I have a general system and a few trusted sources I go to when trying to get an honest review of something. It didn't take too long to confirm that the product in question was probably not worth the money.
But I was left wondering, what if I hadn't spent enough time researching stuff like this to know some strategies for spotting and filtering out crap? So I went through the entire first page of results here, and found what appeared to be a list of fake review sites. Well, the two sites circled in red to the left were the only sites on the first page that had any hint of criticism in their reviews.
I often hear people say there's no excuse for ignorance about how to lose weight or get in shape since the internet has everything you could possibly want to know.
If someone comes to you for advice asking a question perhaps you've answered a thousand times, or something you feel they should obviously know is a scam fad diet or pill, try to reserve judgement. My advice, as always, is that if you do not have the time or inclination to research a subject, reserve judgement. And definitely don't trust mass review sites that have no negative criticisms of any products.
My hope through this post is to show you HOW these popular diets tend to work, to dispel some of the magic surrounding them. Most of the carbohydrate sources we eat are VERY low on the satiety scale (as in, they don't leave you feeling full and satisfied), so we tend get a ton of calories from them. So, if you go low carb, you have to restrict your intake of those kinds of items quite a bit. Another reason low-carb seems to work so well is that when carbohydrates store as glycogen in the body, they tend to hold onto a lot of water.
Kind of the opposite of low-carb, low-fat diets try to reduce fat intake to levels ranging anywhere from 10% (on the low end) to 35%  (on the high end) of your daily calories from fat. So when your mom tells you that cheese is "fattening" it's kind of a dual-meaning; they're high in fat content, thus high in calories (relative to their volume), thus you'll get fat if you eat them! Just like the low-carb diet, if you go on a low-fat diet, you're either eliminating or drastically limiting your intake of certain kinds of foods - cheese, red meat, full-fat dairy products, most desserts, etc. Unlike low-carb, however, low-fat doesn't seem to lead to increased protein intake as "naturally," since many of our favorite kinds of meat tend to be a bit fatty. Low-fat reduces intake of the most calorie-dense macronutrient, leading to reduction in calorie intake.
If not replaced entirely with Snackwell cookies and bread, can lead to increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Weight Watchers is a program where foods are assigned a certain number of "points" depending on their content. Each day you are allotted a certain number of points (plus some bonus weekly points) and you can choose to spend them however you like. You can think of "points" as "calories." Basically Weight Watchers has made it easier for people to eat at a deficit. The idea behind the Paleo diet is that it tries to mimic what our ancestors ate (hence reference to paleolithic era), because they theorize that is the way our bodies evolved to eat, thus being "healthier" than our modern diets.
The idea that all of our ancestors ate any particular way has been thoroughly de-bunked, but while the "philosophy" behind Paleo doesn't mean much, many people still follow this diet.
So if you remember how we mentioned that anytime you eliminate a food group, you decrease your calories, you'll know how this diet works. Getting rid of breads, grains and processed foods will drastically lower your carbohydrate intake. No worries though, just hop through some loopholes and gorge on Paleo-approved slices of bread or muffins!
However, gorging on those kinds of foods is akin to eating only Snackwell cookies and claiming to be eating a "low-fat" diet.
Believe it or not, it can be tough to over-eat when you only give yourself 8 hours to do so, especially if you primarily fill it with satiating foods like vegetables and meats.
One big reason that we've all put on so much weight in the past few decades has been snacking, and IF puts a stop to that by simply abstaining from ALL food for a period of time, typically during the daytime with a big evening meal. There aren't really any other rules - you simply end up eating less because you don't give yourself as much time to pack in the calories.
Mindlessly eating less seems to be something people see a lot of initial success with - unfortunately the restrictive nature of these diets tends to make them short-lived.
If you'll note, I didn't mention much of anything about the health claims of many of these diets.
Yes, you personally may feel bloated after you have some dairy or whole-wheat toast, but that's on you. Pick and choose from various dieting tips and strategies to find out what works best for you and your goals.
I'm pretty sure a tummy tuck takes a little bit longer than 5 minutes, so I'm calling shenanigans on the bottom right one here.
Most of my readers probably already know most of the above if you've been following my blog for any length of time. Running despite your intense hate for it because of some vague notion you'll lose weight if you can run a 5k? Tacking on 10 minutes of intervals at the end of your workout because you know you're going to be drinking this weekend? Getting through a grueling workout and immediately following it up with a large pizza with a side of garlic knots to "refuel"? I guess I'm just bringing this up so that maybe we won't judge others who regularly get mixed up about what works in fitness and weight loss so harshly.
