Posts Tagged ‘weight problems’

Are Stimulants Safe for Use as Weight Loss Products?

November 11th, 2010

Copyright 2010

Weight loss products in the form of stimulants should be used with extreme caution.When it feels like diet and exercise just aren’t enough, many people turn to the huge market for weight loss products, and it seems like every one of them is advertised as a miracle cure. For decades scientists have strived to create products that help us lose weight, and in the process have re-purposed some substances that were not originally intended for weight loss.

One such example includes the class of drugs called stimulants. Originally noted for causing an increase in alertness, blood pressure, heart rate, and general awareness, stimulants appear in many forms, enhancing the performance of the nervous system.

Caffeine is the most common stimulant, used around the world and appearing in coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate. Other stimulants include nicotine, amphetamines, and hard drugs like MDMA and cocaine. Many weight loss products actually utilize stimulants in their chemistry. How safe is it to supplement a weight loss program with stimulant-based products? And are they even effective?

Stimulants appeared on the market as weight loss products when it was discovered that they not only act as an appetite suppressant, making it easier for dieters to restrict their intake of food, but that they also temporarily increase the body’s resting metabolic rate. This creates a two-fold effect wherein the dieter’s body burns more calories at a resting rate, while he or she also feels hungry less frequently.

For this reason, stimulants are the most common drugs used as weight loss products. They are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms, with OTC stimulants like caffeine most often found in “supplements” while prescription weight loss stimulants more often fall into the realm of “medication” – doctor-prescribed weight loss products which are more often used to treat serious weight problems.

Speeding up your metabolism and reducing appetite sounds like a great way to lose weight. Indeed, these two effects combined will make it easier to burn more calories than you take in, which is the primary mechanic of weight loss. However, using stimulants as weight loss products does come with drawbacks.

Weight loss achieved through diet and exercise is generally safer and long-lasting.Both prescription and over-the-counter stimulants can cause side effects such as nausea, trembling, insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. More serious side effects include high blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations, and even heart attacks. In addition to these side effects, stimulants are well-known for being easily abused. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that stimulants create dependencies easily because they increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine causes a feeling of euphoria, and this feeling can become addictive to those who abuse stimulants.

Even if dieters successfully use stimulants as weight loss products, they might not be satisfied with the results. Since their weight loss occurs more as a result of the drugs’ effects rather than a healthy eating and exercise plan, it’s likely that the weight will return once the medication is stopped. To keep this weight off, users would have to continue the stimulant use, leading to an increased risk of abuse and dependency as time wears on.

While stimulants are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms, dieters should not take this to mean that they’re absolutely safe for use as weight loss products. Even if a stimulant is doctor-prescribed, it carries risks that must be taken into account and discussed with the physician. In any case, relying solely on a stimulant as a vehicle for weight loss is ill-advised. At the very least, a stimulant taken for weight loss should be accompanied by a sensible plan for diet and exercise that is not totally dependent on the stimulant.

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