Over the past few months I have been hearing almost constant radio commercials for raspberry ketone weight-loss/fat-burning supplements, with the tag line that they are the miracle fat-burning supplement recommended by Dr. Oz. Can you say, “Scam alert?”

The raspberry ketone scam follows the same tired script that has been used by supplement hucksters for years. Claim there’s research, pump the research, use jargon, take scientific data and use it out of context, get a celebrity endorsement, use a phony “expert” to recommend the supplement and then saturate the airways and the web with advertisements.

Do a Google search on “raspberry ketone research” and you will find bupkis. The entire raspberry ketone bunko con is based on two studies that used male mice as subjects. There have not been any human studies involving raspberry ketones, so who cares what happened with mice. Mice are vermin that eat crap.

Maybe Dr. Oz and his minions can pimp, “The Mice Diet” – or would it be the “Mouse Diet?” – that would help people lose weight. I can hear it now, “Mice eat crap and dead bugs and never gain weight no matter how much crap and dead bugs they eat! The Mice Diet; the new miracle diet and you will never have to worry about being fat again!”

These supplement hucksters prey on people who are insecure about their weight and people who are too lazy to exercise and make some modifications to their diet. People who are looking for shortcuts are suckers for this garbage. Folks who don’t want to sweat and make an effort want to believe that the rest of us are wrong, that they don’t need to diet and exercise and that a tiny pill is going to do all the work for them. This is all nonsense.

There is no nice way to say it and there is no need to wallow in the morass and decipher the mice studies and analyze the chemical make-up of raspberry ketones. The development and sale of raspberry ketones are based on nothing more than rabid speculation and the desire to sell product.

Stay away from raspberry ketone supplements as there is ZERO valid evidence that they can do anything for you.

Energy drinks are one of the most, if not the most, popular products in the beverage business these days. And anyone who has watched TV or listened to the radio over the past few years has heard about 5-Hour Energy. But the question I have been asked is, “Does it work?”

The short answer is, “Caffeine is a major ingredient, so of course it works.” But is this really the case and is 5-hour Energy, beneficial, better for you and more enjoyable than a cup of fresh coffee? My first response to anything that is a product of the hype machine is skepticism but sometimes I give in a little bit and try the product in question.

IMHO, 5-Hour Energy tastes god-awful and I will never, ever use it again. So I do not care if its benefits as pimped by the advertisements are legit. I ain’t letting that swill touch my lips ever again. If you are so inclinded, there are plenty of pleasurable and good tasting delivery systems for caffeine, and so when I am so inclined I will seek out these product.

The good folks over at ScienceBasedMedicine.com have done a great job deconstructing 5-Hour Energy, and since nobody does it better than the SBM crew it makes no sense for me to recreate the wheel. So head on over and read for yourself. There are a lot of ingredients in 5-Hour Energy besides caffeine, and you should know what they are and why this product has been formulated in this way.

For my tastes, I stick with an occasional cup of afternoon Joe – or iced Joe in the summer – and stay away from awful tasting 5-Hour Energy.

I have written about the nonsensical HCG Diet. It’s barbaric and won’t work. Now the federal government has stepped in to prevent supplement hucksters from selling HCG weight loss supplements.

This dreck is sold in various forms and the FDA has issued warning letters to seven companies that sell these products as drops, pellets or sprays. HCG is a legit substance, and is used to treat infertility. However, there is zero evidence that HCG offers any weight loss benefits. It is sad how gullible and/or desperate some people are that they would attempt to follow the HCG “diet” and spend money on these supplements that have no purpose.

The HCG diet forces people to subsist on 500-calories per day, which isn’t a diet but managed starvation. It takes a lot of chutzpah to make the claim that a supplement is responsible for weight loss on a 500-calorie per day diet.

The HCG diet and supplement scam is a great illustration of why you must be suspicious of all diets and supplements, especially at this time of year. The scammers are out there waiting for the opportunity to separate you from your hard earned money, as they offer the latest panaceas. With the new year right around the corner, the Diet and Supplement Industrial Complex is gearing up to take advantage of the New Year’s Resolution types out there.

An eight-year study that looked at the effects of multivitamin use in older women found that the pills did nothing to prevent heart disease and cancer.  The collected data is of an observational nature and not the result of rigorous scientific research, yet being that these results echo similar results found in a study with men, there’s less reason to think that vitamins offer any protection from serious diseases.

