The Shocking Video Proof: Before and After Photos Are Fake

By Mel Thomassian (RD)

1899-tape measure.jpgThey say a picture is worth a thousand words… well, when it comes to weight loss, nothing strikes home more than a few remarkable “before” and “after” shots.

It’s the best way for promoters of weight loss pills and exercise gadgets to sell their products, right?

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. But, the line between real life and trick photography is very very thin, and people need to realize what’s really going on.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Here’s a short clip, taken from the documentary-style film, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster“, which is well worth watching if you haven’t seen it already:

How to Spot a Fake

I’ve always thought “before” and “after” shots were fake to some degree, but I never imagined that they’d be shot on the same day — that’s so wrong!

While this may be old news to some, a lot of people don’t have a clue this kind of thing goes on, so it’s worth talking about.

To me, it’s just one more reason reason not to trust the glossy magazines and supplement ads.

Before you believe before and after shots, look for ones that actually hold something dated like a newspaper as they are usually legit.

Have you been swayed to purchase by this type of ad in the past? If you were a photographer, how would you feel about doing this kind of work? Would you agree to do it?

Photo source: Pink Sherbet Photography


  1. 4kidsandacat

    Yes I agree. I don’t even trust the ads with celebrities on tv, those people probably had very expensive personal trainers and better access to assistance than the average person would.

  2. 4kidsandacat

    I have to say, I have always been suspicious of the before and after photos in these type of ads. I’m maybe older than some of you but even in the days when we didn’t have photoshop there was airbrushing. The difference in coloration and lighting in these types of photos is patently obvious for people who want to see it, even if you are not entirely sure that the image itself has been manipulated. I used to point these things out to my husband and friends all the time. It’s nice to see validation of what I have always suspected.

  3. Terry

    skip the pills and buy a treadmill!

  4. Melanie | Dietriffic

    Hi everyone,
    Thanks for all your comments.

    It’s scary to think that so many people are fooled by this stuff. I think the best thing we can do is share around our knowledge on it… it may seem like there’s very little you can do, but slowly people will begin to catch on to the truth.

  5. Me

    This is the very reason I only try a product or diet if I can see before and afters of real people on forums or videos on facebook. If they’re professional or photoshopped in any way, I don’t always believe it.

  6. Jessica

    “Well, I guess some of them are fake”… No. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Please stop falling for this kind of stuff. It’s because of such an attitude that these scammers flourish. Read the fine prints. If these products were actually working, everyone would take them, and obesity would be cured, and everybody would be healthy. Think about it for one second.

  7. Susan

    I have seen the movie. I don’t trust ANY of those ads. Too bad magazines are for-profit and have to include advertisements…sometimes what the articles in a magazine like Oxygen tell you is so contrasting to what the ads in the same magazine say!

  8. mellanyb16

    Well, I guess some of them are fake, but it’s really hard to tell on the actual commercials. This is really interesting.

  9. tremoney

    That is crazy! I am glad someone is telling the truth, so people understand that the best way is the hard work and consistency, not pills.

  10. lynn

    photoshops for liars!

  11. Pompom

    Like everyone is saying, I always assumed these pictures were fake, but not to this extent! I just assumed that the people had actually lost the weight, but then they went in to photoshop a more ‘cut’ look. As someone who has lost 65 pounds slowly over three years with lots of exercise, I always marveled at how the ‘after’ shots show people with such taut, stretch-mark free skin, especially when so many of them have supposedly lost 100+ pounds! My max weight was 225 (5’9″, woman), and despite twice-weekly Pilates classes my stomach still looks like I gave birth to octuplets!

  12. Kendall

    If you’ve never watched “Bigger Stronger Faster” and your into pysical fitness on some level I would watch it. It’s available to watch instantly on Netflix. Very informative. The bottom line is you can’t take a supplement and expect to look like a fitness model. Don’t get me wrong supplements are good but only after you’ve done the appropriate research and met with your doctor. Even then most are not worth your hard earned money.Get off the couch and do something!

  13. b

    So many of those before/after shots (especially the cheapo ones) don’t even look photoshopped – they just had the person slump with no makeup and no lighting, sticking their belly out in the first pic and then had them stand up straight and suck it in with good lighting in the after.

    I’ll have to check out this movie, it looks interesting!

  14. StevenJones

    Entertaining video. lol But what their doing is really bad karma.

  15. brutaldiet

    Yeah I love that movie. Shows you the true “nature” of how things work in this world.

    I love how he after this photo shoot goes on taping his photos onto his custom made food supplement. Selling it for lots of cash =)

  16. Jim F.

    This is shocking. But I suspect that no matter how many times we are reminded of the fakeness that surrounds — we always forget.

  17. Duane

    The diet industry is a business. Next time you see a commercial for some “magic” product, read the small print at the bottom of the screen. You know, the one they flash for a moment that’s really small and hard to read? It usually says something to the effect of “participants also followed a strict diet and exercise plan. Results not typical.”

    Pretty much sums it up.

  18. VanessaWilliams

    I always fall for it. Never occurred to me that they might actually lie about their product.It’s just so sad.

  19. VanessaWilliams

    Seriously NOTHING works? not even one? I mean Is there a company out there who is more concerned in helping than just plain profit?

  20. pizzasellar

    It’s sad to say, but people can be such lemmings. I didn’t think anybody actually believed those adds or infomercials.

  21. Spectra

    I always figured they were fake to some extent, but I had no idea that they were shot in the same day. I kind of thought that they sometimes shot the “after” shot first and then paid the people to gain weight and then take a “before” shot. Self-tanner makes a big difference; I worked with a guy that was a body builder and before a show, he would use a ton of bronzer to look more “cut”. Combine that with airbrushed-on abs and you could easily take 20 lbs off someone.

  22. Karen

    I saw that show! I agree. I always assumed the pics were altered but was shocked they would do a before and after the same day. Also the part where the guy makes supplements out of rice flour in his kitchen. So wrong…

  23. Duane

    Miss the part around the end when they showed the artist photoshopping a leaner waist?

  24. Duane

    Isn’t that the point of this article? They DON’T!

  25. Wet Wolf

    Thats hardly the case. Those techniques are just the “finishing touch”.

    When someone drops 5″ from their waist or loses 30 lbs of fat it’s a bit difficult to duplicate that with tanning, shaving and lighting.

    However adding the “finishing touches” w/ tan, lighting, shaving, etc. will add to a more dramatic “after” photo if the transformation was profound.

  26. laurenthompson

    Before and after photos all done in one day! Darn it. I mean I do fall for this kind of scam all the time. I never knew this kind of trick actually exist. Now, I’m worried. How are we suppose which products really work?

  27. O.

    I had not seen this Melanie, but what I had heard about was professional fitness type people being paid to gain weight for a before photo and then paid to loose it not using the product being endorsed but whatever personal training technique they normally use and then taking the after photo.