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  • The Truth about Diet Pills And Other Dietary Supplements

    We all know that there isn’t a magical pill that, once taken, will reduce your body fat and build muscle. It simply does not exist. The psychology behind such a product is often linked to a person’s unwillingness to actually eat healthy and work out!


    In this week’s post, we will look at dietary supplements, whether they work and more importantly in what context they work. Furthermore, we will help re-introduce the word ‘supplement’ into a healthy lifestyle.


    A Short History

    During the nineteenth-century, before the commercialization of medicine, with a fragmented medical profession, regulation was non-existent and as such, ill repute was the flavour of the day with an abundance of quack medicines available to the masses.

    In London periodicals and newspapers, advertisers were free to claim that ‘patent medicines’ could help muscle grow stronger or help weight-loss to occur. However, these untested medicines had problems – life altering ones. These drugs would increase the risk of heart disease, liver and kidney failure amongst other side effects. The result was a shift in governance, regulation and industry understanding.

    By the early twentieth century laws against such activities resulted in diet pills becoming less medical and more medicinal. This did not stop manufacturers creating hundreds of different products – so much so that a quick trawl of Google shopping today finds over 28,400 results. The prices vary from £1.93 to £88.23 for small packs containing, on average, 40-60 tables. The industry, according to Bloomberg, accounts for $60.9 Billion in the US alone and the Guardian newspaper claims the UK industry is worth over £3.4 Billion a year.


    Should You Take Them?

    Protein shakes are also classed as dietary supplements.

    Protein shakes are also classed as dietary supplements.

    The term “dietary supplement” can mean a whole multitude of products. They could mean vitamins, fish oils and even herbal extracts. They can be in the form of a pill, power, tablet or – rarely – injections.

    Academics claim “the use of dietary supplements has increased steadily over the years and may, in part, reflect the growing acceptance and use of a wider range of complementary and alternative therapies” (Egan, 2011). The growth of online marketing has led to bold claims such as the idea that one can “lose 25lbs in a week or even “lose weight whilst eating more” – this has resulted in an almost ‘fad’ mentality.

    The billions spent by consumers are short bursts, research conducted in the US claims the average user will dedicate no-more than 4-6 weeks on each diet pill (Ruskin, 2008). The complementary, non-dangerous element along with the short average time frames shows that individuals are interested in quick results – once they realise it isn’t forthcoming they move on. The issue is should you take them?

    It’s an interesting question with interesting supporters – medical journals like the British Medical Journal and the American Journal of Medicine are aren’t enemies of the pills (Karnerow, 2005), whereas sports science journals, academics and sports companies are aren’t fans (Kinningham et al, 2001). This ‘us and them’ mentality has, over the course of the past two decades, moulded into a divisive protracted argument. However, it’s an argument that should have ended.

    The law-abiding part of the diet supplementary industry adheres to regulations and marketing laws – there are cowboys and snake oil salesmen on the web. But the industry, as a whole, is legal and above board. The medical profession needs to work with the sports science community to better herald a new form of dietary needs. The multi-supplemental approach would help more people if the argument was clearer and more realistic.


    The Truth about Diet Pills

    So, what is the truth?

    So, what is the truth?

    A supplement is just that; it supplements your other healthy activities. If you eat five a day, drink enough water and eat healthily whilst undertaking 30 minutes of workout activity at least five times a week whilst taking a course of dietary supplement weight loss pills, then there is a good chance you could see some results.

    However, if you eat a bucket of KFC wings every day, drive everywhere, do no exercise and avoid fruit altogether whilst taking a course of dietary supplements then the chances are you won’t see any differences. The word ‘supplement’ needs to be made more prominent. It’s all about supplementing different eating habits, activities and methods – which combined will help reduce weight, build muscle and help anyone become healthier.



    Successful people from athletes to part-time fun-runner take supplements – they can be protein shakes or herbal weight loss pills. They do not work by themselves! It’s that simple, they only work in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.

    This is why we need to better educate people; the term supplement does not simply imply supplementing your body with minerals or vitamins but supplementing your body with additional requirements alongside other activities like exercise, healthy eating and an active lifestyle. These supplemental activities combined are the only way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. The academic research claims dietary supplements have a positive effect. However, that being said, this is only the case in people who eat healthy and undertake an active lifestyle. So think about what you want and how you want to achieve it before you start popping the pills.