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The Skinny on Weight Loss Supplements (from Yahoo news)

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Old 03-01-2004, 10:47 AM   #1
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Default The Skinny on Weight Loss Supplements (from Yahoo news)

Here's a helpful article on diet supplements from Yahoo news

The Skinny on Weight Loss Supplements

by Paul R. Thomas, Ed.D, R.D.
Can one pill make you smaller? Say, the one called Exercise in a Bottle? Or maybe Fat Trapper?

Only in Wonderland, Alice.

With prescription drugs showing only modest benefits for dieters, and the FDA getting ready to ban the amphetamine-like active ingredient (phenylpropanolamine) in over-the-counter appetite suppressants like Acutrim and Dexatrim, sales of herbal "weight-loss" supplements are going through the roof. But do the "quick, natural" fixes work?

Don't ask Alice.

Ask Miavita.

Big Claims, No Results

Let's not mince words: Many of these products are utterly worthless. Their weight loss potential is as evanescent as the Cheshire Cat, as fleeting as jam yesterday and jam tomorrow. (We're tempted to say, "Off with their heads!")

We looked at key ingredients in major products that claim to boost metabolism, block fat absorption, dampen appetite, promote fullness and maximize fat loss. Even those that show potential have little scientific data to determine safety, effectiveness or proper doses. CLA shows the most promise; ephedra and dieter's teas are potentially dangerous.

The rest are probably safe, if unproven. They might even help you - if taking a supplement helps you start moving in the right direction to take charge of your eating and exercise patterns!

Take a Multivitamin with Minerals

There is one supplement you should take if you're dieting: A good multivitamin with minerals. It will ensure you get all the important nutrients as you eat less food.

On the other hand, if you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans - and cut back on nutrient-poor junk foods - you may eat less and get more nutrients anyway.

A Quick Guide to "Fat Buster" Supplements

Sales of herbal "weight-loss" supplements are booming - more than $2 billion. But do these "quick, natural" fixes work? Here's a thumbnail guide:

Danger!

•Ephedra: Promises to increase metabolism and promote weight loss - if any of at least a dozen reported side effects don't hurt you first.

•Dieter's Tea: Their laxative ingredients give "tea" a bad name - any temporary weight loss comes from diarrhea and dehydration, which can be serious.

Snake Oil

•Chitosan: It comes from crab shells! Ever seen a fat crab? If this line of thinking makes sense to you, prepare to get pinched.

•Chromium: The feds nixed claims that it helped long-term weight loss, prevented diabetes or lowered cholesterol. Even milder claims lack credibility.

•Glucomannon: Experts think you'd get better results - for less money - by simply adding more fiber to your diet and drinking plenty of liquids.

•Green Tea Supplements: Chances are they're safe, but there's virtually no scientific support for a role in weight loss - we'd rather pour ourselves a cup.

•HCA: If you want to be a guinea pig, it only costs about 40 cents a day. But with no proven results and possible risks, the price may be greater than meets the eye.

You Make the Call

•Pyruvate: It has shown minor calorie-burning promise at 6g a day; it'll set you back about $3 a day. It's your money...

Safe, If Nothing Else

•CLA: Research suggests it may diminish hunger and help build muscle, but there's a long way to go before we know.

•Green Tea: It may help burn calories faster, especially fat, but that's highly speculative. Still, it's a healthy habit, and it tastes good, so drink up!
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