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Skechers Shape-Ups for Weight Loss?

Posted on January 29th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Skechers Shape-ups

Skechers’ new stab at a fitness product is a shoe with a large sole, purported to tone muscles (whatever that means), reduce body fat, improve circulation, aerobic conditioning and exercise tolerance, and improve posture while relieving muscle tension and back/joint problems.


Skechers provides research on their website to back-up these claims. Let’s take a look.

1. One study shows that leg muscles are used more with Shape-ups than with standard sneakers. From this, they infer that Shape-ups will tone muscles, improve aerobic capacity and reduce bodyfat… haha, ok Skechers, good one.

Wait, you’re serious? Oh, man!

This study had only 10 subjects and the specifics are not provided. I could not find the study published in a peer-reviewed journal, so I contacted the lead researcher who referred me to Skechers. After a few communications back-and-forth, I’ve been unable to connect with Skechers to discuss the research.

2. The second study shows electromyographic analysis of muscle activity at different speeds with Shape-ups and normal shoes. Shape-ups scores higher at every speed.

“Wearing Shape-ups increases muscle activity, which leads to higher energy consumption compared to normal shoes, so exercising for a long time (walking) will burn subcutaneous fat and visceral fat, and effects such as firmer buttocks may be expected. This varies between individuals.”

Higher energy consumption by how much? 50% more? 1000% more? And, what are the raw numbers? Because the calorie burn numbers produced by walking for any sane length of time may turn out to be negligible in a weight loss effort.

Exercising for a long time will burn subcutaneous and visceral fat, eh? Just how long are we walking for here? Nothing burns fat like low-carb, restricted calorie eating. Nothing.

3. The third study is a 6-week trial at a Chiropractors office where some of his patients were given Shape-ups and told to continue exercise and diet as normal. Average weight loss is said to have been 3.25 lbs. and improvements in glutei strength and low back endurance were found.

This can barely be considered research. There is no control whatsoever and since that data are not published anywhere significant, this all basically means nothing.

In one article I read while trying to find the research, it was said that the women who wore Shape-ups in this trial reported improved posture. Well, a real research study has shown that simply telling people you’re investigating effects of a program on their posture improves their posture (2005 Harman)

These shoes are much like the Massai Barefoot Technology shoes that have been tested in better conditions and published in peer-reviewed journals… for physical therapy purposes, NOT for weight loss. (Romkes 2006, New 2007)

The sad part is people are buying into this as the thing that will help them finally achieve the body they’ve always dreamed of, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are these shoes practically worthless in terms of weight loss, but even worse, they’ll distract people from what they should really be doing to stay on the path to their ideal body. Instead of meticulously tracking their food intake and setting goals, staying active and getting enough sleep, people will mindlessly strap on their Shape-ups and begin their never-ending stroll down the road to nowhere…. and it pisses me off.

But not you. You’re following S.P.E.E.D. You’re reading this blog. You know better. Good for you!

Matt for Weight Loss

Posted on January 27th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger is an incredibly powerful and FREE weight loss tool.

Open to full screen by clicking in the bottom right corner!

54 Week Fast, Weight Loss: 276 lbs.

Posted on January 25th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

54 weeks of fasting! Can you believe that?

*Please do not try a long-term fast on your own. Fasts of this duration have not been deemed safe!*

It seems unbelievable, but the subject of the paper referenced below didn’t eat a single thing for 54 weeks! He lost 276 lbs. total.

Here’s something I forgot to mention in the video. The fast took place in 1968 and the paper wasn’t published until 1973. At that time, he had gained back only 6 lbs, from 190 to 196.


Stewart WK, Fleming LW. Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration. Postgrad Med J. 1973: 49;203-209.

P.S. – Here’s the link to the BBC Documentary :

The Special K Challenge – Weight loss at what cost?

Posted on January 21st, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Well, I took the Special K Challenge.

No I didn’t, but I saw a commercial for it and decided to check it out. For those of you not familiar with it, Kellogs is challenging people to lose weight with Special K and other Kellogs food products. They even give you entire menu ideas (loaded with Kellogs products).

