Everything marketers have told you about yoga, running, detox, juicing, and even the female Viagra pill is wrong. Here's the truth.
Women get lied to a lot. Corporations and marketers know that women are more inclined than men to take care of themselves, so women are inherently more susceptible to bogus health claims than men. Here are some of the worst lies told to women about health, diet, and fitness.
Lie #1 – Yoga Makes You Fit, Strong, and Shapely
Yoga doesn't make you fit. It doesn't change the shape of your body and it doesn't improve fitness more than leisurely walking.
Yoga, aside from giving you the flexibility to form yourself into a human pretzel, will increase your fitness and strength, but probably not much more than leisurely walking. Let's look at the mildly favorable studies first. In a 2012 study of premenopausal women, two groups either participated in twice weekly 60-minute Ashtanga yoga sessions for 8 months or served as a control group.
The yoga participants ended up having more powerful legs than the control group, but they didn't increase strength in other muscles or show improvement in any other measures of health and strength. Likewise, a 2013 study of Bikram yoga participants found that after 12 weeks, a group of young adults could deadlift more weight than they could at the start, but they didn't show improvement in other measures of health and fitness.
One of the more innovative studies, however, showed results that were even more tepid than the previous two studies. Yoga practitioners performed their favorite type of yoga for an hour in a metabolic chamber that tracked calorie usage and heart rate. In subsequent tests, they also sat quietly in the same chamber for an hour, walked at a leisurely 2 MPH for an hour, or walked a brisker 3 MPH for an hour. When they broke down the numbers, an hour of yoga was metabolically equivalent to strolling for an hour at 2 MPH. Not all that impressive.
Yoga will build a modicum of strength, at least with newbies. It will strengthen your abs. It will absolutely allow you to move better and feel better. But it won't do much to build fitness or change the shape of your body. It's entirely too mild to be your sole exercise. To change the shape of your body and to build a greater level of fitness, add weight training and sprinting.
Lie #2 – Juicing is Healthy
Drinking lots of juice isn't healthy. Juices are high in calories, lack fiber, lack nutrients, and ultimately make you fat.
There are roughly 7,000 juice bars splashed around the country, each with a line of yoga-pants wearing women waiting to order their presumably healthful kale and kumquat concoctions. And if they're not lining up for them there, they're filling their grocery carts with products with names like Renovation and Glow, each promising to fill their cells with hydration and nutrition, restore alkaline balance, and rid the body of impurities. They're said to make your hair shine, your skin shimmer, give you energy, clear you mind, and make your immune and digestive systems impenetrable to pathogens or upset.
Twelve to sixteen-ounce bottles cost around ten bucks, and the tastes range from delicious to something filtered through the thong of a Sumo wrestler. The trouble is, they accomplish none of their stated physiological or medical objectives. Oh, habitual juicers might lose weight, depending on what their juice consists of and whether or not it's an improvement over their regular diet, but much of it is water weight that comes back when you eat normal, solid food. Much of the other weight loss is from muscle, which is the stuff that's largely responsible for giving women shape, not to mention real strength and vitality.
And unfortunately, a lot of the weight that's lost initially will be regained in the form of fat. Vegetables and fruit contain simple sugars and more complex, harder-to-digest carbs. Great, but when you grind them up, as you do in the juicing process, you break down all those normally harder-to-digest carbs into teeny-tiny little pieces, so small that they virtually bypass much of the digestive process. You end up getting a huge insulin release, and insulin takes all that sugar and shuttles some of it off to muscle (if indeed muscle needs it at that particular moment) and, more likely, to the liver, where it gets converted into fatty acids, aka fat – fat that's stored in your thighs, butt, waist, or wherever else you have a propensity to store it.
Volume has to be considered, too. Volume-wise, it's easier to ingest pulverized fruit and vegetables than it is to eat them in their whole form. Un-pulverized plant matter takes up a lot of space and tells your brain that you're full. Juices don't take up as much space, though. You might eat one whole peach or two whole plums without a problem, but you can probably drink five or six of each in one sitting if they've been Osterized.
More fruit equals more calories. More fruit equals more sugar. More fruit equals more sugar converted to fat that, ironically, makes you look less juicy. And it gets worse. Obsessive, chronic juicing doesn't provide enough nutrients to maintain health so that you risk metabolic or electrical system freak-outs. Furthermore, juicing destroys fiber so that the microflora in your gut perish and are taken out by the next turd train out of your digestive system. Go ahead and juice, only don't ascribe any health holiness to it, and do it in moderation.
Lie #3 – The "Female Viagra" Will Cure Your Libido Problems
The new "female Viagra" is a sham. There already is a real libido-enhancing drug for women and it's called testosterone.
Multiple studies have reported that the percentage of women between 18 and 59 who suffer from "sexual dysfunction" is around 50%. The problem is often diagnosed or misdiagnosed as depression, but there are a whole bunch of reasons why women might not want to get nasty. Medical conditions, imbalances caused by meds or sleeping pills, lack of emotional or physical intimacy, and having a disgusting, self-centered human being as their partner are all possible explanations.
Enter the first prescription female desire drug, flibanserin, brand name Addyi. The drug was originally meant to treat depression, but researchers noticed it had a mild positive effect on female sex drive, even though they're not sure why. The drug raises dopamine levels while lowering serotonin, a chemical associated with food satiation. Even though the effects were small, they were significant enough to meet FDA effectiveness standards.
The drug has to be taken every day and will cost between $300 and $400 a month without insurance. Side effects include dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Oh, and the drug shouldn't be combined with alcohol, which means you can't drink... ever. But here's the big problem. Addyi, at best, will perhaps give a small percentage of women two or three satisfying sexual episodes a month, which is only one more than placebo. It likely won't have any effect on the majority of women.
Adriane Fugh-Berman, director of an organization that calls for thoughtful use of drugs, put it this way, "They have gotten a drug that is barely better than placebo with serious side effects approved." That's tragic, sad, and confusing, because there already is and has been an effective treatment for female "sexual dysfunction" around for years and it's called testosterone.
Every doctor worth his medicinal salt knows it, but they hedge the issue and say that we don't know the long-term effects. Truth be told, that could be said for just about any substance on earth. Testosterone is a natural substance that flows through the veins and loins of every physically healthy and whole woman on earth. Dozens of tests have shown it to increase female libido, and you can draw a direct evidentiary line between low libido and low testosterone that's been caused by external events.
For one thing, women, like men, suffer a drop in testosterone levels as they age, but many common drugs effect testosterone levels, too – things like blood pressure meds, antibiotics, stomach and intestinal meds, anti-depressants, recreational drugs, too much alcohol, and, ironically the birth control pill. The pill, along with estrogen therapy, decrease ovarian production of testosterone, along with causing a tenfold increase in steroid hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which ties up any remaining free testosterone and makes it unavailable for use.
The answer lies in testosterone replacement therapy for women. While the drug isn't approved for use in women, doctors can easily prescribe it for "off label" use. There are various forms of available treatments, ranging from implanted pellets and injections to gels and creams, all without the negative side effects of Addyi (when carefully monitored). Testosterone works much better, too.
Lie #4 – You Need to Detox
Detoxing is foolish. Your liver and kidneys do a perfectly fine job in "detoxing" themselves.
The detox concept is related to juicing, but it operates on its own, special level of hucksterism. The idea behind detox is that you need to flush and cleanse your body of toxins, which, unfortunately are never named or defined. True toxins do exist, but they're usually associated with alcohol overdoses, drug overdoses, exposure and/or ingestion of heavy metals, and poisoning.
