Can Supplements Help Me Lose Weight?

Thursday, 04 Apr 2013 04:29 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I am 69 years old and no matter what I do I cannot lose weight. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit, do not eat fast food, and walk daily. I am skeptical of over-the-counter supplements. Do any work? Any other suggestions?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Weight-loss diets must include a balance of reduced carbohydrates and high fiber.  Your fresh vegetables will supply your fiber, but your fruit may be providing more calories than you think. Consider a consultation with a registered dietitian to help select a sensible balanced diet.
Sometimes boosting protein intake with fat-free chicken or fish, such as tuna, will shift the scale in your favor. It’s a good thing that you exercise regularly, so review your regimen with your physician to see whether your weight is related to a health disorder, genetics, or choices in diet or exercise that could be modified.
Avoid reliance on non-prescription over-the-counter supplements. They are usually food supplements, and will not usually produce reliable weight loss by themselves. Also, many are not approved for weight loss. Be wary of supplements that contain diuretics or stimulants that may be unsafe for some to use. I am not a big proponent of prescription weight loss medication either, due to adverse effects they cause many people. On the average, they provide an average weight loss of approximately 10 pounds, barely enough to kick start a weight-loss program, and at a high cost.
Weight is best managed in the long term by sensible lifestyle choices with a balanced diet and exercise program. Remember that body muscle is an efficient calorie utilizer, while body fat is used by our body to store excess calories for use later. Aim to reduce body fat while increasing muscle bulk. Remember starvation diets eliminate muscle as well as fat, and in this way are often self-defeating in the long term.

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