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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Speedloss 2-Day Cleanse: A Real Life, Detailed Review

About two months ago, I was contacted by Level 2 Performance Foods to do a real life review of their 2-day weight loss, detox and cleanse program called Speedloss. After looking at the ingredients list and seeing nothing I believe is harmful, and after being assured that the entire Speedloss program is gluten free, I decided to give it a try.

Speedloss is a 2-day detox plan that claims to "boost Energy, burn fat and jump start weight loss without the hunger." It is not only gluten free but also claims that the foods are "all natural" contain no artificial sweeteners. (Claims, I said. But read on). The Speedloss website also states "Speedloss has no 'strange' foods in it that are gross." Well that's a big relief! I always wonder what strange, gross foods might be lurking in my protein shakes...

Here is what you get in your box for your $199: "Everything you need to detox, cleanse, and lose up to 12 pounds in 2 days. No need to purchase any additional foods."

weight loss cleanse

Yep, you get a bottle of juice, a water bottle, and two bags containing your 'meals' and supplements for two days. It's nice that they have Day 1 and Day 2 in separate bags so you don't get confused.

Within each bag, the packets are also labeled numerically so you just go right down the line and take them in order. Here's the stuff for Day 1:

weight loss detox

You get a protein shake, a homeostat supplement pack, a packet of soup mix, a packet of superfood drink mix, a cleanse packet, and a packet of Trim Tea. You also get to drink the Sedona juice in the evening, and are instructed to drink 1/2 to 1 gallon of water during the day.

Here's what I saw when I opened the bag for Day 2:

Speedloss cleanse detox review

At first, I thought, "hey, this isn't right! Where are the other packets?? There are only 3 here and the website says I get to eat five times a day!" I dug through the box, looked all around for the lost packets, then finally flipped through the instruction booklet and saw that indeed, you only get 3 packets for Day 2. This made me a little nervous. Sounds hungry. Anyway, you get a packet of oatmeal, a packet of "Kicker Powder" drink mix, and a Crave-Control supplement pack. That's it for the day, plus your Sedona juice and water.

The Sedona Juice came in a 64 oz plastic bottle with a price tag of $39.99 on the side. The label says it is "fortified with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a special blend of citrus juices that help detoxify the body." I was very curious to read the ingredients in this amazing detox juice. Let me share them with you.

The Nutrition Facts label says "Contains 100% Juice" and the ingredients list goes like this:

apple juice from concentrate, strawberry juice from concentrate, grape juice from concentrate, raspberry juice from concentrate, blueberry juice from concentrate, blackberry juice from concentrate, aronia juice from concentrate, water, natural flavor, citric acid, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

Hey, where's the citrus juices?? Hmmm. But you know, this sounds very familiar. In fact the bottle reminds me a lot of the Juicy Juice I used to give my kids when they were little. You know what's in Juicy Juice?

apple, pear, grape, and raspberry juices from concentrate, water, natural flavors, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and citric acid.

So Sedona Juice is kind of like Juicy Juice, with a few extra berries thrown in there (aronia juice, though it sounds exotic, is simply the juice from chokeberries, which is high in antioxidants).

A few little details about the cleanse, taken from the instruction booklet that came with in the box. You ingest the contents of the packets in the order they are numbered at specific times throughout the day. You may drink plain green tea, regular tea and coffee. If you are "extra hungry" you can add a piece of fresh fruit, salad, raw veggies or 8 ounces of fresh juice, but this may affect weight loss (but will not affect the detox). It is suggested that you do an hour of cardio each morning and 30 to 90 minutes of cardio each evening. WHAT?? Well, since I did not want to be carried out of my house on a stretcher, I decided to go with the Speedloss website statement that lots of people lose 8 to 18 pounds without adding any exercise.

