Last week we talked about the seven health and fitness myths that just won't die. I did my best to debunk them once and for all. Now if only the internet would pay attention. Over here internet! I'm talking!
This week I wanted to go over the 5 warning signs of a weight loss scam. Some may think that this is common sense, but as hubby likes to say, common sense is actually not very common... especially in the fitness industry.
The same rule applies as it does to anything else (I can hear my Dad's voice saying it now) "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." But I think as humans, we are always looking for the next quick fix, the undiscovered secret or the magic pill to solve all our problems. We may fall victim to believing the things that we want so desperately to be true.
Pay attention to these common signs of a weight loss scam to avoid wasting your time and money.
IT PROMISES RESULTS WITHOUT WORK
"Lose 30 pounds without changing your diet or exercise!"
Anything worth having takes work. If having the body of a fitness model could be achieved by taking a pill (and without Photo Shop), every single one of us would be walking around with six pack abs. Don't be fooled. Fat loss is hard work and lifestyles changes will be required for sustainable results. Anyone who tells you differently is likely trying to sell you something.
IT PROMISES RESULTS IN A SHORT TIME PERIOD
"Lose 30 pounds in 3 weeks!"
Any plan that promises more than two to three pounds of weight loss per week should be examined closely. Any more than three pounds and you are likely losing water or worse, muscle. Muscle loss can hurt your metabolism, which makes it harder to keep weight off. Always aim for fat loss, not weight loss. Build muscle, lose fat, slowly over time. It's the only way.
IT REQUIRES THAT YOU PURCHASE BRANDED SHAKES OR SUPPLEMENTS
"Drink this fat loss super shake to lose 10 pounds quickly!"
It is always better to eat real foods than to take supplements. Some shakes may have better-sourced ingredients than others, but no shake is a magic weight loss shake. Shakes don't make you lose weight faster than real food. Shakes may help you consume less calories so that you create a calorie-deficit, which can lead to weight loss. Just remember it is the calorie deficit, not the shake. Shakes are great when real food is not available or convenient (I drink them all the time), but you don't need a shake to lose weight.
Ever notice those fat burning pills always say "For best results use in conjunction with proper diet and exercise."? Save your money and focus on the diet and exercise part.
IT'S NOT SUSTAINABLE OVER THE LONG TERM
"Drink two shakes a day followed by a sensible dinner for rapid weight loss"
"Do this extreme workout for an hour a day six days a week for 60 days"
Make sure any new diet or exercise plan passes the sustainability test. "Will I be able to do this long term?" A short term program delivers short term results. Once you go off the extreme diet or exercise plan any weight you lost will come back on. A better long term solution is to find a sane plan you can follow long term. If you are not going to drink shakes twice a day, eat cabbage soup or do insane workouts for the rest of your life then don't waste your time.
IT USES THE WORD DETOX
"For one week drink green juice followed by a shot of apple cider vinegar to detox."
The word detox is one of the largest red flags of a weight loss scam. It is a marketing term that means nothing. Drinking juice doesn't cleanse you. Eating cabbage soup and drinking apple cider vinegar doesn't detoxify your body. Our liver does an excellent job of detoxifying our body. If your liver stops working, you'll need to see your doctor immediately.
There is nothing inherently wrong with drinking green juices, eating cabbage soup or taking apple cider vinegar. Just balance them with whole foods from a variety of sources and be aware that you're not detoxing anything.
It all boils down to this:
Listen to your Dad (or my Dad). If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Be wary of outrageous claims. If the product could really deliver those kinds of results everyone would be thin and fit.
Avoid extremes. Everything in moderation, my friends. Short term extremes do not produce long term results.
Be skeptical about testimonials and before/after pictures on the internet. When possible, talk to people you know and trust about their real world results.
The problem is that when we fall for weight loss scams they end up being distractions that take us further away from our goals. If we focus on the tried and true principles over the long haul, results will follow. Money back guarantee.
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in Fort Worth, TX in the Shredshed, online half marathon coaching and nutrition coaching. If you are interested in coaching, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I am not your personal trainer and nutrition coach. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.