Supplements for weight loss: do they really work? How to use them consciously

Supplements for weight loss: do they really work? How to use them consciously

They are often sold on the web as miracle remedies. But experts warn: avoid 'do it yourself'

In recent years, the proposal of weight loss supplements has become increasingly frequent, especially on the web, which boast miraculous properties of extracted mixtures of active ingredients often accompanied by the adjective "natural" and delivered comfortably at home.

A very delicate issue for which the Ministry of Health has published specific recommendations, made necessary because they are supplements aimed at a fragile public, often made up of those who have tried various ways of diets for weight loss without obtaining an appreciable result. .

"On the market – explains Dr. Susanna Bramante, nutrition consultant – we find products among the most disparate: they range from those to increase muscle mass in those who play sports, or to make up for any food shortages, especially in particularly critical phases. such as pregnancy or pathological states that cause difficulties in absorbing nutrients, to those for burning fat and losing weight ”.

In fact, experts advise, to lose weight in a healthy way it is important to pursue a correct and physiological weight loss in the right time and manner. We must therefore be careful not to emphasize the role of supplements for slimming because, in the current state of affairs – write the experts of Crea in the latest Guidelines for healthy eating (rev. 2018) – there is no product that can represent a shortcut for weight loss.


  • What they contain
  • Do they really work?
  • Side effects
  • Can we trust the 'miracle' supplements sold on the web?
  • How to use them consciously

What they contain

"Those for weight loss – says Dr. Bramante – contain substances that stimulate thermogenesis to accelerate metabolism or burn excess fat faster, just to name a few of the most popular today, but you can really find everything on the market ".

Then there are dietary products intended to completely replace the daily food ration with an energy intake between 800 and 1200 Kcal. However, since they are freely sold products, as stated in the Guidelines for healthy eating, they completely evade the doctor's vigilance and do not favor changes in dietary behavior and lifestyle to protect the consumer. The Ministry of Health, to emphasize that these products should not be used lightly and do not border on a reckless do-it-yourself, imposes a warning on the label on the importance of consulting your doctor and not to exceed a treatment time of three weeks.

Do they really work?

"Supplements in general can work if used appropriately, correctly following what is written on the label and if there is really a need to use them, as in the case of restrictive vegan diets, the presence of particular diseases, malnutrition, malabsorption, hospitalization, etc. … ”, Says Dr. Bramante. "A healthy person who already follows a complete diet and a healthy and active lifestyle, can do very well without it, with considerable economic savings, as the food we eat is already able to give us everything our body needs. The supplement thus becomes an extra that gives the illusion of greater well-being, but in reality there is a real risk of exceeding the doses of some components already supplied sufficiently through the diet. Or, in the case of supplements for weight loss, there is a high risk that the body will get used to the anorectic substances contained that interfere with the metabolism and, once you stop taking them, you return to gain more weight than before, obtaining the effect contrary ".

Side effects

"Weight loss supplements that contain the most disparate substances, such as laxatives, diuretics, fibers, thermogenic drugs, even apparently natural such as caffeine and guarana, can have side effects such as tremors, tachycardia, anxiety, depression, irritability, dangerous decrease in appetite up to very serious health consequences ”, warns Dr. Bramante. “However, there is talk of a rare but real risk. Attention also to the possible interference with drugs, so it is always better to talk to your doctor ".

Can we trust the 'miracle' supplements sold on the web?

"It depends. First of all, there is nothing 'miraculous' – says the expert – so I would not trust those who define their supplements with this name. Online sales is a channel that has recently developed exponentially offering many advantages, but to trust it you need to carefully evaluate who the seller is. We only buy from well-known and reliable sites, which are in possession of all the approvals required by law and duly authorized by the Ministry of Health ”.

How to use them consciously

"First of all, there must be a real need for use, preferably on the advice of your doctor, who is always wise to ask for their opinion before starting with any supplement, even with those that seem apparently harmless or 'natural'. In the case of severe obesity, weight loss supplements could be a support, but the approval and guidance of the doctor is required and must never replace a good diet or physical activity, the only truly effective methods to lose weight in health ", explains Dr. Bramante.

“We are wary of those who promise to lose many kilos quickly without sacrifices. We always read the label carefully, never exceed the indicated doses and immediately suspend administration at the first symptom of something wrong, informing your doctor. We avoid the 'do it yourself' that can have real health risks, we do not make the mistake of thinking that the supplement can replace food and always remember that a diet complete with all foods and a good level of physical activity is more than enough to guarantee us a healthy life ”, concludes the expert.

Tag: Diets Supplements

Category: Welfare
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