As far as calories go, the company doesn't share how many calories you get per day on this cleanse, so I did a little math myself. On Day 1 you get 16 oz of Sedona juice. That totals 240 calories. You also get a shake that has 151 calories and 22.5 g protein, and the soup has 15 g protein so we can assume it is in the 100-150 calorie range similar to Medifast soups. That brings your total to about 540 calories. The pills, tea bag, and fiber drink probably don't have many calories if any, so if we guess the superfoods drink is about 100 calories, that brings us to 640 for Day 1. I don't think I'll be doing 2 hours of cardio on that, no matter who I am. Day 2 is *less* food but more juice: 24 oz of Sedona juice = 360 calories. The only other food you get is protein-fortified oatmeal, so let's say 200 calories there. That's about 560 calories for Day 2. I personally feel this would be an unsafe level of calories beyond this very short, 2 day cleanse. (You *are* allowed to mix the shake and the oatmeal with milk, which would give you 80 or so additional calories per day. You can bet I will be doing that).

Now, for the actual "cleanse and detox" experience. Here is exactly how it went down.

Monday morning, weighed in at 220 pounds. Had one cup of black coffee and some water.

8AM: time for breakfast: a protein shake. Speedloss claims that this shake was "voted best tasting protein shake 3 years running." I got the chocolate flavor and it was pretty good, if somewhat watery made as directed with 8 oz almond milk and a cup of ice in the blender. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It was filling and had chocolate chips in the mix; this shake is whey based, sweetened with sugar, and has 7 grams of carbs.

10AM: packet #2, "Homeostat Plus", had 3 pills in it: flaxseed oil, acai detox, and acidophilus. The oil is a healthy source of omega fatty acids and the acidophilus is a probiotic. Acai detox I would guess has acai berry in it which at least has some antioxidants. Took this with a glass of water as directed.

11AM: time for some "Smart Soup," which is a powder you mix with water and microwave. This soup is fortified with "milk protein concentrate and isolated soy protein" and contains 15 grams of protein. It's sort of like a cream of tomato type soup; I didn't like the taste and the texture was not so fun. I let it sit a few minutes before eating and the thick "gravy" type texture with dehydrated, chewy bits of (I assume) vegetables in it was not pleasant. Also, it was *extremely* sweet in my opinion, but I ate it anyway. It was honestly a bit hard to get down. I am not a fan of the ingredients in this soup. Red #40? Really? Speedloss is advertised as "all natural" and Red #40 doesn't seem to fit that description. How about "artificial flavor?" That's in the ingredient list, too, along with sucralose. Wait, didn't the website and booklet say there are no artificial sweeteners in these foods? Confused...

1PM: packet #4, "Super-food 5." This powder is supposed to be mixed with juice, so I just used the Sedona Juice that came with the kit. The ingredients include things like barley juice powder, spirulina powder, spinach leaf powder, antioxidant blend, pro-biotics, and stevia. It also lists policosanol, which Wikipedia says is a "natural extract of plant waxes" (wait, does this classify as a strange/gross food?) and "metabolic herbs", "harmonizing and support herbs" and "natural fibers." I wish they'd list which herbs are in here. Anyway, it didn't all dissolve into the juice, leaving some little clumps that needed to be smashed; I'd recommend using a blender to mix this. The resulting beverage was a very dark/seaweed green color... not terribly appetizing, but it tasted decent. Mostly like juice and I liked it just fine, especially since I was getting pretty hungry by this time.

I actually had good energy all morning and early afternoon until about 3; that's when I started feeling tired.

3PM: Now I was really hungry! Time for a Cleanse 24 packet.This is a powder you mix with water or juice (I used 4 oz of the Sedona juice). It contains psyllium husk, flaxseed, stevia, and some other random-looking herbs that probably assist in getting the bowels moving. The packet says it will "clean you out" so we'll see about that. It went down easy and was like drinking a glass of Metamucil.

An hour later it was time for the last packet of the day, TrimTeaCS. This is one tea bag you brew in water. It contains Senna leaf (which is used as a laxative tea), whorled marshmallow leaf (which the great Internet says reduces inflammation), persimmon leaf, papaya leaf and licorice root. Hey, wait! Those sound exactly like the ingredients in Triple Leaf Super Slimming Herbal Tea! You can read some reviews about this tea on Amazon if you're interested. (I don't know if they are exactly the same tea or not. I'm just saying the ingredients list is identical.) This tea was rather tasty plain, a lot like a mild green tea. I enjoyed it. But I was really hungry, too.

