Does it Work? Unsure if the latest product or service lives up to it's claims? From popular products to the latest scams, discuss it here before you buy!

Closed Thread
Thread Tools
Old 05-24-2004, 11:17 AM   #1  
Thread Starter
MrsJim's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Posts: 5,020

Default Fat Burners???

This article from T-Mag popped up in my mailbox this morning. Thought that some of you might want to see it...especially with the many recent posts from folks asking if (brand name here) Fat Burner "really works".

Of course, since T-Mag is published by a supplement manufacturer (Biotest) there were a couple of paragraphs touting their own 'fat burner' (which I have edited out) but all in all, this is a pretty good article.

Fat Burner Fraud!
by Chris Shugart
Panic and Deceit

The hottest selling supplements right now are "fat burners" — the generic and often misleading name given to products designed to help you lose weight. Most supplement companies make the majority of their profits from weight loss supplements. In fact, many supplement makers would go out of business if it wasn't for the fat burners in their product lines. With the rapidly rising obesity rate, the astounding sales figures associated with fat burners can only climb higher.

But not too long ago, the supplement industry was dealt a major blow: ephedra was banned. Since the mid-1990's or so, the vast majority of fat burners were basically ECA stacks: a combination of ephedra or ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin. Although supplement makers used a variety of names for those ingredients and often threw in a few other inconsequential herbs, ECA remained the core of just about every successful fat burner on the market.

When "E" (ephedra) was yanked from the shelves by a sweeping government ban, many supplement companies were caught with their pants down. They panicked. As you're about to see, this panic lead many of them to make a nasty decision. That decision was simple: "Screw our customers; let's make a quick buck before they catch on." The great Fat Burner Fraud of 2004 had begun.

The first step of the fraud was to substitute inferior ingredients for the ephedra. The companies who pulled this switcharoo relied on the brand name power of their fat burners to keep sales high. Problem was, fans of certain brands immediately noticed something was different and repeat business began to slow.

When that happened, the seedy supplement companies pulled out the big guns: two dirty tricks that would increase sales by duping consumers while simultaneously increasing the profit margin.

Get ready. This is about to get dirty.

Dirty Trick #1: Diuretic Disaster

How do you know if your fat burner is really working? Well, if you're losing fat faster and easier than you could without it, it's working. Easy, huh?

Maybe not.

Judging the effectiveness of a fat burner can be tricky. Sleazy supplement companies in the post-ephedra era knew this and used it to their advantage. Instead of educating the supplement consumer, they preferred to keep him or her in the dark. Why? Because an educated supplement user wouldn't fall for their fraudulent practices!

Let's take a look at what the sleazy supplement makers knew and how they used it against us:

Fact: Most supplement consumers only judge the effectiveness of a fat burner by the numbers on the scale. This isn't very accurate because a scale reflects water and muscle loss as well as fat loss. If you lost five pounds, how much was fluid? How much was muscle? How much was actually fat?

Also, the scale doesn't honestly reflect muscle gain. If you lose four pounds of fat and gain four pounds of muscle because you're training with weights, the scale would show no change. The mirror would tell a different story of course, as would that old pair of "fat jeans" when you slip them on.

Fraud Factor: Since the sleazeball supplement companies knew that most people only used the scale to judge the effectiveness of a product, instead of using actual thermogenic ingredients in their fat burners, they loaded them up with diuretics. Diuretics are usually herbs that cause water loss. In other words, they make you pee a river!

Why include a diuretic in a "fat burner"? Because when the uneducated supplement consumer looks at the scale at the end of the week, they see a smaller number! Is it fat loss? Nope, but they feel good anyway because the typical person just wants to see the scale numbers drop. They either don't understand body composition or simply don't care. And unscrupulous supplement companies use this fact to screw them over.

Companies that add diuretics seldom list this effect on the label. They may or may not list the diuretic herb, but they never explain why this herb is included in the formula. This is not only deceptive, it could also be dangerous.

