Liproxenol Max Review (2017) | Buyer Beware of Deceptive Marketing

Liproxenol Max Review (2017) | Buyer Beware of Deceptive Marketing

I originally published this Liproxenol exposé in early 2013 after an investigation into the company’s egregiously deceptive advertising.

As of this 2017 update, the product name has been changed to Liproxenol Max despite no indication that the ingredients are any different than in 2012.

Sadly, the website is still active and using the same misleading tactics. They claim “real results, real people,” yet they’re still showing the same fake before and after images from several years before.

On a positive note, the number of Google search results is extremely low (just under 2000) and this is corroborated by Google Trends. It’s not known if they’re still actively driving traffic to the product, but hopefully it will be pulled offline sooner than later.

Liproxenol scam

Read on for the original review.

Original 2013 Review

I was alerted to Liproxenol recently when a questionable advertisement was served up in a Google ad. I was curious so I decided to dig deeper.

The company’s marketing claims it will help you “lose weight fast,” the three marketing buzz words that should set off your bullish*t detector.

Is Liproxenol a scam?  

Review all the evidence of their ethical improprieties below, use your common sense, and then make an educated decision if you want to fork over your money.

The short version

  1. Misrepresented science – the company has misrepresented results from scientific articles in support of the product (the final product has never been tested).
  2. Fake testimonials – there is clear evidence that most, if not all, Liproxenol testimonials are dubious, and several are clearly fraudulent.
  3. Sham promo websites – a number of fake Liproxenol websites supposedly owned by “satisfied users” are littered 20 pages deep in Google.  All are linked to the company that makes Liproxenol, presumably an SEO exercise to crowd out legitimate information and reviews on the product from Google search results (evidence below).
  4. Complaints – there are numerous independent consumer complaints against the company that makes Liproxenol related to unauthorized credit card charges (evidence below).
  5. Typical supplement hype – further investigation into the product and promotional materials reveals all the typical over-hyped supplement catch phrases and meaningless jargon such as:
  • Fast-acting metabolic formula
  • Amplify thermogenesis
  • Destroy food cravings
  • See impressive results
  • Feel naturally energised
  • Be slimmer in weeks

The long version

Who makes Liproxenol?

Liproxenol is made by JC Arnica. A dig into their background on WhoIs Domain Tools shows that JC Arnica Corporation is based in Panama City.

According to the website, Liproxenol was developed by Jeffrey Wilson, chief medical advisor of JW Labs.  It gives a narrative testimonial where Wilson asks you (the consumer) if you’d like a supplement as good as a prescription weight loss medication but without the dangerous side effects.

He then goes on to state that Liproxenol is the product for you because it “contains ingredients proven in clinical trials to aid in weight loss.”  There are a number of scientific references listed on the website which purportedly support the product, but further scrutiny of these references reveals a different picture – More on this to come.  Stay tuned!

Ingredients

liproxenol ingredientsBefore we delve into Liproxenol’s individual ingredients, you should be aware that the overall blend of herbs is only 480mg (1/2 gram) which, when spread across the five herbal ingredients, means that there is very little of each ingredient present (dilution effect).

Furthermore, we do not have a precise quantity for how much active ingredient is actually present in Liproxenol since these are whole herbs and not standardized extracts.

The ingredients found in Liproxenol appear to vary based on which website you consult.  Some websites have more ingredients while others have less. Therefore, I have opted to stick with the one found on the Liproxenol Australia website.

  • Vitamin B6 – vitamin B6 is involved in cellular metabolism which unlocks energy from the energy-containing nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  However, whether or not taking extra facilitates weight loss remains in question.
  • Chromium – chromium has been purported to facilitate weight loss. However, evaluation of chromium studies shows that, though there may be a small effect, the data is inconclusive.
  • Garcinia fruit extractGarcinia may have a small effect for short-term weight loss, but purity and dosage may be a mitigating factor.
  • Green tea leaf extract – Catechins, the active ingredient found in green tea leaves may play a minor role in facilitating weight loss and maintenance.  As with garcinia, purity of the extract and dosage must be considered, as well as other extraneous factors which may confound the green tea leaves’ effectiveness.
  • L-carnitine tartrate – carnitine is involved in fat transport across cell membranes.  The human body can synthesize it from lysine and methionine.  The preponderance of evidence suggests that supplementation with l-carnitine does not have any appreciable effect on weight loss.
  • Dandelion leaf powderDandelion may have a diuretic effect in the body, but this should not be mistaken for a reduction in fat.
  • Cayenne pepper powder – Cayenne pepper may play a role in increased thermogenesis but there appears to be a dose-response relationship (i.e., more translates to a greater effect). Liproxenol contains a small amount of cayenne pepper but there is no evidence that this quantity is effective for fat loss.

Is there any scientific evidence to support marketing claims?

Overall, the research for the ingredients contained in Liproxenol is so varied that it does not directly support the product.

Liproxenol pills contain a total of 480 mg (half a gram) of mixed herbs but, in studies on the individual ingredients, considerably large doses were used.

It is therefore plausible that the amounts found in Liproxenol are so small that they are unlikely to have much of a physiological effect in the body.

In my investigation, I did not come across any studies that tested the finished product. The lofty marketing claims are more likely a stretch of the imagination than validated science.

Comparison of research to claims

Vitamin B6 – 5mg

The listed references for vitamin B6 are not evidence of efficacy for Liproxenol.  For example, one study was a cross-sectional study which looked at statistical associations, but did not evaluate cause and effect as part of an intervention.  The other reference is not actually a scientific reference at all, but marketing material for a course targeted at doctors who want to learn how to administer B6 and B12 in their medical practices.

Chromium picolinate – 50 mcg

Three studies were listed for chromium but, in actual fact, they do not support this product.  First, all three studies used very large dosages ranging from 400 to 1000 micrograms compared to the 50 micrograms of chromium found in Liproxenol.  We would need to see further studies using miniscule doses to get an indication of whether or not such a small amount is effective.

Proprietary blend of herbs – 480 mg comprised of the following:

Garcinia fruit extract:

  • Liproxenol contains “garcinia fruit extract” which contains the active ingredient hydroxycitric acid.  However, we do not have an exact quantity for how much HCA is found in this particular product.
  • In all the studies quoted on the website, they used the isolated hydroxycitric acid bound to a calcium-potassium salt to make it soluble.
  • Dosages were rather large and ranged from 1000 to 4500 mg per day.  This is enormous compared to the combined total of 480mg of mixed herbs in the product, of which an even smaller amount would be garcinia.
  • The studies listed as support are irrelevant, misleading, and do not appear to directly support claims of efficacy for Liproxenol.

Green tea leaf extract

  • The studies listed for green tea leaf extract were variable and, as with the above ingredients, do not tend to support product claims.

The studies included:

  • very large dosages of catechins (625 mg) plus caffeine (39 mg) and exercise
  • a strictly controlled diet plus 250 mg of green tea leaf extract
  • another study that used 90 mg of epigallocatechins plus 50 mg caffeine
  • a mouse study

In short, the precise amount of green tea leaf extract in Liproxenol is unknown based on the product label.  Therefore, we do not have a quantifiable amount of active ingredients against which we can make a reliable comparison.

L-carnitine tartrate

  • Two studies are listed which suggest 3 grams of carnitine per day can enhance fat oxidation (burning).
  • These are legitimate studies but they do not appear to support product claims of product efficacy.
  • Carnitine is only one ingredient amongst others which total 480 mg (or just under a half a gram total).
  • The relative dosage consumers are getting in Liproxenol is likely to be insignificant compared to the rather large carnitine dosages used in the study.
  • The third carnitine study listed on the website is a dead link and does not go anywhere.

Dandelion leaf powder

  • The website lists a single study as support for dandelion as a diuretic.
  • This was a preliminary pilot study which administered 8 mL of dandelion extract three times over one single day.
  • The ingredients label does not disclose how much of the herbal blend is comprised of dandelion, we cannot reliably compare the study to the product.
  • Therefore, as of this writing, this single study cannot be considered supportive evidence.

Cayenne pepper powder

The available studies on cayenne pepper (capsaicin) do indeed show that it has an impact on appetite and weight control.

However, you should know:

  • Across these studies, the experimental dosages of capsaicin were much higher than anything offered by Liproxenol.
  • Dosages ranged from 510 to 900 mg of capsaicin, to 6000 mg (6 grams) of capsinoids (which are less potent than capsaicin), to 10 grams of red pepper.
  • The dosages and the means of administration are greatly varied and do not reflect the comparably miniscule doses found in Liproxenol.
  • Some studies strictly controlled the dietary intake of subjects which is not reflective of a free living adult who is not moderating their calorie intake.

