According to the company website, the 28 Day Ultimate Teatox is a two-step morning and night tea detox program:
“The Morning Boost is designed to give you a boost throughout the day and start the morning right. It contains Green Tea, Yerba Mate and Guarana with a naturally sweet fruity taste. It can replace your daily morning coffee/black tea.”
“The Night Cleanse is designed to naturally purify the body which could lead to reduced bloating. It contains all natural ingredients to promote the restoration process. It is the perfect bedtime ritual, take one every alternate night.”
Right, so what the heck is in it anyway?
SkinnyMint ingredients list
There are a lot of “teatoxes” out on the market these days and it’s important to think safety first and spend the time investigating a product’s ingredients before putting it in your body.
I’ve done most of the legwork for you below and have included links to more detailed information.
Morning boost ingredients
Credit: SkinnyMint website
Green tea leaf
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.
Yerba mate leaf
Yerba mate leaf is a caffeine-containing central nervous system stimulant. It might make you feel more mentally alert and can bump up your heart rate and blood pressure. Note: if you have any underlying heart problems, talk to your doctor before taking this product.
Nettle leaf, also known as stinging nettle, has a diuretic and laxative effect in the body.
Dandelion leaf may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.
Guarana contains the central nervous system stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. Similar to yerba mate, guarana can jack up your heart rate and blood pressure.
Night cleanse ingredients
Credit: SkinnyMint website
Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.
Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.
Orange leaves may exert a mild laxative effect on the body.
Lemongrass leaf may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.
Peppermint leaf may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.
Licorice root may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.
Hawthorn berry is known to be a potent diuretic (which makes you pee) and may have value in patients with congestive heart failure by reducing water retention.
Psyllium seed is a bulk-forming laxative which soaks up water in your large intestines to make bowel movements easier.
Categorical review of SkinnyMint marketing claims
SkinnyMint claims that its teatox “reduces bloat and boosts energy,” is “designed for real results in 28 days,” and is an “all natural cleansing formula.”
If you’re trying to “lose weight” then this might be music to your eyes, but before you pull out your credit card, you need to first consider the phrasing and what it means to you versus what the product can actually deliver.
Claim 1: “Reduces bloat and boosts energy*“
I’ll break this up into two parts for clarity.
This is where the marketing sleight of hand comes into play. It’s not what you’re being told but instead what you’re led to believe – or can make yourself believe.
First, the company does not specifically define what they mean by the term “bloat.” Bloat is plastered across a lot of different weight loss products these days and can mean a lot of different things to different people. Does it mean fat? Water retention? Glycogen storage?
In looking at the website, the company is very careful not to explicitly make weight loss (or fat loss) claims because that would be illegal.
No problem. Break out the testimonials.
At the bottom of the page, there are a number of before and after pictures of different women claiming the product did indeed result in weight loss specifically as a result of using the product (without mentioning which diet and exercise changes they made).
Credit: SkinnyMint website
Taking on board the SkinnyMint’s vague claims and the more explicit testimonials, a reasonable person looking at the website in its entirety might assume that “bloat” means fat. And by using this teatox, it will result in bloat (fat/weight) loss.
So can SkinnyMint cause fat loss? Highly unlikely. As with all “teatox” programs, they are full of both diuretics and laxatives which will result in “weight loss” in the form of urine and feces. But as a stand alone product, it is not likely to result in any noticeable change in body fat.
If you are restricting your calorie intake and doing more exercise than you were before, then you will lose stored body fat. If this happens to occur in conjunction with taking a teatox product, then you might fool yourself into thinking your fat loss was solely the result of drinking a tea – instead of all your hard work.
To wrap up this point, I cannot stress this enough when I say there IS a difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss.” Anyone can “lose weight” by starving themselves or downing diuretic- and laxative-laden teas, but losing fat safely and effectively, and keeping it off, is something that happens slowly over time.
This claim is misleading because “boosts energy” is not well-defined and can also mean different things to different people.
The product contains only 2 calories per teabag so it clearly has no caloric energy value in the way food has energy (i.e., carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram, protein: 4 calories/gram, fat: 9 calories/gram).
To be more accurate, the “energy” you’re getting from SkinnyMint is not actually energy at all. It is simply a stimulant effect from some of the caffeine-containing ingredients which may make you feel more alert.
Claim 2: “Designed for real results in 28 days*“
This claim begets more questions. First, what does SkinnyMint mean by “real results?” Are they talking about weight loss? Fat loss? How much weight loss or fat loss?
And second, why 28 days? Why not 27 or 29 days?
Where did SkinnyMint come up with this number? Is it based on research? Is it just cutesy marketing similar to those 28 day fitness challenges?
I conducted a search of the biomedical databases and was unable to locate any scientific research on SkinnyMint.
It would be helpful if the company was more specific and transparent in its claims.
Claim 3: “All natural cleansing formula”
Just more vague and meaningless marketing bluster. First, “all natural” is yet another one of those marketing terms that means different things to different people.
In some readers’ eyes, “all natural” means safe and effective (as opposed to those “drugs” pushed by evil pharmaceutical cartels). However, this is not always the case and even “natural” remedies can have health risks too (can I interest you in a delicious cup of all natural hemlock, arsenic, and cobra venom tea?).
