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How to Recognize Diet Scams

Updated on April 26, 2013
Run, don't walk, away from ideas, products and programs that make irresponsible -- and untrue -- claims.
Run, don't walk, away from ideas, products and programs that make irresponsible -- and untrue -- claims. | Source
Any product or program that advises exclusive or near-exclusive use of one food to food family is likely to be unhealthy and a scam.
Any product or program that advises exclusive or near-exclusive use of one food to food family is likely to be unhealthy and a scam. | Source

The Truth About Weight Loss and Diets

When evaluating weight loss or bodybuilding diet plans, programs or products, keep this axiom in mind: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Anyone who is trying to change their body, whether it be to lose weight, gain weight, or build muscle, must keep in mind that good health is the single most important underlying factor of any plan. There is no benefit to be had if you arrive at your weight or bodybuilding goal only to suffer a heart attack or malfunction of other major organs.

Even a low calorie diet must be nutritionally sufficient and balanced to sustain and maintain all your normal bodily functions.

The only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than your body burns. For nearly all of us, that means reducing our daily calorie intake to some degree AND increasing our daily physical activity.

Part of the reason that diet scams abound and are so successful is that many people want weight loss or muscle gain to happen immediately and in the easiest way possible. Unethical businesses know this and capitalize on this truth about human nature. Many times, they can laugh all the way to the bank about the success of the latest diet scam. Learn how to avoid diet scams and you can be the one smiling with your success and your money still in your wallet.

Remember that any diet plan should be as much about optimum overall health as it is about weight loss, weight gain, bodybuilding or any other endeavor.
Remember that any diet plan should be as much about optimum overall health as it is about weight loss, weight gain, bodybuilding or any other endeavor. | Source

Ditch the Diet Scams

Key Words Are the Clues to Diet Scams

One of the easiest ways to recognize a diet scam is to take note of the words used to describe a plan, program or product:

  • Fast
  • Easy
  • Over night
  • Guaranteed success
  • Miracle
  • Quick
  • Metabolism boosting
  • Blocks fat (or carbohydrate) absorption
  • Pounds will melt away

These words, or ones like them, are your first clue to recognizing a potential diet or weight loss scam. Offers of free product are another signal that something is not right.

Perhaps the most legitimate-sounding of the messages is that the product "has been clinically proven" or "shown by research to be effective." Most advertisements that make this claim don't disclose who did the research or where you could find the scientific information the company claims it has. One advertisement for a weight loss supplement provides both a claim to be proven by research and names an official-sounding company title that did the research, but an online search of the supposed company lead no where.


Weight loss diets aren't the only ones that may be fads or scams. Body builders may also encounter unsafe or non-productive diet products and programs.
Weight loss diets aren't the only ones that may be fads or scams. Body builders may also encounter unsafe or non-productive diet products and programs. | Source

Be Alert for Product Scams Too

It's not only diets that tout unrealistic promises. There are many exercise devices, items worn on the body and "fat" suits that promise to spot reduce, take the place of other physical activity, "melt" the fat away or increase your metabolism simply by wearing a piece of jewelry.

Health experts will tell you that there is no such thing as "spot reduction." Overall weight loss results in overall fat loss. Exercises and weight lifting help to tone the muscles in particular areas, but that is not "spot reduction." Let's face it, if you eat a dozen doughnuts every day, there is no single product that's going to reduce your hips, waist or thighs.

So-called sauna suits that work to reduce your weight by sweating the fluids out of your body are dangerous. Yes, you'll likely lose a few pounds -- of fluid, not fat -- if you wear the suit long enough, but you may become dehydrated as well. You haven't moved one step closer to your real goal and the company that sold you the suit could not care less.

Diet Scam: HCG Diet Supplements

False Claims and Advertisements for Diet Scams

You're watching T.V. and even though you haven't been seriously considering weight loss, your ears perk up when you hear statements such as "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!" or "Get a flat stomach before beach season."

