5 Ways to Lose Weight without Diet Pills

by Jessica Smith, REDBOOK

Most diet pill advertisements, these drugs can do everything from give you more energy to help you drop pounds in record time. And we're buying it - according to a recent CBS News report, Americans are spending over $35 billion a year on weight loss products. But what these supplement companies don't tell you is that most of their "success stories" are actually paid participants whose job it is to lose weight on a strict diet and exercise plan. (And believe it or not, a recent FTC investigation found that one popular diet pill brand had evidence from a study that found subjects lost more weight taking a placebo than the actual diet pill.)

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So why not save some money, and potential health risks, and lose weight without the pills? Here are five ways to get the power of a pill (sans supplements) and speed up your weight loss naturally:

1. The Diet Pill Claim: Curbs your appetite.

Get it the drug-free way: Drink water instead! It's free, simple, and it works: a recent Virginia Tech study found that women who drank two glasses of water before every meal lost more weight than those who took diet pills to curb hunger.

2. The Diet Pill Claim: Speeds up your metabolism.

Get it the drug-free way: Sorry folks, but the best way to rev your metabolism is through exercise. "Do some heavy resistance training or HIIT (high intensity interval training)," suggests Michele Collier and John Dull, co-creators of the "Supreme 90 Day" system. "After just one session of HIIT, your metabolism can stay elevated for up to 18 hours after."

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3. The Diet Pill Claim: Increased energy.

Get it the drug-free way: Spice up your meals! "Spicy hot foods and condiments increase circulation and increase metabolism," says Dr. Lynn Anderson, creator of the "Aero*Boga" DVD. "When you increase circulation to your brain, it gets charged and you get energized." Anderson recommends adding salsa, red pepper and a little horseradish to meals.

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4. The Diet Pill Claim:Cuts cravings.

Get it the drug-free way: Got a craving for chocolate that just won't quit? Take a whiff of peppermint. One study done at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia found that subjects who regularly took sniffs of peppermint throughout the day consumed 2,800 calories less per week than their non scent-smelling counterparts. Researchers believe this may be because when our brains focus on a strong scent (such as peppermint) our focus is shifted away from the food we may be craving.

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5. The Diet Pill Claim: Reduces calorie intake.

Get it the drug-free way: Eat in volume. If you like to eat, don't fight it! Instead, indulge in low-calorie, high-volume foods like broth-based soups, popcorn or large salads. A recent study published in the journal Appetite found that subjects who consumed soup before a meal ate 20 percent less calories at mealtimes than those that didn't.

Jessica Smith is a certified fitness lifestyle expert and creator of the 10 Pounds Down DVD series.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.