Zero Carb Forum Bans Paying Members

The new confusing and not clearly stated “rules” on the Zero Carb forum require adherence to the ZC diet and participation on the forum in order to remain a member. Everybody else is relegated to guest status where you can read parts of the forum but not post.

There is a special category of members on the forum, support members. These are member that have also donated money to the Leader. As far as I understand, when the new “rules” came into effect, these members would be exempt from the journaling requirement. But apparently they are not exempt from banning. I received a comment from such a support member and she wants to warn others.

If the little narcissistic sanctimonious ‘leader’ took your money/site donation and banned you anyway (as he did me) please post that everywhere you possibly can in order to warn potential new members of his practices. Please people don’t give this person your money. Your donation means nothing to him unless you’re planning on drinking a quart of his blood on top of it.
 

I wonder how legal this is. To accept money for services (forum access) and then deny access without cause. There cannot be any “cause” as there are no Terms of Service to violate. 

The post Kimorexia did last week, and my post chiming in have been discussed on the Zero Carb forum and Charles submitted some comments here on my blog as well.

Charles’ comments here reveal his personality, and not in a good way in my opinion.

Yes, a cult. And that’s why you all are fat and unhealthy. Just stay over here spewing your nonsense while failing at your diets. When you decide to get serious and lose those pounds and get healthy, come see us.

And you accept comments from Jimmy, who is currently eating peanut butter ice cream and full blown carbs? Get real folks.

Hey wait a minute….Aren’t these all the people we kicked out? Of course, they don’t like us….

You’re right, I apologize for insinuating your were fat. I was more thinking of your friend Jimmy there. He is definitely fat. I didn’t mean, all of you, I should have been more clear.

However, I do think you need lives. Why would you sit around here commenting on such a horrible forum? If ZIOH is so bad, then why monitor it and obsess as you are doing? You’re sitting here picking apart stuff as if you have no life. Isn’t that a little odd to you? I mean really. This obsession needs to stop.

All of the people on ZIOH are adults and they are there by choice. I deny membership to at least 5 or 6 every single day. We’re only interested in members who are ZC and who will journal their experiences for people like you who can’t do it yourselves.

I don’t see any criticism here. Our forum rules are not something I need to apologize for. You start your own forum and you can run it how you like. I don’t go to other forums criticizing the way they do things. I don’t see where you find the time.

By the number of advertisements you have here, it’s clear that I am helping you immensely. By criticizing me, you get to have more people come and possibly make more money. I get that.

Despite that, I don’t even have a criticism for this blog of yours. I only noticed this blog because you linked to my blog. I don’t care. The more you talk bad about me and ZIOH, the more members we get. Our before and after pictures speak for themselves. We are healthy and we sport great success stories by people who have tried all other plans, yet with ours, they have success.

I have no wish to argue with you or your members here nor do I care if you continue your obsession with criticizing all that I do. I am in superb health and all of my members who have met me can vouch for that. I have nothing to hide nor anything to explain.

I’m glad I provide entertainment for you and this crew of yours.

Have a nice day.

And by the way, I found the Kimorexia thing entertaining. It’s not very accurate, but it’s cute. Enjoy!

I find it interesting that Charles assume that I am fat. And that he is using this characteristic as a derogatory attribute. There was a comment on the forum along the same lines:

They are defensive. WHO are all these ZIOH refugees who are complaining? And are they complaining perhaps, b/c they binge, cannot keep weight off, and are still trapped in the carb cycle? Seems more likely to me.

What Charles and his disciples in the Zero Carb compund totally missed is that neither Kimorexia nor I even talk about the Zero Carb Diet. We talk about forum practices that we find dispicable and demeaning. Nothing else. Whether we are fat or not, wheather we ever did ZC or not, whether we were ZIOH members or not is totally irrelevant.

It is also interesting that Charles and this member resort to “fat bashing.” Charles runs a diet forum. Granted, there are many underweight people there with eating disorders but there is a fair share of people trying to lose weight as well. Just the other day, one members was strongly reprimanded for having expressed her opinion which could be read as if she considered fat people lazy. That was not acceptable. Of course, the same rules apparently do not apply to the leader himself.

How to turn dieting into a religion

At least he is trying. Check out Kimorexia’s post about a Zero Carb forum that has turned into something that very much resembles a cult. (I actually wrote a post about that a few weeks ago.)

This Zero Carb forum started about a year ago after the leader and his disciples had been thrown out of Jimmy Moore’s low carb forum. The new Zero Carb forum eventually grew to over 800 members.

Many of the members arrived from Lowcarbfriends where there were several ZC threads running. Many of these members also ended up being banned from LCF as they tried to spread the word of the ZC forum in ways that violated TOS.

