The Worst Diet Scams


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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More than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese (source), and we spend more than $40 billion a year on weight loss, much of it on pills, gadgets, and creams that don't live up to their lofty claims.

When you're desperate to change your life, and you're just starting out, it's hard to know what's truth and what's hype. Everything sounds like the secret to losing weight, finding happiness, and becoming your best you!

Late-night infomercials boast major fat burning with stunning before-and-after photos.

Magazine ads claim that a pricey cream is key to flat abs.

Celebrities tout shoes that promise a tighter, more toned posterior just by walking!

Sounds too good to be true, right?

That's because it usually is. You already know 12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet, but the latest scams go beyond mere dieting. We asked our experts to weigh in on the year's worst diet rip-offs. Find out how to avoid falling for slick marketing ploys--before you spend any money.

When it comes to weight loss, the #1 rule is: If it sounds too good to be true, it is! 

Rip-Off #1: Toning shoes and clothes

Toning shoes claim to have an uneven, unstable sole that mimics balancing on a wobbleboard. Each brand and style is different, and many major shoe companies offer at least one style of the shoes, from sandals and sneakers to clogs.

The shoes' unique soles and extra cushioning purport to force the muscles to work harder as you walk. The wearer's abs, glutes and legs "tone up" as they compensate for the unsteady sole, thus leading to an increased calorie burn, advocates say. Several reputable shoe companies have sponsored studies of their products (most of the studies are not peer-reviewed, it should be pointed out) that claim that these shoes led to increased weight loss and greater toning. 

Toning clothes
have tiny resistance bands sewn into them, which force the body to work harder with every step. The clothing restricts movement slightly, and the slim fit is intended to make the wearer appear thinner.

One study did find that wearing resistance tights while walking on a treadmill burned more calories-- but only when walking uphill. Research on this clothing (which can range from $50 to upwards of $200 per piece) is limited, but much of what we read about this clothing warned that such clothing could do more harm than good--either by restricting circulation or interfering with natural movement—and that the supposed benefits are probably very small.

Our expert says: "These products are marketed as if they are able to help women tone their legs and butt, but we know that losing weight from a specific area of the body (known as “spot training”) is NOT possible. The only studies that cited the shoes' benefits were about muscle activation—not long-term safety, actual increases in strength or actual increased muscle tone or weight loss—and the studies were very small, short-lived and conducted and/or funded by the companies selling the products. My expert opinion is that the advertisements for these shoes were very misleading to consumers, and that they were never proven either safe or effective at doing anything more than changing the way you walk mildly, which may change the way your muscles activate in the short term.

"That is not the same thing as weight loss or toning the legs, and it’s unlikely that the 'novelty' of a minimal increase in muscle activation will provide any tangible results in one’s body. That the FTC is now after these manufacturers for deceptive advertising should tell you for sure that they do not do what they claim." – Coach Nicole Nichols, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and health educator
Money saved: $50-$200

Rip-off #2: Slim-down creams and lotions

Orange peel thighs. Cottage cheese legs. Flabby bellies. Long after you've lost the weight, the cellulite and loose skin sticks around for many. Rather than consider them badges of honor, memories of where we've been, we try everything we can to get rid of them--including rubbing on pricey creams and lotions that boast the ability to smooth and tighten skin--and reduce the appearance of cellulite, which is simply subcutaneous (below the skin) fat that is pushed to the surface.

Many of these creams, which can be found at drug stores, in fancy department stores and online, boast caffeine or one of its derivatives as its miracle ingredient. There is no magic fat-burning ingredient, caffeine included, but the same chemical that gives your coffee its jolt can have a temporary diuretic effect on your skin and increase blood flow to the area where it was applied, thus making it appear smoother and tighter--but only for a short time and not enough to suddenly cause you to lose inches or unwanted pounds. The cellulite is still there, and when the diuretic effect wears off, your skin will return to "normal"--cellulite and all.  

The FTC has singled out one manufacturer for false advertising
, and others have been under scrutiny by the media as well.  (Test your knowledge about cellulite.)

Our expert says: "Because cellulite is fat, losing weight (if you are overweight) may help diminish the appearance of cellulite as the size of your fat cells decrease. There is no way to 'spot train' any area of the body. Cardio exercise helps burn fat from all over the body and enhances fat loss. Strength training is important for both weight loss and overall health as well, but simply targeting the areas of your cellulite (hamstrings, buttocks, or abs for example) will not make it go away.

"Many people can lose weight and notice an improved appearance in cellulite, but it's no guarantee. Because it's so closely linked to factors that you can't control (genetics, gender, hormones), losing weight may not completely get rid of cellulite.

"Creams, treatments, massage techniques, and other cellulite therapies do NOT get rid of cellulite. While some products may help diminish the appearance of it through hydration or firming of the outer layers of the skin, these results are temporary won't result in actual fat loss." -- Coach Nicole Nichols, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and health educator

Money saved: $15-$100+

Rip-off #3: Body wraps

Lose inches overnight--no exercise needed! Slim down by the weekend, without lifting a finger!