And what, specifically, does SkinnyMint mean by a “cleansing formula.” What is it actually “cleansing?” Is it “cleansing” your liver or any other organ?
To be clear, there is no such thing as “detoxing” or “cleansing,” as Scott Gavura points out in an article on Science-Based Medicine:
“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.
Damn you pesky asterisk!
And what about that pesky asterisk (*) after the claim? According to the SkinnyMint website:
*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.
English translation: “yes we’re kinda sorta making claims but not really, the FDA hasn’t reviewed our claims, and your “results,” whatever they may or may not be, may vary.”
SkinnyMint side effects and risks
SkinnyMint and other teatox products on the market are unlikely to cause harm when used as directed (and for the short term). But side effects are always a possibility.
First, senna leaves and a number of other ingredients in the tea exert a laxative effect on the body that could lead to diarrhoea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.
Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies
Second, the combined diuretic effect of many of the ingredients could further promote dehydration. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. Moreover, if you are dieting and exercising a lot, this can hasten dehydration.
Low blood pressure
Third, if you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications that promote fluid loss, then the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting. Please consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular disease.
Reduction in birth control effectiveness
Fourth, you should know that the laxative effect of these “teatoxes” can reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pills, particularly if you take your pills within 4 to 5 hours of using the tea.
Reduction in bowel movements
Fifth, the tea should be used for the short term. Long term use could result in your body adapting to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and irritable bowel syndrome) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.
Weight loss abuse
Sixth, because the teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.
How much does SkinnyMint Teatox cost?
If you’re looking to buy SkinnyMint, it isn’t cheap. It will cost you about $55 US dollars and $70 dollars in Australia if you buy it on their website. I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon at higher and lower price points.
Return / refund policy
There is a return policy, but there’s also a catch.
According to the website, you can return your order within 60 days of purchase, but it must be unopened and in the original packaging.
So if you try the product and don’t like it or get the “results” you were expecting, then tough luck, no refund for you.
If SkinnyMint wants to put its money where its mouth is, then they should be willing to offer refunds to unsatisfied customers.
Bottom line: Should you buy SkinnyMint Teatox?
I hate having to be the jerk that ruins all the fun, but please allow me to smack you in the face with a wet fish and state unequivocally that there is no such thing as a “detox tea” except perhaps in name and branding only.
Let’s be clear that the word “detox” and its taxonomic offspring “teatox” are marketing terms and have no scientific basis.
Neither SkinnyMint nor any other “teatox” on the market causes fat loss. If you’re expecting to lose fat with the product alone (without eating less and exercising), then you will be disappointed.
If you’re expecting to “lose weight,” the laxatives and diuretics will do that, but you can expect to gain it all back when you stop using the product.
Bottom line: if you insist on using this product, then make sure you do not have any underlying health issues and use it only for the short term (for reasons I listed in side effects and risks).
SkinnyMint Teatox Review | A Detox from Toxic Marketing was last modified: February 14th, 2019 by Dr Bill Sukala
The HCG diet has been around for decades, but does it work and is it safe?
I’m not going to mince words: I’m calling the HCG diet yet another gimmicky, too-good-to-be-true, quick-fix diet which will leave you lighter in the wallet and less healthy in the long run.
The diet regained popularity between 2010 and 2013 but has since lost momentum as we come into 2018. Nevertheless, it is still being sold on the internet despite the preponderance of scientific evidence showing that it has no effect on fat loss beyond that which can be accomplished by a healthy lifestyle.
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and is the hormone produced by women during pregnancy.
In the 1950s, British physician Dr. Albert T. Simeons used HCG injections for the treatment of obesity.
He suggested that the addition of HCG to a reduced-calorie diet might help dieters stay on track (adherence), reduce hunger cravings during food restriction, and promote fat loss.
The Simeons HCG protocol entailed daily injections of 125 international units (IU) six times per week for a total of 40 injections. The diet component consisted of 500 calories per day broken up into two daily meals.
You can easily buy HCG online in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
The internet is littered with commercial websites promoting HCG as a weight loss panacea.
The sites are egregiously biased to sell product and do a masterful job of overcoming objections and giving visitors that sliver of hope that it “might” work (even though the boloney detector says no).
Unfortunately, these websites also crowd out reliable unbiased sites that aim to protect consumers.
Even more reputable sites like Amazon let a lot of “woo” slip through the cracks. Check out Amazon and you can see for yourself how outlandish and misleading the claims are (i.e., “Lose a pound a day.” Yep, maybe a pound of muscle, carbohydrate, and body water, but it certainly won’t be a pound of fat).
False and misleading HCG claims
In the image below, you can see the types of deceptive tactics used by HCG sellers. I note that this advert refers to the HCG drops and not the injections which would need to be administered by a medical professional.
“No prescription required” capitalises on the notion that it’s not a “poisonous pharmaceutical”
The claim of “natural weight loss” doesn’t really mean much but it plays on consumer fears of “chemicals”
The claim you can lose 1-2 pounds (~0.5 to 1 kg) per day is deceptive and misleading. It is not physiologically possible to lose this much fat in 24 hours. Crash diets are unhealthy and can set you back in the long-term.
