Let’s be honest – the amount of fads, scams, and gimmicks in the health space is NEVER ending.
Unfortunately, doctors, “experts,” and others just add to the complexity – each person wanting to introduce their own “unique, revolutionary” approach that suspiciously looks very similar to previous approaches.
And every once in a while we get a really juicy one – the magical, mystical pill or potion found on unicorn poop in a remote section of the amazon rainforest – now synthesized as an extract that you can take daily.
What?! You mean I can just spend $50 on this supplement, not do any work, continue to eat what I want, and look sexy?
I’ve heard of ALL kinds of insane stuff – but how do you really know what’s legitimate, and what isn’t?
Is Is Just a Fad, Or Is it Something Actually Good For My Health And Weight Loss?
Even Harvard Pulled The Plug on Resveratrol
Here’s an example: like any fad, Resveratrol (a chemical antioxidant found in red wine) has been highly praised (and marketed) because of its anticancer abilities.
The news really ran with it and began pushing the story non stop – buy resveratrol, or supplement with it, and you’ll live forever.
Unfortunately, the research supporting the fact that supplementing with resveratrol is really just as good as it seems, like the Harvard Health Blog mentioned here:
“Virtually all of the positive studies on resveratrol have come from cultures of cells or laboratory experiments with yeast, roundworms, fruit flies, the short-lived turquoise killifish, or mice. The few human studies have looked at specific intermediate markers, such as levels of antioxidants, heart rate variability, blood flow to the brain, and amounts of cancer proteins. None have measured long-term health or survival.
Another big unknown is side effects. Resveratrol acts on many different tissues in the body. It is chemically related to estrogen. In some situations, high doses of resveratrol boost the activity of estrogen, in others they block estrogen. That makes resveratrol supplements iffy for women with cancer of the breast, ovary, uterus, or other estrogen-sensitive tissue, those trying to become pregnant, or those taking an oral contraceptive.
Resveratrol makes platelets in the bloodstream less “sticky,” and so could increase the risk of bleeding in people who take warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), aspirin, ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Another cloud: a company called Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, which was established to develop drugs from resveratrol, pulled the plug on the program in 2010 when a clinical trial showed that one of these drugs might be linked to kidney damage.”
So… something shows up that has lots of promise. We start bottling it. And, oh, surprise, maybe we shouldn’t be taking it anymore.
Plus, there’s also the fact that many of these supplements are not well absorbed compared to directly consuming them in their natural food-state (more on this in another article).
But wait! There’s more…
Researchers also did a study comparing low fat vs low carb to see which one worked better long term for the participants to lose weight (and keep it off).
And here’s what they found: low carb-ers lost weight faster, but after a year, and in the long run, it was just as ineffective.
Duhh… because it’s about changing our ACTUAL behavior.
Anyone can put themselves through a grinder of no-bread self hatred, but when it comes time to maintaining results (see: the 5 habits of successful maintainers) it’s about habits. Behaviors. People. Systems. Personal strategies.
So every time a new magic BS shows up here, the same thing happens: “WATSON!! We’ve got it! Oh, wait…”
It looks promising.
Tests are done.
It’s just as ineffective.
And all the while, we neglect the real secret so success: habits, and our own psychology (here are the 15 most common psychological reasons we fail).
Use This 3 Part Framework To Decide If It’s Legit or B.S.
So, at the end of the day, how do you deal with any new health and wellness fad, diet, pill, plan or guru?
What kind of framework can you use to think about this kind of stuff?
Follow these three steps:
#1 Is it Real Food?
The foundation of all great health (and weight loss) is food.
Yes, actual food.
No supplements. Not diet pills. But actual food. It’s also the foundation of all weight loss and wellness.
I know it sounds tempting to think that we can add all kinds of new stuff to our life and our diet, but the food we eat and our disease risk are pretty linear.
Crappy food produces disease.
Good food produces health.
It’s literally that crystal clear – and it’s very tough to try and out exercise bad food, or out supplement a crappy diet.
So the first question is simple: is the plan you’re looking at based around food?
#2 Is it a Supplement?
Believe it or not, supplements are called supplements for a reason: they are a SUPPLEMENT to our diet.
They aren’t designed to be the main driver of our health and wellness.
With some exceptions, e.g. fish oil and probiotics (more on those later), realistically we just aren’t going to add a little supplement and expect to transform our health.
I know it sounds painfully obvious… but we see it everywhere. People want to take trips to Europe, but don’t want to do the work – saving the $10 a day.
We want to have a better relationship, but don’t want to take the time every day to complement our spouse.
We want to do all these things and add some bandaids or take some pills and expect it all to get better.
These are supplements, not big wins or core strategies.
So if the plan you’re checking out involves just “adding a wee, little supplement for the results you deserve in only 10 minutes a day,” it’s probably B.S.
#3 Do The “Child-Check”
Little sally comes up to you in the park and says “If I took these pills could I look like Kim Kardashian?” (First of all, no, she’s airbrushed like all magazine covers), but second of all…
…Would you honestly tell her she could get her dream body by adding some pills?
Intuitively, you’d probably say no.
Because deep down you know it requires daily habits and tiny disciplines – it doesn’t require massive work, but ti DOES require work, commitment, and consistency.
I think that sometimes we just know the truth, but if it’s a bitter pill to swallow, we decide to spit it out.
If you would intuitively tell a kid “Well, Jimmy, eating one meal a day on the cookie diet will probably help you lose weight, but you’ll end up with dia-beetus anyway,” then you already know whether the cookie diet is probably legitimate or a bunch of crap.
…In which case, I just saved you three easy payments of $29.95.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
Anytime you see a new, revolutionary method for weight loss or for health, just think about this three part framework.
Is it real food?
Is it a supplement?
And if you did the child check, could you honestly recommend it to a little kid?
It’s tough because we can get emotionally caught up in wanting to look good NOW – we’ve all been there – but ask yourself these three questions.
What Other Gimmicks Have You Seen? Share Below
Sources: Harvard opinion on resveratrol: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/resveratrol-the-hype-continues-201202034189 | Dieting: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15779698| Beets: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net