Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns!

Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns!

Want to lose weight? Eat healthier? Feel better? Have more energy?

Of course you do.

But if you’re looking for that elusive golden unicorn that pisses diamonds and farts rose petals, you’re not going to find it in a bullsh*t infomercial gadget, miracle diet, “teatox,” body wrap, or Instagram muppet.

You know what I mean. You bounce from one fad diet to the next, buy every infomercial gadget, and gulp down “metabolism boosters” and “fat burner” supplements, hoping that maybe, just maybe, THIS one is REALLY going to work….which it never does.

Still with me?

I know, it’s tough to think otherwise when your social feeds are overflowing with self-proclaimed “celebrity” nutritionistspersonal trainers, and health coaches spruiking the next latest greatest pill, diet, or exercise routine.

“Revolutionary thermogenic formula! Optimised macros! Dynamic inertia! Gyrotronic resistance! 28 day fat blaster challenge! 5 minute abs!”

Convincing?

Yeah, because that’s what health marketing does. It misrepresents science, celebrates the mundane, and embellishes barely legal marketing claims to sell you sh*t you really don’t need.

Two words: golden unicorn.

The secret to health is no secret

Want a real golden unicorn that DOES work and is evidence-based?

Granted it’s not sexy, but you’ll find it in the age-old scientifically proven advice your sage grandfather might have given you:

Golden Unicorn - Diet Exercise Research Summary

Click on image to visit Dr Bill Sukala’s Facebook Page

Beware the golden unicorn salesman

There is no limit to the useless sh*t marketers will try to sell you and the lengths they will go to accomplish that end.

And guess what? In their eyes, you’re the easy mark. The low hanging fruit. You’re the sucker and your wallet is their target.

Their mantra is always the same: “whatever people are buying, I’m selling.”

Their business is money. Their storefront is health, fitness, nutrition, or whatever.

Do they actually care about your health?

Unlikely.

Can they really be bothered to think about your health when they’re too busy counting cash grifted from gullible people desperate to believe in elusive golden unicorns pissing diamonds?

Ethics? Huh? Wha…?

Sure, they’ll use lame apologetic excuses like “well hey, anything that gets people off the couch is a good thing, right?

Uh huh. Yeah, sure buddy. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

Species of golden unicorns

As you have seen, there are a variety of golden unicorn species out there and the only way to protect yourself is to know and understand their natural habitat and behaviour.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but will prepare you for when you come face to face with some of the more common diamond-pissing golden beasts.

Bullshiticus infomercialis golden unicornius

Infomercials. The scourge of late night TV – and now social media.

They come with fancy names like the Ab Circle ProAb WaveSpinGym, and Shake Weight.

You know the rest.

Don’t delayLose weight NOW for the incredibly low price of $199.95! That’s right, just $199.95 for the BODY OF YOUR DREAMS! But WAIT! That’s not all you get! Act now and we’ll throw in a golden unicorn pissing diamonds!

Back in 2010, I authored a comprehensive review of the Ab Circle Pro‘s deceptive advertising.

I was so viscerally furious about the sheer number of false and misleading claims, I transcribed the entire 10-minute infomercial and then categorically dismantled each claim through the lens of exercise science.

The article generated a lot of buzz in the media and resulted in my being interviewed by a number of international TV and radio stations, as well as print and digital publications.

The regulatory agencies eventually caught up with the Ab Circle Pro in Australia and New Zealand and forced them to amend their ads for making deceptive claims (i.e., if “results are not typical” then they’re misleading).

The final coup de grâce came in August of 2012 when the US Federal Trade Commission fined the company $25 million for making false claims, which contributed to the company going out of business.

The moral of the story is that the Ab Circle Pro is not unique and is only one drop in an ocean of dodgy infomercial products.

They all use the same regurgitated formulaic advertising (i.e., hammer on your pain points and insecurities, make grandiose promises, feature hired fitness models who’ve never used the product, add in weepy overacted “testimonials,” and repeated calls to action to buy now!) over and over and over again.

Why? Because it works.

When one golden unicorn runs it’s marketing cycle, the makers recycle the same tactics and invent a “new and revolutionary” golden unicorn.

And the end result is always the same. You’re lighter in the wallet, fatter than you were before, and the ab blaster piece of sh*t ends up on your sidewalk waiting for Tuesday morning garbage collection.

Golden Unicorn - Infomercial Ab Blaster

Click image to visit Dr Bill Sukala on Facebook

Bottom line

Golden unicorn infomercial pushers are bottom-dwelling scum who cannot sell their wares by honest means. Please do NOT be just another gullible sucker falling into their sales funnels. You are a dollar sign to them, nothing more, nothing less.