Fake testimonials?

The marketing copy is heavily weighted with anecdotal testimonials presumably from satisfied users. However, I found some discrepancies which I think call these testimonials into question.

I did a reverse image search of the before and after images on their website and found the EXACT same images turn up on a number of other sites.

Here is a screen capture from the Liproxenol website.

Liproxenol fake testimonial

Note her name above on the Liproxenol website is “Mary P”.

But then check out the screen capture from another questionable product called Meratol (below) which uses similar tactics and, amazingly, the EXACT same before and after photos! Only now her name is Pam and she’s from London.

Meratrol fake testimonial

Not convinced?  Well how about the very next testimonial on the website.
Liproxenol fake testimonial 2

Supposedly her name is Shea and she’s stripped off 35 kg.

But then in another advertisement for a completely different product, her name is Bonnie and she lives in South Africa!

Clearly somebody is lying in their marketing copy but, either way, you’d be very foolish to believe any of the testimonials now that you’re aware of these improprieties.

Liproxenol fake testimonials

Recycled fake testimonials

Have a look at this screenshot image below.  Read the testimonial of “Shea” above and then read the testimonial below.  Same name, same title, same weight loss, similar testimonial, but different picture!!

Not only that, this before/after picture has been used on five other websites!

liproxenol_duplicate_fake_testimonial

Questionable email testimonials

The company also provides four testimonials received via email (click here for screen shot).  I decided to email the people to see if, in fact, they actually said what is stated on the website.

It has been over three weeks and I have not had a response from any of them.  I would have thought that at least one would write me back, but so far nothing at all.

I also used an online email validator and 3 out of 4 came back as valid emails with the last one looking a bit suspect.

Also note they are all from free email accounts like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Rocketmail which are commonly used as “throw-away” email accounts. I am inclined to think they are sham email addresses.

False flag SEO spam campaign

The following table is a list of websites clearly linked to corporate JC Arnica. In total, there are 30 websites associated with Liproxenol, of which only 6 are official “above board” sites. The rest are deceptive spam sites which appear to have been created by JC Arnica or other parties solely to drive Liproxenol sales.

If you look at the IP addresses, registrar names, and the dates these websites were created, you will clearly see the pattern.

When you actually visit these sites, you will see they are made to look like different independent people posting about their experiences with the supplement.

The more you visit these sites, the more you can see they used the exact same templates with only a few minor changes.

Websites such as best4dietpills.com and thedietpillreview.com give the consumer the impression of being a “diet pill review” site but, in fact, just serve as more sales fodder for the same JC Arnica products.

This is clearly deceptive and meant to mislead consumers into purchasing Liproxenol and other associated products.

Liproxenol Scam Websites

If you look at the syntax of these domain names, you can see they used hyphens in most of them. This is all a lot more than a coincidence given the fact that the domains were all registered on similar dates with the same registrar.

It is also worth mentioning that many of these spam sites serve to dilute legitimate Google search results and preclude consumers from getting legitimate objective information on this product.

If you look at the dates these sites were registered, you can see this was a deliberate and concerted effort to flood Google with crap early before those of us who represent the truth got our shake.

All the more disconcerting is that this garbage spans 20+ pages deep into Google when you search for Liproxenol.

I also suspect they have left fake comments on a number of message board forums on sites unrelated to Liproxenol. Many of them seem a bit fluffy and airy, as if they had to be fabricated.  Given the lengths this company has gone to dupe the public (see below), I don’t believe anything is beyond their ethics.

Spam website screenshots (notice the similarities)

Looking at the following, you can see the similarities in their websites.  They clearly used the same wordpress or generic HTML templates and then changed the photos.

All outgoing links on the pages point to the Liproxenol Australia website.  This is a little (lot) more than a coincidence and should be a red flag to consumers for unethical behavior.

do-any-dietpills-workdoes-liproxenol_work

do-any-dietpills-work.com  |   does-liproxenol-work.com

liproxenol-workedliproxenol-blog

liproxenol-worked.com         |     liproxenol-blog.com

buy-liproxenolliproxenol-com-au

buy-liproxenol.com (spam site)  |    liproxenol.com.au (official site)

Exercise, eat healthy, and forget the pills

All photo and email improprieties aside, let’s pretend that all the testimonials are for real.

It is still important to recognise that anecdotal testimonials do not separate cause and effect from coincidence.

So if you’re exercising and eating right while you’re taking the supplement, then there is no way to know if your results were due to your healthy eating and exercise or the pills.

And, in fact, the advertising does state you should take the product in conjunction with healthy eating and regular exercise – a common ploy with these types of products.

In short, testimonials are amusing and entertaining, but they are the lowest form of “evidence” should not be considered proof of efficacy.

Dosage

According to the company’s FAQ page, you should take 2 per day, one before breakfast and one more before lunch. However, because the research provided as evidence is so wide and varied and does not directly support the product, we have no way of knowing how much you should actually take.

To date, no clinical testing has been carried out on the final product to ascertain if it exerts any physiological effect in the body.  As of this writing, a specific dosage appears to be, at best, guesswork on the part of the company.

Liproxenol side effects or drug interactions

The website repeatedly claims that the product is safer than prescription drugs, but based on my investigation, there is no evidence of product testing against diet drugs.

The individual ingredients do appear in the medical literature, but Liproxenol as a whole product has not been tested.

The reality is, we do not know how these ingredients may interact with one another or other prescription drugs you might be taking.

As with any supplement, you would be STRONGLY advised to talk to a qualified medical or allied health practitioner to see if there are any potential interactions.  The reality is, people can (and do) die from drug-supplement interactions.

How much does it cost?

The price you pay depends on how many bottles you buy.  They make it more enticing to buy more of the product by throwing in freebies, but either way, it isn’t cheap.  According to the website, you can get:

  • 4 bottles for $148 AUD with free shipping plus four bottles of Clear Cleanse Pro (another questionable product) and a digital pedometer.
  • 3 bottles for $110 AUD plus three bottles of Clear Cleanse Pro and a digital pedometer. You pay $8.97 for shipping via Australia Post.
  • 2 bottles for $74 AUD plus one bottle of Clear Cleanse Pro and no pedometer.  You pick up the $8.97 tab for shipping.
  • 1 bottle for $37 AUD, no freebies, plus you pick up the $8.97 for shipping.  This particular offer is called a “starter” trial which implies that you’ll need more of it.

Complaints

It’s never a good thing when you see a dietary supplement with numerous consumer complaints.

As of 2017, the Scambook website is littered with complaints from people who got sucked in by the advertising hype, ordered a bottle on their credit card, and then found themselves being charged over again each month.

Interestingly, the JC Arnica (the parent company) website claims that all their websites (including the one for Liproxenol) provide 24/7 customer support 365 days of the year and that they’re “available to customers whenever they need to reach us…”

Based on their shoddy reputation with consumers, this appears to be nothing more than hot air to allay consumer skepticism.

Where is Liproxenol sold?

Based on my investigation, Liproxenol is available online in country-specific sites for Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Disclaimer

And now for the fine print.  Damn, there’s always that fine print to go and screw things up!

The website states in its disclaimer:

The products & claims made on this site have not been evaluated by Therapeutic Goods Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Individual results may vary.  You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program.”

This is common on most dietary supplements (Australian example above) and appears to be an offshoot of the United States’ version of the supplement labeling stemming from the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act which, ironically, does nothing to educate anyone.

As long as a product is deemed a supplement and carries the generic stamp (above), then it is not subject to the same rigorous testing requirements as pharmaceutical medications.

Take home message

There are numerous improprieties surrounding Liproxenol.

First, the scientific studies listed as “evidence” for the product are not directly applicable to Liproxenol and do not constitute proof of efficacy. I did not find a single scientific study which has tested the final product.

The dosages of the ingredients appear very small and may not have the same effect as found in the listed studies.

Second, the testimonial photos and emails are questionable on a number of fronts and, I suspect, may be fraudulent.

Third, there are numerous consumer complaints pertaining to unauthorized credit card charges for product that was not ordered.

Fourth, the product uses virtually every questionable trick in the book to convince you to buy the product.

In closing, this product offers up a lot more hype and hope than genuine help.  I recommend keeping your credit card safely in your wallet and steering clear of Liproxenol.

 

Transcript from the Liproxenol website

Pitchwoman:  My name is Caroline.  I wanted to tell you briefly about Australia’s leading all natural weight loss supplement.

Analysis:   Leading supplement? Says who? Based on what?  This is just an opinion and not based on any provided evidence.

