Magazines are filled with articles and advertisement which report on the apparent miracle effect that certain medications have in the fight against being overweight. They are allegedly supposed to suppress hunger, burn fat or prevent fat being absorbed by the body.
Be careful! It is usually only your wallet that loses weight. Furthermore, most of these miracle cures are harmful.
Losing weight without starving: There are still many people that still believe in miracle cures that simply remove excess fat. 100 million packages of miracle drugs including appetite suppressants, laxatives and dehydration drugs are bought annually alone in Germany .
Many Germans hope that rapid weight loss is possible and so they buy these supplements which usually, if at all, reduce weight temporarily.
This is how you can recognise fake miracle drugs:
- The drug works wonders, naturally, quickly, with no side effects.
- The drug guarantees weight loss with no complications and no exercise.
- You can still eat to your heart's content.
- Before-after stories with corresponding photos
- Thank you letters from "satisfied customers".
- Medical and scientific recommendations from doctors and scientists from all over the world are usually fictitious. They are not allowed to sell their medication in Germany .
The following presents a list of drugs which are commonly found in advertisements and are usually rumoured to have wondrous effects:
Metabolic Stimulating Substances or Medications
Drugs that stimulate the metabolic rate, such as ephedrine supplements, function by boosting the energy levels. They have a doping effect on the organism. However you should not expect miracles to happen with such drugs as the effect is hardly noticeable. In order to maintain the weight it is necessary to permanently take these drugs.
Take a laxative after one of those delicious meals and save your slender figure! After taking the laxative, one has the hope that the food will pass through the stomach and intestines as quickly as possible and leave little time for absorption of all the fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Most laxatives only start to work in the colon, after all the calories of the food have already long been absorbed into the body. For this reason, they do not help you to maintain or lose weight. The long-term intake of herbal or chemical laxatives harms the intestines. Mineral nutrients will no longer be absorbed properly and the intestines will become inactive. The natural urge to empty one's bowels will disappear.
Appetite Suppressant (Anorectics)
Appetite suppressants are tablets that repress the hunger centre in the diencephalon (interbrain). They suppress appetite and in turn the intake of food. Many appetite suppressants have an immediate effect on the brain and therewith on one's disposition. For this reason they are only available on prescription. Appetite suppressants alone do not bring about long-term weight loss. The intake of appetite suppressants alone can lead to short-term weight loss if anything. The lost weight will come back as soon as you have stopped taking the appetite suppressants. The reason for this is that the root of the problem - for example former eating habits - have not changed on a long term basis. Appetite suppressants have, to some extent, very strong side effects. They can increase the general blood pressure as well as the pressure in the lungs. They can also increase the pulse rate, nervousness and bring about insomnia. Appetite suppressants can lose their effectiveness and if taken for long periods of time cause addiction. Appetite suppressants and other medication used for weight loss can for e.g. ease the start of an extensive weight loss programme. As a result of the side effects, it is advisable to only take the medication - if at all - on a short term basis and under the supervision of a doctor. If and how over-the-counter appetite suppressants have an effect is debatable.
Purification is the removal of all metabolites (products of metabolism) from the body. Purification is meant to assist the detoxification and cleansing of the body. From a scientific perspective it is impossible to purify the body as it excretes all the unnecessary substances from the body if digestion and metabolism are functioning normally anyhow. Whoever experiences weight loss as a result of drinking such purification teas has presumably simply flushed out more water from the body. You do not actually get thinner from such teas.
Diuretics are medicines that help reduce the amount of water (not fat) in the body. This loss of fluid reduces your weight but it does not reduce the amount of fat in your body. When the body is dehydrated it loses great amounts of salts such as potassium which can lead to heart failure. A lack of fluid in the body can lead to dry skin and deep venous thrombosis (thrombosis in the legs). In addition, the dehydration of the body boycotts the body's efforts to maintain your own physical beauty. High levels of fluid in the body provide healthy skin. The skin gets "dampened" internally if you have a lot of fluid in your body. As a result it does not get dry so quickly, it is firmer and receives a better supply of blood. All moisturizing creams of the world cannot help a dehydrated body.
Fat Blockers such as Xenical
Medications of this type have not been around for too long. The active substance Orlistat (trade name Xenical ®) blocks the lipase enzyme in the intestine which in turn blocks one third of the fat in the foods you eat from being absorbed by your body. The remaining two thirds of the fat is not absorbed but eliminated in bowel movements (either flatulence or diarrhoea). In this way the amount of fat in the food determines the amount of fat in the stool which makes the consumption of the supplement only possible with a low-fat diet. These so called fat blockers work in the intestines as a result of the blocking of fat-digesting enzymes. They are barely absorbed into the blood.
You can experience digestion problems in the beginning if too much fat is consumed, because all the undigested fat is excreted with the stool. Certain experts and patients have described this process as beneficial because the users become more aware of the amount of fat they have eaten and if their diet has too much fat.
Orlistat reduces the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, and E. The loss of vitamins must be compensated for if Xenical is taken over longer periods of time. There are no results of a long-term study of Orlistat.
Enzymes are proteins which get broken down, like all proteins, in the stomach and intestines, thereby completely losing their enzymatic power. It is for this reason that all pineapple, kiwi, mango and papaya extracts are absolutely meaningless.
Enzyme supplements are different. They are so strongly encapsulated that not even the digestive fluid can crack them open. There are discussions on whether these enzymes only have an effect in the intestines or if they can also penetrate the intestinal walls in the body. These enzyme supplements can make you lose weight only if fat-decomposing enzymes get into the fatty tissue. An enzyme supplement that can effectively decompose fats has not been scientifically proven.
Most homeopathic medicines for weight loss contain an algae extract (focus) which is meant to stimulate the metabolism and suppress appetite. There are no side effects when using such homeopathic medicines as they are strongly diluted. Nevertheless it is up to you to decide whether these strongly diluted medications still have an effect.
Coffee is meant to help burn fat as caffeine stimulates the heart and in turn the metabolic rate. The additional energy use is, however, relatively low. If you drink 12 cups of coffee a day you will increase your energy use by ca 80 to 150 calories. Caffeine can, however, give you appetite.
There really is a connection between smoking and weight. Nicotine suppresses the "appetite centre" in the nervous system. Nicotine also stimulates the metabolism and the body burns a few more calories. However nicotine is addictive, as we all know, and there are 110 000 smoke-related deaths in Germany each year.
Bulking Agents and Dietary Fibres
Bulking agents and dietary fibres such as bran, linseeds or agar-agar products are indigestible herbal substances that swell up in the stomach and give you a temporary satiety feeling. These natural filling agents need a lot of water in order to swell. They make the absorption of minerals difficult and so it is important to drink water that has a lot of mineral nutrients.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation Belts
Electrical muscle stimulation belts are advertised everyday on television. Small electrical surges cause the muscles in the body to contract. However, the flinching muscles use very little energy and as a result burn few calories. Some belts are suitable, to a certain extent, for the build up of muscles. The guarantee that fat is decomposed is not true. Which fatty tissues are to be decomposed first is a decision that the body makes itself and cannot be influenced by any external instruments.
Sauna und Sweating Cures
Finnish studies show that you do not burn more calories than usual in saunas. The circulation increases but as it increases the muscles in the body relax. This means that the calorie burning process does not take place. The weight loss caused by sauna visits is simply a loss of water.
Hungry for Change: Ditch the Diets, Conquer the Cravings, and Eat Your Way to Lifelong Health, James Colquhoun, Laurentine ten Bosch, Mark Hyman
Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition, Joel Fuhrman