We all want quick fixes and instant results, even when we’re inclined to be suspicious of lofty promises, and this desire can push us towards looking for medical assistance. For many people, staying physically healthy is a major challenge, with weight management being a particularly large stumbling block. If you’ve tried and failed numerous times to lose weight, you’re obviously going to start thinking about more extreme measures.
This is where appetite suppressants enter the picture. Those who find it tricky to control their diets or get enough exercise stand to benefit immensely from drugs that curb their cravings. And if they work well, they seemingly have a lot to offer — but do they work well? More importantly, even if they do work well, do they also work safely?
In this blog post, we’ll explore types of appetite suppressants, their potential benefits and risks, and whether using them can be considered a safe weight loss option. Let’s get started.
Types of appetite suppressants
There are two main types of appetite suppressants: over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. Over-the-counter suppressants are the most easy to acquire, of course, as you don’t need the approval of a medical professional to make a purchase.
OTC appetite suppressants generally fall into the category of products that won’t cause any harm whatsoever if used as advised but might not accomplish much. You’ll find them packed with ingredients believed to increase metabolism and reduce appetite, with two ever-present examples being green tea extract (rich in antioxidants) and caffeine (a familiar stimulant).
But what about prescription appetite supplements? These medications are exclusively prescribed by healthcare professionals for patients who are struggling with obesity and have been unsuccessful with other weight loss methods. A common example is Phentermine, a stimulant that suppresses appetite by increasing the release of chemicals that control hunger.
At this point, it bears noting that appetite suppressants, particularly those sold on prescription, can do precisely what they’re intended to do. In short, they can work — but that doesn’t mean you should race to acquire some as soon as possible, as we’ll see next.
What can go wrong with appetite suppressants?
Despite sounding simple enough (take them and find yourself less hungry), appetite suppressants inevitably come with risks and side effects. And while this is true of all medications to some extent, these products are particularly awkward. Here are the most common issues:
- Dependency. Just as you can get hooked on coffee, you can get hooked on appetite suppressants containing stimulants, only they’re more dangerous to take too frequently because of their other ingredients and effects.
- Side effects. The use of appetite suppressants can result in various health risks, such as an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, and gastrointestinal issues. These side effects are relatively common, also.
- Negative interactions with other medications. Appetite suppressants can interact with other medications, leading to adverse effects or the other medications being taken having reduced efficacy.
- Rising resistance. Appetite suppressants may provide short-term weight loss results, but if you use them for a long time then they’ll become less effective due to your body adapting to the ingredients.
- Incorrect ingredient listings. Due to the challenge of getting a prescription, it’s sadly common for people to source appetite suppressants illegally — and those products can easily be cut with other ingredients that are even less safe to use.
Is it possible to use appetite suppressants safely?
The safety and efficacy of an appetite suppressant will depend on the individual and the specific ingredients. In some cases, appetite suppressants can safely allow people to temporarily control their hunger and kickstart their weight loss efforts. In others, though, the potential risks make it extremely difficult to recommend their use.
If you’re thinking about using appetite suppressants, you need to be incredibly careful and protect your long-term health. The following tips can help you proceed sensibly:
- Get professional medical advice. While you don’t need medical approval to use OTC appetite suppressants, it’s still a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional before you start using any. They can help you determine whether you’re actually likely to benefit from using them, and perhaps suggest some better alternatives.
- Consider alternative methods. Thankfully, there are many alternatives to appetite suppressants that can help you reach your goals without taking such risks with your health. Putting more focus on sustainable lifestyle changes will always help: if you can do something to improve your diet, take up another form of exercise, and make an effort to address issues behind your overeating, you can get much safer results.
- Follow instructions. If you choose to use an appetite suppressant, follow the recommended dosage and instructions carefully. Misusing these products can increase your risk of experiencing side effects and health complications.
- Monitor your reactions. If appetite suppressants work for you, that’s great, but you shouldn’t lower your guard just because they’re reducing your hunger. You need to keep an eye out for other reactions. Are you feeling more fatigued? Are you having difficulty sleeping? If the negatives start to stack up, don’t just dismiss them as unrelated. Investigate them and stop using the suppressants if they’re responsible.
Turning to appetite suppressants can be a tempting option for those looking to lose weight, but their safety and effectiveness vary wildly, and they bring some major risks with them. Before considering appetite suppressants, then, you should put all the energy you have into making sustainable lifestyle changes, and only turn to medical treatments if absolutely necessary.
Ultimately, the key to safe and effective weight loss is to achieve a strong combination of healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and practical habit-building discipline. By adopting a holistic approach to weight loss, you can achieve lasting results and improve your overall health and well-being without the danger of using appetite suppressants.