Body wraps are all the rage these days, and when you read those lofty claims, you can understand why. They sound more like a spa treatment than a part of a healthy weight-loss plan.

Made of natural or synthetic cloths that are applied to various body areas for hours (or even days), these body wraps claim to reduce the size of the body parts to which they are applied.

One company claims: "Expect 'ultimate' results with this amazing 45-minute body wrap! The wrap is infused with a powerful, botanically-based formula to deliver maximum tightening, toning, and firming results where applied to the skin."
Experts discredit the claims that the wraps can result in fat loss. Sure, you can moisturize your skin with these wraps, and you might lose some water weight from sweating, but that's only temporary. Those claims of losing pounds are likely a result of dehydration, experts say.

Our expert says: "Did you know that the human body can hold five to six pounds of water? We've all struggled with annoying 'water weight' gain from time to time, for various reasons: menstruation or hormonal changes, too much salty food, medications, or edema chief among them. While these pounds certainly count when you hop on the scale, they are temporary--and they're the weight that you lose when you suddenly shed large amounts of weight. When you use a body wrap, the lost inches are either a result of sweating or the redistribution of fluids to other parts of the body.

"And remember that just as you can't 'spot-tone' one particular body part, you also can't shed weight from one part of the body at a time." -- Tanya Jolliffe, nutrition expert

Money saved: $20-$450 per wrap

Rip-off #4: Acai berry, hoodia and other exotic supplements or food additives

Lose 20 pounds in 2 days with hoodia!
Açaí flush is the secret to weight loss.
"Ginseng helped me shed unwanted pounds and keep my energy up!"
Every year, there is a new exotic ingredient on the market that's being touted as the next best weight-loss supplement. Hoodia and acai are still popping up all over the Internet, but they're not alone on store shelves and in Google searches for "diet supplements."
While manufacturers would like you to believe that these plants are harmless and will spur massive weight loss, there is no one food or supplement that is the key to losing pounds and keeping them off.
We could list any number of bogus supplements and their purported benefits here, but acai and hoodia are two of the biggest culprits this year.
Know this: Not only has the FTC cracked down on fake news sites boasting diet and weight loss secrets related to acai, but the hoodia industry has also been the target of legal action.
Our experts say: "Berries are a rich source of vitamins and minerals; however, the health and weight loss claims being made by some companies that sell acai berry juice are not supported by scientific evidence.  When you combine an overpriced product with health claims that are not research based, it equals nutrition scam.

"For years the South African San bush people have used the succulent plant, Hoodia gordonii, to stave off hunger during long hunts.  A few preliminary and unpublished research studies indicate that there may be some type of appetite-suppressing mechanism from a molecule in Hoodia called P57. This molecule supposedly affects the hypothalamus of the brain to reduce appetite. Now this plant from the Kalahari Desert is being imported and made into Hoodia pills, tablets and capsules to supposedly help with hunger control for those trying to lose weight. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support these claims regarding appetite control and weight loss. For now, more evidence is needed to determine if Hoodia is effective for any clinical condition.   Beyond that, there is plenty of fake Hoodia on the market.   News reports suggest that some Hoodia products don't even contain any actual Hoodia." -- Becky Hand, R.D., L.D., SparkPeople Head Dietitian

"The supplement industry is not regulated the same way that prescription medications are because they are classifed as food products.  There are not enough independent clinical trials (or in most cases no clinical trials at all) to substantiate many of the incredible claims that these products make.  Unfortunately, there is a tendency for some of these products to be laced with actual prescription drugs that can have dangerous side effects.  The substance that you believe to be suppressing your appetite is actually an unlisted banned medication. If you buy any of these products, you must accept the risk that you may getting something in addition to what you think you are taking. Buyer beware." -- Dr. Birdie Varnedore, M.D.

Money saved: $20-$100/month

Rip-off #5: Protein-pushing pros

Let's start by saying that your body needs protein, which has the unique ability to build, repair, and maintain body cells and tissues like your skin, muscles, organs, blood, and even bones; form enzymes and hormones that enable your body to function normally; control your body’s acid-base balance; as antibodies, protect you from disease-carrying bacteria and viruses; maintain your fluid balance; and control your body’s acid-base balance. Protein helps you stay fuller longer and gives your meals and snacks staying power.

We also want to say that there is nothing inherently wrong with protein powders, supplements, and shakes; it's the way they are marketed that classifies them as a rip-off. Though trainers and manufacturers tell us we'll never lose weight, bulk up or slim down without them, most of us have no need for protein supplementation. For the average American, getting enough protein is not a concern.

