Should you try a fad diet or a special supplement to help you reach your weight-loss goals faster? Get-slim-quick schemes can be tempting. But they’re often ineffective, and they can sometimes be dangerous.
Pills, teas and herbal supplements that promise to help you lose lots of weight quickly or melt fat in certain parts of your body don’t work, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Plus, they can contain unsafe or untested ingredients that could have harmful side effects—like increased heart rate or blood pressure, stroke, seizure or even death.
Fad diets aren’t much better. Plans that make you eat the same foods over and over again (remember the grapefruit and cabbage soup fads?), avoid entire food groups or cut your calories very low might work for a little while. But you can’t do them forever. And rapid weight loss can lead to health problems like gallstones.
If you’re unsure whether a diet or weight-loss product is the real deal, try asking yourself one simple question: Does it sound too good to be true? If the answer is yes, then it probably is—and you should steer clear.
Losing weight the healthy way
“Establish a diet routine that you can maintain,” says Dr. Jim Gerson, Health Net’s senior medical director. “You should aim to lose one to two pounds per week by doing things you can stick with in the long run. This includes eating a well-balanced diet, keeping your portions in check and being more physically active.”
If you’re not reaching your goal as quickly as you hoped, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend healthy resources—like a dietitian or a proven weight-loss program—to get you on track.
Additional sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases