Weight loss in the UK is BIG business. You may have noticed that weight loss companies/groups pop up every now and again in new locations within your local area. Awareness of our health has never been so strong and yet rates of obesity have never been higher, but are these “health” companies mega successful because they are extremely helpful? Or just an extremely well marketed con?
Take a second to think about your office; you will have probably on at least one occasion seen a colleague doing really well and lose a load of weight. Three months down the line all of a sudden they’ve turned back in to the old them and surprisingly put all of that weight back on! But is it a surprise? Why does this happen?
To fully answer this, we first need to understand how weight loss is possible in the human body.
It quite simply is a mathematical equation of income and expenditure with calories being the subject. If you consume (income) more calories than you burn off (expenditure) you WILL get fat! If you burn more calories than you consume, providing you have no health condition that will directly affect this, you will lose weight.
With my personal training or online training clients, in the early stages when explaining macros and how they fit in to their daily caloric requirements, I explain to them that I can get them to lose fat fast living off of a diet of just chocolate bars, broccoli and eggs. Seems outrageous, but it is possible! Your gut would hate you for it, but you would still lose a lot of body fat… providing that your macronutrient intake was correct and you didn’t consume more calories than you were expending.
Weight Loss Organisations
Now when it comes to these major weight loss companies, their own brand of this special diet (which is usually only different from the rest so that they can say that theirs is different and ground breaking) is based around calorie restriction… which is the exact same as any other fat loss nutrition programme on the market. But here’s where they reel you in… They ban certain foods that are deemed “unhealthy”! Seems ridiculous that this is an effective marketing ploy, but it genuinely is! Because these companies banning certain foods make us think… “Oh, why have they banned that? It must be because it’s true and this really works”. I’ve even heard that one company bans/advises against AVOCADOS! (Insert train wreck, bomb explosion, hand to the face emojis). Yes, seriously! One of the most nutrient dense and genuinely healthy foods that we can consume is outlawed due to it’s fat content.
Now this is the really big catch which makes these companies MILLIONS each year. Are these food restrictive diets, where tasty foods are outlawed likely to be sustainable over a month, a year, five years etc? Absolutely bloody not!!! Let’s look at bodybuilders for instance, the leanest athletes on the planet, with male competitors body fat levels sometimes reaching as low as 2-3% (10-12% for a male is seen as “lean”). You will see on their social media profiles photos/videos of them regularly eating what is commonly known as a cheat meal. One meal where they go all out on the tastiest most decadent food that they happen to be craving at that particular time, usually once per week! These are professional athletes who earn their crust on how they look!
Now; if professional athletes who have next to no body fat are eating outlawed foods once per week, is Dave your next door neighbour likely to remain on his calorie, flavour and satisfaction restrictive diet for 6 months, 1 year, 10 years, his whole life, after being strictly a 4 cookies, 3 cans of coke and 1 take away a day guy for the past three years? hmmmmm.
These companies are pouring a massive can of petrol on the fire without their consumers even realising it. Because they know that after a period of time, once people have lost enough weight, they will leave and go it alone and 99% of the time not carry on with this restrictive diet, because they would drive themselves insane. So what happens? Well does this story sound familiar……
Jane turns up, PAYS her money, receives a few sheets with pretty pictures on it, gets weighed, goes away and diets hard. Returns to be weighed, feels happy with herself that she’s lost some weight, she goes home and eats foods that don’t really appeal to her.
She goes back, she’s lost some more, but who knows whether this weight loss is coming from muscle mass wastage or body fat… but who gives a crap right because she’s lost weight, she carries on eating foods that don’t appeal to her which keeps her in a calorie deficit and then she hits her magical goal weight! Huuurahhhh!!!
Jane then decides she can now go it alone and she’s going to be lean forever! She starts eating real foods again outside of the previously restricted content and she gives in on occasions to her cravings for yummy stuff. Gradually her weight creeps back up, a pound here, a pound there and then all of a sudden…. BAMMMM she’s overweight again.
So what does she do? Straight back to Fat Club United.
Jane PAYS her money, gets weighed, diets, loses weight, hits her goal weight, gives it a go on her own again, eats real foods without keeping a track of her intake and SHOCK HORROR, she puts on weight again. Jane, goes back to Fat Fighters, PAYS her money, gets weighed, loses weight, goes it alone, eats real food without tracking and then…… fat again.
I think you now probably get the picture.
The reason why this cycle happens is that poor old Sandra from down the road who worked in an office for 20 years one day fancied a career change. So she applied to become a Weight Loss Magic franchisee. She can tell you how to lose weight (because its in a booklet provided to her by the company) but it turns out she knows very little about nutrition.
This isn’t just me taking a wild stab in the dark and getting up on my high horse…. I genuinely was interested in this and so did some research. Turns out, one of the companies openly promote that to become a ‘Leader’ (run a site), you essentially need to have once been overweight so you can “share the same experiences and EXPERTISE”. SWEET BABY JESUS!
So, because you were once fat, lost it all and miraculously kept if off (unlike poor old Jane), you are now a body transformation and nutrition specialist. A point of note, on this very page there isn’t a single mention of requiring any nutritional, science or fitness based qualification to qualify for the role.
The overriding problem with these schemes and I call them schemes because they’re not really ethical companies that provide great products, is that they don’t provide any education to the consumer. Education in a sense of: what is a macro? Why do you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat? What nutrients make up the food we eat? How can you transfer this calorie restrictive diet into a long term healthy lifestyle? EXERCISE?
Now this isn’t necessarily the leaders fault… as mentioned, they’re not even required to be qualified in nutrition and exercise, so how would they know any better? But can you now see why weight loss is such BIG business! Because they KNOW that the large majority of their customers fail when trying to go it alone due to a lack of education/information provided. So where are they likely to turn to again?
There’s no denying that these companies sell an effective and affordable product that is easy to sell in a forever growing health conscious market, yet the product is complete horse dump and consumers are blindly signing up none the wiser that they are often being conned!
So the next time you see yourself accidentally putting on an extra pound or two, just think to yourself…. Would I go to a doctor who had never studied medicine? Would I go to a tattoo artist who has no tattoos? Would I go and see a music teacher who doesn’t know his piano from his guitar?
Well then do I really want to go and get health advice off of someone who has potentially never worked in the health industry before and is more than likely to have no qualifications related to health?
Just a thought!
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Yours in health.