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Are Slim Fast and other weight loss products safe?

This is a top question on Dr. Oz’s Sharecare website, and I thought it was really important to address so I wanted to share my answer with you all.

 

There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of weight loss products out there. They’re manufactured to have the attractive label of being low-calorie and low-fat and have catchy titles to highlight how quickly they will help you lose weight and get that killer body you’ve been looking for. So what could be wrong? The biggest problem with weight loss products like Slim-Fast and the countless others out there is in the word I just used to describe them: manufactured. Weight loss products like these tend to be overly processed and contain little to no all-natural ingredients. They may, in fact, help you lose weight but in the process you end up starving your body of the essential nutrients it needs to function, which will cause you to end up gaining the weight right back after you finish your crash diet plan. The best weight loss plan is a basic one, centered around eating healthy, all-natural foods in appropriate quantities and getting your daily dose of exercise in.

One of the biggest concerns with weight loss products and supplements is that many of them are not regulated by the FDA. This means that the rigorous testing that all of our food undergoes before we’re allowed to buy it does not apply to many of the dietary supplements on the market today. Weight loss supplements don’t have to meet the same safety standards, don’t have to obey by the same rules as the food we eat, and that alone can pose tremendous safety risks, as it has many times in the past.

Another big problem with weight loss products is the ingredients used to make them. While most of them are completely devoid of essential nutrients we need (calcium, iron, vitamins, etc.), they are loaded with artificial flavors and sugars to make them taste good and pumped full of protein so you don’t notice how hungry you really are. They’re also loaded with fake, unnatural ingredients that do nothing to help your body. Take some of the main ingredients in a Slim-Fast Chocolate Shake, for instance. Maltodextrin, xanathan gum, cellulose gel, acesulfame phosphate, and aspartame are all artificial sweeteners or food additives found in one Slim Fast shake. Now here’s the important question: have you heard of any of these ingredients? Aspartame probably because of the wide criticism and publicity of the health risks associated with consuming it, but what about the rest? These overly processed, not even remotely nutritious ingredients are not the kinds of foods that you want to be putting into your body. A good rule of thumb for ingredients: if you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to eat it.

The bottom line is that weight loss products, while they won’t necessarily kill you, are neither a safe nor reliable way to lose weight. Losing weight is about feeding your body the right nutrients, in the right amounts. And losing five pounds in two weeks is not always a realistic goal. Slow and steady always wins the race, especially when it comes to your health. So ditch the “get thin quick” gimmicks and opt for healthier, all natural foods. You may lose weight slower, but you’ll definitely be healthier and keep the weight off longer.