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What's the best/safest diet pill?
February 22, 2005 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering taking a weight loss supplement (something like TrimSpa or Ripped Fuel), and was wondering if anyone had personal recommendations or knew of an independent site that reviewed supplements for effectiveness and safety/side-effects. Now that Ephedra has been banned, I'm operating under the assumption that these supplements are more or less safe, is that correct? What are the differences between the different brands? Any ingredients that I should look for or avoid? [my google-fu has failed miserably, what with all of the sites trying to sell this stuff]
posted by rorycberger to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Now that Ephedra has been banned, I'm operating under the assumption that these supplements are more or less safe, is that correct?

Not necessarily. The FDA relies on the manufacture to determine safety. From their dietary supplement FAQ:

Who has the responsibility for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe?:
By law (DSHEA), the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that its dietary supplement products are safe before they are marketed. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to "approve" dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer. Also unlike drug products, manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are not currently required by law to record, investigate or forward to FDA any reports they receive of injuries or illnesses that may be related to the use of their products. Under DSHEA, once the product is marketed, FDA has the responsibility for showing that a dietary supplement is "unsafe," before it can take action to restrict the product's use or removal from the marketplace.
Of course, that doesn't mean it will kill you, but the lack of regulation (and impartial information on efficiency) is one reason why I'm a bit skeptic towards such products. More so considering the amount of money that can be made.
posted by MikeKD at 1:41 PM on February 22, 2005


Don't operate under the assumption that all of the supplements out there are safe; in fact, most of them carry some risk. You should tell your doctor what you are taking to avoid any dangerous drug interactions. Also, check Consumer Reports for what you definitely should avoid.
posted by stefanie at 1:46 PM on February 22, 2005


Save your money, take vitamins (and/or eat right) instead. "Weight-loss supplements" work by increasing your metabolism with stimulants. Ephedra was, apparently, very effective in combination with caffeine and asprin; that's how many supplements gained such notoriety.

Nowadays, your're pretty much limited to caffeine, which is not (supposedly) as effective on its own (and anyway, do you want to be jittery all the time?). For the prices they want to charge you for these things, you're far, far better off taking a multivitamin with calcium with your morning tea. Or just eat your veggies and drink your milk, like Mom says.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


Ephedra probably is more or less safe. A lot of the scary ephedra stories didn't emphasize that people were taking ten times the recommended doses; a lot of the fatality stories didn't attempt to take into account things that were risk factors independent of the ephedra consumption.

But it became a Fright of the Week, so it was banned (see also cyclamates.)

I wouldn't assume that because something's legal it's safe, any more than that because it's illegal it's unsafe.

I had some good results with Xenadrine (an ephedra/caffiene/aspirin-precursor combo, now illegal, of course) a few years ago, in the context of eating well and exercising regularly. If I recally correctly, I was taking it at half the recommended dose.

That said, I wouldn't seek out dietary supplements again. Put on muscle mass. That'll speed your metabolism, too.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 3:12 PM on February 22, 2005


Is taking a pill the only option you are considering? Before this year, I never seriously dieted. I did some reading on the South Beach. I decided to start it as a New Year's Resolution and it's working really well for me so far. It requires a bit of commitment (especially the first two weeks), but in the end it is pretty rewarding.
posted by Doohickie at 4:25 PM on February 22, 2005


I should have added that I'm also planning on regular exercise and some (moderate) dieting. Unfortunately, I'm deciding to lose weight at about the same time that I've started to teach myself gourmet (read: French) cooking, which isn't exactly diet friendly. I'm trying to reduce my portion sizes and avoid unnecessary junk food, but that can only do so much to compensate. I thought maybe one of these products (combined with regular exercise) might help. The Consumer Reports article was interesting, but the "12 supplements to avoid" link is broken, and it doesn't offer any examples of "good" supplements, if such a thing exists. Anybody know if any health/fitness mags have reviewed this stuff lately?
posted by rorycberger at 4:53 PM on February 22, 2005


Sometimes you can find interesting articles posted among the personal testimonials in the "buyer beware" forum at 3 Fat Chicks.
posted by belladonna at 6:03 PM on February 22, 2005


There are some other things you can do while still making the gourmet food: The easy carbs so many Americans take in contribute to weight gain. One way to counteract this is, to the greatest extent possible, use whole-grain products instead of instant or quick cooking rice, or white flour in bread and pasta products. Thus endeth this reading from the Book of Agatston. Even if you don't do the full South Beach thing, reading up on it some may yield some benefit.
posted by Doohickie at 7:57 PM on February 22, 2005


There are better ways to increase your metabolism than uppers, which is all the various sundry pills are. Have a good cardiovascular workout first think in the morning, eat 5-7 small meals per day instead of three or two, and do some good honest weight training about three times a week. In combination, those three strategies should work just as well as any quack diet pill.
posted by sid at 8:50 PM on February 22, 2005


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