The claim that homeopathic HCG is safe is likely due to the fact that it has no effect in the body, but the claim that it’s effective is false.
“Same results as in an HCG clinic” is competition bashing meant to lower your guard and make you think it’s easy to lose weight without the hassle of going to a clinic.
“Proven to increase your energy levels” is a false claim. No scientific evidence supports this.
“HCG converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle” is a false claim. Converts fat into what nutrients?
Legal action against HCG marketers
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came down on several HCG marketers for making false claims exactly like those in the above image. Even more disturbing is that they sold their products through major retail outlets like GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. This is particularly concerning since consumers might assume the products are safe and effective since they are sold in reputable pharmacies.
The HCG diet even made the rounds on the Dr Oz show. This might sound like the stamp of approval you’re looking for, but before you get too excited, let’s not forget Dr Oz has copped a lot of heat in recent years for peddling bogus weight loss remedies. Many high ranking doctors and academics have even called for his resignation from Columbia University for his promotion of quackery.
In one of his segments, he gave airtime to a woman who is pushing her own rebranded version of the HCG diet. She claims to have conducted “research” but, in fact, this was nothing more than an impromptu “study” she pulled together that was not reviewed by other scientists (called “peer-review”). The only “evidence” she has for her diet is that she was on the Dr Oz show, and that’s no evidence at all.
HCG diet research
In the early to mid 1970s, HCG diet studies started surfacing in peer-reviewed medical journals. A 1973 study by Asher and Harper showed positive results but was later slammed for poor methodology, with subsequent studies consistently debunking its use as ineffective for weight loss.
Most studies were of poor methodological quality (scores ranged from 16 to 73 points baed on a 100 point scale. Higher points meant better quality)
Of the 12 studies that scored 50 or more points, only one reported that HCG was useful
There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity
HCG does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution
HCG does not reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being
For a more detailed breakdown of the evidence, you can read Joe Cannon’s HCG research review here.
HCG injections vs. sublingual HCG drops
One of the most blatantly obvious holes in the HCG diet marketing armor is the fact that they trump up the outdated claims by Dr. Simeons and conveniently neglect to mention that all early research was based upon HCG injections.
As of this writing, there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that sublingual HCG (under the tongue) has any effect on fat loss and preservation of muscle.
In the image below, the advertiser falsely claims that HCG drops are “clinically proven” (which means nothing) and are effective for inducing ridiculously large amounts of daily weight loss (not fat loss). They also take liberties by making it look like it has been approved by the FDA.
Deceptive HCG drops advertisement. Click to enlarge.
A promotional website for oral HCG has links for additional “research and information” but when I visited the page and examined the references, it was obvious that nearly all the studies were just general obesity papers that had little or no bearing whatsoever on the usefulness of sublingual HCG drops.
500 calorie HCG diet
Though HCG diet advertisers spout off the benefits of their sublingual drops, they neglect to mention that this is simply a very low 500 calorie diet. There is no question that weight loss will occur on such an irresponsibly low and unsupervised regimen, but I would question the extent to which HCG diet drops play a role in this weight loss.
This tactic is nothing new. Other questionable products such as Calorad have banked on this technique by duping consumers into eating a low-calorie diet and then hoodwinking them into thinking the weight loss was a result of the product.
Is the HCG diet easy?
At 500 calories per day, the HCG diet is anything but easy. At such a low energy intake, you are likely to find it difficult to comply with the diet. You are also unlikely to meet your basic nutrition needs (i.e., carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals) unless you’re supplementing.
There are, however, extreme cases where a doctor might put a morbidly obese person on a strictly-supervised very low calorie diet (VLCD). But these are extreme cases where the goal is to shed weight as quickly as possible to reduce disease risk.
How much does the HCG diet cost?
The HCG diet isn’t cheap. Because it’s not covered by insurance, you’d be personally liable for all doctor’s visits and injections. In initial consultation could set you back between $100 and $200, plus another $10 to $15 for each HCG injection. Depending on how much weight you lose (or don’t lose), you may incur additional costs for ongoing office visits and injections.
HCG diet limitations and warnings
1) Muscle loss
A VERY important drawback to low-calorie regimens like the HCG diet is the fact that not only will you lose fat, but your body will break down valuable muscle necessary to stoke the flames of your metabolism.
Such a low calorie regimen cannot be realistically maintained for an extended period of time and, when you go back to eating normally, your reduced muscle mass (lower metabolism) will leave you more susceptible to weight regain (yo-yo dieting).
A 500 calorie diet is very low energy and ideally should be supervised by a responsible bariatric physician or university-qualified dietitian (not a self-styled “nutritionist”). Generally speaking, a diet of less than 1200 calories is likely to be nutritionally deficient in terms of the main macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and vitamins and minerals.
I see that the HCG promoters include a B-complex vitamin, but this is like brining a band-aid to a train crash. This should not lull you into a false sense of safety. If you have underlying health issues such as poorly controlled diabetes or other metabolic conditions, you should first visit your doctor for guidance.
3) Unrealistic weight loss
Promotional materials for the HCG diet tout that you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) per day. Responsible health practitioners recommend a safe and healthy weight loss of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, NOT per day.