From 5PM to bedtime, the only thing to be consumed is 16 ounces of the Sedona juice. I decided that to keep my blood sugar relatively steady, I'd do best to drink no more than 4 ounces in one sitting. That would provide 60 calories and 15 grams of carbs. I spaced the juice every 2 hours, having 4 ounces at 5, 7, 9 and 11PM. I managed this just fine along with some water. I was hungry between drinks but the juice was enough to keep me feeling ok. The juice tasted like... juice. Nothing different, just regular juice taste (apple/berry juice).

I was tired all evening. No headaches or anything unpleasant, just a bit of stomach growling. I did not sleep well at all.

Day 2:

Woke up and had my cup of black coffee. Had a couple of trips to the bathroom.

8AM: packet #1 contained "Oat Pro" which is an instant oatmeal you add to milk or water and heat in the microwave. The first ingredient is whole grain rolled oats, and it is fortified with whey protein. The best part is the REAL semi-sweet chocolate chips and the crunchy bits of sweet toffee. This oatmeal was so yummy that I would eat it every day, if I knew the nutrition information. Not sure how high in carbs it is. But it was really good! Someone needs to send me a tub of this.

10AM: time for some Kicker powder! This packet says to mix with water and drink immediately. This one has the "strangest" and most "artificial" ingredients list yet. I do not get how they can claim this is all natural, but I'll let you decide. Some of the ingredients are polydextrose, artificial flavors, caffeine, acesulfame potassium (an artificial sweetener), sucralose (another artificial sweetener), and FD&C Yellow #6. It also contains B vitamins and green tea extract and is supposed to give you "sustained energy." Well, I mixed it with water as directed and it made a pink fizzy drink. It looked, smelled, and tasted like Emergen-C, if you've ever tried that. It tasted good, sweet, mild.

11AM: time for the third and final packet, "Crave control" which you are going to need since you don't get any more food today... just juice. This packet had 3 pills in it: a B-complex, green tea, and chromium picolinate. I took it with a glass of water as directed.

Now you don't get to eat until tomorrow.

From 12 noon to bedtime, you get to drink a total of 24 ounces of Sedona juice. I used the same strategy as yesterday, drinking 4 ounces every 2 hours (at noon, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10pm). I got hungry, but it wasn't horrible.

In the morning I weighed in: 217. That's 3 pounds lost on the Speedloss 2-day cleanse. Now I admit I was already on a low carb diet and people who are eating really unhealthy may lose more than that... mostly water weight from the huge reduction in carbs. Three pounds isn't bad, but would I have lost 3 pounds anyway if I'd had a regular protein shake, normal oatmeal, Juicy Juice, and a laxative? Maybe. Hard tellin'.

Overall, I did not have a big increase in energy and don't feel a whole lot different from doing this. My biggest objection to this product is that it claims to be all natural and says it contains no artificial sweeteners when, in fact, the labels on each item prove otherwise. I also do not think there is anything here worth $199, but your opinion may differ! Let me know what you think in the comments.

*FTC-required disclosure: this product was sent to me for free in exchange for my review on this blog. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own, honest thoughts and are simply opinions and not medical advice or recommendation that you try any product.*

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Uve Gourmet Weight Loss Review

Last month, Uve Gourmet sent me a package containing five bottles of their "gourmet weight loss sparkling beverages" to sample and review. I am not a soda drinker; I gave up carbonated drinks many months ago. But I agreed to review them because I am always interested in the latest weight loss products out there, the claims being made, and how they actually taste and perform. I pride myself in *honest* reviews, so even though I am sent the products for free, there are no guarantees my reviews will be favorable. I say what I think and try to give useful information to potential consumers.

