Pills that speed up metabolism

Written by desdemona delacroix
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Pills that speed up metabolism
Your metabolism governs how you burn calories. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Brian Drew)

Metabolism is the process used by your body to convert food into energy. There are a number of companies out there making money by selling pills that supposedly speed up metabolism, which the companies promise will lead to weight loss and increased energy. While these pills can temporarily make someone feel more energetic, their overall effect on the body's metabolism may not be what you expect.

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Explaining Metabolism

The process of converting food to energy starts in the stomach. There, food is broken down by the body into usable parts like carbohydrates and amino acids. These parts are then absorbed into the blood stream and transported to cells all over the body, where they are "metabolised" (used) by the cell. Speeding up this process can provide more energy to cells, and theoretically, you will burn off more calories.

Over-the-Counter Pills

Advertisers claim that many ingredients commonly used in over-the-counter diet pills can increase your metabolism. Some examples of these ingredients include caffeine, bitter orange, hoodia, green tea extract and chromium, just to name a few. People who take these pills will often tell you that they do indeed feel a burst of energy and an increased heart rate afterward. However, this does not mean that metabolism has been increased. Companies do not have to prove their product is effective, or even safe, and many of them hire their own "experts" to back up their claims. Also, be aware that the FDA does not regulate diet pills, and will only intervene if an ingredient is proven unsafe.

Prescription Pills

Prescription pills that increase metabolism are very powerful. They primarily consist of drugs from the amphetamine family, which means they can be addictive. Examples of prescription pills that speed up metabolism are sibutramine hydrochloride (prescribed for obesity) and dextroamphetamine (prescribed for narcolepsy and ADHD). Unless you are severely overweight or suffering from a mental disorder, a doctor will not prescribe you these pills.

Pills off the Internet

Companies that sell diet pills over-the-counter do not have prove their product is safe, and neither do companies who sell pills online. In fact, it is even harder to regulate pills sold over the Internet, and sometimes companies get away with selling illegal ingredients in their products. For example, ephedra was banned in 2003 because it was linked to seizures, heart attacks and several deaths, yet there are still pills containing it being sold online. If you are trying to speed up your metabolism using pills you buy through the Internet, you may be risking more than just a few dollars; use them at your own risk.

Long-Term Metabolism

There is no way to tell if diet pills are going to do what they promise, and besides that, they can be very expensive. A much better option for increasing your body's metabolic rate is to concentrate on the old-fashioned methods: diet and exercise. By limiting foods like sugar and saturated fats, you will automatically feel more energetic. And the best way to increase your metabolism long-term is by building your muscle mass through exercise. Muscles burn through energy quickly, so the more muscle you have, the more energy you will need, and the faster your metabolism will have to work.

Pills that speed up metabolism
Don't expect to discover a magic pill. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Thomas)

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