Today I had the pleasure of trying what is quite possibly the wankiest and questionable of all the dodgy, pretend-healthy diet fitness bullshit products on the market.
One of the perks of my job heading up a bunch of B2B magazines is that we get a lot of food and drink samples for our consumer goods titles. Given the current hype around all things health, fitness and wellness, these samples tend to be a bit of a mixed bag of genuinely useful products I’d probably use myself, and the sort of ludicrous crap that makes you wonder who on earth would fall into the trap of buying them.
Such as Skinny Caffe instant coffee, of which we received two samples recently.
Skinny instant coffee. As opposed to fat instant coffee?
Selling the obvious
When the sachets came out of the box, my first question was: What exactly is skinny about black instant coffee? Coffee isn’t generally known for being particularly fattening, right?
Then I spotted the tagline: “30 day weight loss program”.
A-haa. Another one of those drinks that will magically make you thin and fit.
A glance at the accompanying press release informed me that Skinny Caffe is “natural, vegan, dairy and gluten free”.
Now, not to push the obvious points here, but the last time I checked coffee was vegan, dairy free and gluten free by default. And, since it comes from a fucking plant, probably natural, too.
SO, FIRST OF ALL, GET IN THE SEA WITH YOUR TRENDY BUZZWORD MARKETING.
But will they buy it?
Next up, the product launch information pack promises a number of “health benefits” – none of which have been evaluated by the FDA or otherwise proven, as the small print on the pack informs me.
Let me give you a selection of these claimed health benefits, along with some comments based on our experience of trying the product:
“Helps to achieve weight-loss goals”
We can’t for the life of us figure out how any of the ingredients are supposed to make you lose weight, but the product does contain L Carnitine which may have something to do with it – and judging by the side effects we’re experiencing, it must be a hefty dose.
“Helps to increase the rate of metabolism”
Well. My colleague had a cup a good three hours ago and she’s been experiencing heart racing and jitteriness ever since. I tried half a cup and immediately felt nausea and a nervous stomach prickling – you know, that kind of feeling you get just before diarrhoea hits. The other three colleagues who tried it (despite our warning) experienced nausea and jitters, too. So maybe the statement should read, more accurately, “will send your metabolism into absolute fucking overdrive”.
“Boosts energy levels”
Which brings us to the next point. If you want to call that nauseous, pulse-racing, jittery feeling “increased energy levels”, you were either dead to start with, or you enjoy spending the day feeling as if you’re “on speed”, which is what one of our testers is currently experiencing.
“Noticeably increases stamina and fitness levels”
Well, no. Just no. No drink in the world will make you fitter. If you’re all hyped up as we are after trying this drink, you might feel like you can train a bit longer in the gym (although probably not in a healthy way), but drinking a cup of this coffee every morning will change ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about your fitness levels. And I don’t need to be a PT or sports nutritionist to tell you that. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will know it. It’s an outright lie.
“Adds a radiant glow to the skin”
OH PLEASE DO GET IN THE SEA…
“Has been said to help with anti-ageing”
Well, I doubt it sincerely. But since the first cup has made our five testers feel quite unwell, we’re not inclined to put this claim through a long-term trial, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you if it’s true.
Are you actually kidding us?
Cashing in on people’s insecurities
Perhaps the most ludicrous part about this product launch is the collection of random photos of women in underwear that appears on the press release. Given the absence of a caption, I can only assume they are intended as before / after shots. But since half of them are headless and they also don’t show any difference in body shape whatsoever, I have to say if that’s the best evidence Skinny Caffe can produce of its weight-loss claims, then it tells you all you need to know about the product.
But as with any diet product, people tend to fall for promises of results without effort. Oh no, you don’t have to sort out your diet or go to the gym. Just drink this concoction before breakfast every morning and you’ll suddenly be slender and fit, with radiant skin…oh, and your wrinkles will disappear, too.
It probably works for the brand, because people tend to buy into that shit. So the price tag is probably no surprise: A pack of 30 portions retails between £25.95 and £34.95. (In comparison, a jar of upmarket instant coffee containing 50 servings costs you about £4.)
In summary, I can only say I’m the last person to deny any health / fitness product a fair chance. But of all the questionable health and fitness products I’ve tested in the past few years, this takes the prize for the sheer ridiculousness of its claims. And judging by how we felt after trying it, I’d say it’s quite possibly a risk to your wellness, if not your health, if you drink it every day before breakfast as recommended.
So do yourself a favour and grab a skinny latte from the corner café.
And, by the way, it tastes vile and there are unidentifiable bits in it.