Any rapid weight loss, particularly that induced by such a drastically low-calorie regimen, will activate the body’s famine response which will reduce your metabolism and make your body more resistant to giving up its fat stores.
4) Hallmark signs of quackery
One website promotes “the HCG diet is considered one of the fastest and safest ways to lose weight and keep it off.”
There is no legitimate, independent scientific evidence to corroborate this claim. There is no such thing as both “fast” and “safe” weight loss. As I stated above, healthy weight loss should fall in the range of 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) of fat per week. See my article on 13 ways to keep fat off for life.
The claim that HCG will help you “keep it off” is completely misguided. After coming off a 500 calorie diet, you’re likely to not only gain back the lost weight, but will probably end up fatter than before you started the diet.
5) Doctor recommended
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to selling hokey diets and nostrums. The world loves to slam doctors for knowing nothing about nutrition, yet the minute a doctor puts out a diet book or hawks a miracle weight loss product, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to shell out their hard earned cash.
So what’s it going to be? You can’t have both.
In the case of the HCG diet, as I said, this is a very low calorie regimen and really SHOULD be supervised by a responsible physician. But save your money on the HCG portion, as its use is not supported by the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence.
6) Homeopathic HCG diet
It was only a matter of time until the homeopathy camp jumped on the bandwagon to get their share of the pie. As with sublingual HCG drops, there is no objective evidence that a homeopathic version would have any impact on weight loss. In fact, because it is diluted to the point that the original active ingredient no longer exists, it is unlikely to exert any effect in the body.
The Slendertone ab toner belt plopped onto my radar when a reader of my popular Ab Wave review left a comment asking me if I’d ever heard of it.
I hadn’t heard of this specific brand, but I was well aware of the different types of electrostim products. I did a bit of digging and found the company website company website and a listing on Amazon with numerous consumer reviews.
In a promotional video for the product, the announcer asks, “Do you want firmer, toned abs in just weeks? Then you need the button, the Slendertone button.”
Then the ad goes straight into a parade of hot-bodied goddesses and adonises which gives viewers the misleading impression they can put on the belt, push a button, and get the same svelte bodies as the models.
I’ll be honest. I think the advertising for this product is complete rubbish and it sends the wrong message to consumers.
There are already so many ab gadgets and gimmicks out there that my knee jerk reaction was to throw the baby out with the bathwater and give Slendertone a good smack across the face with a frozen Atlantic salmon.
Surprisingly, the company actually cites a single peer-reviewed journal article as evidence of product efficacy. Sounds great, but in my opinion, I think they took some liberties with lifting their advertising claims out of context.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to:
Provide an independent review of Slendertone marketing claims; and
Before we dismantle and evaluate the evidence, what exactly is the Slendertone Flex?
Made by Bio-Medical Research Ltd and headquartered in Galway, Ireland, the product line encompasses electrical muscle stimulation pads which are applied to the skin and ‘zap’ your muscles to contract.
Electrostimulation has therapeutic use in a clinical environment (hospital or clinic) for rehabilitation purposes, but this technology is now being applied to consumer health, fitness, and beauty goods (such as Slendertone).
Does it really work?
The short answer is yes, no, and it depends. You need to define “work” and what it means to you.
This question begets two more questions which are necessary to consider in answering the overall question:
Is there any objective, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence to support marketing claims? and;
What are your individual expectations from the product?
Question 1: Are claims supported by science?
A single study is listed on the company’s website. Porcari and colleagues (2005) compared a group of men and women receiving 8 weeks of abdominal electrostimulation to a non-electrostim control group. At follow up, they noted the following results:
58% increase in strength
100% abdominal endurance, but 28% increase in control group due to learning effect. Therefore they subtracted the 28% from 100% for a 72% change.
2.6 cm decrease in abdominal circumference
3.6 cm decrease in waist circumference
1.4 cm decrease in front to back diameter
No change in abdominal or suprailiac skinfold thickness
I compared the marketing claims against the original research article and I can verify that the numbers are “technically” truthful, BUT…
There are a number of limitations you must consider:
Strictly using the machine, the increases in strength and endurance would be isolated to the specific targeted areas.
For any kind of functional/translational benefit to real world sports or activities, you would actually need to do full body compound movements which fire the abdominal musculature within the context of the entire kinematic chain (using all the body’s muscles together the way they were designed).
For example, if you are a baseball pitcher, you would need well-conditioned core musculature to link your lower and upper body during a pitch. This would best be trained by both sport-specific exercise (pitching a baseball) or simulated whole body movements which mimic pitching technique (cables).
Bottom line: the machine is highly unlikely to give you a body that looks anything like the hired models in their advertisements.
There were improvements in circumference measures but in discussing the limitations of the study, the authors openly acknowledge:
“An increase in the strength of the abdominal muscles could theoretically reduce the circumference of the mid-section. Since, one of the roles of the abdominal musculature is to support the abdominal contents, it follows that strengthening the abdominal muscles could in effect “pull in” the abdomen, much like a girdle. This effect would decrease both the circumference and front-to-back diameter of the waist.”
Plain English translation: the numbers reported are “truthful” but there may be other reasons to explain the results that have nothing to do with changes in body fat.