Uve Gourmet Weight Loss drinks are carbonated, but they are not the aggressive kind of fizzy that most sodas are. Their carbonation is mild and light and reminds me of the bit of gentle fizz you get in a bottle of good quality sparkling cider. There are two different varieties of Uve Gourmet drinks. One type, in a glass bottle, contains 50 calories and 11 grams of carbs per 12 ounce bottle. These glass-bottle types are sweetened with fructose and Stevia. The other type, distinguished by its plastic bottle and a giant "5 calories" label, is sweetened with Splenda, contains caffeine, and has 5 calories and less than 1 gram of carbs per 8 ounces (with 2 servings in each 16 ounce bottle). You can see what the drinks have in common and read about their endurance, weight loss, cardiovascular, and antioxidant ingredients here. Each bottle states "contains less than 1% fruit juice" on the label. Here is what I received:

uve gourmet weight loss drink

Now for the review. First, the 50-calorie, glass bottle drinks.

There are three kinds, all made with natural rather than artificial flavors. The apple pomegranate flavor is delicious. It tastes a lot like sparkling cider. There's no artificial sweetener aftertaste; it is fresh and light and 'juicy.' I liked it a lot. The Superfruit flavor is not as 'fruity' as the apple. It has a mild berry flavor and tastes good, but not AS good. The Black Cherry Lemonade is the least 'fresh' tasting to me. It does have that black cherry flavor you get in a diet soda, and there is a bit of lemon in there but you have to look for it. This one tastes the most like a diet soda and the least like a sparkling cider.

Next, the 5-calorie plastic bottle drinks (it would be nice if these had a different name to distinguish them from the 50-calorie drinks... maybe "Uve Light?")

The Raspberry Lemon Lime tasted better and less "diet" than the higher carb/calorie Black Cherry Lemonade mentioned previously. It has a definite bright citrus berry flavor that I liked. The Orange Mango tastes more like a regular diet orange soda but with smaller bubbles. It was not as bright and fresh tasting as the Raspberry Lemon Lime.

Do I think any of these drinks helped me lose weight? No. I do not. And I was actively working on my weight loss when I tried them. No boost in weight loss for me. Do I think they gave me energy or suppressed my appetite? No, I don't. Do I think they are a better choice than the usual diet sodas? Yes, I do, for a few reasons. One, they have no artificial colors or flavors. Two, they do contain antioxidants and nutrients that may be beneficial, where diet sodas in general have none. I would also choose the Apple Pomegranate drink over a regular sparkling apple cider on special occasions, because the Uve Gourmet tastes just as good and fruity and you get 12 ounces for 50 calories and 11 grams of carbs versus sparkling cider with 210 calories and 52 grams of carbs for the same amount.

So if you're a diet soda drinker or a sparkling cider drinker, Uve Gourmet may be a better option for you to try. I personally will stick to my plain green tea, black coffee, and good ol' fashioned water.


*FTC-required disclosure: Uve Gourmet sent five bottles of their beverages to me for free so that I could review them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Does Sensa Work? A Real Life Review

A long time ago, back when I was regularly doing product reviews, the lovely people at Sensa sent me a package of Sensa sprinkles for me to try. Why did you never hear about it back then? Well, because I didn't think it was even blogworthy. It seemed like such a lame idea that I didn't want to waste my time writing about it, or "trying" it for more than a few days. Since back then, I told them I would try their product and *possibly* write a review about it, I had no pressure to actually write it. In fact, I put reviews on the back burner completely and simply turned down everything I was offered (except Medifast) for awhile. But the other day, I was cleaning under my bed and found a box full of Sensa sprinkles. Ah, the memories! So just for fun, I'd like to tell you about my experience with Sensa.

Basically, Sensa is supposed to work by triggering your "Sensory Specific Satiety" and making you feel full faster. That means Sensa is supposed to enhance smell and flip your "I feel full" switch sooner, so theoretically you will stop eating sooner, thus eating less and losing weight. You can read the clinical study Sensa conducted here, which showed an average weight loss of 30.5 pounds in 6 months.

So I got these little plastic containers of Sensa sprinkles and the instructions said to sprinkle it over everything I eat. There were two different kinds: one for sweet foods, and one for savory foods. You just shake it on the outside of everything you eat. It supposedly has no taste, only a smell. So I tried it.