While the Zero Carb forum initially had open registration (donations welcomed but not required) that policy recently changed. They pruned the membership list down to less than 300 members. The reasoning behind this is not clear to me as the posts about the change are very confusing and even more contradictory.

Kimorexia did a good job of listing what is expected of members of that forum. The list is already long, but I could add a couple of more things:

I could go on, but I think enough has been said about that place. Like Kimorexia, I hope the members abandon ship and start their own forum where this type of behavior is not acceptable.

NOTICE OF PENDENCY OF CLASS ACTION

TO: EVERYONE WHO PURCHASED A MEMBERSHIP TO KIMKINS.COM THROUGH THE KIMKINS.COM WEB SITE (www.kimkins.com) FROM JANUARY 1, 2006 TO OCTOBER 15, 2007

PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. YOUR RIGHTS MAY BE AFFECTED BY A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT THAT IS CURRENTLY PENDING IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, IN RIVERSIDE, CALILFORNIA.

INTRODUCTION

1. On May 20, 2009, the Riverside County Superior Court, located in Riverside, California, issued an order certifying this case to proceed as a class action.

2. The plaintiffs are six individuals who bought memberships to kimkins.com through the kimkins.com Website (www.kimkins.com) from January 1, 2006 to October 15, 2007. The defendants are Heidi Diaz, an individual, and Kimkins (also known as Kimkins.com), a business entity that conducts business in Corona, California.

3. The plaintiffs contend that Diaz and Kimkins.com induced them into buying memberships for kimkins.com through false and misleading information provided on the Kimkins.com Web site. The plaintiffs contend that the defendants violated California Business & Professions Code § 17200, et seq., which authorizes courts to provide relief from unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business practices. The plaintiffs also contend that Diaz and Kimkins.com violated common law prohibitions against fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

4. This notice provides you with information regarding the litigation, including the plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants and the current status of the litigation. This notice also provides you with information regarding the court’s class-certification order.

THE LITIGATION

The Plaintiffs’ Claims

5. This lawsuit is based on the plaintiffs’ claims that Diaz and Kimkins used unfair, unlawful, or fraudulent business practices to induce them into buying memberships to Kimkins.com. This lawsuit is also based on the plaintiffs’ claims that the false and misleading information contained on the kimkins.com Web site constituted fraud or negligent misrepresentation by Diaz and Kimkins.

6. Here’s a list of the kinds of misconduct that the plaintiffs have alleged:

• that Diaz and Kimkins concocted a false persona, “Kim Drake” or “Kimmer” to sell memberships to Kimkins.com
• that Diaz and Kimkins misled potential members into believing that “Kim Drake” was real by using photos of real women and then falsely claiming that the photos depicted “Drake”
• that Diaz and Kimkins posted lied about “Drake’s” purported weight loss
• that Diaz and Kimkins provided false or misleading information to Women’s World magazine
• that Diaz and Kimkins fabricated 41 “success stories” and published on the Kimkins.com Web
• that Diaz and Kimkins made up celebrity endorsements
• that Diaz and Kimkins misused labels and metatags to steer Internet traffic to the Kimkins.com Website, in violation of the law
• that Diaz and Kimkins misled potential members into believing that they were buying lifetime memberships, when in fact Diaz and Kimkins.com terminated memberships at their whim
• that Diaz and Kimkins intended to mislead potential members and assumed that potential members would rely on her misrepresentations.

The Defendants’ Position

7. Diaz and Kimkins have denied all allegations of wrongdoing and liability, and they continue to deny that they have done anything wrong. Diaz and Kimkins also have asserted various affirmative defenses to the plaintiffs’ claims.

THE COURT’S CLASS-CERTIFICATION ORDER

8. In an order filed May 20, 2009, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. The Court certified for class treatment the plaintiffs’ claims for equitable relief, including disgorgement of the subscription fees paid to Diaz and Kimkins by the plaintiffs and the members of the class.

9. The certified class is defined as all individuals who purchased the Kimkins.com diet membership on-line from the Kimkins.com Web site from January 1, 2006 through October 15, 2007.

THE COURT HAS NOT EXPRESSED ANY OPINIONS
REGARDING THE MERITS OF THE PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS

10. The Court ordered that this notice be provided to advise class members that this case is pending and that the Court has certified the case to proceed as a class action. You should not consider this notice or its mailing to be a statement by the Court that the plaintiffs are right or that their claims will prevail.

INSTRUCTIONS TO CLASS MEMBERS

11. You do not need to do anything to remain a member of the class. If you bought a Kimkins.com diet membership on-line from the Kimkins.com Web site from January 1, 2006 through October 15, 2007—including either of those dates—you are automatically included in the class. Your rights will be represented by the plaintiffs and their attorneys. You will not be personally responsible for any attorney fees or for the any of the costs of this litigation.