Health organizations recommend limiting your protein intake to 10-35% of your total calorie needs. is programmed to calculate your protein baseline to be 20% of your total calorie intake. For someone who is consuming 2,000 calories, this would equal 100 grams of protein (at 4 calories per gram, equals 400 calories). In most cases, this example protein intake could still be considered healthy if it ranged from 50 grams (10% of intake) to 175 grams (35%).

Because most of our members are striving to meet weight loss goals, we also recommend a minimum level of protein—at least 60 grams daily for females and 75 grams daily for males. This requirement will help prevent muscle loss and promote feelings of fullness among dieters.
If you're an athlete or a bodybuilder, chances are you'll need more protein than the average person. But the rest of us, even those of us who are active, don't really need the added protein.

Our expert says: "Protein powders and supplements are probably the biggest scam of the year. Very few people need them when eating a healthy diet.  If you are within your SparkPeople protein range, then protein shakes are a complete waste of your money (they are pricey) and just a source of extra calories.  There are a few folks who are not getting in adequate protein from their food selections, so a protein shake can help. 
"The big scam comes in when trainers and others who try to sell these products to consumers--with no knowledge of their eating habits. For example, fitness trainers who look at a person and say, 'Hey, you need to use a protein shake after your workout.' Then the trainer says, 'And you can buy the protein shake from me personally.'---This SCREAMS of unethical and irresponsible practice!

"If you enjoy these products or need them, there's nothing to worry about. But if you feel at all pressured to buy fancy protein supplements from anyone--be it a trainer, a clerk at a vitamin store or a friend who's using the same product--just say no." -- Becky Hand, R.D., L.D., SparkPeople Head Dietitian

Money saved: $20-$50 per month

Rip-Off #6: HCG injections

Coach Nicole warned us about this wacky diet--which involves eating a strict diet of no more than 500 calories a day, plus injections (gulp!)--a couple of years ago. Yet now, just as then, hCG is a hot diet trend, heavily marketed in print and radio ads. It's so widely used that you probably even know someone who has tried it.
She said: "If you're completely changing your diet and eating a third of the calories you should be eating to stay healthy, it's hard to know what's really causing weight loss: the diet, the hCG injection/pill or both. Research shows that the restrictive diet is responsible—that hCG injections aren't really doing anything to promote weight loss. What's more, the FDA has never approved of hCG as a weight loss aid."

Our expert says: "Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies conducted between the 1970s and 1990s (see a list of selected sources below) have shown that hCG injections provide NO weight-loss advantage. In study after study, researchers compared two groups: a control group who followed the diet only and another group who followed the same diet AND received hCG injections. Time after time, the weight loss between the two groups was identical, demonstrating that hCG injections offer no weight-loss advantage over dieting alone. Or in layman's terms, "hCG injections have nothing to do with the weight loss. SAVE YOUR MONEY!" -- Becky Hand, R.D., L.D., SparkPeople Head Dietitian

Money saved: hundreds of dollars a year

At SparkPeople, we firmly believe that weight loss needs to be slow, safe, and gradual to be lasting--no exceptions. Our Success Stories speak for themselves.
Want to learn more about spotting fads and scams?