First of all, it becomes terribly annoying to carry these shakers everywhere and before you eat a bite of anything you have to shake this stuff on it. "Hey Mary, try a bite of these low fat whole grain energy bars I made!" "Okay, hang on while I shake this stuff on it first." "Hey Joe, want some pretzels while we watch the game?" "Sure man, first let me shake my Sensa over the bowl." "Hey Lori, how about some fresh carrot sticks and grapes?" "Awesome! First let me spray it with a fine mist* and sprinkle my powder on them!"

*If the sprinkles won't stick to your food, Sensa suggests spraying the food with a fine mist of water before sprinkling.

Second, you are not supposed to use the sprinkles on anything that is not solid or semi-solid. So if you are eating a lot of cream soups, or milkshakes, or if you have a problem with sodas or lattes, this is not going to help you there.

What's good about Sensa? Well, it has no harmful ingredients. There are no stimulants or anything bad in there so there are supposed to be no side effects. In fact, the ingredients list includes only Maltodextrin (derived from corn from the USA), Tricalcium Phosphate, Silica, Natural and Artificial Flavors. They do warn that there are soy and milk ingredients in the flavorings, though, so if you are allergic, be aware of that.

What else is good? It's simple. You supposedly don't have to change your diet or exercise (hmmm...). It takes pretty much no effort.

But I didn't see any results, either. The thing is, if you are like me, "feeling full" is not going to stop you from finishing that piece of cheesecake. So even if Sensa trips your full switch sooner, it will have no effect unless you actually stop eating at that point.

Now, as for how it works and the experience itself:

I dutifully sprinkled the savory Sensa on my veggies, on my sandwiches, on my rice. After awhile, I noticed it smelled pretty much exactly like onion powder. And that got annoying. Seriously. If *everything* you eat smells like onion powder, YES, it gets old and you get sick of it and it becomes a turn-off. Is that how this is supposed to work? It did turn me off. And the sweet sprinkles? They smelled pretty much exactly like crushed-up Smarties. I put them on my pudding, my strawberries, my cereal. And after a very short time I was quite sick of smelling Smarties every time I ate. But instead of eating less, I just quit using the sprinkles.

Every month there is a new little box of "different" smelling Sensa sprinkles so that your senses don't get used to the smell and acclimate. So you get new smells every month. All this for only $59 for a one-month starter kit (on sale at the time of this review; regular price is $79) or $289 (down from $354) for a six-month supply. Yikes!! Although you can find it cheaper on Amazon sometimes; check out the customer reviews while you're there... interesting stuff.

I would like to humbly make the following recommendation:

Get two shakers at the dollar store. Salt & pepper shakers or whatever. Fill one with onion powder, and fill one with crushed Smarties. Now put them on everything you eat for 30 days... the onion sprinkles for savory foods and the Smarties for sweet foods. See how you like it. See if it affects how you feel about food and how much you eat. That is pretty much the experience I personally had. No, it is NOT the same as Sensa, because Sensa has no taste... BUT, because taste and smell are so linked in our bodies, the foods DID taste like the smell of the Sensa sprinkles to me. I did, in fact, feel like I was eating food coated in onion powder or crushed Smarties.

So there you have it.

Have you tried Sensa? I'd love to hear your experience!

**UPDATE: As on January 7, 2014, according to CBS News, Sensa has been fined for false advertising. According to the article:

"The marketing company behind Sensa was ordered to pay $46.5 million, but was only determined to have the ability to pay $26.5 million to settle with the FTC.

The FTC said the company “exhorted consumers to ‘sprinkle, eat, and lose weight’” but didn't have the scientific evidence to support these claims.

Sensa Products, LLC was also cited for compensating consumers who endorsed Sensa. The consumers received between $1,000 and $5,000 and free trips to Los Angeles for their statements."

Well, all I have to say about that is, HEY! Where's my money and free trip????

*FTC-required disclosure: A long time ago, Sensa provided me with a box of Sensa stuff for me to try for free. I am getting no other compensation for this review.*

Diet Direct Coupon Code 2013