4 Supplements to Watch Out For
December 1, 2010
December 1, 2010
A phenomenal article by a very smart guy! Beachbody’s own Steve Edwards on what the do’s and dont’s are when it comes to supplements.
4 Supplements to Watch Out For
This month, four of the major weight loss supplement manufacturers were fined 25 million dollars because science does not support their statements about the supplements. We’ve been warning our customers about false claims for years and, basically, these are just the tip of the BS iceberg. Let’s take a look at the major offenders and what to look for when evaluating a supplement.
It’s important to keep yourself informed because these supplements will still be on the market. The Federal Trade Commission, who handed down the verdict, has only stated that the manufacturers need to change the product claims, not the products. And, well, since the FTC cited that a placebo had outperformed one of the offenders, it will be interesting to see what the manufacturers come up with. If we don’t buy the supplements, then, of course, they won’t be on the market, but these folks can be very clever.
Let’s use Bob as an example. He’s that guy on TV who’s thrilled over his "male enhancement." However, when analyzing the product he’s used, we see that it’s little more than what’s normally sold as a mild stimulant. Yet Bob seems to be insinuating far greater lifestyle enhancements than a cup o’ joe will ever provide. This little exaggeration has allowed his marketing team to spend 181 million advertising dollars since 2003, according to Nielson Monitor-Plus, so we may assume that Bob’s become a wealthy man. Last year, however, 112 charges of fraud, money laundering, and mislabeling of product were brought against six executives at Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, marketer of Enzyte, Bob’s key to newfound self-esteem. In spite of this, the company took out a full-page ad in The Cincinnati Enquirer on September 5th that read, in part, "The future of Berkeley looks bright as we hope to work through our setbacks and continue providing great brands to the world . . ."
So let’s take a look at those recently fined and learn how to protect ourselves.
- CortiSlim. These marketers were fined 12 million bucks and I’m using them first because I had a personal run-in with ’em at the Natural Products show a few years back. A guy essentially accosted me in the aisles, handing me a pamphlet of information that informed me of dangers of chronic inflammation and how this product would reduce it, leading to massive weight loss. Being familiar with the product, since we get plenty of questions on the Message Boards, I fired a few stats at him about studies involving CortiSlim’s ingredients. The guy looks at my identifying badge, turns away from me like a dog being submissive, and looks for someone else to engage. I throw one more tidbit his way and he refuses to even acknowledge me with a glance, keeping his eyes averted even though we were a foot apart. I didn’t find this to be a particularly strong endorsement of faith in their products.
- Xenadrine EFX. The two companies that market this will pay between 8 and 12.8 million dollars. Xenadrine has been in the industry spotlight for a long time, at least since a popular fitness model, and one of their "success stories," was caught trying to gain weight for her "before" picture after she had shot her "after." In this case, the studies they provided showed that their product did nothing that it claimed. In fact, in one of the studies they provided, the group taking a placebo actually lost more weight than those using the product.
- One-A-Day WeightSmart. The Bayer Corporation will pay 3.2 million dollars for claiming that their multivitamin can increase your metabolism.
- TRIMSPA. They will pony up 1.5 million dollars for their unsubstantiated claims. There was no word on whether Anna Nicole Smith would have to pay the money herself.
While we’re getting smarterâ€”since sales of weight loss supplements have dropped half a billion in the last three yearsâ€”we’re still being duped regularly. I was recently talking shop with a graphic designer whose job is to Photoshop "before" and "after" pics for an unnamed supplement that you’ve heard of. I’m not telling which, because she didn’t inform me on the record and also because I’m going to tell you how to not buy useless supplements anyway. If you read below, I assure you that you’ll never buy the unmentioned or any other highly hyped placebo.
- Rule 1: Never buy a supplement that promises body transformation without lifestyle transformation.
No supplement can offset your lifestyle. If you eat poorly and don’t exercise, you will not look good. Supplements can’t build muscle and they can’t make you lose fat. All they can do is assist with this process. Some initiative must come from you.
- Rule 2: Read the fine print.
Many of these companies write "legal" with fine print saying something along the lines of, "Will work if you follow a healthy lifestyle" or something similar that gets them off the hook when studies show their supp isn’t as advertised. Generally, if you lived the healthy lifestyle they’re describing, you wouldn’t need the supplement anyway. I analyzed a carb-blocker supplement that had a tiny insert, with, like, size-4 font, that was an exercise program and low-carb diet that you needed to follow to get the claimed results. The obvious question then was, "Why do I need a carb-blocker if I don’t eat carbs?" And, of course, the answer is that you don’t.
- Rule 3: Read the ingredients.
Most of these use the same ingredients and these will be listed on their Web site. They have to by law. They may try and hide themâ€”they almost always doâ€”but click around and you’ll find them. If you don’t, then you’re dealing with a company that’s completely under the radar and you should not trust them. If you do, then do a quick Internet search on the ingredients or ask us on the Message Boards. There are many watchdog agencies that test everything. Bogus supplements are pretty easy to identify.
- Rule 4: Use common sense about how the supplement actually works.
Hoodia, the main ingredient of TRIMSPA is one of my favorites. The TRIMSPA Web site tells you that you need it because African tribesmen would use the stuff on long hunts to keep thin and alert, as if anyone walking through the savanna hunting large dangerous animals with a spear needs any help in this department. Most of us would be so wide-eyed we’d be burning a thousand calories an hour with fear alone. Sure, those guys were probably fit. But before you go looking for some dietary secret, you might want to consider the fact that they were hunting large animals, on foot, using spears! Don’t you think that there might be another reason for those ripped bodies?
Another good example is the study that used displaced cultures in an attempt to show how something from their prior diet was the key to their former state of health. They never mention the fact that, using one common example, these people used to live on an island where they ate fruits, veggies, and fish and exercised daily to gather these things, and now they’re poverty-stricken factory workers who smoke, drink, and eat junk food in a polluted city. You don’t need to be a scientist to see that somebody besides those factory workers is blowing smoke.
Supplements are nothing more than a piece of the puzzle of creating a healthy lifestyle. Used correctly, they can aid with diet and exercise and greatly enhance results and performance. But they are not magical cures. They’re just targeted nutritional products, like a dense food, which is why they’re called nutritional supplements and not drugs.
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