In a world where obesity is on the rise, weight loss products are big sellers. While selecting the best weight loss product is often a difficult and dubious enterprise, this hasn't stopped companies from continuing to invent and produce them. Weight loss products can perhaps best be classified into three categories: medicines and supplements, meal replacement products, and accountability tools.
There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications and pills designed to help people lose weight. Over-the-counter weight loss products often include various herbs and dietary supplements. While these products often make a lot of claims about their ability to help control appetite and stimulate weight loss, their efficacy is questionable. More promising are some of the prescription drugs on the market, which may provide more reliable, though often modest, weight loss. However, prescription medications for weight loss can have significant side effects that deter many people, even those who are severely obese, from taking them.
Meal replacement products are prepackaged foods that are typically high in nutrients but low in calories. A meal replacement can come in many forms, including shakes, bars, and cookies. The theory behind their use is that a person eats the meal replacement instead of a normal meal, thus reducing his or her calorie intake. Users often substitute a meal replacement item for one or two meals per day and enjoy one normal meal made up of regular foods. For those with significant self-discipline, this can be an effective way to lose weight, though it requires a fair amount of willpower. It also requires that the dieter have ongoing access to the meal replacement products.
Accountability tools, such as calorie counters and pedometers, aren't ingested by a dieters, but instead offer users the opportunity to track, and hopefully understand, their behavior. Calorie or nutrition counters come in several forms, including portable, hand-held calorie calculators and web-based services. Users can easily enter the foods they eat in order to get an idea of how many calories or grams of carbohydrates they eat in a day. Calorie counters often work well on their own or in conjunction with other weight loss products.
For those who employ walking or jogging in their slimming program, pedometers can measure the time and distanced walked, as well as give an estimate of calories burned. Finally, new high-tech bathroom scales can provide a wealth of information to those who are trying to shed pounds. These scales give users an accurate weight reading as well as an estimate of body fat percentage. Some even have a memory feature, which records and tracks a user's weight over time.