I know that the 100 calories worth of intervals aren't about to make a dent in the 10 beers and 1:00 AM cheeseburgers I'll be indulging in over the weekend. So yes, we can logically "know" that spot reduction isn't a thing, but we're still compelled to glorify planks and do a zillion Russian twists whenever we feel down about our stomachs. Because it feels like we're in control of how we want our body to change if we can, ever so briefly, believe spot reduction works. Unfortunately, for weight loss the best thing you can do is put the fork down and wait a few months. A 10-page booklet on diet telling you all the things you already know that is barely mentioned in the infomercial. But fitness is sexier than something like, EAT 10 VEGETABLES IN 10 DAYS, or ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO COOK SALMON, or EXTREME 21-DAY FRUIT FIX. Be honest, is a lack of a diet plan or workout regimen what's keeping you back from results?
Does that intense and schnazzy DVD infomercial compel you to buy because they seem to make it look so attainable? I don't know the answers to these questions, but you should ask them before you click "add to cart" next time you find yourself browsing for motivation on Amazon. You will NOT be losing 10 pounds in 2 weeks from a fitness DVD or workout program without some changes in your diet, no matter how convincing an infomercial is.
This shouldn't keep you from exercising or moving in general, especially if you want to lose weight for health reasons! The fact that I would randomly and uncontrollably fall asleep in all of my classes probably didn't help. In fact, I think that NOT being a natural scientific genius may be why I look for so many different ways to try and explain its principles. Our brains tend to grasp things easier if we put a human spin on them - if we add a social element to it. Objective: To determine the efficacy of reading stories at bed-time on the time it takes to fall asleep (TTS) in our 4-year-old male subject.
Each treatment was done for 2 weeks, followed by a 2-week wash-out period between each treatment where no books were read.

It is clear that further study must be done on this subject to arrive at the optimal treatment outcome. Better sleep benefits the child by making them more attentive; performing better at tasks required intellect or motor coordination.
The treatment with the highest success rate was allowing the subject to sleep with his caregivers. Can't you imagine this study being posted on Facebook, and someone commenting "Everyone knows a warm bath works best to relax you and put you to sleep. Methods: The subject was exposed to 2 different treatments and 1 control over the course of 16 weeks.
During the control periods, the same caregiver would be present in the room, but without reading a story.
If the methods were, "our intuition and common sense told us Goodnight Moon was a superior book choice, then we flipped a coin to decide whether it was better than the control," you'd say it was a poorly-done study, wouldn't you?! We're also shown how the researchers tried to make sure nothing else could possibly be affecting the outcome of the study besides the book being read.
Results: It was found that reading Where the Wild Things Are resulted in the lowest average TTS compared to Goodnight Moon and no book.
Discussion: Reading of Where the Wild Things Are showed a dramatic decrease in the time it took for the subject to fall asleep as compared to Goodnight Moon and Control treatments. It is believed that the excitement of the story-line, followed by a slow, soothing ending is what made Where the Wild Things Are the best choice.
It is possible that pushing back reading time to 9:30 PM would have influenced the efficacy of the Goodnight Moon treatment, when the subject would be more apt to being sleepy, and more receptive to a low-action story. This study only included one subject, which is another large limitation for general use of this research.
We also learned some limitations we would have had NO IDEA about unless we knew the subject well beforehand, such as Christmas-time is a large confounding variable for him. This means unless you had been following and studying the subject for a long time prior, you wouldn't be able to grasp the importance of everything going on in the study. Being able to point out limitations isn't being critical about what another person believes, it's pointing out how the study they're basing said beliefs on has the potential to be wrong. At the same time, you need to be able to apply that same idea to yourself and your beliefs.
It's always possible that one study had too many confounding variables and limitations to be useful. And if you read an article that cited the ONE study out of 99 on the subject showing Goodnight Moon was the best choice, not knowing the other studies existed, you might believe it. This is why if the scientific community comes to a general consensus on a subject matter, you really ought to lend it some credence. If you were the parent of the child in our fake study, you'd roll your eyes at someone telling you that a warm bath is the one true answer. You use a crude version of the scientific method everyday. Anytime you use logic and information to figure out why your child won't go to bed at night, that's an un-refined version of the scientific method.
When you actually set up an experiment and record the results, that's getting a bit more refined. Oh, and when the scientific community forms a near-unanimous consensus, you should probably listen to them.
McCaskill blasted Oz for irresponsible conduct on his show - of promoting several sham products as "miracle" weight-loss cures.
