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The Truth About Magic Weight Loss Products

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -

Have you seen advertisements that promise amazing weight loss results with little effort?  These companies try to sell shakes, pills, or exercise equipment that claim to get you a flatter tummy, tighter muscles, or an overall thinner body. If these miracle diets/products really worked, wouldn’t everyone be skinny? Learn how to distinguish fact from fiction on TV, the Internet, and in magazines and other media. Learn their jargon and how to translate it. The Federal Trade Commission provides several tips:

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

There is no such thing as a magical fat-melting pill and there is no one single piece of exercise equipment that can tone your body without you having to make some effort. Look at these claims critically and evaluate how realistic they could possibly be. Make sure you read the fine print. Those wonderful, advertised results may be based on much more than just using that exercise machine. The fine print usually says: "To get results, combine the use of this product with a diet and exercise program," indicating that the product is not making the difference, your diet and activity change are. The fine print may also state: “Results are not typical." There is no guarantee you will lose as much weight as the person in the advertisement. That person was probably the exception rather than the rule.

"Spot reduction" is also a myth.

There is no way to lose fat around only one part of your body, such as your stomach or buttocks. The only solution is to eat sensibly and exercise regularly, combining strength training/muscle toning in a specific area with aerobic exercise to burn fat.

Many products use testimonials with impressive "before" and "after" photos. The odds are that the pictures have been digitally modified, or that the results are not typical. What might have worked for them, might not work for you. The people in advertisements for those products are often just models. They probably did not get their physiques from exercising with the equipment they're selling. Also be wary of expert endorsements. The so-called “experts” are usually paid to support the infomercial's claims. They often use "junk science" to deceive you with distorted study results. “Junk science” means that the results of their studies have been skewed and were not conducted independently. The studies probably did not meet all the criteria for a more rigorous, scientific study done by real researchers and/or health professionals.

What type of exercise equipment should I buy?

Be sure to try any exercise equipment before you buy it. If you order something from television, this may be impossible. The company may say things like: "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back," and "risk free for 30 days." However, you will more than likely have to pay for all shipping and handling. If you decide to send it back, it could cost you from $50 to $100.

You may think a product is quite cheap, and that might make you more willing to take a chance. But be careful and make sure you do the math. Take the time to calculate the actual price when you read statements like "three easy payments of . . . " or "only $49.95 a month." The advertised cost of exercise equipment may not include sales tax and shipping and handling fees. Weight-loss programs could have hidden costs like prepackaged foods. After adding it all up is it still a good deal? Would you want to pay that much for a product that ends up not working? Ask for all of the costs up front and get them in writing!

If you are still unsure about which exercises are best for you, here’s the answer: choose the one you're actually going to do.

Don't be the next person to fall for a weight-loss gimmick!

If you are one of the estimated 50 million Americans who will go on a diet this year, you may be tempted by advertisements for products promising easy, quick ways to lose weight. Once you get educated you’ll know that when it comes to losing weight, gimmicks usually don’t deliver on their promises.

Some dieters lose weight and some might achieve these results with an advertised product. But only about 5% of dieters manage to keep the weight off in the long run. Most experts agree the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and burn more energy by increasing physical activity. Try to lose a pound or two per week. This means cutting about 500 calories a day from your diet, eating healthy low-fat foods, finding a regular exercise activity you enjoy, and sticking with it. If you lose weight faster, you are more likely to gain it back.

The only way to see visible results is to stick with an exercise and diet plan and make it a part of your lifestyle. Don’t think of dieting as a temporary fix that you can stop when you get to your desired weight. To maintain a healthy weight, make changes that will forever be a part of your life. It may seem like a hard pill to swallow, but at least it won’t cost you a fortune without results, like some of the “miracle” drugs out there!

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity of MyDiet™


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