OPT OUT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

12. You have the opportunity to opt out of the class action lawsuit as detailed herein. If you incurred a personal injury as a result of using the Kimkins.com aka Kimkins Diet, you have a right to opt out. Notices to opt must be sent to jtiedt@tiedtlaw.com or mailed to Tiedt & Hurd at 980 Montecito Drive, Suite 209, Corona, California 92879.

WHERE TO GO & WHOM TO CONTACT
SHOULD YOU NEED MORE INFORMATION

13. This notice provides only a brief summary of this litigation. For further details, you should take one or both of the following steps:

• Review the documents in the Court’s file for this lawsuit. Many of these documents may be viewed or obtained on-line at the following URL: http://public-access.riverside.courts.ca.gov/OpenAccess/ . You also may review the Court’s file in person by going to the Office of the Clerk of the Court for the Riverside Superior Court, during regular business hours. The Clerk’s office is located at 4050 Main Street, Riverside, California 92501.

• Write a letter to the attorneys who are representing the plaintiffs and whom the Court has appointed to represent the class. Here are their names and their contact information:

John E. Tiedt & Marc S. Hurd
Tiedt & Hurd
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 209
Corona, California 92879

Michael L. Cohen
Michael L. Cohen, a PLC
707 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 4100
Los Angeles, California 90017

Ray Moore
Moore Winter McLennan LLP
701 N. Brand Blvd., Suite 200
Glendale, California 92103-4232

If you decide to contact one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, please do so in writing. To make it easier for them or one of their staff members to respond, however, your letter should include both your e-mail address and your telephone number.

There are estimated to be as many as 40,000 members in the class. So please, DO NOT CALL THE COURT OR ATTEMPT TO CONTACT THE COURT BY E-MAIL.

DATE: ___________________________, 2009

____________________________________
Hon. _________________________,
Presiding Judge

Diet Cults

How come specific diets often result in the forming of cult-like groups? The more extreme the diet, the more likely the followers exhibit cult-like behaviors,  it seems.

Kimkins was a typical example. Very low carb, very low fat, very low calorie. You really needed to be brainwashed to manage to follow such a starvation diet for any amount of time. The “high” came from seeing the scale go down every day and being cheered on by other cult forum members. The “lows” when you were hungry and/or feeling sick were overcome by visiting the forum and reading encouragement and tips of how to ignore the starvation symptoms and persevere.

Any criticism was efficiently shut down by the cult leader herself, Heidi Diaz or Kimmer. Negativity was not conducive for weight loss, according to her. When the critisism was no longer contained to her own forum where she could control it, an “us versus them” mentality was soon developed. The cult-like nature of Kimkins was addressed in several blogs at the time. One of the best posts is on Back Across the Line, where these cult characteristics are listed:

Cult members are “focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.” The leader is a strong-willed, domineering character who rules the group with tight control. He lets it be known in subtle ways that he is “in charge” of the movement. He makes the plans, he orchestrates the movements of the group or groups (sometimes he exercises his sway over several groups). He dispatches the workers, assigns their chores, etc.

Frequently, they even begin to imitate his mannerisms in terms of voice inflection, language patterns, aggressive attitudes, etc. They become “clones” of their esteemed leader. It is not uncommon that the leader knows of weaknesses or past problems of people with his group. Thus, through subtle intimidation and fear he keeps them under his control.

“Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged,” and there can be pressure or social punishment when there is disagreement with the “boss.” Those who disagree are made to feel as though they are stupid or inept. They are brainwashed with the notion that they do not have the knowledge or experience to question the leader.

Younger people are particularly vulnerable to the leader’s “gift of gab,” and his feigned expertise. No matter how radical the leader becomes in his decisions or actions, the cult members will not criticize him. Even if there should be mild disagreement, no specific expressions are voiced. The members reason that though he may be mistaken in some of his judgments, yet the overall good he accomplishes outweighs any minor flaws.

Members are taught to “rationalize” the conduct of the leader in matters they have always “considered unethical before,” under the guise that the “end justifies the means.”

The cult leader always takes the major credit for the movement’s accomplishments. Members become psychologically dependent upon him. “What would we ever do without our leader?,” is the cult mentality.

The cult leader generates within his members “a polarized” mentality. His people evolve an “us-versus-them” mentality. Little-by-little he criticizes other groups with which his members might tend to associate, undermining confidence in them, attempting to discredit anyone who could have influence over his “flock.”

