Many of you in the Be Strong community will be familiar with our thoughts and feelings on busting the myths and unshrouding the secrecy involved in the weight loss industry. To lose weight it is as simple as calories in vs calories out and to get fit, it is just a case of moving more than you already are. But what is harder, is getting our heads in the game, finding the motivation and ability to stay dedicated to our goals.
We also know that things don’t always go our way. We lose the faith, we lose motivation and this is when our wandering eyes begin searching for a quick fix, something that will solve our problems by the end of the week, or maybe just a ‘kick start’ just to get us back on track.
Our social media feeds and side ad bars are full of adverts for pills and potions that will torch belly fat based on your wrist girth (yes, that really is one!!) , drop you ’14 stone in a day from cutting out one food’, or products that will give you unlimited amounts of energy whilst only eating 500 calories a day. Well, we have some pretty strong views on the sorts of products that are peddled to vulnerable, unsuspecting victims (because that’s what we are when are in this state of mind) and we aren’t afraid to shout about them.
There are juice detoxes, pills, skinny coffees and teas, powdered meals, skinny lollipops, you name it there’s a weight loss version of it, and when we are struggling we will try anything that is going to make the job of shifting those extra pounds that we are carrying, that bit easier and quicker. They are accompanied by images of slim, healthy looking individuals who have never had a weight problem in their lives, and doctored before and after pictures to ultimately make you part with your well-earned money!
I have been there myself, taken slimming pills, tried weight loss shakes and even just eating purely raw vegetables at one point to ‘detox’ my system (that didn’t last long let me tell you!). I know people who have spent hundreds of pounds on detox juice programmes, get not even half way through and realise it’s not for them, no doubt because they are starving hungry, feel weak and listless, and can’t function properly. It infuriates me that these companies steal our money with false promises of achieving the life we are so desperate for.
Is it legal?
During my time regulating the food industry, these type of products were booming, and to be fair they still are! Every couple of days we were made aware of yet another company with another product that claimed all sorts of health benefits that were completely unjustifiable. In the majority of cases the claims made on most products were simply false and without scientific proof, and in other cases the products were downright dangerous.
The size of the market is huge! I recently typed weight loss into the search bar in eBay, and was greeted with a results list of over 11,000 sales listings. Amazon has a similar amount listed on their UK website. Google returned over 1.8 billion results for ‘weight loss products’, no doubt listing hundreds of thousands of foreign websites selling god knows what, to who ever will pay for it, out of the reach of the UK regulators, but oh so easy to access, if you just hand over your credit card details.
It’s fifteen years since the a piece of legislation set to control this industry came into force – the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations – and with it the introduction of the requirement to have the sorts of claims you see on weight loss products, supplements and ‘diet foods’ approved by government. And still 15 years on there is no approved claim for the term ‘detox’, a term regularly used to make you believe you are going to clear out your system and drop a few pounds, quickly. This means that it is illegal for a company to claim that a product is a detox or any word that means detox, such as ‘cleanse’. And it also means that not one single company has been able to prove that their product actually does what they say it does and therefore renders the product illegal.
When it comes to the claims about weight loss, there are only three claims permitted. Two relate to meal replacement products with a very specific nutritional profile, and one relates to the product konjac, which is a particular type of fibre that is used in the very low calorie noodle products. So this means in the whole of Europe only three products have been proven to work to ‘achieve weight loss’.
It is also illegal to refer to a rate or amount of weight loss on a product – so you can’t say ‘Lose 7lbs in 7 days with our coffee’, or ‘Rachel lost 5 stones eating this soup’. But the industry get round this, as I said earlier, with the doctored before and after pictures and the “I’ll inbox you hun” statements. Away from the prying eyes of enforcement officers, the distributor will be telling you whatever you want to hear in order to get you to buy their products! It is widely reported that some companies use fake reviews, and fake before and after photos, to get you to part with your money.
The worst aspect of this industry, is the ingredients that are used. In the majority of cases they are just totally ineffective, but there are instances where they can have very negative effects on the body.
There is perhaps a grain of truth in some of the herbal and natural ingredients, such as grapefruit, turmeric, black pepper and capsicum and but you would have to consume them in such huge volumes, it is practically impossible to do so, unless you absorbed it 24/7.
Some ingredients can have detrimental effects on your digestive system, with some products containing laxatives and diuretics by other names. The effect will definitely be that you will lose water and solids from your system, leaving your tummy a little flatter, but do you really want to be on the toilet every five minutes. Some laxative type ingredients can even have the opposite effect, bulking up your stools until you become constipated. I think you’ll agree neither of these symptoms are desirable, and best avoided at all costs. Either way, the results are temporary, and as soon as you stop them the water goes back into your body, and your weight increases again.
There is also the dark side of supplement use – laxative abuse, which unfortunately is a common practice in people with eating disorders. Psychologists have concerns that the inclusion of laxative and diuretics in products on supermarket shelves normalise the use of such products, fuelling the fire of eating disorders. The concern is now to the point where the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency , launched a review in 2018 into how ‘legal’ products are sold, to prevent their sale to vulnerable people.
Some ingredients are newly developed, or have been discovered in deepest, darkest Peru, with scientific Latin names like Hoodia Godornii and Acacis Rigidula. In these cases, if they haven’t been consumed in the EU before, they should be scientifically checked to make sure they are safe for use. In a lot of cases this doesn’t happen, and products have been known to go on the market without the business ensuring its safety for their customers. Why would we want to consume something that we didn’t know was safe?
Next up, are ingredients that can affect other parts of your body. Some products contain ingredients that they claim will speed up your metabolism, putting you into ‘fat burning mode’, but leave your heart racing, giving you palpitations and dizziness. These may seem harmless at first glance when you are reading the ingredients – caffeine, Guarana and bitter orange extract – but the quantities used, can have detrimental effects on our heart.
Further to this, some pills use chemicals which have been manipulated from other industries, without any human testing whatsoever, unless you call a few muscle bound chaps in a back street gym somewhere a human trial!! There have been countless deaths and catastrophic side effects from these so-called ‘fat burners’ containing ingredients with such complex chemical formulas, that they have to be shortened to a few letters like DMAA, DNP, HCL and 5-HTP.
We just don’t recommend it!
So, as you have probably gathered, weight loss supplement and weight loss product use is something that really gets us annoyed at Be Strong. It’s exploitative of both the users and to some extent, the distributors in these huge multi-level marketing companies.
At best, these products will be ineffective or temporary, and at worst they could cause you some serious physical damage, or even kill you! So please, I beg you, next time you are struggling, or you need a boost or a kick start to your weight loss, please don’t be tempted to click the ‘buy now’ button. At best you will waste your money and your self belief will take another massive knock, at worst you could be left feeling unwell, or even worse still.
If you need a boost, a refocus or a kick start, detox from the detox and magic pills and do one of our programmes, #50DayFit or The Friday Project, or better still use our discovery tool and find out which of the Be Strong nutrition programs will work best for you! Most of all keep the faith, because this does work, and it works forever, not just while you are ‘taking the pills’!! And if you hear of anyone trying to lose weight by any of these crazy methods, please try and convince them not to waste their money!