We’re back again with another 5 diet pill myths that we feel are widely (and unfairly) believed! Just as we did last time, we will be looking at some of our most basic assumptions about the supplement we buy and dispelling the falsehoods, inaccuracies or outright lies that come with them.
You may be wondering why it is entirely necessary to have two lists dedicated to this subject. The unfortunate answer to that is that the supplement industry deserves a special level of scrutiny; there aren’t too many marketplaces out there so prone to misleading advertising. Although customers should expect some lies and cover-ups when buying other items (such as food, insurance or cleaning products for example), the supplement industry seems to have a larger-than-average cast of shady characters and dodgy salesmen.
Why is this? Readers interested in buying diet supplements should know that problems arise with the laws that govern how diet pills are sold, especially in the USA. By its nature, the supplement industry is unregulated, meaning that (unlike proper medicinal drugs) there is often no-one in authority checking whether companies are operating in an ethical or professional way. Actually, this brings us onto our first myth…
One disturbing thing we’ve noticed about the unregulated nature of the supplement industry, is that knowing what is in these products is often a bit of a challenge. Ingredients lists may not tell you everything.
For one thing, most diet pill companies routinely fail to publish ingredient quantity information, and there isn’t a law out there telling them they must do so. We never tire of complaining about this, as technically companies can (and often do) claim that their product contains a certain ingredient, when in reality they have only but a speck of it in the mix. Without knowing the quantity, no-one can say whether the ingredient has been included in too low a quantity (rendering it useless), or too high a quantity (potentially increasing the chance of encountering side effects).
Not all companies do this, so surely you would think it’s as simple as buying only products with listed ingredient quantities? Unfortunately, we also happen to know that some companies outright lie about what is in their products, and normally are only discovered when a group set up to help the general public (like the FDA) uncovers the lie. This is particularly a problem with products coming to us from East Asia, with many secretly putting in banned, dangerous, and even deadly ingredients in without declaring it on the label (such as Lishou).
If you want to avoid this problem, you must take care to select reputable products. Look out for products that are manufactured in a GMP-compliant facility, as these have normally already been analysed for quality. It’s also good practice to do a bit of Googling on products you’re thinking about trying; if the company or product has been criticised or sued by the FDA then avoid it entirely, as this is a strong indication that serious violations have been committed.
When you think of fat burners, you are probably thinking of the satisfying scenario that advertisers like to suggest to us. We imagine that our new “fat-burning” diet pill is always actively hard at work, burning fat in significant quantities even when resting and relaxing.
Several years of research is slowly but surely starting to dispel this notion entirely (Source). Credible sources now estimate that even really effective thermogenic fat burners like humble old green tea still only raise the metabolism by just 4% (Source). Banned ingredients that are thought to be seriously effective, like ephedra, don’t even fare much better and largely rely on their appetite suppression mechanism to cause weight loss at all. Any product that promises to block the absorption of calories are the worst of the bunch – expert researchers examining dozens of pieces of research have concluded that the best of these products can only block approximately 1200-1300 calories per week. That may seem like a lot, but it will only lead to a total weight loss of around one third of a pound per week! (Source) The conclusion coming out of all of this is simple – if you’re not dieting or exercising whilst taking diet pill supplements like these, expect to lose virtually no weight at all.
Does all of this mean that there is no place for fat burners or calorie blockers entirely? Not really, as the use of these products can add a nice little edge that will compliment your existing diet and exercise efforts. The important thing to remember is that the overall effect of these product is generally very slight. Lifestyle changes are ultimately far more important, and sensible dieters will prioritise finding a sustainable eating and exercise plan over expensive and flashy diet pills.
This may be the most common misconception on the entire list, and it’s one that is potentially seriously damaging to your health. In this day and age, a concerning number of people automatically trust the benefits of using “natural” products and disparage anything that’s chemical. Unfortunately, “natural” does not mean “good for you”, especially when it comes to diet or muscle supplements.
Naturally sourced ingredients may still be wholly ineffective or could cause a range of serious side effects, especially when included in the extremely unnatural quantities we see in diet products. One good example is bitter orange, an entirely natural fruit that is most commonly consumed in Iran.