Pitchwoman:  Liproxenol is the fat loss secret that has helped more than 3 million people experience  rapid weight loss easily and without any unwanted side effects, starvation, or off the wall diet restrictions.

Analysis:  Liproxenol’s ingredients are, in fact, well known and pretty far from being a ‘fat loss secret.’  Furthermore, the whole product itself, which has small amounts of each ingredient and no quantification of active substances, has not been tested.   As for 3 million people, we’ll just need to take their word for it.

Pitchwoman:  Liproxenol’s proprietary blend of 7 clinically proven all natural ingredients has been praised by nutritionists, dietitians, and personal trainers alike.  It is used by celebrities and has been featured in numerous magazines and on national networks.

Analysis:Clinically proven means nothing in this particular example.  Clinically proven means a lot of things to a lot of different people.  As I mentioned, Liproxenol itself did not appear in the scientific databases and is unlikely to have been tested.   Praised by nutritionists, dietitians, and personal trainers?  Which ones?  Name names.  I’m unaware of any legitimate health professionals which have staked their name and reputation on this product.   Because it is “used by celebrities,” do not be fooled into thinking this is evidence.  In fact, for many products like this, celebrities are not health professionals and you should not follow their lead.

Pitchwoman:  One popular physician pronounced Liproxenol the most effective, safe, non-prescription weight loss supplement of the last 20 years.

Analysis:  Which “popular physician?”  It appears their doctor has not read the research and compared it to this product.

Pitchwoman:  We’re so confident you’ll make Liproxenol your number one choice for rapid weight loss, we’re willing to let you try it risk free for a full 90 days.  If you are anything less than thrilled with the results in that time, we will refund 100% of your money no questions asked.

Analysis:  I suggest avoiding anything that suggests rapid weight loss is acceptable.   You can try it “risk free” for 90 days, but based on real consumer experiences, there is a chance your credit card will continue to be charged for more Liproxenol without your consent or authorization.

Pitchwoman:  And as a special bonus to celebrate our 5th year in business, we are giving away some incredible free special bonuses to help you lose weight even faster when you order today.  But don’t wait.  Due to the increased popularity of Liproxenol cause by all the media attention, supplies are limited.  And we can’t guarantee these exclusive limited time online offers will still be available on your next visit.  Now is the time to experience rapid weight loss and increased energy risk free and fully guaranteed.  Do it today!

Analysis:  This is typical of these types of products. You act like you’re giving the customer something extra of value because you’re a nice guy.  But then you threaten to pull the offer away with a “limited time” clause.  And if you don’t directly tell people what to do (Do it today!), they don’t do it.

 

Under Armour Athlete Recovery Sleepwear | Review of Marketing Claims

Under Armour Athlete Recovery Sleepwear | Review of Marketing Claims

Under Armour’s line of “Athlete Recovery Sleepwear” appeared on my radar today when a colleague asked me what I thought of the product.

I like Under Armour as a brand so I was curious to take a look at the far infrared technology used in the pajamas as well as the marketing claims behind the product.

According to the company website, the sleepwear is NFL football superstar “Tom Brady’s secret to recovery” with sleep being a “critical piece to sustaining his peak performance.”

So the hook is “Wear athlete recovery sleepwear. Rest. Win. Repeat.”

Heck, I want to be like Tom too, but at $200 USD for a top and bottom, does the sleepwear live up to the hype?

With that in mind, the objective of this article is to:

  • discuss far infrared technology
  • review the far infrared research
  • compare the sleepwear marketing claims to the science
  • provide an interpretation and summary

What is far infrared energy?

Before we talk about the sleepwear, what the heck is far infrared (FIR) energy anyway?

First, it is important to understand that we are surrounded by natural electromagnetic radiation at all times.

It might sound scary and conjure up images of nuclear reactors, but electromagnetic energy simply refers to different types of energy released into space by stars and planets like the sun (solar radiation) and Earth (terrestrial radiation).

There are different types of electromagnetic radiation, including infrared energy:

  • Radio waves
  • TV waves
  • Radar waves
  • Infrared radiation (heat)
  • Visible light
  • Ultraviolet light (wear your sunscreen!)
  • X-rays (like at the hospital)
  • Short waves
  • Microwaves (i.e., microwave oven)
  • Gamma rays

In the image below, you can see there is an infrared spectrum which can be further subdivided into three regions:

  • near infrared
  • middle infrared
  • far infrared

far infrared athlete recovery sleepwear

Great. So what? How does this relate to Tom’s $200 PJs?

Far infrared research and applications

Under Armour lists on their website a single reference to an “NIH independent study on the benefits of Far Infrared energy on recovery.”

When I clicked on the link I found that it was not an “independent study” on their finished sleepwear product, but was just a general review paper on biological applications of far infrared technology.

In the review, Harvard scientists Vatansever and Hamblin discuss a further subdivision (3–12 μm) of the infrared band which may have potential health benefits including enhanced healing, pain relief, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Does far infrared clothing benefit the body?

You may be familiar with currently available devices such as FIR lamps and saunas, but does the technology work in clothing?

Far infrared ceramic nanoparticle fibres are now being woven into garments like blankets to improve sleep quality, belts to reduce menstrual discomfort, and gloves to relieve arthritis symptoms and Raynaud’s syndrome.

In the case of Under Armour’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear, the logic is that a bioceramic print in the garment captures the wearer’s body heat and converts it back into FIR heatwaves which can penetrate the skin as deep as 4 centimetres (1.5 inches), potentially yielding health benefits.

Athlete Recovery Sleepwear research

A Pub Med search for Athlete Recovery Sleepwear (and a variety of keyword combinations related to infrared bioceramic garments, sleep quality, and athlete recovery) resulted in either no results or irrelevant results.

This is not to say no studies exist, but I did not come across them in my own search. I’d be happy to add them to this review if Under Armour or anyone else can send me published research studies on the finished product.

Review of marketing claims

Under Armour makes several claims for the sleepwear, some prominently displayed on the website and others weaved into responses to customer reviews.

Claim 1: “…the world’s most advanced sleep system that rebuilds your body while you rest”

The first part of this claim uses what is known as advertising hyperbole to exaggerate the effectiveness of the sleepwear. This is just Under Armour taking creative liberties to get the reader’s attention.

How would you define the “world’s most advanced sleep system?” What are the criteria? Is there an annual awards ceremony for sleep systems?

Hyperbole is legal and permitted by the Federal Trade Commission and not deemed deceptive if a “reasonable consumer” would understand that “the world’s most advanced sleep system” is just good ol’ fashioned marketing embellishment.

The second part of the claim (“rebuilds your body while you rest”) is loosely worded and ambiguous.

Are they talking about rebuilding muscle? Replenishing glycogen stores? Rebuilding ATP stores?

To test this experimentally, Under Armour needs to clearly define the outcome measure(s). Until then, “rebuild your body” is vague and could mean different things to different people.

Claim 2: “helps your body recover faster…”

This claim is also ambiguous and has no frame of reference.

First, they do not define “recover” in this context. Are they referring to cellular adaptations? Substrate replenishment? Reduced muscle soreness?

Second, how do they quantify “recover faster” in the absence of research on the finished product? Helps your body recover faster than what?

If you were able to recover faster, how would you know this?

For the company to substantiate this claim, they would need to clearly define “recover faster,” how they’d accurately measure it, and then conduct double-blind research on athletes under strictly controlled experimental conditions.

Claim 3: “…promotes better sleep”

As above, “…promotes better sleep” can mean different things to different people.

Are we talking about sleeping for longer? A more deep restful sleep? Less sleep interruptions? This needs to be clarified.

The next question is, how do we measure “better sleep?”

A polysomnography (PSG for short) test is considered the gold standard for sleep quality. It measures your brain waves and muscle movements during sleep and can give an objective indicator of your REM and non-REM sleep.

But even in the sleep research world, objective measures like PSG do not always correlate well to a sleeper’s own subjective assessment of their sleep quality.

Smartphone sleep tracker apps have also gained widespread popularity, despite research showing they do not always correlate well with PSG and that further investigation is required to determine their practical usefulness.

This is not to discount the possibility that FIR sleepwear may have benefits on sleep quality. In the review article listed on the Under Armour site, the authors cite a 1989 publication which reported improved sleep in subjects using a blanket containing FIR discs. However, it is not known how or if these findings are applicable to Tom’s pajamas.

The point is, further research is warranted to better understand the relationship between FIR sleepwear and sleep quality, after which the findings must be carefully interpreted to be meaningful and useful to consumers.

Claim 4: “reduce inflammation”

To the best of my knowledge, no research has specifically evaluated the effects of FIR-infused sleepwear on inflammation in free-living adult athletes.