According to the study’s lead researcher Marian Neuhouser from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, “Get nutrients from food.  Whole foods are better than dietary supplements.”  Other researchers feel that multivitamins can still be helpful for those folks who have poor eating habits.  But, on the heels of a study that found a similar lack of efficacy for older men and multivitamins, it seems that you shouldn’t count on multivitamins for any preventative powers against diseases.

After eight years, there was almost no difference in disease rates and death rates among the 162,000 50+ years old women in the study. The large number of subjects in the study makes the results noteworthy.  Based on the results of this study people should re-evaluate whether or not they want to spend the money on multivitamins, especially if the rational for taking them is disease prevention.  Certainly, if you’ve never bothered to take multivitamins the results of this study won’t have you running out to the store to buy any.

The results of this study illustrates just how much is still “unknown” when it comes to nutritional supplements as information can be found to support both sides of the argument.  Fitness consumers need to keep this in mind when making decisions about what they want to include in their supplement regimen, especially when trying to stay on a budget.

As more research is done, there are fewer and fewer nutritional supplements that have a bona fide, scientifically sound track record of success.  Keep in mind that there are no magic bullet nutritional supplements and that the proven key to health and longevity is engaging in regular exercise and following a balanced diet.

I signed up for the FRS Healthy Energy Drink free trial program a few weeks ago and have been writing about my experiences with this Quercetin-fueled elixir.  Quercetin is an ingredient that has shown some promise in legit research, providing energy in a low-calorie package.

I have been training pretty hard over the past several months and have been planning to back off a bit so as to avoid the dreaded overtraining syndrome that I have written about in the past.  One of the most common problem fitness enthusiasts can experience is the overtraining syndrome that occurs and an otherwise healthy person starts to experience a wide-range of negative, physical symptoms simply because they are doing too much exercise.

So I hit the gym the other day ready to take it easy.  I was having a bit of a low-energy day, and was thrilled I had a planned a reduced-intensity and volume workout as part of my weekly routine.  Nevertheless, I dosed up with FRS Healthy Energy Drink 20 minutes before the workout, mixing 2-ounces of concentrate with 6-ounces of water and some ice chips.

My workout started with a progressive running drill warm-up that includes some flexibility and takes approximately 20 minutes.  This was only the second time I had done this routine in several months – as I take 2 or 3 months off from sprinting, running, agility drills during the winter to give my body a rest – but felt really good despite what I thought was a low-energy day.

Throughout the time I’ve been using the Quercetin-fueled FRS Healthy Energy Drink, I have not felt a jolt of energy like you feel when you have a caffeine-based energy drink; I have felt energetic even on days when I did not feel 100%.

After my running drill workout I did a variety of one-handed, dumbbell explosive lifts – jump shrug, jump high pull, hang clean, snatch – and some kettlebell work and my energy level was high.  As a matter of fact, I had to fight the urge to do more than I had planned.  All-in-all, it was a brisk, constructive 70-minute workout that ended with me feeling better than when I started.

It’s been a little more than 2 weeks since I took my first taste of FRS Energy Drink and I will say that – so far – I have been pleasantly surprised with the results.  I have used several different kinds of substances for energy that I’ve taken before and during workouts – Snickers, Pop Tarts, carbohydrate gel, Gatorade, other energy drinks, granola bars – and feel that FRS with Quercetin offers similar benefits.

If you’ve been training long enough – and hard enough – there are going to be times when, for a variety of reasons, you will need a boost.  And, so far, I think that FRS Healthy Energy Drink offers a viable option to those folks who are thinking of making an energy drink a part of their regular supplementation routine, and am glad that I signed up for FRS free trial.

Right Size Weight Loss Smoothies advertise that thanks to the ingredient appemine people can quickly and easily lose weight by drinking two smoothies per day.  In the year 2010 nobody should be impressed but, sadly, people still buy this nonsense.

Calorie restriction results in weight loss, so substituting two low-calorie smoothies for two regular meals is most likely going to result in a caloric deficit significant enough to result in weight loss in a relatively short period of time.  There is no big mystery here.  Right Size Smoothies supposedly contain an ingredient that suppresses appetite. The reality is that most effective appetite suppressants are available by prescription only, or are lower-dose over-the-counter options of prescription medication, and the vast majority of OTC appetite suppressants just don’t work.

Appemine is just more weight-loss nonsense.