Wow, that sounds pretty good. Yes, it does sound good. And, when you stop to think about it logically, it also sounds like someone who is touting ice cubes to North Pole inhabitants. The claims are not possible -- and even if they are -- the methods will be unhealthy.

Although the advertisers don't want you to, take a moment to read the fine print at the bottom of the screen. It says "These results are not average. Results vary by individual." Of course they do. This tiny disclaimer gets the companies off the hook when you contact them to complain you've spent X dollars and followed the program to a "T" but haven't lose five pounds.

Fad diets are often scam diets, not always because the promoters are trying to sell you something, but because learning to eat healthier, to eat nutritiously and control your portions isn't a fad, but a way of life you must learn to achieve and sustain healthy weight loss.

Fad diets come and go -- and so do the pounds. You may lose weight for a while, but one the diet is over and you return to your normal eating habits, you'll find those lost pounds once again -- and maybe some additional pounds too.

Seek Diet Information From Trusted Sources

Any time you are thinking about weight loss, changes to your eating habits, a calorie-restricted eating plan, or increases/changes to your physical activity levels, you should first consult with your primary health care provider. This medical professional knows your individual health situation and can aid you in determining what eating plan and physical activity is best for your needs and condition.

If you're considering a certain diet plan, product or program, seek the advice of your health care provider. Search reputable Internet sites for information on the product, plan or program in which you are interested.



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    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Alison Graham, it is easy to see that dieting and nutrition are passionate topics for you. That makes your appreciation of this hub on diet scams even sweeter to me.

      Thank you for your comments, vote and Share.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Gypsy48, it can be so tempting to go for a seemingly quick solution when you've made up your mind to shed the extra pounds, but that's exactly what the marketers appeal to that promote scam diet products.

      I appreciate your read, comments and vote.

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 

      5 years ago from UK

      Great information and clear explanations. As someone who has researched and written a lot of articles about diet and nutrition, I discovered early on that ultra low calorie diets or the fad diets you mentioned are the fastest way to GAIN weight! You might lose weight whilst on the diet but it is not sustainable - your metabolism drops because your body 'thinks' that you are starving and tries to protect your vital organs. As soon as you come off the diet (because, let's face it, nobody can live on Maple Syrup or 500 calories a day for long!), our bodies go straight into fat storing mode - against the next famine (or ultra low calorie diet to you and me) - result? Yo-yoing weight, unhealthy diet, lack of the basic nutritional building blocks for a healthy body .... don't get me started! Anyway Lee, thanks for another brilliant hub and a great read - voted up and shared.

    • Gypsy48 profile image

      Gypsy48 

      5 years ago

      As much as we would like a quick fix to lose weight, there is no miracle pill or diet that will work. As you said, fewer calories and more exercise is the only way to lose weight and keep it off. Excellent hub, voted up.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Healthylife2, I, too, have found out the hard way that there is just no safe or lasting way around simply eating better, consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity for weight loss.

      What so many people lose sight of in their quest to lose weight -- and I have fallen into the trap in the past myself -- is that the quest should be as much for overall good health as it is for the weight loss alone.

      Thank you for reading, commenting, voting and Sharing!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I'm so glad you wrote this to help people avoid diet scams. We are inundated with promises for a quick fix on a daily basis especially as the warm weather approaches. I wish there was a quick fix but I have learned there is no magic supplement or piece of gym equipment as you stated. There is no substitute for calorie reduction and exercise which is the slow painful but successful way. Voted up and shared!

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Sarifearnbd, I appreciate your read and comment.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Bydojo, unfortunately what you've said is very true and is exactly what the scoundrels who sell such scams count on. They are modern day snake oil salespeople.

    • bydojo profile image

      Ramona Jar 

      5 years ago from Romania

      Many people want IMMEDIATE results and such diets promise them. We're less interested in something that takes time and more effort, even if it's how great results come. Excellent article.

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