Cult members become suspicious; they imbibe the critical disposition. No one is really as “sound” as “we” are. We are an “elitist” group. And so, seeds of isolationism are sown. The movement leader discourages reading any material, examining any ideas that he does not generate. He seeks to control the inflow of knowledge relative to “his group.”

The cult leader has a clearly defined “anti-authoritarian” disposition. Within the context of the church, for instance, he would have an “anti-elder” attitude. Elders would be recipients of constant critical remarks. No cult leader would affiliate himself with a congregation having elders to whom he must be in submission. “Control” could not be maintained in such an environment.

Cult members are seen occasionally to take on a new personality. They begin to act differently. They become increasingly antagonistic to family members and long-time friends. They may even boast that, “I am not the old [name] that you used to know; I am a new person now.” And indeed they are. They have become strangers to those who knew them well. They have been transformed into the image of their leader.

Kimkins certainly operated as a cult at the time. Luckily, it didn’t last long. A diet too hard to follow, the discovery of the fraud by Heidi Diaz made the vast majority of members to abandon the forum, and the remaining group is not big enough to keep a cult atmosphere thriving.

Another diet cult, which on the surface doesn’t seem as dangerous as Kimkins, is Zero Carb.

The diet is simple. Eat meat (ground beef is the popular choice), drink water, don’t exercise and you will not only lose weight but improve your health in a multitude of different ways. No need for supplements. No need for organ meats or even a variety of meats. They ensure you that you get everything you need from supermarket ground beef.

As “proof” they show pictures of themselves. However, there is no way to verify their claims that they follow the ZC diet they prescribe. You just have to take their word for it.

The Zero Carb forum has all the characteristics of a cult. It is interesting that several ex-Kimkins dieters are members. From one cult to the next.

The ZC forum is led by a guru. He exhibits all characteristics of a narcissist, as given in this post I wrote a while back about Kimmer: The Cult of the Narcissist.

The guru sets up rules for forum participation as he sees fit, and they change over time. Initially anybody was allowed to join as a member, and were only thrown out (banned) for criticism. If you have not followed this regimen for 6 months, religiously, you can not question anything. The latest change on the forum include a registration screening process. Members just lurking, or members not posting under their (supposedly) real name are not welcome. This has pretty much become a forum “by invitation only.”

Even then, any criticism is shut down. If you are not following ZC you are not welcome on their forum. As the guru himself said it:

We’re changing the world one steak at a time. Get with us or get the hell out the way!

Whatever. It’s their forum. It’s just surprising that they choose to limit access to outside people as they all seem to want to bring their message to the masses. Of course, as a guest you can still read but it’s a tedious process as the search function is not available unless you are a member. You can just wade through so many posts before you give up to try to find out why Vit A, or C, or exercise, or .., is not required.

The 6 Week Cure

I pre-ordered the new Protein Power book, The 6 Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle. Now, I didn’t have much use for a 6 week cure myself as I have been successful in keeping my middle relatively slim. However, I was interested to see what they had to say about the cause of it.

I did get some new tidbits from the book. Like supplementing with leucine (an amino acid) and melatonin. I tried melatonin way back for sleep problems but as it didn’t help, I stopped. The Eades, however, is saying that lack of melatonin is not beneficial for fat loss, so I might start up again.

As with regards to the cause of the middle-age middle gain, there were no big surprises. Hormones. That is pretty obvious as the vast majority of people my age (50+) have problems with the middle expanding, despite eating sensibly and exercising. The 6-week cure supposedly helps to get a flat stomach back.

The cure consists of three 2-week steps.

The first step includes a liver detox phase where all substances causing the liver to work hard are to be avoided. This includes alcohol, caffeine and any unnecessary medications. The diet during these two weeks consist of 3 protein shakes per day and one LC meal with very limited vegetables.

Two things about this surprises me. First that Splenda is allowed. To me, Splenda is a chemical and while it hasn’t proved to be detrimental to the body, I don’t think it’s a good think to use when you are trying to do a detox. However, there are protein powders out there with Stevia, so perhaps that is a viable alternative.

There are also rumors in the Zero Carb community that this book promotes a “meat-only” diet. It doesn’t. There are vegetables and even berries with every meal, although in very limited quantities.

Week 3-4 are lowcarb meals, again with very limited quantities of non-starchy vegetables and berries. Alcohol and caffeine can be reintroduced.

Week 5-6 looks like a maintenance diet to me.

When it comes to exercise, they recommend only 30 minutes of weight training per week. Plus a simple ab exercise that can be done anywhere at any time.

The Eades are sharing their own experience with their middle-age middle gain and I can identify with Mary Eades. I also did not have any weight problem until I entered peri-menopause. What is disappointing though is that they say that Mary was not successful with the 6-week cure only until she got her hormones adjusted but they don’t go into detail about any of the hormone theraphy. Personally, I don’t know if it makes sense to feed your body hormones to stay at a perpetual 35 year old level for life. But then, I’m not a doctor and they are.