The active ingredient in Right Size Smoothies- appemine – is basically green tea extract.  Green tea extract is basically a stimulant that also has some anti-oxidant properties and is supposed to boost energy and burn fat…yadda, yadda, yadda.  The Right Size web site does not provide any valid, legitimate research to support claims of appemine’s efficacy.  As is the case with any stimulant-based weight loss/fat loss/energy supplement, there’s the possibility of adverse affects from taking too much or from piggy backing this supplement with your usual intake of caffeine.  So you really shouldn’t have three or four cups of coffee and then drink an appemine-laden smoothy, because you’re liable to suffer from a variety of unpleasant side-effects.

The Right Size web site provides all the de rigueur hype but none of the rigorous science to support the claims made about appemine.  What the site has is pseudo-science, jargon and a lot of puffery. And we also get the head of the company telling us how great his product is…Fail.

So to recap, there’s no legit clinical proof to support claims about appemine, including any info that controlled, standardized test have ever been performed, and there’s really nothing unique about Right Size’s active ingredients to justify its purchase. Actually, you can purchase green tea in many of its forms, as well as the other Right Size Smoothies ingredients, in most health food stores and via the Internet at a fraction of the cost.

The Right Size Diet/Weight Loss Smoothies program is just another example of snake oil, and as a result gets a Do Not Buy recommendation.

Life is hectic.  Whether you’re a student, a parent, a working stiff or a member of any other demographic sometimes life gets in the way of healthy eating habits.  As a result too often people skip meals, usually breakfast, or make bad food choices as they eat on the run.  Skipping meals – especially breakfast – can sabotage your attempts at following a healthy eating plan.

Incorporating a protein shake into your daily routine, particularly at breakfast, is a great way to make sure you get enough, high-quality calories in your diet….

Look for a protein powder that is derived from either whey or egg whites, the two most complete proteins available, because they contain the required amount of the 8 essential amino acids, including branched chain amino acids (BCAA). The BCAAs are important because they are metabolized directly by muscles during prolonged exercise and are the first source of fuel used by the body.  Additionally, the BCAAs aid the body in recovery from exercise and allows for the building of new muscle tissue.

There are literally tons of different protein powders on the market, but there are a few simple things to keep in mind when determining which kind and brand of protein you will buy.  For those of you with short attention spans, I’ll tell you up front that the prevailing wisdom seems to be (how’s that for wishy-washy?) whey protein is the way to go.

Whey protein comes from cow’s milk and in the form of whey isolate contains little or no fat, lactose or cholesterol.  So if you opt for whey, look for a protein powder where the first ingredient is whey in either “whey protein isolate” or “whey protein concentrate” form.  There can be a big disparity in the prices between different brands that is a matter of both how big the container is and the level of quality of the protein. The higher the quality and the fewer the additives, the more expensive the protein will be – and this is for both whey protein and egg white protein.

Egg white protein is typically more expensive than whey but is every bit as effective.  Just make sure that the ingredients list is pretty short and starts with “”Pure egg white powder” or something to that effect.

Regardless of the protein that you choose – they both offer superior nutrition - make sure that the serving size is no greater than 20 grams of protein, as this is about as much protein as our bodies can process in one serving.  You don’t HAVE to use the whole scoop of protein, as half a serving – or 10 grams of protein/65 calories – mixed with a cup of milk adds up to about 215 calories, which is more than enough for most folks.

A protein drink can be the perfect breakfast for people on the go who don’t have time to eat a sit-down breakfast.   The shake takes about 30 seconds to prepare and if you have a little Tupperware shaker, breakfast can be a portable and healthy meal.  Starting off the day with a healthy 215-calorie protein shake will go a long way towards helping you have a good day.

Over the past several years hoodia in all of its various forms – also known as hoodia gordonii – has been hailed as the magic bullet of weight loss supplement that may help end the problem of obesity.  My dear friends, this is pure nonsense.

Hoodia and hoodia gordonii comes from a cactus that grows in South Africa and has been seized upon by dietary supplement hucksters as the weight loss panacea of the 21st Century, a substance that can help us in the fight against obesity, despite the fact that there isn’t a shred of real evidence to back up these outlandish claims.

This point bears repeating and needs to be emphasized: Whether it be hoodia diet pills or the hoodia patch, not one reliable, legitimate scientific study has been performed to study if hoodia can suppress appetite which leads to weight loss.  Hoodia will do nothing in the face of the obesity epidemic.