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  • 83
    Everything I have ever read about health (I read a lot) says to never go below 750 calories per day and for many people you should not go below 1,200 calories. It's just not healthy. You are not getting the nutrition your body needs. For myself if I go below 1,500 calories per day for more than 3-4 days I stop losing weight. - 12/6/2011   2:20:44 PM
  • 82
    Many of the posts about this article show why the scams work. People just want to believe so bad. I have also fallen prey to some of them in the past. When you buy these scams you are just buying hope. I understand that. The more you learn about nutrition and exercise the more you will understand there are no shortcuts. You have to burn more calories than you eat and stay within a healthy calorie range. You also have to eat healthy unprocessed foods in the right proportions as much as possible. - 12/6/2011   2:10:19 PM
  • 81
    I have to tell you that you are wrong about the hCG. I am not telling you that if you go on a 500 calorie a day diet whether you are on it or not, you will definitely lose weight. I am also aware there are "some better than others" in the product. My sister was the first to tell me about it about two years ago. She is in her 60s and dealing with the little extra weight she just could not shake. She went to a clinic and did the injections and followed the protocol to the tee. She finished at her desired weight, looks awesome and never gained it back.
    I am 58-years old. I had ten stinking pounds that stacked on from a medication I had to take a few years ago. I went on the hCG for what it termed a half dose, based on only 10 lbs. to be lost and it was amazing. The pounds fell off in three weeks, I felt awesome! I have been sugar free ever since (two years now) because it felt so good. I have less pain over all. I am diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia. I have always been a fitness buff and just suffered through with the pain, knowing it would be worse if I did not workout. My back has RA and taking these 10 lbs. off was a HUGE blessing and quite frankly, my back has not gone out on me since I lost the ten pounds. Keep in mind; I have always eaten healthy and well balance meals. What hCG did for me was blow through what ever hormone imbalance or problem that the medication did and changed my metabolism back to its old self.
    One more success story is my daughter. She is in her early 30s and never known adulthood without obesity. In fact, morbid obesity. She went on the hCG drops last Oct 2010 at 280 lbs. She has been a soldier in keeping with the program, teaching her body her new weight. She takes it for the 42-days and then goes 42-days off, eating on their plan, reintroducing a normal diet with appriate calories for her weight at that time with a plan. Watching carefully what the responses are to the new foods being reintroduced with a solution to what to do if you gain more than two pounds or plateau. She is down to 150 lbs. and is the happiest I have ever seen her. She is more in control of her life and has found she can enjoy food and not have it control her. I think comment number 72 and 60 are clear in how it works. This is not a life-time drop or spray you have to take. It is solely for the purpose of helping you get your life back and teaching you self-control and that food is our/your friend and not an enemy that makes you gain weight. We need food to survive!
    My opinion is there is research that says many homeopathic methods are unfounded by western medicine. People think if the FDA did not approve it, so it must not be safe or work according to government standards. That is simply not true. Do your own research and make your own decisions.
    My story is that I was diagnosed with RA at age 40. I turned my nose to the western medicine for this problem at age 43 based on the six ulcers I had from all the prescription meds the western medicine doctors had given me for three years and the fact that the medical FDA approved drugs for RA came with a huge document of FDA approved possible side effects! Holy cow, what are we doing to ourselves? I walked away from western medicine for auto-immune issues and started looking at other remedies. In defense of magnets for health, exercise, drinking filtered water, taking healthy supplements, having chiropractic care, regular massage, seeing an acupuncturist, bio-identical hormone replacement and hCG, I am pronounced by my doctor, “in remission of my RA and Fibromyalgia” All I can say is, take control and do what is best for you. Your gut instinct (in my case the Lord) is what guides you, not FDA approval. Heaven forbid if you think what they approve is safe. Do your research. Believe me, there are reasons things are taken off the market after they approve it. It is all about who has the money to get it on the market. They really do not care that we end up worse than we started with many of our auto-immune issues as long as they made money in the first place. Many of them make the drug you have to take to counter act the solution drug!
    Thanks for letting me have the floor for this.
    Best of luck to everyone. Look for the finest quality in hCG and any other homeopathic answers and you will have success and if you don’t, probably no harm will be done to your body. Truthfully, your pocket book can be replaced, your quality of life and your health cannot!
    - 12/6/2011   12:41:16 PM
  • 79
    More Exercise, Less Calories taken in is the BEST way to lose weight. It is how our bodies are constructed. No pill, creme, ointment, bit of clothing or unpredictable injection is going to do it for us. We have become a nation of "Its Not My Fault" fatties. We blame McD's and Kentucky Fried for the number of calories in a meal - it's not their fault - they just cook tasty food that many people love - not everyone who eats there gets FAT. Its all about how WE as Individuals perceive our food intake and what we do B4 and after we eat - do we eat a bucket of chicken and then go sit on the couch for 2 hours - bad move=FAT. The best way to lose it and keep it off is still less in, more out. I have tried many of the "scams" here just as we all have. The only one that I'm keeping is the toning shoes, they are comfortable, my knees(which I hurt playing college football) feel much better when I wear them, and they actually make me feel like walking longer distances by keeping me energized. Nuff said!!! - 12/6/2011   12:18:19 PM
    Can people stop posting their sites to advertise your wraps? Really? Coming to a site that supposed to promote HEALTHY lives and positive support to peddle a product....
    And imo, I'm happy human growth hormones worked for you but I don't plan on adding more unnatural things in my body. I have that right just as you have yours to take them so please respect each others' choices. - 12/6/2011   12:16:29 PM
  • 77
    Okay folks; you do realize that homeopathic remedies of any kind don't ACTUALLY contain any of the things they say? The very nature of homoepathic remedies is that they're just water.... the idea being that the water "remembers" what it was in contact with, and holds some property. Homeopathic remedies are diluted so much that it contains -NO MOLECULES- of the original substance it was associated with.

    If you lost weight while eating a 500 calorie diet... it's because you starved yourself.

