‘Be beach body ready’. ‘Lose a stone in two weeks’. ‘Drop a dress size for summer’. It’s that time of year again when ‘nutrition’ companies and women’s magazines tell us that we’re too fat to be seen on a beach. Maybe you’re watching Love Island, and suddenly feeling self-conscious that you don’t look like that in a bikini.
Let me level with you. Your body is totes beach-appropriate just the way it is. But if you want to make a positive change to your body then you should go for it. If you want to lose weight, please do it the safe way. Don’t use diet pills.
I was contacted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who want twenty-somethings to be aware of their #fakemeds campaign, tackling dodgy diet pills.
As someone who’s tried almost everything to stay slim in the past, I was shocked with what the results of the campaign’s research.
It turns out, I’m not the only one who’s tried magic potions in an attempt to lose weight. The #fakemeds survey found one in three slimmers have tried diet pills purchased online. ‘What’s wrong with that?’ I hear you say.Well, nothing – if they are safe. Chances are with these alleged miracle pills you either won’t lose weight or will put it all back on, but if that’s they route you want to go down, you do you right?
Unfortunately, lots of these alleged weight loss aids aren’t safe. Since April 2013, the Agency has seized nearly £5 million worth of dodgy weight loss pills.
What are diet pills and how do they work?
There are so many different products and potions that claim to aid weight loss – and fast. Most of these tend to generate (temporary) weight loss because of their laxative content. While the effects of laxatives aren’t particularly pleasant, their use in the short term isn’t dangerous.
But the majority of dodgy diet pills available online contain Sibutramine. Sibutramine was actually banned back in 2010 due to its links to heart attacks and strokes. Now there are some side effects none of us have signed up for.
Don’t be fooled: ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean safe. The #fakemeds campaign found that many of the dangerous diet pills they seized hid the fact they contained sibutramine by claiming the product was a natural weight loss supplement.
It’s terrifying to think a product that claims to help you lose weight could actually cause you to lose your life.
Let’s talk side effects
Of course, risk of death is the worst case scenario. But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience other negative effects of diet pills. I asked some ladies to share their experiences of using diet supplements (the legal kind). The overriding consensus? Not good.
“I have what I call a Mystery Stomach Disease. I definitely blame the peak of the worst of my illness symptoms on (diet pill) abuse,” one woman tells me. “I’ve been obese most of my life.My mum is obese as well – everyone in my family is. As an older teen and adult, I started abusing “diet” teas with Senna, or “detox” coffees.
“My body took lots of damage. Intense out-of-nowhere diarrhoea, blood, intense intestinal pain – excruciating to the point that I can’t leave my home.”
“I was in the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” another woman tells me. “I was at my in laws for dinner and shortly after I was suddenly hit with a shooting cramps feeling in my stomach. I used to pass out from period pain and but this was another level.
“I really don’t know what caused it other than it being a bad drug. The tablets were swiftly binned – that was £40 down the drain.”
While nasty side effects from diet pills and products are common, the #fakemeds campaign survey found that four out of five people who experienced them didn’t report them. What we now know about the serious dangers of these types of products, this is really worrying.
My experience with diet pills
Like many young women who want to lose just those last few pounds, I too have experimented with diet pills (albeit legally ‘safe’ ones). Do you remember that infamous ‘are you beach body ready?’ campaign? I was in the hub of the controversy, in New York, when I saw the advert in the Subway. I wanted to stock up on protein powder anyway, so the thought of a bundle that included products to accelerate my efforts in the gym sounded great.
I. Felt. Awful.
The product I used claimed to help metabolise my fat with its blend of ingredients, including “plant extracts” and caffeine. In reality, I felt nauseous 24/7, and I would lie in bed for hours with my heart racing. On a few occasions I was actually sick. Even thinking about said brand right now makes me feel queazy.
The breaking point for me was when I was sat at my desk at the internship I’d worked so hard to get, and I suddenly felt like I was going to be sick or pass out, possibly both at the same time. I had to get my roommate to meet me on the Subway as I was scared I’d be too ill to make it home. I stopped taking the ‘fat metabolisers’ after that. I asked myself, why was I jeopardising this amazing opportunity I had for the sake of losing a few pounds?
So how can I lose weight safely this summer?
This isn’t the most popular statement, but it’s true: the only way to safely lose weight is to consume a healthy diet and take plenty of exercise. Eating plenty of veggies is important. Real foods are what will help your body: not pills, powders and supplements.
Weight loss takes time. Anything that promises immediate results will either not work, or take a huge toll on your body. Don’t risk it.
If you do still want to try weight loss pills or supplements, then please make sure you buy them from a reputable source. If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
The #fakemeds campaign is keen to crack down on dangerous and illegal diet pills available online. If you’ve purchased something that had adverse effects, or something just didn’t seem right then you can report the website here.
I hope all you babes have a wonderful summer. And remember: every body is beach body ready,
Disclaimer: I was NOT paid for this post. This is a campaign I am passionate about.