Q: Now that you are training to run and preparing for your ‘bikini’, have you thought about taking supplements? I’m referring to everything from protein shakes to amino acids to fat burners….thanks

Q: What are your views on thermogenics and supplements?

There are a lot of people that aren’t going to like what I have to say about this.

Sorry, I guess?

I don’t do any of it. This shouldn’t be a surprise, y’all. It really shouldn’t.

Before I get deep into the thick of this, I have two things I want to say.

First, there’s a reason that this is a lifestyle change. The reason that this is a lifestyle change is because the way you lose the weight is the way you will keep it off. Period. And quite frankly, I don’t want to be burdened with the added financial responsibility of living off of a god-awful disgusting protein powder… or supplements the size of horse pills… or a fat burner that might eventually get pulled from the market because it’s been deemed far more harmful than helpful.

I’m just… not interested in that.

Secondly… none of this stuff is “clean.” Don’t get me wrong – there are people who proclaim that they are all #TeamCleanEating who will let “supplements” slide under the rug because many members of the “clean eating” crowd would cringe if they were told they couldn’t have their supplements and vitamins. They don’t want to lose the support of the supplement-lovers, so they let it slide. I can’t really claim that I care, to be honest.

Why aren’t they clean? Take things that are made with enriched white flour, for instance. Bleached, “enriched” flour is flour that has been bleached, stripped of its nutrients and “enriched” with “vitamins” in a way that supposedly both nourishes us, yet still keeps the rodents and bugs away… even though we both thrive on the same things, yet the bugs have enough sense to stay back.

I mean, I’m sure it sounds like a good idea and all… until you learn that a lot of diseases that are kept at bay by the very vitamins that flour is being “enriched” with… are making a comeback. Considering the amount of enriched flour used in almost everything nowadays… if the vitamins that flour is being enriched with are so valuable and useful, why would the illnesses be returning? Not only do I feel some kinda way about taking vitamins outside of the source of their origin (read: fruits and vegetables), I feel some kinda way about the implication that taking vitamins is somehow equal to or superior to simply cleaning up your nutritional lifestyle. It’s not. You can look at the health of the nation to see that.

Besides… as much as he annoys me, Michael Pollan’s take on this feels adequate to me: The people most likely to be found taking vitamin supplements are also equally likely to have the best nutritional lifestyles, anyway. They might not even need them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen Foodmatters. I don’t believe that “too much of anything can kill you.” (I actually think that’s a load of crap.) I simply believe that nature, in and of itself, has mechanisms in place that prevent you from overdosing on whatever “it” may be. As “they” say, “In nature, the poison is always packed with the antidote.” I’d prefer to let nature nourish me. Not pills.

The bottom line is this – I want my nutrients to come from the sources in which they are grown. That just… makes more sense to me. And while there are people out there who love to proclaim “Well, I don’t eat vegetables” or “I’own like veggies like that” or whatever else… I’d also question their ability to eat cleanly like that. That’s a hard life to live. I’m just being real.

I’m sure science knows a lot… but I can promise this: science doesn’t know enough. Look at the state of the country. This much is obvious. And yeah, I’m a nobody with no scientific credentials. I’m just someone who would rather get my nourishment from my most unadulterated food source. That’s how I’ve acquired the body I’m after now, and that seems to have proven to be far more useful for me.

That covers vitamin supplements and protein powders. And while I’m quite aware of the fact that bodybuilders and their ilk are heavily reliant upon protein powders, always looking for whey protein powders, or whatever… there’s three things that bother me: 1) bodybuilders also have “on and off seasons.” This is a lifestyle for me. No “off season.” 2) why stir a protein shake when I could just eat my protein? I don’t even eat much meat, and my protein intake is beyond adequate. 3) There’s no way in hell I’m paying $20 a week for a protein powder. I’m cheap. There. I said it.

On to fat burners and thermogenics. This stuff is gross. It is so gross.