The results also indicated no change in abdominal and suprailiac (just above your hipbone) skinfold thicknesses, body weight, or body mass index.
My interpretation is that, whilst there were changes in the tape measure readings, when put into context with these other factors, we really don’t have a physiologically confirmed reason WHY the circumference measures decreased.
There was no direct measure of visceral (around the organs) or subcutaneous (superficial fat you can pinch) fat changes.
Circumference readings and skinfold calipers can be useful field measures and give suggestive evidence, but are not the gold standard of body composition – not even close. I would like to see a more thorough investigation using sensitive body composition assessment measures such as CT scans, MRIs, or DEXA to assess body composition.
The study’s authors also state:
“In support of the decrease in waist circumference was the fact that 13 out of 24 (54%) subjects in the stimulation group felt that their cloths fit better around the mid-section at the conclusion of the study. None of the control group subjects reported any change in how their clothes fit.”
The issue with the above statement is that how one’s clothes fit cannot be reliably or objectively measured. So whilst this might be suggestive, it does not necessarily indicate a reduction in fat localised to the belly.
Taken as a whole, the results from this study demonstrate that localised electrostimulation causes small increases in isolated strength and endurance in a clinical setting.
However, from a practical real-world standpoint, I would not recommend Slendertone as a solution for reducing body fat or body weight.
You can do all the crunches or electrostimulation you want, but your abs will NOT become visible until you lose the fat between your skin and muscles. Less doughnuts and hamburgers and more fruits and veggies!
An earlier electrostimulation study by Porcari and colleagues (2002) found no significant improvements in measurements of body weight, body fat (via skinfolds), girth, isometric and isokinetic strength (biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings), and appearance (via photographs from the front, side, and back). However, I believe this study used a different electrostimulation unit and the subjects used the machine only three times per week.
Question 2: What are your expectations?
Whether the Slendertone belt “works” or not depends on your individual expectations.
Will it make your abdominal muscles stronger? Technically yes. It could plausibly increase localised muscular strength and endurance around your mid-section, but it’s not any kind of relevant functional training that will translate to making you a pro athlete. It will not translate to any sport-specific adaptations. For that, you’ll need to get out and actually do sport and exercise (the real stuff!).
Will it help you strip away that loaf of fat around your belly? Highly unlikely.
As I previously mentioned, if you think this product is going to strip away the fat while you kick back on the couch downing chips and beer, then you’re in for a surprise. The evidence does not support this.
The fine print – always read the fine print
As with all exercise products and supplements which give the impression you can get in shape while you lounge around the house, you must ALWAYS read the fine print (the one with the pesky *asterisk*).
The company discloses on their website:
“ *Slendertone ab belts must be used as per the guidelines stated in the instruction manual. For best results, we recommend that you use your Slendertone belt in conjunction with a normal, healthy diet and exercise.”
I interpret this to mean that the Slendertone belt itself probably won’t do much to reduce body fat unless you help it along with some veggies, tofu, hitting the gym, plus some regular walks around the neighbourhood.
How much does it cost?
Slendertone can range from $80 to $180 USD depending on the model and whether or not it’s new or used. Depending on your individual budget, that’s a fair bit of cash to spend on something backed by a single study loaded with limitations.
Where is it available?
The company website lists distributors in numerous countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, even Russia. On the top right hand side of the websites, you’ll see a drop-down menu for a number of countries.
Risks or side effects
In my experience with electrostim in general and in my investigation of this particular product, I did not come across any documented risks or dangers associated with using the Slendertone as instructed.
I’m renowned for pissing on the parade with my scathing reviews, but compared to other ab gadgets on the market, I found the Slendertone marketing claims to be comparatively tame (as I did with It Works body wraps).
Bio-Medical Research Ltd has not made any overtly false claims in their promotional materials, but with lots of sleek bodies and testimonials plastered all over the website, I think you need to be aware of how you personally react to and interpret these messages.
Be careful not to mislead yourself into thinking the product will burn fat off your abs with no effort. That’s highly unlikely to happen.
At a cost of a couple hundred bucks, I suggest that you determine what you want to get out of this product, look at the existing evidence and its limitations, and then make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you.
Slendertone Review: Slimming Your Waist Or Wallet? was last modified: February 13th, 2019 by Dr Bill Sukala
Zaggora is a clothing company based in the UK that sells a line of athletic wear (called Hotwear) that can supposedly help you burn more calories. It is sold online through the Zaggora website and other online retail sites.
In 2011, I authored a Zaggora review (below) which categorically addressed all of the misleading and unsubstantiated marketing claims the company was making for the hotwear at that time.
I’d largely forgotten about Zaggora until, in mid-2015, I was contacted by producers from Good Morning America regarding the veracity of marketing claims for Zaggora Hotwear.
After reading my original review, GMA wanted to interview me regarding two research studies which had since surfaced showing that Zaggora hotwear can make users burn more calories.
You can view the GMA clip by clicking below:
Before I evaluate the research, I should point out that the marketing claims on the original Zaggora website in late 2011 were much more brash and cavalier (which are cited in my original article). More relevant, to the best of my knowledge, there was no published research at that time to support product claims.
