Bullshit Fat Loss Claims

Over the past couple of weeks there have been a few attempts to comment spam some of the articles on this site with links to a web site claiming you can lose “30 pounds in 30 days without diet or exercise” by taking products they sell. Of course, this is complete and utter bullshit.

For starters, the math does not add up. Assuming the claim refers to fat loss, and not loss of water or other tissues, this is impossible. A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories of energy.To lose a pound of fat one would have to expend 3,500 more calories per day than they consume. Many people do not even burn this many calories per day. No supplement is going to cause you to burn this many more calories per day, which would require more than a doubling of metabolic rate for many people, something that would probably also result in enough of an increase in body temperature to kill you.

There is a limit to the rate at which energy can be obtained from fat stores, the average being about 30 calories per day per pound of fat. A person would have to have over 116 pounds of body fat to begin with to lose a pound of it per day, assuming they were able to create a 3,500 calorie deficit. This is highly unlikely.

No supplement is going to cause you to lose a pound of fat per day, or even half that. Even getting injections of a powerful fat-loss hormone like leptin that would cost upwards of $1,000 per day would not produce those kind of results.

Also, there is no proof that Acai berry, the main ingredient in one of the supplements recommended, would have any beneficial effect on fat loss. There is no other benefit to Acai berry supplements over simply eating more fresh fruit – do not waste your money on them.

The other product they recommend, one of the many “cleansing” supplements, would also have no effect on fat loss, and provide no health benefits for someone who already consumes an adequate amount of fiber daily.

The claim that an Acai berry and “cleansing” supplement would cause a person to lose 30 pounds of fat in 30 days without diet or exercise is complete and utter bullshit. Competitive bodybuilders using steroids and other drugs don’t lose fat that quickly with exercise and diet when preparing for competitions.

The more I read this web site, the more it pisses me off. It starts out,

“It seems that I tried every diet and exercise program out there, but nothing seemed to work.”

I hear this a lot. Usually when a person says they “tried” something but it didn’t work, they either didn’t commit to doing it correctly or consistently for a long enough period of time. She goes on,

“But then I discovered something that helped me lose 30 pounds in 30 days. I lost pounds and kept them off, and you can too! I started this blog because I wanted to share my weight loss story.”

Bullshit. First, she certainly did not lose 30 pounds of fat in 30 days, as I explained above, and if she lost any weight at all it was not without at least some change in diet, as the products she credits do not do what she claims. Second, she did not start the blog to share her bullshit weight loss story, she started it to sell bullshit supplements. The bullshit gets even deeper,

“I’m a busy mom of three, and I don’t have TIME to count calories…”

A 4 oz grilled chicken breast is about 190 calories, about 8 spears of asparagus is about 25, and a small orange is about 45.

It took me 2 minutes and 17 seconds to go to a web site, look up the information, and type the above sentence. It might take only a little longer to look it up in a book and write it down in a notebook. Anybody who says they don’t have time to count calories is full of shit or incredibly lazy, and probably both. What’s ironic is, she’s probably one of those people who’d rather spend 15 minutes driving around looking or waiting for a parking spot than just park in the first open spot and walk for only 5.

There are also numerous nutrition tracking web sites and apps which make counting calories and macro and micronutrients fast and easy. It takes a few minutes to sign up and only a few minutes a day to track food intake – less time than it takes to find a good parking spot at the grocery store on Sunday afternoon if you’re too lazy to walk across the parking lot.

“… or go to the gym every day.”

It isn’t necessary to go to the gym every day to lose fat. The absolute most any of my clients work out is 3 times a week, for no more than 30 minutes per workout, which has been very effective for fat loss. Most of my clients train only twice weekly, and some only once weekly. As long as they train hard and consistently and eat properly they lose fat. Many of them work full time and have children, and some of them work full time while also working towards post-graduate degrees.

It isn’t even necessary to join a gym. While not ideal, an effective routine can be performed at home with little or no equipment, requiring very little space, in under 30 minutes. Nobody can legitimately say they do not have time to work out if their health is really a priority. Everybody can make time if it is really important to them.

“After trying lots of different things, I developed a diet that works and fits my busy schedule.”

Taking supplements is not the same as developing a diet.

“The products in this diet are safe, healthy, and they REALLY WORK. Want proof?”

The “proof” she gives is a before and after photo, which could have been taken years apart for all we know, or the before photo might have been taken during or right after a pregnancy. There is nothing about the photo that proves any of the claims she makes. The only thing it proves is her weight was different at the times the photos were taken, and they could have been taken in any order, anywhere from months to years apart.

