I can’t think of a better way to introduce this piece than share with you the whole inspiration behind it.
I have joined multiple Facebook groups for weight loss, fat loss, gym for beginners, etc, with the one and only purpose - to help the people who are struggling with weight loss. To educate them to the best of my abilities on how the body works and how to manipulate different variables in their life, in order to achieve their goals. What I constantly observe is the very opposite. People compete in the comments, who can sell more weight loss products.
It is so ridiculous. A lot of those comments are not even relevant to the post of the people. Instead of genuine advice, those desperate people are bombarded with countless products claiming to melt the fats out of their bodies and help them reach their desired weight goal.
Just for the laugh of it, I tried to capture some of the best comments in a picture. Enjoy!
I will start from there. We, humans, are extremely durable creatures. We can throw a lot of stuff at our bodies, taking them through the extreme, without even barely noticing the consequences. Until it’s too late.
I can’t think of anyone who has become obese overnight. Or someone who has developed anorexia or bulimia overnight neither. These conditions happen with time until a day when we realize that something has to change. And then instead of taking the same long way back towards reversing the damage, we search and are ready to pay crazy amounts for the plane that will do the job for us.
In other words, we are always looking for shortcuts. For the easy solutions. For the fast ways to achieve stuff. Unfortunately, some people have identified that and discovered a great way to make money from it.
The great Fitness Industry.
I am a part of it. And I am proud of it. To e certain extend.
See, the fitness industry has given us a lot. There are countless researches in food, exercises, supplements, etc. It creates coaches that are able to educate and change lives for good. It has the potential to end an obesity epidemic. But does it do it?
It is not profitable enough.
I shared this story before and will share it again.
In the gym, where I was working, we had four vending machines. All full of protein shakes, bars, pre-workout shakes, fat loss shakes, and a lot of electrolyte drinks (sports drinks with the right amount of sugar and sodium, in order to help you get through a tough workout. Made for athletes, not for Mrs. Johnes). We had to refill those machines every two days. Yes, it was a lot of consumption.
I once asked my manager, what’s the reason behind it? We were not really helping people like that. I mean Mrs. Johnes did not need it, nor did she know why she was drinking those sugary drinks. But she did it anyway. Can you guess the answer I got?
‘’Do you know how much money we make from them?’’
It was more than enough to understand that helping, teaching, and impacting lives for good is not profitable at all.
What’s really profitable is to target people’s insecurities and then provide them with a fast and easy solution for it.
How many people have bought fat loss products? It is probably the most advertised product out there. Why? Because there is a demand for it. And there is a demand for it because someone is constantly highlighting, reminding, and creating body image issues.
Not directly. No one ever said that fat people are ugly. And no one ever will. Because there is a better way to get into people’s heads.
Bombarding those same people with pictures and videos of sexy-looking Instagram models who show that six-pack is the VIP ticket to happiness. What a 14 years overweight girl is going to think when she constantly sees those influencers? That she should take care of her body and love herself? I wish! In reality, she becomes more and more insecure about herself. She starts using photoshop and editing every picture she posts, just so she looks good, masking the real issue.
Then, when that doesn’t work anymore, she starts looking for a fast weight loss solution, because she hates herself even more.
Guess who comes like the good samaritan. The FItness Industry. Yeeey! There you go, my little insecure human. Let me sell you this useless product that might work for a few weeks, just so you get dependant on it and keep coming for more.
Money made, Girl’s life… well, who cares? There are more fish in the sea.
As much as I appreciate the fitness industry for what is capable of giving us, I hate the fact of targeting those same insecurities and selling products that are either not working, or work for a bit, with horrible consequences.
How do weight loss products work and why they are not a long-term solution?
The way most of them work is either to increase your core temperature and create excessive sweating. Often times combined with some sort of stimulant for more energy and therefore more movement throughout the day. Or through appetite suppressing, which as you may have guessed means, less food ingested.
According to the law of thermodynamics, both methods will cause weight loss. Short term!
1. The first method will simply increase your level of activity, making you burn more calories. More caloric expenditure and the same amount of food mean caloric deficit. Which results in weight loss.
The problem with this type of fat loss product is that people will associate the sweat with fat loss or weight loss, which will make them gravitate towards the exercises that promote more sweating. Such as cardio.
Those who have read my previous blogs, especially The Truth About Cardio Training know that in long term, cardio training is one of the worst ways to lose weight. In fact, it creates a type of adaptation that pairs down muscles and keeps fat tissue.
Without too many details, the body becomes efficient and over time ends up burning fewer calories for the same amount of activity, so you will have to either do more or eat less. Both are not very sustainable.
2. The second type of product is a bit more simple. It creates a deficit by suppressing your appetite. The problem is that no one explains metabolic adaptation.
Let’s say you were eating 2000 calories for maintenance. When you Suddenly decrease your calories to 1000 due to a lack of appetite, you will create a deficit which will result in weight loss. The problem is that soon your body will adapt to that new number and make it the new maintenance and at this point, you will be hitting your first plateau, or stop losing weight anymore.
Let’s presume that you are happy with the result and stop taking the weight loss product. You will slowly gain back your appetite, and increase the calories. But now every other calorie over 1000 will be considered as a surplus and result in weight gain. So you will be presented with a choice, to keep taking appetite suppressants and eat very low calories or give up and gain the weight back. Hmmm… It does not sound very good!
So what did we learn from this lecture? Weight loss products hook us up at the beginning with some results, but long term, we get either dependant on, or with decreased quality of life and no real results. Either way, we helped someone fill their pockets, with our money.
We live in a free world. I can’t tell anyone how to make their money, however:
Is it morally right to sell lies to people?
I get it. It is what people are looking for. But they do not understand it. Mrs. Johnes does not realize that losing weight is far more complex, than taking the fanciest weight loss product. She is desperate to see herself losing weight and she is ready to believe anyone who claims that they have the best product.
I shared the picture with the advertisements. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous? Any fitness trainer will understand me. Those people sell products without even having basic knowledge of how weight loss works. They throw random terms that sound scary or related to weight loss, photoshop pictures, or even use pictures of two different people collaged together, with the one and only aim of advertising their affiliate product.
There was a guy that was asking admins to allow him to spam because he was disabled and the only way he was able to make money was through selling weight loss products. And his post was approved!? My posts are often declined, and I don’t have any affiliation whatsoever. The only content I try to post is educational information.
I get that it is not sexy to educate. It is boring and it does not bring results fast. I get that the products that are sold are shiny and promise great results. I get that they are sort of approved and tested. But is that really the way?
If we have five warning signs on the dashboard, are we going to worry about cleaning the car, or fixing the damages first? It is no different with weight loss guys, and I really wish that this message reaches more people. We got overweight for a reason. We did something consistently that did not work as it should, which resulted in weight gain as a consequence. The first thing we should do is to identify the reasons and work on changing them. That is a slow process and no product will ever change that. It is all behavior that must be addressed.
I don’t think it is morally right to sell lies. But it will never stop until there are people believing in them. So the only thing we can do is to get more educated, question everything that we get marketed with, and take the right decisions.
I am very aware that I can’t change anything myself. However, if this article reaches one person and helps them realize the truth, I will be able to sleep better at night. Thank you for taking the time to read it! If you are interested, I recorded a podcast, where I talk extensively about this subject.