When I listened to their conversation the first time through, I was struck by how good Oz was at saying a lot of words that sounded like a good defense, yet weren't coherent enough for me to register what he was actually saying. So, I decided to write a transcript of the entire thing so I could analyze exactly what his defense was. It's true that he didn't endorse those specific brands, and it's wrong for the products to say that they themselves have been endorsed by Dr.
And just with regards to whether they work or not - take green coffee bean extract as an example - I'm not going to argue that it would pass FDA muster if it was a pharmaceutical drug seeking approval. Go through several phases of testing to discover side effects, ensure safety, show that it works, and figure out appropriate use and dosage on varying populations. When debating something controversial, I often see people argue, "Galileo was right, but he was punished for his ideas at the time," or, "Barry Marshall was a laughing stock when he said stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria, but he ended up being right," as if those situations are comparable to what they're doing. But the difference is that these men had evidence on their side to back up their statements, not just a hunch. But there is not currently good evidence that these "weight loss miracles" are actually miracles.
Not to mention, despite admitting that this study would never stand up to any kind of scrutiny, he uses the results as "proof" to his audience that the supplement works. There are entire schools devoted to witchcraft where you can study for years and spend lots of money if you want. While my gut reaction off the bat is almost always "that's probably bullshit", I wanted to put in the time and actually do some research.
Almost every program or supplement reviewed gets a glowing recommendation, conveniently followed with links to where you can buy the product. That's partially true, but the internet also has heaps of unhelpful advice - and if you've never worked out a day in your life how are you to know the difference? Answer empathetically and honestly - we can't all be experts in every subject, and some companies out there really do try to make it difficult for the layman to find good information. You can have an opinion based on what you do know, but be open to the idea that you may be wrong.
Tags: diet pills, fat burners, Fat loss, leptin, marketing tactics, supplement reviews on August 19, 2014 by katwhitfield. From general suggestions, such as "low-fat" or "low-carb," to named and branded diets like Atkins or Weight Watchers, there are tons of options out there if you want to lose weight. I really don't recommend "diets" at all - I recommend you find a way of eating that works for you that supports whatever goals you have.
If you go on a very low-carb diet, glycogen levels tend to go down, and therefore you lose a fair amount of water weight as well. On top of that, many breads have some high levels of sodium, which can cause you to hold onto more water. Once again, getting rid of an entire food group (especially one that is so calorie-dense) is an easy way to reduce calories without counting them.
This can be either through Weight Watchers products, or you could look up the number of points of a given item, or calculate it with their PointsPlus calculator.
They'll tell you how many 'points' you get to eat per day based on things like height, weight, gender, activity, goals, etc.
It's so easy to look up how many points are in any item you'd want to eat, because a million other people have eaten it and calculated the points for you. For some people, IF can lead to binge-eating problems (it certainly did with me), a pressure to abstain from food for longer than 16 hours, and for women especially it seems to lead to some negative consequences. That's because as long as you're not eating chicken mcnuggets and potato chips for every meal of everday, chances are you're not going to see drastic health consequences from eating grains, enjoying some full-fat dairy, eating a meal after 8PM, or having the occasional processed candy bar.
That's why if low-carb makes you feel like crap, you shouldn't be scared to go off of it because someone somewhere told you sugar will make you fat and stupid. Maybe you like the part about IF where you don't have to eat breakfast, and avoiding bread at lunch makes you feel more energetic for the end of your work day. You'll probably be different, and there's no rigid diet plan out there that's going to know what will work best for you.
Tags: diets, Intermittent fasting, low-carb, low-fat, paleo, Weight loss, weight watchers on July 22, 2014 by katwhitfield. I'm in the market for a new weight loss fitness product - maybe there's something out there that can motivate me to do some cardio?! Is there anywhere that will give me the secrets to washboard abs and fast weight loss for free?

It's the same thing that draws us to ridiculous magazine headlines or over-the-top weight loss promises on Fitness products or DVDs. But we tend to buy and act with our emotions - probably why cop-outs like Snackwell cookies or sugar-free gummy bears get more sales than canned vegetables. Come on, you could Google "fat loss meal plan" right now and get some decent diet plans that would get you results. Why does the prospect of doing it on your own for free seem unappealing, but you're motivated to get started now when you see a well-done infomercial? Walking for 30 minutes a day is one of the easiest things you can do to drastically improve your health.
Or you, the one who got in way over your head taking Physics AP in high school for some god-forsaken reason.