The way that hoodia has been marketed illustrates just how laughably pathetic nutritional supplement companies can be.  As an example, today I received a spam email from one of these hoodia gordonii pushers that included a link to an old NBC Today Show clip that talked about the supplement.  By the way, I would love to get a specific hoodia spam filter; it would help to keep my inbox way less cluttered.  Anyway…

After the report that touts the purported benefits of hoodia, Katie Couric performs an in-studio interview with Madelyn Fernstrom, a woman who works in the University of Pittsburgh Weight Management Center.

During this interview Ms. Fernstrom talks about all of the reasons that hoodia gordonii, whether it be hoodia pills or the hoodia patch, won’t work and certainly won’t help reduce obesity.

So a company that sells hoodia provides us with access to an independent report that says that their product DOES NOT work in the effort to sell us this hoodia, and people are still buying it.

People, wise up and get with the program!

The major reason why hoodia doesn’t work is that hoodia diet pills are made from parts of this cactus that are ground up into a powder, mixed with filler and put into a pill form.  Even if the raw hoodia cut right from the cactus did work, there’s no reason to believe that drying it up into a powder and mixing it with other non-hoodia gordonii substances and putting it into a pill form will work.

Powdered fruits and vegetables don’t offer the benefits of the real thing, so why would hoodia?

And then there’s the matter of dosage.  Since there are no controls over these kinds of supplements, there is no way that anybody knows how much hoodia is needed to provide benefits, if there are even benefits.

There is also the matter of counterfeit hoodia.  The cactus that produces the hoodia is not only rare, but is on a protected species list in South Africa.  As a result, hoodia exporters need a special export license to sell hoodia gordonii powder.  There have been many stories detailing how unscrupulous hoodia brokers have forged this document so that they can sell phony hoodia or diluted hoodia.  Recently investigations have uncovered that many brands of hoodia contain little if any real hoodia powder.

So here’s the rundown.  No scientific evidence, expert opinions say that hoodia doesn’t work, even if raw hoodia did work the powdered version won’t, no effective dosage indication and the possibility that there isn’t even hoodia in the hoodia pills.

The bottom line is stay away from hoodia gordonii diet pills and the hoodia patch.

A few weeks ago I signed up for the FRS Healthy Energy Drink free trial offer because the drink contains Quercetin, an ingredient that has shown some promise in legit research.   I will chronicle my experiences with the drink and post the details here on a regular basis.

I will tell you about my experiences and impressions of the product and if I don’t like it, I will tell you.  And if I do like it, I’ll let you know as well.

Last Thursday I drank my FRS before my workout and after I had cleaned up my driveway and walkway in the aftermath of a 15-inch blizzard.  I ate a good breakfast before I did my shoveling and snow blowing, but I don’t like filling up my belly before a workout, so I drank my 8-ounces and wondered if the Quercetin would be able to provide me with enough energy to get through my explosive exercise training routine.

As I mentioned in my first entry, FRS provides you with everything you need to make using the drink as easy as possible.  In the trial package I received 32-ounces of the FRS concentrate, a 2-ounce mixing cup and thermos that holds around 12-ounces.  They included a package of their energy chews as well, and I will tell you about them a little later.  Mixing up a batch is simple; pour 2-ounces of the concentrate into the mixing cup, add it to about 6-ounces of water in the thermos provided and shake it up.

I am still not in love with the way the orange flavored FRS energy drink tastes.  To me, it has a very distinctively artificial flavor that I’m assuming comes courtesy of the Sucralose.  There are some people who are virulently anti-Sucralose on the basis that it’s some kind of health threat, I’m anti-Sucralose strictly from a taste standpoint.

However, if the Quercetin-fortified FRS Energy Drink delivers on its promise of providing ample energy without the crash, I’ll probably get over my issues with taste.  FRS contains a fraction of the caffeine used in other energy drinks – the amount contained a third of a cup of coffee (35mgs) – which I guess is why I haven’t experienced a post-drink crash.

This was the first time that I drank FRS before a training-session, and while I didn’t feel any overt burst, I certainly had enough energy to successfully complete a 90-minute workout  that included a 15-minute warm up, three explosive lifts (dumbbell split jerks, one-arm swings and high pulls), pull-ups and 8, 60-yard shuttles completed in 13-seconds with 47-seconds of rest in between.  I supplemented the 8-ounces of FRS with 2 of their energy chews.  The chews are similar in taste and texture to a lemon-lime Starburst and did not have the same less-than-ideal taste of the liquid.

