Weight loss can be such a tough battle, which is why fat burners sound so enticing. Instead of dieting and sweating in the gym for hours, you can just pop a pill and let it torch your fat! However, have you ever wondered what is actually in these magic pills? Do they actually work? And most importantly, are they safe?
The sad reality is, the term "fat-burning pills” is a complete myth. There aren't any pills or medications that specifically target fat cells. No evidence or studies to date have shown that any pills have been able to specifically burn fat.
As a physician, when patients come to me and ask me about my thoughts about fat burners, I have to explain to them that most of these products are marketed as a "one size fits all" approach- which oftentimes do not even address the underlying cause of weight gain. It is important to realize that we are all individually unique and that there can be a number of causes that attribute to weight gain – there is no “one size fits all” approach when treating weight gain.
In other words, it is important to treat the root cause of the weight gain, which varies from person to person depending on their unique situation.
In contrast, these so-called fat burning supplements are mass marketed with questionable ingredients such as high doses of caffeine, ephedrine, yohimbine, fat-binders, and carbohydrate-blockers. The safety of these are quite questionable, with several studies and reports of toxic events. More common side effects can include nausea, dizziness, racing heartbeat, anxiety, difficulty breathing and more.
Instead of a fat burner, you can achieve your weight loss goals with some smart lifestyle tweaks. Remember to look into that actual cause of the weight gain, so you can specifically target what has caused the issues in the first place.
Here are some examples of what can cause weight gain and what you can do about it:
Most people overlook the importance of protein when it comes to keeping the weight off. Protein, being one of the most powerful weight loss nutrients, is capable of boosting metabolism more than either carbohydrates or fats. Starting off your morning with plenty of protein not only helps to boost your metabolism, but also helps to balance out high blood sugar levels (which is another cause of weight gain, described below). If you’re having a hard time getting more protein into your diet, don’t worry- we’ve got you covered! Our Vegan Vanilla Proteini can help you cut cravings, boost metabolism, feel satisfied throughout the day, and provide you with plenty of energy with clean, organic plant-based protein from 10 superfoods like quinoa, maca, sacha inchi and sprouts. These superfoods are also packed with high amounts of magnesium – the #1 most deficient mineral in the Western diet – which can help with our sleep quality, mood, cognition, stress management, and cardiovascular health, and many other important functions. Also, it is important to work with a functional medicine physician or licensed nutritionist who can assess your nutrient status. For some great tips on healthy eating, check out The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating, a comprehensive guide that we put together that discusses the right types of foods to eat and the most ideal eating schedule.
Our modern lifestyle tends to be very sedentary. Most of us spend a majority of our day sitting down! Try and set a goal to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise each week. This can help increase your metabolism, avoid excess belly fat, and support healthy hormone levels. I love taking Revive Beets + Roots before my exercise, which helps speed up my metabolism which in turn helps increase my calorie burn for better weight loss.
In today’s rushed society, stress is very prevalent in our everyday lives. Cortisol, or our “stress hormone,” is produced by the adrenal glands to help us cope with these stressors in our daily lives. Chronically high cortisol levels due to long-term high stress can lower our immune function, cause an unhealthy increase in our blood sugar, and promote the accumulation of belly fat. Stress can also deplete our magnesium levels, which can negatively affect our mood and cognition, eating behavior, and sleep quality. Higher levels of stress can also cause you to crave more unhealthy food choices that are high in sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates. Practicing stress-reduction techniques such as breathing exercises, meditating, listening to nature sounds, trying Qigong or even going for an outdoor walk can all help with reducing stress levels.
Eating a diet rich in simple carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar causes blood sugar to rise quickly- causing our body to produce more insulin in order to lower our blood sugar back down to normal. Eating these foods often can cause a continuous spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, eventually resulting in insulin resistance (or when cells become insensitive to insulin receptors causing blood glucose to be built up in the blood since it is not absorbed). Eventually over time, this build-up of extra sugar in insulin resistance can result in excess belly fat and increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your physician about getting a fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c (which measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months) to check the status of your blood sugar level, and if it is being managed properly.
To learn more about how our blood sugar level plays a role in belly fat and what you can do about it, check out our blog Belly Fat (and the hormone that’s responsible for it). Important steps you can take to keep your blood sugar level at a healthy level include increasing fiber intake while at the same time decreasing sugar intake, processed foods and simple carbohydrates. If you’re finding it hard to incorporate more fiber into your diet, try our delicious Pineapple Chia Cleanse! It is loaded with all the fiber you need, which helps to keep your cravings and blood sugar under control.
Our thyroid gland helps with regulating metabolism in our body. When our thyroid hormones are lower than normal (as a result of a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism), it can cause slow metabolism and weight gain. A higher amount of women compared to men experience hypothyroidism in the U.S. It is important to have your physician check your thyroid levels to see if you are in a healthy range. If you have a sluggish thyroid, you can try our delicious Organic Pressed Greens, which contains researched-based ingredients such as ashwagandha and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, spinach and kale) to support optimal thyroid health. You can also consider taking a dietary supplement that contains selenium, zinc and L-tyrosine. These ingredients have been found to play a critical role in thyroid health, and are found to be depleted in those with hypothyroidism .
In addition to the diet and lifestyle suggestions listed above, it is important to continue working with your physician so he or she can provide you with regular routine preventative screenings and annual physical exams. Apart from your usual routine annual blood work, notify your doctor if you have any other concerns mentioned above (blood sugar imbalances, thyroid concerns, etc.) so they can order the appropriate blood test markers to further investigate them.
* Note: When just getting started with a fiber, we recommend starting off with just 1/3 of the scoop once a day with plenty of water. After a few days of good results, you can increase to 2/3 scoop for another week, then work your way up to a full scoop. You will want to take it easy to start- increase fluids and physical activity to help move things along. It is also important to remember that large amounts of fiber can affect the absorption of medications, so take your medications one to two hours before taking a fiber supplement.
Dr. Jason Dave
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