Trick or Trick: Diet Pills?

First things first, I need to update you on the 3rd and final day of the detox and what my thoughts are on those in general. Then I plan on explaining today’s title.  If you are only interested in today’s topic only, please scroll down to PART 2.

Day 3 detox is probably the easiest and the hardest – its the easiest because you are physiologically used to having to drink your food, but knowing that it’s your last day makes you anxious to having regular chew-able food. There were no headaches the third day and your energy is more or less back. The awesome news was the 4th day (or 1st day post detox) – I woke up and my skin was really glowing. I was cynical about others who had written about this happening to them, but true to their word, I woke up Saturday morning and my skin was happy and glow-y, and I felt good overall.

Dietitian’s recommendations on detox: It’s difficult because your mind will make you miss food that you haven’t craved in a while, just because drinking our food isn’t the norm. I think if you are someone who follows a healthy regimen and is conscious about your food intake, then you don’t need to detox. However, if you feel “addicted” to certain bad habits, and/or was post-vacation (like me!) and you need to reset, then this option is worth the try. If you need a day-by-day plan, please feel free to contact me for more personalized details on the detox for you.

PART 2: Today’s title

We are all trying to look for an easy way to just eat whatever we want, and maintain that figure we like. Even dietitians are tempted to find that secret, but sadly – we know it – it’s healthy eating and exercise. Seriously, there’s no other option (unless you’re considering surgery which I won’t tackle in today’s post).  However, because we know the effort we need to exert to maintain that bikini body, diet pills still exist today. They play on that vain part of our brain by telling us EXACTLY what we want to hear: All you can eat then have this pill and abracadabra – you just lost inches of your waist! If only (Queue dramatic music here).

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate

Why are they dangerous?

We read a lot of labels that claim “herbal” or “organic” or “natural” and automatically think they can’t be harmful – which is exactly what their marketing is playing at. What you don’t know is that there are many naturally found herbs that ARE, in fact, dangerous, and it doesn’t end there. Some naturally found items are actually used in prescription medicine – so it’s very possible your herbal diet pill, is someone else’s medicine.

Why is this scary?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is our “food police” does not regulate over-the-counter drugs, including herbal supplements  Meaning, there are no tests done to check the amount of active ingredients in these products, nor the extent of their effect. In 2010, an investigation by the FDA found around  70 kinds of diet pills to contain dangerous drugs (with effects ranging from palpitations, depression, dehydration etc…). In fact, an article published here tells the story of a student who obtained a diet pill online, which contained a deadly ingredient known as dinitrophenol (DNP) that ended her life. This ingredient is used by bodybuilders to help them slim down, according to the same article.

How do you protect yourself?

As is the case with everything else, you need to be an educated consumer. Let’s take a look at some common over-the-counter diet pills




Side effects

Alli — OTC version of prescription drug orlistat (Xenical) Decreases absorption of dietary fat Effective; but weight loss is even more modest than that with Xenical Loose stools, oily spotting, frequent or hard-to-control bowel movements; reports of rare, but serious liver injury
Bitter orange Increases calories burned Probably ineffective Similar to ephedra: raised blood pressure and heart rate
Chitosan Blocks absorption of dietary fat Probably ineffective Uncommon: upset stomach, nausea, gas, increased stool bulk, constipation
Chromium Decreases appetite and increases calories burned Probably ineffective Uncommon: headache, insomnia, irritability, mood changes, cognitive dysfunction
Conjugated linoleic acid Reduces body fat Possibly effective Upset stomach, nausea, loose stools
Green tea extract Decreases appetite, and increases calorie and fat metabolism Insufficient evidence to evaluate Dizziness, insomnia, agitation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea
Guar gum Blocks absorption of dietary fat and increases feeling of fullness Possibly ineffective Abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea
Hoodia Decreases appetite Insufficient evidence to evaluate Insufficient information available

Table references: Source, Source

I highlighted those that I found “interesting” – I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll take weight gain over oily-spotting any day! And thank you, but PMS does plenty to my mood and stomach without having to add an ineffective diet pill to the mix as well.


Dietitian’s take home message: Always be an educated consumer, “natural” and “herbal” are not necessarily harmless. Also, you know it’s true – exercise and food control are the only sustainable weight loss methods, don’t be fooled by marketing schemes.


Additional source





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5 thoughts on “Trick or Trick: Diet Pills?”

    1. yes there are but I don’t think they work either, also I believe they are risky because carbs r necessary for the functioning of the brain and central nervous system – I generally don’t recommend any dieting pills. It’s exercise and portion control all the way. 🙂

  1. As a pharmacist I usually don’t even bother with thinking about (nor recommending) diet pills. Nothing beats healthy eating and some excercise…

    1. Maybe you can contribute a small paragraph on ur opinion as a pharmacist? I mean, u’d be surprised at how many ppl still use these and how much they still sell! no one wants to do things the hard way..

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