Weight loss drugs are among the most purchased worldwide for one reason: they promise weight loss without side effects. And that of course sounds great - a shortcut to getting into shape that requires no extra effort on my part and has no side effects? Sign me up!
But are those claims really as true as they're advertised to be?
In truth, these remedies don't really do miracles - in fact, they are even prohibited in certain countries. That's because their effectiveness and compliance with safety regulations aren't exactly guaranteed.
Here's a list of some of the most popular weight loss drugs on the market and their effects (both positive and negative):
Xenical is one of the most popular weight loss drugs on the market, despite the fact that it is prohibited in several countries.
Xenical promises to prevent the absorption of fat in your daily diet, thus reducing caloric absorption. According to its manufacturers, it eliminates about 30% of ingested fat.
At the same time, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and requires you to follow a restrictive diet while using the drug, which, if not followed, can be dangerous for your metabolism.
Chitosan has a fat absorption mechanism that decreases the calorific value of meals. It’s composed of seafood skeletons, natural fibers that aid in intestinal transit by decreasing the absorption of fats in the intestine.
Its components adhere to the fat molecules ingested, preventing them from being deposited in the body.
Those are the claims, at least. But with that being said, we don't actually have any solid scientific evidence to back up those claims.
At first, sibutramine was created to serve as an antidepressant. But then it was found to influence two particular neurotransmitters, serotonin and noradrenaline, which give us a feeling of satiety and therefore help with hunger control.
In other words, it helps us control our cravings so that we can eat less (follow a stricter diet) without as much of a challenge.
When you take sibutramine, you can eat less and still feel less hungry than you normally would. So it can indeed lead to rapid weight loss, but its side effects can get serious: it can cause increases in your blood pressure, elevated heart rate, headaches, dry mouth, insomnia and constipation.
Searching online, you'll find plenty of positive examples and success stories of people who've lost weight using those drugs, but you'll also find many examples of people who've had negative experiences.
That's because unlike other medicine, weight loss drugs are often not as heavily scrutinized or carefully examined. So ultimately this means that the drugs can work, but they do come with a significant set of risks.
Losing weight through a more balanced, less restrictive, less rushed diet can take a little bit longer, but it's also safer and its effects can last longer. After all, nobody wants to just lose weight - we want to keep it off as well.