case in Runaway Jury was built around the question of whether
the firearms manufacturers should be held liable for the
accidental or intentional shootings of the innocent. An
interesting question that I wouldn’t attempt to answer.
This morning I woke up and went to the gym and I overheard
man, it’s not a steroid, it’s a veterinary product, but
it’s awesome. You inject it with an insulin needle and
it burns up fat, but it gives you really intense workouts.”
I was listening to advice being given. I would be willing
to wager the advisor was not a doctor. I would also be
willing to wager he wasn’t a pharmacist or a veterinarian.
He’s a guy who works out who was introduced to a compound
that he may not fully understand, and was led to believe
it has some miraculous property that would aid in finding
a lean body.
question that came to mind was, “should the disseminator
of bad advice be held liable of something really bad happens
as a result of that advice?” Rather than attempting to
open up a legal dialogue and examine laws and case histories,
I decided to write this article to make certain that you
always examine the source when being given advice. Celebrities,
gym members, neighbors, and friends are very generous with
their fitness and weight loss advice, but with the new onslaught
of risky solutions, I think it’s best that advice fall on
deaf ears. If you want expert advice, seek that advice
from a proven and credentialed expert.
back to the gym conversation, the product being discussed
was “Kyno” or Kynoselen ( I wrote at some length about this
in another article which you can find at http://philkaplan.com/thefitnesstruth/darksideofbodybuilding.htm
). We don’t know if there are going to be long term side
effects as this product has just found its way into the
gray market. We also don’t know how pure the product is
as there is far less quality control used in veterinary
products than in drugs intended for human application.
What we do know is that as soon as someone untrained in
giving injections sticks a needle through his or her skin,
there are some very real risks.
walking into the locker room at a gym years ago and watching
guys use the same needle to inject who-knows-what into their
thighs. Great way to spread anything from hepatitis to
HIV. Injections can also result in abscess, infection,
or shock, any one of which can lead to severe complications,
and if the individual has an allergic reaction to the substance
being injected, there’s no telling if the emergency room
will chalk it up to another life saved . . . or the other
advice dispersed in gyms isn’t always life threatening,
but it is often flawed, and at the very least can lead to
a waste of money, a fruitless investment of hope, or worse
yet, a beginning of the hunt for the miracle pill or potion.
Kyno discussion was one of many I’ve overheard over just
the past few months. In fact, just last week I sat on the
seated bicep curl machine to finish up an intense arm workout.
My biceps felt pumped and I knew three sets on this machine
would leave me feeling great . . . and I couldn’t help overhear
the conversation between two young men using the seated
dip machine behind me.
call the two men involved Frick and Frack:
Man, I’d do anything for a killer six pack. I do abs
every day but I can’t seem to get them to show.
Dude, you gotta get L-carnitine.
I already use creatine.
No, this is different. Carnitine takes the fat and burns
it. It goes right to your stomach area and just gets you
ripped, but you gotta use a lot of it, like 3 times what
the bottle says.
Is it safe?
Yeah, it’s just a vitamin, but it was discovered in animals
and people don’t produce it. When people take it it makes
fat flow into the blood and when you workout instead of
burning muscle you burn the fat.
Do you use it?
I do, but I was always lean so it doesn’t do much for
me, but I have a buddy who swears it works.
tempted. I wanted to firstly go over there and explain,
L-carnitine isn’t a vitamin, it’s an amino acid, and it
is something we do a very nice job of producing, even if
we’re human. I then wanted to ask to speak to his buddy
to find out what else he did when he started using L-carnitine.
This is one of those supplements that continues to sell
despite the fact that I never met anyone who noticed a discernible
effect from using it. L-carnitine doesn’t “go to the stomach
to make fat flow into the blood.” It does have a metabolic
role in that it acts as a sort of a shuttle to carry fat
into the muscle cell so it can be burned, but it is only
one player among thousands that all play a role in that
process. To expect that oral ingestion of L-carnitine will
“get someone ripped” is the equivalent of throwing a brick
on the ground and expecting it to turn into the Sears Tower.
typically happens is someone gets motivated to start working
out, and that’s when they start eating right, and maybe
they add a few supplements into the mix. If they wind up
seeing physical improvement, the first question out of people’s
mouths is, “what did you take?”
begin to believe that there is a “something you can take”
that winds up in a positive result, of course the advertisers
and marketers tap into that flawed belief, and in doing
so they effectively manipulate belief systems and begin
a stream of bad advice. Bad advice takes many forms in
relation to fitness and weight loss and the outcome can
Advice on the Internet?
are so many ads sent via email it’s only a matter of time
before we start seeing a carpal tunnel epidemic from people
clicking on “delete” so many times. Among the “grow inches”
and “lose inches” promises are those that now offer friendly
advice promoting an amazing new fat loss product. Lipostabil.
The websites the e-mails link to promise that this amazing
compound is the equivalent of liposuction . . . without
surgery. What is it really? It’s phosphatidylcholine.
This is an example of some clever marketers, who care very
little about the health of others, repackaging something
as a “new” substance and attaching it to some miraculous
result. What is phosphatidylcholine? It’s a phospholipid,
found more commonly under the label “lecithin.” When you
find a supplement labeled “lecithin” you’re buying something
that is 20% phosphatidylcholine. Choline is a vitamin type
compound that has various roles in metabolic function and
it is the key component of acetylcholine which acts in the
nerve transmission that signals muscle to contract. FDA
laws do allow approved compounds to be used by licensed
medical professionals for off-label use provided there aren’t
any laws restricting that use. In a research study with
a small group of only 30 people, phosphatidylcholine was
injected into the fatty pockets in the lower eyelids of
people with a desire to cosmetically reduce lower eye puffiness.