However, marketers have planted the notion in our heads that we're all festering, bubbling pots of toxic waste and if we could only flush all that stuff out of our bowels, we'd all look better, feel better, and live forever. Or something. Amazingly, this concept started in the late 1800's. It was called "autointoxication" and it linked the bowels directly to health. Clean them out like a chimney sweep scouring out a smoke stack and you could cure any illness. Science, early 20th century science, was advanced enough to flush that idea down the vortex of the water closet.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the concept resurfaced in modern times, and our alleged scourge is said to be a combination of food additives, salt, prescription drugs, gluten, smog, vaccines, GMO's, and food dyes. Proponents of detox or cleansing regimens insist that all of this stuff has formed some sort of toxic gruel or "mucoid plaque" in our colons and that it's a breeding ground for parasites, fungus, and probably radioactive monsters. But this sludge or mucoid plaque doesn't exist. Ask any gastroenterologist who spends his days rooting around colons.
The truth is that our skin, lymphatic system, liver, and kidneys do a fantastic job of "detoxifying" our systems. Detox people seem to be aware of the role these organs play, but they say that they have to be periodically cleaned out, like the air filter on your grandpa's Buick LeSabre. But it doesn't work that way; the liver cleans itself through a series of chemical reactions. The byproducts are then flushed out as bile or they're dumped into the bloodstream and eliminated by the kidneys.
But if logic and science isn't enough for you, consider the position of the over 300 United Kingdom scientists and engineers who investigated claims made by detox products and diets. They found the word detox had no meaning and that no two companies defined it the same way. Furthermore, many companies were using the words cleanse and detox to promote a variety of products, including hair straighteners or foot patches.
Granted, you will lose "weight" on a colon-cleansing regimen, but it's mostly water weight and muscle tissue. So why do people do it? Aside from not believing the science, psychologists suspect that cleansing has become, in some cases, a socially acceptable form of anorexia.
Lie #5 – Jogging Will Make You Fit and Hot
Jogging ruins your body. You're much better off sprinting, lifting weights, doing CrossFit WOD's, swinging kettlebells, or rowing.
If you believe that running is the key to fitness, or that it will somehow give you a fitness model body or even a nice, average, attractive body, go stand at the finish line of a marathon or even a half-marathon.
You'll no doubt be scanning the crowd for a casting director from The Walking Dead because the people coming across the finish line are physically pretty much already there as far as looking like zombies. Just slap a little make-up on them and glue a hanging eyeball to their faces and zip, instant walker.
Now contrast that with some YouTube footage of some world-class female sprinters. The difference will be striking. The distance runners are sallow complected, knobby kneed, sunken chested hanks of hair, while the sprinters look like two-legged versions of beautifully muscled, fire-breathing Arabian horses. The truth is, both jogging and distance running blow. The first is too low-energy and physically undemanding to facilitate any great changes in body shape, while the second eats away muscle until there's nothing left but a few strands of hair, some nerve fibers, and some bitchin' neon-colored Asics shoes.
Of course, not everyone loses all that body mass when they cross the bridge to distance running. Some corpulent women never change the pace. They get good at running whatever distance and pace they've chosen. The body eases into it like a warm, cozy comforter. It gets easy. They no longer burn as many calories. They stay the same or, cruelly, get even fatter as they justify eating more because of their supposedly calorie-burning activity.
The body, however, has to be challenged, challenged in a logical way in order for it to change and achieve a higher degree of fitness. In order to build round, curvy muscle, women need to train with weights. If running is their preferred activity, they need to sprint or run relatively short distances fast. Pretty much anything is better than jogging or distance running, though. Activities like skipping rope, kettlebell swings, rowing, sled pushing, circuit training, CrossFit WODs, and Tabata work will change your body far more and far more quickly than slow-paced running.
The old theory was that aerobic activity burned more calories than anaerobic activity. It's true that lifting and probably sprinting burn fewer calories during the actual exercise, but when you look at total calories burned during and after training, the anaerobic lifting and sprinting burn more by a significant amount.
Lie #6 – The HCG Diet is a Sound, Science-Based Diet
The HCG Diet is flat-out crazy. The diet works just as "well" without the HCG, but going on a 500-calorie a day diet is ultimately non-productive and damaging to your health.
