Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could pop a pill and go on your life eating whatever you want and not gain any weight? I thought I had the good life back when I was in college, I found a “great” doctor who gave me pills that suppressed my appetite, and I lost weight.
My diet consisted of coffee, cookies, and burgers, but I never gained an ounce (my workouts consisted of 30 minute walks “if I had time”). I “looked great” and I felt that I found the secret to enjoying life without depriving myself.
Why is this post full of “quotation marks”? Because everything I did back then was based on pure ignorance. The doctor wasn’t great, he was exploiting a niche (he never studied nutrition!); I had nothing but classes, no responsibilities, not even a pet to take care of, I had more time than ever; I didn’t look great, I was skinny, not great.
What’s my point? Recently I have been seeing a lot of “influencers” promoting supplements that help you lose weight; take this to target fat in your thighs, take that to target your muffin top, and so on. Many of these products could be good, but who is giving you that advice?
Going back to my university years, at that time the big names were Hydroxycut (which was pulled of the market after a couple of years due to fatalities linked to its use), Stacker 3, and one more I forgot its name, but I tried them all. I was in my early 20’s and my body was in its prime, I lived on these pills and Red Bull, sometimes added coffee and if I felt like eating I had carbs. I wasn’t losing weight, actually I started retaining water, and one of the pills gave me palpitations to the point where I would make myself sleep to get over them.
Eventually I came back to Kuwait and this doctor told me I don’t need all those, I can take product X (I am not posting the name because it has been recalled from the US market, but I am sure someone stupid will try to sell them to you in Kuwait). It was magic, and I took it for 3 years non-stop.
For 6 years I played with my hormones, what most people who seek these pills fail to realize is that suppressing your appetite means playing with your hormones. When you try to manipulate one hormone you will absolutely be messing with the others, it’s a balance, and just like you can’t target one area of fat, you can’t isolate one hormone and not expect to affect the others.
When you walk into a supplement store you are not getting the advice of a doctor, this is a salesperson with some basic training about the product, but not enough background on human anatomy. Some of these supplements are great when used properly, and unfortunately many fail to use them so.
Yes, all the ingredients are “natural” and occur naturally, but the target of these stimulants and thermogenics is to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise, and to be used for a set period of time. As much as I would like to say that people are responsible, they are not, a doctor isn’t going to prevent something happening as a side effect of supplements, but at least you get a picture of your health before you start them, and a comparison a few months later to how they are affecting you.
As a person who went through that cycle, I have now understood that to lose weight you don’t have to suppress your appetite, on the contrary, you need to be eating more of what your body can use regularly, not going for hours without eating. I now eat more than I did back then, and I weigh much less (as well as have a lower body fat percentage).
Please do your research; no one will know your body more than you. There is a difference between being skinny and being strong, what you put in your body matters, you may be in your 20’s and your body can take it, but eventually it will start giving up because its exhausted. I’ve been there, and it took me a good 3 years to undo the damage I did, and it wasn’t easy.
Talk to your trusted doctor, talk to your trainer, seek the advice of people you know are fit and healthy, then do your research. If you don’t know who to go to locally, the beauty of the internet brings the world to you, email that athlete you admire, that doctor you follow, or the trainer you see on TV, most of them have websites that answer these questions.
Supplements, diet, exercising are not a trend, you can do new fun things but in the end you come down to the basics. There are no shortcuts; you get what you put in, so focus on hard work (exercise), nourishment (diet), and proper restoration (sleep).
Finally and most importantly, understand your body’s capabilities, we each have our own genetic traits, what I can do at the gym is completely different from what you can do. I want skinny thighs, but my body is built that I have thick thighs no matter how much weight I lose. On the flip side, I have a very lean upper body, if I clean up my food for a couple of weeks you would think I’m ripped. Some people run 21km like it’s a walk in the park, while I huff and puff at 10km. I’m ok with that, I push myself outside my comfort zone, but I also understand that some goals are ridiculous for me. Think of you, not of what others are doing.