By: Alonso Chavarriaga
It turns out obesity is not just a growing concern in America. Even though an estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population (around 154.7 million people) is overweight, the title of “world’s most heavily populated obese nation on this side of the globe” actually belongs to Mexico now. Obesity is quickly becoming a global epidemic, with increased risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, projections show that as many as half of the American population will have developed type-2 diabetes by the year 2020.
While it may seem like common knowledge that the key to weight loss is just eating right and being active, the ever-increasing rise of obesity is creating a sense of urgency, leading many people to seek out faster, alternate methods for weight loss.
Dr. Susanne Bennett, a chiropractic physician specializing in high performance health and nutrition, urges you to approach any weight loss strategy or diet pill that promises magical results with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism. There are two major things you can do to make smart, healthy choices.
Avoid Starving Yourself
Stay away from ultra low-calorie diets, or diets that rely on fasting and self-starvation. You will certainly lose weight, but not how you’d imagine. The lost weight you’ll experience will not only include fat stores, but also water and precious muscle tissue. Another downside is that your metabolism will plummet, causing your body to hang onto every calorie as long as it can.
Drastic calorie reduction sustained over a period of time will also lead to a higher percentage of body fat (the exact opposite of your goal in the first place), and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes. The results effects will leave you “skinny fat,” since you will have a low body weight but high fat percentage.
When figuring out your body composition goals, remember that you want body fat to be lower, but muscle mass to be higher. Unless you are under direct medical supervision, do not eat less than 1,200 calories per day, and be sure to take daily multivitamins so that your body is receiving essential fatty acids and amino acids.
If It Sounds Too Good to be True…
Supplements and drugs that make unbelievable promises are probably too good to be true. In some cases, they can really cause your body harm. You may be losing weight through proper nutrition and exercise but just need a “little extra” off your waist, or want to change your appearance faster. These so-called diet pills are packed full of ingredients that you need to know about.
Caffeine can be found in most diet pills. While it’s a naturally occurring substance that’s found in tealeaves and coffee beans, it can be an excessive stimulant that your body does not need much of. Taking too much caffeine can cause insomnia, jitteriness, aggressive behavior, heart palpitations, and other heart issues. Some diet pills may hide caffeine under its scientific name, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.
Another group of ingredients to watch out for are sympathomimetic drugs such as pseudoephedrine, ephedra, sibutramine, and Ma huang. All of these can cause increased heart rate, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. In the United States, ephedra and Ma huang have been banned, but pseudoephedrine has not.
Lastly, a formula that’s popular in some diet pills is bitter orange, also known as synephrine. Bitter orange is a major stimulant that can cause serious damage such as heart attacks, strokes, and even death.
Dr. Bennett recommends choosing metabolically supported formulas such as green tea extract or conjugated linoleic acid, which helps to improve lean body mass and insulin sensitivity. Another formula you can safely take is garcinia cambogia, which is known to support healthy body composition. Above all, Dr. Bennett believes there is no replacement for losing weight the right way – eating whole foods like vegetables and lean meats, practicing portion control, and getting a good night’s rest.