What really pisses me off about this, even more than the blatant attempts at spamming my site, is that there are millions of people out there who are overweight and who need to be encouraged and taught how to change their eating habits and exercise, and then along come assholes like this making bullshit claims about being able to lose “30 pounds in 30 days without diet or exercise”, discouraging them from the things they need to focus on the most for the sake of a few bucks.

There are no pills, potions, or shortcuts. If you want to make a major change in the way your body looks or performs, it is going to require hard work, discipline, and time. If you’re willing to do what it takes, however, I guarantee you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

References:

Alpert SS. A limit on the energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia. J Theor Biol. 2005 Mar 7;233(1):1-13.

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6 Responses to Bullshit Fat Loss Claims

  1. Chris K December 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    The hardest, most gray hairing aspect of my career as a HIT instructor is getting clients to change their eatting habits. Frankly, sometimes I want to throw in the towel. They will complain, complain, but when I give them answers they look at me like I’ve ruined eatting for them. What the Hell? Since I “converted” to a Paleo-type diet I got really excited, “Heres a way to eat really as much as you want, not get fat or type 2, and live like evolution intended. If I could only sell this I thought. I’d be rich and do good, cure every inflammatory condition out there.” But reality always hits you between the eyes. “But how can I live without carbs. (Refined carbs)!?” was the response I mostly get. So, when it comes to fat lose, I’m at a lose. I now present the historical evidence for such a lifestyle, show them proof-of-concept, me, and then leave the preaching to Sts. Peter and Paul.

  2. Ed Jones December 23, 2008 at 6:45 am #

    Just say NO to supplements!!
    I like the title you gave “Bullshit fat lose calims” to bad so many are taken in by Bullshit ..
    All it takes is a change in diet( oh there’s that 4 letter word again),better people are told to make a change in life (eating style) style ,and exercise. Good write up Drew.

  3. Drew Baye December 23, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    After doing a little digging, I do not believe this is a real blog. It appears to be a fake put up by the company selling the supplements. No big surprise there.

  4. Shane December 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    There are several overweight indivuals at my workplace and they are always discussing some new weight loss method/diet/pill. For the last few years I’ve been listening to them give their personal testimonies about their new found dedication to a program they got from a book or off TV/Internet and how they are going to lose such and such amount of weight. They are always so motivated for about a week, then you notice one day that they are no longer talking about it and have resumed their normal course of action (eating and sitting). People are so desperate to beleive that they can lose weight quickly and easily that they are willing to buy into almost anything-which explains why these marketing scams are so prevalent and for the most part so successful. The sad part is that the truth doesn’t sell well, which is why you hardly see it anymore.

  5. Rocco Castellano December 24, 2008 at 4:53 am #

    Drew
    You are absolutely correct! It is absolutely impossible for any kind of supplement or drug (like speed) for that matter to create a metabolic effect in the body that can expend 3500 calories a day. Losing that kind of weight takes incredible will and hard work.

    It is possible to Lose 30 pounds in thirty days but you better be willing to hit it hard for those 30 days.

  6. Drew Baye December 24, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    The fastest I’ve ever seen someone lose 30 pounds was a little over 6 weeks, and a bit of that was probably water, muscle glycogen, and lean body mass.

    The only people who could hope to lose anywhere near that amount of fat in that time period are the morbidly obese. There is a limit to the rate at which the body can get energy from the fat stores – approximately 31.4 calories per pound of fat per day, on average. To determine the most fat a person could lose in a single day, multiply the pounds of fat they have by 31.4 to determine the amount of energy they can get from their fat stores, then divide that by 3,500 to determine the percentage of a pound of fat they can lose that day.

    For example, a 200 pound person with 15% body fat would have 30 pounds of fat, so they could lose about 0.27 pounds of fat per day starting out (30×31.4 = 942 and 942/3,500 = 0.27).

    As their body fat went down, however, so would the amount of energy they could get from their fat stores daily, and their rate of fat loss. This is part of the reason fatter people can lose fat more quickly and leaner people lose it more slowly.

    For a person to be able to average 1 pound of fat loss per day for 30 days, they would have to have an average deficit of 3,500 calories per day. To be able to get this much energy from their fat stores per day, they would need to have an average body fat of over 111 pounds (3,500 calories in a pound of fat divided by 31.4 calories per pound of fat per day = 111.5). In addition to a very low calorie diet – just the minimum amount necessary to maintain lean body mass and health – they would have to increase their activity levels tremendously to create that kind of deficit. Far more than what is practical for most people.

    While 30 pounds of fat loss in 30 days may be possible for someone morbidly obese under ideal conditions, it is not possible for someone who is only a little overweight with any amount of exercise, simply due to the limited rate of energy transfer from the fat stores.

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