4 Supplements to Watch Out
By Steve Edwards
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
I told my doctor I get very tired when I go on a diet,
he gave me pep pills. Know what happened? I ate
faster. Joe E. Lewis
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,
group taking a placebo actually lost more weight than those using the
- One-A-Day WeightSmart. The Bayer
Corporation will pay 3.2 million dollars for claiming that their multivitamin
can increase your metabolism.
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
to read what the FTC had to say about these products.
While we're getting
smartersince sales of weight loss supplements have dropped half a billion
in the last three yearswe'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
- 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 themthey almost always dobut 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
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.