The UK weight loss industry is worth around £ 2 billion a year according to the British Heart Foundation, and more than six in 10 adults are overweight or obese overnight, explains Cancer Research UK. Losing weight isn’t easy or quick – if you do it in a healthy way – so many people turn to diet pills or herbal supplements to help shed extra pounds quickly. However, This Morning resident physician Dr Nighat Arif has warned anyone currently or considering taking weight loss pills. The doctor explained why they don’t work and suggested some herbal ingredients that you can incorporate into your diet.
On an episode of This Morning earlier this year, presenter Phillip Schofield asked, “How would you describe herbal and dietary supplements?
Dr Nighat replied, “Herbal supplements generally use a whole plant or a combination of plants which will have the desired effect.
“So it could use things like anger, cinnamon, licorice roots, African white beans, green tea.
“Then you have dietary supplements that use a single natural compound in combination either in pill or tablet form or in powder form and which can also have various side effects to help with weight loss.”
Holly Willoughby wondered, “How do they claim to work? “
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“They generally claim on three different factors; increasing energy levels so you can exercise more, burning calories or “fat burners” as they are sometimes advertised, suppresses your hunger and makes you feel full, “explained the doctor.
Phillip remarked, “Hasn’t there been a lot of research on this? “
“This is where it gets a little cloudy; we are all looking for the silver bullet to lose weight – I know as a GP this is something that is always on my agenda with patients as there are risks associated with weight gain and weight loss. obesity ”, Dr Nighat noted.
“When you look at the research, anything that is branded as ‘natural’ will not go through the regulator.
“The volume of research and studies on natural products aren’t always randomized controlled studies, and then finally, you don’t really need to have the controls because they’re coming from everywhere.
“There is a herbal regulator, so if you are looking for a product, make sure it has that seal on it because you need to know that it is a genuine product. “
Phillip commented, “You can have something that is herbal, something natural, but if you take medication it can have a big effect on the medications you are already taking. “
“Exactly, for example, grapefruit, if you take grapefruit it can stop other drugs from working – like statins,” Dr. Nighat noted. “It is really important that even herbal remedies are taken with some caution.”
Dr Nighat then revealed that she had taken diet pills and supplements in the past.
“I feel embarrassed about it as doctors,” she said. “My medical director tells me, ‘I know taking herbal tablets or an appetite supplement is not going to make me lose weight.’
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“But I have to put this in some context; I am Pakistani, I come from a culture where arranged marriages are still very common.
“Growing up, we were told you had to be slim, tall and well educated.
“I had a high waist, I didn’t have a slim waist, so growing up it was always the fact that I had to have a certain body shape and I didn’t see women who looked like me, who wore a hijab, with a certain body type on TV.
““So my reference, the ideal woman, was looking to the Bollywood industry. I fed on that, so I bought diet pills and herbal supplements even though I’m not overweight, ”she explained.
Phillip said: “Great research for you as a GP now, but has it worked? “
“Taking diet pills doesn’t work – there’s no food that allows you to burn fat,” the doctor said. “It doesn’t exist, it’s a myth.
“I think we need to understand emotional eating and our body image needs to be addressed.
“We can’t think of weight loss as what you put in your mouth and how you move.
“Yes, to lose weight you need to diet and exercise with a calorie deficit,” she added.
However, Dr Nighat revealed: “There are some things that work.
“Ginger has been shown to be excellent for thermogenesis, which means it allows calories to be broken down.
“If you use between 500 and 200 micrograms in your diet, not as a replacement, put it in your kitchen, don’t go out and buy a pill for it, buy ginger root.
“It also helps you lose weight and promotes insulin resistance,” she said.
“Cinnamon may also lower your blood sugar slightly, but don’t overdo it. “
Dr Nighat’s final piece of advice was, “It’s always about, there is no magic bullet, a calorie deficit diet if you want to lose weight and get moving. “