In the review paper cited by Under Armour, the authors discuss a number of preliminary petri dish, test tube, and animal studies on the biological effects of FIR technology.

In a 2012 study, Chinese researchers injected lipopolysaccharides into the joints of rabbits to induce inflammation that mimicked rheumatoid arthritis. They found that animals housed in cages surrounded by paper sheets infused with ceramic FIR powder experienced larger decreases in inflammatory markers after 7 days compared to control rabbits surrounded by paper sheets without FIR powder.

Claim 5: “regulate cell metabolism”

As with previous claims, Under Armour is vague about what it means by “regulate cell metabolism.” They should further define this and put it into context for consumers.

FIR has been shown to have effects on biological tissue but, to my knowledge, I am unaware of any studies that specifically measured the effects of the sleepwear on cell metabolism and any potential benefits.

Claim 6: “feel and see effects with 6 hours per night and 2 weeks of use”

This claim was made on the Under Armour website by an employee who responded to a customer review.

In my investigation, I did not find any published peer-reviewed research that supports the claim of “better” and “improved sleep” after 6 hours (of sleep) per night over 2 weeks.

under armour athlete recovery sleepwear

The employee told the customer to measure this using the UA Record App to get a 14 Day Sleep Score, so perhaps the company has access to the aggregate data of its users. 

While not scientific, if it is the case, it would certainly provide a reasonable hypothesis worth testing under strictly controlled experimental conditions.

Using a bit of critical thinking, if someone had been sleeping poorly (i..e, 4 hours of sleep per night) and then started getting 6+ hours of sleep per night over 2 weeks, then this alone would result in improved sleep scores independent of the type of clothing worn to bed.

Future directions for sleepwear research

Therapeutic far infrared clothing is a fascinating new area of biotechnology that is ripe for exploration.

In order for sleepwear research to be relevant and meaningful to consumers, it would be helpful to see future studies conducted on free-living active adults controlling for a multitude of variables such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body mass index
  • Menopause status in women
  • Types of sports played
  • Frequency, intensity, duration, and types of training
  • Strength and cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Different recovery durations (24 vs 48 vs 72 hours)
  • Health status
  • Medications
  • Sleep habits/quality measured by PSG
  • Stress levels
  • Diet/nutrition
  • Macronutrient type and distribution
  • Adherence and compliance to protocols

Just how much FIR needs to be woven into the clothing is another important consideration.

  • Is there a dose-response relationship where larger amounts of FIR fibres elicit greater benefits than smaller amounts?
  • What is the optimal dose of FIR?
  • Does too much have any potential for adverse effects?
  • Is the effect the same for physically larger vs smaller people?

It is important for researchers to use the most sensitive objective measurements available on a high enough number of subjects to ensure adequate statistical power.

Subjective reports from study participants are still valuable and may provide additional qualitative support that informs the quantitative data.

Athlete Recovery Sleepwear vs good sleep hygiene

Sleep has become a popular health topic in recent years, particularly around sleep apnea and its connection to the development of heart disease.

This has spawned both a demand for – and an industry of – sleep devices, some with proven efficacy and others of dubious reputation.

The Under Armour website lists Tom Brady’s six steps to a better night’s sleep which, whether you opt for the sleepwear or not, are still sensible recommendations.

1. Create a pre-sleep routine to relax (shut down devices 30 min before sleep)
2. Be consistent with bedtime
3. Maintain a cool room temperature of 65°F or 18.5°C
4. Keep the noise down
5. Air quality is key
6. Wear athlete recovery sleepwear

The only potential for confusion here is that, much the same way infomercials tell you to use their ab blaster machine “in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise,” it may be hard for you to separate cause and effect from coincidence.

Are you sleeping better because of changes to your sleep hygiene or your bioceramic pajamas? These are questions that can best be answered by robust research on athlete recovery sleepwear.

How much do they cost?

As of this writing, the sleepwear costs $99 each per top and bottom for both genders. A complete pair will set you back just under $200 USD.

Should you buy athlete recovery sleepwear?

Though no independent testing on the final sleepwear product has been conducted (to my knowledge), the clothing is safe and unlikely to cause any physical harm. Customer reviews were generally favourable with many stating they were warm and comfortable.

Under Armour is a good brand known for producing good quality clothing, so if you have an extra $200 in your pocket, then there’s probably no harm in giving them a try.

Take home message

Far infrared clothing is a fascinating new area of biotechnology. A number of preliminary studies in test tubes, petri dishes, animal models, and humans all show promise for the potential health benefits.

Under Armour has leveraged on these studies and applied several vague and loosely worded advertising claims to their athlete recovery sleepwear subject to your own individual interpretation.

But the big question still remains: Will Tom Brady’s pajamas absolutely and unequivocally give you an edge in your athletic recovery and performance?

It’s theoretically possible, but given the lack of clinical testing on the final product, it may be too soon to say.

What do you think?

Have you tried Athlete Recovery Sleepwear? What was your experience? Leave your comments below and/or share this article with others you think might be interested.

Ab Circle Pro Review – Fat Marketing Claims Thin on Truth

Ab Circle Pro Review – Fat Marketing Claims Thin on Truth

This is a re-release of my original Ab Circle Pro article which I published in 2010 on a different website. At the time, the article went viral within the fitness industry and was referenced by regulatory agencies in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

The company was fined $25 million dollars in 2012 by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims which eventually contributed to the company going out of business.

I have been asked numerous times to republish the article since the device is still being sold on the second-hand market.

Infomercial hype or help?

The Ab Circle Pro is a home exercise machine promoted by Jennifer Nicole Lee through infomercials, websites, and TV shopping networks.

According to advertisements, it combines cardiovascular and abdominal exercise to target the abdominal, oblique, hip, and thigh muscles and help you lose belly fat.

The two main exercises shown in promotional materials include a side to side swinging pendulum motion for the mid-section and a forward and backwards movement purportedly for the hips and thighs.

Promoters claim the product delivers “faster results than anything else around.” Emotional testimonials are interspersed throughout the pitch to further underscore and personify key marketing messages.

While this makes for effective sales copy, an independent (unbiased/non-commercial) critical analysis of Ab Circle Pro marketing claims is warranted. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to:

  • Categorically evaluate each Ab Circle Pro claim from a science-based perspective
  • Discuss consumer complaint records
  • Provide an overall summary of findings and make recommendations

Accuracy of review

To ensure accuracy of marketing claims in this review, I transcribed a 10 minute Ab Circle Pro infomercial which was posted to YouTube. All of the following product claims are taken verbatim from the clip.

Claim 1: “The most innovative piece of exercise equipment ever”

It is merely the opinion of the company that this is the most innovative piece of exercise equipment ever. No objective scale exists for quantifying the “innovativeness” of a product.

Claim 2: “With the Ab Circle Pro System, we guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in just 2 weeks”

The company was very meticulous with the wording of this claim. If you look carefully, they explicitly state “with the Ab Circle Pro SYSTEM you will lose 10 pounds in two weeks.

According to the website, “the complete Ab Circle Pro SYSTEM includes the machine, a reduced calorie diet, and express workout DVD.” However, the infomercial disproportionately promotes the machine by mentioning the product by name 28 times (once every 21 seconds), compared to only six times for the ‘System” (once every 1 minute 40 seconds).

If you’re not paying close attention to the phrasing, you might be led to believe the Ab Circle Pro machine ALONE will result in 10 pounds of weight loss.

Promoters claim you can lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in two weeks? This begs the question: “10 pounds of WHAT?”

Notice the units of measure are conspicuously absent. From a legal standpoint, it would be an unrealistic and misleading statement to say you could lose 10 pounds of STORED BODY FAT in two weeks. Losing “weight” on the scale is ambiguous and gives no indication of the actual composition of lost weight (i.e., how much water, muscle glycogen [stored carbohydrate], muscle, and fat).

Losing 10 pounds of stored body fat, on the other hand, is an entirely different ball of butter.

As an exercise physiologist, I like to use numbers to illustrate the difficulty of FAT loss.

  • One pound (~1/2 kg) of stored body fat = 3500 calories (14,700 kJ) worth of stored energy
  • 3,500 calories x 10 lb of fat = 35,000 calories (147,000 kJ) in 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of fat
  • 35,000 calories ÷ 14 days (2 weeks) = 2,500 calorie (10,500 kJ) deficit required per day

*Metric conversion: 1 calorie = 4.2 kilojoules

Based on this calculation, you must expend (via physical activity) an additional 2500 calories (or eat 2500 less) over and above the amount of calories you need to maintain your current fat stores EACH day for 14 days in order to lose 10 pounds of stored body fat.