    Double blind medical studies aren't bogus science. Homeopathy? Is. - 12/6/2011   12:02:05 PM
    It's really sad that this article puts all body wraps into a "water weight" category, because NOT all wraps are only going to get rid of water weight! Where is the evidence that the wraps from one company doesn't work? The wraps that this article quoted DO work for MANY people and are NOT marketed as weightloss wraps, but INCH LOSS. NO WONDER you marked it on your scam list. The company's line is actually "tone, tighten, firm and detox in little as 45 minutes" Nowhere does it say lose fat in 45 mins - in fact, the website states that there is no way to remove fat without surgery in that little of time. You can't throw something in there and then say the company is promoting weightloss with the wraps. ALSO the company you're using is different from other wraps because we have you drink lots of water and you're not sweating or losing water compared to other wraps. I would also love the opportunity to educate anyone on the product. VISIT ME or email me or - 12/6/2011   11:47:38 AM
  • 75
    Somebody else mentioned Sensa too. I was wondering about that. I tried it for awhile a couple of years ago. I know that responsible diet and exercise are the best way to achieve long term weight loss, but some of this stuff gets my attention because it's so easy to get discouraged and wish for a little help. - 12/6/2011   11:28:35 AM
    It disturbs me to hear a summary of a diet that focuses on one small part of a whole program and then rejects the diet on those grounds. You have given a totally incorrect assessment of the HCG diet. The 500 calorie part is a 3-6 week stage, and only works when the other maintenance stages are followed correctly. As one comment says - the program is designed to reduce weight, to reset the hypothalamus to a new set weight, and to alter metabolism. I and several of my friends and family have done it and have had huge long-lasting success. Yes, the stage where you take the HCG (or homeopathic version of it as i did) is hard in some ways, but only because of the social aspect of eating. If you are following it correctly you do not feel hungry and have as much energy as normal. The 6 weeks after you take the HCG are crucial as you work with your body to maintain the new weight. i found after doing it that i was able to eat well, with many more calories than before so long as they were healthy, and have managed to maintain the weight loss well. It is an ideal diet for those who were unfortunate enough to wreck their metabolism through eating disorders as teens. Please, if you are going to slam something, get all the facts together and slam it based on the whole thing, not just a part of it. - 12/6/2011   11:20:30 AM
  • KELL329
    I too am an HCG supporter. I have lost 46 lbs and kept it off 5 mos . I have now started round two to get that last 20 and I am down 5 today.. I do take vitamins and the drops not the shot.. the homeopathic ones.. but still.. to get that jump start it is awesome. I love to work out but had gotten so out of shape I had to get some off to even begin doing anything. I went from a 16 to a 10 and plan to get to a 7 .. I am 41 and we all know our metabolism slows waaaay down. It is not for everyone and the diet is no fun haha but like someone up above I read I will not forget how brutal and boring it is and work hard to never have to do this again. - 12/6/2011   11:12:23 AM
    This article has earned your newsletter a space in my spam filter. I get it....if people are successful in their weight loss and fitness efforts, you won't have a website anymore. I am a 'success' story for one of the products you call a scam...and so, you can kiss my incredibly fit and trim butt! - 12/6/2011   11:11:45 AM
  • 71
    Just had to comment on those toning clothes. I am currently part of a class action lawsuit against reebok for false advertising claims they made in regards to their toning shoes and clothes. I am looking to get back about 200 dollars in this suit even though I spent more like 400 on the shoes and clothes. And I never heard of that hcg diet until now but from comments here I know I do not want to try it. I am however tempted by sensa anyone have any thoughts on that? - 12/6/2011   11:08:46 AM
    I am 70 years old and over the last 60 years I have been put on diets by doctors, tried every fad diet there ever was, took prescription amphetamines (all I got was the cleanest home around) and anything that was a fast fix.
    I have been with Sparkpeople for quite a while and, although I have gained (struggling with losing my brother) I will stick with it. Even if I don't lose weight I've gained so much. - 12/6/2011   10:52:26 AM
    I lost 200lbs naturally, and this was the best article of the year!!! - 12/6/2011   10:23:16 AM
    500 calories? No supplement, including hcg, is going to make a 500 calorie/day diet healthy. That is a sub-starvation level of calorie intake. Maybe you should do some research before exposing your body to anorexia-level risks. - 12/6/2011   10:11:45 AM
  • 67
    BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: If they are claiming that you will lose weight & inches fast, you should consider it a scam. There is NOTHING healthy about losing weight quickly. You can also be guaranteed that the moment you stop using these products and getting these treatments that the weight will COME BACK, and then some! The only guaranteed weigh to lose weight and keep it off is to make a change in your lifestyle! Change your heating habits to healthy ones, exercise daily! You didn't gain all that weight over night, you are certainly NOT going to lose it overnight!!! THAT I CAN GUARANTEE. :) All that yo-yo dieting is SO bad for your body!! Please, people. Do your research, thoroughly. Find a doctor you TRUST. And don't believe EVERYTHING you read. If it has neon colors, flashy fare and yelling, RUN. Be healthy! I care!! - 12/6/2011   10:09:31 AM
  • 66
    The toning clothes just sound uncomfortable to me. - 12/6/2011   10:06:01 AM
  • 65
    Wow, what a controversial article. I had to laugh, though, because if you believe the article, I have been hornswaggled...not once, but twice. I own a pair of toning shoes that I am getting ready to replace. I love to walk, but after a bit my feet hurt in regular shoes. Not in my toners (even though they are quite worn now). I don't know if they helped "sculpt" my legs or backside...that is probably due to the weight I lost doing HcG drops...yep, I fell for that too. But it works for me. Has made me learn about food and how I relate to it. I am not going to do it forever, so it is my choice.
    Well, gotta go get me another pair of toners...have fun everyone.
    L. - 12/6/2011   9:53:47 AM
    I have to disagree with your negative assessment of the HCG Diet. It is a fabulous way to see quick results get the weight off and then focus on the maintenance part. The clinic I chose did not restrict calorie intake to 500. 1,000 was considered a better choice along with protein.
    I can imagine the diet industry does not like this one! - 12/6/2011   9:37:07 AM
    I tried the HCG diet for three weeks. It was a blessing...not because it worked, but because it was so brutal, that I decided that I will never put my body through any type of diet ever again. I was miserable. And, unlike the Atkins diet, I did learn portion control. I also learned about myself. I found that even with the minimal portions of the most boring food choices, I knew when I could not stand to take another bite. I was more than willing to leave food on my plate. This taught me the difference between being absolutely starving and desiring to eat. It was very easy to lose the desire to face meals. I forced myself to eat to make sure I did not develop an eating disorder. I did lose 23 pounds. I have not gained any back. I did the HCG diet in August. The holidays are not proving a problem. I do not necessarily restrict myself. I find that I do not overeat because of my experience with the HCG diet and my resolve, from that, that I will never, never, put my body through anything like that ever again. I much prefer to stick to my daily tips, hints, and recipes from Spark--again, not to restrict myself, but to take advantage of my new mindset. A lot of my dearest friends do the HCG diet and swear by it--which is how I came to learn about it. There are many success stories. Many have been on it more than once. My experience was successful as well--for once in my life, I learned I dieting is not the lifestyle I want to resume. How did I ever get to the point of desperation that I would put my mind and body through such punishment. This is my opinion based solely on my personal experience...just sayin'.