I received an email from Zaggora co-founder Malcolm Bell dated 26 October 2011 asking if I’d like to have a chat and discuss running some clinical trials.
I graciously declined because: 1) I didn’t see doing commercial research on neoprene (wetsuit) shorts as a worthy investment of my time; and 2) I was already sufficiently obligated with other research studies.
To be fair, I’m sure Malcolm and Dessi Bell are both nice people and I have no personal issues with either of them. However, from my perspective, I simply wanted them to be balanced and transparent in their marketing claims at that time and get rid of all the suggestive and misleading mumbo jumbo like “far-infrared rays” and “flushing out toxins that contribute to cellulite.”
Note: Far infrared technology in clothing is a real thing, but the claims were not supported by science. Other products like Athlete Recovery Sleepwear are also making claims despite a lack of supporting scientific evidence.
When I looked at their website towards the end of 2015, I noticed they had cleaned up a lot of the hokey exaggerated claims (thank you Zaggora) and just whittled their science down to a single “how it works” page (view screenshot here).
In February 2016, I noticed the company removed all the references to their research studies.
However, as of June 2017, they have since added back reference to the 2015 University of Southern California study claiming that “Zaggora Hot Wear™ helps you burn more calories compared to wearing a standard workout legging during a 30 minute exercise period” (view screenshot here).
Great, but what DOES the research actually say about calories burnt and are those calories burnt enough to make a difference in your “bottom line?”
Zaggora research and marketing claims 2015
As of 2015, Zaggora’s scientific evidence focuses on two studies conducted at University of Brighton (UB) and another by ETScience at the University of Southern California (USC).
Zaggora claims “both studies confirm the finding that Zaggora can increase calorie burn” and that “the UB Study tested 13 subjects in Zaggora HotPants and 13 in standard active wear and found that exercising in HotPants can increase energy expenditure during exercise by an average of 11%.”
Now let’s look at the actual numbers from the studies and put them into a practical real-world perspective.
The University of Brighton study
The University of Brighton study reported oxygen consumption during exercise from which we can calculate calories burnt.
Mean Exercising VO2 in L/min:
Zaggora clothing = 2.11 ± 0.24
Control clothing= 1.98 ± 0.67
Statistical significance: P = 0.043
To convert L/min into kcal/min we need to multiply each of these results by 5. So:
2.11 x 5 = 10.55 calories with Zaggora and 1.98 x 5 = 9.9 calories per minute in the control clothing.
Therefore: 10.55 – 9.9 = a difference of 0.65 calories per minute or 316.5 vs 297 calories per 30 minutes of exercise for a difference of 19.5 calories (or approximately a 6.5% difference).
The University of Southern California study
Looking closely at the reported numbers in the USC study, it actually shows that study participants wearing the control clothing burnt 6 calories MORE than when wearing Zaggora over the 30 minutes of treadmill exercise (control = 236±44 vs Zaggora = 230±48).
The authors of the report note that under the control condition, participants had to exercise an average of 3% faster and at a 23% steeper incline on the treadmill to achieve the same heart rate range as when wearing Zaggora clothing.
The authors theorised that wearing Zaggora clothing places greater metabolic demands on the body and therefore would result in approximately a 6% difference compared to when wearing normal clothing.
Does Zaggora make you burn more calories?
So are the numbers from the studies truthful? Will you burn more calories from wearing Zaggora clothing?
In a word: yes. It is technically true that research subjects burnt an extra 6 to 19.5 calories over 30 minutes of exercise.
Are the number practically relevant in such a way that it will result in a significant amount of fat loss?
Highly unlikely. Here’s why.
If we take a best case scenario and say you will burn an extra 20 calories per exercise session wearing Zaggora, then how long would it take to burn the equivalent amount of energy stored in 1 pound (~ a half kg) of stored body fat?
There are 3500 calories stored in 1 pound of body fat, so:
3500 / 20 calories burnt per session = 175 sessions of 30 minutes each.
If you were to work out 5 days per week without missing a single exercise session then it would take you 35 weeks (8.75 months) to burn an extra pound of body fat wearing the shorts (based on 175 / 5 x week = 35 weeks).
So does Zaggora hotwear work? You’ll have to decide that for yourself based on the information presented above. If you’re hoping for major changes in body composition from Zaggora, then I’d suggest keeping your expectations in check.
Original 2011 Zaggora review
Zaggora HotPants (and similar products like Delfin Spa Bio Ceramic Anti Cellulite Shorts) employ the overarching marketing theme “wear our shorts for a slimmer, less cellulite-ridden you.”
Based on my observations, I believe many of Zaggora’s claims are leading and loosely worded which leaves the consumer with unrealistic expectations of what the product can actually deliver.
Remember that marketing is unilaterally intended to do one thing: sell product. The favourable aspects of the product are highlighted while inconvenient truths are often downplayed or omitted. I’ve always been of the mindset that consumers should receive full disclosure so they can make an educated decision in their purchases. I have no problem with consumers purchasing Zaggora Hotpants provided they have both sides of the story.
What are bio-ceramic shorts?
