By Amanda Robertson
My experience with diet pills, much like the history of diet pills, was scary! After years of searching for the perfect pill I finally realized that exercise is the only safe and effective diet “pill.”
Diet pills have been around since the 1930’s when two Stanford University physicians developed the chemical dinitrophenol (DNP) to speed metabolism by increasing body temperature. DNP was taken off the market in 1938 after causing fatal fevers and blindness. Though it can still be purchased illegally online, DNP is now used as a manufacturing chemical.
In the 1950’s amphetamines gained popularity as doctors sought a way to help patients lose weight by decreasing appetite. Amphetamines proved to be effective, but also addictive. Since the 1970’s, they are prescribed for a few weeks at a time to stimulate weight loss but not prescribed long enough to develop dependency.
I started taking Phentermine (an amphetamine) in 2003. Even though I had a prescription for three weeks, I only lasted four days! It was awful. My heart felt like it was going to explode. Sure, I wasn’t hungry. But I felt dizzy, weak and did I mention my heart felt like it was going to explode?
Over the counter pills loaded with caffeine or “natural” sources of caffeine weren’t any better. I still felt jittery, like I’d had a pot of coffee. But they didn’t seem strong enough to curtail my appetite. With pills containing green tea and Hoodia, I had no side-effects, but they did absolutely nothing for me. And we all remember Fen-Phen, which became popular in the 1990’s, with doctors writing over 85,000 prescriptions a week until the Mayo Clinic published a study reporting it caused heart valve complications. A month later, the FDA took it off the market.
I had never taken Xenical, the fat blocker, but when it came out in its over-the-counter form, Alli, I was in line the first day to give it a try. I followed the rigid guidelines: no more than 15 grams of fat per meal, so as not to get the dreaded side-effects of too much fat intake. Even though I was eating the recommended 1,800 calories per day and keeping my fat grams in check I had intense cravings for sugary foods. I’d had it!
I decided to see a nutritionist. She helped me understand that I was suffering from Insulin Resistance and carbohydrate addiction. Insulin Resistance creates increased levels of insulin and glucose in the blood stream, which is a major underlying cause of excess weight and obesity. Symptoms can include fatigue, trouble concentrating, feeling irritable or jittery but better once food is eaten, sleepiness after eating meals heavy with carbohydrates, high blood pressure, and even depression.
If you feel you may be suffering from obesity caused by Insulin Resistance I suggest taking this self-test. Though I supplement my lower-carbohydrate diet with nutraceuticals, I will never take another diet pill again! I’ve found exercise to be the best diet “pill” of all. I started slowly, walking through my neighborhood in the evenings for twenty minutes and worked my way up to an hour. I’ve definitely revved up my metabolism with my daily exercise “pill.” I feel more alert throughout the day and my cravings have subsided.
I’ve discovered that it’s not about sweating and straining until you feel like falling over. It’s about finding something you can stick with every day. Well, most days.
About the author:
Amanda Robertson lives in the mountains of Colorado, enjoys 100 day of skiing a year and works remotely as a marketing executive for www.tricalyx.com and www.healthadviceforwomen.com.