    - 12/6/2011   9:36:12 AM
    My wife and I used the HCG drops and both lost weight and have kept it off for a year. I lost 30lbs. The program we followed never claimed that the HCG would cause the weight lose. It claimed that the HCG would curb the desire to eat, help reset the hypothalmis, & ones metabolism. It said that 500 calories a day was not susatinable and to limit the program to 45 days. It also recommended no exercise during the period but if one was to exercise then they should increase their calorie intake by the amount that they would burn during the exercise. The program also stated that one had to maintain a proper diet after the program in order to mantain the weight lost. The progran was great, 30 lbs off in 35 days and still off a year later. The 35 days helped us establish new eating patterns that we hve stuck with since. - 12/6/2011   9:21:08 AM
  • 61
    I have 20+ friends who are devoted to the HGC diet. They have lost a lot of weight, say they feel energetic, and haven't had to workout. BUT.....they keep gaining the weight back when they start to eat normally and quit taking the drops. Their skin looks a little gray and older, and they are all having problems with loose skin. HGC diet suggests not working out during the cycles. Their body is smaller, but looks worse in my opinion, because they are losing muscle . I have been tempted to try the drops, but I'ive spent too much money and too many years trying the quick fix diets, creams, and pills. I am determined to stick to my slow and steady exercise and diet routine. I haven't had any loose skin issues, my body is getting stronger, more energy and looking younger too! I'll stick with it and save my money! - 12/6/2011   9:19:32 AM
  • 60
    I agree that one must be careful and informed before pouring their $$$ and confidence into many weight-loss programs. However, after a great deal of research and the recommendation of my physician, my husband and I went on the HCG diet (using homeopathic drops, not the injections). It proved to be a successful program for us where no other program I've tried (including Weight Watcher's) seemed to work for me. We both feel great and have more energy than we've had in years. I am extremely cautious before ever venturing into unknown waters with my health and am happy that the HCG diet was the catalyst to jump-start me on my weight-loss adventure. - 12/6/2011   8:56:00 AM
    I am an HCG success story! I did *not* do the injections, I did the sublingual pharmaceutical grade drops the first round and homeopathic drops the second round. I lost (and am maintaining) 30 lbs and 39 inches. I am going to do a third round in January to lose my last 10. I can't recommend it enough for those of us that have tried everything else out there.... :) - 12/6/2011   8:47:26 AM
    Does anyone have info on PLEXXUIS (may be incorrectly spelled)? It is said doctors have looked at it and say it is safe... - 12/6/2011   8:34:07 AM
  • 57
    Great info in article I tried teh otning shoes and hated them though I do use Protein powder drink and shots from time especially after a long hard workout I do find I do better with them onteh aveage I only get 60 grams protein a day I do better with 70 and 80 grams I don't pig out on junk foods when I hav ethe extra protein - 12/6/2011   8:31:52 AM
    I just bought my second pair of toning shoes. I live in the City and walk a lot. These shoes make it easy to go all day and not get tired. I already have great legs, but these shoes brought it up a notch without even trying. My only negative is that they made my calves a little larger. My go-to diet when I gain a few pounds is to not eat after 7:00 and work out at that time. Good luck to all of us in the good fight for weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. - 12/6/2011   8:23:12 AM
  • 55
    This is one of the most powerful articles written this year. My heart saddeneds watching scores of people trying these scams, then gain all their weight back plus more. I know many people who tried the HCG plan, lost weight, and gained it back. Very very dangerous. - 12/6/2011   8:21:35 AM
    "Know this: Not only has the FTC cracked down on fake news sites boasting diet and weight loss secrets...."