Zaggora Hotpants™ are the latest in a long line of slimming garments which, according to company marketing materials, are “specially designed sports shorts that contain bio-ceramic technology, which emits far infrared rays and reflects back the heat naturally generated by the body to deliver warming up of tissue deep below the skin’s surface.” Zaggora maintains this will “visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite” and trim inches off your hips and thighs, with the effect further enhanced by wearing them during exercise. This sounds impressive, but is there any merit to these claims?
Zaggora marketing claims and analysis
“Bio-ceramics emit far-infrared rays (heat waves) promote deeper warming of tissue and breakdown of fat cells.”
Response: The concept of ‘spot reduction,’ selectively stripping fat off specific areas of the body, remains unproven. The phrasing of this marketing claim gives me the impression that simply wearing bio-ceramic shorts will reduce fat under the skin. The heating of the muscle may alter the regional fluid compartment which might temporarily give the appearance of slimmer hips or thighs, but this should not be mistaken for fat loss.
Zaggora also claims that the effects will be enhanced by wearing the shorts while you exercise. However, this also seems to be “wishful shrinking.” A recent study by Kostek et al. (2007) investigated the impact of exercise on regional fat depots measured by both skinfold thickness and MRI technology. The salient finding was that the less accurate skinfold method seemingly showed differences in local fat stores, but this was not reflected in the comparatively more accurate MRI scan. The authors noted that exercise likely induces a “pumped up” effect in muscle which temporarily makes the skin tighter, resulting in a reduced skinfold thickness (with no change in fat tissue).
Wearing HotPants “…results in much higher levels of perspiration leading to “flushing out” of toxins and edemas that contribute to the appearance of cellulite.”
Response: It may be true that HotPants result in a greater level of perspiration which, as mentioned above, could plausibly alter the skin surface appearance. However, this should not be misconstrued as “melting away the fat.” This is not that different from the concept behind those old 1970s vinyl “sweat suits” which reduced scale weight mostly in the form of fluid loss. I am unaware of any scientific evidence to date supporting the notion that you can sweat away fat localised to one part of the body.
Zaggora does not mention which “toxins” the shorts purportedly address (though I’ve got an inquiring mind and I’d certainly like to know). The “eliminating toxins” scare tactics have always made consumers easy prey and sadly far too many fall for it.
Wear HotPants for “…30 minutes a day while you are doing exercise and you will feel and see the results – visibly reducing the appearance of cellulite.”
Response: There is no mention of how the “30 minutes a day” recommendation was determined. The mention of “studies” confers a a scientific stamp of approval. However, Zaggora does not provide the reference or a link where the results can be independently verified. The burden of proof should be on the company to conclusively verify that the product does what the marketing states.
“Whilst studies have shown they (shorts) are effective whilst not exercising, best results will be achieved when worn during a workout. HOTPANTS™ delivers best results when used in conjunction with exercise and worn consistently. The effectiveness of the product depends on the quality of your exercise routine and the consistency of use. The harder you work at it, the harder HOTPANTS™ will work at it.”
Response: This claim uses the “cause and effect vs. coincidence” marketing strategy which is very common amongst questionable slimming products. You should be aware that doing exercise, no matter what kind of shorts you’re wearing, is clearly a step in the right direction and will have an influence on overall body fat stores. ‘Exercise’ your critical thinking skills by separating cause and effect from coincidence. It is more likely that you lost fat (and scale weight) from your daily walks, hard work in the gym, non-exercise activity time, and healthy eating (cause and effect) while you just happened to be wearing HotPants (coincidence). Unfortunately, many consumers unwittingly surrender the credit for all their hard work to the latest slimming garments, dietary supplements, or questionable infomercial gimmicks like the Ab Circle Pro (which comes with a low-calorie diet).
The bio-ceramics contained in the HOTPANTS™ material, contain far-infrared reflective particles, enabling the reflection of body generated heat back into the tissue. Far-infrared rays are widely used in sauna equipment and have been proven to reduce body fat content and assist with weight loss in obese patients.
Response: There is limited evidence that far-infrared saunas may help alleviate some cardiovascular conditions, but there is scant to nil scientific evidence that it can effectively reduce body fat stores. The research at this point is speculative and inconclusive at best and warrants further investigation. Moreover, it is stretching the truth to extrapolate results from sauna studies and apply them to bioceramic garments which have not been independently and conclusively shown to reduce body fat stores. As previously mentioned, a reduction in thigh or hip circumference likely stems from localised alterations in the fluid compartment, but do not constitute fat loss (which may coincidentally occur due to exercise).
“What if it doesn’t work for me and I want my money back? We are happy to accept returns of unworn and new items within 30 days of purchase. Naturally, if the goods are faulty, we will exchange them. Sadly, we cannot accept returned goods that have been used on health and safety grounds.”
Response: I’m not quite certain this is much of a guarantee. You’d want to try out the shorts and see how you go, but once they’re worn, you can’t return them? I understand the health reasons for this, but my interpretation of this is that if you’re not satisfied and you want your money back, then that’s just tough luck. Something of a catch 22. Though if I’m missing something, I’m certainly open to correcting this.