I have approached my middle gain differently. I maintain a relatively flat stomach by regular exercise, and it’s not enough with just 30 minutes per week. I need 30 minutes 4 or 5 times per week at the minimum. No cardio. Heavy weights. I have proven over and over again that, for me, this is the only thing that makes any difference to my “muffintop.” I don’t fully understand why. Hormones? I wish they had addressed this fact as I’m sure I am not unique.

While my review may not sound all that positive, I do recommend the book. It’s a good read and the recipes alone are worth the money. The cure is probably also a good plan for someone that quickly needs to shed some pounds and likes to follow a strict routine with given meal suggestions.

Finally, I wonder what the Eades’ target audience is. The book is not directed towards people that have a lot of weight to lose (even though it might work well as a starting point for transition into Protein Power). The book seems more directed towards people that have not been overly overweight and now find themselves with 20-30 stubborn pounds extra. If this means that lowcarb will be sold to a larger audience, I’m all for it. In my opinion, we can all benefit from lowcarb becoming more mainstream.

I wish the Eades the best of luck and great success with this book. They do a lot of free work on their blog for the lowcarb community.

Acai Scam Settlement

Attorney General Reaches National Settlement with Dietary Supplement Company


~ Companies marketed Acai berry supplements, among others ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office has reached a national settlement with an internet-based company that markets non-prescription dietary and health supplements. The settlement resolves allegations that the company, Aton Solutions, and its subsidiaries were offering free trials of their products, including Acai berry supplements, but customers were unable to cancel their subscriptions before being billed. Since the Attorney General began investigating, Aton has made nearly $10 million in customer refunds nationwide.

Palm Beach County-based Aton Solutions and subsidiaries GIC LLC, SFL Nutrition LLC, Globalnet Pharmacies LLC and Glades Distribution Services LLC offer 15-day free trials of several products, but the trials triggered an automatic subscription and customers had to cancel the subscriptions before the end of the trial so they would not be billed for the products. The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division received thousands of complaints from consumers and opened an investigation in December 2008.

According to the complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office, customers claimed they were unable to contact the companies by telephone, e-mail or through the company’s websites to cancel future orders under the terms of the free trial offer. As a result, thousands of consumers were continuously billed a monthly fee of $80 or more for products that they neither ordered nor wanted.

Under the settlement, Aton Solutions and its subsidiaries will openly describe all terms and conditions of any trial offer located on the company’s website and will clearly disclose how and when products may be returned. Additionally, the company will maintain adequate customer service personnel to field cancellation requests in compliance with the terms and conditions of the free trial offer and will continue to examine, address and resolve all complaints related to the company’s business, products and trial offers.

In addition to the consumer refunds, Aton has agreed to pay $250,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs and will continue to issue refunds to any consumers who have complaints. The companies have fully cooperated with Attorney General’s investigation.

The company that agreed to the settlement sells Acai Berry Supreme and Extreme Acai Berry, among others.  While I applaud the Attorney General for looking into this scam, I can not help wonder how much difference it will make. At least some people will get some of their money back, but how many just gave up when they couldn’t reach anybody to cancel the autoship? While they might have had their credit card company stop further payments, many of them are likely out of the money for the first couple of shipments. Clearly, this company has made a lot of money on this product as they agreed to a settlement of $10 million in refunds.

The company is also allowed to continue to sell these in my opinion useless products. The requirement to “clearly disclose how and when products may be returned” is technically fulfilled, but who checks the “Terms and Conditions” before placing a $3.95 order for a “Risk Free Trial?” Or, understands the statement about “a negative option” that has been added to the bottom of the page?

†I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS CONSUMER TRANSACTION INVOLVES A NEGATIVE OPTION AND THAT I MAY BE LIABLE FOR PAYMENT OF FUTURE GOODS AND SERVICES, UNDER THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, IF I FAIL TO NOTIFY THE SUPPLIER NOT TO SUPPLY THE GOODS OR SERVICES DESCRIBED.

It is also annoying that the supposed benefits of this product were not questioned. Acai Berry continues to be sold as a detox and weight loss supplement despite there being no proof of these claims. None. The only studies that have been done have confirmed a relatively high amount of antioxidants but then there are no studies that show that antioxidants are beneficial to us in the first place.

Healthy Diet

What is a healthy diet? The answer will vary depending on who you ask. Everything from the food pyramid with a “balanced” diet from all food groups, to the calorie counting Weight Watchers to the carb limited Low Carb diet. All of these groups have their own definition of what “healthy” is.

