenuate) and phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin, Anoxine-AM)

Some work as fat blockers: they inhibit the action of an enzyme called lipase which breaks down fat contained in the food we eat. When the action of lipase is inhibited, a percentage of the fat is not broken down or absorbed; but is rather removed from the body through bowel movements. Examples of these fat blockers is orlistat (Xenical).

Another category act on on a protein in the brain called the endocannabinoids: this protein is responsible for appetite control. These diet pills function by blocking endocannabinoids from reaching their receptors in the brain; thus reducing food cravings. One of the most important type in this category is rimonabant (Acomplia). A recent research showed that one-third of obese people who were given Acomplia lost more than 10 percent of their body weight and were able to maintain it for up to two years.

Others: Some other diet pills affect appetite-related hormones. Some blocks ghrelin, which the stomach sends to the brain to increase appetite. Some others mimic a hormone called PYY, which tells the body when it is full. Glucomannan and guar gum work by  inhibiting digestion and lowering caloric absorption, while anorectics are primarily intended to suppress the appetite.

Will diet pills work for me?

Many manufacturers of over-the-counter diet pills promise that their products will help you lose weight tremendously. Some even give assurance of losing up to 30 pounds in one month without the need for dieting or exercise. Some of these claims may however be true and may actually work depending on your body condition. You may actually benefit from using these tested and approved diet medications under a doctor’s supervision, if you also follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

You should also know that diet pills are not for you if you only intend to shed just a little weight. They are recommended majorly for people who are obese (those who are 30 percent over their ideal weight, or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more) or those who have a history of high blood pressure or diabetes. Most diet pills are also not suitable for pregnant women and children under the age of 16. If diet pills are not suitable for you, you can opt in for other weight loss methods. Experts suggest that a combination of a healthy diet, increased exercise, and behavioral therapy can help people lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight in their first six months of treatment.

Final Thoughts

Losing weight doesn’t happen like magic as many adverts on the media suggest. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is by eating a healthy low-calorie diet and being more physically active. Diet pills are not for everyone; so you still need to focus on diet and exercise. However, if you are taking these diet medications, discuss with your doctor about your medical history; including any allergies or other conditions you have; medicines or supplements you take (even if they’re herbal or natural); and whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant soon.

Diet pills are only meant to be taken for a short period of time; usually six months or less because your body soon develops a tolerance to these drugs’ effects and weight loss plateaus. After this phase, if you don’t also follow a healthy eating and exercise plan, the weight will come right back. Most health professionals agree that the healthiest method for losing weight is getting regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet of moderate portions of healthy food. When you understand and modify your eating habits, losing weight becomes less of a hard work.

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