Bullshiticus miraculus dietes golden unicornius 

Bullsh*t diets have been around for centuries and, like infomercials, there’s no limit to the variety of names or wacky regimens.

How do you know if the diet you’re following is a golden unicorn?

Nine times out of ten, its name fits this syntax:  The  _____  Diet.

Here, let’s take a look at some real diet Hall of Shamers.

  • The HCG Diet
  • The Cabbage Soup Diet
  • The Grapefruit Diet
  • The Alkaline Diet
  • The Blood Type Diet

Tried any of these?

Did you lose weight?

Of course you did.

Losing weight is easy when you starve yourself on 500 calories or less per day.

How long did you last on the diet?

One week? Two weeks? Maybe you ran the gauntlet and lasted a full month. Bravo.

Then what happened?

You eventually said “f*ck this, it’s too hard.” You threw in the towel, went out for a burger, and then scolded yourself for being a failure.

But here’s the thing: you didn’t actually fail the diet. The diet failed you!

When you go from eating 3000 calories down to 500 calories or less per day, your body’s internal physiology and biochemistry goes, “sweet baaaaby Jesus, the famine has arrived!!

When a fad diet has you eating 500 calories or less per day, your body's internal physiology goes, 'sweet baaaby Jesus, the famine's arrived!' & will do everything it can to conserve energy & protect fat stores Click To Tweet

Thing is, your body is a lot smarter than any fad diet that ever was or ever will be. You see, your body has a built-in famine response mode to protect you from yourself and idiotic diets.

You might think you’re speeding up your metabolism but, contrary to your wishes, starving yourself actually slows down your metabolism. Your body wants to conserve as much energy as possible, which includes holding onto valuable life-sustaining body fat, because it has no idea how long this famine is going to last.

You might be thinking, “well, wait a minute. How come I lost weight if my body is holding onto fat? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

It’s because you didn’t lose fat, or not that much anyway.

One of the first things you lose on a starvation diet is your muscle glycogen and the water bound to it.

*Glycogen is just a fancy name for stored carbohydrate. It’s stored mainly in your muscles and your liver. (FYI, if you’re scared sh*tless of carbs, read my article Carbohysteria).*

Next, your body begins to break down it’s muscle tissue. This is bad – really bad.

Muscle is your body’s rock star tissue. Muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than fat tissue per equivalent weight. In other words, it pays a higher metabolic rent in the body to earn its keep.

Not only that, muscle, particularly well-conditioned muscle from regular exercise, protects you from things like heart disease and diabetes by effectively siphoning sugar and fat from your bloodstream and burning it for energy (instead of floating around your body where it can wreak havoc).

Rule: muscle good. No muscle bad.

Fat tissue, on the other hand, is something of a metabolic freeloader… but in a benevolent tough love sort of way. It’s a rich source of valuable energy and burns comparatively fewer calories to earn its keep in the body – which is valuable for keeping you alive during a real famine or prolonged stupid diet.

If you’re starving yourself while on a high protein diet, then you might lose even more weight from peeing out all the excess nitrogen.

paleo diet, mediterranean diet - golden unicorn

If you go into ketosis, then it’s going to be tough (REALLY tough!) to stay on the diet for any length of time because ketones are sort of your DEFCON 1 emergency fuel. Eventually you’ll collapse or get tired of having disgusting smelling breath.

*FYI, check out my related article Fat Burns in the Flame of Carbohydrate

After several weeks of starving yourself on The Golden Unicorn Diet, yes, you may have “lost weight” on the scale, but you definitely haven’t lost as much fat as you think you did.

Tale of the DEXA scan

Last year, I ran before and after DEXA scans on a couple that was doing a so-called “weight loss challenge” at their local gym. They told me they were on a high-protein diet and were exercising six to seven days per week.

When they came back in for their follow-up scans six weeks later, they were smugly bragging about how much “weight” they lost, but the DEXA scan showed them the ACTUAL COMPOSITION of that weight loss.

They each lost a TRUCKLOAD of muscle and, to their astonishment, a comparatively small amount of fat. In fact, because they lost so much muscle, their body fat percentages had actually gone up!

And they were worse off for it because they had lost so much valuable metabolism-stoking muscle.

So what happened? They were under-eating, over-training, and under-recovering.

Bottom line

Focus on slow steady FAT LOSS instead of nebulous golden unicorn goals like “losing weight” or “getting results.” Steer clear of popular diets your friend Britney and Aunt Gertrude are doing and arm yourself with these 13 principles for safe, effective, and permanent fat loss.