The big test will be the next time I hit the gym and perform both resistance-training and swimming in the same workout.  I plan on drinking the FRS before my workout and before I get into the pool.  Check back for my next installment.

If you want to try it yourself, click here for the free trial.

Here is a list of reasons as to why HGH – right now – is the ideal drug for athletes.  With the latest edition of the steroids in sport scandal that involves professional athletes from Major League Baseball, as well as other sports, people need to understand why these supplements are desirable to pro athletes.

And you won’t get this kind of info if you depend on the mainstream media and sports news outlets…

Body builders have enjoyed the benefits of human growth hormone, used in conjunction with a variety of other anabolic agents, for over 20 years but only in recent years have legit athletes started to catch on to this “better” kind of performance enhancing drugs.

1)       Human growth hormone provides a potent anabolic effect; it builds muscle.  Without turning this into a biochem lesson – especially since that’s way over my head – suffice to say that HGH increases the body’s ability to synthesize protein, and that this allows for muscle tissue to be built.  Human growth hormone use produces the holy grail of all anabolic benefits, hyperplasia.  Hyperplasia is the permanent increase in the amount of muscle cells.  Over the years there have been many steroids that were alleged to result in creating new muscle cells, but HGH is the substance that actually delivers this incredible benefit. HGH also increases the size of existing muscle cells.

So with HGH you have a situation where the size of existing muscle cells are increased AND a permanent creation of new muscle cells.  So a person could go on a cycle of human growth hormone therapy, which would create new muscle cells that remain after HGH therapy stops.  The longer the person remains on this regimen the more new muscle cells will be produced.  This person would then have more muscle than he did before the therapy and reap all of the performance benefits that come with increased muscle even after the end of therapy.

Additionally, human growth hormone has a positive strengthening affect on connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage and at an accelerated rate. Old injuries will heal and these tissues will be strengthened which can potentially minimize future injuries as well.  There is no doubt that human growth hormone therapy is being used in conjunction with the surgery and rehab of professional athletes, which has had the effect of getting athletes back on the field quicker than ever. These connective tissue benefits make HGH much more attractive than the use of old school steroids, as steroids only positively affect muscle tissue, while having a negative effect on connective tissue.

2)      HGH provides metabolic benefits such as helping the body burn more fat than usual, and serves as a protein-sparing agent as well.   HGH administration triggers the release of fatty acids from fat stores and the body winds up burning more fat than carbohydrates to meet energy requirements.  This is why athletes on human growth hormone can have extremely low levels of body fat while maintaining extremely high levels of muscle mass.

Without drugs, there is a kind of equilibrium between body fat and muscle mass.  If body fat is too low a person’s muscle mass will decrease as well.  HGH also has an anti-catabolic effect (protein sparing), which means that muscle protein isn’t broken down during periods of intense exercise or in the case of calorie restriction.  This anti-catabolic effect means that athletes can recovery quicker from competition and training.

3)      HGH is legal and can be acquired and administered by a physician, and as a result, the intelligent athlete can use medical privacy regulations to avoid the spotlight. The dose at which HGH is effective is small, which minimizes risk and – in most cases – allows the physician to avoid breaking any laws or breaching any ethical standards.

Additionally, due to the stresses of professional sports there is a very good chance that most – if not all athletes – would test for low hormonal levels during their season.  This means HGH can be administered in order to normalize an athlete’s levels.  This kind of therapeutic dose can provide enormous benefits to an athlete during their season. This is an important distinction to make.  If an athlete does test for low HGH levels – which most would or could – this is a case of using HGH as it is intended and not abusing it.

There are doctors all across the country that are openly practicing this kind of medicine.  One could argue that these doctors are incorrect in their uses of HGH, but this argument doesn’t seem to hold any more weight than the counter argument that there are no appropriate “off-label” uses of HGH. These are the major reasons as to why HGH is so popular among athletes.

There are other reasons as well, but this is enough for now.  And it is worth noting that testosterone when used in similarly appropriate doses, in conjunction with HGH is an extremely potent supplement cocktail from which all athletes would benefit greatly.

Remember, this isn’t an effort to rationalize or justify the use of HGH and testosterone.  I am simply recognizing and pointing out reasons why athletes – or anybody who works out for that matter – would find these substances so desirable.   What I will say is that when you understand what these drugs can do for athletes, and understand the nature of risks involved with playing professional sports – especially football – the case can be made that some supplementation may be appropriate and even necessary.