The Herbal Pharmacist

Better Living, Naturally!

Weight Loss & Supplements – What you should know.

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that I am not a big fan of supplements for weight loss. I decided to give my beliefs a rest and try to give you some helpful pointers on the safest supplements for helping you battle the bulge.  Before I get into the supplements, I feel like I need to explain why I don’t like the weight loss supplement category (much to the dismay of supplement manufacturers).  Bottom line-the majority of people who need to lose weight use supplement as a crutch instead of making the needed lifestyle changes to lose those extra pounds.

Admit it, it is much easier to pop a pill than to eat less and get more activity. (This is the secret to weight loss-consume fewer calories than you burn—unless you have a metabolic disorder) In order to lose one pound, you need to burn 3500 calories. Simply put, if you consume 500 fewer calories than you burn each day, you will lose 1 pound per week.  If you decide to incorporate my suggestion of 30 minutes of brisk walking into your equation, you will burn another 150 calories per day or another 3/10 of a pound each week. If you want to speed up the process, you need to either consume fewer calories or increase your activity.  The following are other activities and how many calories you may burn in 30 minutes (based on a 140 pound person) (go to www.my-calorie-counter.com for more detailed activities and calories burned):

  • Jogging- 225
  • Bicycling, 10-11.9 mph, leisure, slow, light effort-191
  • Elliptical Trainer Machine – Levels 11-14 – Light Effort -254.5
  • Swimming laps, freestyle, slow, moderate or light effort- 222.5

Obviously, the more difficult the activity, the more calories you will burn. Most experts (including me) recommend losing between 1-2 pounds per week. I recommend this pace for a few reasons:

  1. Rapid weight lose can cause you to lose muscle and not fat. Since muscle is what burns fat, the more you lose, the more your metabolic rate (burning of calories) will go down. Granted, the scale may say you lost weight, but it will be difficult for you to maintain due to your decreased metabolic rate.
  2. Rapid weight loss is usually followed by rapid weight gain.
  3. Rapid weight loss can put stress on major organs such as your heart and kidneys.

I was mentioning this article to a few of my friends and they all said that they didn’t want to lose weight my way because it would take too long. Funny thing is that when I asked them how long it took for them to gain their 20 or so extra pounds, they answered with 1 ½-2 years.  Do the math-this means that they averaged gaining 1 pound per month (1/4 pound per week). This also means that they averaged consuming 875 more calories per week than they burned.  My question to you is: why is it so unreasonable to lose the weight at 1-2 pounds per week. That means it will come off 4-8 times faster than you put it on.

I understand how difficult it is to take a look in the mirror and realize that the reason that something is wrong with me is because I caused it. Years ago, I stood in my bedroom and took a profile picture of myself with no shirt on (I was 20 pounds overweight). I used this as motivation to live/follow my 4-pillars of health.  Diet (how you eat), Activity, Spirituality and Supplementation.  Occasionally I show the picture to people, and they can’t believe it is me (I cut the head off of the picture).  See, I too once was overweight. But now, utilizing the techniques I teach, I am able to maintain the health I desire. (I learned a new lifestyle.)

Before I get to the supplements you should look for, here are some things you need to avoid:

  • Stay away from “fat-burners”-most if not all of these products contain stimulants like Guarana, caffeine or worse.  Stimulants may increase your metabolic rate, but often lead to other more serious problems like high blood pressure, insomnia or worse. These products often lead to rebound weight gain-similar to what happens with rapid weight loss. (Examples: Guarana, Kola Nut, Yerba Mate and Caffeine)
  • Avoid product that contain stimulant laxatives- this will help you lose some weight, but will have no impact on body fat. The 10-15 pounds you lose may just be excess waste in your bowel. I understand that this can be a good thing, but it is a false weight loss. (Ex. Cascara, Senna)
  • Avoid natural diuretics- Again; this will be false weight loss. I would rather have you avoid sodium (salt) and consume more water and fewer sodas or other beverages that may contribute to water weight. These natural diuretics aren’t harmful; I just think it is a waste. (Ex. Parsley, Asparagus, Dandelion)

For those of you who may need an extra boost to get started, here are my recommendations for ingredients to look for:

  • Garcinia cambogia (HCA)
  • Green Tea
  • Chromium
  • 7-KETO
  • CLA
  • Glucomannan
  • L-Carnitine
  • Hoodia

There are several trade name products to look for too:

  • Fucothin (Garden of Life)
  • Tonalin CLA (Various brands)
  • Citrimax Plus Chromium Picolinate (Vitamin Shoppe)
  • Relacore

These are just the tip of a very large iceberg. I suggest you consult with a store health enthusiast to find the supplement that is right for you.

My personal favorite is green tea. Green tea is loaded with a ton of potential health benefits besides helping with weight loss.  Green tea can help decrease cravings, increase metabolic rate and help with fat loss. Additionally, Green tea is one of Mother Nature’s best supplements for overall health. It has shown to help with conditions such as: Cancer, cholesterol, high blood pressure, tooth decay, cold and flu just to name a few.  I am a huge fan of getting more than one benefit from my supplements. More bang for the buck. You can either utilize a capsule, extract or tea to get the benefits.

If you decide to use any of these supplements as part of your weight loss program, try to use them when you are “stuck” or plateau.  Relying solely on a supplement for weight loss is the wrong approach.  The best way to reach your goal and maintain it forever (as opposed to fad diets) is to change your lifestyle. It may mean getting more activity or cutting out a few of those foods/beverages you love so much, but in the long run, it means a happier and healthier you. (Being overweight is a major risk factor for most of the deadly diseases we face-heart disease, cancer and diabetes)  Have faith and good luck. Maybe next year losing weight will not be one of your resolutions.

Author: David Foreman

Dave is a retired pharmacist, author television commentator and radio host and practitioner of natural living and holistic health.

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