1. Never trust a claim with an asterisk.
In our review of the best bottled water, we wanted to get to the bottom of so-called “electrolyte waters” — we were curious to see if the top non-electrolyte waters tasted better or worse than electrolyte waters like SmartWater and Gatorade’s Propel.
So, we did what any crafty review team would do: we broke out our electrolyte meter. We weren’t surprised to see Propel did have lots of electrolytes (50.55 siemens per meter). We were surprised to find that SmartWater only had 1.21 siemens — very few electrolytes for its lofty marketing claims: “We took our cue from nature, then added electrolytes for a distinct taste.” Evian, which doesn’t market itself as an electrolyte water at all, had a lot more electrolytes: 14.8 S/m to be exact.
We noticed a difference on the label between the two, as well. On the SmartWater label, a sneaky asterisk notes the electrolytes are added for taste; Propel’s label doesn’t have an asterisk.
Editor’s Advice: If you’re really after electrolytes, check the label on your bottle of water to see if there’s an “added for taste” asterisk.
2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Despite all the neon bottles and huge claims, we found that there’s no such thing as a testosterone booster that works. For our review, we talked to Dr. Darryn Willoughby, a professor of health, human performance and recreation and the director of the Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University, and the author of some of the most commonly cited studies on agents in testosterone supplements. He told us their effects are “minimal at best.” That is, some of the ingredients may trick the body into producing a bit more testosterone, but the lift is slight and momentary — and definitely not enough to impact your results in the gym.
The problem isn’t that the supplements can’t do anything helpful; it’s that our bodies are too good at regulating our hormones. Dr. Willoughby again: “The body tightly regulates its own levels of testosterone so that anything that boosts the body’s natural production of it will not be large-fold.”
So, unless you’re taking anabolic steroids — which literally add testosterone to your bloodstream — there’s not going to be any boosting happening.
Editor’s Advice: If you have low T, see a doctor. If you’re interested in boosting your libido (which is actually possible), try a supplement with maca and longjack, like Athletic Edge APE Libido.
3. Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Some of the laxative brands you’ve heard of — think Dulcolax and Ex-Lax — may be easy to grab at your local drugstore, but they shouldn’t be taken except in extreme conditions. For our review on the best laxatives, we talked with Dr. Neil Mukherjee, a general surgeon at The Southeastern Center for Digestive Disorders & Pancreatic Cancer, Advanced Minimally Invasive & Robotic Surgery at Florida Hospital Tampa, who told us that they’re pretty harsh on the body — and overuse may cause dependency. (The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research also recommends you steer clear unless you’re under a doctor’s supervision.)
These laxatives work by stimulating your colon, and just like you can develop a reliance on coffee to wake up in the morning, your body can start to need that outside stimulus to have a bowel movement. Over time, the colon can literally forget how to have unassisted stools.
Editor’s Advice: There are gentler laxatives out there, and you should start with those. At the store look for labels that say “stimulant free.” These are hyperosmotic laxatives, like Phillips’ Genuine Milk of Magnesia Original, that work by drawing water into your stool — and the only risk from prolonged usage is electrolyte imbalance. When used as directed, they’re super gentle, yet still effective.