Bullshiticus teatoxium golden unicornius 

The market is flooded with all kinds of “teatoxes” which come with all kinds of outlandish health claims.

But what gives? Can you REALLY “detox” yourself into “losing weight” or “cutting the bloat?”

No. It’s physiologically impossible.

It’s not possible because it’s not “toxins” that are causing you to be overweight in the first place.

But you might argue, “What do you mean? I ‘lost weight‘ on a ‘teatox.'”

In my Skinny Teatox and SkinnyMint Teatox review articles, I point out that these types of products are, in actual fact, nothing more than exorbitantly overpriced diuretics and laxatives.

skinny teatox review

Get ready to piss and sh*t….a lot…because you and your toilet are about to become good friends again (like back in your university days, downing 11 beers, 5 tequila shots, and a bottle of chardonnay every Friday night).

In an article on Science-Based Medicine, Scott Gavura eloquently provides a real definition for detox:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

Detox is a legitimate medical term co-opted by quacks to sell useless products & services. Real detoxification isn’t ordered at a juice bar. It is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances.Click To Tweet

Still with me?

Thing is, these “teatoxes,” aside from making you piss and sh*t all day long, often recommend that you improve your diet to, you know, “synergistically enhance the effects of the teatox.”

And I won’t argue, eating better is definitely a good thing and is precisely what any responsible health professional would recommend. But you don’t need to waste your money on overpriced laxatives and diuretics to achieve good health.

Bottom line

Stay alert and don’t fall for the cutesy teatox advertising or the photoshopped Instagram pics. Remember, the business is money and the storefront is health.

Bullshiticus corpus wrapum golden unicornius

Body wraps.

Have you seen “those crazy wrap things?”

You know, the ones where you smear a herbal concoction over your fatty areas, cover yourself plastic wrap, and whammy, you’re thinner!?

I know, kinky right? But hey, who am I to judge…if you’re into that sort of thing?

body wraps weight loss

Yes, body wraps have been around for quite a number of years and, like bell bottom jeans and bad haircuts, this golden unicorn keeps coming back.

Can you really “melt away the fat” from those trouble spots with a body wrap?

In a word: no.

Fat doesn’t just melt away through the skin. You need to improve your eating habits and become more physically active.

Sure, you might “lose weight” or see brief cosmetic improvements from a body wrap. However, this is more of a temporary illusion than any lasting effect.

While you may see small reductions in scale weight or inches on the tape measure, the actual composition of your weight loss is not body fat.

By the very nature of being wrapped in plastic (and sometimes heated), you will “lose weight” through sweating and dehydration.

Bottom line

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.

For more information on body wraps, please see my general body wraps article It Works wraps review.

Bullshiticus Instagramicum gurus golden unicornius

I’ve been doing consumer advocacy work in the health space for well over two decades now and never in my entire career have I seen a bigger cesspool of health misinformation than on Instagram.

I’ll admit, Facebook and Twitter are quite prolific on the douchebaggery scale, but Instagram is a particularly onerous place for someone looking for reliable, trustworthy, and responsible health information.

What do I mean?

Think all of the above: teatoxes, 28-day fitness challenges, diets, fake testimonials, airbrushed images, micro-targeted advertising. It’s all there, on your phone, in your face, in 3D, in full colour.

If you’re a a teenage girl or young adult woman reading this, please know that Instagram is a great place to inspire an eating disorder (#fitspo). It has been studied and linked to poor mental health outcomes.

First, in the quest to rise above the social static and noise, Instagrammers are going to great lengths to image craft and mould their feeds. What you’re seeing is not reality. It’s a carefully coordinated effort to enhance their “personal branding” and social influence.

Second, the “health advice” your getting is, in most cases, questionable. “Influencers” are now getting paid to say a “teatox” was the secret to their success. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Third, the images you see are often distortions of reality. Some Instagrammers have had surgery, botox, and treatments to make them look like a top-heavy mannequin. The photos are often professionally done, with certain looks accomplished by altering angles, using different lighting, playing with after-effects filters, or, if all else fails, airbrushing in Photoshop.

Aside from social media’s distorted aesthetics, sometimes information can be downright, well, just plain idiotic.

Last year, a young Australian “health coach” named Olivia Budgen when down in a media firestorm for saying that “cancer and disease is your body trying to save you.”

Olivia Budgen Insta Muppet - golden unicorn

She eventually deleted the Instagram post under intense media scrutiny. Then, in a so-called apology video on YouTube, Olivia blamed everyone else for misunderstanding her. To add insult to injury, she doubled down and had the audacity to spruik her ebooks below the video.

