Sports Editor Justin Kline weighs in on diet, exercise "miracle" products and more.
We’ve all seen promoters pushing the skinny wraps and miracle diets on Facebook, plastering their vehicles with the ads or hitting us up to gauge interest. Surely, some of you readers have tried or thought of trying these things in an effort to get fit (while, hopefully, also following fitness columnist Jennifer Closshey’s tips).
I’m here today to tell you why you’re better off putting that money toward a gym membership or toward dietary purchases that are scientifically proven to work.
And the reason I’m doing this now is because a new product has found its way into both my social circle and my iMessage inbox. After spending part of my last summer in college convincing a roommate that his Vemma energy drinks were part of an illegal pyramid scheme (which was actually proven to be true last year), I thought I was in the clear. But on Friday, a good friend hit me up about some energy patches.
“Mom and Dad are on this new exercise patch to give them energy,” he told me. “They said it’s really working.”
A quick Google search will tell you that these patches are part of the THRIVE eight-week fitness system, an initiative of the Le-Vel company. And a quick look at the Le-Vel website shows that it’s a similar kind of multi-level marketing company that Vemma was sold through.
Without going into too much detail: these fancy packages are designed to make you think you can make good money hustling this stuff on the side, perhaps even full time, but your cut (and that of everyone selling underneath you) is pennies on the dollar compared to what portion goes straight to the top.
Add in the fact that you’re buying product for yourself, as well as to sell to others, and that these companies often ask you to travel and buy tickets to conferences, and you could easily end up losing more money than you make.
But, this isn’t a business column. The other reason I can’t stand things like this is because the science behind them often disproves them.
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Eastern Washington and Whitworth universities sought to determine whether caffeinated energy patches actually affect one’s workout (in this case, cycling, resistance training, a light workout with weights and a sprint). Participants applied the patch as directed, and waited the allotted hour for the chemicals to absorb into their skin while refraining from drinking or eating. They were also given placebo patches in other instances of the tests.
The results found that, in all exercises but the cycling portion, there was no difference between using the caffeine patch and the placebo. In the cycling workout, the researchers believed that issues with sample sizing may have influenced the results.
While it is possible for caffeinated energy patches to work, the chemical amounts one patch would need to be effective are likely higher than what’s in patches you can go buy right now. I’m assuming that would cost more to manufacture than a company that chooses to crowd-source nearly all of its marketing would be willing to spend.
Essentially, there’s a chance that you’re losing money on simple bandage patches, glorified Saran wrap and smoothies you could make from the grass in your back yard.
My view? Although drinking coffee before a workout isn’t the best thing for your stomach, and pre-workout shakes may be horrible for you, they’re the things that actually do what you want them to do: load you up with energy so that you may crush your workout.
So, as good as good as any of those “miracle” products sound, I advise you to stay away from them and get your energy from natural foods and drinks that are proven effective by scientists, not guerrilla marketers.
Contact Justin Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.