After reviewing countless nutrition articles and studies and diet plans and supplements and whatever else is out there, I’m not only a more bitter person (lol I jest…sort of), I’ve also come to realize that there’s a lot of fake nutrition-related promises out there. I swear I’ve become an expert in eye-rolling because that’s what happens when I read yet again that a particular supplement promotes ‘fat burning’ or that the ‘proprietary blend’ of ‘specially approved herbs’ in a diet product can ‘detox your liver’. Oh my god. Even writing about it, I’m laughing to myself because the concept is so absurd. Yet thousands of people fall for these promises, year after year.

I thought it would be fun and informative to list the diet and nutrition promises I see most often – especially online – and then debunk them for you, one by one. 

And listen: I swear to you that if any weight-loss miracle supplement or product comes on the market, I’ll be the first to let you know. 

Here they are:

Makes you into a fat burning machine

I swear, if I had a dollar for every time I saw this one, I’d be at Saks buying shoes right now. 

Let’s get one thing straight: Your body does burn fat, but it does so in response to activity and certain diets (low calorie, ketogenic). There is no pill, no powder, no shake, nothing – that independently creates this ‘fat burning’ situation in your body.

Some of you will write me and tell me that chili peppers (capsaicin), which is the active ingredient in most of these ‘fat burners’, has been proven by science to burn fat. 

Well, yes and no.

This is what the science actually showed: 

People who ate several grams of chili flakes in their meals had a resulting elevation in metabolic rate.

Raising metabolic rate does burn more calories.

However, studies showed that this elevated metabolic rate didn’t last for very long.

The studies also showed that the total extra calories burned were very few – maybe less than 20 a day, and that’s after consuming an amount of chili that will burn the crap out of your mouth. So, no thanks. I can burn the same number of calories trying clothes on at Nordstrom, which is a hell of a lot more fun. 

Some fat burners also contain chromium, which hasn’t been proven to burn anything…except your money when you waste it on shitty supplements. 

Resets your metabolism

I wrote in detail about metabolism here.

But if you want the short version, here it is: metabolism isn’t like your faulty iPhone that you can easily reset to factory settings. It doesn’t work that way! 

If you’re unhappy with your metabolic rate, really the only way to change it for the long-term is by adding more muscle mass to the equation. That means you need to lift some weights, and not believe crazy claims that some diet can reset your body. In fact, diets that restrict food can potentially mess your metabolism up more, and just as bad, your emotional health. 

Balances your hormones

Oh boy, hormones. 

Like claims about metabolism, I find that hormone claims are thrown around on diet sites because many people are afraid of the science behind them. I guess ‘diet gurus’ count on you not being able to interpret the physiology behind their claims in order to $ell product. They didn’t count on me being around though to interpret everything for you! HAH!

Hormones balance is indeed a thing, and it’s extremely important. Imbalanced hormones – like cortisol, leptin, thyroid hormones, estrogen, and insulin, can make you feel terrible and most definitely can have a negative impact on your health. Hormone imbalance can result from poor diet, lack of sleep, excessive stress, and disease, among other things. Sound familiar to any of you?

While some supplements – like adaptogens – have purported benefits for hormone balancing, I’ve included this claim because I think we have to be skeptical about who is selling what, for what reason. Diets like ‘The Hormone Reset Diet’, which I wrote about here, have a ton of half-truths, twisted science, and a whole lot of shitty products that the author insists are necessary for success and is conveniently $elling – for her own per$onal gain. That’s called ‘conflict of interest’, and it’s always a red flag for me.

While not all supplements with hormonal effects lack efficacy, a lot of these products are sold as ‘proprietary blends’, which don’t reveal how much of which ingredients are actually in the product. If you’re interested in balancing your hormones with supplements, I would highly recommend getting help from a credible individual – like an RD who specializes in these sorts of things (ie: not me) –  who can tell you which supplements to take and in what exact amounts. 

If you want to take the first step in hormone balancing, the best thing to do would be to make sure you’re getting adequate sleep, that you’re not under too much stress (easy for me to say, I know), and that your diet is balanced and adequate in calories and nutrients. 

Detoxes your body

I’m not sure why people are STIIIIIILLLLLL falling for the detox bullshit, but here we are. 

Nothing you consume detoxes your body, your blood, your liver, or anything else. Your body isn’t a sewer pipe that needs to be unclogged and flushed out. 