Olivia Budgen YouTube fake apology

In the video, she cited a well-known cancer quack as the source of her comments. Based on her responses to comments, the only thing she appeared to be sorry for was getting called out (below).

Olivia Budgen fake Youtube "apology"

Bottom line

Social media has given a platform and voice to everyone, irrespective of whether or not they’re qualified to give health advice.

If your Instagram feed is plastered with “detoxes,” “cleanses,” “fat-burner” supplements, and 28-day fitness challenges, then you need to unfollow your #fitspo “experts” and “gurus” and follow reputable health professionals instead.

Closing thoughts

Yeah, I know. I sound like the drunk uncle at Christmas time telling the kids there’s no Santa Claus. And sometimes I feel like it too.

Maybe it’s not what you WANT to hear, but it’s certainly what you NEED to hear.

You don’t have to like it either, but sticking your head in the sand and continuing to pretend long-term health comes in a cutesy “teatox” or “fat burner” pill is only going to keep you from achieving safe, sound, and lasting health changes.

I know there’s always that little sliver of hope in the back of your mind, hoping that one of those golden unicorns will work.

But I’ve worked in the health field for a LONG time and I have never, not even once, seen someone attain and maintain good health and body weight by following bad advice and using gimmicks.

Now, having said that, repeat after me:

“Bill, even though I think you’re a smug, sarcastic a$$hole, I will accept your challenge by trading my golden unicorn for more veggies and walking!”

SkinnyMint Teatox Review | A Detox from Toxic Marketing

SkinnyMint Teatox Review | A Detox from Toxic Marketing

If you’re a woman between 18 and 44 years of age, then you’ve no doubt seen SkinnyMint Teatox ads in your social feeds – over and over and over again.

Chances are, you’re being regularly micro-targeted until maybe, just maybe, you start to believe that “detox” comes in a tea.

If so, then you really need to read this article.

There are lots of grandiose marketing claims floating around cyberspace, much of it downright confusing, and some of it simply deceptive.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to:

  • Explain what SkinnyMint Teatox is;
  • Break down the ingredients and their effects on your body;
  • Evaluate and discuss the veracity of the marketing claims;
  • Discuss side effects and safety concerns; and
  • Provide a closing summary of the facts

What is SkinnyMint Teatox?

According to the company website, the 28 Day Ultimate Teatox is a two-step morning and night tea detox program:

The Morning Boost is designed to give you a boost throughout the day and start the morning right. It contains Green Tea, Yerba Mate and Guarana with a naturally sweet fruity taste. It can replace your daily morning coffee/black tea.

The Night Cleanse is designed to naturally purify the body which could lead to reduced bloating. It contains all natural ingredients to promote the restoration process. It is the perfect bedtime ritual, take one every alternate night.”

Right, so what the heck is in it anyway?

SkinnyMint ingredients list 

There are a lot of “teatoxes” out on the market these days and it’s important to think safety first and spend the time investigating a product’s ingredients before putting it in your body.

I’ve done most of the legwork for you below and have included links to more detailed information.

Morning boost ingredients

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Green tea leaf

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.

Yerba mate leaf

Yerba mate leaf is a caffeine-containing central nervous system stimulant. It might make you feel more mentally alert and can bump up your heart rate and blood pressure. Note: if you have any underlying heart problems, talk to your doctor before taking this product.

Nettle leaf

Nettle leaf, also known as stinging nettle, has a diuretic and laxative effect in the body.

Dandelion leaf

Dandelion leaf may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.

Guarana seed

Guarana contains the central nervous system stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. Similar to yerba mate, guarana can jack up your heart rate and blood pressure.

Night cleanse ingredients

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Senna leaf 

Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.

Ginger root

Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.

Orange leaf 

Orange leaves may exert a mild laxative effect on the body.

Lemongrass leaf

Lemongrass leaf may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.

Peppermint leaf

Peppermint leaf may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.

Licorice root

Licorice root may help people with irritable bowel syndrome by soothing inflamed tissue, helping to relax muscles, and exerting a mild laxative effect on the bowels.

Hawthorn berry

Hawthorn berry is known to be a potent diuretic (which makes you pee) and may have value in patients with congestive heart failure by reducing water retention.

Psyllium seed

Psyllium seed is a bulk-forming laxative which soaks up water in your large intestines to make bowel movements easier.

Categorical review of SkinnyMint marketing claims

SkinnyMint claims that its teatox “reduces bloat and boosts energy,” is “designed for real results in 28 days,” and is an “all natural cleansing formula.”

If you’re trying to “lose weight” then this might be music to your eyes, but before you pull out your credit card, you need to first consider the phrasing and what it means to you versus what the product can actually deliver.

