The internet is full of products promising rapid weight loss and a healthier way of life for their consumers.
Diet programs, detox flushes and miracle ingredients all claim to hold the key to a happier, healthier, more toned you: but just how accurate are these claims?
Realistically, not everything will work for everyone (that’s just… life!), but it’s important to make informed choices when you’re consuming something new, so that you can be sure it’s safe.
Weight Loss shakes are one such product gaining popularity again after their initial 1990s boom, but there’s plenty of companies out there cashing in on the trend without thoroughly vetting their products and ensuring their safety.
Of course, it’s impossible to know the safety and health implications of every weight loss product you see, but there are some tell-tale signs that it’s not a genuine healthy product: and we explore those ingredients that are dead giveaways, here.
Are Weight Loss Shakes Safe?
Weight loss shakes are designed to give the body a nutritional boost that rivals a solid food meal, but in liquid form.
They can be used to substitute up to two meals a day, and are a convenient and quick way to consume a balanced diet.
If not overused, there’s no evidence to suggest that weight loss shakes could be unsafe.
However, there’s some caveats to add here.
You should (obviously) ensure that there’s no ingredients within the shakes that you could be allergic to, or that may cause you health issues.
It’s easy to assume that of course weight loss shakes are healthy – after all, they’re products designed to make you healthier! – but actually, many include a myriad of artificial nutrients that can induce diarrhea or dehydration.
For the avoidance of doubt, Nutribuddy products are all formulated by a nutritionist, and are all vegan, sugar-free, allergen-free, gluten-free and GMO-free – with no synthetic ingredients included at all.
You can read all about the safety of Nutribuddy products here.
Look Out For Dangerous Weight Loss Concepts
The internet and social media means that it’s easier than ever to be targeted with adverts and marketing communications for diet and weight loss products and concepts; and to see the successful results other people claim to have had with them.
Medical advice has always been to avoid fad and yo-yo diets, but there are now two other weight loss crazes gaining traction and becoming more mainstream; and both are to be avoided.
1. Detox Diets (including ‘Tea-tox’ Diets)
A favourite amongst social media influencer marketing are detox teas, and even packages of them designed to be taken in different ways.
These diets are often very easy to follow, as they require little to no change of your usual dietary habits and can be purchased cheaply.
Indeed, it’s been proven that increasing your fluid intake can be beneficial to achieving weight loss goals; but this really only extends to water.
Lots of the ‘tea-tox’ products available on the market now can be dangerous if used often.
Whilst almost always natural, they frequently include ingredients such as Senna, which is a laxative.
This induces rapid movement of the digestive tract and can cause diarrhea, dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes in the body.
As products often marketed at young women, detox teas have also found themselves at the centre of controversy having caused unexpected pregnancies: as their dietic effects negate the hormonal controls of the contraceptive pill.
2. Fat Burners
Fat burners are dietary supplements, often in the form of pill or powder.
They acutely speed up the fat metabolic process to impair fat absorption in the body.
Their name and packaging is often quite clinical and can be misleading, as a strict calorie-limited diet needs to be stuck to alongside their consumption for them to have any positive effect at all.
Whether or not they’re taken alongside an otherwise healthy lifestyle, fat burners can have serious negative medical health effects.
They can cause unpleasant side effects in some, including increased blood pressure and heart palpitations. They’re also linked to several cases of hepatitis, and are best just entirely avoided.
Your body will burn fat as it needs to with a balanced diet and healthy levels of exercise – you don’t need to speed it up.
5 Popular Weight loss Shake Ingredients to Avoid
Weight loss shakes should be a healthy and well-balanced nutritional alternative, but in many cases, they simply aren’t.
The following are all ingredients you should look out for on nutritional detail lists – and avoid, at all costs!
Caffeine is the most consumed psycho-effective substance in the world and chances are, you’ve had some today.
Caffeine is included in many weight loss shakes because as it stimulates your central nervous system, it also galvanizes your gut – which is why so many people need the toilet not long after drinking a coffee.
That kickstart is great, but it’s not sustainable, but should never be used regularly in weight loss shakes as the body simply gets used to its effects and needs to consume more and more to replicate the same result; leaving you essentially reliant on caffeine intake to maintain your weight.
Caffeine will already be naturally present in foods and drinks you consume aside from your weight loss shakes, and increasing your consumption of it by adding on these shakes could induce sleep disruption, heart palpitations and/or anxiety.
Senna is a herb with natural, powerful laxative properties.
As it’s relatively cheap to get hold of and there’s no prescription required, it’s often included in weight loss shakes by their manufacturers.
However, because it’s a laxative, it causes stomach cramps and diarrhoea for its consumers.
The NHS warn against continued consumption of Senna, as it can cause dehydration, skin rashes and even anaphylaxis for those taking it.
You should always speak to your doctor or healthcare professional before consuming Senna, and never take it for longer than three or four days in a row.
3. Synthetic Ingredients
Lots of vitamins and minerals can now be artificially produced for cheaper than it costs to manufacture them naturally.
This means that you’re likely to find lots of synthetic ingredients in weight loss shakes over natural ones sourced from whole foods.
Whilst it’s inevitable that you consume at least some manmade ingredients in some way, shape or form on a daily basis, these nutrients simply aren’t optimised in the same way natural ones are, so your body digests them differently and is unable to gain everything it needs from them. If in doubt, go au naturel!
4. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Not the most pleasant sounding of ingredients, is it? And it’s not.
CLA is a fatty acid found primarily in meat and dairy products (so is sometimes not suitable for vegetarians or vegans).
It’s believed that excess consumption of it can speed up weight loss in humans, but actually, several medical studies have found it to have no impact at all.
In studies where a link between weight loss and CLA has been found, it seemingly plateaus after an initial impact; meaning it’s not sustainable at all and although you may gain a result initially, it will later level off and you’ll just be consuming a lot more fat than you need to be!
5. Bitter Orange Extract
Bitter orange contains the compound synephrine, which suppresses appetite.
Chemically, it’s extremely similar to ephedrine, which has now been banned in most parts of the world.
Bitter orange extract is often included in weight loss shakes not as a flavouring, but as an active ingredient.
Research on its impact has been mixed.
Some studies find that although it increases the calories burnt from food, it has no impact on weight gain or loss, and some demonstrate literally no impact at all.
You can find lots of anecdotes of individual’s side effects from consuming bitter orange extract online, but these have yet to be properly studied in clinical trials: as it’s so often combined with other ingredients, it’s difficult to tell whether it causes these by itself.
Until it’s been signed off as safe, it’s definitely better avoided!
So, there you have it. Weight loss may be the goal but unhealthiness should never be, so take your time to make an informed decision on whatever route you take to achieve your aims.
Remember: natural doesn’t always equal healthy, and healthy doesn’t always equal skinny.
However you get there, do so the right way for you and keep it as simple and uninvolved as possible.
Trust your body to do what it needs to and the planet to provide the best ingredients to do that with!