I think it’s easier to agree on what unhealthy is. Very few would disagree that fried foods (carbs + fat) or desserts/donuts/cakes (carbs + fat) are not the best food choice. But to actually agree on what we should eat is much more difficult.

We have the Food Pyramiders that insist that we have to eat from all food groups as an “unbalanced” diet is bad. They advocate a lot of fruit, vegetables and “good” grains (= high in fiber) and a small amount of “healthy” fats (= vegetable fats). Meat should be served in small portions and chicken is preferred over beef and pork due to the lower fat content.

While excessive use of sugar is not encouraged, the emphasis for low fat is more important. We can see their influence on the food industry on a daily basis. Fat free or low fat everything. Yogurt where the fat has been replaced by sugar and the end result is higher calories than plain, full fat yogurt. Or, fat free cheese that has no resemblance to the original product any more. Not to mention the oxymoron of low fat margarine.

The minimal amount of fat allowed should be “good” fats; olive oil, other vegetable oils and fish oils. Butter and lard are shunned citing the high saturated fat content. This despite that nobody has actually shown that saturated fats are bad for us. All studies looked at saturated fats with carbs, and then just blaming the fats without even considering the carbs. This fact has not yet been acknowledged by this group.

For weight loss, the Food Pyramiders recommend portion control and exercise. It’s all about calories in and calories out. We can see how well this has worked by just looking around us. This has been the mantra for the last 30 years and people have just gotten heavier.

Then we have the Lowcarbers. For many of them, anything and everything is allowed as long as it has a low carbohydrate count. Fat is not limited, nor the type of fat. Any type of meat is allowed as is low glycemic vegetables.

Many that start out on a low carb diet initially are looking for low carb versions of high carb foods. Enter Frankenfoods.  The label Frankenfood is typically given to a food item which is trying to emulate a high-carb original by replacing carbs by some chemical and/or fiber. Artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols is a typical example. Sugar alcohols have theoretically very low carb count and are used to sweeten coffee and make lowcarb desserts.

The food industry has responded here as well, even though there are less low carb products now than just a few years ago. I think many of them disappeared as no matter what chemical conoction they used, they just didn’t manage to make them taste good.

So what is a healthy diet for me? Now eating low carb and maintaining my weight loss for 5 years? Even though I don’t always adhere to it 100%, I try to stay with the basics; meat, fish, vegetables. No calorie counting. No limit on fats, but I don’t add any either. The only dairy I eat is hard cheese and the only grain is rye crisp bread. These last two are not good for weight loss for many people, me included, but I can get away with it in maintenance.

I don’t like processed foods. If it has a list of 30 ingredients where I only recognize two or three, it is not something I want to put in my body. I also find that it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as home made foods.

I don’t drink diet soda or other artificially sweetened drinks. I do use splenda, davinci or stevia on occasion. Perhaps once per month at the most. It’s not because I don’t have a sweet tooth. Or, rather had a sweet tooth. I lost it after lowcarbing for some time. I used to have a serious Snicker’s bar habit. Now, fruits and berries taste sweet enough for me without any artificial addition. Diet soda is sickening sweet. I had a taste of ketchup yesterday night for the first time in years, and that was much, much sweeter than how I remember it.

If a food is sugar free, carb free and/or fat free, has no nutritional value and only contain chemicals, what would be the purpose for me to eat/drink it? For me, food implies that it will provide nutrition for my body.

But that’s my personal preference. I would never berate anybody for using artificial sweeteners or drinking diet soda. If that helps them to stay on the diet and to lose weight, more power to them. I would however suggest that if weight loss comes to a halt, it might be a good idea to limit the use of these before abandoning the diet altogether.

My Food Pyramid

FTC Charges Hoodia Marketers

FTC Charges Marketers of ‘Hoodia’ Weight Loss Supplements With Deceptive Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission has charged the suppliers of supposed Hoodia gordonii, also known as hoodia, with deceptive advertising for claiming that using their product would lead to weight loss and appetite suppression.

In its complaint, the FTC alleges that the defendants not only made false and deceptive claims about what hoodia could do, but also, on one or more occasions, claimed that their product was Hoodia gordonii, a plant native to southern Africa, when it was not.

The FTC has requested that the court order the defendants not to make false or deceptive statements or destroy documents pending trial. The Commission seeks to permanently bar the defendants from deceptively advertising hoodia, and to obtain disgorgement of the defendants’ profits from their hoodia sales.

The defendants allegedly made false and deceptive claims when advertising their fake hoodia to trade customers who manufactured and marketed supplements.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.