The “bottom line”
The cellulite game is a billion dollar market and it seems every week there’s some new gadget, potion/pill, diet, body wrap (i.e., It Works wraps) or gimmick with “fat marketing claims” looking to separate you from your hard-earned cash. I believe the marketing claims surrounding Zaggora’s HotPants are spurious but definitely not the worst I’ve seen. The marketing is heavily “suggestive” and tends to blur the line between what consumers might expect from exercise alone versus exercise in conjunction with wearing the shorts (cause and effect vs. coincidence). Greater disclosure and transparency with scientific evidence would be helpful, though to the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any research articles which conclusively support the efficacy of the shorts for reducing fat on the hips or thighs.
Zaggora also appears to be heavily invested into social network marketing (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) which tends to lend itself well to what I call “validation by testimonial.” While testimonials might be compelling, they are not scientific, further adding to the difficulty in verifying how “results” were quantified. I’ve seen images on the internet of women measuring their thighs over top of the HotPants, but any “girdling effect” the shorts may provide could plausibly give the appearance of a reduction in girth where in fact there is none.
In conclusion, I would discourage you from purchasing this product based on scant to nil independent evidence of efficacy. You would be better served investing your time and money into regular exercise and healthy, nutrient-rich eating – both of which have been shown to boost metabolism, reduce weight, and improve the appearance of “cellulite.” Despite our desire for easy fat loss, the old adage still holds: If it appears too good to be true then it probably is.
Zaggora Hot Pants Review 2017 was last modified: February 13th, 2019 by Dr Bill Sukala
Body fat is public enemy number one. Everywhere you look, you’re reminded of the growing obesity crisis and its link to diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
But in today’s modern world of 24-hour supermarkets, all-you-can-eat buffets, and long hours chained to a desk, it’s no wonder the battle of the bulge is busting your belt buckle.
Advertisements for fat-slimming shorts, supplements, and infomercial ab gadgets leverage on your fear of fat by reminding you “you’re not good enough” and “no one will ever love you unless you’re thin.”
But for as much as you may love to loathe body fat, it actually serves a number of biologically valuable life-sustaining purposes.
Here are seven ways body fat is good for you!
1) Body fat protects against famine (and stupid diets)
Body fat protects you against famine, be it a real famine or an artificial famine induced by one of the many available idiotic fad diets.
When you go on a quick-fix crash diet, it induces a simulated starvation response. This upshifts your body into fat-storing mode (protect itself at all costs) and downshifts your metabolism by breaking down muscle (rather than fat) so you need fewer calories to function.
Starvation-type diets make you a fat-storing machine at the expense of valuable metabolism-stoking muscle. Each turn of the starve/binge cycle trains your body to efficiently store fat to protect against repeated dieting attempts.
I commonly see this in clinical practice when I perform DEXA scans on clients before and after a phase of combined very low calorie eating, overexercising, and under-recovering. The end result? A small loss of fat but a comparatively large loss of muscle.
Bottom line: for as much as you may try to “fool” your body with fad diets, it’s no match for your ancient genome programmed to sabotage your efforts.
The best way to lose fat is to make small, slow, steady changes in diet and exercise that are sustainable over the long-haul. These are less of a shock to the system and will allow your body to gently shed fat without activating your famine response.
2) Cholesterol is a precursor to hormones and other important substances
While not the same chemical structure as stored body fat, cholesterol is a necessary lipid precursor required for the synthesis of hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and other bioactive substances like vitamin D and bile acids which you need for digestion of dietary fats.
3) Subcutaneous fat adds shape to your body
Fat just below your skin (called subcutaneous fat) helps give your body its shape. It tends to round out the sharp corners where your bones stick out and, without it, you’d look quite haggard. After people lose a lot of body fat in a very short period of time, either through dieting or illness, you’ll notice their skin hanging off their cheek bones. Once they regain a bit of fat, they start to look more healthy and nourished.
4) Body fat provides padding inside and out
You probably associate fat with that unsightly stuff you see around your gut or back side. But it’s the fat deep inside you that you don’t see that offers a bit of cushioning for your internal organs, holding them in place, and protecting them against any trips, falls, and bumps (from contact sports or stumbling home after clubbing all night). Your external subcutaneous fat provides a bit of outward padding for your muscles and bones, giving you a built-in “bootylicious” seat cushion Beyonce would be proud of!
Check out my related article on how much body fat you should have for health and well-being.
5) Body fat keeps you warm
An added benefit of your subcutaneous and deep internal fat serve as a built-in bioblanket to protect you against cold temperatures. Most importantly, your internal organs require a stable internal temperature for optimal function and it’s body fat that helps buffer against the elements.
6) Body fat provides structure and function to your cells
Your cells contain fat molecules which form part of your cell membrane (cell wall). This fatty membrane, called your phospholipid bilayer, forms an impermeable barrier between the cytoplasm inside your cells and the external cellular environment. It helps regulate salt concentrations and pH by precisely metering the flow of ions in and out of the cell.
7) Body fat facilitates nerve transmission
Lipid makes up approximately 80% of the myelin sheath that covers your nerves and facilitates the transmission of neural signals. The myelin sheath helps increase the speed and quality of the signal, all of which contribute to your ability to perform activities like walking, talking, eating, or sport and exercise.
7 Ways Body Fat Is Actually Good For You was last modified: December 13th, 2016 by Dr Bill Sukala