Pro Tip: Avoid Miracle Weight Loss Cures

//Pro Tip: Avoid Miracle Weight Loss Cures

The Internet is full of promises of the latest and greatest miracle ‘drug’ or food that will miraculously melt away stubborn fat. Here’s the plain truth. The entire notion of a miracle weight loss drug is completely preposterous. We only believe it because we so desperately want to believe it. Deep in our hearts, we know it cannot possibly be true. Humans have been eating plants and herbs since, well, we became human. What are the chances that a completely natural and new substance is suddenly found in year 2017 that wondrously melts away fat? Pure science fiction. Mostly, these supplements rely on the well-known placebo effect for all their benefits.

Acai Berries

Similarly, the notion of the ‘super food’ is faintly ridiculous. These are no easy answers. We imagine there are foods that are so amazing that eating them automatically makes us ‘super’ healthy. We are hoodwinked into believing that some berry from the Amazon (acai) or a seed from Mexico (chia) or a seed from the Andean region of South America (quinoa) might be enough to turn the tides of obesity and diabetes. I am not saying that these are not healthy or delicious foods. I enjoy them myself. But eating them doesn’t make me all of a sudden healthy if I continue to eat sugar and junk food.

We only need to look to 1950s America for our answer. They were not eating chia seeds or quinoa or acai. They didn’t even much like whole wheat bread. It was considered gross (or at least I did, as a child of the 1970s). Whole-wheat pasta was entirely unknown. Yet obesity and diabetes were barely noticed as a health problem back then.

The super duper, mega healthy foods have been discovered long, long, long ago. These are the whole, unprocessed natural foods. Things like nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and wild game. Anything else, we would have discovered centuries ago. Even things that taste rather bad, like bitter melon, have properties that make it a food that our paleolithic ancestors chose to eat. It tastes really bitter. But they kept eating it because it was edible and maybe had some health properties (according to Chinese medicine). The newly discovered super-food idea relies upon you believing that the 7 billion people of this world  in all 2017 years of anno domini (AD) and the thousands of years BC somehow missed that some ‘superfood X’ was really healthy for you. But, oh, hey, great news it was just discovered earlier this year and now available! KThanxBye.

With the rise of ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ there’s been a new scam — fake studies. Green coffee is one such example. In 2012 a published study touted its belly busting effects. The study was fishy, sure, but still, people wanted to believe. It was a media sensation. But the fact that it didn’t work couldn’t be hidden forever.

By 2014, Applied Food Science (AFS), the company producing green coffee bean extract settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for $3.5 million. Under intense scrutiny, the 2012 study was retracted because it was, well, bogus. The investigators had admitted to fudging the data. Others would call it a flat-out lie.

AFS had hired some Indian scientists to study the weight loss effects of the green coffee extract. But the results were not the ones AFS desired. So, researchers repeatedly changed the weights of the patients and trial groups. Torturing the data forced the eventual positive result. The trial was so horrifically bad that no journal would publish it. So, AFS decided to hire Drs. Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham from the University of Scranton to rewrite the paper and put their own names on it to give it a sheen of respectability. This sort of intellectual prostitution, unfortunately, is not that uncommon.

Without verifying any of the data, Dr. Vinson wrote the paper and proclaimed that subjects could lose 17.5 pounds in 22 weeks or 10.5% of body weight. This was all done without changing their diet, but only with the addition of some green coffee extract. Dr. Vinson, presenting at the 2012 American Chemical Society meeting, explained “Based on our results, taking multiple capsules of green coffee extract a day — while eating a low-fat, healthful diet and exercising regularly — appears to be a safe, effective, inexpensive way to lose weight”. In a press release, he even goes as far as to say that subject might have lost even more weight if they had not been on placebo for part of the study.

Once the bogus study was complete, a plausible reason needed to be found for this miraculous effect. So, it was decided that green coffee was high in chlorogenic acid. Presumably, this was the reason for its miraculous effect. Let’s forget the fact that chlorogenic acid is high in potatoes as well — a food not particularly well known for its slimming effects. Let’s also forget the fact that chlorogenic acid has never previously been hinted to have a weight loss effect. Green coffee has chlorogenic acid. Green coffee causes weight loss. Therefore, its due to the chlorogenic acid. In the bloody arena of American daytime television, a miracle weight loss cure meant viewers. So what if it didn’t really work?

