Here’s something that I’ve witnessed recently that really, REALLY bugs me. Seemingly well respected trainers who have become supplement pimps because they’re sponsored by said company. Never mind just saying some good things about a product that works. I mean just flat out making things up that sound, and simply are, ridiculous. You know, lying.
Now, I’m sponsored by a supplement company myself, and while I’ll certainly say good things about the company, I”m not going to just start talking nonsense.
I mean, I’ve seen some outlandish claims, and trust me, I’ve seen supplement marketing first hand when I worked for one of the big supplement giants who are known for aggressive, over-the-top marketing claims. But with that, I still read this stuff and it actually makes me angry, more so because of the response of the readers who believe it, no real fault of their own either.
There are so many unsuspecting people in this industry, that just don’t know better about most of the supplements on the market, who when someone in an authority position makes a ‘marketing statement’, pull out their credit card and start shopping. In the pursuit of physique improvement, they hope that the supplement in question does what it’s advertised to do. To that end, supplements often sell just that – ‘hope’. That’s what ads appeal to.
Often, clients I have, have worked with a trainer/diet coach prior to me and one of the pieces of information that I collect at the outset is a list of supplements currently being used. Nearly without fail, those that come from other trainers, have a laundry list of supplements. First order of business, is to send a reply email saving them from spending any more hard-earned money on supplements that aren’t doing anything. Honestly, and I know this won’t be that popular with some people, most supplements currently marketed to physique enthusiasts do not do what they claim. They just don’t. I know, I know, but the ad says …
Well, the actual science often says something else. Or perhaps there’s a little study published that seemingly supports a supplement claim … but then it’s discovered that either the population sample was too small, or maybe the subjects were rats, or maybe ‘on paper’ the results appear statistically significant, but when extrapolated to some real-world figures, it still amounts to well, nothing.
Why do we take supplements? To see and experience improvements in our physiques. I’m not talking about general health supplements, but those marketed to those wanting to improve their physiques. That’s the only reason – to make ‘gains’ or to get leaner, etc.
Now be honest with yourself – how much additional muscle do you think you gained, or additional fat do you think you’ve lost SOLELY due to the addition of that special supplement (or in many cases supplements) to your program? Honestly. After 365 days of use, however many repeat purchases that may be, how much above and beyond your solid diet and training program did the aforementioned supplement change your physique – measurably change your physique? I bet with few exceptions, not on par with the cost.
Now, don’t misread me, I’m certainly not against supplements. But I keep the list short and to be honest, my staples are not what I even consider ‘supplements’. Protein powder for example; I don’t consider a supplement as much as I do a food. It’s part of the grocery bill. Why? Because that’s all it is – protein powder. There’s nothing magical about protein powder. It’s greatest benefit is its convenience, but trust me, if you dropped protein powder and consumed the same amount of protein from solid food sources, you’re not going to have lost out on pounds of muscle at the end of the year. Fish oils are another one – food, not supplement, in my book.
Now things like creatine? I consider that a supplement of course, and it’s one of a short list of supplements that has proven effective for many, many (yet not all) people. Of course, now you’ve got all these fancy different types of creatine out there, yet the creatine with those most scientific research support is the ol’ standby, creatine monohydrate.
Fat burners – supplements. Necessary? No. Used often? Oh definitely yes. Over used? Yep. Beneficial? In some cases sure. The thing is, fat burners for the most part don’t really play a significant role in literal fat burning. Take even the retired (in some circles) captain of the category – ephedrine and caffeine. Even this stack only has marginal thermogenic effects. The true benefit comes from its energy producing and anorectic properties. That and the combo can help maintain sympathetic nervous system activity in the face of reduced calories.
But what about a claim like this?
“This new supplement X apparently burns fat even without dieting.”
I actually saw this said by a trainer. Does it get any more outlandish than this? The magic pill has now been discovered? And no, not by a big money pharmaceutical company … but by a supplement company. Come on!! Now THIS is nice and strong marketing; marketing that definitely will appeal to the hopeful. Yes! I can get ripped without dieting if I take this wonder fat burner. And people actually believe this. Why? Because they so badly want it to be true.
Newsflash – this is a lie. Pure and simple.
There is no OTC supplement that burns fat without dieting. There is no supplement that will get you ripped without dieting … and claims like this are claims the FTC will love. Back in my supplement company days, you had to say supplement X burned Y amounts of fat … IN CONJUNCTION WITH DIET AND EXERCISE. And that latter part could not be left out And there’d better be research support for even that claim.
So the supplement that supposedly burns fat without dieting, should have some serious research support showing significant, real world fat-loss results with no other controls in place beyond – do not do any exercise and do not diet. Do nothing but take this pill.
I can’t believe the audacity of such a claim.