In the last article I wrote about supplements and pointed out some that may be effective tools for people in addition to a healthy and active lifestyle. But due to the lack of regulation on supplements – which may or may not be a good thing – there are some that you might want to avoid.
Beware of these:
Pre-workout drinks, pills, etc. – Ah, the instant boost of energy. Get ripped, get pumped, increase your lifts, run faster, perform better. Too good to be true? Possibly. Are they safe? Possibly/maybe-so/maybe-not. The energy drink, energy shot, energy pill, and such have been around for a while. There might be some that work okay, but these are definitely products to take caution with.
Energy supplements tend to have a habit of getting banned once people begin to experience heart palpitations and other undesirable side effects like death. You might recall the product ephedrine, which was banned several years ago due to its adverse side effects including death. More recently a supplement called MDAA was banned for the same reasons. Both of these supplements were served over the counter at supplement shops across the country prior to their banning. Pretty scary.
I am not saying that it is impossible to have a pre-workout energy supplement that is not harmful. Some herbs and supplements provide a “pick-me-up” that is similar to caffeine, which is both legal and regarded as safe by most people. Even so, there are some people that have adverse reactions even to caffeine. So, take caution and do your research before taking anything that is labeled as an “energy booster” or similar.
Fat Burners – Pretty much the same caution should be taken with these as the “energy” supplements listed above. Often times they contain the same or similar ingredients. Be careful.
hCG – It baffles me that this is even legal, but hCG hormone – which is a hormone that is present in pregnant women – is a hormone that when injected supposedly brings dramatic weight loss results. The science behind this is ridiculous. It comes from a small study done in India, which has since been refuted in several medical journals. hCG can only legally be administered through a qualified medical professional.
Another thing with hCG is the hormone therapy is coupled with a severe calorie restriction – one that is reminiscent of how an anorexic person might eat (or not eat). The formula of severe calorie restriction (about 500 calories per day) coupled with the hormone injections hardly promotes a healthy lifestyle practice. It is essentially common knowledge that calorie restriction this low can bring malnourishment and medical problems that result from it.
Beyond clinical use of hCG, there are products that claim to be homeopathic hCG supplements. Commonly advertised as “hCG Drops” these supplements use questionable ingredients with little to no actual hCG present.
My opinion is that any time someone reduces his or her calorie intake to 500 calories per day for any length of time, he or she will lose weight, albeit in an unhealthy manor. hCG is a gimmick. People waste thousands, if not millions, of dollars collectively on these injections and drops. Lifestyle change and creating better habits is the way to go.
“Just Take This Pill” Supplements – there are several varieties of these, but the mantra is “Just take this pill…” or “Just sprinkle this on…” and “…you don’t have to watch what you eat or exercise.” These pills supposedly block fat from accumulating on your body and/or help you burn fat.
These are just more gimmicks. Again, better long-term eating habits and regular physical activity are the only tried and universally accepted methods of losing weight. The Magic Pill solutions are there for people that will try anything to lose weight.
To conclude this article and the previous one: It is possible that some supplements help speed up metabolism (burn fat) and possible that some help build muscle. It may be true that some bring other health benefits – reduced inflammation, promote bone health, improve joint stiffness, etc. Remember that these are called “supplements” for a reason. They are meant to supplement your diet, not be the sole factor in health and weight loss.