When you start they ask the reason you want to lose weight and give you a few answers to choose from, ask when you want to start, and you’re provided your plan. They don’t ask your age, weight, body composition, weight loss goal, or anything else typically used to calculate a diet plan.

I chose the most basic plan I could and looked at the first day. I investigated the calorie and macronutrient content of the day. Here it is:

970 calories, 133 grams of carbohydrate (48 grams of sugar), 43 grams of protein, 16.5 grams of fat

55% of daily calories come from carbohydrate. As you know, Jeff and I are not supporters of a high carbohydrate intake and this is high. Now, some cultures do maintain good health on high(er) carbohydrate intake levels, but these cultures are not eating processed cereals, and here’s why:

On the Special K diet, 20% of calories come from sugar! On the diet you will also consume such ingredients as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, soy protein isolate, sugar, maltodextrin, fructose, hydrogenated oils, soybean oil… all ingredients I would recommend you put in your body in very limited quantities, if at all.

Will you lose weight? A resounding “Yes!”

Will you better your health? Not a chance! Remember, weight loss will not necessarily make you a healthier person. There is a complex relationship between weight and health, and more weight is not always dangerous and less weight is not always better. For a better understanding, check out the first chapter of S.P.E.E.D., available free here.

Kettlebells: A Unicorn in the Weight Loss Industry

Posted on January 18th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

I don’t believe in unicorns. I don’t believe in kettlebells either.

Kettlebells have grown become popular over the past few years but they’re often promoted with ridiculous claims of near magical qualities. While kettlebells can be a great tool for the exerciser looking for something new, the real benefits garnered from a kettlebell workout have little to do with apparatus itself and more to do with the exercise protocols used.

The ACE newsletter, “Fitness Matters” January/February issue has an article titled “Kettlebells: Twice the results in half the time?”

A group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin performed a study for ACE investigating the effectiveness of kettlebells. Actually, they investigated the effectiveness of a workout routine, that happened to be performed with kettlebells. It could have also been performed with a dumbbell or barbell, or any other implement that provides loading for a snatch (the exercise used).

The workout was this: 5 minute warm-up; 15 seconds of snatches performed with the dominant hand, 15 seconds of rest, 15 seconds of snatches with the non-dominant hand, 15 seconds of rest, repeated for 20 minutes; 5 minute cool-down.


That is a great exercise protocol, minus the exercise choice. Performing a ballistic movement like snatches for this type of protocol is a bad idea for the average gym-goer for these reasons:

1. Fatigue of spinal stabilizers – I’m not a member of the “never bend forward at the hips” camp, but the torque on the lumbar spine caused by the combination of loaded flexion and the rotation caused by the fact that it’s a one-arm snatch is risky at best. This is true considering a fresh set of muscles. Fatigue those muscles with 20 minutes of activity and you’re asking for trouble in the general population.

2. Fatigue of shoulder stabilizer – do you like your rotator cuff the way it is? I do, and I’m not about to have my clients start throwing weight over their heads in a fatigued state.


Aside from the safety aspect I feel it is misleading to imply that the benefits one might receive from this type of protocol are garnered due to the use of kettlebells. If you performed the same routine with a dumbbell or barbell (still not a great idea), you’d see the same benefits. Kettlebells are not some magical instrument that burn more calories or raise your heart-rate any differently than would a heavy stone (and stones happen to be far less expensive).

In fact, similar results have been accomplished through cycling exercise with similar protocols in research settings. Trapp, Chisholm and Boutcher exposed trained and untrained subjects to cycling sprints of different lengths for 20 minutes. The short-sprint protocol involved 8 second sprints with 12 second recovery periods while the long-sprint protocol involved 24 second sprints with 36 second recovery periods.


Kettlebells are a great exercise tool, but they’re not magical and there is nothing special about them.

The type of protocol used in the ACE study may not be safe for the average gym-goer, and much safer methods are available.


Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes 2008; 32(4):684-91.

The Bender Ball Review – S.P.E.E.D. Weight Loss

Posted on January 13th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Make sure you blow this up to full screen by clicking the button in the bottom right-hand corner of the video.