Sensa was another food additive that claimed miraculous waist slimming properties in late night TV ads. It was created by Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist. Sensa was a crystal that you sprinkled onto food. Dr. Hirsch claimed that these crystals he created would make you full and therefore lose weight.

Sensa ran on late night TV ads for a long time. Infomercials claimed that studies had ‘proven’ its benefit. So what if the studies were entirely made up? Dr. Hirsch claimed that a study done by the Endocrine Society supported the 30 pound weight loss claim. The Endocrine Society, on the other hand, didn’t know what he was talking about.

Eventually, it became obvious that Sensa was just a giant scam. The makers settled with the FTC in January 2014 for $26.5 million. By October 2014, Sensa was bankrupt and out of business.

There was also the case of HCG Diet Direct, which settled for $7.3 million. It, too was just a gigantic scam. Kevin Trudeau, a promoter of a misleading book entitled “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ don’t want you to know about”, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

We laugh at ‘primitive’ people’s beliefs in voodoo and witchcraft. All the while, we drink our green coffee extract, take our Sensa crystals of power, and HCG. Pot, meet kettle. Avoid miracle cures. Weight loss begins with an understanding of what causes weight gain. No, I’m not talking about calories. I’m talking about hormonal mediators of obesity – predominantly insulin, although excess cortisol may play a role, too. Everybody wants the quick fix. But, in life, there rarely are quick cures. The most important part of learning how to lose weight is to understand what caused the weight gain in the first place. For years, people were told it was all about calories in, calories out. But when they tried to reduce calories, they still didn’t lose weight. So, understanding the root cause of obesity (the aetiology of obesity, in medical terms) is the single most important thing you need to do in order to lose weight. Where can you get good information on this? A new podcast  will be soon available discussing these exact issues. Stay tuned.

2017-09-21T00:08:33+00:00 22 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Fung is a Toronto based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his IDM clinic.

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22 Comments on "Pro Tip: Avoid Miracle Weight Loss Cures"

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sten bjorsell
In the world of medicines, there is far worse research fraud being committed than mentioned above. And those fines often run into billions, as both revenues and profit margins often are 1000 times bigger. Fines are there regarded as “the cost of doing business”. Read the book “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime” by the Danish professor, researcher, medical doctor, etc., and also former pharmaceutical insider Peter Goetzsche. Simply put, as long as our regulating bodies do not even attempt to repeat the “research” that they today base approvals of new drugs on the world of drugs will continue to kill… Read more »
Stephen T

Sten, Goetzsche is an intriguing and always interesting professor. As you’ll know, he thinks breast screening does more harm than good, which, despite his evidence and logic, gets some women very angry. People should be told the truth and let them decide, but agendas and vested interests interfere. I think there’s very little informed consent in health care.

sten bjorsell

Yes, Stephen. He has written a book called Mammography Screening, which I have not had time to read yet. I gather two effects: Regular screening can cause breast cancer through the radiation and false positives can destroy a woman’s life as the side effects of the treatment often can be as bad as cancer. IF with Ketogenic diet has no known bad side effects. If doctor’s help is required it is available, as long as the treatment ideas come from the patient, I understand!

Stephen T

I completely agree. He makes the point about all the fear and worry caused by often pointless operations. The issue is prominent in the short documentary ‘Too Much medicine’, which features some eminent and sensible people. It’s difficult to balance the harm done to the occasional success.


I went to a medical conference in Boston where a doctor said basically the same thing. I have not had a mammogram for at least 30 years.

