Empty Weight Loss Promises: Watch out for the 2012 Snake Oil Salesman

The Snake Oil salesman/quack has gotten much slicker than the original con artist of the old west, but the message is the same, “For a price, I’ll give you a magic elixir that will melt the unwanted fat away and there is no special effort needed on your part.”  Before you put down your hard earned money, remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true…..”  Aside from being a waste of money, the bigger concern is whether the diet plan/potion has the potential to do harm?

The Latest Dubious Diet-the HCG Diet

The latest regime that promises you a miracle cure for obesity is the HCG diet. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy.  As a prescription medication, HCG is used mainly to treat fertility issues.  Using HCG for weight loss raises a serious red flag for health professionals.  Because the HCG diet combines injections or supplements of the HCG hormone along with severe calorie restriction, you may lose weight in the short term, but it is the calorie restriction that causes the weight loss, not the HCG. In addition, the safety of HCG for weight loss is uncertain, and the hormone hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for obesity or weight control. Once you stop the HCG diet, which severely limits important nutrients your body needs, you’re likely to regain any weight you lost. Additionally, you will come out of the ordeal with a loss of lean muscle tissue resulting in a lower metabolism. The key to permanent weight loss is developing healthy eating and exercise habits — not following fad diets.

Calotren-What is it?

Calotren has been blasted over the Houston airways with promises of miracle weight loss, but you hear no information about what is in it to make those pounds melt away. The much touted product is made by Top of the World Distributors (TOTWD). They make a wide variety of products, everything from EFAs (essential fatty acids), to skin care to sexual enhancers. The web site claims for Calotren include: “it is an all-natural Protein Formula working as a nutritional supplement that assists the body in shedding excess body fat and toxins naturally. CALOTREN does not stimulate, starve or trick your body into weight loss. It simply supports the body’s lean muscle tissue and fuels the body’s natural mechanism in burning off excess fats and sugars more efficiently. For those who are underweight or in good physical condition, CALOTREN encourages stamina and energy.”

What is in Calotren? The ingredients for Calotren include: capsules with Collagen Hydrolysate, (derived from either Bovine or Marine sources), Aloe Vera, and Vegetable Glycerin. Additional components in the capsules are Gelatin, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid and Microcrystalline Cellulose. The Liquid version includes: Oxygenated Water, Collagen Hydrolysate (Bovine Source), Aloe Vera, Vegetable Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Raspberry Flavoring, and Methyl Paraben.

Top of the World Distributors claim the product contains a protein formula that will “Simply support the body’s lean muscle tissue and fuels the body’s natural mechanism in burning off excess fats and sugars more efficiently.” There is absolutely no scientific research available to back this claim.

The rule with Calotren is that you take it before going to bed and don’t eat three hours prior to sleep time.  Avoiding late night eating can be an effective way to lose weight.  Of course, the fluid loss from a natural laxative ingredient in Caletren really makes the morning weigh in look impressive. Calotren contains aloe vera, which when ingested, acts as a laxative.

Calorie restriction along with a laxative within the product results in weight loss with Calotren.  You don’t, however, need to buy this product to go on a low calorie diet or to take a laxative (a very unhealthy, ineffective way to lose weight). There are no scientific studies available to support claims made for this product. If TOTWD had proof that their concoction worked as touted, you would have heard about it, loud and often.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line on diets, as well as dietary supplements – Pry before You Try! The responsibility is yours and yours alone. The old adage, if it sounds too good to be true…. Still rings true. Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to choose the best eating plan for a healthy lifestyle. If a diet which may include dietary supplements or injections is being considered, it is recommended that the consumer gets answers to the following questions and share those answers with a Registered Dietitian (RD).  The RD will help you find the answers to the following questions: 

  1. If it is a “diet,” does it contain all of the food groups or are important nutrients missing.
  2. If there are supplements, am I confident that the ingredients listed on the outside label are exactly what are on the inside of the container?
  3. Are there reports of risk and/or adverse side effects associated with the proposed “diet”?  Very low calorie diets (below 1000 – 1200 calories) or diets missing food groups may result in nutrient deficiencies and a loss of lean tissue.
  4. Have the short-term and long-term effects of the diet and/or proposed supplements or injections been studied and in what journal has the study been published?
  5. Are the proposed effects of this diet and/or any of its key ingredients supported by science?
  6. Do the amounts of the ingredients on the label of proposed supplements match the amounts that have been studied?
  7. Do the proposed effects of this diet and key ingredients that go with it apply to my needs?
  8. Do I really need this supplement and/or any of its key ingredients to obtain a healthy body weight?
  9. How have my eating habits and food decisions changed for the better by following this program and will the program promote a permanent healthy weight loss?
  10. Am I better off spending money on supplements and prepared foods or healthy fresh foods from the grocery store or Farmer’s Market?

To help you avoid the “Snake Oil Salesman”: check these web sites for sound nutrition information:  Consumer reports (www.consumerreports.org ), Center for Science in the Public interest (www.cspinet.org), The Institute of Medicine (http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/FoodForum.aspx ) and the gold standard site for supplement use: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Data Base (http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/home.aspx?cs=&s=ND ).  Good basic nutrition information and resources can be found at the American Dietetic Association web site (changing name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics): (www.eatright.org), and Wellness, Cardiovascular, and Sports Nutrition: (www.scandpg.org).

 Get a Jump on Healthy Eating for 2012

 The New Year brings the same news as the years preceding when it comes to acquiring and maintaining a healthy body weight.  Eat well balanced meals with plenty of variety and minimize the intake of “empty calorie” foods. Pay attention to portion sizes and get moving with physical activity. CSL Nutritional Services will help you put the right plan in place for your needs.  Give us a call at 713-932-8888.

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One Response to Empty Weight Loss Promises: Watch out for the 2012 Snake Oil Salesman

  1. Ginger says:

    As long as you have some muscle mass, eaintg healthily will allow your body to naturally (yet more slowly) burn off excess fat. However, what do you think it is easier to sell people? Pricey healthy food that they can just replace with items from the store, or get ripped quick exercise machines for $ 20 a pop? Also (and this is just my opinion) telling people they can still eat most of what they want and they just have to exercise is more appealing than telling them that they have to be very strict about what they eat.

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