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Does it make any sense to use caffeine/menthol slendering gels? There are many products for women and also some from (I've seen abdomen gel from shiseido). Do such gels work? Do you recommend any?

EDIT What I mean by those gels working is: do they really increase fat loss in the areas where you use them?

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"Do such gels work?" What do you expect them to do? Consider adding some information you found yourself of which you doubt if its true or want to know how it works. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 14:03
    
I have edited my question. –  gruszczy Mar 11 '11 at 14:18
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Have you found any sources that explain what they are supposed to do? If I search for it I get lost in spammy posts trying to sell me the gels –  Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 14:29
    
Try this: reviewstream.com/reviews/?p=110725 –  gruszczy Mar 11 '11 at 14:34
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Those are paid, user-generated reviews @gruszczy, I have a hard time judging it's objectivity nor can I find any scientific research (might be due to the search terms), which is generally a very bad sign –  Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 14:51
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is no scientific evidence that these gels work. From a site reviewing a Hoodia weight loss gel:

There is not much actual evidence that the Hoodia Slender Gel actually works. However, there seems to be quite a bit of sales copy pointing to the fact that this product may be the very best, lowest priced, most successful, and the strongest. However, not much evidence is offered to this fact. The hugest problem is that there is not yet much evidence that that hoodia Functions trans-dermally (meaning, that it absorbs through the skin). So save your funds for any Hoodia solution that is established to assist suppress your appetite and shed pounds. Don’t waste it on fad items. It is possible that Slender Gel could be one of those fad items. (Source)

From the Shiseido site, on the "Body Creator Abdomen Toning Gel", if you check the "Technology" tab, you'll find a lot of fluff, and an extremely short list of ingredients:

Contains Caffeine, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Red Pepper Extract, and Menthol [...] (Source)

  • Caffeine, as we all know, is a stimulant. Caffeine is absorbed through the skin. (Source)
  • Houttuynia Cordata Extract is an anti-inflammatory. (Source) It is also an anti-oxidant. (Source)
  • Red Peppers are also an anti-oxidant, and also have anti-bacterial properties. (Source)
  • Menthol has a wide variety of useful properties, most affecting the skin (anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, etc), but also has a few others, including: decongestant, strengthening the heart muscles, reducing muscle and joint inflammation. It has many other uses, but none are associated with weight loss. (Source)

While it is possible that the caffeine in the gel may be able to carry a portion of the houttuynia cordata and red peppers through the skin and into the subcutaneous layer, those elements will effectively be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried and spread throughout the body.

The same is true of liquid nicotine, if you spill it on your leg (in sufficient quantity) it will kill you. Certainly, it absorbs locally, but it doesn't make your leg fall off. Such items as the red pepper and the menthol will be more noticeable at the localized area because of their extreme effects on the nerve endings and their diminished effects as they are spread thinner through the bloodstream.

My advice would be to test this in theory if you really want to see if it works. Simple method: take yesterday's coffee that was left on the burner overnight, mix it into some menthol rub, add some finely ground red peppers (they will extract into the caffeine/menthol suspension), and you'll have to buy some houttuynia cordata extract. Then rub this concoction on your skin. It will sting and tingle a little bit for a few minutes.

The final question is: Will it stimulate caloric burn? In order to achieve weight loss, one must burn more calories than they consume. The body's ability to absorb this mixture will require metabolization within the internal organs of the substance absorbed through the skin. This is also true if the substance were ingested. I would say that given the amount of the mixture one might use, it is unlikely that it would stimulate the metabolism enough to make any detectable change on any sensitivity of equipment used for such testing.

Even from the review you linked in comments on your question:

But then again like many other toning gel, this cannot give you your desired results if you won’t cut your calorie intake.

In summary, you could acquire the same materials that these gels are primarily comprised of for a fraction of the cost of the gels, and the bottom line is that they will have negligible effects on any stimulation of weight or fat loss. There is no scientific data to support any effect of weight loss, fat loss, or metabolic stimulation from the use of these gels. Simply put, no, they have not been shown to be effective.

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Recently I read an article about weight loss medicine and supplements. From what I gathered there (and I tend to believe that)

  • There are is a very little number of prescription drugs that are scientifically (clinical studies) known to reduce weight. Those apparently also have very strong side effects and stomach and liver problems are likely

  • Most of the supplements do nothing else than making you pee very expensive as there is no measurable effect. Of course due to the placebo effect, some people report to feel better or have faster recovery times after workouts...

Bottom line: Keeping up your current lifestyle (diet, workout (if any)) and just adding those obscure gels to your diet will have absolutely no effect and the only one loosing in size is your bank account.

Now a bit off-topic :)

The only way to reduce weight is a good diet based on good, fresh, products and meals cooked from scratch (so you know what is in there) and a balanced workout (gym, running,...). Latter points require a certain amount of self control and the ability to say "No". My personal method is not to retrain myself from eating e.g. sweets, but a fruit low fat yoghurt with honey and blueberries is just as good as, ehm, custard... so replace bad things, break habits and get yourself the endorphin kick when you succeed

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I second this. In 10 years of watching weight loss, there is no supplement that does it. No gel. No short cut. Otherwise, there would be no debates about it. People don't argue the merits of quitting smoking because there is enough evidence it causes issue. People will argue night and day about which supplement works or doesn't because there is no clear answer. I can say I've never seen a supplement create fat loss. I've only seen diet and exercise do that. –  Jeremy Likness Mar 11 '11 at 18:24
    
Back in November 2010 I used Jack3d, continued my healthy eating, and continued my mix of cardio, weight lifting, and cross fitness activities. My fat % decreased, but I was already low fat %, so I believed it to be unhealthy and stopped. Within a couple weeks, my fat % increased to the normal level. –  Andrew Ferk Mar 11 '11 at 18:42
    
FYI: "Latter points require a certain amount of self control" should be "Former points require a certain amount of self control" as latter would be self control on working out (which isn't a bad idea) –  DustinDavis Mar 11 '11 at 21:52
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