For $9.99, it may be worth it if you need something new. But, like any other product, it won’t give you sick-pack abs all by itself.
This one actually has some research behind it, so I’ll give it the thumbs up… with a healthy dose of you-could-probably-spend-your-ten-bucks-on-something-better.

The Biggest Loser Show – Very Misleading!

Posted on January 12th, 2010 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.

The Biggest Loser show – 34lbs lost in ONE week? Really!?

The 9th season of the Biggest Loser show on NBC started on Jan 5th and had its first “weekly” weigh-in at the end of the show. One of the contestants, Mike, lost 34lbs. First, that is great that Mike lost this amount of weight. However, when you do the math the numbers just don’t add-up. Basically, as you will see below, it is almost impossible for a person of Mike’s size (524lbs) to lose 34lbs in one week.

The following is the breakdown.

First, I subtracted 10lbs of the weight loss as pure water (a rough estimation and likely on the high side)

That leaves a 24lb lose of fat (probably not only fat, but some lean tissue also)

Divided by 7 days = 3.4 lbs a day

The caloric amount of 24lbs of fat equals approximately 84,000 calories (1 lb fat ~ 3,500 calories)

Therefore, to lose 24lbs of fat, Mike would theoretically have to have a deficit of 84,000 calories for the week.

Could this happen in a week? Not likely.

Mike’s approximate BMR is 4,066, meaning he will burn this amount of calories everyday without exercise.

His total calories for the week from his BMR ~ 28,462 calories

Total calories needed to burn to lose 24lbs of fat ~84,000

Total calories burned for the week from his BMR ~ 28,462

That leaves a balance of ~ 55,538 calories that still needs to be burned from exercise

Keep this in mind; at no point do I have Mike eating anything. He is not consuming any calories!

Let’s divide the 55,538 calories by 7 days to see how many calories Mike would have to burn per day from exercise

That results in 7,934 calories a day that needs to be burned from exercise per day

To burn that amount of calories a day, Mike would have to do ~ 5 1/2 HOURS of moderate cycling each day. Remember, he is doing this and NOT eating anything and most likely out-of-shape.

The numbers just don’t add up and I took out 10lbs for water loss. What I think is happening is that the time frame is 10 to 14 days. What really bugs me is the lack of transparency with the Biggest Loser show. Why not give specifics on exactly how much the contestants are eating and exercising and what the real time frame is between weight-ins? I am glad that people are losing weight, and a lot of it, but it gives the false impression if the details are not correct or available. I do not intend to be so negative, but until a logical explanation is given I will content that there is likely something fishy going on.

Additionally, the clinical research that has been done on very low calorie diets and complete fasting of very obese individuals does not support that this amount of weight loss will occur this quickly. Two particular studies are very relevant to this subject matter.

The first study was done in 1968. A 450 lb man went on a medically supervised fast (means he did not eat any food/calories) for 1 year and 2 weeks and lost 245 lbs and had no major complications (Stewart et al, 1973). This would average about 4.7 lbs a week, which is nowhere near the 34 lbs that occurred with Mike who started at a weight that was fairly close. Yes, Mike did some exercise and the person in the study did not. But, as discussed earlier, the amount of exercise to attain this type of weight loss is very high.

Another study, just published last year, followed 5 obese individuals (average weight of 469lbs), in an in-patient setting, for 11 weeks, that were eating a bit less than 900 cal/day and exercising 30 minutes 1-2 days a week lost on average 7.72 lbs a week (Huerta et al, 2009). The rate of weight loss was fairly consistent. These results from a very controlled study also do not support such a large weight loss depicted in one week from the Biggest Loser contestant Mike. What these results tell me is that the spectacular weight loss of 34lbs in one week is highly suspect. Again, I am glad that Mike and the other Biggest Loser contestants are losing weight but I would really like to know how they can do this.


Stewart, W.K. & Fleming, L.W. (1973). Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration. Postgrad Med J; 49: 203-209.

Huerta, S. et al (2009). Feasibility of a supervised inpatient low-calorie diet program for massive weight loss prior to RYGB in superobese patients. Obes Surg; DOI 10.1007/s11695-009-0001-x.

New Year's Resolutions and Informercials

Posted on January 5th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Beware the informercial!

Leave a comment if you have a product you’d like us to review!