The study had loose controls, it wasn’t conclusive, and
while there was some promise that it might have lessened
fat deposits, the study has yet to be replicated. More
importantly, there wasn’t any long term evaluation of the
results so there is no actual data to show what happens
years after phosphatidylcholine is injected. According
to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons,
the injection of Lipostabil has neither been proven safe
or effective. There are also serious concerns. Considering
the chemical makeup of the substance, there is question
as to whether it will indiscriminately dissolve cell membranes,
leading to unwarranted cellular death. The ads don’t tell
you the risk considerations. The ads don’t tell you that
only licensed medical professionals can legally inject this
compound. The ads show nice pictures of thin happy people
and sell the compound along with insulin needles and directions
for injecting this into your “trouble areas.” This is a
perfect example of how information of “a new miracle” spreads
and leads to the passing along of bad advice.
written before about the personal trainer at Crunch Fitness
who recommended that his 39-year-old client take a fat burner.
He never bothered to consider whether or not she had high
blood pressure, nor did he consider the fact that hypertension
is a contraindicated condition for the use of ephedrine
products, the main ingredient in the prescribed fat burner.
As a result, she died.
have been far too many negligence and wrongful death cases
in the arena of sports, fitness, and health clubs, mainly
because “bad advice” is so freely available.
a member of one of the nation’s largest health club chains
went through the usual “two free sessions” with a personal
fitness trainer. Never bothering to question the trainer’s
credentials, she obeyed when she was instructed to use the
leg press machine. The very first time she used the machine
she expressed that she felt a sharp pain her neck. The trainer,
without any diagnostic credential or expertise, told her
it was because her upper back was weak. The trainer had
her return to the same machine in the successive workout.
When the pain became so severe she felt compelled to visit
a qualified medical professional, she was accurately diagnosed.
An MRI revealed three herniated cervical discs. The case
ended up in the court system and was left to legal posturing
and maneuvering. The reality is, the severity of her injury
and perhaps her lifelong condition could have been minimized
or avoided. She unfortunately unquestioningly accepted
share one more experience, and then I’ll provide some simple
rules that can help you filter out bad advice and keep your
personal health and fitness program moving in the right
Expert in the Health Food Store?
getting a phone call from Louis, a 40-year old father of
three. His wife had passed away and he was raising his
children and moving his business into his home. He decided
that after being a victim of stress for the previous two
years, he was going to take charge and find a quality of
life suitable for him and his family, and as a part of that
he decided he was going to get in shape. He called me to
ask if I’d help him design an affordable gym in his home.
We arranged a consultation, with the intention of discussing
space availability, equipment options, and budget, but as
the discussion continued he began to ask me more exercise
you were recommended to me as someone who was a fitness
equipment expert but as I look around your office I must
apologize. I didn’t realize you had such expertise in fitness
and exercise. I know putting the equipment in my home is
a big step for me, and I bought some supplements to get
me started. I was going to start walking until I get the
gym set up and then progress to weight training. The only
thing is, I have asthma and I want to make sure I take things
Asthma? I wondered what supplements he was planning on
using. Of course I asked and he told me he bought Xenadrine.
The “guy in the health food store” told him it was “the
best fat burner.” The “guy in the health food store” never
bothered to ask if he was on any medications. The use of
albuterol, his prescribed asthma medication, and ephedrine,
combined with the caffeine Xenadrine contained, not to mention
the caffeine he drank in his three daily cups of coffee,
could be enough to lead to a disaster. Thankfully Louis
wound up getting on a supportive program, forgot about the
supplements, and today is very thankful he didn’t follow
the advice of “the guy in the health food store.” Potential
disaster averted, but I’m sure there are tens of thousands
of cases where “a guy in a health food store” provides bad
in a 2000 edition of Archives of Family Medicine (Health
food store recommendations for breast cancer patients.
CC. Gotay, et al., Archives of Family Medicine.,
2000, vol. 9, pp. 692—698) addressed medical advice
given out by clerks in health food stores. 40 health food
stores in Hawaii were identified that sold herbal products
and the researchers sent someone to each store pretending
to be the daughter of a woman with breast cancer. In 36
out of the 40 stores, the salesperson recommended at least
one product as a cancer cure and not one bothered to ask
the severity of the illness, the medical treatment being
employed, or other compounds the patient may be taking.
Not one of the 36 salespeople bothered to mention that the
herbal products sold had risks of toxicity and side effects.
blind trust meets bad advice, the outcome may be hazardous.
simple rules to filter out bad advice:
for credentials for any advice related to exercise, nutrition,
or medical conditions.
the question, what qualifies you to share this information
and how did you acquire it? What are your credentials in
fitness, nutrition, or medicine?
the individual giving advice proven results specific to
your goal with individuals who were in a similar situation
to yours? In other words, just because someone has built
up muscular arms, don’t expect that they’ll know how to
advise a 60-year-old woman as to how she can improve her
they take precautionary measures?
person providing advice fails to ask questions specific
to your health or any pre-existing conditions, be wary.
double check with a recognized expert.
my intention in writing this wasn’t to scare you from accepting
advice of qualified experts, when you play around with human
movement, nutrient ingestion, supplement prescription, and
drugs, you are playing around with people’s health and well
being, and well-intentioned advice doesn’t always equate
with good advice. Raise the red flags addressed by the
tips above and it should become simple to recognize who
is sharing truth and science and who is either intentionally
or unintentionally a purveyor of misinformation . . . otherwise
known as “Bad Advice.”