Gym contracts can be expensive and life is too hectic to spend hours in a gym. Many women turn to diet pills to give them a boost in losing weight.
In this article we will take a look at diet pills, their benefits and their side effects.
What are diet pills?
The dictionary definition of diet pills is as follows: Anti-obesity medication or weight loss drugs refer to all pharmacological agents that reduce or control weight. These drugs alter one of the fundamental processes of the human body, weight regulation, by altering appetite, metabolism, or absorption of calories. It is common for them to be tried and if there is little or no benefit from them to discontinue treatment. The main treatment modalities for overweight and obesity are dieting and physical exercise.
Because of potential side effects, it is recommended that anti-obesity drugs only be prescribed for obesity where it is hoped that the benefits of the treatment outweigh its risks.
How do they work?
Anti-obesity drugs operate through one or more of the following mechanisms:
Suppression of the appetite. Catecholamines and their derivatives (such as amphetamine-based drugs) are the main tools used for this. Drugs blocking the cannabinoid receptors may be a future strategy for appetite suppression.
Increase of the body's metabolism.
Interference with the body's ability to absorb specific nutrients in food. For example, Orlistat (also known as Xenical and Allī) blocks fat breakdown and thereby prevents fat absorption. The OTC fiber supplements glucomannan and guar gum have been used for the purpose of inhibiting digestion and lowering caloric absorption
Anorectics are primarily intended to suppress the appetite, but most of the drugs in this class also act as stimulants (dexedrine, e.g.), and patients have abused drugs "off label" to suppress appetite (e.g. digoxin).
Which ingredients are bad for you?
The following Article on Diet Pills and their Ingredients which are sold in South Africa is from Catherine Boome, Registered Dietitian in Private Practice, from Newlands, Cape Town..
Most of the drugs used in weight reduction programmes function as Appetite Suppressants through the stimulation of the Central Nervous System. Examples of these amphetemine type agents are: norpseudoephedrine, phentermine, diethylproprion . Many of their side effects include anxiety, agitation, high blood pressure, insomnia and also have potential for dependence/abuse. (Some Brand names: Nobese®, Dietene®, Eetless®, Leanor®, Slim & Trim®, Thinz®). These “diet pills” used to be available over the counter but in June 2008, the Department of Health made all medication containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine a Schedule 6 drug which means that a doctor’s prescription is required to purchase the drug.
Sibutramine is the compound in another type of prescription Antiobesity drug (brand name Reductil®) available on the market today. This drug works on the brains neurotransmitters and enhances the feeling of fullness as well as mood and has been shown to be an effective weight loss aid taken under the supervision of a health professional and in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise programme. However it also has side effects of constipation, dry mouth and insomnia.
Orlistat (brand name Xenical®) is another drug available that inhibits the absorption of fat in the gut but unfortunately also decreases the absorption of important fat soluble vitamins and can lead to undesirable gastro-intestinal side effects.
The side effects of bad ingredients
Some diet pills can become addictive. Here are the side effects of being addicted to diet pills:
• High blood pressure
• Stomach pain
• Menstrual irregularities
• Memory loss
• Heart palpitations
• Congestive heart failure
• Cardiac arrest
• Nerve damage
As you can see from this list, diet pills have severe, and in some cases, life threatening side effects. Serious diet pill addiction can result in permanent health problems, and even death.
Who can and can't use diet pills
Pregnancy and issues with diet pills
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised not to take diet pills. When taken during pregnancy, these drugs could cause withdrawal symptoms or even birth defects when taken in large doses. Some diet pills can also produce harmful effects in a child by passing through breast milk.
In general, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a physician before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication.
Children and issues with diet pills
In general, physicians do not recommend diet pills for use in children. Despite the significant problems associated with childhood obesity, these drugs have not yet been approved for children under the age of 18.
Elderly and issues with diet pills
Researchers have not yet examined the effects of diet pills on the elderly. Older patients may metabolize substances such as diet pills differently from younger adults and may be more likely to experience side effects.
Diet and lifestyle guidlines
We eat to live....
It’s a simple, obvious truth. We need food for the basics of everyday life – to pump blood, move muscles, think thoughts. But we can also eat to live well and live longer.
By making the right choices, you will help yourself avoid some of the things we think of as the inevitable penalties of getting older. A healthy diet teamed up with regular exercise and no smoking can eliminate 80 percent of heart disease and 70 percent of some cancers. Making poor choices – eating too much of the wrong kinds of food and too little of the right kinds, or too much food altogether – increases your chances of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, and aging-related loss of vision.
Rules of eating healthily
The Healthy Eating Pyramid
Is simple to use. You don’t have to weigh your food or tally up fat grams. There are no complicated food exchange tables to follow. You needn’t eat odd combinations of food or religiously avoid a particular type of food. Instead, this pyramid aims to nudge you toward eating mostly familiar foods that have been shown to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. It involves simple changes you can make one at a time. Because it is an eating strategy aimed at improving your health instead of a diet aimed solely at helping you shed pounds, and because the changes suggested can make your meals and snacks tastier, it is something you can stick to for years.