It’s lightly regulated – all that has to be proven is that the stuff will not kill you – and you rarely have any idea what’s in it. If fat burners were ever researched by the purchasing public, you’d find that they, more often than not, have the most nebulous ingredient lists you’ve ever heard of in your life.

Do people experience weight loss on fat burners? Of course. Do people take fat burners forever? Do they eventually go off of the pill and experience weight gain? Do people ever realize that they’re just taking glorified caffeine pills? That’s all that most “fat burners” really are. That is… if the manufacturer even knows what’s in the pill they manufactured.

I’m going to quote the hell out of You Are Not A Fit Person right now. In his take-down of Jillian Michaels – a well-respected (for some reason) and well-known fitness specialist… whose ads, I’m sure, are going to appear on this page now (and, in advance – yes, I can request to prevent her from sponsoring this site, but it’s up to my network to block her…but in the meantime, feel free to check her out?) – and her fat burning pills:

According to Jillian Michaels:

I created the products with the top bariatrics doctors in the world. And I do mean the world. These are some of the same doctors I have been working with for years to help me with my Biggest Loser contestants and my books — especially Master Your Metabolism.

The products refer to her diet pills and cleanse and detox.  When asked who those doctors were, the answer we get is: “Dr. Arnold Astrup at Harvard and Dr. Nathalie Chevreau RD” in answer.

Dr. Astrup may very well be Arne Astrup from the University of Copenhagen, a world renowned bariatrics doctor who appears to do research into how protein produces a sense of fullness.

Dr. Nathalie Chevreau is a little different.  First and formost, the correct way to list  her name is Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.d.  She is not a medical doctor.  According to her Plaxo profile she is currently ‘the Director of Women’s Health for Basic Research, LLC, the distributor of prestige cosmetic products and dietary supplements‘ and has been since 2001.

I discovered this by googling her name.  To my surprise, the three letter acronym that showed up connected with her name more than Ph.d was FTC!?!

Basic Research

Yes, the ‘prestige cosmetic products and dietary supplements’ that Basic Research LLC has manufactured are not seen as prestigious by the FTC.  These products included

  • Tummy Flattening Gel,
  • Cutting Gel,
  • Dermalin APg,
  • as well as 2 ephedrine products, Leptoprin and Anorex and
  • 1 fiber pill that is marketed to obese children: PediaLean!!

The FTC alleged the marketers lacked a reasonable basis in support of the claims, noting the sellers falsely stated clinical testing proved  claims for four of the challenged products and misrepresented their spokesperson as a medical doctor.

I can’t express to you how far a company has to go to run afoul of the FTC.  The commission only issues a complaint “when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated”.  You can see some of the claims of how far Basic Research has gone down this road.  You can read the FTC press release here and some additional claims found here.

“Dramatic, unsubstantiated weight and fat loss claims continue to tempt the overweight with new hope for a quick fix. It’s particularly disturbing, however, when marketers peddle such pills and potions for children without adequate substantiation,” according to Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  I have heard that Basic Research sues people a lot so I will step lightly here.  I would have to agree with Howard Beales characterization of this being ‘particularly disturbing’ to ‘peddle such pills and potions for children’.  I have no idea if Basic Research believed that this product worked or not.  If it did, I would have to think they would have done the research though.  In any case, I can’t tell you how utterly vile someone would have to be to market a false weight loss pill to overweight children.  I can’t imagine what circle in hell would be reserved for them.

The Role of Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.D

You might ask yourself what does Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.D have to do with all of this?  Is she actually involved in these products being the Director of Women’s Health at Basic Research LLC?  The answer is yes.  Clearly.  Not only was she part of the fat cream development and marketing that was so egregious it led to congressman Rep. James Greenwood, R-Pa., to call the  Basic Research executives “scam artists”.  Yes, scam artists.  She was quoted in advertisements and mentioned specifically in legal proceedings for these products that earned the company over $66 million.  You can read about her role with Akavar here (Akavar is their new diet drug, the one that is causing the FTC to recommend that the Attorney General’s office take action against Basic Research as well as getting them a fat class action suit.  The article is a great read by the way!).

