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The truth about fitness scams

MICHAEL JAROSKY
Last updated 15:40 16/04/2014
The truth about fitness scams
PUMPING IRON: Want to look like Joseph Gordon Levitt in Don Juan? Well you won't get guns like this from taking a pill.

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It's difficult to fathom people still falling for those Nigerian banking scams, believing they won the lotto or that a million-dollar money transfer awaits them ... or that people still send money to internet "lovers" in a so-called bind. Oh, and those male "enlargement" pills? They, too, are a money-taking scam (or so a 'friend' tells me).

Scams flourish throughout all industries, and since this column focuses on health and wellness, let's have a look at a few of the biggest scams in an industry renowned for having more than its fair share of voodoo doctors and snake-oil salesmen.

Abdominal machines

Our love affair with perfect "abs" continues, and millions of units of ab circles, ab chairs and ab electro pads have been purchased in recent years.

The truth: Whether you're seeking a bikini bridge or Fight Club abs, "spot reduction" - or targeting one area for weight loss and toning - just doesn't work. Full body, functional movements (along with some core work) is how you get lean and grow abdominal muscles. Proper nutrition in the kitchen creates a window to see them.

Quick fixes

Nasal sprays promoted as an appetite suppressant. Diet pills and fat reductors that warn users not to wear light coloured trousers. Lemon diets, African mango diets ... cabbage diets! Corporations bait the hook with a quick fix, and millions bite like hungry barramundi.

The truth: You don't need me to tell you this, we all know that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. And still, the next quick fix will be snapped up as quickly as the one prior.

Energy drinks

That one word: ENERGY. So, so misleading. The sugar, caffeine, and chemicals are dangerous, yet people use them to get hyped up for exercise. Bad move.

The truth: The amount of sugar in these drinks is dangerous for your health. If we can rename the dangerous king hit as a "Coward's Punch", we should also rename energy drinks as "Loser Liquid" or "Cavity Cola".

Multi-level marketing (MLM) pills

My mobile rings with these calls oh-so-often. Pills that are curing cancer in Russia. Fountain of youth pills that reduce cell degradation. Fruit and veggies in pill form. They all start with the same story about how it's saving lives, followed by, "Mike, you should take these and get your Fairfax readers involved". All you have to do is become a monthly purchaser, then sign a MLM agreement. Then it's up to you to earn passive-yet-potentially-massive income as you convince your pyramid network of friends, co-workers, and family members to also join the club.

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The truth: What you usually get with MLM pills is dodgy research and celebrity endorsements, not results. Profits flow up, your credibility with those closest to you goes down, and the MLM founders cash in and look for the next scam to sell.

Magic contraptions

Shake weight meant to tone tuckshop triceps, curved shoes meant to give a Kim K arse, and power bands that allow you to do Cirque de Soleil feats on the field. Just buy this contraption and presto, you'll see amazing results.

The truth: If you believe in these, then be wary of the guy selling shares in the Sydney to Auckland bridge. Trust your instincts, because health and fitness shouldn't come easy.

Protein

If Pablo Escobar was alive to see our love affair with the protein powders we buy by the 10-kilogram tin, he would have changed careers in a heartbeat to protein supplement mogul.

The truth: The body simply does not need all the extra protein we are milkshaking into our bodies in order to get huge. Eggs, salmon, chicken, lamb, nuts, quinoa, chia, and many greens contain all the protein we need. Most individuals looking to bulk up don't understand hypertrophy training and don't know how much protein is in two eggs, or a 300g piece of steak/salmon. Therefore they will not get massive, have no lifestyle need to get massive, and do not need to take protein supplements. Eat real food.

Information

On the interweb you'll find information on all the healthy benefits of milk, yet you'll find other opinions questioning why are we the only animal that drinks milk from another animal, and also continue drinking it past adolescence? Saturated fats cause heart disease ... but now new research shows it does not. There are diets that are guaranteed to work; yet according to someone else that same diet is just a short-term fix. We're overloaded with information, which causes confusion. And a confused individual chooses unwisely, or might not do anything at all.

The truth: Keep it simple. Deep down, we all know what to do. Move more, eat smaller, fresher and healthier portions while cutting down on the junk and booze.

If you're tired of being scammed, here's the answers, free of charge:

Get out in the sun (a bit). More food; fewer pills, powders, and potions. Sleep. Be positive. Breathe. Portion control. Avoid emotional binges. Enjoy sex. Eat your fruit and veggies, and eat less processed, full-of-sugar-and-salt junk. Play sports. Get protein from animal and plant sources. Drink water. Cut down on the booze. Lift weights. Do some cardio work. Smile. Laugh. Love.

Now, if I could just cram it all into pill form and charge a stack for it, I'd be a Millionaire ...

What scams have you been offered or taken in by?

- Sydney Morning Herald

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