Following is a list of healthy changes you can make:
Watch your weight: The lower and more stable your weight, the lower your chances of having or dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other type of cardiovascular disease and many other chronic diseases.
Eat fewer bad fats and more good fats:
Fats from nuts, seeds, grains, fish, and liquid oils (including olive, canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut and other vegetable oils) are good for you, especially when you eat them in place of saturated and trans fats.
Fats to use sparingly (top of the pyramid) are saturated and trans fats (red meat, whole-milk dairy products, butter and hydrogenated vegetable oils).
Eat fewer refined-grain carbohydrates and more whole-grain carbohydrates:
Whole grains are slowly digested compared to highly refined carbohydrates, which are rapidly digested carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed (refined) increase levels of blood sugar and insulin, raise levels of triglycerides, and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Over the long run these changes lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In contrast, eating whole-grain foods is clearly better for long-term good health and offers protection against diabetes, heart disease, cancer and gastrointestinal problems such as diverticulosis and constipation.
Choose healthier sources of protein:
The best sources of protein are beans and nuts, along with fish, poultry and eggs. The pyramid separates vegetable and animal protein sources and makes the latter optional for people who want to follow a vegetarian diet.
Eat plenty vegetables and fruits:
Vegetables and fruits are essential ingredients in almost every cuisine. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will lower your blood pressure, decrease your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, help protect you against a variety of cancers, guard against constipation and other gastrointestinal problems, and limit your chances of developing aging-related problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, the most common causes of vision loss among people over age sixty-five. Potatoes have been included in the ‘use sparingly’ category due to their dramatic effect on levels of blood sugar and insulin.
Eat at fixed times: Don't skip breakfast. This can slow down your metabolism.
Use alcohol in moderation:
Like many drugs, alcohol’s effects depend on the dose. A little can be beneficial. A lot can be detrimental to your health and vitality.
Take a multivitamin and mineral for insurance: It won’t make up for the sins of an unhealthy diet, but it can fill in the nutritional holes that can plague even the most conscientious eaters.
Three steps to weight control:
1. If you are not physically active, get moving. If you are, try to increase the level of your activity.
2. Find a eating plan that works for you, each individual is unique. We come in different sizes, shapes, have different metabolisms, likes and dislikes, different tastes and textures. The food pyramid is a good place to start.
3. Become a defensive eater.
This means learning how to avoid over-eating, here are some suggestions:
• Practice stopping before you are stuffed: Identify what is in excess of what you need to feel satisfied and stop at that point.
• Be selective: Don’t eat things just because they are put in front of you.
Choose small portions: In restaurants, portions are often over-size, a single meal could contain your entire daily caloric allowance. Consider having a salad as an appetiser, and a ‘starter’ as a main meal.
• Beware of desserts: If you simply must order a rich dessert as a treat, try sharing the portion between two people and skip the appetiser altogether.
• Slow down and pay attention to your food: When you wolf down food, you very effectively bypass the intricate set of ‘I’m full’ signals that your digestive system is designed to generate. Eating at a moderate pace gives your stomach and intestines time to send these messages to your brain.
Physical activity is essential to control a healthy long-term weight because exercise:
1. burns calories that would otherwise end up stored as fat.
2. builds muscle, or at least maintains muscle, an often ignored but absolutely essential ingredient in weight control.
Physical activity, no matter what kind, stimulates muscle cells to grow and divide, causing muscles to grow in strength and size.
If you live a sedentary life your muscles gradually waste away. And the less muscle you have, the less energy your body uses at rest and the easier it is to gain weight. Lost muscle is usually replaced by fat. As the balance between muscle and fat shifts further and further in favour of fat, resting metabolism decelerates even more.
As the body needs less and less energy to take care of its basic needs, more and more food goes into fat stores. The extra weight may also act as a physical or mental impediment to activity, which further reduces resting metabolism. The recommendation is thirty minutes of physical activity as a daily minimum for maintaining your health and weight, keeping in mind that most people will benefit from more.
Walking is an excellent alternative to other types of physical activity. Other ways to inject more activity into your day is by:
• Restructuring your day to allow for short bursts of activity instead of one long stretch.
• Walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
• Parking further away from the office and walk the remainder of the way.
• Doing more garden work, or wash and polish your car.
• Ultimately making exercise enjoyable, either by using it as time alone, or the opportunity for you to touch base with a partner or friend while walking.
The information above is based on extracts taken from the book:
EAT, DRINK and BE HEALTHY.
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.
Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P. H.
Co-developed with the Harvard School of Public Health
We recommend this book to gain more insight on how to make healthy changes to your lifestyle habits.