Fitness trainer reveals the shocking truth about before and after photos

We have all read about amazing weight loss stories and marvelled at the weight loss pictures. But can they always be trusted to tell the truth?

A personal trainer has stepped forward to reveal just how deceiving these transformation photos can be.

In an article on Huffington Post, Andrew Dixon, a certified trainer of 11 years, said that these supposed before and after pictures are "transformations that are manipulated with Photoshop, professional lighting, postures to degrade or enhance their look, pro tans, sucking in or pushing out a bloated belly or flexing muscles vs not flexing to obtain an optimal look."

To illustrate his point, he provided before and after shots of him looking fat and bloated in one, and toned, tanned and sporting a six-pack in another. And contrary to what a viewer might think, the transformation was completed in just an hour.

Explaining the above shot, he said he had been feeling particularly bloated one day, around six months ago.  After asking his girlfriend to take a photograph of him as a 'before' shot, he then shaved his head, face and chest.

Dixon then prepared for the 'after' shot by doing a few push ups and chin ups, as well as adjusting the room's lighting.

He then sucked in and tightened his abs before taking the 'after' shot.

Both pictures were taken about an hour apart.

A few weeks later, he attempted a photo series of another 'transformation', which took under an hour to produce. In it, he did a stage by stage transformation to show viewers how the effects are achieved.

Find out how he did it

"Lighting and coconut oil"

First for the "before" photo, he slouched and sported a belly bloated with liquids. He also used average lighting that did not highlight the angles in his body. After he took the picture, he shaved his chest and smeared it with coconut oil. He told ABC News that the shine from the oil is important to emphasise his abs in the aftershot.

When taking the picture, he used overhead lighting to highlight his six-pack abs.

"If you look at the after picture and the person is younger, tanner, not slouching. If they are leaning (forwards) with their bellies in the before picture, those photos are not telling the whole story," said David Zinczenko, nutritionist and wellness editor interviewed by ABC News.

Dixon said he did the pictures as he was "alarmed at how heavyweight consumers can be fooled by fake photos, hurting legitimate businesses."

"Forget about the quick transformations and focus on a life of healthy eating, well-managed stress levels, quality sleep and plenty of movement," said Dixon.

Dixon's warning to those out there who want quick-fix solutions is to not be fooled so easily by just a photo. "People need to be aware, I guess, that this is a possibility when looking at those aftershots. So buyer beware.

Additional information added in by YourHealth, AsiaOne.

Visit STOMP for more stories.