SkinnyMint Teatox Review

Claim 1: “Reduces bloat and boosts energy*

I’ll break this up into two parts for clarity.

“Reduces bloat”

This is where the marketing sleight of hand comes into play. It’s not what you’re being told but instead what you’re led to believe – or can make yourself believe.

First, the company does not specifically define what they mean by the term “bloat.” Bloat is plastered across a lot of different weight loss products these days and can mean a lot of different things to different people. Does it mean fat? Water retention? Glycogen storage?

In looking at the website, the company is very careful not to explicitly make weight loss (or fat loss) claims because that would be illegal.

No problem. Break out the testimonials.

At the bottom of the page, there are a number of before and after pictures of different women claiming the product did indeed result in weight loss specifically as a result of using the product (without mentioning which diet and exercise changes they made).

SkinnyMint Teatox Testimonials

Credit: SkinnyMint website

Taking on board the SkinnyMint’s vague claims and the more explicit testimonials, a reasonable person looking at the website in its entirety might assume that “bloat” means fat. And by using this teatox, it will result in bloat (fat/weight) loss.

So can SkinnyMint cause fat loss? Highly unlikely. As with all “teatox” programs, they are full of both diuretics and laxatives which will result in “weight loss” in the form of urine and feces. But as a stand alone product, it is not likely to result in any noticeable change in body fat.

If you are restricting your calorie intake and doing more exercise than you were before, then you will lose stored body fat. If this happens to occur in conjunction with taking a teatox product, then you might fool yourself into thinking your fat loss was solely the result of drinking a tea – instead of all your hard work.

To wrap up this point, I cannot stress this enough when I say there IS a difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss.” Anyone can “lose weight” by starving themselves or downing diuretic- and laxative-laden teas, but losing fat safely and effectively, and keeping it off, is something that happens slowly over time.

Read my article on 13 fat loss principles for losing fat and keeping it off.

“Boosts energy”

This claim is misleading because “boosts energy” is not well-defined and can also mean different things to different people.

The product contains only 2 calories per teabag so it clearly has no caloric energy value in the way food has energy (i.e., carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram, protein: 4 calories/gram, fat: 9 calories/gram).

To be more accurate, the “energy” you’re getting from SkinnyMint is not actually energy at all. It is simply a stimulant effect from some of the caffeine-containing ingredients which may make you feel more alert.

Claim 2: “Designed for real results in 28 days*

This claim begets more questions. First, what does SkinnyMint mean by “real results?” Are they talking about weight loss? Fat loss? How much weight loss or fat loss?

And second, why 28 days? Why not 27 or 29 days?

Where did SkinnyMint come up with this number? Is it based on research? Is it just cutesy marketing similar to those 28 day fitness challenges?

I conducted a search of the biomedical databases and was unable to locate any scientific research on SkinnyMint.

It would be helpful if the company was more specific and transparent in its claims.

Claim 3: “All natural cleansing formula”

Just more vague and meaningless marketing bluster. First, “all natural” is yet another one of those marketing terms that means different things to different people.

In some readers’ eyes, “all natural” means safe and effective (as opposed to those “drugs” pushed by evil pharmaceutical cartels). However, this is not always the case and even “natural” remedies can have health risks too (can I interest you in a delicious cup of all natural hemlock, arsenic, and cobra venom tea?).

And what, specifically, does SkinnyMint mean by a “cleansing formula.” What is it actually “cleansing?” Is it “cleansing” your liver or any other organ?

To be clear, there is no such thing as “detoxing” or “cleansing,” as Scott Gavura points out in an article on Science-Based Medicine:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

Damn you pesky asterisk!

And what about that pesky asterisk (*) after the claim? According to the SkinnyMint website:

*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.

English translation: “yes we’re kinda sorta making claims but not really, the FDA hasn’t reviewed our claims, and your “results,” whatever they may or may not be, may vary.”

SkinnyMint side effects and risks

SkinnyMint and other teatox products on the market are unlikely to cause harm when used as directed (and for the short term). But side effects are always a possibility.

Dehydration

First, senna leaves and a number of other ingredients in the tea exert a laxative effect on the body that could lead to diarrhoea and possibly dehydration, particularly if you are consuming a lot of the tea and leaving the bag in the water for longer than recommended.

Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies

Second, the combined diuretic effect of many of the ingredients could further promote dehydration. If you have diarrhoea, then it could further hasten dehydration and contribute to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. Moreover, if you are dieting and exercising a lot, this can hasten dehydration.

Low blood pressure

Third, if you have cardiovascular disease and are taking medications that promote fluid loss, then the tea could have a compounding effect which might further lower your blood pressure and make you susceptible to dizziness and fainting. Please consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular disease.