Supplement manufacturers adore it because of the somewhat-thermogenic properties of a protoalkaloid compound we can extract from the fruit called synephrine. Despite its admitted usefulness, supplemental synephrine is known to cause serious side effects, including heart palpitations and even strokes. Many weight loss products also contain caffeine. A combination of these two ingredients increases the risk for cardiovascular related diseases, and other severe side effects.
Assumptions about the apparent “safe” status of natural products has led to an interesting legal debate currently being held between the FDA and a supplement manufacturer called Hi Tech Pharmaceuticals. Hi Tech Pharma believe they have the right to sell a host of banned ingredients like ephedra because they have managed to extract them from a plant, senegalia berlandieri. The argument goes that as the chemicals can be extracted from a leaf, it should not be under the authority of the government to ban them. Luckily for consumers, the opinion of the FDA, almost all scientists, and industry experts, this makes no difference; just because you can extract a harmful substance from a plant, this does not magically make it harmless or desirable!
If you think about it, the logic is ultimately ridiculous. After all, tobacco is natural and the substances we use to clean our hands are chemicals. Learning what is good or bad for you involves taking each substance on its own merits, and not being automatically blinded by hearing buzzwords like “natural”.
This is admittedly one of the dafter claims we hear in the supplement industry, although it still deserves scrutiny as customers apparently still believe it! In recent years, a number of weight loss products have come onto the market in the form of patches (similar to nicotine patches), skin creams, show insoles, toe rings, and earrings. You may be dumbfounded to hear this, but all of these products are entirely useless and serve only as a scam to take gullible people’s money.
Weight loss is actually quite simple when you reduce it down to the bare bones. All diets and exercise programs are simply reducing the number of calories dieters put into their body, relative to those that are used up as energy. If a product is applied to the outside of the body and it is unable to affect this calorie balance, then it simply cannot work. The main theory suggesting that diet earrings, rings, and insoles work as acupuncture and reflexology, both of which have no scientific basis whatsoever. The creams don’t seem to have any basis in anything at all (science or otherwise), and cannot expect to affect anything other than the skin (Source). Those that are suspicious of science for whatever reason need only look at the customer reviews for products like these – we have struggled to find any positive experiences with pretty much any of these duds. (Source; Source)
The patches are a little harder because the technology is clearly based on something that does work: namely, nicotine patches. Nicotine patches work because the drug can be absorbed through the skin pores and sent straight to the bloodstream, where it performs the same role as if it had been absorbed through the lungs. However, there is no reason to believe that the same process can take place with weight loss ingredients. Virtually none of these ingredients have been investigated to see whether the possibility of skin absorption is possible, or whether they have the same effect when placed directly into the bloodstream (unsurprisingly, our understanding of how most weight loss ingredients work is based entirely on the assumption that dieters consume them orally). Worse, nicotine patches are only suitable for people that are not overweight or obese, as the nicotine particles appear to struggle to bypass overly fatty tissue. This last point makes it particularly baffling why anyone would select a patch as a weight loss aid for overweight or obese people! (Source)
Readers interested in Hoodia Gordonii-based supplements must understand this point – this ingredient was conclusively proven to be ineffective a long time ago. Despite this, hoodia is one of the most popular appetite suppressants around, and we see it in hundreds of products that appear to sell very well.
Only one study has been conducted on Hoodia, and it was a major one. The plant was highly sought after when it was first uncovered by the Western world in the late 20th century, as it had reportedly been used by Southern African tribesmen as an appetite suppressant since anyone could remember. The aim at the time was to transform hoodia into a proper drug that doctors could prescribe.
A landmark study was carried out in the early 2000s after two massive drug companies, Pfizer and Phytopharm, acquired exclusive rights to sell it. This extremely well-funded and thorough study revealed two key things: that hoodia failed to reduce appetite in the tested animals and appeared to have a worrying toxic effect on the liver. Tellingly, Pfizer decided to cut its significant losses, actually gave up all legal rights to sell the ingredient and never attempted to look into it again. This is worth remembering – these companies lost millions by giving up their rights to hoodia, an action that would not have been taken if it could be proven to work and could be sold as a regulated drug.
It’s amazing to consider how open and shut this case was at the time, before seeing how many companies and dieters rely on it today. Customer reviews always seem surprised but they shouldn’t be – it’s always been an open secret that hoodia gordonii is absolutely useless, and all companies that sell it know this.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.