Updated: Sep 14
The fitness industry is loaded with different kinds of supplements and equipment that promise amazing results. Unfortunately, many of these products are just a money grab until we wise up and stop buying. Many of these companies are run by people trying to make as much money as possible in the short term instead of improving the consumers' health and fitness.
In this article, I am going to go over the most common scams in the fitness industry. I will also tell you all about what is actually worth spending money on. There is a lot of good in the wide world of fitness. You just have to sift through the gimmicks and quick fixes to find your way to what really works. So let's dive in and talk about the good and the bad so you can spend your money wisely.
There are so many bad products out there that it would be impossible to list them all out. So here are 3 of the biggest ones we all see online, at the supplement stores, and even being sold at some gyms.
Like the name implies, these are meant to burn fat. Most are loaded with stimulants to give you the illusion that they are working to increase your metabolism. It is because of these stimulants that fat burners usually have a short shelf life. Many times these pills are abused and result in hospitalizations and even deaths.
Back in the early 1990’s the use of ephedrine in fat burners became very popular. Naturally, like with most supplements, people took more than the recommended dose in hopes of quicker results. It got to the point where in 2002 the FDA claimed that abuse of this ingredient was responsible for over 80 deaths.
But how can you be allowed to put something in a supplement that will kill someone?
For starters, the FDA doesn’t regulate the sports supplement industry very strictly. It takes unfortunate events or new findings in research to get these products off the shelves.
So basically, companies can sell you anything up until we find out it is terrible for your body. This is why you will see a lot of companies get sued, then they shut down production and possibly go out of business. But then months or years later the exact same company comes back under a different name putting out more supplements with questionable ingredients. And the cycle continues.
Fat burners are nothing special. They trick you into thinking you are getting great results. In reality, a solid diet, exercise, good sleep, and proper hydration will do a ton more than any fat burner will.
2. Cleanses and Detoxes
“I just want to start off my diet by ridding my body of all the toxins and jump starting my fat loss.”
Sorry, that just isn’t how it works.
Your body naturally detoxifies itself. You have your kidneys, liver, intestines, respiratory tract, skin, and the lymph system that all contribute to detoxifying your body.
If they didn’t you would die or be so sick you would be in the hospital.
What these products do is send you to the bathroom. This gives you the illusion that you are ridding your body of everything horrible in it.
“But what about all these people getting results?”
A lot of these products also come along with a diet recommendation that basically starves you.
If you are living off of nothing but juices, you are probably not getting the calories your body needs to lose weight at a sustainable rate (1-2 lbs a week).
When people lose tons of weight in a week or 2, most is from less fluid retention and lower amounts of glycogen in your body. Sure some fat will be lost, but the rest is all going to come right back when your body regulates itself. Along with that, extreme diets usually come with a big rebound effect when you go back to regular eating. More times than not, you end up gaining more weight back then when you started.
Now after a month you are out a decent chunk of change and you also have some extra chunk on your body. This doesn’t exactly sound like a great investment.
3. Waist Trainers
It’s honestly amazing these things are still around. Credit to whoever is marketing these things. There isn’t a shred of quality research to show that waist trainers help you lose fat.
One thing they actually do is compress your organs if they are on tight enough. This could possibly result in tons of fun side effects like:
Problems with digestion
So weird how none of that makes it on their instagram ads...
One thing they do is give you the illusion that your waist is slimming down because you break a huge sweat in that area. This could result in some short term water weight being lost. But the second you drink that glass of water, it's coming right back. And no the solution is not to get rid of water. The solution is to get your money back for being ripped off.
“So what is worth buying?”
The real results are seen in the products and services that help you put in the real work. Anything that says “no exercise, no dieting, etc.” is almost a guarantee to be crap like the list above. Finding things that give you goals to reach, motivation to get to the gym, and real results are what you should invest in. Here are the big 3 things that are worth your money.
Supplements that actually work
Luckily, in this day and age, we are able to have services that can guide us in the right direction. One of the best websites out there when it comes to supplements is Examine.com . This site actually tells you if the supplements have a body of research behind them. Then you can check out websites like Labdoor.com to see how the different brands stack up. They grade the major brands on multiple factors like label accuracy, levels of certain metals, and many other things to help you make an informed decision as a consumer.
Some of the supplements worth looking into and possibly buying are:
Dextrose Powder (if the goal is muscle gain)
Definitely consult with a doctor before taking any of these. But it helps to do your research beforehand so you can have a more productive conversation when discussing supplementation.
2. Exercise & Nutrition Trackers
Research suggests that exercise trackers help increase activity levels. It isn’t because they have some magical effect on the body. It’s because when we wear something as simple as a FitBit, that little gadget is beeping and congratulating you when you hit your step goal.
Boom, there’s your dopamine hit for the day. When you have these daily goals that you have incentive to reach over and over again, it will lead to results.
Along with exercise trackers, nutritional trackers can help too. Accountability is a huge factor when it comes to adherence to a diet. Regardless of what diet you choose, if there is an app always there to check in on your progress, it is that much harder to cheat. This accountability tool adds up to a lot of good decisions and the weight loss to go with it.
Hiring a quality coach can save you tons of time and frustration when it comes to your fitness and nutrition. This can be an in person or even an online coach.
Coaches can be great for many different things like:
Keeping you accountable
Making sure you stay motivated
Creating fun programs that produce results
Being there to address any and all issues that may come up
Celebrating in your success
Trackers and other apps are great, but nothing beats a real person.
If you are unsure on whether you would prefer in person or online, be sure to check out this article here which explains the pros and cons of both.
In short, there are a lot of good and bad options when it comes to the different products being offered to help you lose weight and get in shape. There are many that will take your money and leave you worse off than before. However, there are other better options that will be worth your time and effort that will get you amazing lasting results.