Alternatively, you could eat 2,500 calories per day less than your daily energy requirements—or a combination of moving more and eating less.

According to Associate Professor Amanda Salis from the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, “the average 140-pound (64 kg) woman needs around 2500 calories per day or less to meet her energy requirements (and therefore maintain her weight), so this doesn’t leave much lettuce to enjoy every day.”

Safe and healthy fat loss should be around 1 to 2 pounds (about ½ to 1 kg) per week accomplished by decreasing daily food intake by about 250 calories and increasing energy expenditure by 250 calories per day.

As a general rule of thumb, many health practitioners discourage rapid weight loss and generally recommend dieters not reduce calories to less than 1,200 calories per day without supervision by a qualified physician or registered dietitian.

Calorie counting aside, even small dietary changes can have a lasting effect on weight loss.

“If you cut out foods or caloric beverages you consume when you’re not physically hungry, and if your diet is reasonably healthy (i.e., it includes adequate fruits and vegetables every day), then you will automatically start losing excess weight at a safe and healthy rate. It’s vital not to eat too little, otherwise you’ll activate your body’s famine reaction which will slow your metabolic rate and contribute to rebound weight regain,” Dr. Salis adds.

Now let’s look at the actual contribution of exercise to the fat loss equation. The Compendium of Physical Activity Codes and MET Intensities from Ainsworth et al. is a widely respected resource which provides an estimate of caloric expenditure for common exercises. The authors indicate one MET (metabolic equivalent) is equivalent to approximately one calorie per kilogram of body weight per hour. So as an example, a 154 pound (70 kg) person doing a 4 MET activity would expend about 280 calories per hour.

Looking at the following MET levels of common activities most people could reasonably be expected to do, you can see it requires some serious time investment and elbow grease to burn the equivalent energy of 2500 calories worth of stored fat by exercise alone. Based on this, it is obvious that to lose 10 pounds of stored body fat in two weeks, you would have to help it along with a reduced calorie diet.

METSActivityCal/hour Hours to burn 2500 calories
3.3Walking (3mph, moderate pace)23110.82
6.0Jazzercise4205.95
7.0Rowing at 100 watts (moderate effort)4905.10
8.0Bicycling 12-13.9 mph (moderate effort)5604.46
10.0Step Aerobics (10-12 inch step)7003.57
 **metric conversion: 1 calorie = 4.2 kilojoules

 

Bottom line
It is highly unlikely you will lose 10 pounds of STORED BODY FAT in two weeks. Losing 10 pounds of absolute scale weight (irrespective of composition) is comparably easier than losing 10 pounds of stored fat. Remember, it took you a lifetime to put it all on and it certainly isn’t going to melt away over night. Any radical reduction in energy intake may activate the famine response and force your body into fat conservation mode. Safe and healthy fat loss is a slow process and should be accomplished with comprehensive long-term lifestyle modification.

Claim 3: “…it’s fun and easy, and takes just 3 minutes a day”

According to the infomercial, you can expect incredible results in “just three minutes a day!” Note the phrasing of this claim does not explicitly state three minutes a day on the machine, but in context refers to the Ab Circle Pro System (which also includes the reduced calorie diet and exercise DVD).

I’ll be honest, until I went back and carefully reread the transcript, I interpreted this as “three minutes of exercise on the Ab Circle Pro machine each day for 14 days will result in a 10 pound loss of scale weight (of undefined composition).

Now, wait just a second! I think this legal loophole may actually be a hangman’s noose. Taking the company to task on this claim, doesn’t “it’s fun and easy” refer to using the machine? Are you now telling me that three “fun and easy” minutes a day on the Ab Circle Pro machine can strip off 10 pounds of fat in two weeks? After all, how can you do the entire SYSTEM in three minutes a day? Obviously it would take longer than three minutes to prepare and eat meals, watch their DVDs, and do three minutes of exercise on the machine!

I acknowledge that the company is NOT promising 10 pounds of fat loss using only the  machine, but I think it is important to understand what contribution three minutes on the machine makes to the daily energy balance equation independent of dietary changes. If you were interested in burning the equivalent energy in 10 pounds of stored body fat (35,000 calories) how many weeks would it take doing three minutes of exercise per day? In all fairness to the Ab Circle Pro, because this device is not yet listed on the Compendium of Physical Activities list, let’s cede the benefit of the doubt by casting a wide net and choosing an exercise modality performed at an extremely high intensity. For illustration purposes, I have chosen running at 10.9 mph (or 17.6 kph) which constitutes a 5.5 minute per mile pace (very fast) and is the highest intensity exercise on the list at 18 METs. This would subsume any other exercise of lower relative intensity which, in my professional opinion, would include the Ab Circle Pro machine.

Just how many weeks would it take to lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of fat doing 3 minutes of exercise per day?

About 79.4 weeks!

Consider the following example for a 154 pound (70 kg) person:

  • 18 METs = 18 calories per kilogram of body weight per hour, so:
  • 18 calories x 70 kg (154 lb) person = 1,260 calories expended per hour
  • 1,260 calories ÷ 60 minutes in one hour = 21 calories expended per minute
  • 21 calories per minute x 3 minutes = 63 calories per three minute exercise session per day
  • 35,000 calories ÷ 63 exercise calories per day = 555.6 days or 79.4 weeks

Moral of the story: Doing three minutes of exercise per day, it would take you a little over one year and seven months to lose 10 pounds of fat (with no nutrition modification).

Clearly the relative contribution of three minutes of even extremely high intensity exercise is quite small and would be significantly smaller for a beginner who can only tolerate very low to moderate intensity exercise.

It is evident that the remaining 2,437 daily calories (2500 – 63) would have to be compensated for by diet. As a health care professional, I believe a drastic calorie reduction of this magnitude would be unsafe for most people.

Bottom line
I am concerned that the infomercial mentions the machine 28 times (once every 21 seconds) compared to only six times for the collective Ab Circle Pro System (once every 1:40 seconds).  This is an important point because I believe it gives consumers the impression that three minutes a day on the exercise machine will deliver these great results. Moreover, it doesn’t mention the additional time it would take to implement the rest of the Ab Circle Pro System in their lives.  It is possible the supplementary resource materials recommend doing more than three minutes a day, but this is not mentioned anywhere in the 10 minute infomercial I viewed—i.e., you need to buy the product first before they spill the beans that it’ll take more than three minutes a day.

Claim 4: “…ordinary equipment just goes back and forth but doesn’t burn fat!”

ab circle pro

This claim is unsubstantiated and highly misleading. Any exercise, even traditional crunches, will burn calories and contribute to the overall caloric deficit required for reducing body fat. In exercise physiology laboratories, we use the “Respiratory Exchange Ratio” or RER to determine the relative contribution of fat versus carbohydrate burnt during exercise. Very simply, an RER of 0.7 indicates fat oxidation, 1.0 indicates carbohydrate use, and 0.85 is approximately a 50/50 mix of both fuels. As a general rule, lower intensity activities measure closer to 0.7 (fat burning) and move up the scale towards 1.0 (carbohydrate burning) with increasing exercise intensity (i.e., huffing and puffing).

Now, pay attention because this is where it gets confusing for many people.  You may have been lead to believe that the fuel used during exercise is all that matters in the fat loss equation, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, while it is true that very high intensity sprinting will burn predominantly carbohydrate (sugar) as a fuel source DURING exercise, it is false to suggest it will have no impact on stored body fat—seen any obese sprinters lately? If at the end of the day there is a calorie deficit (i.e., you burned off more calories than you ate), then your body will pull fat out of storage to justify this caloric deficit irrespective of which fuel was used during exercise.

Bottom line
With regards to this particular claim, the company should be held accountable to federal regulatory agencies to provide supportive, independently corroborated evidence that: 1) a traditional crunch “does not burn fat;” and 2) the Ab Circle Pro machine is superior to comparable exercises.

Note: in 2012, the makers of the Ab Circle Pro were fined 25 million dollars by the Federal Trade Commission which eventually led to them being shut down.

Claim 5: “These machines burn fat but won’t flatten your abs!”

ab circle pro flatten abs

This claim is also very misleading and is couched in the myth of “spot-reduction”—the belief that you can selectively strip off certain parts of the body. The treadmill and stationary bike (shown in the infomercial) do not specifically target the abdominal musculature per se, but they do burn calories and, if performed regularly, will contribute to the overall energy deficit necessary for reducing body fat—including abdominal fat. For example, even if you performed no abdominal exercises whatsoever, you could still lose inches around your waist provided you’re burning enough calories each day. On the other hand, you could do 1000 sit ups a day yet never see your abdominal muscles until you (eventually) lose the subcutaneous fat between the skin and muscle.