    Did you mean FDA instead of FTC? - 12/6/2011   8:18:19 AM
    I agree with LATINA10025 and TANDNA....I have done the HCG diet with the oral spray and it is the only diet that worked for me. My Dr ran all kinds of tests to see why I couldn't lose weight, I was eating right, counting calories and exercising with no weight loss. When you do the HCG Diet you need to follow Dr. Simeons protocal to the TEE... It is not a scam, except when you get the CHEAP drops at a store. You need to make sure you get authentic drops. I resent the fact that you say it is a scam...did spark people actually try the diet? I went from a size 16 to an 8 and have not gained the weight back. Lost a total of 47 pounds in three rounds. To do this diet you have to be committed to a six week or three week round. If you can't committ, then it won't work! - 12/6/2011   7:42:03 AM
  • 52
    I think it's funny toning shoes are included in here - a couple years ago when Reebok first came out with them, Spark was all over them, and I even received a pair from Spark to try! ;) I could feel that what I was walking differently, but I never expected it to give me muscled legs or be more toned.

    I'm glad HCG is included in this. My friend is on that; he's hungry all the time. Gee, I wonder why!!! That's one scam that drives me crazy because I've seen it first hand. Stupid. Anyone who tries to sell me otherwise is also crazy. I've been to a presentation by a woman who runs one of these clinics, and her "research methods" and "research findings" were total bull.

    What I'm curious about - the so-called "fat burner" pills. - 12/6/2011   7:27:17 AM
  • 51
    I have several pairs of Fitflops. Do my legs look any different? No, not a bit, nor my backside. However, I suspected that would be the case and actually bought them because I was having aches in my knees for which there was no medical problem. The knee pain has disappeared but mostly I find these shoes the most comfortable to wear because of their thick bouncy soles. - 12/6/2011   7:02:14 AM
  • 50
    Kind of OT: I don't buy any kind of weight loss product but I did purchase FitFlops. I've been wearing them for a few years. They're too ugly to wear in public IMHO but they are so comfy. My legs usually fatigue by the end of the day and idk of its the cushioning or the change in angle of my feet but they stave off the fatigue, so I guess the OPPOSITE of what they're supposed to do :-) I should mention I have flat feet. - 12/6/2011   6:48:35 AM
    What about liposuction? Or surgical treatment to remove fats or finish stomach etc? - 12/6/2011   6:36:31 AM
  • 48
    WOW @ shamelesshussy thank you for pointing out that some of the bloggers dont have pages.. I just noted that some are advocating certain diets. Im thinking some comments might be bogus 2.. Im going 2 watch 4 that in future. Because I do tend 2 listen 2 advice on this site. Thank you Thank you
    - 12/6/2011   5:56:44 AM
  • 47
    Great article. It is good to finally see some of these scams being talked about and explained. I bought a pair of the shoes and they messed up my feet to the point that walking became very painful at times, yet my sister has worn them for a couple of years now and loves them. She says that they are the most comfortable shoe she has ever worn. Though I don't personally see any difference in her appearance based on her wearing them. Thanks for this article. - 12/6/2011   5:51:41 AM
    What about Sensa? Has anyone used it or had any success? I know two people who think it's great. I'm curious, but don't want to shell out money for yet another scam. - 12/6/2011   5:51:29 AM
  • 45
    I bought a pair of shape-ups because I was standing 9 hours a day on concrete and I have back issues...they are sooooo comfy. I laughed at the ad saying never step foot in a gym...LOL and it came with a workout DVD...seriously...really funny! The first time I walked from one side of the mall to the other I was like "Whoa!" inner thighs, and under my butt was for sure being challenged. I could feel it! And walking had lots of resistance...I wore them to walk to work too...but any day I wanted to be extra speedy I didn't wear them! I would love some teens who drag their feet to wear them...they'd be flat on their faces! LOL They are SUPER comfortable but I hope people aren't so desperate they actually believe they'll only have to walk in these shoes to transform themselves.

    I am an avid protein powder/bar user...I try to eat meat free most of the time and usually just 1 serving of protein powder in my smoothie in the morning or mixed with my oatmeal...I'm sweet for the day and within my targets. Quick breakfast during the week!! - 12/6/2011   4:55:03 AM
  • 44
    Hmmm. As the poster does not have a SparkPage I can access, I can only say a certain comment sounds like a 'damage control' PR release, not a comment by a real SparkPeople user. My apologies if it is a real user, but people should be aware that companies use dummy accounts and stealth comment on influential sites (SP definitely being one) ALL the time.