People need to know when they're taking a diuretic, especially people who exercise or have a physical labor job. Not informing the consumer about the diuretic effect is both slimy and irresponsible. But hey, these ingredients are super cheap to stick in there and what the consumer doesn't know won’t hurt him, right? (Wrong!)

Here's a list of common diuretics:

Juniper Berries


Uva Ursi

Couch Grass Rhizome (Doggrass)

Cornsilk Stylus

Buchu Leaf


Tinospora Cordifolia

Rose Hips

Celery Seed Extract

Dandelion Root

Elecampane Root


There are others on the market and many of the above go by different names; however, the above list reflects the most common diuretics used, so buyer beware!

Note: Not only do scumbag supplement makers slip diuretics into fat burners, sometimes they slip in laxatives as well! The most common herbal laxative used is senna leaf or sennoside. Senna is often secreted into weight loss formulas or used as the main ingredient in so-called "dieter's tea."

Sure, you may get diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain, nausea or suffer from dehydration, but the numbers on the scale will go down and you'll lose "weight." As a supplement consumer, this should make you very angry.

Dirty Trick #2: Caffeine Catastrophe

Fact: Many people only judge the effectiveness of a fat burner by the "jitter buzz" effect. If their hands shake and it makes them a nervous wreck, then it must be working, right?

No, of course not. But most people have gotten used to the stimulatory effects of ephedra. Ephedra was an okay fat burner and a powerful central nervous system stimulant, but you can lose fat without getting the jitters or feeling like you're taking speed. In spite of this, some supplement users don't think a product is working unless they "feel it."

Fraud Factor: Instead of telling consumers the truth, the bottomfeeder companies instead play into their false beliefs and cram as many stimulants into their fat burners as possible. Since ephedra is no longer legal, they resort to plain ol' caffeine — tons of it!

Now, caffeine is a fine ingredient to add to a fat loss product. A small amount of caffeine can potentiate the other ingredients, making them work better. Also, caffeine all by itself can be a decent little metabolism booster and performance enhancer to take before a tough workout. However, these nasty supplement makers are using a boatload of caffeine, not because it helps you lose fat, but because it jacks you up and makes you think it's accomplishing something because you'll be able to "feel it." (Caffeine in large quantities can also act as a diuretic.)

And remember, caffeine is cheap. There are a few companies out there right now making millions of dollars selling bottles of what amounts to generic caffeine tablets. These products cost less than 40 cents to make and often sell for over 50 bucks a bottle!

The labels usually list herbal or chemical names for caffeine to fool the consumers into thinking they're getting something cutting edge. In truth, these are "off the shelf" ingredients you could put together yourself for pennies. No R&D, no patents, no science — just a bucket of caffeine and a few B-list Hollywood actors, athletes, fitness models or bodybuilders on the payroll to pimp for the disreputable supplement maker. When you pay $50 for this crap, you're paying for the ads and the spokesperson, not for a high quality product!

Feeling violated yet? Duped? Bamboozled? Hoodwinked? Hornswoggled? You should be!

Here are some other names for caffeine or caffeine-containing substances that often appear in so-called "fat loss" supplements:

Guarana Extract (Paullinia cupana)

1,3,7 trimethylxanthine

Yerba Maté

Green Tea Extract

Kola Nut

Note: While some of the above may have their uses (such as green tea), they’re only being thrown into these fat loss formulas for the stimulatory effects. The makers know people won't pay $50 if the ingredient list only showed caffeine, so they toss in as many of these derivatives, variations, and herbs as possible to "pad" the label and confuse the average consumer.

No matter what name games they play with the ingredients, the consumer is buying a bottle of caffeine, and not much more than that!

Real Fat Loss, Not Fake Fat Loss

Making truly effective fat loss products is actually a double-edge sword for the supplement industry. Think about it: the ideal fat burner would speed up the fat loss process, make it easier, and allow the user to retain or even build muscle — something that's tough to do on a diet, plus some fat loss products can be catabolic or muscle wasting.

