Friday, April 13, 2012

Magic Pills for Weight Loss

In an effort to be completely honest and ethical, let me tell you right now that despite this blog title, there is no magic pill for weight loss. But this post will be inundated with hits from search engines driving individuals looking for a magic pill!

I am actually trying to debunk the notion that a magic pill even exists, despite the fact that numerous people fall for this fallacy, all in the quest for "the lose weight quick and easy way." Specifically, I'm talking about products that you ingest that claim to make you lose weight. With the plethora of legitimate information out there on how to lose weight, I am boggled by the fact that companies even make money by selling their "weight loss shake." But I guess love is blind, and so is the quest for weight loss.

Any follower of my blog knows that I've had my own weight loss journey. I did not take any pills nor supplements. I ate less and moved more. MANY people lose weight that way, and keep it off as well, I might add. But it's hard... you have mood swings and some days you want to throw your scale through the TV. It's also a long journey. You didn't gain all that weight in one week, you can't expect to lose it in one week. So I can see why so many people yearn for an "easy way."

I have recently had a few interactions with companies marketing weight loss shakes and "nutritional" products. I quote "nutritional" because let's be upfront and center with the fact that no government entity regulates the quality of supplements. That also means that a non-biased entity has not conducted independent research on them either. The FDA is hands off with them. So really, you do your own research and use at your own risk.

These companies have approached me because I'm a personal trainer and they think I should supplement my income by selling their products too. Due to the ethical standards of my certifying organization, I am not allowed to provide any nutritional advice or recommendations or sell any nutrition products since I have no nutrition education nor background. If I happened to be a registered dietitian or doctor, yes I could make those recommendations. But I am not, so I do not... nor do I want to. I stick to nutrition basics and the guidelines recommended by the government. Even if that ethical clause did not exist in my professional organization, I still wouldn't want the burden of recommending something that might cause harm to a client. What if they have a medical condition unbeknownst to me which is exacerbated by the chemicals in this product?

(Do personal trainers recommend and sell supplements all the time? Yes... more so than I ever realized. Perhaps they aren't certified and bound to any ethical standards of their organization, or perhaps they have educated themselves and feel comfortable promoting supplements, or perhaps they just don't care.)

When I explained the fact that I wasn't a registered dietitian/nutrition expert to one of the representatives of this weight loss supplement company, his response was "well, most of us have no nutritional knowledge either!"  And that is the point I'm trying to make. Why would anyone buy a product that is not regulated from someone who may or may not know what they're talking about?!?   Especially a product which has a direct effect on your health. Do you buy a car from someone who doesn't know the difference between a manual or automatic transmission? Do you buy a computer from someone who doesn't know the difference between RAM and GB? Probably not... why would you do any less with a product that's going INTO your body?

The product that I'm specifically referring to is one of those distributor type deals... they try to recruit individuals to sell their product. Think Avon or Mary Kay for weight loss supplements. So, you don't need any knowledge at all to push this product, you just need enough money to "buy in" to the deal and hopefully enough sales skills to make people buy your stuff.

In fact, I overheard one of these sales representatives talking about his own experience with the product he was selling. First of all, he was still a big guy... probably about 75 pounds overweight, which isn't his sales problem... you have to start somewhere. So he allegedly had been using the product a month and he said to an inquiring person "yeah I haven't lost any weight yet, but my clothes fit better. And I'm not even working out... I've literally turned fat to muscle just by drinking these shakes." First of all, he's a horrible salesperson admitting he's been on a weight loss product for a month and hasn't lost weight. (Though that's clearly an indicator of how well that product works!) Secondly, he's clearly exhibiting his lack of anatomical knowledge. Muscle and fat are independent entities... they cannot magically morph into one another.

I do not recommend weight loss supplements as a sole means to lose weight, I never will. If you want a magic pill to lose weight, I'll give it to you: track your calories, find out how many you need to consume each day to maintain your weight, eat less than that, and move more. If you need more help, use the $169 that company wants you to spend for a 21 day supply of weight loss products and consult a registered dietitian for a detailed nutritional plan. You'll probably still have money left over to consult with a certified personal trainer who can draw up an exercise plan for you. Here's the difference: that money spent on a consultation with a dietitian and a personal trainer will leave you with knowledge and a plan you can use for the rest of your life. The money spent on that weight loss supplement gets you a 21 day supply... what happens on day 22?

It is my hope that if you're even thinking about taking a weight loss supplement, perhaps this blog will make you investigate the credentials of the individuals selling you the product and research the product itself. Instead, find individuals who've lost weight (and kept it off) and ask them how they did it... I can guarantee you that the ones that keep it off have done it the old-fashioned way of smart eating and more moving. If you find a weight loss supplement you're interested in (that you hopefully want to use in addition to proper eating and moving more), I cannot emphasize enough the need to consult with a doctor or registered dietician. Even hit up the people at your local nutrition store and ask them questions. The individuals who work at a nutrition store make it their career to know about supplements and understand research related to them.... they're not just selling supplements on the fly as a half-baked "get rich quick and dupe as many people as possible" scheme. They want to actually help you, not just steal your money. (If you're in or near Minnesota, check out my friends at Power Source Nutrition. They are good, knowledgeable, and super helpful people.)

As always, if you need help getting started, shoot me an email or leave a comment here. I'm happy to help any way I can.

1 comment:

  1. You made several good points there. I did a search on the issue and found nearly all people will have the same opinion with your blog.
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