Weight loss pills — are they ever worth it? Can they be dangerous? And would you know how to check the pills you’re about to take?
Here are some weight loss pills do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the confusing world of weight loss pills, supplements, shakes, and detox teas. Know the genuine article from a fake and don’t sabotage your own weight loss journey or health by buying unlicensed products.
The role of diet and nutrition in weight loss
Understanding diet and nutrition is an essential part of any weight loss plan. Getting to know the difference between good and bad fats, knowing how to eat for your hormonal and exercise cycle, and understanding the different roles of foodstuffs in keeping you full will help you make smarter eating decisions.
In general, eating more fibre and vegetables, cutting back on processed and starchy foods, and cutting back on meat will benefit anyone looking to control their weight.
Any weight loss plan will be heavily reliant on having a smart and healthy diet, so it’s essential to stay educated. Taking pills is not a substitute for a great diet and regular exercise.
The lowdown on genuine weight loss products
It’s safe to say that there’s been a bit of a boom of weight loss products recently. Whether it’s overhyped meal replacement shakes that come in flavours like strawberry milkshake, or detox tea clubs, it can be hard to know what’s real in the wonderful world of weight loss. Positive reviews and celebrity endorsements muddy the waters even more.
The truth is that in the UK the only weight loss pill that’s allowed to market and call itself a weight loss pill is Orlistat (also known as Xenical), which is also sold over-the-counter under the brand name Alli. Orlistat binds fat and must be taken as a prescription and as part of a low-fat meal plan, whereas Alli can be bought from a pharmacy without a prescription, but also requires a meal plan.
Problematic weight loss products
Anything else that calls itself a ‘weight loss’ pill or product could have harmful ingredients like laxatives or dangerous levels of caffeine. In fact, you’ve probably seen Jameela Jamil taking on various Kardashians about products like this. Whether they’re teas, shakes or lollipops that are marketed as ‘appetite suppressants’ or ‘detox’ products, they can actually make you very ill — side effects can include cramping, stomach pains, diarrhoea, and dehydration.
It’s worth noting that these sorts of products have not been proven to help weight loss through clinical trials, so you’re likely to be wasting your money.
Buying weight loss pills online should be approached with caution. Always use a reputable online pharmacy website and speak to a doctor.
Though there are studies to show that certain foods/ingredients may help with weight loss when eaten as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan, it’s best to take any ‘miracle’ ingredients with a pinch of salt (though maybe no literally — salt can cause water retention and bloating).
When are weight loss pills an option?
Weight loss pills are generally prescribed to people who have a BMI of 28 or more (the obesity threshold set by the NHS). Diet pills are usually offered after diet and exercise plans have failed (or are unrealistic for health reasons).
Weight loss pills are for people who are serious about losing weight and committing to a low-calorie diet. You have to eat a low-fat diet whilst taking diet pills and doctors recommend you also exercise on a regular basis.
Who should avoid weight loss pills
Weight loss pills are not a good idea if you’re not ready to really commit to the idea of losing weight.
They are also not an option for pregnant women or breastfeeding women — or recommended for anyone with cholestasis or a chronic absorption problem.
Think carefully before committing to taking weight loss pills and always read the label carefully to ensure you know what you’re taking and what side effects to expect.
Where are you getting your weight loss pills from?
Don’t fall into the trap of just ordering ‘weight loss’ pills from some random website — these types of weight loss products can be very dangerous as they have unknown ingredients.
In the UK, go to your local pharmacy or use an online doctor or pharmacy to get a prescription for Orlistat, or buy Alli over the counter. Read the labels carefully and think carefully whether this is an option for you.
While getting a prescription for weight loss pills might seem like an easy solution to your weight problems, it’s not necessarily as simple as that. You still need to commit to improving your lifestyle. If you go down the weight loss pills route, make sure they’re from a reputable pharmacy and that you’ve discussed any concerns with a doctor.