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What does the evidence really support?

After discussions with the real experts (university faculty in the fields of nutrition, exercise physiology, disease prevention and weight control) it is clear at this time that the anti-carbohydrate craze is without any real scientific support. There may be benefits and risks. Studies are under way and we will know more in a couple of years.

Yes, it is true that you can lose weight with carbo restricted diets. But weight loss may be achieved with other plans too.

Is the low carb plan more effective than some other plans? Objective evidence seems to support that such a plan may be effective for short term weight loss. But for how long and at what cost?

What about the long term view? Decades of research support a nutritional plan that has moderate or low fat content, moderate protein content and a relatively high complex carbohydrate content.

So why does everything in the lay media related to nutrition seem to focus on its low carbohydrate aspects?

The facts support that it is not because of some new scientific discovery. Rather, the reason is probably related to the fact that IT SELLS!!

The more something can be related to a low carb nutritional plan, the more it sells. It is just that simple.

The popular low carbohydrate plan was first promoted more than thirty years ago. It is certainly more popular now than it was back then.


Maybe at least in part because of the real breakthroughs in marketing and communication that have been developed in the last thirty years as well as the frustration of a population that has become increasingly overweight. Well marketed weight loss plans will make money. So, they keep coming.

Don't fall for any new weight loss plans until you see academicians in the fields described above reporting a new scientific breakthrough. When something really useful is discovered, it will be the biggest news on earth.

Eat well as nature provided for us, lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans (legumes) and very low fat dairy.

VERY IMPORTANT!! Good nutrition, aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility exercises are effective. When done as part of a sensible plan, they will always be part of a healthy lifestyle, one that will promote good body composition, good health and a high quality of life.

April 2010 ...... FURIOUS!

I recently noticed an infomercial for another abdominal exercise machine. Like many of the others, its use trains the abdominal muscles isometrically (muscles contract but do not shorten). As I watched the video it was obvious that the spine was remaining straight throughout the range of motion. The thighs were moving through a range of motion at the hip joint. This is primarily a hip flexor exercise. As already stated, in many individuals the hip flexors already overpower the weaker abdominals and should be kept out of abdominal exercise.

So good tests for the most useful abdominal exercises are these:

1. Are the abdominal muscles isolated as the primary movers?

2. Does the spine flex through its complete range of motion as the exercise is performed? (When abdominal muscles contract and shorten, the spine flexes.)

3. Are the hip flexors uninvolved (or minimally involved) with the exercise? In other words, is there little or no movement at the hip joint?

The answers to all these questions should be YES! (A properly-performed crunch gets a "yes" to all these questions and all you need is an exercise pad or an incline board.)

As I watched the video I heard the same claimed benefits. There were many testimonials and many before-and-after photos showing how the device easily reduced excess abdominal body fat and produced six-pack abs.

Did these people develop their magnificent abs through the use of the device or did the company hire models who already had six-pack abs?

Even effective abdominal training does not cause body fat to be removed from the abdominal region in preference to other body regions. Abdominal body fat is not involved with the training of abdominal muscles.

This goes back to the old fallacy of spot reduction. We can not cause fat to be removed from a particular body region by exercising that region. This has been well understood for several decades.

Oh yes, don't forget the suggested nutritional plan and the suggested aerobic exercise plan that is included with the device! (These are the things that really do work.)

New abdominal exercise devices just keep coming, one after the other. The devices are new but the story is old. What always seems to happen to these devices after a relatively brief period of time? The answer: They stop selling and disappear from the marketplace.

If they were truly effective, wouldn't they remain in production and keep selling, like treadmills, elliptical trainers, cross country ski machines, stair steppers and free weights?

The offer: You may have a 30-day trial of the device in your home for less than $20. But there is an additional shipping charge not disclosed in the infomercial. Maybe that's OK. But remember, the device is quite heavy and your return shipping may exceed $100 at your local shipping store. And have fun disassembling and repacking the device in the original box which may not have survived the original shipping very well. (After all, maybe it came all the way from China.)

If you do decide to return the device, what happens if it does not arrive by the deadline, in new condition and in the original container? Well, the company has your credit card number and you agreed to company terms which include charging your credit card account for the entire cost of the device. And, by the way, the cost of the device is not disclosed in the infomercial. The only price shown on the infomercial is the low price to try the device in your home for 30 days.

So, you will keep a rather ineffective, rather expensive device


Ship it back with great difficulty and great expense


Ship it back and still pay for it if you have not met all the conditions of its return.

Why do we continue to see new infomercials for new abdominal exercise devices? The answer is simple. They sell. Enough uninformed people are buying these things to make the entire process quite profitable.

BE INFORMED! Twenty years after the original publication of "Fitness and Fallacies", its message is still very important.


November 2010

More infomercials for another ab exercise machine. The "before" and "after" photos and videos are impressive. They show huge amounts of lost belly fat and weight loss. The testimonials are convincing. The experts sound knowledgable. But they are ALL lies.

The infomercials promote the same fallacy, that if you exercise a "problem area", the fat will go away from that "problem area". This is called spot reduction and spot reduction is a fallacy. No question, no doubt ... it's a fallacy.

They may even state that the ab exerciser burns more calories than a treadmmill.

BLATANT LIES! There is no way that sitting on the device and moving the torso can compare to weight bearing exercise that involves moving the body over a great distance.


Beware of any fitness or weight loss product that makes it sound easy. Fitness and weight loss are NOT easy. Any company that claims otherwise is committing fraud.

More details will follow.

I would love to hear from you! Please drop me an email with your comments and questions and I will start a blog page: rick@delormephoto.com

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Mark Bauman of Bauman's Running and Walking Shop