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A Look At Weight Loss Supplements - by Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.

Every January 1st, over 35 million Americans make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.  By February, over half of them have given up their efforts and have returned to their old eating habits, dragging some extra guilt along with them.  Perhaps some assistance for a more rapid loss of weight would have been helpful.  That’s a function that can be provided by nutritional supplements.


The supplements used to assist in weight loss programs are typically fillers, stimulants and/or thermogenics.  Recently, a new group known as carbo-blockers and fat-blockers has entered the weight loss arena.  Of course, none of these categories contains the ‘magic pill’ that allows you to eat anything you want, sit in front of the TV and still trim down to a well-toned body.  ALL weight loss systems need to include dietary changes and an exercise program to provide for overall health.  Consult your health care practitioner before starting any program to make certain that your health will not be at risk.


Let’s review the various supplements available to assist you in dropping those extra pounds.  Bulk enhancers or fillers are products that absorb more liquid and tend to make you feel full.  Psyllium husk and flax seed fall into this category.  Fat blockers and carbo blockers are chemicals designed to keep the body from digesting the fats and carbohydrates taken in during a meal.  They can have some rather disgusting side effects.


Stimulants are used to boost your metabolism.  One of the main ingredients may be caffeine or an herbal component such as guarana, which contains 2.5 times the amount of caffeine as coffee.  Ephedra-based supplements, those containing Ma Huang or its counterparts, are also stimulants.  They are a little more difficult to work with because they are plant-based and not synthetically produced in regulated strengths.  As a result of this lack of standardization, Ma Huang is currently under investigation in many states.  This is primarily due to the inability to control the amounts of ephedrine within each individual plant.  There is a wide variation from plant to plant and due to the stimulant nature of ephedrine, it can present serious problems in excessive doses.  Pregnant women and anyone with high blood pressure or heart problems should be extremely cautious with any such supplements and proceed under the supervision of a health care professional. 


The final category of weight loss supplements is thermogenics, like choline and inosital.  These nutrients create heat within the body that assists in the burning of fat cells.  These supplements are often used in bodybuilding to help reduce the percentage of body fat.


The fat-burning process releases toxins into the bloodstream that were stored in the fat cells.  For this reason, people often feel ill or less healthy when changing their diets.  It is at this point where many folks quit, thinking that they felt better when eating like they did before.  Unfortunately, they return to the old habits and deny themselves the feeling of health and vitality that comes with lower weight and proper nutrition.  To ease the cleansing effects of a diet change, it is vital that a person take antioxidants to help the body rapidly clear out all of those stored toxins and free radicals that are dumped into the body during fat metabolism.  A good Vitamin C, E and B-complex supplement will be beneficial.


Long term use of some supplements can lead to a plateau effect during the weight loss program.  The human body is very wise and remarkably adaptable.  After 30 days of taking stimulants to boost the metabolism, the body begins to understand what is going on and turns down your metabolic thermostat.  That means that it will now take more stimulants to produce the previous effect. This is a definite problem because toxic levels can be reached and result in illness.  Therefore, stimulant type supplements need to be taken in cycles to avoid this potential problem.


I hope this information helps you on your road to achieving a healthy weight.  If you would like further material on any topic discussed in this article or would like to suggest an idea for an article, please contact me through my website. 

Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques.  He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters.  For more information, his website is http://www.JerryRyanPhD.com

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