Dangers of popular slimming aids

Walk into the supermarket and you can find my different weight loss pills that work in a variety of different ways. You may be familiar with some of the following phrases:-

  • Fat Binder
  • Metabolism Booster
  • Appetite Suppressant 

But what do these actually mean and what are the dangers that these products pose? In the following post I will explain what they claim to do and how they could affect your body. 

Fat Binder

These are found in pills and work by binding to the fat you eat, preventing some of your dietary fat from being digested. This fat is then transported through your gut before your body can get any calories from it. 

You may think this sounds good as you aren't getting as much fat.  

In actual fact it can actually be quite dangerous. Your body needs a certain amount of fat in your diet for a number of different functions including the absorption of some vitamins (A, D, E and K - Fat Soluble Vitamins). If you are taking pills to block fat, you will unknowingly be blocking the vitamins from being absorbed.

  What do I need these vitamins for?

 Vitamin A

Vitamin A is required to help with vision, reproduction, embryonic development and immune function due to it being an antioxidant.

Although deficiency is rare in the western world it can lead to vision problems, problems with foetal development and in the worst case it can result in blindness. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is required for the regulation of calcium, bone mineralisation and immune function.  

Deficiency can result in a condition known as Osteomalacia which is a loss of mineral from the bone causing them to become brittle. In extreme cases a vitamin D deficiency can lead to hearing loss.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant which is responsible for protecting the body against a variety of diseases and infections.

Deficiency of antioxidants will leave the body vulnerable to infection.

Vitamin K

 Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting and metabolism of bone.

Deficiency of vitamin K can result in impaired blood clotting and in severe cases - bleeding. 

*So from looking at this you can see that blocking the fat required for these vitamins to be absorbed could be extremely dangerous* 

Metabolism Boosters

These are found in a variety of supplements ranging from seaweed pills to green tea pills.

They all work in the same way, claiming that their active ingredients will speed up your metabolism: resulting in an increase in the number of calories that you burn. 

The evidence behind these claims is poor, and the effect seen on your metabolism, if any would be marginal at best. What they also fail to mention is that everyone is different so will respond differently to different products. Therefore you might spend loads of money thinking you are speeding up your metabolism, where in actual fact you are making no difference at all apart from to your bank balance. 

However, what many people fail to understand is that you can achieve an increased metabolism by making simple changes to your lifestyle. Increasing exercise, not skipping meals (especially breakfast) and strength training.

The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism will be resulting in a faster rate of fat loss. 

Appetite Suppressant (Bulking Agent)

These claim to make you feel fuller so it will stop you from overeating and consuming as many calories.  

Like the metabolism boosters there is no strong evidence to support their claims. One of the main problems is that people who already have an issue with overeating will have likely affected their bodies natural ability to recognise when they are full, which is one of the reasons why they claim these products work. However if the person using it is unable to recognise when they are full then the pills will be completely useless. 

If they do work like the claims suggest it still won’t be effective for people who snack on high calorie/high fat/high sugar foods such as chocolate. As a result you can again say the pills would be useless. 

The important thing to consider if you tend to snack on these foods is your current choices.  Introducing foods which have a low glycaemic index (GI) will help as they give you the feeling of fullness for longer, this will help prevent cravings for unhealthy snacks.

Independent Distributor Sold Products

As you are probably all aware of, there is a huge increase in the number of people resorting to a popular programme that uses shakes, snacks, bars, meal replacements, tablets etc. 

I feel there are a number of issues associated with this approach. One of my main problems is the distributors. With many of the products having hidden side effects which are not mentioned (Such as interactions with different vitamins and minerals like mentioned earlier in the post), it is far too easy to become a distributor for these companies. If you asked them about side effects associated with a specific product, they will tell you what they have been told by the company without having any scientific knowledge about the underlying problems associated with some of the products. For example, the fat binders I talked about earlier, if someone was to buy these who suffered from a condition affecting blood clotting it is likely the seller would be unaware of what effect the product could have on the customer were they to use it. I feel it is important that these companies give better education and checks for the sellers.

Regarding the products a number of them will have the same issues as what was mentioned previously in the post. 

It has been reported that a particular company came under fire for a number of issues including:-

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found there was an undeclared milk      allergen in a particular product - which had to be recalled
  • A particular product used to contain a substance called ephedrine which      allegations linked to a number of deaths. Ephedrine is said to cause nausea, disorientation, insomnia, heart attacks, seizures and strokes. The FDA later banned products containing ephedrine.
  • There was speculation regarding products containing dangerous levels of      lead. 


I feel that all the companies that are responsible for marketing these products, whether it is fat blockers, meal replacement shakes or protein shakes are focussing so much on how they will sell the products and forget about the customer’s health. 

When you see the millions of pounds that goes into the advertising for these which realistically you don't need, it is plain to see that the companies are targeting people who will try anything in order to shed the excess pounds, they will not warn you about what will happen when you inevitably stop taking them due to it not being a sustainable diet. 

As I have mentioned many times there is no better way to lose weight than a healthy balanced diet and exercise. Yes, it will take longer to lose the weight that these "miracle" solutions, but unlike them it will always be here. These tablets and shakes appear for a little bit then will disappear when the next one comes along. 

By making some changes to your diet you will be able to achieve a healthy and sustainable weight loss which you will be able to keep off unlike the numerous fad diets that will result in the weight piling back on. Not to mention the fact you know what you are putting into your body.



If you are interested in getting a personalised plan made up to help you achieve your weight loss goals, don't hesitate to  contact Craig