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Weight loss supplements: Do they work?

Kathryn Fielding / Jun 11, 2018

As the summer holiday season kicks off, many of us might find ourselves in a last-minute panic about whether or not we’re “beach body ready” but are weight loss supplements the answer? In-house Nutritionist Kathryn Fielding takes a look...

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At this time of year, we always see a rise in “health” brands hyping their alluring “quick fixes” promising to get you trim in half the time and with half the work. After all, why eat less and move more when you can swallow a pill that promises to melt away body fat?

If it sounds a bit too good to be true, then it probably is. Weight loss supplements are raking it in, but are we throwing our money away and potentially damaging our health? Here’s our low-down on some of the popular weight loss pills out there...

Mega-T Green Tea

We are aware of the power of green tea; it’s rich in antioxidants and contains 'catechins' which help to stimulate the metabolism. Mega-T Green Tea contains green tea and other “powerful” ingredients such as acai berries, said to help you lose stubborn fat deposits and aid weight loss. It’s a popular one in today’s supplement market, revered for being "natural and drug-free". The kit comes with a diet and exercise programme and makes strong claims, saying that if you complete the programme closely then you can “lose up to 20lbs”...

Taking a closer look at the ingredients, these claims aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Buchu, corn silk, guarana, horsetail, hydrangea, juniper, magnesium, potassium, Uva Ursi and dandelion all have insufficient information on their effectiveness, whilst calcium is ”possibly ineffective” for weight loss according to the Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research Database1

Raspberry Ketones

There is insufficient reliable evidence to rate the effectiveness of raspberry ketones for weight loss. Adverse effects include feelings of shakiness and heart palpitations and structurally, raspberry ketones resemble synephrine, which can stimulate your central and neurologic nervous system and cardiovascular system. Hmmm, think we'll be skipping this one!

What you can do instead

Quick fixes may result in short spells of weight loss, but the effects are not long-lasting. Instead, start by looking at the reasons that could be causing excess weight and tackle those first. Stress, a lack of sleep, too much sugar – these are all known culprits which, when managed, can help you lose weight. 

If you are a sugar junkie and the idea of going cold turkey isn’t appealing then you can help your body by supplementing with the following: 

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid: To balance blood sugar, alpha-lipoic acid helps convert glucose into energy in our body’s cells and can increase insulin sensitivity. Krill oil omega 3 is a great source of ALA. 
  • American ginseng: This has been shown to balance after-eating blood sugar levels when taken up to two hours before or with a meal (3).  
  • Chromium Picolinate: This acts like a blood sugar regulator which can decrease fasting blood glucose, insulin levels, and increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. You’ll find this in the VITL multivitamin.  
  • Magnesium: This mineral benefits blood sugar levels, can increase insulin sensitivity and supports healthy glucose levels. You’ll find our magnesium complex in the Essentials 4 pack. 
  • Vitamin D: Population research shows that people with lower vitamin D levels have a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people with higher vitamin D levels. Try the VITL Vitamin D from just £4.95. 
  • Probiotics: By interacting and communicating with our cells, the beneficial bacteria in our body are responsible for helping to keep our blood sugar stable.  

Avoid the sugar highs and lows by balancing your blood sugar throughout the day with small meals eaten at regular intervals, for example, 3 x main meals and 2 x snacks. As soon as you are experiencing feeling shaky, irritable or tired, it may mean you need to eat! However, when your blood sugar levels begin to stabilise, transition to larger, less frequent meals to help regulate your hunger hormones.

If you feel like you're doing everything you can but still struggling to lose weight then it might be worth a trip to your GP for a thyroid checkup.

Lastly, don't forget to check out these 3 scientifically-proven weight loss hacks here.