Making Sense of Weight Loss Pills
Do weight loss pills exist? Yes, but that doesn’t mean weight loss comes in a pill.
The supplement industry is big business and rakes in well over 20 billion dollars year. Unless you live on a deserted planet, then chances are you have a supplement store near you, and even if you live like a caveman (or cavewoman) and live in complete isolation, you can still catch an advertisement on your radio or when you check the email. In fact, we stream music for our clients in our studio and I often hear an ad for some sort of magic pill that catches the attention of a client in search of a quick fix.
There in lies my problem with supplements: most people approach their fitness goals with a “supplement first approach” and then tack on some training and maybe, just maybe, some dietary changes. Unfortunately, getting fit doesn’t come in pill form, and weight loss pills don’t teach you much when it comes to focus, determination, and hard work. I always instruct clients to first make some dietary adjustments and then start a training program. After doing that consistently for 8 weeks you can now possibly start supplementing with supplements, but what supplements you use is a very short list.
Supplements are man-made substances, and the synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals that you can purchase in stores can possible cause digestive issues. Furthermore, your body needs more of the synthetic form because not as much of it will be absorbed compared to the natural form found in fruits and vegetables.
However, there are some supplements that do work. Quality whey protein supplements are beneficial to those who regularly strength train. Most experts agree that protein supplementation is an effective strategy to develop muscle mass, increase strength, and recover from exercise (1). Just make sure that the protein powder has only a few ingredients in it and comes from a reputable company.
Creatine is another supplement that shows consistent benefits. The position stand of the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition actually refers to creatine as the most effective ergogenic supplement currently available (2). To show the effectiveness of creatine, a study was done using supplementation with experienced bodybuilders. This subjects were already trained, and after 20 workouts, both groups had increases in strength and muscle mass while losing body fat (both groups were using creatine and different times in the day)(3).
You could add a fish oil supplement to that list and that would be your supplement bill for the month. The only thing left to do is to get a blood test and see what you’re deficient in and that would be reason for individual supplementation (magnesium, Vitamin D, etc). Besides that, just remember that hard work and good food go a long way.
1. Van Loon, L.J.C. “Is There a Need for Protein Ingestion During Exercise.” (2013) Gatorade Sports Science Institute 26; 109, 1-4
2. Buford, T.W., Kreider, R.B. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise” (2007) Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition 4;6, 1-8
3. Antonio, Jose. Ciccone, Victora. “The Effects of Pre Versus Post Workout Supplementation of Creatine Monohydrate on Body Composition and Strength.” (2013) Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 10:1,36