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© Alexander Kalina;

You have heard the claims of fast weight loss by just taking a pill, no diet plans or exercise. You may have also heard several success stories that go along with it. But are they really safe and effective? Dietary supplements and herbal supplements do not have to undergo the same scrutiny as the medications. Below is a list of the different classes of dietary supplements available over the counter and their analysis.

Fat Trappers:

Fat Trapping products contain chitosan, which is produced from the powdered shells of shrimps, crabs and other shellfish. It is supposed to bind the fat in the food and prevent it from being absorbed. Few studies have shown that people on calorie restricted diet lose slightly more weight if they are taking chitosan when compared to people just on the calorie restricted diet. Chitosan is a source of fiber. Chitosan interferes with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and phytochemicals if taken for over 3 months.

Fat Burners:

Fat burners are a combination of herb derived stimulants, essential fatty acids, chromium picolinate, pyruvate and or hydroxycitric acid. Herb derived stimulants are caffeine, ephedrine, guarna and ma huang. Most of the time, two or more of these stimulants is combined together. The claim is that it will increase energy while stimulating fat burning. Most experts agree that they do work when combined with exercise; however, its safety is concern. Ephedra is very effective in stimulating fat burning when combined with aspirin, but it does raise the blood pressure to very high levels resulting in fatal heart attacks or strokes. In some cases, the blood pressure remained high even after the individuals stopped using ephedra. Essential fatty acids include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and flax seed oil. They are sometimes used in combination with garlic to increase muscle mass and burn fat. They seem to be helpful in animals, and some new research is showing promise in humans.


In conclusion, it is better to have a high fiber diet with calorie restrictions to achieve weight loss for long term rather than taking fat trappers. Talk to you doctor before starting any fat burners. Do pay attention to any changes in your heart rhythm or blood pressure while on these medications. Do your homework before starting them

These supplements are expensive and are not recommended for long term weight loss. These products are helpful to get that jump start for weight loss when used in combination with diet and exercise. There is some evidence that these pills work, but there are no products that will cause weight loss while you eat chips and watch TV.  The clinicians, who recommend these pills, always recommend proper diet and regular exercise to achieve the desired goal.

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