Reduction in birth control effectiveness

Fourth, you should know that the laxative effect of these “teatoxes” can reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pills, particularly if you take your pills within 4 to 5 hours of using the tea.

Reduction in bowel movements

Fifth, the tea should be used for the short term. Long term use could result in your body adapting to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and irritable bowel syndrome) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements. If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

Weight loss abuse

Sixth, because the teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces loss, consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse. If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of the products.

How much does SkinnyMint Teatox cost?

If you’re looking to buy SkinnyMint, it isn’t cheap. It will cost you about $55 US dollars and $70 dollars in Australia if you buy it on their website. I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon at higher and lower price points.

Return / refund policy

There is a return policy, but there’s also a catch.

According to the website, you can return your order within 60 days of purchase, but it must be unopened and in the original packaging.

So if you try the product and don’t like it or get the “results” you were expecting, then tough luck, no refund for you.

If SkinnyMint wants to put its money where its mouth is, then they should be willing to offer refunds to unsatisfied customers.

Bottom line: Should you buy SkinnyMint Teatox?

I hate having to be the jerk that ruins all the fun, but please allow me to smack you in the face with a wet fish and state unequivocally that there is no such thing as a “detox tea” except perhaps in name and branding only.

Let’s be clear that the word “detox” and its taxonomic offspring “teatox” are marketing terms and have no scientific basis.

Neither SkinnyMint nor any other “teatox” on the market causes fat loss. If you’re expecting to lose fat with the product alone (without eating less and exercising), then you will be disappointed.

If you’re expecting to “lose weight,” the laxatives and diuretics will do that, but you can expect to gain it all back when you stop using the product.

Bottom line: if you insist on using this product, then make sure you do not have any underlying health issues and use it only for the short term (for reasons I listed in side effects and risks).

HCG Diet Review | Does It Work For Weight Loss?

HCG Diet Review | Does It Work For Weight Loss?

The ugly truth about the HCG diet in 2018

The HCG diet has been around for decades, but does it work and is it safe?

I’m not going to mince words: I’m calling the HCG diet yet another gimmicky, too-good-to-be-true, quick-fix diet which will leave you lighter in the wallet and less healthy in the long run.

The diet regained popularity between 2010 and 2013 but has since lost momentum as we come into 2018. Nevertheless, it is still being sold on the internet despite the preponderance of scientific evidence showing that it has no effect on fat loss beyond that which can be accomplished by a healthy lifestyle.


Also check out my related articles on SkinnyMint Teatox and Skinny Teatox products.

What is the HCG diet?

HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and is the hormone produced by women during pregnancy.

In the 1950s, British physician Dr. Albert T. Simeons used HCG injections for the treatment of obesity.

He suggested that the addition of HCG to a reduced-calorie diet might help dieters stay on track (adherence), reduce hunger cravings during food restriction, and promote fat loss.

The Simeons HCG protocol entailed daily injections of 125 international units (IU) six times per week for a total of 40 injections.  The diet component consisted of 500 calories per day broken up into two daily meals.

HCG advertising

You can easily buy HCG online in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

The internet is littered with commercial websites promoting HCG as a weight loss panacea.

The sites are egregiously biased to sell product and do a masterful job of overcoming objections and giving visitors that sliver of hope that it “might” work (even though the boloney detector says no).

Unfortunately, these websites also crowd out reliable unbiased sites that aim to protect consumers.

Even more reputable sites like Amazon let a lot of “woo” slip through the cracks.  Check out Amazon and you can see for yourself how outlandish and misleading the claims are (i.e., “Lose a pound a day.” Yep, maybe a pound of muscle, carbohydrate, and body water, but it certainly won’t be a pound of fat).


False and misleading HCG claims

In the image below, you can see the types of deceptive tactics used by HCG sellers. I note that this advert refers to the HCG drops and not the injections which would need to be administered by a medical professional.

hcg diet review

  • “No prescription required” capitalises on the notion that it’s not a “poisonous pharmaceutical”
  • The claim of “natural weight loss” doesn’t really mean much but it plays on consumer fears of “chemicals”
  • The claim you can lose 1-2 pounds (~0.5 to 1 kg) per day is deceptive and misleading. It is not physiologically possible to lose this much fat in 24 hours. Crash diets are unhealthy and can set you back in the long-term.
  • The claim that homeopathic HCG is safe is likely due to the fact that it has no effect in the body, but the claim that it’s effective is false.
  • “Same results as in an HCG clinic” is competition bashing meant to lower your guard and make you think it’s easy to lose weight without the hassle of going to a clinic.
  • “Proven to increase your energy levels” is a false claim. No scientific evidence supports this.
  • “HCG converts fat into nutrients without loss of muscle” is a false claim. Converts fat into what nutrients?