Bottom line
Overall, this claim misleads consumers into thinking other forms of exercise have no practical value whatsoever, and that the Ab Circle Pro is superior in some way. “Ripped abs” are merely the appearance of tight skin over muscle and are a combined function of diet, exercise, and overall calorie deficit (and genetic and hormonal factors) than “miracle breakthrough” exercises.

Claim 6: “In fact, 3 minutes on the Ab Circle Pro is equal to over 100 sit-ups!”

ab circle pro 100 sit ups

This claim is misleading because it is stated as if it were an irrefutable fact written in stone. However, there is no mention of how this was determined. What are the units of measure for comparison? Did they look at the number of calories burned? Did they use electromyography (EMG) to compare levels of muscle activation and motor unit recruitment patterns? This is an “apples to oranges” comparison. The standard crunch featured at the 1:19 time stamp is performed in the sagittal plane (forward flexion) whereas the Ab Circle Pro is a side to side movement which occurs in the frontal plane (lateral spinal flexion). They’re completely different movement patterns. How do they correlate the two to make a reliable comparison?

Bottom line
This claim raises more questions than answers. The manufacturer should be held accountable to marketing regulatory agencies worldwide to produce objective independent evidence to support this claim. Further to my discussion above, even if three minutes on the machine was equal to over 100 sit ups, a flat belly is still a function of overall daily energy balance.

Claim 7: “…get your cardio and abs workout all at once. It’s like a treadmill for your abs. And best of all, it only takes 3 minutes a day!”

ab circle pro abs and cardio

I do not doubt the Ab Circle Pro can provide some semblance of a combined cardio and abs workout. But just as three minutes of exercise alone is unlikely to result in any appreciable calorie deficit (see above discussion), neither am I convinced this duration is sufficient to induce any significant cardiovascular training effect. In fact, this claim confounds responsible health messages from reputable health promotion organizations. The updated joint American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association guidelines for physical activity and health recommend at least 30 minutes of accumulated moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least 3 times per week.

Bottom line
For many exercisers, the first three to five minutes are spent warming up, let alone as a complete workout. Again, it is possible the company’s resource materials might advise users to work towards longer exercise durations, but such recommendations are conspicuously absent from the infomercial.

Claim 8: “…the secret is the Ab Circle Pro’s unique circular motion that uses gravity to help you swing your torso. Instead of having gravity working against you, now it’s working with you.”

ab circle pro circular force

This statement relies on faulty logic. Gravity “working against you” can actually be a good thing. In exercise physiology language, the “overload principle” holds that in order to effect change in the body, there must be a stimulus placed on it at levels above and beyond that which it is normally accustomed. For example, a weight lifter must lift progressively heavier weights to increase strength. A marathon runner must run progressively longer to improve endurance. So in the case of a standard squat, you can work against gravity on the lifting (concentric) phase or with it on the lowering (eccentric) phase when your muscles are lengthening under tension and must resist gravity in a controlled manner. In short, gravity is not the evil villain self-proclaimed “fitness celebrity” Jennifer Nicole Lee says it is. It can, in fact, be an effective tool for improving fitness.

In the case of the Ab Circle Pro, the pendulum-like motion allows the exerciser to build up momentum on the downward phase and then use it to swing up the opposite side. This would appear to reduce the degree of overload because the momentum compensates for the muscles and reduces demands placed on them.

According to Anthony Carey, M.A., biomechanist and CEO/founder of Function First in San Diego, California (www.functionfirst.com), “the only positive benefit to the abs (in lateral flexion only) is the “braking” effect that appears to be necessary at the end of the range of motion to reverse directions.”

Although advertisers do not claim this to be a “functional” movement, the exercise physiologist in me questions whether the training effect on this machine has much, if any, carry over to the real world or specific sports activities.

The “specificity principle” holds that specific demands elicit specific adaptations in the body. On the machine, exercise is limited to the same guided circular motion. This raises the question, “what do you do in your regular daily life that mimics the Ab Circle Pro action?”

“Ironically, the ease of use of the machine is also its greatest limitation”

Biomechanist Anthony Carey, MA

“Because the movement is so stable and predictable, neuromuscular efficiency will improve rapidly with associated diminishing returns by the user. Ironically, the ease of use of the machine is also its greatest limitation,” Carey adds.

Bottom line
Overall, this is a highly misleading claim and displays what I believe to be ignorance on the part of the company and Jennifer Nicole Lee towards basic principles of biomechanics. In all fairness, the machine may contribute to overall daily energy expenditure (albeit small) but because of the repetitive/guided movement pattern, don’t expect the machine to train you for that upcoming 10K fun run.

Claim 9: (Chiropractor endorsement)“I would definitely recommend the Ab Circle Pro because it takes all the pressure off your neck and your low back and allows your body just to work your abdominal muscles and your core muscles. That’s why you get results so fast.”

ab circle pro neck

This testimonial is a bit ambiguous and must be carefully interpreted. What does the chiropractor specifically mean by “takes all the pressure off your neck and low back?” Any muscle contraction, be it isometric or dynamic, introduces tension into the muscle. By the very nature of the Ab Circle Pro movement patterns, the unit activates the muscles of the neck and low back. First, the arm, shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles must fire to assist in stabilizing the upper torso while the lower aspect of the upper body swings side to side. The thermal imaging clip (above) clearly shows the upper trapezius muscles are red which, according to the company’s advertising, indicates the muscles are working.

Second, with regards to the lower back, the side to side movement pattern of the Ab Circle Pro causes lateral flexion of the spine (side bending). Look at any basic kinesiology 101 textbook and you will see that both the quadratus lumborum and the collective erector spinae muscle group, both of which have anatomical origins on the lumbar vertebrae, are involved in lateral spinal flexion. Simply, the Ab Circle Pro “pendulum” exercise cannot be performed without activation of the muscles of the lower back.

In a recent communication with Anthony Carey, he expressed the following observations:

“After carefully reviewing the various users in the video, you can see that their ability to control their lumbar extension is questionable as gravity pulls down on the internal viscera creating lumbar extension. For some users, increased lumbar extension and hyper extension will close down the lumbar facets; the joints where later flexion will occur.”

“Another concern for this kind of motion is for anyone that has even minor scoliosis of any origin (i.e., functional due to a functional leg length discrepancy, idiopathic or congenital). Lateral flexion of the scoliotic spine is always coupled with rotation. This can be a serious issue forcing motion at spinal segments above and below the curve.”

Claim 10: “Just by removing the Ab Circle Pro’s center locking pin, you now have a freestyle workout that actually turns the Ab Circle Pro into a bun and thigh machine. By performing the inner and outer motion, you can tighten, firm, and tone your buns, hips, and thighs.”

ab circle pro buns and thighs

This claim is not overtly false, but must be carefully evaluated for what the advertisement says and what consumer expectations might be. Looking at the biomechanics of the movement pattern at the 6:36 time stamp (right), the lift appears to be accomplished by the combined action of the hip flexor (iliopsoas and rectus femoris) muscles (the crease where your hip meets your front thigh) and abductor (gluteus medius and minimus) muscles on the upper side aspect of the hips. As the hips bilaterally flex and abduct, there also appears to be internal hip rotation during the concentric portion (upward phase) which would further emphasize the anterior fibres of the gluteus medius and the tensor fascia latae.

On the other hand, the gluteus maximus, that thick meaty part of the hips that consumers spend millions trying to shrink, is virtually excluded—or very minimally involved—from the main movement pattern. Any minor hip extension that does occur goes unresisted and only occurs passively as the hip flexors and abductors work eccentrically to lower your body weight against gravity back to the starting position. In order to activate the gluteus maximus, you would actually need to do the opposite motion (hip extension) of what is seen in the infomercial.

Bottom line
How ironic this “bun and thigh machine” doesn’t really work the buns or thighs! After careful review of the video, the machine’s movement pattern appears to target the upper front thighs around the inguinal crease and the upper/outer hips, but not the glamour muscle (gluteus maximus). Activities such as good old-fashioned walking and biking do a great job working all the muscles of the lower body through movement patterns the way nature intended—and best of all, they’re free!

Claim 11: “It will actually cut your workout time in half. And you’ll get yourself in the target heart rate zone faster than any other aerobic machines in the gym. No other ab machines in the world can give you a cardio workout like this”

ab circle pro target heart rate

Cut my workout time in half? So instead of my usual six-minute workout, now I only have to work out for three minutes? Hmm, I don’t think I’ve seen any compelling evidence that even six minutes a day is sufficient to effect any significant improvements in fitness.

