Home Sports Do you trust what you’re putting in your body?

Do you trust what you’re putting in your body?

by Archives November 20, 2002

I was playing basketball one evening at the Loyola gym and three players took a time-out. They went to the bench and each of them opened plastic bottles of what I recognized as fat burner supplements.

After washing as many as five down they returned ready to play. In recent months I have begun to see more of these fat-burning supplements in the gym and locker rooms at Concordia.

This is alarming given the recent health warnings on these products. This would otherwise be just another story if were not for the plain and obvious fact that many Concordia students are consuming these products to improve athletic ability and lose weight.

In December 2001, an Ephedrine warning was issued by Health Canada. It turns out such supplements with names like Liquid Clenbutrx, MD6, Metabolic Complete, Hydroxycut, Xenadrine RFA-1 and Stacker 3, are being heavily promoted by WWE RAW, a very popular entertainment-wrestling program for millions.

These products generally promise that by speeding up your metabolism, they can reduce fat, a claim most people, including our youth, find attractive. The choice for many is Hydroxycut, which is popular in part because of its exposure in Muscle and Fitness magazine, a magazine gaining popularity among young adults.

These supplements are supposed to work by increasing thermo genesis-that is, by converting more of the food you eat into heat before it can be stored as fat. What is distressing is that although they don’t work, they are not risk free. Most contain the controversial ingredient ephedra (a Chinese herb also known as mahuang) or ephedrine. Bodybuilders and young males looking for that cut and chiseled look especially use these products containing ephedra.

Randy Mayer, 24, is a Concordia student, who also works out three times a day at the Loyola weight room. He openly admits to using Hydroxycut. “The stuff works,” he says, pulling up his t-shirt to display his abs. “I am not the only one.”

It is worth stating here that these fat burners are banned in Canada.

There is enough evidence to support the ban. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001 received reports of 80 deaths and about 1,400 instances of adverse effects that may be associated with the use of the herb, and has issued strong warnings of their own about the use of ephedrine-containing products. Their potential side effects include heart attack, stroke, seizures, psychosis and death. The products are even packaged with a long list of user warnings.

Still, the warnings do not prevent many youth from using the product.

The latest trend in fat burners, as seen on NBC, CBS and CNN, is the claimed health discovery that actually reverses aging while burning fat, without dieting or exercise! The New England Journal of Medicine has even reported on this proven discovery: at least that is the claim.

After an exhaustive search through 10 years of publications I could not find one reference to ULTIMATE HGH 1000. The ad begs you to forget aging and dieting forever! You can lose weight while you sleep!

When we’re young, HGH (human growth hormone) is produced in large quantities by the pituitary gland, but after ages 25 to 30 years old, HGH levels diminish up to 80 per cent. ULTIMATE HGH 1000 capsules are supposed to stimulate the pituitary gland to produce and distribute youthful levels of HGH. One of the amazing effects that HGH has on the body is that it increases metabolism. It is claimed that this increase actually causes the body to burn fat while you sleep!

Health and Fitness magazines claim reports of dramatic improvements in weight loss, vitality and energy, muscle strength, healing of injuries, flexibility, resistance to illness, memory function, skin tone and smoothness, sexual function-even control of thinning hair. A problem here is that ULTIMATE HGH 1000 is recommended for those over age 25, yet there it was one afternoon sticking out of the gym bag at one of Concordia’s athletic facilities.

I do believe one of my opponents swallowed a handful of HGH.

Already my in-box has prompted my curiosity. I am on to a new breakthrough in appetite suppression. 5HTP, another one of those scientifically engineered pills, is designed to break that serotonin blood/brain barrier and make you happy, but its real draw (a true case of serendipity), is its association with weight loss.

“If I were any happier now I would be twins,” claims Brigette, a long time sufferer of depression and someone who has struggled with her weight. Brigette, a Concordia student who asked to not have her real name published, has tried SAM-E, St Johns Wort and anti-depressants with no effect. She also has been on every diet that ever reached the mass market.

“Until 5HTP I thought I would never be thin,” Brigette said, who has lost 38 pounds. “I was just amazed at how fast I lost the weight.”

5HTP is gaining popularity but the side effects are also catching up. Confirming Mayo Clinic research, FDA has identified impurities in certain dietary supplements that might be related to the illness eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). EMS is a serious illness characterized by a rise in certain white blood cells and severe muscle pain. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has identified more than 1,500 cases of EMS, including 38 deaths, associated with L-tryptophan.

The supplements, some 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5HTP) products, are being used for insomnia, depression, obesity, and, in children, attention deficit disorder. More recently, 5HTP has been linked to improvements in endurance. While the significance of FDA’s finding remains unknown, the agency believes vigilance towards these products is warranted. In 1991, an impurity associated with 5HTP, called Peak X, was identified in one case of EMS. Impurities similar to Peak X also were found in L-tryptophan that was associated with a 1989 epidemic of EMS. Also, the medical literature includes reports of 10 previous EMS cases worldwide associated with 5HTP products.

Now here comes the lecture. And it comes from my own experience. As a former hydroxycut/5HTP/Diet Coke and one time obese man of 297 pounds I am qualified to lecture.

If you want to increase your metabolism, there is really only one safe and reliable way to do it. Increase your physical activity-whether it’s walking briskly, lifting weights or playing a vigorous game of tennis. Not only will the exertion help you lose weight in a healthy and moderate fashion, it’s also beneficial to the heart and skeletal muscles.

Second, we must promote self-esteem, respect and acceptance of body. Society’s view of young men and women are unrealistic. School programs – and university programs – should aim to build self-esteem and respect for one’s body. We must continue, as educators, to drive that point home. A positive self-esteem grows out of a nurturing, accepting environment where self-confidence and healthy personal risk taking are encouraged.

Now, where can I get a supplement for 3-on-3 basketball game with only water breaks?

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