Seriously, I couldn’t be making this stuff up, I can not believe who this Dr. Nathalie Chevreau is.  You can find her quotes for some of these products in the legal proceedings between the FTC and Basic Research and on websites:

On Dermalin APg: ‘This new, highly concentrated formula allows for precise, targeted delivery… making it the first true spot-reducing gel capable of effective reduction of dense abdominal fat. ‘ -Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, PhD, RD, Director of Women’s Health, Sovage Dermalogic Laboratories (note the company name here…)

Of PediaLean she says: “This is a safe, natural weight-loss compound developed specifically for children,” said Dr Nathalie Chevreau, Klein-Becker’s director of women’s health (notice the company name and role now). “This is an outstanding fibre. One of the main reasons for obesity in children is overeating food packed with high calories. If they can just eat half a bag of French fries or potato chips, that’s half the battle.”
According to this archived email, the most disturbing thing about PediaLean is this:

Basic Research criticism is apparently a case of the kettle calling the pot black, perhaps because of its competing product, PediaLean, containing an unidentified product “Pediatropin” derived from the P. rivieri root – all shrouded in mystery and scientific-sounding hype.  A letter  from the Committee on Energy and Commerce points out the deceptive nature of PediaLean advertising and notes the lack of safety or efficacy data.  We found no genus to correlate with “P.” rivieri, but the plant in question may be Amorphophallus rivieri also known as Konjac Root.

WHAT!?!! We don’t even know what the hell is in this stuff?!!?  Seriously!?!?  This is happening in the United States!?!? Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, the doctor of the company that makes this product is in support of it?!!?  OMG!! Not only is she in support of it, but in her role as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Supplement Watch, she is a supporter: “One of the supporters of PediaLean is Nathalie Chevreau, member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Supplement Watch.  Opinion: Caution is necessary in weighing the endorsements of “Supplement Watch”.  A random sampling of the reviews on Nutraceuticals revealed that some valid criticisms were given where appropriate, although it is far from rigorous or comprehensive – for instance, the very important induction of cytochrome oxidases by St. John’s wort is not noted, and warnings concerning Ripped Fuel and Ephedra are understated.  Despite the HON affiliation, source literature is rarely cited. At least one member of Supplement Watch is listed with a university affiliation, but it turns out that he was only a postdoctoral student at the university.  Many of the members do not hold doctorates.  Supplement Watch is “internally financed”.

Is this seriously going on??? Yes. So far as I can figure, Dr. Chevreau was testifying to a congressional hearing as a member of Supplement Watch, without identifying herself as ‘scientist behind the science of this product’.  Congress was a little leery of this group without evening knowing that the person testifying was actually a co-conspirator at the company that created the product… I don’t think that kind of behavior is legal is it?!?!?  I hope I am misunderstanding this.

To simplify… not only does she use a company that creates fat burning pills for children, but the company that she uses has a history of putting unidentifiable chemicals (or, at least, they don’t know how to identify their own chemicals from their own recipes) in their stuff. As loosely moderated as this stuff is, as difficult as it is to understand and as little as these people know about their own products… I should put this stuff in my body and rely upon it to help me lose/maintain my weight?

Not now. Not ever. No thanks.

And, really – for every study that says “vitamins are harmful,” there’s a study that says they are helpful. I don’t agree – or disagree – with either stance. Obviously vitamins are helpful… I simply question the need for supplements. Huge difference. I’m not even touching the “study” element of it all.

The answer to these questions… I gave it much earlier in my post. These things aren’t clean. In fact, the further you get away from nature, the more nebulous the ingredients/the process to create the product/the actual value of the product becomes. It’s just… not worth it to me. I’m not judging people who make these choices… just know that you’ll never – ever – find me discussing that, here.

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