Charcoal, milk thistle, green juice, the Master Cleanse, apple cider vinegar, and all those other things that people like Gwyneth Paltrow and her team want you to believe are so mandatory for making your body squeaky clean and perfectly pure, don’t work in that way. Your lungs, liver, and kidneys detox your body. There’s not (and yes, I totally just read this on some girl’s Instagram, no word of a lie) 5-10 pounds of ‘toxic sludge’ in your body that’s just hanging around. OMG!! Can you imagine? Please don’t be the person who believes such nonsense.

Rests your adrenals

Just like your lungs don’t poop out after a hard workout, and your heart beats 24/7 without stopping hopefully until you’re very old, your adrenals don’t need a rest. Do adrenals get worked harder at times of intense stress? Sometimes, but don’t worry: they’re made to take it. 

A lot of ‘adrenal fatigue’ sites (Google the term, you don’t have to go far to find the avalanche of garbage that results – another red flag that no legit sites are talking about it) use some serious scare tactics like telling you that your adrenal glands are going to take their last gasp and stop working because of your terrible lifestyle (which, of course, can be remedied by taking their supplements and following their diet). 

Please don’t fall for this nonsense. 

If you’re overly stressed in your life, it’s safe to say that it will benefit you in many ways to try and change that.

I wrote about adrenal fatigue here. And as an aside, here’s a review of studies about adrenal fatigue, with pretty much the best title ever.

Lose X pounds in X time

There’s a great reason why I never give clients a specific weight goal: Because we never know how they’ll react to any nutrition plan we give them. 

I’m sorry, but unless someone can see into the future, you should never believe any weight goals they set for you. And anyways, let’s stop focusing on the NUMBERS, okay? Seriously. I don’t even weigh 99% of my clients, for good reason: It’s not about the scale anymore, it’s about making lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle to be happy, content, and as healthy as you can be without stressing yourself out and being miserable. Doesn’t that sound so much better? And yes, it works.

I truly don’t believe that killing yourself with some diet to lose those ‘last 5 pounds’ you’ve been fighting for 10 years is really all that worth it. 

No need to change your diet! Take X supplement and you’ll lose weight

There’s really nothing to say about this claim, tossed around mostly by idiotic weight loss programs like SlimRoast (and here). I’ve had clients say that protein powder, or apple cider vinegar, cause weight loss without any effort whatsoever (although taking shots of ACV is incredibly disgusting and corrosive to your teeth and esophagus). I’ve learned to be very moderate when breaking the following news to them: 

Just like the ‘fat burners’ we talked about above, nothing that you can eat or take will help you lose weight on its own. You need to do the work to get results. Sorry!

‘Celebrity nutritionist’; ‘Harvard educated’; ‘MD’; ‘Doctor’

I guess this is a sort of ‘claim’, in that you’d expect someone who appears to be well-educated to provide you with the best possible information.

For some reason, far too many people start salivating like Pavlov’s dog when they read that a ‘Harvard educated doctor’ has written a new diet book. It’s as though every medical professional, especially those who have been Ivy-League educated, can do no wrong where diets are concerned. It’s a completely false assumption of course; I’ve read and worked with plenty of well-educated doctors – including my own father – whose heads were up their behinds when it came to nutrition. 

I’d also like to remind you that Dr. Gundry, Dr. Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Atkins, Dr. Travis Stork (The Bachelor, as well as The Doctors..not sure which one is more credible), and many others have been educated at Ivy League colleges and made idiots of themselves with their crazy TV shows and/or their thoroughly debunked (some on this very blog) theories about nutrition. 

A shoutout goes to all those nutrition-expert ‘doctors’ who aren’t actually Medical Doctors but use the ‘doctor’ designation to sell books and supplements – I’m talking about the ‘doctors of chiropractic medicine’ or ‘doctors of naturopathic medicine’. They still seem to elicit the same misguided excitement due to their ‘doctor’ titles. Nicely played, you all.

And if there’s a hierarchy of sorts for crappy nutrition credentials, ‘celebrity nutritionist’ would be the base of that, since that means absolutely nothing in terms of training. JJ Smith of Dr. Oz fame (what a shocker), with her lovely green smoothie detoxes; and JJ Virgin, with her holistic nutrition specialty and ‘clean eating’ crap, both fall into this category. 

Nutrition can be a minefield of false promises and untruths, so do the work to make sure you’re getting the best information from the right people. Keep in mind that there are no miracles where nutrition is concerned; in general, you get out what you put in, and that’s pretty much it. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and beware also of people who have something to sell – especially when it’s their own product.