It is interesting to see how the FTC continues to pursue these companies that make a living by selling weight loss products with claims that are not backed up by facts.  This Hoodia charge follows closely on the Hydroxycut warning, the settlement with QVC and the FDA releasing a list of weight loss supplements considered unsafe.

There is still much work to do though. Will the Acai scam and Colon Cleanse come next? I hope so.

We can also hope that these type of cases result in some legislation for deceptive marketing as a whole. That would prevent dangerous diets such as Kimkins to establish themselves on the internet

Stop Taking Hydroxycut

A few months ago, FDA released a list with names of diet pills that were considered unsafe.  Hydroxycut was not one of them, but FDA now warns consumers to immediately stop taking this popular diet pill.

The FDA Press Release states:

FDA Warns Consumers to Stop Using Hydroxycut Products
Dietary Supplements Linked to One Death; Pose Risk of Liver Injury

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to immediately stop using Hydroxycut products by Iovate Health Sciences Inc., of Oakville, Ontario and distributed by Iovate Health Sciences USA Inc. of Blasdell, N.Y. Some Hydroxycut products are associated with a number of serious liver injuries. Iovate has agreed to recall Hydroxycut products from the market.

The FDA has received 23 reports of serious health problems ranging from jaundice and elevated liver enzymes, an indicator of potential liver injury, to liver damage requiring liver transplant. One death due to liver failure has been reported to the FDA. Other health problems reported include seizures; cardiovascular disorders; and rhabdomyolysis, a type of muscle damage that can lead to other serious health problems such as kidney failure.

Liver injury, although rare, was reported by patients at the doses of Hydroxycut recommended on the bottle. Symptoms of liver injury include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) and brown urine. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, light-colored stools, excessive fatigue, weakness, stomach or abdominal pain, itching, and loss of appetite.

“The FDA urges consumers to discontinue use of Hydroxycut products in order to avoid any undue risk. Adverse events are rare, but exist. Consumers should consult a physician or other health care professional if they are experiencing symptoms possibly associated with these products,” said Linda Katz, M.D., interim chief medical officer of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Hydroxycut products are dietary supplements that are marketed for weight-loss, as fat burners, as energy-enhancers, as low carb diet aids, and for water loss under the Iovate and MuscleTech brand names. The list of products being recalled by Iovate currently includes:

Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets
Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Rapid Release Caplets
Hydroxycut Hardcore Liquid Caplets
Hydroxycut Max Liquid Caplets
Hydroxycut Regular Drink Packets
Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Drink Packets
Hydroxycut Hardcore Drink Packets (Ignition Stix)
Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets
Hydroxycut Liquid Shots
Hydroxycut Hardcore RTDs (Ready-to-Drink)
Hydroxycut Max Aqua Shed
Hydroxycut 24
Hydroxycut Carb Control
Hydroxycut Natural

Although the FDA has not received reports of serious liver-related adverse reactions for all Hydroxycut products, Iovate has agreed to recall all the products listed above. Hydroxycut Cleanse and Hoodia products are not affected by the recall. Consumers who have any of the products involved in the recall are advised to stop using them and to return them to the place of purchase. The agency has not yet determined which ingredients, dosages, or other health-related factors may be associated with risks related to these Hydroxycut products. The products contain a variety of ingredients and herbal extracts.

Health care professionals and consumers are encouraged to report serious adverse events (side effects) or product quality problems with the use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online, by regular mail, fax or phone.

  • Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
  • Regular Mail: Use FDA postage paid form 3500 found at: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm and mail to MedWatch, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787
  • Fax: 800-FDA-0178
  • Phone: 800-FDA-1088

The FDA continues to investigate the potential relationship between Hydroxycut dietary supplements and liver injury or other potentially serious side effects.

The main Hydroxycut website is putting a little milder spin on it. hydroxycut.com is redirected to hydroxycutinformation.com where they state:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a consumer advisory about certain Hydroxycut-branded products. According to the advisory, the FDA has received 23 reports over the years about consumers having experienced serious liver-related problems coinciding with the time they were taking Hydroxycut-branded products. The advisory states that, “Although the liver damage appears to be relatively rare, FDA believes consumers should not be exposed to unnecessary risk.”

While this is a small number of reports relative to the many millions of people who have used Hydroxycut products over the years, out of an abundance of caution and because consumer safety is our top priority, we are voluntarily recalling these Hydroxycut-branded products.

Hmm. The Hydroxycut company must have received a different version of the advisory as compared to the press release. Or, could it be that they are stretching the truth a little?

FDA said nothing about “over the years,” “liver-related problems,” “exposed to unnecessary risk,” nor mentioned “millions of people.”

FDA said “serious liver injuries” and “urges consumers to discontinue use of Hydroxycut products in order to avoid any undue risk.”