Regarding target heart rate, the graph used to support this claim (right) is completely worthless in this context. The image only displays target heart rates but does not provide any indicators of exercise intensity or time. Therefore, any meaningful comparison cannot be made.

The time to reach your target heart rate zone is not dependent upon which machine you use, but instead on the subjective effort (intensity) of the individual exerciser per unit of time. For example, irrespective of machine choice (Ab Circle Pro, treadmill, bike, etc), if you’re exercising at a slow pace then your heart rate will not climb very much. On the other hand, if you crank up the intensity and start pushing hard in a short period of time, then your heart rate will increase rapidly and you’ll reach your target heart rate zone faster.

The assertion that “no other ab machine in the world can give you a cardio workout like this” is merely the opinion of the Ab Circle Pro company. By the way, I’m the world’s greatest exercise physiologist—Prove me wrong!

Bottom line
This claim graphically illustrates the company’s ignorance to basic exercise physiology concepts and perpetuates the misguided notion that you must be in your so-called “fat-burning zone” in order to lose weight.

Claim 12: “You’ll get the results that you want in just 2 weeks. In fact, this independent study proves it. Just listen to this. Sit ups just work your lower and upper abs. But look, this thermal imaging proves that the Ab Circle Pro targets your entire core a complete 360 degrees. And look at this, it fires up faster than working on a treadmill so you burn fat faster. The Ab Circle Pro is like a treadmill for your abs!”

ab circle pro thermal imaging ab circle pro thermal imaging

I find this claim is so confusing and misleading that I almost don’t even know where to begin. First, Jennifer Nicole Lee refers to an “independent study.” How exactly does she define “study?” What study? Who conducted it? How many subjects? What was the statistical power? Was it a randomized controlled trial? Was this study published? If so, what journal? Was it a peer-reviewed journal? I performed a search on the Medline database and did not find a single peer-reviewed scientific article for the Ab Circle Pro.

Second, it is true that the Ab Circle Pro machine will engage your core musculature. However, the thermal images displayed as “proof” that the “Ab Circle Pro targets your entire core” only reflect warm blood being drawn into those regions. It is also true that any abdominal exercise will draw blood to the core region. It would have been useful to see a comparison of the Ab Circle Pro to other abdominal exercises.

Electromyography (EMG) would have given a more accurate reflection of muscle activation and sequencing. For example, a 1997 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise and carried out by Dr. Peter Francis at San Diego State University used EMG and found that, of all the machines on the market at that time, bicycle crunches (which in spite of the name requires no machine) were more effective than using any external pieces of equipment.

Third, the claim that the Ab Circle Pro fires up your core “faster than working on a treadmill so you burn fat faster” is another invalid and misleading “apples to oranges” comparison. The Ab Circle Pro is predominantly an upper body apparatus whereas the treadmill mainly targets the lower body musculature. Therefore, there can be no realistic expectation that a treadmill will “fire up your core,” nor can you expect to train for a 10K run by doing only abdominal exercises.

Bottom line
The onus is on the Ab Circle Pro company to provide more conclusive, independently corroborated data to regulatory agencies before making claims that this product is superior to other exercises or machines on the market. Any assertion to the contrary is merely unsubstantiated opinion and/or conjecture on the part of promoters.

Claim 13: “The Ab Circle Pro is the last ab machine you will ever need, because now you can replace your long and boring workout with my short and fun easy to do workouts that are ‘clinically proven’ to be more effective.”

This is yet another ambiguous claim which is left open for interpretation by the consumer. Jennifer Nicole Lee claims her workouts are “clinically proven to be more effective” but compared to what exercise(s)? What ab machine? Precisely how does she define “clinically proven?” This kind of terminology conjures up images in my mind of strictly controlled clinical research studies that prove the device works. To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any published peer-reviewed articles in the medical literature which support this contention.

Bottom line
Buyer beware when it comes to technical jargon and terminology. The terms “clinically proven” can mean anything and should not necessarily be interpreted as the end-all be-all final word. There are no stringent laws on the books which define the boundaries of this phrase.

Safety issues

I am unaware of any serious safety issues associated with using this product. Various Ab Circle Pro message boards across the internet are full of mixed reviews. Some people have complained of neck, back, and knee pain while others have declared it the best thing since sliced bread.

Based upon my observations, the machine appears to offer a relatively low to moderate intensity workout and is not fully weight-bearing due to your body weight being supported by the handles and knee pads. Because the infomercial recommends only three minutes a day on the machine, I don’t believe this is enough time to do any serious harm, let alone offer a complete workout. I strongly recommend people with pre-existing medical issues (i.e., previous heart attack, stroke, arthritis, or other musculoskeletal problems) see their physicians before working out on this or any piece of medical equipment.

I did not see any medical disclaimer on the main ACP website, but did find one on the online store site at the very bottom in tiny print:

WARNING: The information in this product represents the opinions of the author and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program, especially if you have any history of medical problems or conditions. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately.

Auckland, New Zealand-based Registered Psychologist Deanna Sanders, MSc, PGDipHlthPsych has concerns about the psychological impact on users who are not successful with the product. “It is possible that due to the unrealistic claims made about the Ab Circle Pro System’s effectiveness, consumers who try it and fail to achieve the advertised results may experience reduced self-efficacy about their ability to lose weight. This, in turn, may result in them making less effort to lose weight in the future, potentially resulting in weight-related health complications.”

Product complaints

At the time of this writing, the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau (BBB) gave the Ab Circle Pro an “F” rating. The BBB “strongly questions the company’s reliability for reasons such as they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.”

In my research for this article, I reviewed countless Ab Circle Pro internet message boards and have boiled down the complaints to several key areas:

Knee pads

ab circle pro knee pads

A number of consumers made comments about the knee pads (right), claiming they were uncomfortable or caused pain. Others said they kept slipping out of the machine. The company has responded on some occasions by saying a comfort insert is available.

Based on my clinical experience working with morbidly obese patients, I believe there will invariably be a subset of the consumer population that will be too large to fit into the knee pads. Or if they do, it may be a tight fit which could plausibly cause some discomfort.

Poor quality product

Although the company claims the product is made of “gym quality steel that’s built to last a lifetime, I saw a consumer testimonial on the Ab Circle Pro Facebook page from a 120 pound woman which stated quite the opposite, complaining it fell apart within three weeks.

Price

Depending on where you purchase the Ab Circle Pro, you can expect to pay around $200 to $250 US dollars. For a number of consumers, price complaints mainly stemmed from what they deemed to be a poor quality product and abysmal customer service.

Customer service

I came across numerous complaints regarding Ab Circle Pro’s customer service. Some people were able to resolve their issues, while others were still in limbo at the time of their post.

The verdict

After reviewing the infomercial, website, and product information, in my professional opinion, the Ab Circle Pro represents yet another “too-good-to-be-true” exercise contraption. I believe the product advertising is littered with confusing and/or misleading claims which, if not overtly false, clearly distort basic physiology and kinesiology to serve its marketing objectives. In my 20 years as a health professional, I don’t think I’ve seen a more egregiously offensive ad campaign for a fitness product. For reasons I’ve highlighted above, I feel this company 1) warrants closer scrutiny by consumer protection and regulatory agencies; and 2) should be held accountable by these agencies to furnish legitimate proof which supports their marketing claims.

Closing thoughts

I’ve done a lot of consumer advocacy writing and lecturing over the years and, while most feedback I receive is positive, some critics cast me aside as a negative party pooper. This is simply not the case at all. I’m all for hanging out a shingle and making a buck. Really, I am. But when marketers pervert my profession into some freak circus side show with advertising claims tip-toeing a metaphorical tightrope between fact and fiction, you can bet I’m going to have something to say about it.

By nature, humans are pleasure seekers and pain avoiders. Everyone loves the idea of “quick and easy” weight loss, but nobody acknowledges the fact that, in some cases, it took a lifetime to pack on all those pounds and it isn’t going anywhere overnight!

Marketers the world over exploit this “lazy loophole” which, from where I’m sitting, is so gaping wide open that 10 obese cash cows could do cartwheels through it!

Pay attention to how many times health companies interject key buzzwords like “quick, easy, no effort required, painless” into their sales script.

Bottom line: advertising is meant to do one thing: sell product. Period.

“Say it ain’t so, Bill!”

Yes, I know, I know, it’s a tough pill to swallow. As much as we’d all like to believe in quick/easy weight loss, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny, alas it is with a heavy heart that I inform you…[sigh]…that losing body fat takes hard work. There are no shortcuts.

