These before-and-after pics will break your brain.

Dear everyone – here’s a hot tip.

Whenever you see a before-and-after shot of a person, and any words relating to “weight loss!” or “drop those kilos!” or “ditch the calories and look like this” – please, please take it with a grain of salt.

A jumbo-sized grain of salt. The grain of salt to beat all other grains of salt.

Because, while there are some truly worthwhile fitness and wellbeing programs out there, there are just as many that are purporting completely false claims, accompanied by fabricated before and after images that – with some clever Photoshop and fake tanning – appear to be the real deal.

We’ve written about dodgy before and after pictures before. But after seeing the below infographic, I really wanted to write about it again. Because I REALLY want to get the message out there.

The below images all feature Fitness Fakers. People who have faked seriously amazing transformations in the space of hours, or even minutes. Each of the below transformations looks like it would take weeks to achieve. But really, with a flattering camera angle and a bit of sucking in, anything’s possible:

After seeing all of the above, I decided to try my own before and after picture. Just to see if they were actually

I waited for a day when I was feeling super bloated. I removed all traces of make-up and fake tan. I put on a pair of bikini bottoms that are two sizes too small, purchased in 2007, that I’ve been holding onto for whatever reasons. I put on an unflattering sports bra, popped my hair up, frowned, stood in the most unflattering position known to man and then pushed my stomach out as far as possible.

The after photo was taken about five minutes later. In that five minutes, I changed my bikini to one that actually fit and was relatively flattering, slathered myself in fake tan, put my hair down and smiled. Oh – and I posed in a much more flattering way, too. That definitely helped.

Between the two photos, I look as though I’ve lost at least 5kg. But I didn’t even lose a gram.

And the scary part is – I did the bare minimum. I could have added a filter, or Photoshopped myself slimmer, or adjusted the lighting in the room. All of which would have contributed further in creating an even better before-and-after pic… that’s still a complete sham.

The moral of the story here?

We’ve said it before, and we’ve said it again: the next time you get seduced by the images accompanying programs or diet products, the next time you look at a magazine cover and wonder why you don’t measure up – think back to this post.

If you’d really like to change something about yourself to make yourself happier – go for it. But don’t ever compare yourself to these kinds of images.

Because none of it’s real.