Many of the diet pills available today share the same common ingredients known for their weight loss properties. Like many other products we just happily buy into them, content with the marketing which has convinced us that they will achieve the results we are looking for.
But, the question is, how many of us really know what goes into diet pills? We look at the top ten most common diet pill ingredients to understand what they are, how they work and if there are any potential side effects.
There are many varieties of green tea and studies have shown that it can aid weight loss by boosting metabolism and energy levels, so the body burns more fat through the process of thermogenesis.
Green tea is also packed full of antioxidants, known as catechins, great for all round health, reducing blood fat levels and cholesterol, as well as helping detox the body and suppressing appetite.
Its natural caffeine means that those with caffeine sensitivity should be cautious when consuming green tea, but its credentials have plenty of celebrity support including Sophie Dahl who credits drinking green tea with helping her drop from a dress size 16 to a 12.
Read more about Green Tea’s weight loss benefits here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_tea
This is a water soluble fibre derived from a plant root and is also known as Konjak.
It is used in diet supplements as an appetite suppressant, as the fibre swells in the stomach so the user feels fuller for longer and consumes less calories.
Glucomannan can have side effects which include gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhoea, and in rare cases has been linked to blockages in the oesophagus and intestine.
It is recommended that it is safer to take in capsule (containing powder) rather than tablet form, as tablets are more likely to lodge and cause blockages, which are made worse by the ingestion of water causing them to swell more.
The Acai berry is a relatively recent super-fruit known for its potent antioxidants which protect the body from free radicals which can lead to cancer and heart disease.
David Grotto, RD, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life says “Acai is a nutrient-rich source of antioxidants, much like many other fruits, but there is nothing magical about the fruit to cause weight loss.”
Its presence as a weight loss ingredient is because claims have been made suggesting the fibre and fatty acid in Acai helps the body process food more quickly whilst boosting metabolism and reducing cravings.
Acai does help the body detox which allows for optimum digestive function, so although there are no clear clinical links to weight loss, its general health benefits will certainly help the body work more efficiently.
Guarana is a stimulant which increases stamina, endurance and metabolism causing the body to burn more fat, whilst also suppressing the appetite.
There are studies showing its effectiveness as a weight loss aid, but as it contains three times as much caffeine as coffee, guarana is not suitable for those with caffeine sensitivity or those who suffer from heart conditions, high blood pressure or over active thyroid. Its potency as a stimulant can cause heart palpitations, insomnia and hyper activity.
This mineral helps the body process carbohydrates and fats whilst assisting in the metabolism of sugar so calories from food are burnt off rather than stored as fat.
This makes chromium a popular ingredient in diet supplements, however, there is little information on the long term safety of taking chromium, and there has been speculation linking higher doses of chromium to kidney failure and liver damage, which need further investigation.
In its favour, chromium also boasts the ability to control cholesterol and fat in the blood, for improved heart health.
This safe nutritional supplement occurs naturally in our bodies, and can be found in red meat.
It metabolises fat and turns the fat from food into usable energy, allowing us to burn more fat and increase muscle mass.
As it is already present in our bodies, there are very few side effects of taking L’Carnitine as long as the recommended doses are followed.
Capsicum or chilli pepper has been proven to be an effective weight loss aid. Its thermogenic properties increase body temperature and metabolism so more fat can be burnt by the body. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels by affecting the breakdown of carbohydrates from food.
Additional health benefits include regulating blood pressure, increasing blood circulation, reducing respiratory illnesses, increasing energy levels and reducing bacterial infection.
Extracts from pure raw green coffee beans contain chlorogenic acid, which studies have shown boosts metabolism allowing the body to burn more fat, as well as improving fat elimination.
A common and popular ingredient in many diet pills, the unroasted beans do not produce the jittery, stimulant type effects associated with regular coffee, and contains a fraction of the caffeine.
Green coffee extract also boasts other health benefits which include regulating blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure, improving blood circulation, and is packed full of healing antioxidants.
Brown seaweed has been found to contain a compound called Fucoxanthin, which in animal studies was shown to cause fat oxidation whilst also converting energy to heat, both contributing factors in weight loss.
It was also shown to stimulate the liver to produce a compound called DHA, a type of fatty acid similar to Omega 3, which reduces bad cholesterol, known to contribute to obesity and heart disease.
With no adverse side effects, this natural ingredient is a favourite of many diet pills.
Prickly pear is a type of cactus which is relatively untested regarding its effects on weight loss, but has been proven to help lower cholesterol, manage diabetes and improve prostate health.
There is some evidence however linking prickly pear to weight loss as it stabilizes blood sugar levels, which helps weight loss in two ways.
When blood sugar levels are too high, the body senses it has too much glucose and will store some of it as fat instead of using it as energy; also a sugar spike causes hunger cravings leading to over eating.
By controlling these blood sugar levels, less sugar is stored as fat and cravings are reduced, so it acts as a natural appetite suppressant and fat blocker. Prickly pear contains fibre which speeds up the digestive process, so there can be some laxative effects.
Packed full of antioxidants which decrease oxidative damage and improve general health, prickly pear is safe, natural ingredient with a multitude of benefits.
Those looking for a prickly pear extract product should look no further than Proactol XS – a dual fat binder and appetite suppressant which has impressive feedback and clinical backing.