Also note that the “standard blame” that people exceed the recommended dose (as was done with Ephedra) cannot be used in this case. FDA states

Liver injury, although rare, was reported by patients at the doses of Hydroxycut recommended on the bottle. Symptoms of liver injury include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) and brown urine. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, light-colored stools, excessive fatigue, weakness, stomach or abdominal pain, itching, and loss of appetite.

Please stop taking this “supplement” immediately. I would also suggest not to go in search of another miracle pill to take it’s place. Surely, it’s just a matter of time before they find that pill to be harmful as well.

Note. Iovate Health Sciences USA Inc, the manufacturer of Hydroxycut, will provide a refund if you return the bottle to the place of purchase.

Tired of Diet Scams

My local radio station is blasting weight loss ads for everything from Evercleanse (lose 10 – 25 pounds of toxic waste from your colon!) to a skin care company (!) that now has developed a diet pill.

Online is even worse. New “diet” supplement ads pop up all the time.

There must be money to make, otherwise these companies would not stay in business. Constantly changing product names to reel in people by using keywords and ads for the latest fad. From colon cleanse to Wu-yi tea to Acai to ….

The product with the new name is probably the same as the previous one. Just a new label. Who would analyze the ingredients anyway? And sometimes they don’t even bother with new labels. Many that ordered Acai Burn received shipments of Wu-Yi Burn.

One company that caught my eye recently is GNS Inc out of Colorado. In December last year, they were selling something called Slim Pro Shakes. Those don’t exist any more. The ads/blogs that still pop up on a search for them lead to Acai Berry Edge. The sales pitch is the same. A FREE offer and then in fine print on the bottom of the page:

21-Day Free Trial Terms and Conditions: Get two bottles of Acai Berry Edge free for 21 days during the trial period. You invest $3.97 s&h today then $39.95 per bottle at day 21 only if you are satisfied. Auto-shipments follow at the same terms and conditions. Cancel at any time. See the complete Terms and Conditions on the next page for complete details.

Most people just see FREE and don’t notice that this is an autoship program. In addition, for most of these schemes, the trial bottles arrive after 2-3 weeks, so there isn’t even any time to try out the product and cancel before the automatic debit hits your credit card. Of course, most don’t even know they have signed up for autoship before they find the charge on their credit card bill.

Many find a way to cancel at that time. The majority of them just pay the bill, and put the cost down as another expense for yet another failed diet attempt. A few get their credit card company to reverse the charges.

The main GNS website is not much better. While I at first didn’t see any autoship scams there, they are revealed when ordering a product. Then you get the offer to:

SAVE 20% and Get FREE Shipping When You Join the GNS Preferred Customer Club…a fresh bottle of Energy Matrix will automatically be shipped to your doorstep every month at this low price so you don’t have to remember to reorder!….Monetary refunds are not given for autoship products once they have been processed.

So, what products do they sell? One of them, Slim Body Matrix, seems to be just an expensive whey protein shake. This particular shake is advertised as:

the absolute best-tasting, most satisfying weight loss shake ever…

But, when you read on the actual can, there is this little box with the statement:

Notice: Use this product as a food supplement only. Do not use for weight reduction.

A “weight loss shake” that is not intended for “weight reduction?”

Not that his particular company is unique; it just served as an example. There are hundreds of others, perhaps thousands, with equally misleading advertisements and overpriced “weight loss” products.  The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) may be looking into some of these online scams (Acai autoship) and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has released a list of weight loss supplements judged to be unsafe.

But, considering the ever growing number of websites trying to cash in on desperate dieters looking for a quick fix, I don’t think we will see any changes soon. I just wish that people would stop falling for unrealistic promises and fake testimonials. If nobody buys the “magic XYZ” there will be no business in selling it.

There have been many articles/blogs listing sure signs to recognize a scam. To me, the most obvious is:

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Another way of researching a diet, product, supplement, or really anything, is to google it on the internet (Yahoo search, MSN search, etc work just as well, of course). For example, a search on the company “GNS” leads to ripoff reports. There are 129 complaints about this company. That might tell you something?

The Kimkins Diet Scam taught me the google trick. Not that it would have helped much when that particular disaster of a diet had it’s heyday in June of 2007, thanks to a Woman’s World article. Back then, only pro-Kimkins articles, fake pictures and fake testimonials were to be found on the web. Not as today when the anti-kk bloggers overwhelm any positive Kimkins.con information out there.

So, that is one more lesson. If there is nothing but obvious ads on the internet, perhaps it would be a good idea to hold of parting with my money for a while. Or, look at the ads and research from there. For Acai, it is pretty obvious that most of the ads have the same origin. It’s also easy to find out that there is no scientific proof that acai has anything to do with weight loss. None.