Weight Loss Supplements: Healthy or a Hoax?

As a 20-year-old woman I have tried my fair share of weight-loss methods. I’m the type of person that just has to look at a bar of chocolate for it to go straight to my hips, so if anybody suggests a new diet technique that will help me in my eternal struggle for skinniness, you can pretty much count me in.

I have cut out carbs, gone to fitness classes, meticulously counted calories and tried teas that supposedly suppress your appetite. My latest excursion, the 5:2 diet, requires you to eat normally for five days a week and then only eat a maximum of 500 calories for two ‘fast’ days.

Sadly, nothing I have tried so far has given me the fantastic results I desire. I am still not supermodel thin and I’m about as likely to see a thigh gap appear between my legs as I am a unicorn trotting through my college campus.

Despite my never-ending efforts to get thin, something that has never appealed to me is the use of diet shakes and pills. Using supplements to tamper with your body’s natural digestion/metabolism/fat absorption processes freaks me out a little. Plus, the horror stories about multiple different side effects (such as hair loss and brittle bones) are enough to make anyone second guess what exactly is entering your system.

Lipotrim is one of the most popular weight-loss shakes available in Ireland. It is designed for those who are clinically ‘obese’, but many people with a lot less weight to lose also use these products. The idea is to replace meals with three very low-cal ‘milkshakes’ a day. The results are quick and often drastic – just as any method of starvation would be.

Many women have taken to weight-loss forums online to share their experience with Lipotrim, and multiple users have said they have piled the weight straight back on once they start eating normally again. Pharmacist Linda Quirke from Roches Allcare Pharmacy in Wexford, told The College View that “Using weight loss supplements such as this may not provide adequate nutritional content to allow the body to thrive.”

The Pharmanord CLA Booster, a fat-binding pill containing green tea extract, is another popular weight management product among Irish women. While it is not as extreme as Lipotrim, the end results are still dubious. According to its information leaflet, each pill can help bind the amount of fat contained in a 100 gram portion of French-fries – but only in conjunction with healthy eating and exercise.

“They might be an aid, but you’d need to be eating healthily and improving exercise levels,” said Linda, while also advocating natural foods such as porridge as effective fat binders without the hefty price-tag.
Ultimately, the only sure-fire way to become slimmer, fitter and healthier is through a change of diet and an increase in exercise. We can kid ourselves that there are quick-fix methods out there that ‘really work’, but in reality weight loss requires quite a lot of hard work and dedication.


Jade O’Leary

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