    Just remember when reading the comments, the plural of 'anecdote' is NOT 'data'.

    I have to agree though that I'd prefer if the alluded to 'our expert' was on the record. None of the statements of this article/post raise any real red flags for me. In fact I greatly appreciate that this site does what it can to nip some of the diet scams in the bud. But giving credence to unnamed 'experts' is what got a lot of people to try this stuff to begin with!

    - 12/6/2011   4:54:45 AM
  • 43
    I wear Shape-Ups because I have a bad ankle (snowboarding accident) and podiatrists actually recommend them to strengthen the ankle muscles. I find that when I wear them I can walk for longer periods of time without pain. Actually "shaping up" would be a bonus in my book but I never expected them to do much anyway.

    The 500 calorie a day diet is outrageous. Of course you're going to lose weight; it's called anorexia. - 12/6/2011   4:35:08 AM
    RHIANNONTHEWOLF: Thank you for saying exactly what I am thinking.
    No matter what you say to defend it, HCG is still a starvation diet. - 12/6/2011   4:18:56 AM
  • 41
    I am so saddened by the ravenous defenders of the hCG "diet", anything advocating you eat a mere 500 calories a day without being under the direct supervision of a doctor is irresponsible and should be criminal. Suppliment or no, you can't "target fat loss" as one poster commented. Yes you drop weight because you are a functioning anorexic while you are on this "diet". Its just not safe and I am amazed its still on the market and no one has sued. - 12/6/2011   4:15:23 AM
  • LATINA10025
    I have done the HCG diet and so has my sister. I lost 40 pounds in 2 months and my sister lost 20 pounds. I took HCG oral drops, not injections. The reason the HCG is needed is so that you won't be hungry on the 500 cal diet and so that you could lose the correct fat. It also balances your hormones that were thrown out of whack because of the weight gain.

    Everybody has fat on their body, even super models. This type of fat is called structural fat and normal reserve fat. This normal fat is "bedding the kidneys in soft elastic tissue, protecting the coronary arteries and keeping the skin smooth and taut. It also provides the springy cushion of hard fat under the bones of the feet, without which we would be unable to walk," according to Dr. Simeons. The type of fat that makes people overweight is abnormal to the body and THIS is the type of fat that HCG burns off. This abnormal fat is also full of toxins.

    If you do the 500 cal diet without HCG, sure, you will still lose fat, but it will be the necessary fat that your body needs in order to be healthy. That's why some people complain after losing a lot of weight that they still have flabby arms or the belly fat won't go away.

    Do some real research before you go believing this article. There is so much more to health than mainstream, big pharma-back doctors and scientists will ever care for you to know. - 12/6/2011   3:26:49 AM
  • 39
    I'm with you DECEMBERSAG.... - 12/5/2011   2:01:24 PM
  • 38
    You forgot to mention the DUKAN Diet. That was all the rage in the UK and Europe. Kate Middleton is supposed to swear by it. Well, there is something definitely wrong with a program that eliminates various food groups. I think we know what happens when you make a food "off limits".

    - 12/5/2011   10:32:29 AM
  • 37
    I like most of everybody has tried every diet. The only two that has worked is eating right and I did a bean diet. There is a lady that has a phd and helps people with all kinds of health related problems and has cured them when no Dr. has. I have gained weight back but it is because I went back to my old eating habits. On the Bean diet you have no sugar of any kind not even fruit and I know people say not even fruit it is good for you, you are suppose to get your 4 food groups in. Not so true. When I was on the bean diet I was not hungry at all I thought about some sweets now and then but did not crave them. When I was on other diets also I had not sweets and after about three or so weeks you don't crave sweets. On the Bean diet you have three times a day your severing of Veg, Meat and beans.
    I have also tried the shoes but they are hard to walk in but they are comfy when I stand in them at work I think it is because of the extra cushion that they have. - 12/4/2011   9:55:54 PM
  • 36
    I live by my protein shakes. It's not meant to make you lose weight, but it helps you have a more productive workout and recover more quickly. Once I added it to my diet I felt SO much better both during AND after my workout! - 12/4/2011   6:08:09 PM
  • 35
    One of the latest Trends in my area is the Calorad MG "supplement." People do not realize how much $$$ they waste! Never bought those shoes and never will. Do not believe in injections, pills, weird diets, or supplements either. LOL - 12/3/2011   9:28:14 PM
  • 34
    Someone earlier mentioned a product called "Master Cleanse." This is an example of a scam known as colon cleansing. The idea is that people are carrying around several pounds of decaying material in their guts that is keeping them from absorbing food properly and losing weight, and that the "cleanse" will clear that stuff out and make weight loss easier. Needless to say, it's nonsense. - 12/3/2011   8:50:18 PM

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