There are a large number of natural weight loss aids on the market, but simply because a product may be “natural”, it doesn’t always mean that it is safe and effective. The fact of the matter is, some of the most popular natural weight loss aids can be dangerous and although they may produce fast weight loss at first, they can actually cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight in the long run.
The biggest problems are with the natural weight loss aids that contain stimulants. Stimulants contained in natural weight loss products have essentially the same effects as stimulant drugs and carry similar potential health risks.
Caffeine, kola nut, yerba mate, guarana, and ephedra (also known as ma huang) are the most common stimulants found in natural weight loss aids. All of these are very strong stimulants, and are similar in effect to drugs like amphetamines. Most people are aware that taking amphetamines can be dangerous, but they may be lulled into thinking the natural stimulants are safe for the sole reason that they are natural products.
It is strongly suggested that you not use any form of stimulant as a weight loss aid. This is for two reasons. To begin with, whether we are speaking of natural products or drugs, stimulants have health risks that include sleep disorders, elevated heart rate, hypertension (high blood pressure), and even stroke. The second reason is that in spite of the fact that stimulants can increase metabolism and stimulate weight loss at first, in the long run they will likely cause you to gain weight.
In the beginning stages of stimulant use, there is an increase in the body’s production of adrenaline. Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands and is a hormone that increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, essentially speeding up the normal functions of the body. An increase in adrenaline will speed up the metabolism and cause an increase in fat burning. These effects will only last for a short time though. In a matter of a few weeks, the body’s ability to produce adrenaline will become burned out, and as adrenaline levels start to fall off, the metabolic rate and fat burning will begin to slow down.
The fall in adrenaline levels is not the only problem, though. Stimulants cause the adrenals to produce another hormone in large quantities, called cortisol. Cortisol stimulates the body to store fat in the lower part of the abdomen and is a major stimulator of weight gain. The adrenal glands are able to produce high levels of cortisol for a much longer time than they are able to produce high levels of adrenaline. Early on, the high adrenaline levels will overpower the stimulation of fat storage by cortisol and weight loss will usually proceed rapidly. As time goes on, the elevated levels of cortisol will overwhelm the decreasing adrenaline effects, resulting in eventual weight gain.
Discontinuing the use of stimulants suddenly usually has the result of rapid weight gain, because the effects of cortisol will outlast the effects of the adrenaline. Whether or not stimulants are discontinued though, the eventual effect will be that adrenaline production will be exhausted long before cortisol production begins to fade, and sooner or later the effects of cortisol will win out and weight gain will result.
Even though the idea of fast weight loss through using natural weight loss aids that contain stimulants may be appealing, these products can only complicate your weight issues in the long term and may cause potentially serious damage to your overall health. Natural or not, weight loss aids that contain stimulants should be avoided.