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NEW MIRACLE DIET SUPPLEMENT MELTS OFF THE POUNDS WITHOUT DIET OR EXERCISE!! The typical American dieter is no stranger to this type of advertising. We see it at the supermarkets, during sleepless nights watching infomercials, in the back of magazines, and in newspapers. In fact, just about everywhere a dieter turns, there is a shiny new magic bullet gleeming with promise. Despite all these "astonishing discoveries" brought to us by science and herbal remedies, we as a nation are still getting fatter. This seems odd with all the "miracles" and "breakthroughs" in the diet industry. Furthermore, we are still falling for the magic bullet theory. I know I am.

Five months ago, I shelled out $25 for the latest promise of instant weight loss: Chitosan. I consider myself to be a rather savvy consumer, I compared products and ingredients and found the cheapest deal at my local supermarket. Chitosan (pronounced KITE-o-san) is made of the undigestible chitin of shellfish. The supplement binds with undigested fat as it moves through our intestines before our body has the chance to absorb the fat. Both human and animal studies (including several acknowledged by reputable sources such as the Mayo clinic) show that chitosan can lower both weight and cholesterol levels. I read one glowing review of a chitosan in which participants of a 4 week trial of chitosan lost an average of 8% of their body weight. I took the pills with great expectations.

Day one on the pills left me with a terrible stomach ache and I became concerned about the risks associated with chitosan. The Mayo Clinic Online offered some cautionary notes, and warned of the following side effects:
-Failure to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K that are fat-soluble
-Possible decrease in calcium absorption
-Decrease of certain necessary bacteria in the
intestinal track
-Could affect certain medications that require fat
absorption to be effective
-Dehydration combined with chitosan can cause constipation and
bowel obstruction
The upset stomach passed by the next day, and I felt silly for being concerned about side effects. My faith in the pills and the glowing studies pushed me to continue to pop four capsules a day. As I took these pills, I discovered no additional ill effects. Before I knew it, the day of truth was approaching. I had resisted weighing myself as I hoped a more dramatic number on the scale would pleasantly surprise if I would just be patient. My clothes didn't feel looser, but then it is so hard to tell. Upon emptying my last bottle of Chitosan and hopping on my bathroom scale, I was shocked. Despite my years of battling weight and countless failures with the latest miracle pill or diet of the minute, I was still shocked to see the numbers were completely unchanged. I was devastated.
In reviewing my own diet, I realized that my fat intake is not the reason I had a few extra pounds to shed. It was actually because I (a) did not exercise enough and (b) consumed an excessive amount of carbohydrates(which Chitosan does not bind with). After allowing myself sometime to feel foolish, I began my new plan. I started walking every day and limited my overall calories to 1500. A very simple plan that cost me nothing. At the painfully slow rate of one pound a week, I am losing the weight.
Chitosan may work for some people with a primary concern of the excessive calories they are getting from fat in their diet. Assess why you have this weight to lose before taking any dietary aid. You doctor can help you analyze your diet and exercise habits as well as map out a weight loss strategy that will be healthy for you.
In the meantime, I will continue the slow plod to a healthy weight. I'll still read those flashy ads in the back of magazines, I'll still watch the infomercials with the astounding success stories, and I will probably always browse the shelves at the supermarket for the latest fat-melting pill. What I will not do is count on a single pill, a single exercise, or a single food to be my ticket to weight-loss salvation.