According to nutrition apostate Anthony Colpo, the supposedly revolutionary HCG diet started in 1930. It was about then that an Indian doctor began treating chubby boys with a reduced-calorie diet and the drug Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or HCG. The drug is typically used by women as a fertility treatment and by certain anabolic-steroid using men as a hedge against testicular atrophy.
The doctor used the therapy for approximately 20 years and reported in the medical journal Lancet that patients who followed the diet for 40 days lost 20 pounds and didn't gain it back. Other docs started doing it, claimed similar success, and use of the method flourished until controlled studies repeatedly showed that the weight loss could be achieved without the HCG. The FTC then told these clinics to cut it out, and they largely did, until an infomercial guru appeared on television in 2007 to resurrect the plan in a book. The FTC eventually charged him with misrepresenting the contents of the book and they slapped him silly with fines.
Regardless, the diet began to flourish... again. More controlled studies were done and, like before, it was shown that the results could be achieved without the HCG. After all, the diet puts people on 500 calories a day. Of course they lost weight! Devotees of the diet refused to believe the evidence. Those on the diet claim that the HCG makes them feel great. Maybe so, but it's likely the act of sticking a needle into their shrinking cabooses fools them into thinking they feel good. After all, the placebo effect is powerful, especially when there are needles involved.
Studies were undertaken to test the placebo effect and they revealed that those on the diet alone felt tired and weak while those on HCG plus diet felt great. But so did those on the diet plus placebo. A couple of studies did support some of the claims of the HGC diet, but they were as riddled with holes as Swiss cheese. Furthermore, others couldn't replicate the studies, which is a key determinant as to the scientific veracity of a study. Despite all this, women all over the country continue to use this diet, spending anywhere between 30 to 600 dollars a month, sometimes even buying a homeopathic version of the drug which, by definition, doesn't even contain any actual HCG.
Yes, the HCG diet works, if we define "works" by making you lose weight. The trouble is, the weight loss consists of a great deal of muscle, a great deal of water weight, and a fair amount of fat – things that could all be done by just following the diet portion of the program. Of course, a diet that low in calories is silly all on its own.
Lie #7 – Vitamin-Enhanced Waters Are Good For You
Vitamin waters are worthless. They contain too many of the wrong vitamins, not enough of the right ones, and they're filled with sugar.
The United States is home to the most vitamin-enhanced society on earth. We put additional vitamins in virtually everything, from breakfast cereals to hair products to toothpastes and even sexual lubricants. Oh yeah, it's also put in drinking water. Companies tell us that these waters will make us feel better, look better, and even improve our relationships. Beyond that, people use them to feel nutritionally pious. They drink one and they walk around with a little niacin-enhanced halo around their heads, but in truth there's nothing healthy about them.
Most contain large amounts of vitamins B and C (since they're water soluble), but the average diet is almost never lacking in those nutrients. Besides, drinking or ingesting excess amounts of them doesn't provide any health benefits; they're simply flushed out of the body. Some types of vitamin waters contain smaller amounts of vitamins A and E and minerals like potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium, but 83% of drinks examined in one study had at least one nutrient that exceeded daily requirements and a majority had three or more nutrients that exceeded daily requirements.
Unfortunately, few people talk about the concerns of exceeding daily requirements, especially when you add what's in these drinks to what you're already getting from food. Increased amounts of some fat-soluble vitamins, like A and E, have even been implicated in an increased risk of premature death. Similarly, there's research to show that taking too much of certain vitamins, like C, can cause them to act like pro-oxidants before they're flushed out, which means they cause the formation of potentially damaging free radicals.
But forget all that. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of sugar. One of the most popular brands has 31 grams of sugar, compared to the 39 grams in a 355-ml. can of Coca Cola. Stop being a patsy. Stop over-vitaminizing yourself. Drink regular water or green tea. You'll be much better off.