Fad diets and exercise gimmicks have been around for decades, yet all the latest epidemiology statistics clearly show that obesity and all its evil offspring – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure – are getting worse.

Think about it, if these products “worked” in the first place, we’d all be thin by now. But hey, never let the truth get in the way of a good marketing campaign, right?!


References

American College of Sports Medicine, ed ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 2001.

Ainsworth, B., et al., Compendium of physical activities: classification of energy costs of human physical activities. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 1993. 25(1): p. 71-80.

Ainsworth, B., et al., Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 2000. 32(9, Suppl): p. S498-S516.

Haskell, W., et al., Updated recommendations for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2007. 116: p. 1081-1093.

Quadratus Lumborum: muscle origin, insertion, and action: http://www.meddean.luc.edu/lumen/meded/grossanatomy/dissector/mml/ql.htm

Zaggora Hot Pants Review 2017

Zaggora Hot Pants Review 2017

Updated Zaggora review (24 June 2017)

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:

zaggora good morning america

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.

Body Wraps For Weight Loss: Do They Work?

Body Wraps For Weight Loss: Do They Work?

Let’s get right down to the bottom line: do body wraps work for weight loss or are they a scam?

In short: yes and no.

The answer to this question really depends on your own personal expectations. It took you years to pack on all that extra body fat and you certainly can’t get around doing the hard yards (i.e., lifestyle changes) by laying down and wrapping yourself in herbs and plastic.

But before you lose hope, let’s dig into this a bit deeper.

Related articles: It Works Wraps Review

Why do people get body wraps? 

Body wraps are not a one-trick pony. Nowadays, there are a multitude of reasons people get them:

  • Weight loss – refers to scale weight. This phrasing gives no consideration to body composition (changes in muscle and fat).
  • Fat loss – some people think a body wrap can melt fat away through the skin.
  • Cellulite reduction – similar to above, but some people bank on a body wrap reducing the appearance of the dimply stuff in their thighs and hips.
  • Detoxing – “detox” is a cutesy marketing term but in reality it is an ambiguous word that really doesn’t mean much. If you’ve been guzzling down copious amounts of toxins like lead and mercury, then a body wrap is like bringing a garden hose to a bush (forest) fire.
  • Slimming – this is another ambiguous doesn’t-mean-much marketing term. The logic is that if you wrap yourself tightly in plastic, perhaps you can “girdle” away the fat.
  • Relaxation – some people like body wraps for stress reduction and relaxation. I can’t blame them. We all need that sometimes!

What Is It?

Before we go on, let’s define exactly what a body wrap is:

body wrapsIn short, today’s wraps entail covering you in a body mask (or parts of your body) comprised of plants and/or herbs such as algae, seaweed, mud, clay, or creams/lotions (i.e., It Works wraps).

You’re wrapped in plastic for approximately 20 minutes, give or take, depending on the specific protocols at your spa.

Then they cover you up to keep you warm or, in some cases, the treatment may take place in a heated room (cautions below).

Types of Wraps

Let’s take a closer look at the types of wraps you’ll find out there in the consumer jungle:

Algae wrap

Some promotional sites claim the algae can “hydrate the skin with minerals and enzymes, stimulate circulation, ‘invigorate’ skin tissue and elasticity, ‘detoxify’ the skin” and a long laundry list of other thing.

Mud wrap

With a mud wrap, the skin is slathered in mud which can cause sweating. It’s proponents claim that the mud can slim and tone the body, hydrate, cleanse firm, and tighten the skin, relax and soothe muscles, and reduce stress.

Clay wrap

Clay wraps are like the mud wrap’s cousin but might have some extra herbs and oils mixed in for extra purported benefits. There are claims that clay wraps can promote “detoxification, improve circulation, ameliorate pain, and reduce weight (ostensibly through sweating).

Cellulite treatment wrap

Cellulite wraps are popular since they go straight to the problem spots like the hips and thighs. Like the other wraps, this one also entails spreading some lotion or herbal mixture on the skin and wrapping it in cloth or plastic for a while. Unfortunately, cellulite is chemically no different than any other fat in the body other than in cosmetic appearance.  So while the ladies love to loathe cellulite, there’s still no substitute for eating less and becoming more physically active.

Herbal wrap

Herbal wraps are reasonably self explanatory. Wrap yourself in a herbal solution. The purported benefits are the same as above (softer skin, detox, cellulite, etc).  See my It Works wraps review for more on this type of wrap.

Seaweed

Seaweed wraps entail much of the same as above, but the organic matter is now seaweed with plastic wrapped around you. As above, this can theoretically “detox” you, help with cellulite, etc.

Compression

Compression wraps have been called mummy wraps and may give the impression of a reduction in inches.  In this case, you are wrapped tightly in bandages soaked in different types of materials including a mineral solution, herbs, clay, or other type of organic matter.

Weight Loss Wraps?

It’s true.  You might “lose weight” from a wrap treatment. However, this is more of a temporary illusion than any lasting effect – Yeah, I know. Sorry to piss on the parade.

By the very nature of being wrapped in plastic and then heated, you will “lose weight” through sweating and dehydration. While you may see small reduction in weight on the scale or inches on the tape measure, the actual composition of your weight loss is not body fat.

The concept of “spot reduction” has long since been debunked. You cannot melt away fat through the skin. Once you leave the spa and consume food and water, you will replace what you lost in sweat weight from the treatment.

Fat Loss Wraps?

If you’re a more discerning consumer, then you won’t be happy with a little dehydration effect. You want the real deal: FAT LOSS!  Unfortunately, you’re gonna be waiting a while.

I am unaware of any reliable medical evidence that wrap treatments cause localised fat loss.  As mentioned above, spot reduction is a myth, but it has a long history of lightening consumers wallets.

Improved Appearance?

This claim is couched around reducing the appearance of that loathsome substance known as cellulite. First, as I mentioned above, cellulite is just a name (great for marketing!) and chemically it is no different than any other fat on the body (despite what your naturopath told you).

When you get a body wrap, you may indeed see a temporary change in the appearance in your butt and thighs, but this is more to do with localised changes in the fluid compartments rather than any lasting physiological change.

Detoxification?

There are countless websites which claim body wraps will “detoxify” your body of “impurities.” However, this terminology is ambiguous and undefined and really doesn’t give you much detail as to which toxins it will treat.

Because the procedure induces sweating, it is possible that a body wrap could help clean out your pores – and that’s fine if that’s what you’re expecting – but I have not seen any scientific evidence that it will “detoxify” your internal physiology (i.e., organs, blood, blood vessels, etc).

If you’re tempted by “detox” teas, don’t touch them until you’ve read my SkinnyMint TeatoxSkinny Teatox, and Fit Tea review articles first.

Safety Concerns

What are the health risks and associated dangers of body wraps?

Most healthy people are unlikely to experience any adverse effects from a wrap treatment, but it is still important to accept that any procedure does carry risks, however small they may be.

If you have pre-existing health conditions then you will need to be particularly careful.  If you have any heart of vascular problems (i.e., heart attack), then the dehydration effect from excessive sweating could cause your blood volume to drop which could make your blood more viscous.  If this happens, then your heart must work harder to pump blood to maintain blood pressure.  Best case scenario is that you just feel a bit dizzy and light-headed.

The compressive forces associated with a tight wrap could plausibly cause circulation problems which could also stress your organs. You also run the risk of dehydration which might interfere with your electrolytes and predispose you to cramps or cardiac arrhythmias if you have underlying atrial fibrillation.

By the very nature of the procedure, body wraps increase your internal (core) temperature and may lead to hyperthermia (overheating). Some procedures may take place in a hot sauna or during exercise which makes it particularly difficult for your body to dissipate the heat.

This can be particularly dangerous during prolonged body wrap treatments.  Hyperthermia may cause symptoms such as absence of sweating (i.e., the body is conserving water for vital internal processes), dizziness, disorientation, nausea, and possibly fainting – all associated with stress to your brain and other key organs.

Bottom line: if you have any serious health condition, get medical advice before undergoing a body wrap.

Should I Get a Body Wrap Treatment?  The Verdict

Before having a body wrap, arm yourself with the facts and make an educated decision if this is right for you.  What are your expectations? If you want something temporary that will make you feel good in the short-term, then go ahead.

If you want lasting fat loss, then you will probably be disappointed. You didn’t put all that fat on over night and you certainly aren’t going to lose it after a 30 minute wrap.

The best available evidence still holds that healthy eating, exercise, time on your feet, and incidental activity are the best combination for losing fat and keeping it off for the long-term.