Does It Work?

Fitness and Weight Loss Expert Phil Kaplan Reviews The Torso Track and new ab devices, Electrical Stimulation for Fat Loss, and Pyruvate as a Fat Burner.

Does It Work? That's the question that people ask me whenever I begin a seminar, or when I conclude a TV appearance.  They might be referring to a new exercise device or a new nutritional product.  Maybe they're asking about a new aerobic video or some newfangled fat-loss device.  The answer to the question, in almost every case, is . . . NO!

Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying there aren't products that have value.  It's just that the advertisements lead people to believe a specific product will "work" to bring about a result.  At best, a product can only act as a vehicle or a piece of the puzzle.  At worst, some products can be life-threatening.  I'll provide a bit of insight into a few products that usually spark the "Does It Work" question, and then I'd like to direct you to some very basic but crucial information regarding Nutrition.  Since so many of the new products are nutrition related, a foundational understanding of some important concepts will serve as your future protection, allowing you to immediately dismiss many of the new products to hit the market as a clear waste of money.

The Torso Track
The first thing I should say about this is the movement puts the lower back in an awkward position.   This can not only aggravate previous back problems, but it can gradually tear at the ligaments found in the lumbar region.  I wouldn't even consider this safe.  Secondly, it's anything but "new."  Back in the 1960's, before we came to understand the risks associated with improper spinal alignment and support during exercise, exercise enthusiasts assumed the kneeling position and rolled a little wheel out on the floor in front of them to strengthen abs.  The Torso Track and its imitators have simply recreated that motion with a "machine" that can look attractive on TV and can be "pitched" with claims of "I really feel it working."  Finally, it's most important to recognize that most people who purchase this product are seeking a reduction of the waist.  It will do NOTHING to reduce the waist!  If you want a smaller waist, you want to lose fat.  In order to lose fat, you have to put your body in a state where it is willing to release fat.  That, of course, requires a concern for nutrition and exercise.  I guarantee you have those abs you seek.  They're in there.  If you can't see them, it's only because you have to shed the layer of fat between the muscle and the skin.  Eat supportively, train all the muscles, and employ aerobic exercise in moderation and those abs will appear in time.  Working the abs with any device that targets the abdominal region might actually INCREASE the size of your waist by adding muscle.  Does it Work?  I think you know.
Abs, Abdominal, Abdominals, six pack, abs, abdominal, abdominals
The Electrical Impedance Fat Reducers
They sell them in the airline magazines as well as some of the fitness periodicals.  They show a well toned man or woman with some little electrodes hooked up to their skin.  The illusion is, you can get bodies like these by simply hooking up to the machine for a few minutes a day.  This is absurd, nonsensical, and perhaps the biggest waste of money (these units aren't cheap) to come along in years!  A recent study conducted at University of Wisconsin showed absolutely NO CHANGE in any of the individuals who followed the recommended use regimen. 


Sold as a fat burner and energy enhancer, this is the primary ingredient in many new products including "Exercise in a Bottle."  In order to understand the role of pyruvate, you have to understand the Krebs Cycle which is a series of biochemical events in the conversion of sugars and fats (carbohydrates and lipids) into ATP (ATP is to the body as gasoline is to your car). Pyruvate (pyruvic acid) is created when sugars are metabolized. If sufficient oxygen is available, pyruvic acid is broken down through the Krebs Cycle. In an anaerobic state, pyruvic acid is broken down anaerobically creating lactic acid.

To simplify things, let's call pyruvate a player in an orchestra of chemical reactions leading to energy production.  It certainly plays a role in the process of energy production and fat release.  That doesn't mean that taking it in a pill form is going to increase anything.  The ads refer to a research study which lends itself to "proving" that pyruvate works.  The study was conducted with semi-starved women, the results were not consistently replicated, and I have never met a single person who has achieved any significant result using pyruvate.  If you're feeding pyruvic acid to someone who is on a very low calorie diet, it's possible that it's simply filling in a gap that would have been filled in healthfully if the body was metabolizing carbs.  It's another example of a compound that plays a role in a process being taken out of context to be sold as a "miracle."  The only miraculous thing about pyruvate is the fact that it continues to sell despite it's inability to live up to ad claims.

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