My goal today is to explain how many scientific studies are formatted in an interesting and understandable way. If you want to retain your sanity, you need to figure out a way to get him to go to sleep consistently and reliably.
However, one of the TTS values for treatment #2 was 97 minutes - the highest value of any treatments. If the purpose of the study was to find out what would benefit the caregivers most, you could arguably propose the best treatment would be putting the child up for adoption!
This shows you how the researchers conducted the study in the first place, which tells you if the study is a good one or not.
Maybe they missed some possible other variables, or were unable to control for some, (such as the time of year, it's hard to get kids to sleep around Christmas!) affecting the validity of the results? As well, aside from boredom on the part of the caregivers from reading the same book over and over, side-effects were non-existent. The subject has a history of enjoying action-packed media, so it is possible this history influenced the outcome of the research.
First, only two books were chosen as treatments - one as a more "action-based" story, and one as a "low-stress" story.
Realize that important contextual data like this is not always included in the study itself. So what if we did 99 more studies, and 98 of them showed that Where the Wild Things Are, read at 9:00 PM was the most effective treatment, with just 1 of them showing Goodnight Moon was a slightly better choice? Trying to control for variables that affect the outcome, considering the context in which you're doing the experiment - that's refining it more and more. You cannot rely only on the abstract of one single study to tell you everything you need to know about a subject.
If you don't understand the study, don't worry - just don't come to any hard conclusions and be open to the idea that your interpretation is wrong! Tags: critical thinking, how to read a scientific study, science on June 25, 2014 by katwhitfield.
Oz was called in by Senator Claire McCaskill to testify at a hearing about weight-loss scams. Oz agreed to come to Senator McCaskill because he does not appreciate his name being used to endorse these specific products.
Oz: "Well, if I could disagree about whether they work or not, and I'll move on to the issue of the words that I used. Oz says that the drug wouldn't pass FDA muster, that means that the drug does not have sufficient evidence to show it works. Oz: But, Senator McCaskill, we can spend a lot of time arguing the merits of whether green coffee bean extract is worth trying or not worth trying. Oz is attempting to deflect the fact that there is little evidence coffee bean extract is worth buying. Oz: "So it is remarkably complex, as you know, to figure out what works out for most people even, in a dietary program. Oz: "No, I would never publish the paper, but it wasn't done under the appropriate IRB guidance - that wasn't the purpose of it. Oz talked to people about green coffee extract being a miracle cure before he did this little audience 'experiment'! Oz: "But again, I don't think this ought to be a referendum on the use of alternative medical therapies. Oz realizes that the information he gives is not factual - he just stated that exactly above.
This leads me to think these sites exist simply to be high on Google rankings when a potential consumer is trying to find an honest review.
Then you would want to try and find studies on the effect of leptin supplementation on humans. I recommend debating people in a respectful manner based on what you do know, and with an open mind.
It may happen to be that one of these "diets" does it for you, or maybe you take a little bit from each of them and make something custom.
I also am obviously not covering every diet under the sun here, but I think I've touched on the ones you're most likely to hear about. Because vegetables, fruits, and meat are generally more filling than grains and breads, you'll naturally eat less.
The program is so popular, many healthy recipe sites provide the number of points in their recipes for you as well!
With low-carb, you still theoretically could eat bread (just very small amounts), but you can't eat ANY on Paleo. It typically involves abstaining from eating for 16 hours out of the day, leaving an 8 hour window where you can eat your daily amount of calories.
However it is highly variable between individuals and I've known many people who found IF to be their preferred method of eating.
Then at dinner you indulge in some dessert, but check to make sure it doesn't have a billion calories beforehand. Just look at the ONE THING every single diet out there has in common with each other - you eat less calories. Well, going from doing nothing to doing vigorous exercise with Jillian Michael's yelling in your face is hard work and a lifestyle change. And I'm going to keep beating a dead horse until everyone understands that these kinds of headlines are inherently misleading. Does it feed into that small logical part of you that knows magic pills don't exist, but completely ignores the part where changing your diet is required, but fucking hard to do?
Or maybe you, who tried to major in Biology but couldn't pass Chem 102, coming to the conclusion that you are just shitty at all things science. And maybe it's not best to try and learn Chemistry beside 150+ other kids in a giant lecture hall, especially when it's not your strong suit. Cutting out a food group, especially one we eat so much of (grains), generally always leads to a reduction in total calories. As is pointed out in the Bullshit Detector Guidebook, testimonials and even before & after pictures are very, very easy to fake.
You're DOING something, which is what we're compelled to do when we want to change anything in life.

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