Pedro A Da Ros

Hello Sten,
Would you mind reply with your e-mail, to mine … . I would like to ask you about the IF and your comments on other blog related to 3 or 5 days fasting to remedy the abnormal glucose levels…which I am struggling with..
This is more adequate as a private conversation…if you do not mind.
Best Regards

Tom & Mary Couming

Well done, I have been following the recomendations of Dr Fung for 6 months, weight is coming off at a good pace, best of all I have reduced my Insulin use (w/Primary Care Dr.) from 80+ units to zero(0). another 5 lbs in next two months will be great the 2018 at a level 180lbs and I will no longer be diabetic after 35 years. No trick diet, no additives. Just some discipline provided by ME. Thanks Dr. Fung


Intermittent fasting is the ONLY diet that has helped me to keep the weight off. I also avoid breads, white potatoes and sugar.


Real scientists base their work on evidence and therefore don’t feel the need to use “evidence-based” in their papers or titles. So whenever I see “evidence-based”, I steer clear of the hoax/scam.

Roger Bird

And saying that there is no scientific evidence for such-and-such is meaningless except in the minds of logical positivist skeptopathic bores who really secretly only want to maintain the status quo and aren’t really interested in health, theirs or anyone else’s.


Thanku Jason. Straight, clear, simple. Just what we need!

Roger Bird
For decades I took pills in order to stay healthy, all along ignoring my slight weight gain. Then when I could not longer deny my diabetes symptoms, I started doing super-foods. No, not the super-charged slickly advertised ones that Jason is referring to, but those that have a long history among health heretics and hippies to have value, like spirulina, DIY yogurt, DIY kefir, bee pollen, brewers+nutritional yeast, moringa, cocoa powder, psyllium, turmeric, blended seeds, sea veggies, etc. I list so many because I believe that they still have value. After all, if lots of carbs or refined carbs or… Read more »

I really appreciate your work dr. Fung. I’m starting today to follow your recommendations and see where it takes me. Diabetes for 28 years now.


Random question. I am 4 days into a 10 day water fast. My fast is for mild weight loss and general health. Once I ate a whole clove of garlic and passed some kind of worm. I am reasonably healthy and have no obvious parasitic symptoms. But I wonder if I may still have parasites.

I am thinking about supplementing my water with crushed up raw garlic cloves for the remainder of my fast. Garlic has 5 calories per clove and I figure I won’t exceed 5 cloves per day.

Any thoughts on if this is a good idea?

Roger Bird

I am astonished that you can eat an entire clove of garlic and not puke your guts out. You are a stronger man than I am. I say, go for it. It you can avoid the nausea, go for it. But please tell us what happens. You might like Reddit. There are subreddits called /r/fasting, /r/keto/, and /r/DrJasonFung. I really want to hear about your blended up garlic clove in your water.


“…passed some kind of worm”? Horror movies are less scary. I hope you saved it for a detailed scientific explanation.

Kevin Montgomery
I stumbled upon Jason Fung’s books simply by accident. I was looking through Amazon’s bookstore one day before going on vacation for some reading material to read at the beach and his Obesity Code book caught my eye. After doing a little research on him and watching a couple of his YouTube videos I decided I needed to read his book. I’m so glad I did! I have been struggling with my weight all my life, I lost 150 pounds once and gained it all back plus 20 then lost 50 gained it back and so on and so on!!… Read more »

I tried different types of medicines and supplements to lose my weight, but nothing effectively work for me. While consuming various medicines my body shows different kinds of changes due to side effects. So I stopped trying the supplements, at that time one of my cousins told me about the weight loss product called slimguard from herbasium life. I used it, helped me to burn almost 6 kgs. This is an excellent 100% ayurvedic product with zero side effects. To know more details about the product slimguard you can visit the link: –


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Is It Normal

Chia seed has a water-soluble fiber that forms a gelatinous mass in the digestive track that appeases hunger. They may be beneficial for weight loss but it is not a “magic pill”. You will still need to follow a sensible diet and exercise.

Noor Ullah jan Jan

Thank you for the comprehensive review that we should avoid the fast weight loss, so-called, for our health and fitness reasons.
You are right.
Weight loss, as in my information is about the overall lifestyle that one should adopt, for staying healthy and fit. there is no magic available for weight loss, you are right.
Food, exercise, daily habits, managing stress and staying positive are the factors that work in synergy for weight loss.
I would rather suggest that option for a positive and healthy lifestyle will result in weight loss in auto.