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Taking Supplements for Weight Loss

Taking dietary supplements is fast becoming an American way of life. The medical profession now advises taking multivitamins, and new research is published weekly about the health benefits of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other micronutrients available in foods and supplemental form.

Most likely you've acquired various bottles and jars of supplements to enhance your weight loss. In this chapter, we help you sift through the hype to learn which supplements can aid you in weight loss and which ones won't make much difference. Oh yes, and which ones are potentially harmful or are simply a waste of money.

Supplements as Support, Not Cure-All

You're probably aware of—in fact, you probably feel bombarded by—health claims for certain supplements. TV infomercials, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines are bursting with magical claims for various pills and potions. Kind of confusing and intimidating, isn't it?

Lean Lingo

Vitamins and minerals often are referred to as micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts compared to the four basic nutrients: protein, fats, carbohydrates, and water.

The supplements category includes micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—as well as protein supplements, oils, and metabolic boosters.

Although we doubt anyone has ever lost weight just by taking certain vitamins and minerals, your body needs more nutritional support while you are losing weight. In a sense, losing weight stresses the body. Yes, losing weight is good for your overall health and well-being, but the very activity of releasing fat causes internal stress of its own.

Because your stored fat holds toxins—that's where the body stores them—when you start losing weight, the toxins are released from the fat to be processed by your liver and excreted. This takes extra work. When releasing fat, some people report feeling sort of “yucky” for weeks or months as the toxin load in their vital organs increases.

Think of nutritional supplements as insurance. If you're eating healthy meals including cold-water fish for essential fatty acids two or three times a week and five to ten daily servings of vegetables and fruit, you may already be ingesting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and EFAs. But just because you ingest them doesn't mean that your body digests and assimilates them well. In which case, supplements are your insurance. Ditto if you don't always eat healthy meals.

With the right kinds of supplementation, you can decrease the toxin load and feel more energized as the fat flushes out. You might also notice that some of your food cravings diminish or simply go away when you take certain supplements. They can increase your stamina and overall energy level as you get to your ideal size.


Lean Lingo

Free radicals are unstable, hyperactive molecules that damage healthy cells and tissues.

Hooray for antioxidants! The various metabolic processes that break down stored fat molecules release free radicals such as superoxide radicals, hydroxyl radicals, hypochlorite radicals, hydrogen peroxide, various lipid peroxides, and nitric acid. Free radicals can be quite damaging to your health. They've been closely linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.

Eating fruits and vegetables gives you antioxidants that help your body neutralize the free radicals being released in your body while you're shedding excess fat. The support you get from antioxidants helps you feel better during your weight-loss process.

Certain phytochemicals in your diet also act as antioxidants that neutralize free radicals or support body functions that do. These include vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and the mineral selenium. These antioxidants are abundant in the five or more daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables that you're eating, and some are in the essential fatty acids (EFAs). You can also obtain these antioxidants through supplements.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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