Here's the rub: real fat loss is slower than fake "weight" loss caused by the diuretic effect. A product that only helps you get rid of fat is going to work slower than a product that simply dehydrates you or keeps you on the toilet all day.

Let's look at two people wanting to lose weight and see how this breaks down:

Diane is taking a popular supplement that comes in a blue bottle and was (at one time at least) the number one selling fat loss supplement at GNC. On closer inspection of the ingredients, the astute consumer will see that this product contains a combination of herbal caffeine sources and diuretics. Diane is not astute and uses it anyway.

She uses the supplement and loses five pounds in two weeks. During this time, she feels jittery, experiences headaches when not taking the product, and has trouble sleeping. Diane also spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

Michelle loses four pounds in two weeks and gains almost a pound of lean muscle. During this time, she feels an improvement in mood, but isn't "wired." She also feels a decrease in hunger and cravings for carbohydrates, and sometimes notices a slight "warm" feeling.

Now, Diane lost the most weight, so that means her big blue bottle of pills works great, right? Um, not necessarily. Diane lost five pounds, but given the diuretic content of the product and lack of any real thermogenics, we can safely say most of her weight loss was from fluids, not fat. We can estimate she lost only one pound of fat because of her dietary improvement. Diane may have also lost muscle because of the lack of sleep caused by the excessive caffeine and ensuing stress.

Total: Diane lost four pounds of water, one pound of fat, and felt awful in the process.

Michelle lost less "weight" but that weight was all fat. In fact, Michelle lost fat and gained a little muscle. This will boost her metabolism further, make the fat loss more permanent and (it almost goes without saying) make Michelle look better naked.

Total: Lost four pounds of fat, gained almost a pound of lean muscle, and felt good and in control during the process.

Diane lost more weight; Michelle lost more fat. Unfortunately, the sordid supplement makers would rather give you Diane's results because her results will show up more on the scale. Pathetic, huh?

Let's be brutally honest here: caffeine and diuretic based products are dumb supplements made for dumb people.
MrsJim is offline  
Old 05-24-2004, 11:34 AM   #2  
it's always something
Suzanne 3FC's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 11,615


Great article, thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love the last line
Suzanne 3FC is offline  
Old 05-24-2004, 05:51 PM   #3  
Thread Starter
MrsJim's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Posts: 5,020


Here's an article from April which I missed for some reason...20/20's on WAY too late for me unforunately...

Slim Chance
Diet Pills Promise Rapid Weight Loss, With Faulty Tactics

April 23— Diet pill commercials often make it seem so easy to lose weight; an overweight person is shown photographed with their flab and then pictured with a new fit physique. How do they do it?

In a special report, 20/20 investigated such claims and found three common gimmicks used to play with the truth from manipulating photos and quoting experts who aren't what they seem to ads that hype up claims without valid scientific support.
Take this for example: in one ad for an old formula of Hydroxycut, Marla Duncan claims she lost 35 pounds. It was "so easy," she said. Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon found one very good reason why — when she took the before picture Duncan had recently been pregnant and given birth.

Is this just downright deceptive?

"We wouldn't be suing people if we didn't think that they were deceptive," Nixon told ABCNEWS.

Hydroxycut said many of their ads did disclose Duncan's recent pregnancy and said their pills are proven to work. But Nixon has his own view. "They care more about their bottom line than your waistline," he said. He is suing the company for misrepresentation, which they deny.

Bulking Up to Slim Down

There's nothing like gaining weight before going on a diet.

In 2001, Mike Piacentino was featured in before and after pictures for Xenadrine. He started out as a competitive bodybuilder, but Todd Macaluso, an attorney who is fighting Xenadrine's appeal of a case he brought over weight loss claims says Piacentino testified that the company paid him to eat.