Legal action against HCG marketers

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came down on several HCG marketers for making false claims exactly like those in the above image. Even more disturbing is that they sold their products through major retail outlets like GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. This is particularly concerning since consumers might assume the products are safe and effective since they are sold in reputable pharmacies.

The FTC maintains that Kevin Write and his companies, HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition, LLC, promise consumers that HCG Platinum liquid drops will cause fast and significant weight loss similar to that of the endorsers in their advertisements.


Dr Oz HCG diet stamp of approval

The HCG diet even made the rounds on the Dr Oz show. This might sound like the stamp of approval you’re looking for, but before you get too excited, let’s not forget Dr Oz has copped a lot of heat in recent years for peddling bogus weight loss remedies. Many high ranking doctors and academics have even called for his resignation from Columbia University for his promotion of quackery.

In one of his segments, he gave airtime to a woman who is pushing her own rebranded version of the HCG diet.  She claims to have conducted “research” but, in fact, this was nothing more than an impromptu “study” she pulled together that was not reviewed by other scientists (called “peer-review”). The only “evidence” she has for her diet is that she was on the Dr Oz show, and that’s no evidence at all.

HCG diet research

In the early to mid 1970s, HCG diet studies started surfacing in peer-reviewed medical journals. A 1973 study by Asher and Harper showed positive results but was later slammed for poor methodology, with subsequent studies consistently debunking its use as ineffective for weight loss.

1983 HCG review article

A 1983 report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviewed all evidence up to that point and concluded that:

  • “HCG has no known effect on fat mobilization, appetite, or sense of hunger, or body fat distribution.
  • HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy for obesity.
  • There is no evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction.
  • There is no evidence that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat.
  • There is no evidence that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.
  • Adverse effects may include headache, irritability, restlessness, depression, fatigue, edema, precocious puberty, gynecomastia, pain at injection site.

1995 HCG meta-analysis

A 1995 meta-analysis (a combined statistical analysis) published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology evaluated 8 uncontrolled and 16 controlled research reports. The authors concluded:

  • Most studies were of poor methodological quality (scores ranged from 16 to 73 points baed on a 100 point scale. Higher points meant better quality)
  • Of the 12 studies that scored 50 or more points, only one reported that HCG was useful
  • There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity
  • HCG does not bring about weight loss or fat redistribution
  • HCG does not reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being

For a more detailed breakdown of the evidence, you can read Joe Cannon’s HCG research review here.

HCG injections vs. sublingual HCG drops

One of the most blatantly obvious holes in the HCG diet marketing armor is the fact that they trump up the outdated claims by Dr. Simeons and conveniently neglect to mention that all early research was based upon HCG injections.

As of this writing, there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that sublingual HCG (under the tongue) has any effect on fat loss and preservation of muscle.

In the image below, the advertiser falsely claims that HCG drops are “clinically proven” (which means nothing) and are effective for inducing ridiculously large amounts of daily weight loss (not fat loss). They also take liberties by making it look like it has been approved by the FDA.

hcg diet drops

Deceptive HCG drops advertisement. Click to enlarge.

A promotional website for oral HCG has links for additional “research and information” but when I visited the page and examined the references, it was obvious that nearly all the studies were just general obesity papers that had little or no bearing whatsoever on the usefulness of sublingual HCG drops.

500 calorie HCG diet

Though HCG diet advertisers spout off the benefits of their sublingual drops, they neglect to mention that this is simply a very low 500 calorie diet. There is no question that weight loss will occur on such an irresponsibly low and unsupervised regimen, but I would question the extent to which HCG diet drops play a role in this weight loss.

This tactic is nothing new. Other questionable products such as Calorad have banked on this technique by duping consumers into eating a low-calorie diet and then hoodwinking them into thinking the weight loss was a result of the product.

Is the HCG diet easy?

At 500 calories per day, the HCG diet is anything but easy. At such a low energy intake, you are likely to find it difficult to comply with the diet. You are also unlikely to meet your basic nutrition needs (i.e., carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals) unless you’re supplementing.

There are, however, extreme cases where a doctor might put a morbidly obese person on a strictly-supervised very low calorie diet (VLCD). But these are extreme cases where the goal is to shed weight as quickly as possible to reduce disease risk.


How much does the HCG diet cost?

