What do these statements have in common: Proven to burn 1000 calories an hour, get results with only ten minutes a day, doctor approved weight loss method? They are all misleading marketing slogans that herald “proven” benefits. The weight loss and fitness industries flood us with new miracle products every day, all claiming to be backed by research.
Currently there is no organization that regulates fitness claims, so it is up to you to discriminate between marketing claims and real research. Read the claims carefully. Calorie counts are usually exaggerated. Any program that claims to burn even 600 calories an hour is most likely too intense for the average person to do for more than 30 minutes. Running at 8 miles per hour for one hour may burn up to 800 calories an hour, but few of us can maintain that pace for an hour. Most calorie estimates are based on a person (male) weighing about 160 pounds. If you are female or weight less, your calorie burn will be less.
Get results in only 10 minutes a day? Lose weight without changing your activity level or what you eat? Sorry, I am not even going to discuss those.
What about products that say “doctor approved”? All that means is ONE doctor approved it, and there is a good chance he or she is making money from it.
Try not to be swayed by “anecdotal evidence”. These are the compelling stories such as how one person gained 20 pounds of muscle and lost 10 pounds of fat in two weeks. What works for one individual (or even several) does not prove the effectiveness of a product.
There are good scientific studies that back up many fitness programs, but even this research should be scrutinized. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating a research study:
- Who funded the study? (For example, did the dairy industry fund the study on whey protein?)
- Where was the study done? (In a lab or with people?)
How many people were studied?
- Was the research replicated?
- Was the study published in a reputable journal?
Of course the best way to figure out which fitness claims are true is to apply the old cliché: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.