"They gave him a food allowance and they said, you know, you've got to fatten up," said Macaluso. "Eat like a pig, gain as much weight as you can, stop working out."

Piacentino put on the pounds by skipping his workouts and then gorging on endless boxes of doughnuts and gallons of ice cream. Soon it was time to take the before picture.

"They told him to stick his stomach out. They told him to have a frown on his face. They told him to wear baggy shorts," said Macaluso. "They told him to pull his shorts down below his belly button and they told him to stand there like he was a slob."

When it was time to lose the weight, Macaluso said the company had the former weight lifter take Xenadrine. He also used his bodybuilding expertise and worked out hours at a time, sometimes twice a day, to get back into shape.

Dubious Doctor Endorsements

When doctors are included in commercials to promote a product, their praises are not always what they seem.

In one example, a group of doctors gave glowing testimonials for Xenadrine, but New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey is suing the company for using the specialists to mislead the public. "They had not given [Xenadrine] to their own patients," said Harvey. "And they wouldn't give it to their own patients."

So why did they endorse the product? Harvey thinks the $1,000 they were each allegedly paid may have had something to do with it and said they were paid to "read a script."

At least Xenadrine relied upon real medical doctors to "endorse" their diet pills. An Alka Slim infomercial introduces their expert as Dr. Tom Morter. He provided a 30-minute talk on the science behind Alka Slim pills but never mentioned the fact that he's not a medical doctor.

When ABCNEWS asked an Alka Slim executive if Morter is a chiropractor, Jay Hanson said "yes" but refused comment on why that is not mentioned in the infomercial.

"He probably wouldn't have the same credibility if people knew that," said University of Florida pharmacology professor Paul Doering.

"Do you think it's a coincidence that no one said he's a chiropractor?" asked Doering. "No. The natural progression is if you see the word doctor, then it's assumed that that person is a medical doctor."

Medical Miracles?

There's also a troubling new advertising twist — supplements touting weight loss with medical miracles.

An Ultimate HGH infomercial says that the product will "remove wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, increase memory retention … and improve vision."

The ad even gives the outrageous impression that the pills can help treat cancer. A woman is quoted saying she was diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease. She goes on to say, "Within six weeks of my treatment, they sent me for an ultrasound." She goes on to say the test was clear and says, "Thanks to the product, I'm looking down a new road and I'm healthy."

When confronted in person, the president of Ultimate HGH, Stephan Karian responded by asking ABCNEWS to "get off the premises."

"Don't you think that if there was a cure for cancer … that it might reach the newspapers, it might be on television, in fact there might be a Nobel Prize waiting for that guy's mantle?" said Doering.

Another person who seems to be in line for that Nobel Prize is Alex Guerrero of Supreme Greens. His ad features oddball theories and also seems to promise a cure for cancer along with most other degenerative diseases from heart disease to diabetes and arthritis.

After reviewing these infomercials, Doering said, "They take bits and pieces of the truth and sprinkle it into nothing more than a bunch of fabrication."

But in his infomercial, Guerrero says he has a clinical study of 200 terminal patients to prove his theories. When ABCNEWS showed up and asked to see the studies Guerrero said, "There is no study." He said the clinical study was based solely on the patients he sees and has not published a written study.

Guerrero said the production company, ITV, twisted his words unfairly to make his vegetable supplement seem like a miracle pill, which he admitted it is not. ITV claimed Guerrero saw the ad and never complained to them about its content.

Is it really possible that manufacturers can make claims for their products without adequate data?

"Talk is cheap ... that's the common misbelief, that somebody up there is looking out for us," said Doering. "But in fact, the regulation of the dietary supplement industry is so lax that it comes as close as I can think of being totally unregulated."

The bottom line: Never underestimate how low some marketers will go to sell you that magic pill. Just remember, the only real magic is diet, exercise and a healthy dose of skepticism.
MrsJim is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:36 AM.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.