The HCG diet isn’t cheap. Because it’s not covered by insurance, you’d be personally liable for all doctor’s visits and injections. In initial consultation could set you back between $100 and $200, plus another $10 to $15 for each HCG injection. Depending on how much weight you lose (or don’t lose), you may incur additional costs for ongoing office visits and injections.

HCG diet limitations and warnings

1) Muscle loss

A VERY important drawback to low-calorie regimens like the HCG diet is the fact that not only will you lose fat, but your body will break down valuable muscle necessary to stoke the flames of your metabolism.

Such a low calorie regimen cannot be realistically maintained for an extended period of time and, when you go back to eating normally, your reduced muscle mass (lower metabolism) will leave you more susceptible to weight regain (yo-yo dieting).

2) Safety

A 500 calorie diet is very low energy and ideally should be supervised by a responsible bariatric physician or university-qualified dietitian (not a self-styled “nutritionist”). Generally speaking, a diet of less than 1200 calories is likely to be nutritionally deficient in terms of the main macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and vitamins and minerals.

I see that the HCG promoters include a B-complex vitamin, but this is like brining a band-aid to a train crash. This should not lull you into a false sense of safety. If you have underlying health issues such as poorly controlled diabetes or other metabolic conditions, you should first visit your doctor for guidance.

3) Unrealistic weight loss

Promotional materials for the HCG diet tout that you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) per day. Responsible health practitioners recommend a safe and healthy weight loss of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, NOT per day.

Any rapid weight loss, particularly that induced by such a drastically low-calorie regimen, will activate the body’s famine response which will reduce your metabolism and make your body more resistant to giving up its fat stores.

4) Hallmark signs of quackery

One website promotes “the HCG diet is considered one of the fastest and safest ways to lose weight and keep it off.”

There is no legitimate, independent scientific evidence to corroborate this claim. There is no such thing as both “fast” and “safe” weight loss. As I stated above, healthy weight loss should fall in the range of 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kg) of fat per week. See my article on 13 ways to keep fat off for life.

The claim that HCG will help you “keep it off” is completely misguided. After coming off a 500 calorie diet, you’re likely to not only gain back the lost weight, but will probably end up fatter than before you started the diet.

5) Doctor recommended

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to selling hokey diets and nostrums.  The world loves to slam doctors for knowing nothing about nutrition, yet the minute a doctor puts out a diet book or hawks a miracle weight loss product, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to shell out their hard earned cash.

So what’s it going to be?  You can’t have both.

In the case of the HCG diet, as I said, this is a very low calorie regimen and really SHOULD be supervised by a responsible physician.   But save your money on the HCG portion, as its use is not supported by the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

6) Homeopathic HCG diet

It was only a matter of time until the homeopathy camp jumped on the bandwagon to get their share of the pie.  As with sublingual HCG drops, there is no objective evidence that a homeopathic version would have any impact on weight loss.  In fact, because it is diluted to the point that the original active ingredient no longer exists, it is unlikely to exert any effect in the body.

Have a read of Joe Cannon’s unbiased homeopathic HCG drops review for more information.


Does the HCG diet work?

I wish there was such thing as magic weight loss drops, but unfortunately the HCG diet is unlikely to result in any lasting weight loss  (losing weight is easy, keeping it off is difficult).

Bear in mind these final take home points:

  • The scientific evidence strongly refutes popular marketing claims and any weight loss experienced is  attributable to the extreme reduction in caloric intake.
  • Outdated “evidence” used to promote the product has since been discredited by the mainstream scientific community.
  • HCG marketing is egregiously false and deceptive and does more to confuse consumers than genuinely inform. Federal action has been taken against HCG sellers for such false claims.

I recommend avoiding HCG diet, as it is yet another unsubstantiated quick-fix diet which is unlikely to result in long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

References

  1. Asher WL, Harper HW.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 1973 Feb;26(2):211-8.
    Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger, and feeling of well-being.
  2. Ballin JC, White PL.
    JAMA. 1974 Nov 4;230(5):693-4.
    Fallacy and hazard. Human chorionic gonadotropin-500-calorie diet and weight reduction.
  3. Young RL, Fuchs RJ, Woltjen MJ.
    JAMA. 1976 Nov 29;236(22):2495-7.
    Chorionic gonadotropin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study.
  4. Birmingham CL, Smith KC.
    Can Med Assoc J. 1983 May 15;128(10):1156-7.
    Human chorionic gonadotropin is of no value in the management of obesity.
  5. G K Lijesen, I Theeuwen, W J Assendelft, and G Van Der Wal
    Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 September; 40(3): 237–243.
    The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis.
  6. Harvard Womens Health Watch
    What Do You Know About the HCG Diet?
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.

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.